I. What is the freedom of the will or free power of choice?

The term freedom, or liberty, sometimes signifies a relation, power or right, be it the ordering or disposing of a person or thing, made by the will of a certain person, or by nature, for the purpose of acting with one's own choice, or from fear according to just laws, or the order which is in harmony with the nature of man; for the purpose of enjoying those benefits which are fit and proper for us, without any prohibition and restraint; and for the purpose of being relieved from enduring the wants and burdens which are not peculiar to our nature. This may be termed a freedom from bondage and misery, and is opposed to slavery. So God is most free, because he is bound to no one: so the Jews and Romans were free, not being bound by foreign governments and burdens: so a state, or city is free from tyranny and servitude, whilst in the enjoyment of civil liberty: so we, being justified by faith, are through Christ freed from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the ceremonies instituted by Moses. But this signification of liberty does not properly belong to this discussion of the freedom of the will; because it is evident, and admitted by all, that we are the servants of God, and that the law binds us either to obedience, or punishment. There are also many things which our will chooses freely, which it nevertheless has not the power or ability to perform.

Secondly, freedom is opposed to constraint, and is a quality of the will, or a natural power of an intelligent creature, concurring with the will; that is, it is the power of choosing or refusing, of its own accord, and without any constraint, an object presented by the understanding, the nature of the will remaining the same, and being free to choose this or that, or to defer any action it may see fit, just as a man may be willing to walk, or not to walk. This is to act upon mature deliberation, which is the method of acting peculiar to the will.
This freedom of will belongs to God, angels, and men; and, when considered in relation to them, is called free power of choice. For that is said to be free which is endowed with this power, or liberty of willing or not willing, whilst the power of choice is the will itself, as it follows or rejects the judgment of the mind in the choice which it makes; for it comprehends both faculties of the mind, viz: the judgment and the will.

The power of choice is therefore the faculty or power of willing or not willing, of choosing or rejecting an object presented by the understanding, of its own accord, and without any constraint. This faculty is called the power of choice in respect to the mind, which presents objects to the will, to be chosen or rejected; and it is called free in respect to the will following voluntarily and of its own accord, without any constraint, the judgment of the mind. That is called free which is voluntary, and which is opposed to what is involuntary and constrained, but not to that which is necessary; for that which is voluntary may agree and harmonize with what is necessary, but not with what is involuntary, as God and the holy angels are necessarily good, but not involuntarily or constrainedly; but most freely, because they have the beginning and cause of their goodness, which is free will, in themselves. That is said to be constrained which has only an external beginning and cause of its own activity, and not, at the same time, one that is also internal, by which it may move itself to act in this or in that manner.
There is, therefore, such a difference between what is necessary and constrained, as that which exists between what is general and particular. Whatever is constrained is necessary, but not every thing that is necessary is constrained. Hence there is what is called a double necessity--a necessity of immutability and of constraint. The former may exist with what is voluntary, but the latter cannot.

The same distinction also exists between what is free and contingent. Every thing that is free is contingent, but not the opposite. Therefore that which is free is a species of what is contingent, as is also that which is fortuitous and casual.