I marvel that men will so stiffly contend and strive against so open and manifest texts of Scriptures and testimonies of the Lord, to prove the will of man, which is bound and captive, to be free and at liberty. The bondage of our will we do find and prove daily by experience in ourselves, every one of us being in the hands of the Lord, as is the clay in the hands of the potter to be fashioned to what use the potter’s mind and pleasure is, as it is written, Isaiah 45: Woe be to him that striveth with his maker, the potsherd with the potter. Will the clay say to the potter what dost thou make? Thy work serveth for nothing?
Also, Jeremiah speaks more plainly, chapter 18: May not I do with you as the potter does, O house of Israel? Ye are in my hand even as the clay in the potter’s hand. Paul, to the Romans, chapter 9: Hath not the potter power and liberty over one clot of clay to make one vessel to honor and another to vileness? What caused the Prophets and Apostles to write this but the fact that the potter hath no more power over the piece of clay then the Lord hath over man. Nay, the power that the Lord hath over man is much more than a thousand times more powerful than the potter’s power over clay. Also, it is a fact that as the potter makes certain vessels to honest uses and service as, for example, to receive and keep meat, drink and water, etc., and others to a more vile use; even so, the Lord hath created the elect to His glory, and the reprobate to perpetual ignominy and shame.
Furthermore, the potter doth break the vessel and make it anew, greater or smaller, as it suits him best, at whose workmanship the vessel is content and resisteth not, nor begrudges him anything at all, so that the potter may make of him whatever shall please his maker. So, truly, does the Lord work upon and fashion man. The Lord doth harden and make indurate, as He does also take away and remove the hardness from the heart of man. And as long as the man is hardened is that vessel full of ignominy and filthiness. After his hard heart is taken away, having received a new heart, he is then made anew a vessel of glory. From this you may see that it is not in the hand of him who wills or who runs, but in the Lord who is full of mercy.
First objection - the vessel must have free will to respond
Our adversaries make a certain objection to prove the will of man free, by citing Paul in II Tim. 2:20-211: If a man doth purge himself from such men, he shall be a vessel sanctified to honor, meet for the uses of the Lord. They say these words are foolish if spoken to a potsherd, but if that potsherd had the power of reason, then it would be well said. I do grant this, but that which they then infer I will not grant. They say the reasonable shard, having been warned and admonished may accommodate and make meet itself to the will and pleasure of the Lord. This they call the ‘endeavor of free will.’ I do hold the contrary opinion, affirming that no man, though he possesses never so fine and quick a wit, be he never so much well learned. Though he were every hour of the day admonished and taught his duty, that he still is not able to accommodate and make himself meet to the will of the Lord, unless he first receives the Spirit of Christ, which Spirit doth make him apt and ready to the will of the Lord.
Second objection – the vessel cannot be blamed for its vile actions
Another objection they lay against us, saying, If you do speak this thing literally, without any exception, the fact that we are in the hands of the Lord as the clay is in the hands of the potter, then we must admit the inevitable conclusion: as the potter is the cause of why the vessel is a vessel of ignominy, serving a vile use, the vessel is not blamed for not being better than it is; likewise then it is so with the reprobates, the cause of their reprobation must be imputed to the Lord who might have made them vessels of honor had it pleased Him, and not the reprobates worthy to be blamed.
To this objection I answer, saying, these arguments and reasons are altogether of the flesh, reaching carnal conclusions from premises which they do not rightly understand, not being able to attain to the truth, wherein many things lie hidden, surpassing all men’s understanding. It is good, therefore, in this case to stay and search no further. Rather, we are to reverence with all humility those things which the Lord keeps for his own knowledge.
Third objection- why is man commanded to purge himself, if he has not the innate power to do so?
Another objection of our adversaries is this: If the similitude of the potter which Paul speaks of in Romans 9 must be understood and taken literally in context, why should we then not understand Paul’s admonition in II Timothy 2 the same way? Whereto I answer that we do take it literally in its context. But this point you must mark well: to keep the commandments which we are commanded to keep is impossible without the Spirit of the Lord, the truth of which no sophist’s cavilations can deny. Nay, even they grant that it is impossible for any man to keep the commandments of the Lord, in accord with the mind, intent, and will of the Lord who doth command them without His Spirit. It follows, therefore, that whatsoever the Lord commands us to do, is to us impossible. Yet the Lord wills us to keep and observe His commandments. Whereby we have both the knowledge of sin and of our weak and feeble condition, having no strength of ourselves. For the law is spiritual which cannot be kept without the Spirit of God. And therefore, He hath given His Spirit to the elect to keep His will, which before they were not able to do.
James has a similar admonishment, Cleanse your hearts, you wavering of mind. This one cannot do without the heart being purified and made clean by faith in Jesus Christ. This is how James’ words should be taken and understood. Believe in Christ, that by His Spirit you may be purified. But no man can believe, but he which is drawn of the father, as witnesseth John, chapter 6. This is why we grant that we must desire and pray that God keep us in His commandments, which of ourselves, in ourselves, we are not able to do. Let us ask, call and cry unto God with great diligence and faith, and it shall be granted us. But see how captive and bound our will is, for the truth is, to desire and ask anything of the Lord we are not of ourselves able…. There is none of us who deny that man works, but we do deny that he works by his own free will. For either he works that which is evil, being drawn by the spirit of fornication; or else he works that which is good by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty.
Lambert uses a similitude to answer his objectors
Mark the following similitude which explains my position further: A man takes a knife and cuts bread with it. The knife cuts, but not without the hand of him who holds the knife. For the knife is not free of himself either to cut or not to cut. With that in mind, when a man cuts anything with a knife, he says, “This knife cuts well,” or, “this knife cuts poorly,” though the knife of itself cuts nothing without the power and force of the cutter. Likewise we can do nothing of ourselves that is good and right, except the Spirit of God works in us. Also, we can do no evil except we be bound with the spirit of fornication and of the flesh. The Lord may leave us bound in this spirit by virtue of His righteous justice; by His judgment which we know not. And so He allows us to be hardened.
Does God ordain salvation based on His eternal foresight of our accepting or rejecting Christ?
It is here that the faithful need take heed of that pestilent opinion which states that every man is made the vessel of honor or reproach by his own merits going beforehand. I ask, what thing is or ever was before the eternal decree and ordinance of the Lord? If thou will say that God decrees and ordains that which is eternal predicated on that which is in time, which thing he foresaw man do, we answer that nothing which is done in time, being temporal, is the cause of that which is eternal, being before time. We should do great wrong and injury to the Lord if we say that He was compelled to ordain and decree anything in His eternal Being because of that which is done within the limit of time. It is only by the worthiness and grace of God that the elect are predestinated to be, in time, vessels of glory and honor, and though His most just judgment be unknown to us, the reprobates are made, in time, the vessels of ignominy, dishonor and shame. The Lord is marvelous in all His judgments.
Paul says in the 9th chapter of Romans, It was said to the two children Jacob and Esau: before they were born, before they had done either evil or good (as it is written in the 25th chapter of Genesis) the elder shall be the servant to the younger, for this intent – that by election the purpose and ordinance of God should be steadfast and certain; not by our works, but by God, whose pleasure is to call whom He pleases. It is written also in the 1st chapter of Malachi, I have loved Jacob and hated Esau. It is manifest that before the beginning He hated the wickedness of Esau and his children, that is to say, those who followed his incredulity and unfaithfulness. He loved Jacob and his seed, which is to say, those who follow and have the faith of Jacob. These words may not be taken and understood only of their natural children begotten of their flesh. For as the Israelites were not all counted in the seed of Jacob, but only those with faith, so likewise not all Edomites are the sons and children of Esau, but only those who follow the unfaithfulness and ungodliness of Esau. Every unfaithful man, be he an Edomite, an Israelite, a Greek, or any other men, is of the seed of Esau. And contrariwise, every faithful man, if he be an Edomite, and Israelite, an Englishman, or a Frenchman, is of the seed of Jacob.
The words of our Saviour, John 6, do confirm this same captivity and bondage of our will. No man can come after me and follow me, that is to say, ‘believe in me,’ except my Father, which did send me, do draw him.” Is not our will then captive and bound, since it cannot believe in Christ without it’s being drawn? And John 15, Without me you can do nothing. In this place, though Christ is speaking of the fruit of His Gospel calling, He being the vine and His disciples the branches, yet He did also speak this universally to all men, saying, without me you can do nothing, that is to say, bear no good fruit, which may be understood to symbolize good works. And there is no good work without faith, otherwise it is an evil work and sin. ….
They do object against us, saying, We do nothing without Christ, but when He does send His Spirit we either agree with the Spirit or refuse it. The consent and agreement to the will of the Lord is of us, they say, is our own and of ourselves. The Lord, they say, puts us in mind to pray, to repent our evil lying, to be generous to the poor, etc. His suggestion we then either resist or follow, for we have the liberty in our soul to respond howsoever we list. I answer by saying, If this objection be true, then Christ’s words are false, when He says, without me you can do nothing. For the reasoning of our adversaries allows they CAN do something without Him, by endeavoring and applying your will to His. By this we are to understand that the inward work of God in teaching and admonishing us is no greater than the outward work of the preacher who outwardly teaches us. O error and most execrable heresy. This is the very truth: God doth move and stir that thing which pleases Him, no man can apply himself thereto, except he receive the Spirit of God, whereby he does it. He cannot even begin to do anything, no matter how small, without Christ working in him.
Again, they still object, saying, If God works all things in us by His Spirit, if He willeth His will in us, if it is He who prays, gives alms, studies, works and speaks in us, how is it then we endeavor of ourselves to do anything, and that carefully, with anxiety? I will not speak of all other things that we do, for what cause, (saith they), did the holy Evangelists prepare themselves to declare the Word of God? For it was said to them, when you are brought before kings and rulers, be not careful, thinking how and what you should speak. For it is not you which speaketh, but the Spirit of my Father which speaketh in you. Whereto I say whosoever goes about doing anything, or is careful about it, or studied how to present the Gospel of Christ, he does it either of a pure faith toward God, as a result of the work of the Holy Ghost, or else without faith, trusting in his own virtue, industrious labor and diligence, which is then the work of the sense and understanding of the flesh. The former is caused by being bound and drawn by the Spirit of the Lord, the latter by the spirit of fornication, because he is bound in the wings of fornication, as it is written. Therefore, where is our liberty? It is impossible that you, by your own power, can overcome the spirit of fornication who draws you wherever it pleases him.
Objections raised – Irresistible grace the answer
Some believe that the drawing wherewith the Father draweth is not violent drawing which imposes necessity, obviating your free will to choose or not to choose. They believe a man still retains the will to do or leave undone, as it pleases him. This they prove by the following examples: When a man shows a child an apple, the child runs to him for the apple. And as a sheep follows the man holding the shepherd’s staff, even so, they say, does the Lord move and stir our minds with this or that, leaving it to our choice whether we will come or not.
I do think this exposition to be erroneous, perverse, and heretical as I have declared previously. I have shown you many other Scriptures, thus far, which refute their position, a position which strives and struggles against the verity of the Lord. The Lord’s drawing is such that a man cannot but choose to follow Him that draws. For every man who is drawn of the Father, taught by Him, comes to Christ, per John, chapter 6. To accomplish this, the Spirit of Christ binds the spirit of fornication within you, so much so that he cannot stir, nor hinder you from following His direction, as long as the Spirit of God reigns in you. The spirit of fornication must give way to the Holy Spirit, who is more excellent as well as his superior. Therefore, the Spirit of God is at liberty to use you without any obstacle or hindrance, enabling you to keep the commandments of the higher Lord. You cannot but choose to run when He draws you after Him according to His purpose. For He has put a bridle and strong bit into the mouth of the spirit of fornication, which before had held you back from being compliant to the will of the Lord.
Therefore, we are drawn of God, forced to run after Him as He is pleased. If there is any man who thinks he is drawn and yet does not run to the Lord, he is foul deceived, for he has not been drawn in the first place!
Christ does not draw all men – Limited Atonement
Christ, who suffered death for us, does draw all men after Him. By ‘all men’ is meant the children of Israel, that is to say, the elected, for whom only He was sent. To them pertains the heritage of the world through Christ, as Paul teaches in Romans 9. For when the elected are drawn, they do fly as fast as they can to Christ, because they cannot but choose the Spirit of Christ bearing rule in them. Although the elected do offend and sin sometimes by reason of weakness and infirmity of the flesh, the concupiscence being not altogether quenched in them, yet they do live by the virtue of God, by which they hate sin, that same virtue being the cause wherefore their sin is not imputed to them…..The flesh is not altogether subdued and quelled in the elect, as long as they are alive. And yet it is daily crucified in them, being mortified by the presence of the heavenly spirit, wherein the flesh is bound, bridled and placed under subjection. The Spirit of the Lord, if it please Him, may draw thee quickly altogether and whole after Him, quenching the power, strength and heat of the flesh in an instant. But it pleaseth Him not to act in this way because He knows it is best, to His greater glory and to the profit of the elect people.
Many men claim to know the causes of all these things, why the Lord does this or that. But verily, as it is said before, the spirit of fornication hath deceived them and bound them in his wings. For whatever theories they claim to have is far less than the truth of the matter indeed….No man doth know this mystery, but the Lord only, and to whom it pleaseth Him to open it. He will reveal and open it to his elect in time, to their glory, and then we shall know how marvelous are the judgments of the Lord above man’s reason.
Lambert identifies the Pope of Rome as the Antichrist
…..The great Antichrist and horned beast, the foul and abominable strumpet and harlot of Babylon Rome, calleth himself the ‘servant of the servants of God,’ though he is the most cruel enemy and bloody tyrant that ever God had. By this the Papists believe that those who call themselves unprofitable servants the Lord will say to them, Come you, my blessed, etc. We answer by saying that not those who call themselves unprofitable by their own mouth outwardly, but they which without hypocrisy in their hearts acknowledge themselves to be no less, indeed, then they have declared with their mouths, professing it openly, whenever the glory of God should require. These are the children of God which in the judgment shall be numbered among the elect. The Lord confirms this when He says, Not every man which saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into His glory.
………Therefore, by the testimonies of the Scripture, and by many more which I might rehearse, it is made evident and plain, that the will of man is altogether captive and bound, being sufficiently proved by the Scriptures, and that in no case is it free and at liberty to do of himself what he wills.
The Lord saith in John 8, If the Son hath set you free and at liberty, then are you free, indeed. Question: From what does the Son deliver you, and from what bondage are you set free? Answer: From the immoral, good-for-nothing and corrupt sense, judgment and understanding of man, and from all other proceedings thereof. He doth deliver none but His servants under that condition, keeping them always under subjection. Question: Subjection to whom? Answer: To Himself and no one else, for His own sake. [His Elect] are set at liberty from all outward things which may be any hindrance or impediment from their keeping and observing His holy ordinances. This is the liberty and freedom of all the children of God, (that is to say), of the faithful, who are the only children of God and no other.
This change and alteration is worked by the hand of the Almighty, so that a man then detests and abhors the spirit of fornication with all the filthiness and impurity of it, as well as all other things which are likewise dependent on that fornicating spirit, such as the inventions of man, and all his traditions and decrees which by great degree swerve from the Word of the Lord. This same hand of God also causes a man to no longer desire or seek his own pleasure and will, but the will and pleasure of Jesus Christ, and profit of his neighbor.
By this it is manifest that the faithful are both servants and freemen, being made free from sin they are made servants of God, as Paul testifies, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, II Cor. 3:17. Also, Galatians 4:31, We are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free woman., in which liberty Christ has delivered and made His elected free. And 1 Peter 2:16 teaches that though we are free, our liberty is not to be used for a cloak to practice iniquity, but we are to behave as true and faithful servants of the Lord.
It is the Lord’s work to take away a heart of stone, indurate, bound to the spirit of fornication, as testifies Ezek. 33:26 ff., which heart is indicative of the sinner’s bound will. This the Lord never does in vain, for it is in His power and at His own pleasure and will, having no need of our industrious labor. And this He does only for the Elect.
Our opponents cite Ezek. 18:31, Take away from you all your iniquities wherein you have failed and gone aside, and make yourself a new heart and spirit, as proof of the freedom and ability of man’s will to accomplish something good. In this they are deceived. For the Lord requires that we work, not by our own power and diligence, but by the power and diligence of His Spirit. Besides, this and all the commandments of the Lord are impossible to keep if the Spirit of God not be in us. For only He makes all things possible. What man of his own power can cast off his old habitual wickedness and corrupt desires of the flesh? What man can renew, alter and turn his own heart Godward, keeping the will of God without His Spirit? It is the Lord’s work and no one else. Jeremiah 13:23 concurs when he says, Is it possible that an Ethiopian can turn the color of his face and put on a new skin? Can the leopard take from himself the spots which are in him? Can you do a good work who has learned all wickedness and evil? By this text it is openly declared that a man cannot alter his heart by his own power, nor can he do any other thing which pertains to eternal happiness.
Yet the defenders of this false and most deceitful liberty do still go about to deceive us making us believe that we Reformed do expound the Scriptures thusly: ‘Make you a new heart,’ that is to say, ‘Let grace make you a new heart.’ They also add this Scripture, ‘Stretch forth your hand whereto you will,’ that is to say, ‘Let grace stretch forth your hand whereto you will,’ and this one, ‘Let us cast away the works of darkness,’ that is to say, ‘Let grace cast away,’ etc.
I pray you, what man ever heard me at any time read and expound these Scriptures in this manner? (As for the rest of their slanderous lies, I will not speak of them here.) What man, knowing our opponents are such shameful and shameless liars, will believe them in anything they speak? For our exposition and declaration of those texts hath been always after this manner: ‘Make you a new heart by the Spirit of God.’ What man can make his heart new without the Spirit of God, especially since by our own deceitful spirit we are made worse and worse, much less can we go from worse to better? ‘Stretch forth your hand,’ that is, by the will and deed of the Spirit of God to goodness, or to evil by the spirit of fornication and of the flesh. Furthermore, ‘let us cast away the works of darkness by the Spirit of God, without which we are not able to do so.
There is no Reformer who teaches that God commands grace to do anything, as though He would say, Let grace do this or that. For grace is nothing else but the favor of the Lord. Therefore, by saying, Let grace extend, let grace do, let grace cast away, what is it but to say that is a precept or commandment which God commands Himself to perform? Let our enemies therefore cease from these blasphemous reports and devilish lies, where by them they declare to all men the perverse and forward malice of their hearts. By this they do go about to make dark and obscure the grace of God and the goodness of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Why the Reformers detest the doctrine of Free Will
In fact, we Reformed do esteem the Free Will advocates’ comely false liberty to be much more vile and stinking than man’s body odor, or any other stinking dung hill, because it is nothing less than the invention and devise of the Devil, Satan, whose purpose and goal is nothing else but to take away, diminish and hinder the verity of the Lord, obscuring and hiding from the eyes of men the most merciful gentleness of His goodness, making men ingrates and unthankful people.
The dream and fantasy of this free will is such, that if it be true, as they do say, then the verity of the word of God cannot stand. Contrariwise, if the word of God be true, which the devil and all his disciples cannot deny, then of necessity must this counterfeit will be discovered as it really is, false and contrary to all truth.
The Synagogue of Antichrist hypocrites for teaching the free will of man, yet praying the Lord to free them from bondage to sin
The synagogue of Antichrist, on Christmas Day do grant this, pronouncing with their own lips, the holy prayer of the church of God, saying, ‘Grant to us, go Lord we pray thee, that this new nativity of thy Son in the flesh may deliver us, and make us free, whom the old servitude and bondage doth hold fast bound under the stirring of sin, etc.’
This stirring of sin is that of the stirring of the flesh, which Paul speaks often, especially in his epistle to the Romans. This concupiscence holds man in most cruel servitude, insomuch that except he be first delivered from that, he can do nothing pleasing unto the Lord. [When a man has been delivered from sin by the strong and mighty Lord, he becomes bound to his new master.] This is the yoke of bondage of the believing people. O most joyful liberty to the elect which is annexed and joined inseparable with the most blessed servitude and bondage of the Lord. This liberty is far from that false liberty promised by Satan and his most miserable synagogue of Antichrist which is departed and fallen from the Lord and Saviour. By the liberty of Christ the faithful may do service to the Lord without impediment, and afterward one to another for Christ’s sake.
Bondage to the Lord described
This holy and sacred servitude and bondage of the Lord is not a bitter, hard or heavy yoke. It is light, amiable and sweet, as Christ witnesses, Matt. 11, My yoke is sweet, my burden is light. By this yoke, which is to be coveted of all men, and by this bondage, all men do keep the commandments of the Lord, freely, gladly and diligently. For they are never without the Spirit of the Lord and His gifts which are these: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength of the spirit, knowledge of godliness, fear of the Lord, joyfulness, peace of conscience, a sure and certain hope, etc. With these follows the love of the Lord, confidence in Him only, charity and love toward thy neighbor, poverty and lowliness of thy spirit, mourning and lamenting thy neighbor’s grief, full of compassion, and all other goodness. With this yoke, this amiable bondage, which is necessary for us, it pleaseth the goodness of the Lord to bind us, so that thereby we should attain to perfect liberty in him.
Lambert laments the fall of certain men from Christ to Antichrist who now hold free will
Alas there are certain men (how they have been deceived the Lord knows) which, having once testified their abhorrence and detestation of the foul and stinking synagogue of Antichrist with all their abominable rites, crafts, and lies thereof, with all their vain, curious and fantastic speeches, are now turned to their madness, forsaking the verity of the Lord, so that they now teach and preach men that the will of man is free and at liberty, which, by the power of the word of the Lord, hath hither been rejected and forsaken.
Text # 1: Matthew 23 & Luke 13
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets and stoneth them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children as the hen doeth her chickens, and thou wouldest not.”
Our opponents point to the fact that Christ would and the Jews would not as proof that the will of man is free or else the Lord was malicious and unjust in threatening punishment for their disobedience, if they were bound and unable to disobey Him. This perverted thinking is a typical example of how the flesh of sinful man presumes to judge the most righteous and just judgment of God, a judgment which could not be further from the truth.
John 10 says, You do not believe me because you are not of my sheep, that is to say, of my elect people, who only are the very sheep of Christ, whom no man can take forth from His hand. Thou man, who is nothing else but corruption and meat for the worms, who are you to reason against the Lord. Rather be thou afraid and marvel with all lowliness and meekness of the profound and impenetrable depth of His judgment. Learn how you must understand these words of Christ repeated out of Matthew and Luke. I would, saith Christ, and thou which are the carnal synagogue would not. And why would you not? It is because you are not of my sheep, not my elect and chosen people. You have not My Spirit, without which it is impossible to find it in your heart to be agreeable to my commandments, or anything else agreeable to me, for that matter. All the desires of the flesh, that is to say, of a man without My Spirit, do fight and strive against me.
Therefore, by those words Christ did not mean to show that it was in their free choice to other than what they did. Rather it was to declare to them how much He did hate and abhor all the desires of the flesh which labor continually to do those things which are contrary to His will which is all Godliness and virtue.
Text # 2: Promises and commands of God which seem to be conditional on the free will of man to obey.
Matthew: “If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments; If thou wilt be perfect,” etc.
Luke: “If any man will come after me, etc.; He that will save and keep his life shall lose it.”
These and numerous other texts can be cited in both Testaments which our adversaries bring forward as confirmation of man’s free will, as if these texts say, If you will, if you will not; If you will hear, if you will not hear; If you will seek, if you will turn, if you do separate, if he turn away, etc. But in all these scriptural ‘proofs’ they do err, not rightly understanding what the Spirit meant by them. The power to perform these tasks is given by the Spirit. Therefore, these texts must be understood this way: If thou wilt do this or do that with all thy heart, and through my Spirit, then shalt thou obtain this or that. If you do otherwise you shalt perish because you are bound fast by the spirit of fornication.
(1) Our opinion and certain belief is that the will of man is captive and bound, and that it, of itself, can do nothing that is good or pertaining to eternal happiness.
(2) The choice and election to do this or do that is the work and deed of the will and of the understanding.
(3) The will of man is captive, and is led by the spirit of fornication, that is, by the natural sense and knowledge of sin or concupiscence, because the deceitful spirit doth reign in the heart.
(4) Then the will cannot be obedient to the word of the Lord, but only in hypocrisy and lies, after a deceitful manner, fair in appearance, but foul in substance.
(5) For the words of truth cannot be pleasant to it, wherefore it is always contrary and repugnant to them.
(6) By the coming of the Spirit of the Lord, and by faith, man is delivered and made free from the spirit of fornication, from which evil spirit no man’s wisdom or craft can loose himself or set himself at liberty.
(7) Then the Spirit of God reigneth in the hearts of the faithful, bringing the spirit of fornication more and more under subjection daily, making it bound and captive, crucifying it.
(8) Then does the Spirit of God work His knowledge and understanding within man, causing him to know God and His truth, without which Spirit it is impossible for man, of himself, to attain to either.
(9) The Spirit of God also causes the will of man, which is bound, to will the things which God wills and to be content with His sweet words.
(10) As a result, man then wills those things God wills, not by his own virtue, but by the virtue and power of God Himself.
(11) By the Spirit of God, man is set at liberty, and made free from all traditions of men, yet, at the same time, is captive and bound to the obedience and service of God and His truth.
(12) And so he is made free from the captivity and bondage of perdition, going into the bondage and liberty of the children of God.
(13) Then he serves the Lord most freely and faithfully, running forward, due to the Spirit of God working alacrity and readiness in him.
(14) All the precepts, threatenings, promises, rebukes, and curses upon the wicked do declare how much God loves the Holy Spirit, and how He does rule the spirit of fornication.
(15) The will of the believer doth work with the Spirit, working in him not of his own strength and virtue, but by the strength and virtue of the Spirit.
(16) God hardens, as well as awaken and stir up. He also execrates and makes blind. Whomsoever He hath thus determined to be judged as such, that same man’s destiny must go forth as God had predetermined.
(17) Yet I do not, therefore, conclude that God is unjust, nor that He works any iniquity.
(18) In this matter man’s sense and judgment is dim, and many there be which do search these things not without great peril of falling into heresy.
(19) This controversial question concerning man’s will, and how it is He sets some free and others He does not, directly relates to the mercy and justice of God and is insoluble, for it is so profound and deep that it cannot be penetrated and attained unto by man.
(20) God hath no need of our lies that a man should think it lawful to devise and invent the false doctrine of man’s free will against the manifest and obvious texts of the Scripture, thinking that by so doing he may come more readily to perfect knowledge of the question concerning the equity of the justice and righteousness of God, which he shall never come to as long as he lives.
(21) Those who maintain free will do speak directly contrary to the purpose of the Law when they affirm that a man can so guide himself that he can, of himself, keep the Law, or that he can he has the power and will to do his best to keep it, when Scriptures testify to the opposite.
(22) The mark and chief part of the whole Law is spiritual, and therefore cannot be kept by other than the Spirit of God. This is the scope and principle work of the Spirit.
(23) Those same free will makers do attribute and give to flesh and blood that thing which is proper only to the Spirit of God. That is to say, to will any good, for flesh and blood can do nothing but stray from God in fornication and whoredom.
(24) But the Reformers (who are instructed and taught by the testimony of God) all say that the will of man is captive and bound, and that, of itself, it cannot keep the Law of God. In this they speak the truth because they speak not against the mark and chief part of the Law which is spiritual.
(25) These men do attribute to man that which is truly his, that is, that man is the slave of sin and concupiscence, unless he is made free by the power of God.
(26) These same men do attribute to the Holy Ghost that which is His due, that is to say, both to think, to will and to perform that thing which is good, and so they do give to God and not man, all power, virtue and glory.
(27) The founders of free will are the founders of merits and of the righteousness of works, as they call it.
(28) The men who establish man’s merits, and the righteousness of works, do deny and tread underfoot the righteousness and merits of Christ.
(29) Christ only hath merited to us the favor, grace of God, and eternal righteousness. Our righteousness is filthy in God’s sight.
(30) The confirmation of our captive and bound will is the confirmation of the merits of Christ, and of the righteousness of God by Him who nothing but contempt for the unworthy righteousness of our works.
(31) I do not deny that a man should do good works because it is needful that the faithful man should always be well doing and not idle, that he may declare and testify his faith by his works. For a true faith is never idle, but spreads abroad in good works, which are the testimony and witness of our faith.
(32) But I say that a faithful man doth not trust nor give confidence to his works, nor to his own will.
(33) The patrons and defenders of free will cannot receive and take the word of God simply, rightly and in kind, for the free will of man and the word of God are contrary.
(34) He who defends the contrary must need understand the Scriptures for what they actually teach. For by defending free will he swears not from the word of God.
(35) No man can say in the Spirit of God that the will of man is free.
(36) No man can, with a pure heart, believe the will of man is bound, but can only believe this by the Holy Spirit which speaks in him, working a Godly love and desire for the truth of God’s word, rather than curious reasoning.
(37) For he who holds the opinion that the will of man is free greatly diminishes and takes away from the merits and mercy of Christ, while giving too much to the strength of man’s will, contrary to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
(38) He that opposes the false doctrine of man’s free will attributes no good thing to the strength and will of man. Rather he owes all good things to the mercy of God and gratuitous favor of Christ, which favor and mercy through Christ, in whom they believe, the faithful do obtain. And in so doing, they do confess the Lord Jesus Christ as they ought to do, giving only to Him the praise of our justification and redemption, which confession is impossible without the Holy Spirit.
(39) The sum and final conclusion of this matter is that the defense of free will is the origin and beginning of perverse sects of men, who, in all impiety and wickedness, in all hypocrisy and counterfeit holiness, lay this false foundational doctrine, this abomination upon which the synagogue of Antichrist is established.
(40) The contrary opinion held by the Reformed is the well and fountain of all virtue, justice and righteousness, of grace and favor through Christ only, and the key of knowledge of all Godly and wholesome doctrine. Wherein the Lord continue us to His only glory and praise forever.