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[67] then proceeds to show that a man's desire and will are virtually the same faculty of the soul. It follows from this that the will at any moment is determined by the strongest motive acting upon the soul; we are free in so far as no obstacle is presented to our willing in accordance with our inclination, but our inclination is determined by what at any moment seems to us good. In his attack on the common arguments for the freedom of the will Edwards is magnificently victorious. If the psychology by which the Arminians sought to relieve God of the burden of evil in human life is pushed into a corner, it shows itself as nothing more than this: Man's will is a faculty absolutely indeterminate in itself and entirely independent of his inclinations. When, therefore, a man errs, it is because, the choice between evil with its attendant suffering and good with its attendant happiness being presented to him, the man, having full knowledge of the consequences and being impelled by no momentary preponderance of the one or the other from his innate disposition, deliberately and freely chooses what is evil and painful. Such an account of human action is monstrous, inconceivable; it offered an easy mark for so sharp a logician as Edwards.

But whence arise the conditions by which a man's inclination is swayed in one direction or the other? Edwards carries these unflinchingly up to the first cause,--that is, as a Christian, to God. Berkeley had made the world to consist of ideas evoked in the mind of man by the mind of God; Edwards accepts the logical conclusion, and holds God responsible for the inclination of the human will which depends on these ideas. Calvin did not hesitate to attribute, in the bluntest language, the source of evil to God's will, but at the same time he warned men against intruding with their finite reason into this “sanctuary of the divine wisdom.” The mind of Edwards could not rest while any problem seemed to him unsolved. Confronted with the mystery of the divine permission of evil, he undertakes to solve it by applying his psychology of man to the nature of God. (He himself would put it the other way about: “Herein does very much consist that image of God wherein he made man.” ) The passage in which he develops this thesis, though generally overlooked by his critics, is of the first importance:

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