Edwards forged a system of metaphysics, ethics, and history that incorporated Puritan Christianity and Newtonian science, while confronting the new philosophies of Descartes, Locke, Hutcheson, and others. He countered materialism by arguing that matter was basically resistance, defending a form of subjective idealism, and maintaining that the world is subject to continuous creation by God at each moment. He believed that the waves of religious awakening that he witnessed constituted evidence for divine intervention in the world, and he argued that the moral life does not primarily consist of the benevolence to humanity propounded by Hutcheson, but is a matter of being in tune with a beautiful and “excellent” universe. This chapter also takes up Edwards’s vision of sinners in the hands of an angry and wrathful God, his compatibilist theory of freedom, his radical account of personal identity, and his defense of slavery.
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