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MODERN PREVAILING NOTIONS
FREEDOM OF WILL
WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE ESSENTIAL TO
MORAL AGENCY, VIRTUE AND VICE, REWARD AND
BY JONATHAN EDWARDS, A. M.
A NEW EDITION:
AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY,
AUTHOR OF "NATURAL HISTORY OF ENTHUSIASM.”
JAMES DUNCAN, 37, PATERNOSTER ROW.
MANY find much fault with the calling professing Christians, that differ one from another in some matters of opinion, by distinct names; especially calling them by the names of particular men, who have distinguished themselves as maintainers and promoters of those opinions: as the calling some professing Christians Arminians, from Arminius; others Arians, from Arius; others Socinians, from Socinus, and the like. They think it unjust in itself; as it seems to suppose and suggest, that the persons marked out by these names received those doctrines which they entertain, out of regard to and reliance on, those men after whom they are named, as though they made them their rule; in the same manner as the followers of Christ are called Christians, after his name, whom they regard and depend upon as their great head and rule. Whereas, this is an unjust and groundless imputation on those that go under the fore-mentioned denominations. Thus (say they) there is not the
least ground to suppose, that the chief divines who embrace the scheme of doctrine which is, by many, called Arminianism, believe it the more, because Arminius believed it: and that there is no reason to think any other, than that they sincerely and impartially study the holy Scriptures, and inquire after the mind of Christ, with as much judgment and sincerity as any of those that call them by these names; that they seek after truth, and are not careful whether they think exactly as Arminius did; yea, that in some things they actually differ from him. This practice is also esteemed actually injurious on this account, that it is supposed naturally to lead the multitude to imagine the difference between persons thus named and others to be greater than it is; yea, as though it were so great, that they must be, as it were, another species of beings. And they object against it as arising from an uncharitable, narrow, contracted spirit, which, they say, commonly inclines persons to confine all that is good to themselves and their own party, and to make a wide distinction between themselves and others, and stigmatise those that differ from them with odious names. They say, moreover, that the keeping up such a distinction of names has a direct tendency to uphold distance and disaffection, and keep alive
mutual hatred among Christians, who ought all to be united in friendship and charity, however they cannot in all things think alike.
I confess, these things are very plausible. And I will not deny, that there are some unhappy consequences of this distinction of names, and that men's infirmities and evil dispositions often make an ill improvement of it. But yet I humbly conceive these objections are carried far beyond reason. The generality of mankind are disposed enough, and a great deal too much, to uncharitableness, and to be censorious and bitter towards those that differ from them in religious opinions; which evil temper of mind will take occasion to exert itself from many things in themselves innocent, useful, and necessary. But yet there is no necessity to suppose, that the thus distinguishing persons of different opinions by different names, arises mainly
from an uncharitable spirit. It It may arise
from the disposition there is in mankind (whom God has distinguished with an ability and inclination for speech) to improve the benefit of language, in the proper use and design of names, given to things which they have often occasion to speak of, or signify their minds about; which is to enable them to express their ideas with ease and expedition, without