This is the most in depth and scriptural explanation of the nature of man, free will, and the condition of man before the fall, after the fall, and since Jesus Christ that I have ever had the opportunity to thank and bless the most gracious God of heaven and earth for showing me. I want to share it with anyone who will read!
I've read it two or three times and would be glad to talk about it or try to help explain any of it. Some of it is "hard to understand" like Peter said about Paul's writings. It requires patience to wait to hear the final message at some points so don't get discouraged just from one paragraph. He goes into a lot of detailed explanation of us and what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
This man was a christian martyr. He withstood Catholics and Protestants and was killed for Jesus' sake. Any **(notes that look like this)** have been inserted by me either for clarification or because I just wanted to praise God. I apologize for any typos. I'd be grateful if you note anything weird like that. I had to type it out of a book and I'm not good at typing. I read this a few nights ago and the next day I had to begin some serious changes in my life because I had been convinced that I no longer had any excuse for them. I hope that God will bless you with the same reaction if it is needed and that he will also bless you with his patience, in giving you courage, his tender compassion, and encouraging and joyful fellowship. - Ben
(ps - should I have split this up since it's so long?)
To the majestic highborn prince and lord, Lord George, Margave at Branndenburg, Duke of Stetin, Pomerania of the Kashubes and the Wends, Burgave at Muremberg and Prince at Rugen, my very gracious lord, grace, joy, and peace in God.
Most majestic Prince, gracious lord. Although for several years great earnestness and diligence has been expounded so that the gospel was preached to all creatures, I, nevertheless, unfortunately, find many people who to this point have learned and grasped no more than two pieces from all the preaching. First, one says: "We believe; faith saves us." Second, "We can do nothing good. God works in us the desire and the doing. We have no free will." Now, however, such remarks are only half-truths from which one can conclude no more than half-judgments. Whoever makes a whole judgment and does not lay the counter-Scriptures on the same scale next to it, to him a half-truth is more damaging than a whole lie. For when the half-truth is believed and sold under the appearance of a whole truth, then all sects, quarrels, and heresies result. They are only doing patchwork with the scripture, not comparing opposing Scriptures and uniting both into a whole judgment. Whoever does not divide the judgment in the Scripture in such a way eats of the unclean animals who do not part their hooves, Lev. 11:4. Indeed, under the cover of these aforementioned half truths all kinds of evil, disloyalty, and unrighteousness have fully and totally gotten the upper hand. Now all carelessness and impudence hang in the balance. There sit unfaithfulness and falsehood in their splendid throne, ruling and triumphing mightily in all things. No longer does any christian work shine forth among all people. Brotherly love is extinguished in all hearts; and it has come to pass, as the prophet says, that truth has fallen to the ground in the streets and righteousness cannot enter anywhere, Isa. 59:14. Wisdom calls aloud and no one wants to hear her, Prov. 1:20. For it has come about (may it be faithfully lamented to God) that the world is now more evil than a thousand years ago, as all histories prove. All this happens, as painful as it is to say it, under the appearance of the gospel. For as soon as one says to them, "It is written: leave evil and do good," Ps. 37:27, they answer: "We can do no good. Everything happens out of the providence of God and from necessity." They imagine that by that they are permitted to sin. If one says further: "It is written: 'Whoever does evil will go into the eternal fire,'" John 5:29; Matt. 25:41, immediately they find a fan of fig leaves with which to cover their vices and they say: "Faith alone saves us and not our works." Yes, I have heard of many people who have not prayed, fasted, nor given alms for a long time, for their priests say that their works are of no value before God, wherefore they straightway neglect them. These are the half-truths under which we, as under the form of angels, protect all license of the flesh and blame all our sin and guilt on God, as Adam did on his Eve and Eve on the snake, Gen. 3:12. Yes, God must be responsible for all our vices, which is the greatest blasphemy on earth.
To uproot such tares, gracious Lord, I have written a small booklet for You Princely Grace and summarized in short therein who and what is the human being in and outside of the grace of God, and what he is capable of. I will also as soon as possible make another book wherein I will testify incontrovertibly and still more powerfully with the Holy Scriptures to the freedom of the human being to do good and evil. I will also thereby thoroughly resolve the contrary passages concerning Pharaoh, Esau, Jacob, the potter and the like, Exod. 9:23; Mal. 1:2f.; Isa. 45:7; Jer. 18:6; Wisdom 15:7; Rom. 9:21. Your Princely Grace, I request in all humility that you accept this little book from me graciously. Herewith, may Your Princely Grace be commended unto God. Given at Nicolspurg, on the first day of April, 1527.
Your Princely Grace's subject,
Balthasar Hubmaier von Fridberg
The human being is a corporal rational creature, created by God as body, spirit, and soul, Gen. 2:7. These three elements are found essentially and in varying ways in every human being, as the Scripture thoroughly proves. When the Lord God made the human being out of the dust from the earth, he blew a living breath into his face and thus the human being became a living soul, Gen. 2:7. Her Moses points to three things with distinct names. First, the flesh or the body is made out of the earth, which clod of earth or lump of clay, aphar and erets in the Hebrew, is translated in German as "dust," "ashes," or "mud taken from the earth." Second, notice the living breath, neshamah in the Hebrew, translated as "blowing on," "breathing on," "blowing upon," or "spirit." Third, the soul, called nephesh, is expressed separately; it is that which makes the body alive. Saint Paul mentioned these three essential substances quite clearly also with special and distinctive Greek names in writing to the Thessalonians: pneuma, psyche, and soma; in Latin: spiritus, anima, corpus; in German: Geist, Seel, Leib. **(in English: spirit, soul, body. Also, notice how the Latin word for soul, 'anima', is similar to 'animation')** He said: "May he, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through and preserve your whole spirit, soul, and body without fault until our Lord Jesus Christ returns," 1 Thess. 5:23. Likewise, we read in Hebrews the distinction between the soul and the spirit thus: "The Word of God is lively and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts until it separates soul and spirit and also joints and marrow and is a judge of the thoughts and feelings of the heart," Heb. 4:12. **(because Jesus is awesome!)** Likewise, Mary, the perpetually pure and chaste Virgin **(I have not understood this completely one way or the other whether Mary remained a virgin after Jesus was born or not. May God grant wisdom and keep us all from speaking disrespectfully about Jesus' blessed mother Mary.)** , noted this difference when she said to Elizabeth: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has looked upon the misery of his servant," Luke 1:46ff. Here once again stand explicitly: soul, spirit, and misery, which means the flesh. For Tapeinosis in the Greek is misery or lowliness of the human. Tapeinophrosyne is the humility of the mind. Christ also made this distinction more than apparent when he said to his disciples on the Mount of Olives: "My soul is distressed exceedingly, unto death. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak," Matt. 26:41. Therefore the saddened soul of Christ cried out according to the will of the flesh: "My father, if it is possible, then remove this cup from me," but according to the Spirit the soul adds, "Nevertheless, not what I want, but as you want" [Matt. 26:41f]. Here, Christian reader, you see bright and clear that these three special and essential substances--soul, spirit, and body--are made and unified in every human being according to the image of the Holy Trinity.
Now since with scriptural authority no one can deny these three essential things, substances, or essences, it follows that one must confess also three kinds of will in human beings, namely, the will of the flesh, the will of the soul, and the will of the spirit. However, so that I might teach in clear writing the different divisions of these three wills, the Spirit of God speaks in John 1:13 of the will of the flesh, which does not want to suffer; the will of the soul, willing to suffer, but due to the flesh seeks not to; and the will of the spirit which strongly desires to suffer (cf. John 1:13). In order that I might teach with clear writing the different division of these three wills, the Spirit of God through the disciple whom Christ especially loved, speaks these words of the true and eternal light which became human and came to his own and his own did not accept him. To as many as accepted him, he gave the power to become God's children. Yes, to those who believe in his name, who are born not of blood, not out of the will of the flesh nor out of the will of man (thus is the soul called in scripture) but out of God, John 1:13; 1 Sam. 10. Now we are once born, but in original sin and wrath, as Paul laments to the Romans and Ephesians, also David, Job and Jeremiah, Rom. 7:5; Eph. 2:3; Ps. 51:7; Job 3:1. Accordingly we must be born again or we cannot see the kingdom of God, nor enter it. We must be born of water and Spirit, that is, through the Word of God, which is water to all who thirst for salvation, which Word is made alive in us through the Spirit of God, without whose working it is a killing letter, Jer. 20:14; John 3:5, 4:14, 7:48; 2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 8:13; Ps. 51:12; Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4. The same helps out spirit, bears witness to it, and strengthens it in the battle and strife against the flesh, sin, world, death, devil, and hell. To this end every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God helps the spirit so that the flesh with its evil will and lusts can nowhere flee, hide, or cover itself. It finds outwardly neither rest nor respite before the preached Word of God whose sound goes throughout the whole world, nor internally in the spirit for it is everywhere convicted Ps. 19:5; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:18; Rom. 2:15. Since all testimony is proved in the mouth of two or three witnesses, thence comes the conscience and the gnawing worm into the heart of the human being.
That is the true rebirth of which Christ speaks in John 3:3, whereby our Adam, who had become a woman and an Eve through the fall, now again becomes a man; and the soul, which had become flesh, now again becomes spirit. Thus quite properly Saint Peter writes about this rebirth and says, "Make pure your souls through the obedience of truth in the spirit to since, brotherly love. Have fervent love for one another, out of a pure heart, as those who are reborn, not out of a perishable, but out of an imperishable seed, namely from the living Word of God which remains forever. Since all flesh is like grass and the glory of humanity is life a flower of the grass. The grass has withered and the flower fallen away, but the Word of the Lord remains for eternity," 1 Pet. 1:22-25; Isa. 40:6; Ecclus. 14:17f.; James 1:10. Note here, dear Christian, how the soul, which has become flesh through the disobedience of Adam, must through the Spirit of God and his Living Word be reborn to a new spirit, John 3:6. I remain silent here as to why Peter only speaks concerning the soul and says, Make pure your souls, and does not add to that, your spirit and flesh. But he knows that the spirit from the beginning is entirely a divine creation and needs no rebirth, Gen. 1. Therefore he says, by the obedience of truth in the spirit, Gen. 3:19. Nor does the rebirth help the flesh, for the judgment has already been made and enacted by God that the flesh must wither like the grass and become ashes. Otherwise it cannot possess the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 15:50; Matt. 16:17-19.
Second, it is to be noted that the human being should be considered in three states or forms: first, how he had been before the Fall of Adam; second, how he became after the Fall; third, how he is after the restoration.
How the Human Being Was Before the Fall of Adam
Before the transgression of Adam all three substances in the human beingflesh, soul, and spiritwere good, Gen. 1:31. For God considered all the things which he had made and they were very goodindeed, especially the human being made in the image of God, Gen. 1:31. The three substances were also wholly free to choose good or evil, life or death, heaven or hell. Thus they were originally made good and free also in the recognition, in the capability, and performance of good and evil by God, as the Scripture itself testifies and says: God made the human being from the beginning and left him free in the power of his own counsel, Ecclus. 15:14ff. He gave him the commandments and the law and said: If you will to keep the commandments (God says: If you, man, will, it is given to you to keep the commandments), then they will preserve you. He has set water and fire before you (note: you); you have only to stretch out your hand to the one you want. Before the human being are life and death, good and evil; whatever pleases him (yes: him) is given to him. Here the Scripture clearly and plainly shows us that the human being originally, in body, soul, and spirit, was given a free will to will and to perform good or evil. However, after the transgression of Adam, it has become otherwise for Him.
How the Human Being Has Become After the Fall of Adam
Concerning the Flesh
After our first father Adam transgressed the commandment of God by his disobedience, he lost this freedom for himself and all his descendants. Likewise, if a nobleman receives a fief from a king and if he acts against the king, the king will take this fief from the nobleman and all his heirs, for they must all carry the guilt of their forefather. Thus the flesh has irretrievably lost its goodness and freedom through the Fall of Adam and has become entirely and wholly worthless and hopeless unto death. It is not able or capable of anything other than sin, striving against God and being the enemy of his commandments. Whence springs forth the fearsome complaint which Paul utters to the Romans against his miserable and ill-fated flesh (Rom. 7 and 8). Therefore it must, according to the curse of God, return to the earth from which it has come, or it cannot possess the kingdom of heaven, Gal. 5, Gen. 3. So it is also with the blood for the two are of one will, as Paul writes 1 Cor. 15:50; Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 11:11f.; Ps. 51:7. Flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God. And Christ says to Peter: Simon Bar Jona, flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, Matt. 16:17. When Eve, who is a figure of our flesh, desired to eat and did eat of the forbidden fruit, she thereby lost the knowledge of good and evil, indeed of wanting and doing good, and had to pay for this loss with death, so that as soon as a person is conceived and born, he is conceived and born in sin. From the first moment already he is up to his ears in sin and from that moment on when he receives life he begins to die and become earth again Gen. 2:3. As God said: On the same day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will die, Gen. 2:17. Therefore Job curses the day of his birth and so does Jeremiah. For the same reason King David heatedly laments the day of his conception and birth, complaining to God how he has been conceived in evil, and in sin his mother has borne him, as reported above, Job 3:1; Jer. 20:14; Ps. 51:7. And Paul in a few words says that we have all died in Adam, and God calls it returning to the earth and becoming ashes, 1 Cor. 15:22; Gen. 3:19.
Concerning the Spirit
The spirit of the human being, however, has before, during, and after the Fall remained upright, whole, and good. For it has neither with counsel or deed, will nor action, been disobedient in any way in allowing the flesh to eat the forbidden fruit. Indeed, like a prisoner in the body, it had to eat against its will. However, the guilt was not its own, but that of the flesh and the soul, which also became flesh. This wholeness and uprightness of the spirit Saint Paul already demonstrates clearly in writing to the Thessalonians: And may your whole spirit and soul and body be held blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. 5:23. He says, Your whole spirit and not your whole soul, or your whole body. For what has once disintegrated and been shattered is no longer whole. King David laments also because of the Fall and cries to God, I have become like a broken cask, etc, Ps. 31:12. In the same way also, so that the spirit might be saved, Paul gives the fornicator to the devil for the destruction of the flesh in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, in the power of the keys, which Christ has given to his bride, the Christian church, to bind and to loose on earth after him, 1 Cor. 5:5; Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23. It is as if he were to say, If the flesh wants to be ruined and of the devil, then we give it to him; but the spirit remains saved and whole for the day of the Lord. Then will God act and deal with it according to his pleasure. It is unnecessary for us to know more.
Concerning the Soul
However, the soul, the third part of the human being, has through this disobedience of Adam been wounded in the will in such a way and become sick unto death so that it can on its own choose nothing good. Nor can it refuse evil since is has lost the knowledge of good and evil, Gen. 2; 3. There is nothing left to it bu to sin and to die. Yes, as far as doing good goes, the soul has become completely powerless and ineffective, Rom. 7. Only the flesh can act, without which the soul is outwardly able to do nothing, for the flesh is its instrument. Since, however, the instrument is incapable of doing anything, how can anything good be done with it, even if the soul gladly wanted to and made every effort. Nevertheless this Fall of the soul is reparable through the Word of God, Ps. 119:7; which teaches us again what it is to will or not will good and evil, and that after this life through the resurrection of the flesh, the body will become a heavenly, imperishable, noble, and spiritual one for action and fulfillment, 1 Cor. 15:44. Yes, it the body of these people born again of the water and the Spirit, as the first human Adam was created into the natural life and the last Adam into the spiritual life. The first human is of the earth and is earthly; the second is from heaven and heavenly.
That, however, this Fall of the soul is also reparable and harmless here on earth, while that of the flesh irreparable and even deadly, is due to the following: Adam, a figure of the soulas Eve is a figure of the fleshwould have preferred not to eat of the forbidden tree, 1 Tim. 2:14. He was not seduced by the snake but Eve was, Gen. 3:6. Adam knew well that the word of the serpent contradicted the Word of God. Nevertheless, he willed to eat of this fruit against his own conscience in order not to grieve or anger his rib and flesh, Eve. He would have preferred not to do it. Thus, since he was more obedient to his Eve than to God, he lost the knowledge of good and evil. So he cannot will or choose good, nor can he not will or flee something evil, for he does not know what is truly good or evil before God, Ps. 14:3; 32:5; 53:2. Nothing tastes good to him but that which tastes and seems good to his Eve, that is, his flesh. For he has lost the right sense of taste.
A parable: a wounded or feverish person neither wants nor likes to eat something good and healthy. Only cold water and harmful food taste good to him. That happens because his healthy nature and whole constitution have been disordered by sickness, for he has lost the right and healthy taste of knowledge. He has an embittered tongue so that he judges to be good what is harmful to him and to be evil what is useful. Just so is it with our soul after the transgression of Adam. As soon as he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so that he can neither know nor judge what is right, good, or evil before God, what righteousness is sufficient before God, or what works are pleasing to God; all this even though he would gladly do right according to the spirit. This desire is still present today in all people, in Jews and heathen, as Paul writes to the Romans, Rom. 2:14. Indeed, if one is blind, he would gladly see.
If one is lame, then he would gladly go upright. Has one fallen among murderers, wounded and half dead, then he would gladly be whole again. However, as to the right way, truth, and means for coming to this health of the soul, all err who are not instructed by the Word of God. From this now follow all deviations, false doctrine, error, idolatry, and heresy, Ps. 119:11.
Here are to be excluded all those people who have sinned against the Holy Spirit, Matt. 12:32; Luke 12:10; 1 John 5:16ff; Heb. 6:6; Rom. 1:18ff. In these all willing and desiring has been perverted. This is a judgment of the righteous God on account of their own willful, wanton, and unrepentant evil, because they fight against the known and recognized truth. Yes, they turn their backs on God and say that he will not let himself be seen. They stop up their ears so that they do not have to hear his voice. If they were to hear his voice they think they would have to die, even though it is in that way that one must and should become alive. They turn their eyes away from God and blame him for not wanting to know them. They close off their hearts and hide themselves and yet complain that he does not knock at their heart's door nor seek them. And if he knocks, they do not want to open the door; if he seeks them, they do not want to let themselves be found. That which they have, they deny; therefore God gives them what they do not want to have. Thus it happens in all those who deny the freedom of the will in the newborn human being. Nevertheless, the time is coming when they will seek God, but will not be able to find him.
Also, as they flee from him, they will fall into his hands, for he will encounter them and act toward them according to their faith. Therefore, their sin will not be forgiven, neither here nor there, for the Spirit of God will be taken from them, without which Spirit our spirit is quite helpless. Therefore it is necessary to pray earnestly with David that God not take his Holy Spirit away from us, Ps. 51:13.
On the other hand, God will also fill all those with good things who hunger and thirst after righteousness and want gladly to do good, desiring and asking such from God who has created heaven and earth, who perceive his invisible nature, that is, his eternal power and divinity as they observe the works of the creation of the world. The same he will not let go away empty and without instruction, but he will fill them with good things and will also send ambassadors and epistles by which they will be led on the right way of truth. He did this for the treasurer of Queen Candace in Egypt by Philip and for Cornelius by Peter. Indeed, before God will forsake such a spirit-hungry person all the angels must come down from heaven and through them he will proclaim and announce all the glory of God, which he wants from us, in the highest, right peace on earth and goodwill to the people, as to the shepherds in the field in the night of Christ's birth, Luke 2:8ff. Therefore in the Scripture God commonly calls his Word bread, water, drink, meat or blood, for he wants all those who hunger and thirst after it to eat and drink, and that no one be left to suffer want.
Whether now such a power for willing what is right and good is in us, it is not in us as if it were from us, for it is originally from God and his image, in which he created us originally, 2 Cor. 3:18; Gen. 1:27; which the old serpent almost blacked out and darkened through sin, Gen 3:1ff. Nevertheless, it was not possible to extinguish entirely this breath of God in us, and it still cannot be done, for God lets no one be more seriously tempted beyond that which he can bear, 1 Cor. 10:13. But God can extinguish it as a punishment so that a person can have eyes, ears and heart and still not see, hear, nor understand, Matt. 13:9; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8.
Her one see truly how the flesh after the Fall can do wholly and completely nothing; and how, as far as good is concerned, it is completely unprofitable and dead, in all its powers incapable of doing good, and is impotent, an enemy of the law, to whom it does not want to be subservient even unto the grave, John 12:40; Rom. 7:5; Gal. 5:17; Gen. 6:3; Rom. 8:1ff.; 1 John 2:16f. Thus did King David so bitterly complain and cry that no health was in his flesh, Ps. 38:4. On that Paul says: I know truly that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh, Rom. 7:18; 8:26. The spirit, however, even if it gladly wanted to will and to do right, is imprisoned. It can accomplish nothing other than bear internal witness against evil and cry as a captive to God without ceasing, with unspeakable sighs. Thus the soul has fallen among murderers, has been badly wounded by them and lies there half-dead, Luke 10:30. It has no taste or knowledge anymore of either good or evil. Thus Paul speaks of the matter and says: The psychic person grasps nothing of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14. It is foolishness to him and he cannot recognize it for it must be discerned in spiritual ways.**(psychic = soulish [Greek for 'soul' is psyche])** The spiritual person, however, judges all things and is judged by no one. Here you note again, dear christian, the wholeness of the spirit in the human being which rightly judges all things and the wounds of the soul, which in itself is of no value for judging. Both flesh and soul are damaged and seriously wounded. Only the spirit has retained its original righteousness in which it was first created. This is the way things are among the three substances in the human being before and after the transgression of Adam, our first father, whatever the scholastics say about the upper and lower parts of the human being. Aristotle, the pagan, seduced them because he knew and ascribed nothing to the human being, save body and soul. The spirit was too heavenly for him. He was not able to grasp this breath of the living God with his natural and pagan understanding. **(just like Paul said in the above passage. [Praise God. Let all men be liars but God be true.])**
How the Human Being Is After the Restoration
If the human being after the restoration by Christ is considered, one finds clearly that the flesh is still good for nothing and wholly ruined, as all the Scriptures lament. The spirit is happy, willing, and ready to do all good. The soul, sad and troubled, standing between the spirit and the flesh, knowing not what to do, is in its natural powers blind and ignorant of heavenly things. However, since it has been awakened by the heavenly Father through words of comfort, threats, promises, good things, punishment, and in other ways prodded, admonished, and drawn, as well as made whole by his dear Son, and enlightened by the Holy Spiritas the three main articles of our Christian faith concerning God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit showby this the soul now again knows what is good and evil. Now it has again obtained its lost freedom. It can now freely and willingly be obedient to the spirit, can will and choose good, as well as it was able in Paradise. It can also reject evil and flee it. It is the sent Word of God that works such in the soul, as David says: He has sent his Word and made them whole, Ps. 107:20. Thus Christ says also: If you remain in my Word, then you are my true disciples and will recognize the truth and the truth will make you free. If the Son makes you free, then you are truly free, John 8:31ff. Here note and let hear whoever has ears, that we are again made free through the sent Word and truth of God, through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore there must be true health and freedom in humanity again after the restoration, for God works always in us the willing and the doing, according to the good resolution of the heart, Phil. 2:13. Although the flesh does not afterward want to do so, it must against its own will do what the soul, which is united with the spirit, wants. Thus David calls to God: Lord, my soul clings to ashes (that is, the flesh), but make me alive, according to your Word, **(Amen.)** Ps. 119:25. On this basis, true health and freedom must be in humanity after the restoration, or these Scriptures must fall to the ground, which God forbid. Therefore Christ and Paul ascribe this freedom to humanity and say, If you will enter into life, then keep the commandments. If you live after the flesh, then you will die. If you will walk according to the Spirit, then you will live, Matt. 19:17; Rom. 8:13. Here is confirmed that ancient proverb: Man, help yourself; then I also will help you. Yes, God speaks first and gives power through his Word. Now the human being can also help himself through the power of the Word or he can willfully neglect; that is up to him. Therefore one says: God has created you without your help, but without your help he will not save you. Since God first created the light, whoever wants to accept it will do so on the basis of the commandment of God; whoever despises it falls into darkness because of the just judgment of God, John 1:5ff.; 3:19. And the talent which he has and does not want to use, but hides in the handkerchief, will therefore be simply taken from him.
The soul stands between the spirit and the flesh, as Adam stood between God, who tells him he should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and his Eve, who tells him he should eat of the tree, Gen. 2; 3. The soul is now free and may follow the spirit or the flesh. However, if it follows Eve, that is, the flesh, then it becomes an Eve and flesh. If it is obedient to the spirit, then it becomes a spirit. The soul should beware that it not linger too long at this oak of human choice and first at length consider whether it will follow the flesh or the spirit, lest it, like Absalom, who also hung between heaven and earth, 2 Sam. 18:9, be stabbed to death by the slave of sin, that is, by the flesh, with three wounds: of consent, word, and deed. Therefore David says, I have hurried and neglected nothing to hold your commandments, Ps. 119:4. And in another place: If you today hear the voice of the Lord, do not stop your ears, Ps. 95:7f. Today, he says, Not Cras, cras, tomorrow, tomorrow, as the ravens cry. **(cras is Latin for 'tomorrow')**
Accordingly, after the restoration the soul is now made healthy and truly free through the sent Word. Now it can will and do good, as much as depends on it, for it can command the flesh in such a way that it tames and masters it, so that against its own inclination it must go into the fire with the spirit and with the soul on account of the name of Christ. Although there remain imperfection, weakness, and defect in all action and omission, for we are all unprofitable servants, such is not grounds for rebuke or injurious to the soul, but to the body which is the evil instrument and worthless tool.
A parable: A carpenter gladly wants to make a clean and smooth table, but his plane is bent and notched. Now, to make such is impossible for the worker, even though not he but the plane is responsible. Likewise such a defect is not damnable to the soul, since it is sorry for it and confesses its impotence before God. However, for the flesh it is destructive; therefore it must pay the penalty, suffer, and return again to the earth. Nevertheless, the soul is again so free after the restoration that it can will evil and perform it, for in evil it has a competent and useful instrument in the flesh, which by nature is quick to do evil and is inclined to do so.
For this reason it is said: Sin is done willingly; if it were not, it would not be sin. This willfulness is the theme of those Scriptures in which God rebukes us because we do not want to hear, know, or accept the good. As when Christ says: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft have I wanted to gather you as a hen gathers it chicks under its wings, and you were not willing, Matt. 23:37. Thus he says to the young man who asks what good things he should do in order to inherit eternal life: He answers him: 'If you want to enter into life, then keep the commandments.' Willing and keeping must have been in the power of the young man, for he said: I have kept them from youth on, Matt. 19:17ff. Without doubt he spoke the truth. For Jesus looked at at him and loved him, Mark 10:21. He does not, however, love liars. Nevertheless, Christ shows him his inborn imperfection, which is in every person, and tells him to sell everything that he has and give it to poor people. Therefore he was moved with sadness. However, the same is unharmful to him, for it is fulfilled through Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of the fulfillment of the divine commandments. In him is our perfection. If the commandments of God are fulfilled, say Augustine, those other things not fulfilled by us are forgiven us. John also has written more than clearly concerning this power, when he says that God has given over and entrusted us with the power to become children of God.
Here you see clearly, Christian reader, how to will the good belongs to us to whom the Word is sent, but we do not find it in ourselves to fulfill. That happens because of our wretched body in which nothing but sin dwells, Rom. 7:18.
To summarize: The spirit is whole also after the restoration. The flesh can do nothing at all. The soul, however, can sin or not sin. But the soul which sins will die, Ezek. 18:20. Accordingly, it can well and rightfully say, propter me orta est haec tempestas, that is, it has to do with me. The flesh has received its judgment. The spirit keeps its wholeness. If I now will, then I will be saved by the grace of God; if I do not will, then I will be damned, and that on the basis of my own obstinacy and willfulness. Thus speaks the Spirit of God through Hosea: The condemnation is yours, Israel; only in me is your salvation, Hos. 13:9.
From this passage it is easy to note how the law is given in different ways: to the flesh for the recognition of its sins; to the spirit as an aid and witness against sin; to the soul for a light whereby it can see and learn the way of righteousness and flee sin and evil. Thus, when the flesh hears the law, it is frightened and its hair stands on end in terror. The spirit leaps for joy. The believing soul thanks God and praises him for the lamp and light to his feet, Ps. 119:105. For as the devil neither wishes to nor can do good, but is stuck in his evil, so likewise our flesh, since it has sinned out of willfulness when it saw that the forbidden fruit was good to eat and was appealing to the eyes and lovely to the sight. However, the soul did not sin out of its own willfulness but out of weakness and the impulse of the flesh since Adam did not want to grieve Eve, who was his flesh. As he then excused himself and said: The woman, whom you gave me for a mate, gave me from the tree and I ate, Gen. 3:6. Only the spirit has remained upright in this Fall; therefore it will return to the Lord, who gave it, Eccles. 12:7.
In summary: Here you see, reader, how God created the human being so free that he was at first able without new grace to remain in his inborn innocence and righteousness unto eternal life. He could also forfeit this grace through disobedience, which is what happened. As a result, through the Fall, grace and freedom have been darkened and lost to such a degree that the human being does not know and longer what is good or evil without a special and new grace of God. How can one will to do good and avoid evil if one cannot will anything good, unless one has recognized it beforehand. However, after the restoration, the human being has acquired and again received such grace, health, and freedom through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ that one can now again will the good and do it, indeed against the nature and will of the flesh in which there is nothing good.
In the third place: since free will in the human being is nothing other than a power, force, energy, or adroitness of the soul to will or not will something, to choose or flee, to accept or to reject good or evil, according to the will of God, or according to the will of the flesh, which fleshly will and potentiality should more exactly be called an impotence rather than a power or energy. But the soul, through the eating of the forbidden tree lost the recognition of good and evil in the sight of God, which knowledge it certainly had before the Fall, as far as it was necessary and sufficient for a human creature to know. Therefore that same tree which God forbade Adam to eat, Gen. 2:17, that is, to desire, know and experience more than is necessary for a human being. For Eve wanted also to know everything that God knows, as promised to her by the crafty serpent. On the day they eat thereof, their eyes will open and they will become as gods, knowing good and evil, Gen. 3:5. Accordingly they were rightly removed and robbed of this knowledge of good and evil by God and have become as a horse and a mule in whom there is no understanding.
For whichever person does not accept a divine gift from God with thankfulness or who does not want it, from the same will also justifiably be taken that which he has. So has it happened also to humanity in this case. Now a person can no longer will something good nor flee evil unless he knows beforehand what is good or evil in the eyes of God. Therefore this recognition and power of knowledge, willing, and working must happen and be attained by a new grace and drawing of the heavenly Father, who now looks at humanity anew by the merit of Jesus Christ our Lord, blesses and draws him with his life-giving Word which he speaks into the heart of a person. This drawing and call is like an invitation to a marriage or to an evening meal. Through it God gives power and authority to all people insofar as they themselves want to come; the free choice is left to them. It is a new birth, a beginning of his creatures, like humanity in Paradise first had been, excepting only the flesh; indeed, it is truly becoming children of God.
But whoever does not want to come, like Jerusalem and those who have bought oxen and houses and have taken wivesthese he leaves out as unworthy of this Supper. He wants to have uncoerced, willing, and joyous guests and donors; these he loves. For God does not force anyone except through the sending and calling of his Word, as also the two disciples at Emmaus did not force Christ to remain with them otherwise than by request and good works, Luke 24:29. In the same way Lot was not compelled by the two angels in Sodom, Gen. 19:2f. For the divine Word is so powerful, authoritative, and strong in the believers that the person (though not the godless one) can will and do everything that said Word commands him to want and to do. For the gospel is the power of God to the salvation of all believers, Rom. 1:16. Likewise the sick man, who had lain thirty-eight years in the portico by the pool at Bethesda, heard the Word of Jesus, saying: Stand up, take you bed, and go forth, John 5:9. In the power of these words of Christ he freely stood up, took his bed, and went forth. He could have refused, saying to the Lord in unbelief, It is impossible, or I prefer rather to lie here. As also Christ could not do many wonders in his fatherland because of there lack of faith, Matt. 13:57-58. However, as soon as this sick man heard the Word and believed, he was whole, stood up, and walked. Thus as soon as Christ says to a person: Keep my commandments. Leave evil and do good, from that hour on the person in faith receives power and strength to will and to do such. Yes, all things are now possible to the believer in the one who strengthens him, Christ Jesus. Here can be introduced all the writings which testify to the power and effect of the divine Word.
Now we surely know that originally God made all things good and especially the human being in spirit, soul, and body. However, by the disobedience of Adam this goodness in us has been wounded in the soul, its has been held captive and obscured in the spirit by the darkness of the body, and has been completely ruined in the flesh. If we would again be free in the spirit, be healed in the soul, and also that this Fall be unharmful to us in the flesh, the such must, must, must take place through a new birth, as Christ himself says, or we will not enter into the Kingdom of God. Now God, however, as James writes, gives birth to us willingly with the Word of his Power, so that we become a new beginning of his creatures, James 1:18. In this Word, which Peter calls an indestructible seed, 1 Pet. 1:23, we become free and whole again by a new law so that absolutely nothing damning is any longer in us, Rom. 8:1, Thus says Christ: The truth will make you truly free, John 8:36. Also David: He has sent his Word and has made us healthy, Ps. 107:20. And in another place: Lord, make me alive according to your Word, Ps. 119:107. Now it follows incontrovertibly that through the power of the divine Word there must be in the believer right freedom, true health, and real life, or we will have to abolish half the Bible. Far be that from us.
From the things said above one notes clearly and surely that the human being received two wounds by the Fall of Adam. The first is an inner one which is ignorance of good and evil: therefore Adam was more obedient to the voice of his Eve than to the voice of God. The second wound is external, in doing and acting. Thus the human being cannot wholly complete and hold the commandments of God on account of the inborn evil of his flesh; rather, in all his works he is a useless servant, Luke 17:10. This weakness or lack originates from the fact that Adam has not rightly mastered his rib Eve according to the command of God, but against the same has also eaten of the tree which was forbidden him on penalty of death.
The first wound is healed by the wine poured on it by the Samaritan Christ, Luke 10:34, that is, through the law in which the human being by a new grace is again taught anew what is truly good and evil before God. The second wound is healed by the oil, that is, with the gospel. Thus this sin or weakness no longer has anything poisonous or damning in it, if we do not follow it wantonly. Therefore in the New Testament Christ, the true physician, mixed together both wine and oil, that is, the law and the gospel, and made out of them a healing plaster for our souls. Thereby our souls became righteous and healthy again.
Here one grasps with both hands how Christ has made the Fall of Adam wholly innocuous for us and incapable of condemning, and how he crushed the head of the old serpent through the seed of the woman, Gen. 3:15, how he took away the sting and made its poison no longer lethal to us, 1 Cor. 15:30f. Thus, henceforth, no one may decry Adam or Eve nor excuse or gloss over his sins with Adam's Fall since everything which had been lost, wounded, and had died in Adam has been sufficiently restored, healed, and made healthy. For Christ with his Spirit has acquired for our spirit from the heavenly Father that the prison is not harmful to our spirit. And with his soul he has acquired for our soul that through his divine Word it is again taught and enlightened as to what good and evil is. Yes, also by his flesh he earns for our flesh that after it has become ashes it may again be resurrected in honor and be immortal, 1 Cor. 15:22. Accordingly, henceforth every soul that sins will bear its sin itself since it is willingly responsible for its own sin and not Adam, not Eve, not the flesh, sin, death or the devil, for all these things are already captured, bound, and overcome in Christ. To him we say, with Paul, be praise, honor, and thanks for eternity.
Finally, we see here thoroughly and clearly what great rubbish all those have produced and introduced into Christendom to this point who deny the freedom of the will in people and say how this freedom is an empty and idle name and is nothing in itself. For thereby our God is shamed and blasphemed as if he like a tyrant penalized and condemned humanity for something which it was impossible for them to will or to do. Thereby is also lifted and overthrown the justifiable charge which Christ will use against all the godless on the last day when he says, I was hungry and you did not feed me, Matt. 25:42. For then they could all too easily excuse themselves and answer: It was, however, impossible for us, for you have robbed us of willing and working the good because of Adam. For we were also foreseen from eternity in your unchanging wisdom and thereto ordained that we should not feed you. Likewise Judas Iscariot, when he betrayed you, and Pilate when he had to sentence you even though you were innocent. What do you now accuse us of, since we are not guilty, but you yourself who has made and used us as an unworthy vessel, and now so that your eternal wisdom and providence remain true and just, we must go as damned ones into the eternal fire with the devil and confirm your foreknowledge.
Through this denial of the free will manifold cause is given to the malevolent to lay all their sins and evil deeds on God, saying, That I practice harlotry and adultery is the will of God. What God wills must take place. Yes, who can counter his will? Were it not his will then I would not sin. If it is his will, then I will stop sinning. Not to mention that by this erroneous opinion many people are misled into laziness and great despair, so as to think that since I cannot will or do anything good, and since all things happen out of necessity, I will thus remain therein. If God wants to have me, then he will freely draw me. If he does not, then my will is in vain and unfruitful. Yes, such people are waiting also for a special, unusual, and miraculous drawing of God which he would use with them, as if the sending of his holy Word were not enough to draw and summon them. All of which is the work of such an evil, crafty, and blasphemous devil, that I do not know whether a more harmful Satan for the hindrance of all righteousness and godliness could rise up on earth among Christians. Through this false opinion a great part of the Holy Scriptures is overthrown and made powerless. May the all powerful, good, and merciful God graciously aid us against such serious error and crush it with the breath of his mouth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.