Friday, February 10, 2012
Vincent: Three Ways the Will May Be Free
I have been helped throughout our current Sunday afternoon Spurgeon catechism sermon series by parallel reading of Thomas Vincent’s The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture. Here is part of Vincent’s reflection on our first parents “being left to the freedom of their own will,” in which he describes three ways the will may be said to be free:
Q: How many ways may the will be said to be free?
A: The will may be said to be free in three ways.
1. When the will is free only to do good; when the will is not compelled or forced, but freely chooseth only such things are as good. Thus, the will of God (to speak after the manner of men) is free only to do good; he can neither do nor will any thing that is evil. Such also is the freedom of the wills of angels, and such will be the freedom of all the glorified saints in heaven; there neither is, nor will be, any inclination of the will unto any evil thing for ever, and yet good will be of free choice.
2. The will may be said to be free only unto evil, when the will is not contrained, but freely chooseth such things as are evil and sinful. Thus, the will of the devil is free only unto sin; and thus the wills of all the children of men in the world, whilst in a state of nature, are free only unto sin.
3. The will may be said to free both unto good and evil, when it sometimes chooseth that which is good, and sometimes chooseth that which is evil. Such is the freedom of the wills of all regenerate persons, who have in some measure recovered the image of God; they choose good freely, through a principle of grace wrought in them by the Spirit; yet, through the remainder of corruption, at some times their wills are inclined to that which is sinful.