The Eighteenth Article, Of Free Will, the adversaries receive, although they add some testimonies not at all adapted to this case. They add also a declamation that neither, with the Pelagians, is too much to be granted to the free will, nor, with the Manicheans, is all freedom to be denied it. Very well; but what difference is there between the Pelagians and our adversaries, since both hold that without the Holy Ghost men can love God and perform God's commandments with respect to the substance of the acts, and can merit grace and justification by works which reason performs by itself, without the Holy Ghost? How many absurdities follow from these Pelagian opinions, which are taught with great authority in the schools! These Augustine, following Paul, refutes pith great emphasis, whose judgment we have recounted above in the article Of Justification. (See p.119 and 153.) Nor, indeed, do we deny liberty to the human will. The human will has liberty in the choice of works and things which reason comprehends by itself. It can to a certain extent render civil righteousness or the righteousness of works; it can speak of God, offer to God a certain service by an outward work, obey magistrates, parents; in the choice of an outward work it can restrain the hands from murder, from adultery, from theft. Since there is left in human nature reason and judgement concerning objects subjected to the senses, choice between these things, and the liberty and power to render civil righteousness, are also left. For Scripture calls this the righteousness of the flesh which the carnal nature, i.e., reason renders by itself, without the Holy Ghost. Although the power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says Eph.2, 2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses. These are the reasons why even civil righteousness is rare among men, as we see that not even the philosophers themselves, who seem to have aspired after this righteousness, attained it. But it is false to say that he who performs the works of the commandments without grace does not sin. And they add further that such works also merit de congruo
the remission of sins and justification. For human hearts without the Holy Ghost are without the fear of God; without trust toward God, they do not believe that they are heard, forgiven, helped, and preserved by God. Therefore they are godless. For neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit, Matt.7, 18. And without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb.11, 6.
Therefore, although we concede free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the Law, yet we do not ascribe to free will these spiritual matters, namely, truly to fear God, truly to believe God, truly to be confident and hold that God regards us, hears us, forgives us, etc. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot render without the Holy Ghost, as Paul says, 1 Cor.2, 14: The natural man, i.e., man using only natural strength, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God [That is a person who is not enlightened by the Spirit of God does not, by his natural reason, receive anything of God's will and divine matters.] And this can be decided if men consider what their hearts believe concerning God's will, whether they are truly confident that they are regarded and heard by God. Even for saints to retain this faith [and, as Peter says (1 Ep.1, 8), to risk and commit himself entirely to God, whom he does not see, to love Christ, and esteem Him highly, whom he does not see] is difficult, so far is it from existing in the godless. But it is conceived, as we have said above, when terrified hearts hear the Gospel and receive consolation [when we are born anew of the Holy Ghost].
Therefore such a distribution is of advantage in which civil righteousness is ascribed to the free will and spiritual righteousness to the governing of the Holy Ghost in the regenerate. For thus the outward discipline is retained, because all men ought to know equally, both that God requires this civil righteousness [God will not tolerate indecent, wild, reckless conduct], and that, in a measure, we can afford it. And yet a distinction is shown between human and spiritual righteousness, between philosophical doctrine and the doctrine of the Holy Ghost and it can be understood for what there is need of the Holy Ghost. Nor has this distribution been invented by us, but Scripture most clearly teaches it. Augustine also treats of it, and recently it has been well treated of by William of Paris, but it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have dreamt that men can obey God's Law without the Holy Ghost, but that the Holy Ghost is given in order that, in addition, it may be considered meritorious.