To the Reader: On the Greatness of Jonathan Edwards and His Works

I have now discharged the main part of the first duty of an editor, namely, to tell the reader what he has in his hands. Let this suffice also to explain why in the following sections of this introduction I undertake a systematic analysis of important themes in Edwards’ ethical writings, with only light stress on the times and circumstance of their composition. One needs first of all to comprehend Edwards’ ethics whole and entire and appreciate the integrity of internally related concepts which run through the three (or two) works printed here.

I have chosen the alternative of systematic analysis of selected themes chiefly because the power and the coherence of Edwards’ ethical writings demand such treatment. One studies the times and backgrounds of some men in order to understand them. Others have such rare greatness that one studies them in order to understand their times, or even to comprehend the deepest meaning of the intellectual and other influences that were effectual upon them. Jonathan Edwards was such an original.

Ethical Writings (WJE Online Vol.8), Ed. Paul Ramsey

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