Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 4.--The Divine Commands Which are Most Suited to the Will Itself Illustrate Its Freedom.
What is the import of the fact that in so many passages God requires all His commandments to be kept and fulfilled? How does He make this requisition, if there is no free will? What means |the happy man,| of whom the Psalmist says that |his will has been the law of the Lord|? Does he not clearly enough show that a man by his own will takes his stand in the law of God? Then again, there are so many commandments which in some way are expressly adapted to the human will; for instance, there is, |Be not overcome of evil,| and others of similar import, such as, |Be not like a horse or a mule, which have no understanding;| and, |Reject not the counsels of thy mother;| and, |Be not wise in thine own conceit;| and, |Despise not the chastening of the Lord;| and, |Forget not my law;| and, |Forbear not to do good to the poor;| and, |Devise not evil against thy friend;| and, |Give no heed to a worthless woman;| and, |He is not inclined to understand how to do good;| and, |They refused to attend to my counsel;| with numberless other passages of the inspired Scriptures of the Old Testament. And what do they all show us but the free choice of the human will? So, again, in the evangelical and apostolic books of the New Testament what other lesson is taught us? As when it is said, |Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth;| and, |Fear not them which kill the body;| and, |If any man will come after me, let him deny himself;| and again, |Peace on earth to men of good will.| So also that the Apostle Paul says: |Let him do what he willeth; he sinneth not if he marry. Nevertheless, he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.| And so again, |If I do this willingly, I have a reward;| while in another passage he says, |Be ye sober and righteous, and sin not;| and again, |As ye have a readiness to will, so also let there be a prompt performance;| then he remarks to Timothy about the younger widows, |When they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they choose to marry.| So in another passage, |All that will to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;| while to Timothy himself he says, |Neglect not the gift that is in thee.| Then to Philemon he addresses this explanation: |That thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but of thine own will.| Servants also he advises to obey their masters |with a good will.| In strict accordance with this, James says: |Do not err, my beloved brethren . . . and have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect to persons;| and, |Do not speak evil one of another.| So also John in his Epistle writes, |Do not love the world,| and other things of the same import. Now wherever it is said, |Do not do this,| and |Do not do that,| and wherever there is any requirement in the divine admonitions for the work of the will to do anything, or to refrain from doing anything, there is at once a sufficient proof of free will. No man, therefore, when he sins, can in his heart blame God for it, but every man must impute the fault to himself. Nor does it detract at all from a man's own will when he performs any act in accordance with God. Indeed, a work is then to be pronounced a good one when a person does it willingly; then, too, may the reward of a good work be hoped for from Him concerning whom it is written, |He shall reward every man according to his works.|