The Enlightenment Period

The Philosophes

What was original in Jonathan Edwards’ view of God?

Edward’s interest in philosophy included Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715), the Cambridge Platonists, and John Locke (1632–1704). He was himself an idealist, similar to George Berkeley (1685–1783), who held that human minds are made up of thoughts and sensations, God being the only true substance.

Jonathan Edwards developed the idea that God loves and is delighted by Himself and creates us and other creatures as part of this joy in Himself. Edwards taught that God’s love is disinterested and that he is supremely beautiful, infusing the entire world with “His Loveliness.” By comparison, the beauty seen by mortals is “secondary,” an imperfect copy of what God sees.


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