Book 2, Chapter 2, Sections 9-13 – Man Now Deprived of Freedom of Will


9. The language of the ancient writers on the subject of Free Will is, with the exception of that of Augustine, almost unintelligible. Still they set little or no value on human virtue, and ascribe the praise of all goodness to the Holy Spirit.

10. The last part of the chapter, containing a simple statement of the true doctrine. The fundamental principle is, that man first begins to profit in the knowledge of himself when he becomes sensible of his ruined condition. This confirmed, 1. by passages of Scripture.

11. Confirmed, 2. by the testimony of ancient theologians.

12. The foundation being laid, to show how far the power both of the intellect and will now extends, it is maintained in general, and in conformity with the views of Augustine and the Schoolmen, that the natural endowments of man are corrupted, and the supernatural almost entirely lost. A separate consideration of the powers of the Intellect and the Will. Some general considerations, 1. The intellect possesses some powers of perception. Still it labours under a twofold defect.

13. Man’s intelligence extends both to things terrestrial and celestial. The power of the intellect in regard to the knowledge of things terrestrial. First, with regard to matters of civil polity.

14. The power of the intellect, secondly, with regard to the arts. Particular gifts in this respect conferred on individuals, and attesting the grace of God.


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7 years ago

Re: free will in the early fathers. Maybe I’m abtuse but I don’t the below is “almost unintelligible”, at least these men don’t seem to be:

100-165 AD, Justin Martyr: “God, wishing men and angels to follow his will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall certainly be punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably (wicked), but not because God created them so. So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God.” (Dialogue CXLi,

100-165 AD, Justin Martyr: “We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and rewards are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Otherwise, if all things happen by fate, then nothing is in our own power. For if it be predestinated that one man be good and another man evil, then the first is not deserving of praise or the other to be blamed. Unless humans have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions—whatever they may be.” (First Apology ch.43,

About the year 180, the Gnostic, Florinus, affirmed that God is the author of sin, which notion was rejected by Ireneaus, who published a discourse entitled: “God, not the Author of Sin.” Florinus’ doctrine reappeared in another form later in Manichaeism, a heresy Augustine held for nine years and had a profound influence on his anthropology.

130-200 AD, Irenaeus: “This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God…And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice…If 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?” (Against Heresies XXXVII, Book 4, Ch. 37,

150-190 AD, Athenagoras: “men…have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them, and others faithless)…” (Embassy for Christians XXIV,

150-200 AD, Clement of Alexandria: “Neither praise nor condemnation, neither rewards nor punishments, are right if the soul does not have the power of choice and avoidance, if evil is involuntary.” (Miscellanies, book 1, ch.17,

154-222 AD, Bardaisan of Syria: “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 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.”

155-225 AD, Tertullian: “I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature.” (Against Marcion, Book II ch.5,

185-254 AD, Origen: “This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the church that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition.” (De Principiis, Preface,

185-254 AD, Origen: “There are, indeed, innumerable passages in the Scriptures which establish with exceeding clearness the existence of freedom of will.” (De Principiis, Book 3, ch.1,

250-300 AD, Archelaus: “There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he chooses.” (Disputation with Manes, secs.32, 33,

260-315 AD, Methodius: “Those [pagans] who decide that man does not have free will, but say that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils.” (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, discourse 8, chapter 16,

312-386 AD, Cyril of Jerusalem: “The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to you the thought of fornication: if you will, you reject. For if you were a fornicator by necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If you 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.” (Lecture IV 18,

347-407 AD, John Chrysostom: “All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost…it depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help…It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end.” (On Hebrews, Homily 12,


7 years ago

Oops! I may not be “Abtuse” or even better “Obtuse” but I sure can’t spell

Kevin McCubbin

7 years ago

Van Tillian’s help me out here…

In the fall, volition is not removed from the creature is it? However, if the fall is ethical, and not ontological, then the creature’s volition is bent in on itself, and away from God. The creature’s ethical nature is changed, not its created nature. The creature can no longer please God or represent Him ethically because in its ethical corruption, the creature desires only evil; we now can only image Him ontologically via analogy. Apart from God’s common grace restraining evil there would not even be the veneer or vestige of goodness on the face of the earth, only a complete and utter ethical destitution… Is that too strong? Does not the creature freely choose wickedness? And that even our goodness is thoroughly polluted by fear and pride not being motivated but pure love and devotion to God? There is no one pure, not one. Regardless even the good we do ‘in Christ’ is only good in that it is sanctified ‘in Christ’ and by Christ, as even we who are in Christ are still suffering from the corruption of our ethical nature, which has been and is being renewed supernaturally, definitively, but only partially prior to glory. This is why it depends upon grace, we have nothing to commend ourselves to God.

Also missing from the above is our fall ‘in Adam’; that a foreign unrighteousness is imputed to us apart from works as, in a sense, we were ‘in Adam’ when he fell. It is from a foreign, imputed unrighteousness that springs our actual unrighteousness. It is the complete mirror opposite of our actual righteousness springing from the the foreign imputed righteousness of Christ. For we who were ‘in Adam’, are now ‘In Christ’. His righteousness working our righteousness. Having died with Christ we have died to the law; it no longer holds its threatening power over us becuase its penalty has been paid. We are now alive with him,and now freed (in slavery) to righteousness. It is then our free choice, our freedom being established in union with Christ.


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