The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 4. His Love of God
This is not the Edwards that is commonly known, and indeed he put little of this personal rapture of holiness into his published works, which were almost exculsively polemical in design. Only once, perhaps, did he adequately display this aspect of his thought to the public; and that was in the Dissertation on the Nature of Virtue, wherein, starting from the definition of virtue as “the beauty of the qualities and exercises of the heart,” he proceeds to combine ethics and aesthetics in an argument as subtle in reasoning as it is, in places, victorious in expression. One cannot avoid the feeling, when his writings are surveyed as a whole, that in his service to a particular dogma of religion Edwards deliberately threw away the opportunity of making for himself, despite the laxness of his style, one of the very great names in literature.