The Bondage of the Will

And what is it that preachers do, to this very day? Do they interpret and expound the Scriptures? Yet if the Scripture they expound is uncertain, who can assure us that heir exposition is certain? Another new exposition? And who will expound the exposition? At this rate we will go on forever. In short, if Scripture is obscure or ambiguous, what part is there in God's giving it to us?

a quite novel kind of grammar and logic, according to which what is something is nothing

Are we not to call Christ ours because we have not made him but only received him? Again, if we are the makers of things that are called ours, then we must have made our eyes, we must have made our hands, we must have made our feet, unless eyes, hands and feet are not to be called ours.

But to be brief. The clearness of the Scripture is twofold; even as the
obscurity is twofold also. The one is external, placed in the ministry of
the word; the other internal, placed in the understanding of the heart. If
you speak of the internal clearness, no man sees one iota in the
Scriptures, but he that hath the Spirit of God. All have a darkened heart;
so that, even if they know how to speak of, and set forth, all things in
the Scripture, yet, they cannot feel them nor know them: nor do they
believe that they are the creatures of God, nor any thing else: according
to that of Psalm xiv, 1. "The fool hath said in his heart, God is nothing."
For the Spirit is required to understand the whole of the Scripture and
every part of it. If you speak of the external clearness, nothing whatever
is left obscure or ambiguous; but all things that are in the Scriptures, are
by the Word brought forth into the clearest light, and proclaimed to the
whole world.

For hardly any of the ecclesiastical writers have handled the Divine Scriptures more ineptly and absurdly than Origen and Jerome.

For the kingdom is not being prepared, but has been prepared, while the sons of the Kingdom are being prepared, not preparing the Kingdom; that is to say, the Kingdom merits the sons, not the songs the Kingdom. So all hell merits and prepares its children rather than they it.

from you, my dear Erasmus, let me obtain this request, that just as I bear with your ignorance in these matters, so you in turn will bear with my lack of eloquence.

Here again you confuse and mix everything up in your usual way.

How foolish it was of Christ to purchase for us at the price of his shed blood the Spirit we did not need, in order that we might be given a facility in keeping the commandments, who we already have one by nature.

How is it then that your theologians drivel like people in their second childhood.

I frankly confess that even if it were possible I should not wish to have free choice given to me, or to have anything left in my own hands by which I might strive for salvation.

If then, Moses so distinctly announces that there is in us not only a faculty, but also a facility for keeping all commandments, why are we sweating so much? ... What need is there now of Christ or of Spirit? We have found a passage that asserts freedom of choice, but also distinctly teaches that the keeping of the commandments is easy.

If you consider this subject unnecessary for Christians, then please quit the field; you and I have nothing in common, for I consider it vital.

I owe you a small thanks, for you have made me far more sure of my own position by letting me see the case for free choice put forward with all the energy of so distinguished and powerful a mind, but with no other effect than to make things worse than before.

It was easy for you to say these things, since you either knew you were not writing to Luther, but for the general public, or you did not reflect that it was Luther you were writing against, whom I hope you allow nonetheless to have some acquaintance with Holy Writ and some judgment in respect of it.

I will say something still easier. Take a single flea or louse-since you tempt and mock our God with this talk about curing a lame horse-and if, after combining all the powers and concentrating all the efforts both of your good and all your supporters, you succeed in killing it in the name of free choice, you shall be victorious, your case shall be established, and we too will come at once and worship that god of yours, that wonderful killer of the louse.

Jerome has merited hell rather than heaven for it-so little would I dare to recognize or call him a saint.

many pass for saints on earth whose souls are in hell.

no one would be happier than Luther to be commended by the testimony of the time that he had been neither slack nor deceitful in maintaining the course of truth, but had shown quite enough and even too much vehemence.

Now I know from this very word and deed of yours what free choice is and is capable of, namely, madness.

Stop your complaining, stop your doctoring; this tumult has arisen and is direct from above, and it will not cease till it makes all the adversaries of the Word like the mud on the streets. But it is sad to have to remind a theologian like you of these things, as if you were a pupil instead of one who ought to be teaching others.

That is what Reason can neither grasp nor endure, and what has offended all these men of outstanding talent who have been so received for so many centuries. Here they demand that God should act according to human justice, and do what seems right to them or else cease to be God.

that prudence of yours makes you veer about, determined not to commit yourself to either side, but to pass safely between Scylla and Charybdis; with the result that, finding yourself battered and buffeted by the waves in the midst of the sea, you assert everything you deny and deny everything you assert.

These words of yours, devoid of Christ, devoid of Spirit, are colder than ice itself, so that they tarnish the beauty of your eloquence. Perhaps they were dragged out of you, poor fellow, by fear of the pontiffs and tyrants, lest you should seem altogether an atheist!

The truth of the matter is rather as Christ says, "He who is not with me is against me." ... He does not say "He who is not with me is not against me either, but merely neutral.

to call a man without the Holy Spirit "upright and God-fearing" is the same as calling Belial "Christ".

We come to the New Testament, where again a host of imperative verbs is mustered in support of that miserable bondage of free-choice, and the aid of carnal Reason with her inferences and similes is called in, just as in a picture or a dream you might see the King of the flies with his lances of straw and shields of hay arrayed against a real and regular army of seasoned human troops. That is how the human dreams of Diatribe go to war with the battalions of divine words.

what I am after in this dispute is to me something serious, necessary, and indeed eternal, something of such a kind and such importance that it ought to be asserted and defended to the death, even if the whole world had not only to be thrown into strife and confusion, but actually to return to total chaos and be reduced to nothingness.

what is sought by means of free choice is to make room for merits.

Why do you rant and brag with such a spate of words, as if you wanted to overwhelm me with a sort of tempest and deluge of oratory-which nevertheless falls with the greater force on your own head, while my ark rides aloft in safety?