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The Beliefs Of Locke And Newton, Inspired Jonathan Edwards

1521 words - 6 pages

In Jonathan Edwards's The Nature of True Virtue his beliefs of following God's supremacy leads to moral beauty, the virtue in nature, and the selflessness of true virtue will unite society all stem from John Locke's beliefs of the social contract, Isaac Newton's belief of the logical perfection of nature, and both of their beliefs of human morality.
An important point which Edwards writes in his sermon is his belief that when man is truly following the path of God, he will reach a sense morality that has beauty. In the sermon, Edwards writes, "And if we consider the…moral excellency, the same will appear…God is infinitely the greatest Being, so he is allowed to be infinitely the most beautiful and excellent" (14). He is referring to the Puritanistic ideal that God is everything that is good and right. Therefore, God is the most moralistic entity in existence and striving for a godly life will eventually lead to one's own moral beauty. Although John Locke's ideas of morality are more political, they are passionate ideas, much like Edwards's ideas. John Griffith, commentating on Edwards's The Nature of True Virtue, states, "Edwards begins by accepting Hutcheson's proposition that virtue is moral beauty. Beauty, he says, is always a harmony, or 'consent and agreement'" (2576). Griffith is stating, like I previously stated, that Edwards predominantly focused on the moral aspect of his beliefs.
Furthermore, Locke's passion for morality is also seen in his interpretation of the social contract. We see that Locke's ideas in freedom of life, liberty, and property have formed the basic morals of past and current governments. One of Edwards's morals that have been seen throughout American history is the infinite sovereignty of God. Wainwright says, "Edwards was indebted to his predecessors for the idea of a spiritual sensation. His development of that concept however, is heavily influenced by empiricists such as Locke…" (186). Wainwright ties together the moral influence Locke had on Edwards and the morals Edwards developed because of it. This is further seen by Lane, he says, "In the latter he defined true virtue as a process of being so transfixed by the beauty of God as Being-in-general that those who perceive such glory are able also to grasp the as-yet unrealized beauty of every being-in-particular" (9 of 15). This statement goes along with sovereignty of God being so great; it gives man the opportunity of be truly virtuous.
Furthering Locke's beliefs is the idea that nature brings happiness. This is similarly what Edwards believed as a Puritan, seeing nature a pathway to God and ultimately to happiness. Edwards states in his sermon, "as the harmony of sounds and the beauties of nature, have a tendency to assist those whose hearts are under the influence of a truly virtuous temper to dispose them to the exercises of divine love, and enliven in them a sense of spiritual beauty" (48). Edwards is describing God divine power and...

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