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Chapter 4.—The Divine Commands Which are Most Suited to the Will Itself Illustrate Its Freedom.

What is the import of the fact that in so many 445passages God requires all His commandments to be kept and fulfilled? How does He make this requisition, if there is no free will? What means “the happy man,” of whom the Psalmist says that “his will has been the law of the Lord”?29592959     Ps. i. 2. Does he not clearly enough show that a man by his own will takes his stand in the law of God? Then again, there are so many commandments which in some way are expressly adapted to the human will; for instance, there is, “Be not overcome of evil,”29602960     Rom. xii. 1. and others of similar import, such as, “Be not like a horse or a mule, which have no understanding;”29612961     Ps. xxxii. 9. and, “Reject not the counsels of thy mother;”29622962     Prov. i. 8. and, “Be not wise in thine own conceit;”29632963     Prov. iii. 7. and, “Despise not the chastening of the Lord;”29642964     Prov. iii. 11. and, “Forget not my law;”29652965     Prov. iii. 1. and, “Forbear not to do good to the poor;”29662966     Prov. iii. 27. and, “Devise not evil against thy friend;”29672967     Prov. iii. 29. and, “Give no heed to a worthless woman;”29682968     Prov. v. 2. and, “He is not inclined to understand how to do good;”29692969     Ps. xxxvi. 3. and, “They refused to attend to my counsel;”29702970     Prov. i. 30. with numberless other passages of the inspired Scriptures of the Old Testament. And what do they all show us but the free choice of the human will? So, again, in the evangelical and apostolic books of the New Testament what other lesson is taught us? As when it is said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth;”29712971     Matt. vi. 19. and, “Fear not them which kill the body;”29722972     Matt. x. 28. and, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself;”29732973     Matt. xvi. 24. and again, “Peace on earth to men of good will.”29742974     Luke ii. 14. So also that the Apostle Paul says: “Let him do what he willeth; he sinneth not if he marry. Nevertheless, he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.”29752975     1 Cor. vii. 36, 37. And so again, “If I do this willingly, I have a reward;”29762976     1 Cor. ix. 17. while in another passage he says, “Be ye sober and righteous, and sin not;”29772977     1 Cor. xv. 34. and again, “As ye have a readiness to will, so also let there be a prompt performance;”29782978     2 Cor. viii. 11. then he remarks to Timothy about the younger widows, “When they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they choose to marry.” So in another passage, “All that will to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;”29792979     2 Tim. iii. 12. while to Timothy himself he says, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.”29802980     1 Tim. iv. 14. Then to Philemon he addresses this explanation: “That thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but of thine own will.”29812981     Philemon 14. Servants also he advises to obey their masters “with a good will.”29822982     Eph. vi. 7. In strict accordance with this, James says: “Do not err, my beloved brethren . . . and have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect to persons;”29832983     Jas. i. 16, and ii. 1. and, “Do not speak evil one of another.”29842984     Jas. iv. 11. So also John in his Epistle writes, “Do not love the world,”29852985     1 John ii. 15. and other things of the same import. Now wherever it is said, “Do not do this,” and “Do not do that,” and wherever there is any requirement in the divine admonitions for the work of the will to do anything, or to refrain from doing anything, there is at once a sufficient proof of free will. No man, therefore, when he sins, can in his heart blame God for it, but every man must impute the fault to himself. Nor does it detract at all from a man’s own will when he performs any act in accordance with God. Indeed, a work is then to be pronounced a good one when a person does it willingly; then, too, may the reward of a good work be hoped for from Him concerning whom it is written, “He shall reward every man according to his works.”29862986     Matt. xvi. 27.


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