March 11, 2013
i. God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined good, or evil
There is something of interest about the location of this chapter within the Confession. It falls immediately after a chapter describing all that Christ has achieved for us by way of atonement and immediately before a series of chapters answering the question, How is that which Christ has achieved made effectual in the life of an individual believer? Before issues of the ordo salutis can be discussed, the Confession must first address the problem of man's will. Employing an older faculty psychology (something which Jonathan Edwards readdressed in the following century), section one insists that the will is not constrained by any external factors or by the will itself.
What the Divines (and before them Calvin) called free will in a trivial sense, and what today is better termed free agency, this section posits that free agency is a mark of what it means to be human. We are not robots, forced by an act of creation to respond in a given way. Rather, every human being makes decision based on what he thinks is right and wrong (though this moral compass may be entirely misled). Choices made are real (voluntary not deterministic) choices and for which there is moral responsibility/culpability. This understanding of free agency (the "natural liberty" of the will) is true of Adam before and after he sinned.