Friday, August 22, 2008

Sometimes I can figure these out, sometimes it's just guessing. This time, I'm guessing:

Is this an accurate quote from Luther? If so, where is it found in his writings?

"Both good and evil men, though by their actions they fulfill the decries and appointments of God, yet are not forcibly constrained to do anything but act willingly."

I found the quote cited here, by Augustus Toplady, and also here by William Shedd. Both writers mention it's from Luther's Bondage of the Will. I poked around in 4 different versions of Luther's Bondage of the Will. This may be the section these writers pulled from:

[I could wish indeed that another and a better word had been introduced into our discussion than this usual one, “necessity,” which is not rightly applied either to the divine or the human will. It has too harsh and incongruous a meaning for this purpose, for it suggests a kind of compulsion, and the very opposite of willingness, although the subject under discussion implies no such thing. For neither the divine nor the human will does what it does, whether good or evil, under any compulsion, but from sheer pleasure or desire, as with true freedom; and yet the will of God is immutable and infallible, and it governs our mutable will, as Boethius sings: “Remaining fixed, Thou makest all things move”; and our will, especially when it is evil, cannot of itself do good. The reader’s intelligence must therefore supply what the word “necessity” does not express, by understanding it to mean what you might call the immutability of the will of God and the impotence of our evil will, or what some have called the necessity of immutability, though this is not very good either grammatically or theologically.]

Source: LW 33:39

Notice the section is in brackets: "This bracketed paragraph is given in a footnote in the Weimar edition (WA 18, 616, n. 1), where it is cited as having appeared first in the Jena edition of Luther’s works (1567). Whether or not it came from Luther’s hand, it undoubtedly expresses his view, and the importance of its contents sufficiently explains its inclusion here."

See also the Revell edition, 1957 p. 81-

"The will, whether it be God's or man's, does what it does, good or bad, under no compulsion, but just as it wants or pleases, as if totally free. Yet the will of God, which rules over our mutable will, is changeless and sure..."

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