Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “Edwards and the New England Theology.” In Works of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. Edited by Ethelbert D. Warfield, William Park Armstrong, and Caspar Wistar Hodge. 1932; Reprinted, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.
Warfield proceeds along chronological lines, beginning with Edwards’s youth and proceeding to the New England theology which developed after Edwards’s death. Warfield observes that it was in Edwards’s youth and collegiate years that he gave attention to scientific and metaphysical matters. He claims that in this period, independent of Berkeley, Edwards developed a system if idealism. Warfield observes that though Edwards did not continue with these philosophical writings after this period, the philosophical conclusions he reached in this period continued to inform his thought.
When Edwards became a pastor at Northampton, his writing turned to the pastoral. He produced sermons and practical works such as “Narrative of Surprising Conversions” and Religious Affections. Once removed from Northampton to Stockbridge, Edwards produced his major theological works on original sin, the freedom of the will, the chief end of man, the nature of true virtue, and the history of redemption. Though Edwards had long collected in notebooks thoughts on these subjects, this was the period in which he was able to bring these thoughts together into coherent works.
Warfield observes that the New England Theology that followed Edwards was influenced by the Edwards of the Awakening and by his theological method. Their theology, however, developed into something quite opposed to Edwards. Warfield observes that, like Edwards, their method of theology was philosophical and the result of “independent reflection.” But, unlike Edwards, they were not as rooted in historical theology. As a result, they developed a unique theology of which Warfield says, “it is only right frankly to describe as provincial.”
In the article Warfield observed that much of Edwards’s writing remained in manuscript at Yale. Since Warfield wrote those words much of this material has been transcribed and published. As a result, Edwards scholarship has developed. Nonetheless, this article remains a helpful introduction to Edwards and the New England THeology that followed him.