RPM, Volume 12, Number 41, October 10 to October 16, 2010

The Bondage of the Will

By Martin Luther


Section XL.

Sect. XL. — HERE, therefore, I hold you fast in a last-pinch syllogism (as they say). For either the one or the other of your assertions must be false. Either that, where you say, ‘those men were admirable for their understanding in the Sacred Writings, for their life, and for their martyrdom;' or that, where you say, that ‘the Scriptures are not quite clear.' But since you are drawn more this latter way, that is, to believe that the Scriptures are not quite clear, (for this is what you harp upon throughout the whole of your book), it remains evident, that it was either from your own natural inclination towards them, or for the sake of flattering them, but by no means from seriousness, that you called those men, ‘men of the greatest understanding in the Scripture, and martyrs of Christ;' merely in order that you might blind the eyes of the inexperienced commonalty, and make work for Luther by loading his cause with empty words, odium, and contempt. But, however, I aver that neither of your assertions are true, and that both are false. For, first of all, I aver, that the Scriptures are quite clear: and next, that those men, as far as they asserted "Free-will," were most ignorant of the Sacred Writings: and moreover, that they neither asserted it by their life, nor by their death, but by their pen only; and that, while their heart was travelling another road.

Wherefore this small part of the Disputation I conclude thus. — By the Scripture, as being obscure, nothing ever has hitherto, nor ever can be defined concerning "Free-will;" according to your own testimony. Moreover, nothing has ever been manifested in confirmation of "Free-will," in the lives of all the men from the beginning of the world; as we have proved above. To teach, then, a something which is neither described by one word within the Scriptures, nor evidenced by one fact without the Scriptures, is that, which does not belong to the doctrines of Christians, but to the very fables of Lucian. Except, however, that Lucian, as he amuses only with ludicrous stories from wit and policy) deceives and injures no one. But these friends of ours, in a matter of importance which concerns eternal salvation, madly trifle to the perdition of souls innumerable.

Thus I might here have concluded the whole of this discussion, even with the testimony of my adversaries making for me, and against themselves. For no proof can be more decisive, than the very confession and testimony of the guilty person against himself. But however, as Paul commands us to stop the mouths of vain talkers, let us now enter upon the Discussion itself, and handle the subject in the order in which the Diatribe proceeds: that we may, FIRST, confute the arguments adduced in support of "Free-will": SECONDLY, defend our arguments that are confuted: and, LASTLY, contend for the Grace of God against "Free-will."

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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