Sunday, February 08, 2009



Gods Word [The Bible]

30:15 See, I have set before thee this day
life and good, and
death and evil;
30:16 In that I command thee this day to love
the LORD thy God,
to walk in his ways, and to keep his
commandments and his
statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest
live and multiply:
and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou
goest to possess it.
30:17 But if thine heart turn away, so that
thou wilt not hear,
but shalt be drawn away, and worship other
gods, and serve
30:18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye
shall surely perish,
and that ye shall not prolong your days upon
the land,
whither thou passest over Jordan to go to
possess it.
30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this
day against you,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing
cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou
and thy seed may
live (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)

Ignatius [Free-Will]

2:7 It is good to set front the world unto God, that I may rise unto Him.
3:1 Ye never grudged any one;
3:2 ye were the instructors of others.
3:3 And my desire is that those lessons shall hold good which as teachers ye enjoin.
3:4 Only pray that I may have power within and without, so that I may not only say it but also desire it;
3:5 that I may not only be called a Christian, but also be found one.
3:6 For if I shall be found so, then can I also be called one, and be faithful then, when I ant no more visible to the world.
3:7 Nothing visible is good.
3:8 For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is the more plainly visible.
3:9 The Work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whensoever it is hated by the world.
4:1 I write to all the churches, and I bid all men know, that of my own free will I die for God, unless ye should hinder me.
4:2 I exhort you, be ye not an unseasonable kindness to me.
4:3 Let me be given to the wild beasts, for through them I can attain unto God.
4:4 I am God's wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread [of Christ](Ignatiuss Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 2:7-4:4)

Irenaeus of Gaul ca. 130-200 AD. [FreeWill]

Chapter XXXVII.-Men are Possessed of Free Will, and Endowed with the Faculty of Making a Choice. It is Not True, Therefore, that Some are by Nature Good, and Others Bad.
1. This expression [of our Lord], "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not," set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselvesIf then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things, and to abstain from others?

But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God (Against Heresies, Book IV, Sec. XXXVII)

Theophilus of Antioch [FreeWill]

Chapter XXVII.-The Nature of Man.
But some one will say to us, Was man made by nature mortal? Certainly not. Was he, then, immortal? Neither do we affirm this. But one will say, Was he, then, nothing? Not even this hits the mark. He was by nature neither mortal nor immortal.

For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God. Again, if He had made him mortal, God would seem to be the cause of his death.

Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God; but if, on the other hand, he should turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he should himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power over himself.

That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this God now vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him.

For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting.

For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption. (Letter to Autolycus, Book II, Chapter XXVII)

Origen [FreeWill]

3. Now it ought to be known that the holy apostles, in preaching the faith of Christ, delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on certain points which they believed to be necessary to every one, even to those who seemed somewhat dull in the investigation of divine knowledge; leaving, however, the grounds of their statements to be examined into by those who should deserve the excellent gifts of the Spirit, and who, especially by means of the

Holy Spirit Himself, should obtain the gift of language, of wisdom, and of knowledge: while on other subjects they merely stated the fact that things were so, keeping silence as to the manner or origin of their existence; clearly in order that the more zealous of their successors, who should be lovers of wisdom, might have a subject of exercise on which to display the fruit of their talents,-those persons, I mean, who should prepare themselves to be fit and worthy receivers of wisdom.

5. After these points, also, the apostolic teaching is that the soul, having a substance10 and life of its own, shall, after its departure from the world, be rewarded according to its deserts, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this: and also, that there is to be a time of resurrection from the dead, when this body, which now "is sown in corruption, shall rise in incorruption,"

and that which "is sown in dishonour will rise in glory."11 This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the Church, that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition; that it has a straggle to maintain with the devil and his angels, and opposing influences,12 because they strive to burden it with sins; but if we live rightly and wisely, we should endeavour to shake ourselves free of a burden of that kind( Origen de Principiis., Preface)

BARDAISAN of Syria c.154-222

" 'How is it that God did not so make us that we should not sin and incur condemnation?'
-if man had been made so, he would not have belonged to himself but would have been the instrument of him that moved him . . . And how, in that case, would a man differ from a harp, on which another plays; or from a ship, which another guides: where the praise and the blame reside in the hand of the performer or the steersman . . . they being only instruments made for the use of him in whom is the skill? But God, in His benignity, chose not so to make man; but by freedom He exalted him above many of His creatures." (Fragments) from

Archelaus [FreeWill]

For all the creatures that God made, He made very good; and He gave to every individual the sense of free-will, in accordance with which standard He also instituted the law of judgment. To sin is ours, and that we sin not is God's gift, as our will is constituted to choose either to sin or not to sin. And this you doubtless understand well enough yourself, Manes; for you know that, although you were to bring together all your disciples and admonish them not to commit any transgression or do any unrighteousness, every one of them might still pass by the law of judgment.

And certainly whosoever will, may keep the commandments; and whosoever shall despise them, and turn aside to what is contrary to them, shall yet without doubt have to face this law of judgment. Hence also certain of the angels, refusing to submit themselves to the commandment of God, resisted His will; and one of them indeed fell like a flash of lightning upon the earth, while others, harassed by the dragon, sought their felicity in intercourse with the daughters of men, and thus brought on themselves the merited award of the punishment of eternal fire.

And that angel who was cast down to earth, finding no further admittance into any of the regions of heaven, now flaunts about among men, deceiving them, and luring them to become transgressors like himself, and even to this day he is an adversary to the commandments of God.

The example of his fall and ruin, however, will not be followed by all, inasmuch as to each is given liberty of will33. The judges said: He has given demonstration enough of the origin of the devil. And as both sides admit that there will be a judgment, it is necessarily involved in that admission that every individual is shown to have free-will; and since this is brought clearly out, there can be no doubt that every individual, in the exercise of his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases (Archelaus, The Acts of Disputation with Heresiarch Manes, portions of 32, 33)

Methodius [FreeWill]

Now those who decide that man is not possessed of free-will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, and her unwritten commands, are guilty of impiety towards God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils.

For if He harmoniously orders the whole circular motion of the stars, with a wisdom which man can neither express nor comprehend, directing the course of the universe; and the stars produce the qualities of virtue and vice in human life, dragging men to these things by the chains of necessity; then they declare God to be the Cause and Giver of evils. But God is the cause of injury to no one; therefore fate is not the cause of all things.

Whoever has the least intelligence will confess that God is good, righteous, wise, true, helpful, not the cause of evils, free from passion, and everything of that kind. And if the righteous be better than the unrighteous, and unrighteousness be abominable to them, God, being righteous, rejoices in righteousness, and unrighteousness is hateful to Him, being opposed and hostile to righteousness. Therefore God is not the author of unrighteousness (Discourse VIII: Thelka, Chapter 16)

Now there is nothing existing of which one part is originated, and another part not. But if I were even to grant this, then there was a time when evil was not complete, namely, before matter was wrought by God. And it attains completeness when man is produced by God; for man is the maker of the parts of evil. And from this it follows that the cause of evil being complete, is God the Creator, which it is impious to say. But if you say that evil is neither of the things supposed, but is the doing of something evil, you declare that it has an origin. For the doing of a thing makes the beginning of its existence.

And besides this, you have nothing further to pronounce evil. For what other action have you to point out as such, except what happens among men? Now, it has been already shown that he who acts is not evil according to his being, but in accordance with his evil doing.

Because there is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with a free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God.

For this was the meaning of the gift of Free Will. And man after his creation receives a commandment from God; and from this at once rises evil, for he does not obey the divine command; and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience, which had a beginning.

I say therefore that God, purposing thus to honour man, and to grant him an understanding of better things, has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes, and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that He deprives him again of free-will, but wishes to deprives him again of free-will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him, and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things.

For as a father exhorts his son, who has power to learn his lessons, to give more attention to them inasmuch as, while he points out this as the better course, he does not deprive his son of the power which he possessed, even if he be not inclined to learn willingly; so I do not think that God, while He urges on man to obey His commands, deprives him of the power of purposing and withholding obedience.

For He points out the cause of His giving this advice, in that He does not deprive him of the power. But He gives commands, in order that man may be able to enjoy better things. For this is the consequence of obeying the commands of God. So that He does not give commands in order to take away the power which He has given, but in order that a better gift may be bestowed, as to one worthy of attaining greater things, in return for his having rendered obedience to God, while he had power to withhold it.

I say that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already existing same evil, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, ... but that the power of obeying and disobeying God is the only cause.

For this was the object to be obtained by free-will. And man after his creation receives a commandment from God, and from this at once rises evil; for he does not obey the divine command, and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience, which had a beginning. For no one has it in his power to say that it is without an origin, when its author had an origin. But you will be sure to ask whence arose this disobedience.

It is clearly recorded in Holy Scripture, by which I am enabled to say that man was not made by God in this condition, but that he has come to it by some teaching. For man did not receive such a nature as this. For if it were the case that his nature was such, this would not have come upon him by teaching.

Now one says in Holy Writ, that "man has learnt (evil)."16 I say, then, that disobedience to God is taught. For this alone is evil which is produced in opposition to the purpose of God, for man would not learn evil by itself. He, then, who teaches evil is the Serpent.

For my part, I said that the beginning of evil was envy, and that it arose from man's being distinguished by God with higher honour. Now evil is disobedience to the commandment of God. (Methodius, Concerning FreeWill)

Justin Marytr [Free-Will]

God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand.

But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying,

`Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin; ' that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them (Dialogue of Justin, Chapter CXLI)

Novatian of Rome [Freewill]

And after these things He also placed man at the head of the world, arid man, too, made in the image of God, to whom He imparted mind, and reason, and foresight, that he might imitate God; and although the first elements of his body were earthly, yet the substance was inspired by a heavenly and divine breathing.

And when He had given him all things for his service, He willed that he alone should be free. And lest, again, an unbounded freedom should fall into peril, He laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree; but he was forewarned that evil would arise if perchance he should exercise his free will, in the contempt of the law that was given.

For, on the one hand, it had behoved him to be free, lest the image of God should, unfittingly be in bondage; and on the other, the law was to be added, so that an unbridled liberty might not break forth even to a contempt of the Giver.

So that he might receive as a consequence both worthy rewards and a deserved punishment, having in his own power that which he might choose to do, by the tendency of his mind in either direction: whence, therefore, by envy, mortality comes back upon him; seeing that, although he might escape it by obedience, he rushes into it by hurrying to be God under the influence of perverse counsel.

Still, nevertheless, God indulgently tempered his punishment by cursing, not so much himself, as his labours upon earth. And, moreover, what is required does not come without man's knowledge; but He shows forth man's hope of future discovery5 and salvation in Christ (On the Trinity, Chapter 1)

Cyril of Jerusalem [FreeWill]

Of the Soul.
18. Next to the knowledge of this venerable and glorious and all-holy Faith, learn further what thou thyself art: that as man thou art of a two-fold nature, consisting of soul and body; and that, as was said a short time ago, the same God is the Creator both of soul and body65 .

Know also that thou hast a soul self-governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator66 : immortal because of God that gives it immortality; a living being, rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth67 .

For it is not according to thy nativity that thou sinnest, nor is it by the power of chance that thou committest fornication, nor, as some idly talk, do the conjunctions of the stars compel thee to give thyself to wantonness68 .

Why dost thou shrink from confessing thine own evil deeds, and ascribe the blame to the innocent stars? Give no more heed, pray, to astrologers; for of these the divine Scripture saith, Let the stargazers of the heaven stand up and save thee, and what follows: Behold, they all shall be consumed as stubble on the fire, and shall not deliver their soul from the flame69 .

19. And learn this also, that the soul, before it came into this world, had committed no sin70 , but having come in sinless, we now sin of our free-will.

Listen not, I pray thee, to any one perversely interpreting the words, But if I do that which I would not71 : but remember Him who saith, If ye be willing, and hearken unto Me, ye shall eat the good things of the land: but if ye be not willing, neither hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, &c.72 : and again, As ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification73 .

Remember also the Scripture, which saith, Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge74 : and, That which may be known of God is manifest in them75 ; and again, their eyes they have closed76 . Also remember how God again accuseth them, and saith, Yet I planted thee a fruitful vine, wholly true: how art thou turned to bitterness, thou the strange vine77 ?

20. The soul is immortal, and all souls are alike both of men and women; for only the members of the body are distinguished78 . There is not a class of souls sinning by nature, and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature79 : but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only, and alike in all. I know, however, that I am talking much, and that the time is already long: but what is more precious than salvation? Art thou not willing to take trouble in getting provisions for the way against the heretics?

And wilt thou not learn the bye-paths of the road, lest from ignorance thou fall down a precipice? If thy teachers think it no small gain for thee to learn these things, shouldest not thou the learner gladly receive the multitude of things told thee?

21. The soul is self-governed: and though the devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou acceptest it; if thou wilt not, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator by necessity, then for what cause did God prepare hell?

If thou were a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness: since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature (Letter IV, 18-21)

John Chrysostom [Freewill]

What then? Does nothing depend on God? All indeed depends on God, but not so that our free-will is hindered. `If then it depend on God,' (one says), `why does He blame us?' On this account I said, `so that our free-will is no hindered.'

It depends then on us, and on Him For we must first choose the good; and then He leads us to His own. He does not anticipate our choice, lest our free-will should be outraged. But when we have chosen, then great is the assistance he brings to us.
How is it then that Paul says, "not of him that willeth," if it depend on ourselves also "nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." (Rom. ix. 16.)

In the first place, he did not introduce it as his own opinion, but inferred it from what was before him and from what had been put forward [in the discussion]. For after saying, "It is written, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Rom. ix. 15),he says, "It follows then that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." "Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth He yet find fault?" (Rom. ix. 16, Rom. ix. 19.)

And secondly the other explanation may be given, that he speaks of all as His, whose the greater part is. For it is ours to choose and to wish; but God's to complete and to bring to an end. Since therefore the greater part is of Him, he says all is of Him, speaking according to the custom of men. For so we ourselves also do. I mean for instance: we see a house well built, and we say the whole is the

Architect's [doing], and yet certainly it is not all his, but the workmen's also, and the owner's, who supplies the materials, and many others', but nevertheless since he contributed the greatest share, we call the whole his. So then [it is] in this case also.

Again, with respect to a number of people, where the many are, we say All are: where few, nobody. So also Paul says, "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily XII)

Gregory of Nyssa [FreeWill]

This reasoning and intelligent creature, man, at once the work and the likeness of the Divine and Imperishable Mind (for so in the Creation it is written of him that "God made man in His image67 "), this creature, I say, did not in the course of his first production have united to the very essence of his nature the liability to passion and to death. Indeed, the truth about the image could never have been maintained if the beauty reflected in that image had been in the slightest degree opposed68 to the Archetypal Beauty.

Passion was introduced afterwards, subsequent to man's first organization; and it was in this way. Being the image and the likeness, as has been said, of the Power which rules all things, man kept also in the matter of a Free-Will this likeness to Him whose Will is over all. He was enslaved to no outward necessity whatever; his feeling towards that which pleased him depended only on his own private judgment;

he was free to choose whatever he liked; and so he was a free agent, though circumvented with cunning, when he drew upon himself that disaster which now overwhelms humanity. He became himself the discoverer of evil, but he did not therein discover what God had made; for God did not make death. Man became, in fact, himself the fabricator, to a certain extent, and the craftsman of evil.

All who have the faculty of sight may enjoy equally the sunlight; and any one can if he likes put this enjoyment from him by shutting his eyes: in that case it is not that the sun retires and produces that darkness, but the man himself puts a barrier between his eye and the sunshine; the faculty of vision cannot indeed, even in the closing of the eyes, remain inactive69 , and so this operative sight necessarily becomes an operative darkness70 rising up in the man from his own free act in ceasing to see.

Again, a man in building a house for himself may omit to make in it any way of entrance for the light; he will necessarily be in darkness, though he cuts himself off from the light voluntarily. So the first man on the earth, or rather he who generated evil in man, had for choice the Good and the Beautiful lying all around him in the very nature of things; yet he wilfully cut out a new way for himself against this nature, and in the act of turning away from virtue, which was his own free act, he created the usage of evil.

For, be it observed, there is no such thing in the world as evil irrespective of a will, and discoverable in a substance apart from that. Every creature of God is good, and nothing of His "to be rejected"; all that God made was "very good71 ." But the habit of sinning entered as we have described, and with fatal quickness, into the life of man; and from that small beginning spread into this infinitude of evil.

Then that godly beauty of the soul which was an imitation of the Archetypal Beauty, like fine steel blackened72 with the vicious rust, preserved no longer the glory of its familiar essence, but was disfigured with the ugliness of sin. This thing so great and precious73 , as the Scripture calls him, this being man, has fallen from his proud birthright.

As those who have slipped and fallen heavily into mud, and have all their features so besmeared with it, that their nearest friends do not recognize them, so this creature has fallen into the mire of sin and lost the blessing of being an image of the imperishable Deity; he has clothed himself instead with a perishable and foul resemblance to something else; and this Reason counsels him to put away again by washing it off in the cleansing water of this calling74 .

The earthly envelopment once removed, the soul's beauty will again appear. Now the putting off of a strange accretion is equivalent to the return to that which is familiar and natural; yet such a return cannot be but by again becoming that which in the beginning we were created.

In fact this likeness to the divine is not our work at all; it is not the achievement of any faculty of man; it is the great gift of God bestowed upon our nature at the very moment of our birth; human efforts can only go so far as to clear away the filth of sin, and so cause the buried beauty of the soul to shine forth again.

This truth is, I think, taught in the Gospel, when our Lord says, to those who can hear what Wisdom speaks beneath a mystery, that "the Kingdom of God is within you75 ." That word76 points out the fact that the Divine good is not something apart from our nature, and is not removed far away from those who have the will to seek it; it is in fact within each of us, ignored indeed, and unnoticed while it is stifled beneath the cares and pleasures of life, but found again whenever we can turn our power of conscious thinking towards it (On Virginity, Chapter XII)

Guadentius, a Donatist [Freewill]

"God created man free in his own image. How, then, am I to be deprived of that by human lordship which God has bestowed on me? What a sacrilege, that human arrogance should take away what God has bestowed on me, and idly boast of doing this on God's behalf? "It is a great offence against God, when he is defended by men. "What must he think of God who would defend him with outward force?

Is it that God is unable to punish offenses against himself? "Hear what the Lord says: Peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

"The peace of the world must be introduced among contending nations by arms and the force of war. The peace of Christ invites the willing, with wholesome mildness; it never forces men against their wills." (Quotations from the Writings of Gaudentius Against the Catholics)

Petilan, a Donatist [Presecution and Freewill]

Did the apostles ever persecute any one? Or did Christ ever deliver any one over to the secular power? Christ commands us to flee persectors, (Matt. X.:23). Thou who calls thyself a disciple of Christ oughtest not to imitate the deeds of the heathen. Think you thus to serve God by destroying us with your hands? Ye err, ye err, poor mortals, if ye believe this; for God has not executioners for His priests.

Christ persecutes no one, for He was for inviting, not forcing men to the faith. Our Lord Christ says: No man come unto me unless the Father who sent me draw him. But why do you not permit every man to follow his own free-will, since God the Lord himself has bestowed this free-will upon man? He has simply the way of righteousness, that none might be lost through ignorance.

Christ, in dying for men, has given Christians the example to die, but not to kill. Christ teaches us to suffer wrong, not to requite it. The apostle tells us of what he had endured, not of what he had done to others. But what have you to do with the princes of this world, in whom the Christian cause has only found enemies? (Augustin Contra Petilana, in Ladners Gospel Testimony, also Neander)

Balthasar Hubmaier, a famous Anabaptist [FreeWill]

If thou wilt enter the life, keep the commandments; if ye want to live according to the flesh, ye will die; if ye will walk according to the spirit, ye shall live. Hence arose the proverb of the ancients: Man, help thyself, and then I will help thee. God speaks forth and gives strength through his Word. Now through the power of the Word man can help himself--or can willfully neglect to do so--and this is brought home to him.

Therefore it is said God created you without your aid, but he will not save you without your aid. Since God first created the light, whoever will receive it may do so according to God's promise. Whoever despis-es it, falls, by God's judgment, into darkness (John 1: 5 ff; 3: 19). The talent that one would not use, but hides it in a napkin, is justly taken from him (Matt. 25: 24 ff.).( Hubmaier, "On Free Will," Spiritual and Anabaptist, 119-121.)

John Denck, South German Anabaptist or Bethren [FreeWill]

If he already takes away the creaturely [that is, the evils of unbelief], as often hap-pens for many, then he gives man absolute free choice, as he gave in the begin-ning, in such a way that man might grasp either the good or the bad.( John Denck, "Whether God is the Cause of Evil," Spiritual and Anabaptist, 97.)

John Wesley [FreeWill]

4. See, then, upon the whole, how little reason we have to repine at the fall of our first parent; since herefrom we may derive such unspeakable advantages, both in time and eternity. See how small pretence there is for questioning the mercy of God in permitting that event to take place; since therein mercy, by infinite degrees, rejoices over judgment. Where then is the man that presumes to blame God for not preventing Adam's sin?

Should we not rather bless him from the ground of the heart, for therein laying the grand scheme of man's redemption, and making way for that glorious manifestation of his wisdom, holiness, justice, and mercy? If, indeed, God had decreed, before the foundation of the world, that millions of men should dwell in everlasting burnings, because Adam sinned hundreds or thousands of years before they had a being. I know not who could thank him for this, unless the devil and his angels: Seeing, on this supposition, all those millions of unhappy spirits would be plunged into hell by Adam's sin, without any possible advantage from it.

But, blessed be God, this is not the case. Such a decree never existed. On the contrary, every one born of a woman may be an unspeakable gainer thereby: And none ever was or can be a loser but by his own choice.

5. We see here a full answer to that plausible account of the origin of evil, published to the world some years since, and supposed to be unanswerable: That it "necessarily resulted from the nature of matter, which God was not able to alter."

It is very kind in this sweet-tongued orator to make an excuse for God! But there is really no occasion for it: God hath answered for himself. He made man in his own image; a spirit endued with understanding and liberty. Man, abusing that liberty, produced evil; brought sin and pain into the world.

This God permitted, in order to a fuller manifestation of his wisdom, justice, and mercy, by bestowing on all who would receive it an infinitely greater happiness than they could possibly have attained if Adam had not fallen. (Sermon 59: Gods Love to Fallen Man, 1872 edition)

Real Confessions of Faith
1). Waldensian Confession of Faith at 1120 A.D.
2). The Schleitheim Confession of Faith at February 24, 1527
3). The Dordrecht Confession of Faith at April 21, 1632
4). Thomas Helwys Confession at 1611
5). A Short Confession of Faith by John Smith at 1609.
6). Waldensian Confession of 1544
7). A Short and Brief Narrative of the Faith at 1691
. Articles of the New Connexion at 1770
9). The Standard Confession of 1660
10). True Gospel Faith of 1654
11). Liberty Article Confession of Faith at 1824
12). General Association of 1870
13). Brief Statement of Mennonite Doctrine at 1963
14). Aposltes Creed of the 200s.
15). Athanasius Creed of the 300s.

By TruthSeeker


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