RPM, Volume 14, Number 21, May 20 to May 26, 2012

The Bondage of the Will


By   Martin Luther    



Section CXXIV.


  Sect. CXXIV.  THERE is that passage of Prov. xvi. 1, 9, also, It is of man to prepare the heart, but of the Lord to govern the tongue, which the Diatribe says refers to events of things.   

As though this the Diatribes own saying would satisfy us, without any farther authority. But however, it is quite sufficient, that, allowing the sense of these passages to be concerning the events of things, we have evidently come off victorious by the arguments which we have just advanced: that, if we have no such thing as Freedom of Will in our own things and works, much less have we any such thing in divine things and works.  

But mark the great acuteness of the Diatribe  How can it be of man to prepare the heart, when Luther affirms that all things are carried on by necessity?   

I answer: If the events of things be not in our power, as you say, how can it be in man to perform the causing acts? The same answer which you gave me, the same receive yourself! Nay, we are commanded to work the more for this very reason, because all things future are to us uncertain: as saith Ecclesiastes, In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening hold not thine hand: for thou knowest not: which shall prosper, either this or that (Eccles. xi. 6). All things future, I say, are to us uncertain, in knowledge, but necessary in event. The necessity strikes into us a fear of God that we presume not, or become secure, while the uncertainty works in us a trusting, that we sink not in despair.    

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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