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Jonathan M. Yeager

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199916955

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199916955.001.0001

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Natural versus Moral Necessity in the Will

Natural versus Moral Necessity in the Will

(p.165) 25 Natural versus Moral Necessity in the Will
Early Evangelicalism

Jonathan Edwards

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents excerpts from Jonathan Edwards's A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of That Freedom of Will, Which is Supposed to Be Essential to Moral Agency, V[i]rtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame (1754). Edwards had a greater impact on evangelicalism than any American theologian. In 1737, he published A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God, an account of the spiritual transformation at Northampton that began in late 1734 and lasted into the late spring of 1735. In Freedom of the Will, Edwards refuted the idea that a self-determining will could make choices irrespective of outside circumstances or motives. He introduced the concepts “moral necessity” and “natural necessity” to prove that humans are hopelessly enslaved to sin unless divine grace is given to counteract their inherent evil cravings.

Keywords:   evangelicalism, Jonathan Edwards, spiritual transformation, Northampton, Freedom of the Will, moral necessity, natural necessity, sin, divine grace

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