RPM, Volume 15, Number 9, February 24 to March 2, 2013

The Bondage of the Will

Section CLXV.

By Martin Luther

Sect. CLXV. — AND if you are concerned about this, — that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God, seeing that, He damns the undeserving, that is, those who are for that reason ungodly, because, being born in iniquity, they cannot by any means prevent themselves from being ungodly, and from remaining so, and being damned, but are compelled from the necessity of nature to sin and perish, as Paul saith, "We all were the children of wrath, even as others," (Eph. ii. 3.), when at the same time, they were created such by God Himself from a corrupt seed, by means of the sin of Adam, —

Here God is to be honoured and revered, as being most merciful towards those, whom He justifies and saves under all their unworthiness: and it is to be in no small degree ascribed unto His wisdom, that He causes us to believe Him to be just, even where He appears to be unjust. For if His righteousness were such, that it was considered to be righteousness according to human judgment, it would be no longer divine, nor would it in any thing differ from human righteousness. But as He is the one and true God, and moreover incomprehensible and inaccessible by human reason, it is right, nay, it is necessary, that His righteousness should be incomprehensible: even as Paul exclaims, saying, "Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. xi. 33). But they would be no longer "past finding out" if we were in all things able to see how they were righteous. What is man, compared with God! What can our power do, when compared with His power! What is our strength, compared with His strength! What is our knowledge compared with His wisdom! What is our substance, compared with His substance! In a word, what is all that we are, compared with all that He is!

If then we confess, even according to the teaching of nature, that human power, strength, wisdom, knowledge, substance, and all human things together, are nothing when compared with the divine power, strength, wisdom, knowledge, and substance, what perverseness must it be in us to attack the righteousness and judgments of God only, and to arrogate so much to our own judgment, as to wish to comprehend, judge, and rate, the divine judgments! Why do we not, here in like manner say at once — What! is our judgment nothing, when compared with the divine judgments! — But ask reason herself if she is not, from conviction, compelled to confess, that she is foolish and rash for not allowing the judgments of God to be incomprehensible, when she confesses that all the other divine things are incomprehensible? In every thing else we concede to God a Divine Majesty; and yet, are ready to deny it to His judgments! Nor can we for a little while believe, that He is just, even when He promises that it shall come to pass, that when He shall reveal His glory, we shall all see, and palpably feel, that He ever was, and is, — just!

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