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 The Principles of Theology - Article 10

by W.H.Griffith Thomas



Of Free Will.
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will and working with us, when we have that good will.

De libero Arbitrio.
Ea est hominis post lapsum Adæ conditio, ut sese, naturalibus suis viribus et bonis operibus, ad fidem et invocationem Dei convertere ac præparare non possit. Quare absque gratia Dei, quæ per Christum est, nos præveniente ut velimus; et co-operante dum volumus, ad pietatis opera facienda, quæ Deo grata sunt et accepta, nihil valemus.


Important Equivalents

Of Adam = Adæ
By strength = viribus
By Christ = per Christum
That we may have a good will = ut velimus
When we have that good will = dum volumus
Good works = pietatis opera

The title is not quite correct, and would be better as “The Limitations of Free Will,” or “The Need of Grace.” Free will is not mentioned at all, but only assumed, its limitations being the special subject of the Article. This is really a corollary of Article 9, an enlargement of that Article in regard to the “corruption of the nature.” The first clause of the present Article was introduced in 1563 from the Wurtemberg Confession. [1] The latter clause is almost exactly from Augustine’s work, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio. [2] It would seem as though the teaching were directed against the extreme views of the Anabaptists on the subject of grace. [3] But it is more than likely that Archbishop Parker’s object in prefixing the clause from the Confession of Wurtemberg was intended to deal with the theory of Meritum de congruo, which, however, is to be specially considered under Article 13.


>> Part 1. The Teaching of The Article




[1] “Quod autem nonnulli affirmant homini post lapsum tantam animi integritatem relictam, ut possit sese naturalibus suis viribus et bonis operibus, ad fidem et invocationem Dei convertere ac præparare, haud obscure pugnat cum vero Ecclesiæ Catholicæ consensu” (De Peccato).

[2] “We have no power to do good works without God working that we may have a good will, and co-operating when we have that good will.”
“Sine illo vel operante ut velimus vel co-operante cum volumus, ad bonæ pietatis opera nihil valemus.”

[3] “Similiter nobis contra illos progrediendum est, qui tantum in libero arbitrio roboris et nervorum ponunt, eo solo sine alia speciali Christi gratia recte ab hominibus vivi posse constituant” (Reformatio Legum, De Hæresibus, c. 7).




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Article 10

>> Introduction

>> The Teaching of the Article

>> The History of the Article

>> The Question Stated

Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man




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