« Prev § 28. The Freedom of the Will. Next »

§ 28. The Freedom of the Will.

Since so great a change has taken place in man through the Fall, the question remains to be discussed, What powers to act does he still retain? [1] For, since all these powers are dependent upon knowledge and will, it is natural that, so far as knowledge and will are weakened or lost, these powers to act should also thereby suffer. But the question, as to the powers retained by man, is identical with that as to how far freedom of the will (liberum arbitrium) in regard to his actions pertains to him [2] As, however, various opinions have often been entertained in reference to this liberum arbitrium, it is necessary, first of all, that we definitely determine the proper significance of this term. If we understand by it the will itself, then it cannot be questioned that since the Fall this still belongs to man, for without this he would cease to be man. [3] In like manner it belongs also to the nature of man that neither in his will nor in his acts, neither externally nor internally (by instinct), can he be determined by irresistible necessity. [4] All this is therefore to be predicated of man after the Fall, no less than before it, for all this belongs strictly to the essential nature of man, which suffered no change through the Fall. But, if we understand by liberum arbitrium that power of willing, in virtue of which man can act in everything, in good as well as in evil, entirely without hindrance, just as he pleases (“the liberum arbirium is that power of the will which, following the judgment of reason, enables man most freely to embrace the good and resist the evil” (HUTT., Loc. c. Th., 269)), [5] then it follows, from the change that has occurred in man through the Fall, that this cannot now be predicated of him. If this change consists in the loss of the divine image, it at once follows that man can no longer freely choose between good and evil, but has lost the power to will and to do that which is good. [6] If, then, we would describe more particularly the liberum arbitrium, as it exists in fallen man, we must say, that man, in consequence of the evil disposition that dwells within him since the Fall, is no longer able to will or to do anything really good and acceptable to God, viz., nothing of all that the Holy Scriptures designate and prescribe as such, because all of this can be accomplished only under the special influence of the Spirit of God. He is therefore so completely destitute of the liberum arbitrium in rebus spiritualibus, [7] that he cannot of his own accord even cherish a desire for salvation and a change of his present depraved condition. [8] And in this condition all that remains to him is liberum arbirium in malis (liberty of choice in regard to what is evil), [9] and liberum arbitrium in rebus externis, [10] namely, in all those things which being recognizable by the light of reason, are within the reach of the natural powers, without needing the aid of a truly good disposition. [11] [1] GRH. (V, 87): “Connection with the preceding. We have seen above in what wonderful and miserable ways original sin, like poison, has pervaded all the powers of man, how intimately the corruption arising from it has adhered to human nature, what pestilential fruits that envenomed seed has produced. It remains for us to inquire, what there is yet of strength in man.” CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., 179): “This is the question, What human powers are there after the Fall to produce obedience to the Law, when darkness is in the mind, aversion to God in the will, and in the heart rebellion against the Law of God? And, because not only external civil acts are demanded by the Law of God, but a perfect and perpetual obedience of the whole human nature, what, and how much can the will of man accomplish? Therefore the caption of this section would have been more clearly stated, concerning man’s powers, than concerning the freedom of the will.” [2] QUEN. (II, 170): “These powers remaining in man after the Fall are otherwise called the freedom of the will.” GRH. (V, 87), thus explains the term liberum arbitrium, or freedom of the will: “These powers of man are best judged of from the rational soul by which he is distinguished from the brutes, and is constituted a distinct species. Two faculties belong to the rational soul, viz., mind and will: the former performs its office by knowing, discriminating, reflecting, judging; the latter by choosing and rejecting. From the concurrence of both, that is produced which is commonly called the free determination, which is a faculty of the mind and will, so that the determination belongs to the mind and the free belongs to the will.” Therefore HOLL. (573): “The proper and adequate seat of free determination is the will. But the intellect concurs antecedently, and by way of preparation (paraskeuastikwß), in the execution of the free determination.” QUEN. (II, 170): “The term ‘free determination’ is not given in so many words in the Scriptures; yet is found for substance, and in equivalent terms, in Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15; 1 Cor. 7:37; Phil. 5:14; Heb. 10:26; 1 Pet. 5:2.” [3] CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., 182): “There is great diversity among ecclesiastical writers, some affirming, others denying the freedom of the will. Even the same writer, in different places, seems oftentimes to express opposite sentiments on this subject, sometimes affirming and sometimes denying it. This diversity cannot be more readily settled than by a grammatical explanation of the word. For, if the term, free will, be used in the most common acceptation, it signifies nothing more than, (1) that the man who possesses it is rational, or has mind and choice; (2) that besides natural emotions and actions, concerning which there is no deliberation of mind or choice of will, a man has voluntary emotions, to the exercise of which the judgment of the mind and the inclination of the will concur; (3) and that in virtues and vices, in order that actions may be called either good or bad, an intelligent mind is required and a will which either yields to or resists the judgment.” HUTT. (Loc. c. Th., 267): “Sometimes the term ‘will,’ or ‘choice’ is employed to designate the other faculty of the soul, indeed the very substance of the will itself, whose function is simply that of willing. Thus regarded, scarcely any one will deny free will to man, unless he dare assert that man is totally destitute of this faculty of the soul. The absurdity of this is, indeed, deservedly repudiated by all, inasmuch as no faculty or power of the soul can be ignored without ignoring the whole substance of the soul itself; for this is itself nothing else than what its faculties are, and when one faculty perishes it must itself expire.” GRH. (V, 100): “The question is not whether the essence of the will itself has survived the Fall, for this we emphatically maintain, viz., that man has lost not his will, but the soundness of it.” [4] GRH. (V, 87): “Liberty is assigned to choice in the first place, in respect of its mode of action, because it is such that the will as far as it is such, acts freely, i.e., it is not forced or violently hurried along by an external motion, nor does it act alone by natural instinct, but either embraces, or rejects something of its own accord, or from an inner principle of movement. In this sense, free and voluntary are synonymous; and to say that the will is not free, is the same as if any one would say, that that which is warm is without warmth. That is called freedom from compulsion, according to which it happens that the will cannot be forced to do anything contrary to its inclination. Also freedom from necessity, as far as necessity is employed in the sense of force and violence. Others call it interior liberty, by which the will of man is moved voluntarily, freely, without coercion, by a power implanted and with capacity to choose, and has within itself the principle of its own motion. By others it is called liberty in the subject. This liberty, since it is a natural and essential property, given to the will by God, has not been lost by the Fall. The substance of man has not perished; therefore, neither has the rational soul; therefore neither the will, nor the essential liberty of the will. The will is an essential power of the soul, and the soul is nothing else than the powers or essential faculties themselves. Therefore while the soul remains, its essential powers, intellect and will, also remain. On the other hand, the power of free and uncoerced volition is essential to the will; therefore, as long as the will remains, this power also remains. In this sense and respect we firmly believe, and emphatically declare, that the will of man has remained free even after the Fall.” QUEN. (II, 171) makes a distinction between freedom from violence and constraint, and freedom from inward necessity, and remarks: “Freedom from violence is common to man with the brutes; but man has freedom from necessity in common with God and angels.” The following distinction also deserves a place here: “An intelligent nature, that is at the same time infinite and divine, possesses freedom of the will in the most excellent and perfect manner; finite, or angelic and human nature, in a more imperfect manner.” [5] HUTT. (Loc. c., 268): “Sometimes the term ‘will,’ or ‘choice,’ is understood to signify the capacity of determining freely to choose that which is good and freely to avoid that which is evil.” In this respect, it is very properly denied that free will has remained in man since the Fall. GRH. (V, 98): “Free will in man before the Fall was that faculty of the reason and will by virtue of which he was able either to sin or not to sin.” QUEN. (II, 175): “The form of free choice consists in the indifference of the will, both that which has respect to specification as well as that which has respect to the exercise of the act; that is, it consists in such indifference and freedom that the will is not necessarily determined to one thing, but, all the requisites to action being placed before it in accordance with its own liberty, it can do either this or that, can choose one and reject the other, which is freedom of specification (or specific freedom); can either act or not act, which is freedom of action (or active freedom). This liberty is also called ‘liberty of action from the necessity of immutability,’ which is exercised when one acts without being controlled by violence or coercion, at the prompting of an internal impulse that holds itself immovably to its purpose.” [6] GRH. (V, 98): “If the question be concerning the liberty of rectitude, or the power of deciding either way, of choosing or rejecting either good or evil, we maintain that this has perished. For, after through sin the image of God was lost, at the same time also the power to choose the good was lost (for it was part of the divine image): and, because through sin man was not only despoiled but also miserably corrupted, therefore, in the place of that liberty, there succeeded the unbridled impulse to evil, so that since the Fall, in men corrupt and not yet regenerate (either corrupt by their own will, as our first parents, or born from corrupt parents, as all their posterity), the will is free only towards that which is evil, since such corrupt and not yet regenerate men are able to do nothing but sin.” (ID., V, 100): “Understanding the term ‘liberty’ as describing the free power and faculty of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, that was possessed by Adam, we maintain that Luther was perfectly correct in saying, ‘Free will is a title without the thing itself, or a thing with nothing but a title.’” [7] QUEN. (II, 177): “By spiritual things are understood such emotions and actions as are prescribed by the Law and the Gospel, and can be produced only by the motion and action of the Spirit of God, so that they are the true knowledge of God, according to the measure of written revelation, detestation of sin committed, or sorrow for sins, the fear of God, faith in Christ, the new obedience, the love of God and of our neighbor.” CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., 190): “The human will cannot, by its own powers, without the Holy Spirit, either begin interior and spiritual movements, or produce interior obedience of the heart, or persevere unto the end in the course commenced and perfect it. They are called spiritual acts because (Rom. 7:14) ‘the Law is spiritual,’ that is, it is not satisfied by any external civil actions which the unregenerate can perform; but it demands such movements and actions (1) as cannot be performed except by the agency of the Holy Spirit; (2) as unrenewed nature not only cannot perform, but even hinders the Holy Spirit in performing.” The FORM. CONC. thus defines (Sol. Dec., II, 20): “Spiritual or divine things are those which have respect to the salvation of the soul.” Concerning these says QUEN. (II, 178): “We assert that the powers of the unrenewed man, both in intellect and will, whether for the beginning, or continuing, or completing these entirely spiritual acts which have just now been mentioned, are not only bound, impeded, or even weakened or broken, but altogether destroyed, lost, extinct and a nullity. For, in knowing and seeking an object spiritually good, the old powers in man are not renewed, the drowsy are not awakened, the infirm strengthened, nor the bound loosed; but altogether other and new powers and faculties are bestowed and put on.” The proof of this position, as to the intellect, QUEN. (II, 178) derives from Eph. 5:8; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 3:5; Rom. 1:21, 22. as to the will, from Gen. 6:5; Rom. 8:7; Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; Rom. 2:5; 6:17, 20; John 8:34; Eph. 2:1, 2; Col. 2:13; Ps. 14:2, 3; Matt. 7:18. This want of freedom extends so far that QUEN. (II, 178) proceeds: “To this category also we refer the going to church for the sake of receiving information from the preached Word, the reading and hearing of the Word of God with the desire of profit, the being controlled by the desire of information from the Word, all which are the operations of antecedent and receptive grace. Here belongs also the external and historical knowledge of the biblical propositions, which transmit the mysteries of faith, 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:18; 5:8.” In the Symbolical Books the principal passages are in the FORM. CONC. II. [8] FORM. CONC. (Sol. Dec. II, 7): “We believe that man is entirely corrupt and dead to that which is good, so that there has not remained, neither can remain, in the nature of man since the Fall, and before regeneration, even a scintillation of spiritual power, by which he can, of himself, prepare himself for the grace of God, or apprehend offered grace, or be capable, in and of himself, of receiving that grace, or of applying or accommodating himself to grace, or by his own powers contributing anything, either in whole or in half, or in the smallest part, to his own conversion, or of acting, operating, or co-operating, as of himself, or of his own accord.” The FORM. CONC. (II, 77) therefore rejects the dogma of the Synergists, “who pretend that in spiritual things man is not absolutely dead to that which is good, but only deeply wounded and half dead. And although the free will is too weak to begin and, by its own powers, convert itself to God and obey with the whole heart the Law of God, yet, if the Holy Spirit make a beginning, call us by the Gospel and offer to us His grace, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, then that free will could by its own peculiar powers, meet God, in some way contribute (something, at least, although little and languidly) to its own conversion, aid it, co-operate, prepare itself for grace, and apply it, apprehend it, embrace it, believe the Gospel, and co-operate together with the Holy Spirit to continuing and preserving its own operations.” The following positions taken by Melanchthon, in the Examen Ordinandorum: “Three causes concur in conversion, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father and the Son send that He may enkindle our hearts, and our own will assenting to and not resisting the Word of God;” as also in Article XVIII of the altered Augs. Conf.: “A state of spiritual justification is effected when we are assisted by the Holy Spirit,” and “Human nature cannot produce the interior emotions, true fear, etc., unless the Holy Spirit govern and assist our hearts,” are therefore regarded as synergistic. CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., I, 201) clearly comments upon the first of these proposition: “The human will does not concur in such a manner as to aid spiritual acts by its own powers. . . . But the human will is numbered among the causes of a good act, because it can resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) and destroy the work of God (Rom. 14:20). The children of God are led by the Holy Spirit, not that they should believe or do good ignorantly and unwillingly, . . . but grace makes them willing from being unwilling, because it works to will, Rom. 7:22.” [9] QUEN. (II, 176): “In the state of corruption, liberty in the will of man is not only that of contradiction or action, but that also of contrariety or specification; not, indeed, that which is employed between spiritual good and evil, for this was lost by the Fall, but that which is employed between this and that spiritual evil in particular.” “By liberty of contradiction, we are to understand that liberty which is employed about one and the same object, within opposing limits, as to will and not to will, to do and not to do; by liberty of contrariety, that liberty which is employed either about diverse objects or about diverse acts of the same object.” HOLL. (570). GRH. (V, 99): “There exists in man, therefore, freedom of will, along with the servitude of sin, for he both sins and is unable to refrain from sinning, while he nevertheless sins freely and delights to sin; although he is not moved except to evil, yet he chooses it freely, i.e., willingly and spontaneously, not unwillingly or under coercion, and is moved to it with all his energy. Add to this, that in the very choice of evils he exercises a certain liberty.” HUTT. (Loc. c., 272): “Even in evil and vicious actions, freedom of the will is very readily conceded, inasmuch as the will, not yet regenerate, most freely, i.e., not by coercion, but spontaneously, wills, chooses, approves, and does that which is evil. Whence it happens that that which is voluntary enters into the definition of sin, so that that cannot properly be called sin which is not voluntary. . . . But it is here asked why this propensity to evil is said to be free, aye, freedom itself, since it is rather a sad and horrid service. But it is very properly replied that both assertions are true in a different respect; for this propensity of our will is properly described as both enslaved and free. Enslaved it is with respect to the lost image of God; for, since by the Fall the faculty of choosing the good and avoiding the evil was taken away, there was afterwards left a will which is so held captive under the tyranny of sin that it is not moved, except to the choosing of evil and avoiding the good. Gen. 8:21; Rom. 8:7. But, though the will be such a slave, yet it nevertheless is very properly called free, if we only have regard to the proper seat of sin, which is in the will of man. But if any one wish to assign to it also another cause, as when the Church sets the bounds of liberty concerning evil actions, that it may assign limits to human curiosity, so that the latter may not seek the cause of sin, without itself, but rather examine and discover it in itself; to this assuredly we will not object.” [10] CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., I, 183): “Augustine calls the works of the present life ‘external things.’ Because in spiritual acts there is no liberty, the will not being free, therefore, in order that freedom may not be entirely taken away from the will even in external things, this doctrine is taught concerning the freedom of the will in external discipline. But discipline is diligence in governing external actions and restraining external members in accordance with the precepts of the Decalogue; although the interior movements either may not be present or may not consent. . . . But in external things, Paul (Rom. 1:20) ascribed even to the unregenerate mind thoughts, knowledge, truth, etc. It is very evident that the mind was not despoiled of all intellect by the Fall, but that there is remaining, even in unregenerate men, some power of mind in perceiving and judging those things which have been subjected to reason and the senses, as in inventing and learning the various arts, in domestic life, politics, ethics, in counsel, prudence, etc. For this faculty makes the difference between rational man and irrational animals.” MEL. (Loci. Th., 68): “Since there remains, in the nature of man, a certain judgment and choice of things which are objects of reason or sense, there remains also a choice of external civil works; wherefore the human will is able, by its own powers, without renovation, to perform in some way the external duties of the Law. This is the freedom of the will which philosophers properly attribute to man. For even Paul, discriminating between carnal and spiritual righteousness, admits that the unregenerate have a certain power of choice, and perform certain external deeds of the Law, such as to abstain from murder, theft, robbery; and this he calls carnal righteousness.” HUTT. (272): “Reason and will in man are so inseparably united that neither can exist without the other, but they mutually presuppose each other; so that any concession of the existence of reason since the Fall necessarily carries with it the concession of the faculty of the will, unless any one should wish to assert that the reason could choose or refuse anything without the will, which would be supremely absurd.” CONF. AUG. XVIII: “Concerning free will, they teach that the human will has some liberty to attain civil righteousness and to choose in regard to things subject to reason. But it has no power without the Holy Spirit, to attain righteousness before God or spiritual righteousness.” The expression ‘Civil Righteousness’ is more fully explained in the AP. of the CONF., XVIII, 70: “We do not strip the human will of liberty. The human will has liberty of choice in works and things which reason by itself comprehends. It can in some measure attain to civil righteousness, or the righteousness of works, it can speak about God, it can offer to God a certain external worship, obey magistrates and parents; in choosing external acts it can withhold its hand from murder, adultery, and theft. Since there remains in the nature of man reason and judgment concerning things subject to sense, there remains also the choice concerning such things and the power of attaining civil righteousness. For it is this that the Scripture calls the righteousness of the flesh, which the carnal nature, i.e., reason, by itself effects without the Holy Spirit. Although the power of concupiscence is so great that men more frequently obey their evil affections than their sound judgment. And the devil, who ‘worketh in the children of disobedience,’ as Paul says (Eph. 2:2), does not cease to incite this imbecile nature to various sins. These are the reasons why civil righteousness also is so rare among men.” For proof, CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., I, 185): “(1) Because Paul affirms that there is a certain carnal righteousness, Rom. 2:14; 10:3; Phil. 3:6. (2) Because Paul says that the Law is the object of free will, even among the unjust, 1 Tim. 1:9, i.e., the Law was given to the unregenerate to restrain the will, the affections of the heart and locomotion in externals.” The later divines point out, as “the objects about which the will of man in the state of corruption is occupied, two hemispheres, one of which is called the lower and the other the higher.” To the latter belong the things purely spiritual or sacred (sacrae internae) of which we have been speaking. To the former are referred HOLL. (577): “All things and actions, physical, ethical, political, domestic, artificial, pedagogic, and divine, as far as they can be known by the light of reason and can be produced by the powers of nature aided by the general concurrence of God.” GRH. (V, 101): “For we confess that some liberty remained as far as acts are concerned which are just, in the sense of moral, political, and domestic justice, which, according to Luther, belong to the lower hemisphere. For example, an unregenerate man can control his external locomotion as he will, he can govern the members of his body by the dictate of right reason; he can, in some degree, attain civil justice, and avoid the more heinous external sins that are in conflict with external discipline. Much more can he also hear with the outward ear, and meditate upon the words of God.” Yet his cannot be admitted without some limitation. HOLL. (583): “The will of regenerate and unregenerate men since the Fall has the power, in regard to different things which are subject ot reason, of choosing or embracing one rather than another, although that power is languid and infirm.” This weakness arises from impediments both external and internal. Among internal impediments are reckoned the following, viz., “blindness of the intellect, which causes error in deliberations, disinclination of the will to pursue the good, and a proclivity to embrace the evil, vehemence of the affections, often so great that like a torrent it carries away with it the will and disturbs the judgment. The external impediments are the cunning of the devil, the blandishments and terrors of the world, the control of God, subverting plans and diminishing or cutting off the ability to act.” HUTT. (269) divides all the actions of men into: “evil, viz., those forbidden by the Moral Law; mediate or indifferent; and good.” Concerning the mediate he says: “These again are threefold, according as they pertain to the condition of our nature, such as to stand, sit, sleep, eat, drink, and such like, most of which are common to man and brutes, having mainly respect to the vegetative, positive, appetitive, and locomotive powers of the soul; or, as they pertain to our civil and domestic conduct, such as to buy, sell, go to law, go to war, to follow a trade, and whatever pertains to civil or domestic life; or, finally, such as pertain to the external government and discipline of the Church, such as to teach and hear the Word of God, to observe certain ceremonies, to give and receive the sacraments, and similar external works, affecting the external senses. We call the actions of this second class mediate or indifferent, because by their nature, or in themselves, they are neither good nor bad; but whatever of good or evil belongs to them, this they derive from other accidental causes.” Concerning good actions he says: “They are twofold, either morally good, such as to live honestly, to give every one his due, not to injure another; or spiritually good, such as to have proper regard for the worship of God, for true religion, and the eternal salvation of souls.” It is only the latter that he denies to the unregenerate. Of the others he says (273): “It is clear that some liberty of the will must be conceded to the unregenerate, not only as to the despotic (despotikwn) kind of actions, when, namely, the movement of the members is controlled by the command of the will, whether the affections inwardly consent or not, but also as to the freely chosen (proairetikon), when the will, in accordance with a good affection, prefers honest actions.” [11] This description of free will applies to man in the state of corruption. The Dogmaticians distinguish, however, a threefold condition, “the state before the Fall, the state of corruption, the state of reparation,” and in each of these conditions free will is a different thing. QUEN. (II, 176): “In the state before the Fall man was free (1) from physical necessity; (2) from compulsory necessity; (3) from the servitude of sin; (4) from misery; (5) from the necessity of immutability; not, however (6) from the necessity of obligation” (“which is the determinative direction of the will for the attainment of good and the avoidance of evil, according to the rule of a higher law,” HOLL. (571).).” QUEN. (II, 183): “In the state of reparation. The restoration of the integrity lost by the Fall is either that commenced in conversion or that completed in glorification; the former occurs in this life, the latter in the life to come. In the state of incipient restoration there exists in man, when converted, or after his conversion, a freedom in relation to an object supernatural or purely spiritual, not only from physical necessity, but also from the necessity of immutability, because his will is no longer determined to evil, as before his conversion, but it can freely choose good, by the grace of the Holy Spirit assisting and co-operating; it can also choose spiritual evil in consequence of the remains of a carnal disposition still adhering to him. In the state of consummated restoration, or in eternal life, there will succeed a full and perfect freedom of the human will, not only from compulsion and from the servitude of sin, but also from misery, and from the root and sense of sin; and also a liberty from internal necessity or immutability, as well that of contrariety (or, as to what relates to the kind of sin) as that of contradiction (or, as to whether the power to sin shall be exercised or not).” FORM. CONC. (Sol. Dec. II, 67): “There is a great difference between the baptized and the unbaptized. For since, according to the teaching of Paul (Gal. 3:27), all who are baptized put on Christ, and are truly born again, these now have free will, i.e., have again been made free, as Christ testifies (John 8:36). Whence, also, they not only hear the Word of God, but also, though not without much infirmity, can assent to it and believingly embrace it.”

« Prev § 28. The Freedom of the Will. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |