The question of the freedom of the will, or the power of the human will to obey God, and to do that which is good, is intimately connected with the subject of the misery of man, and claims our attention next in order. It is also necessary to know what ability man possessed before the fall, and what he has since, that, having a correct knowledge of the effects of the first sin, we may be the more excited to humility, and to an earnest desire for divine grace and guidance; and also to true gratitude to God. For this doctrine of the liberty of the will, brings us to a consideration, not of the ability and excellence of man, but of his weakness and misery.

Of free will
The principal question and object, in this discussion, is, Whether man can now, in the same way in which he separated himself from God, also return to him by his own strength--accept of the grace that is offered him by God, and recover for himself the position which has been lost by sin o? And also, whether the will of man be the chief cause why some are converted, whilst others continue in sin; and why, both among the converted and the unconverted, some are better than others? in a word, whether the will of man be the cause why men do good or evil, whether in this, or in that manner?

The Pelagians, and others of a similar character, reply to this question, That so much grace is given by God, and left by nature, to all men, that they can of themselves return to God, and obey him: neither are we to seek for any other cause than the will of man, as the reason why some receive and retain, whilst others reject and disregard, divine aid in forsaking sin, and do, after this or that manner, resolve upon and execute their own counsels and deeds.

The holy Scriptures, however, teach a wholly different doctrine, which, as we understand it, is, that no work acceptable and pleasing to God can be undertaken, and performed by any one, without regeneration and the special grace of the holy Spirit; neither can there be any more or less good in the counsels and actions of any man, than God of his own free grace chooses to produce in them; nor can the will of any creature be inclined in any other direction than that which seems good to the eternal and gracious counsel of God. And yet all the actions of the created will, both good and bad, are performed freely. That this may be the better understood, let us inquire:

What is freedom of will, or free power of choice?

What is the distinction which exists between the liberty which is in God, and that which is in his rational creatures, angels and men?

Is there any freedom of the human will?

What kind of freedom of will is there in man; or how many degrees of free-will are there in man, according to his fourfold state?