The Idol of Free Will


The Idol of Free-Will
by Dr. John Owen

Our next task is to take a view of the idol himself, of this great deity of FREE-WILL, whose original being not well known. He is pretended, like the Ephesian image of Diana[1], to have fallen down from heaven and to have his endowments from above. But yet considering what a nothing he was a this first discovery in comparison of that vast giant-like hugeness to which now he is grown, we may say of him as the painter said of his monstrous picture, which he had mended or rather marred according to every one’s fancy, “It is the issue[2] of the people’s brain.” Origen[3] is supposed to have brought him first into the church; but among those many sincere worshippers of divine grace, this setter forth of new demons found but little entertainment. It was looked upon but like the stump of Dagon with his head and hands laid down before the ark of God without whose help he could neither know nor do that which is good in any kind, still accounted but “a fig – tree log, an unprofitable piece of wood.” The fathers of the succeeding ages had much debate to what use they should put it, and though some exalted it a degree or two above its merits, yet the most concluded to keep it a block still until at length there arose a stout champion,[4] challenging on his behalf the whole church of God, and like a knight-errant,[5] wandered from the west to the east to grapple with any that should oppose his idol; who, though he met with divers adversaries, one especially,[6] who in the behalf of the grace of God continually foiled him and cast him to the ground, and that in the judgment of all the lawful judges assembled in councils and in the opinion of most of the Christian bystanders. Yet by his cunning insinuation,[7] he planted such an opinion of his idol’s deity and self-sufficiency in the hearts of divers[8] that to this day it could never be rooted out. Continue reading