FREEDOM OF WILL AND JUDGEMENT

The human race is ordered best when it is most free.  For this will be manifest if we see what is the principle of freedom.  It must be understood that the first principle of our freedom is freedom of will, which many have in the mouth, but few indeed understand.  For they come so far as to say that the freedom of the will means a free judgement concerning will.  And this is true.  But what is meant by the words is far from them.

Judgement is between Apprehension and Appetite.  First, a man apprehends a thing; then he judges it to be good or bad; then he pursues or avoids it accordingly.  If therefore the Judgement guides the Appetite wholly, and in no way is forestalled by the Appetite, then is the Judgement free.  But if the Appetite in any way forestalls the Judgement and guides it, then the Judgement cannot be free: it is not its own: it is captive to another power.  Therefore the brute beasts cannot have freedom of Judgement; for in them the Appetite always forestalls the Judgement.  Therefore, too, it is that intellectual wills are unchangeable, and souls which separate from the body, which have gone hence in peace, do not lose the freedom of their wills, because their wishes cannot change; nay, it is in full strength and completeness that their wills are free.

It is therefore again manifest that this liberty, or this principle of all liberty, is the greatest gift bestowed by God on mankind; by it alone we gain happiness as men.  But if this is so who will say that human kind is not in its best state, when it can most use this principle? - Dante

 

THE TWO ASPECTS OF MAN

It must be recognised that man alone, of all created things, holds a position midway between things corruptible and things incorruptible; and therefore philosophers liken him to a dividing line between two hemispheres.  For man consists of two essential principles, namely, the Soul and the body.  If he be considered in relation to his body only, he is corruptible; but if he be considered in relation to his Soul only, he is incorruptible and therefore the Philosopher (Aristotle) spoke well concerning the incorruptible Soul when he said in the second book Of the Soul: 'It is this alone which may be separated, as being eternal, from the corruptible'.

If, therefore, man holds this position midway between the corruptible and the incorruptible, since every middle nature partakes of both extremes, man must share something of each nature.  And since every nature is ordained to gain some final end, it follows that for man there is a double end.  For as he alone of all beings participates both in the corruptible and the incorruptible, so he alone of all beings is ordained to gain two ends, whereby one is his end in so far as he is corruptible, and the  other in so far as he is incorruptible.

Two ends, therefore, have been laid down by the Ineffable Providence of God for man to aim at: the blessedness of this life, which consists in the exercise of his natural powers, and which is prefigured in the earthly Paradise; and next, the blessedness of the life eternal, which consists in the fruition of the sight of God's countenance, and to which man by his own natural powers cannot rise, if he be not aided by the Divine Light. - Dante

 

PRAYERS OF THE MYSTICS

As my body without my Soul is a carcase, so is my Soul without my Spirit, a chaos, a dark obscure heap of empty faculties: ignorant of itself, insensible of Thy goodness, blind to Thy glory.  Having eyes I see not, having ears I hear not, having a heart I understand not the glory of Thy works and the glory of Thy Kingdom.

Let Thy wisdom enlighten me, let Thy knowledge illuminate me, and let my will become conformable to Thine: that Thy Will and mine may be united and made one for evermore.  - Thomas Traherne

Tis not change of place but glorious principles well practised that establish Heaven in the life and the soul.  An angel will be happy anywhere, and a devil miserable, because the principles of the one are always good, of the other bad.  From the centre to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills all is Heaven before God and full of treasure; and he that walks like God in the midst of them, blessed.  - Thomas Traherne

There is one mind common to all individual men.  Every man is an inlet to the same and all of the same.  He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate.  What Plato has thought he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand.  Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only sovereign agent. - Emerson 

 

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