Two Greats and a Venerable on the Will

St. Athanasius the Great ca. 293-373

Let us, therefore, in the faith of the disciples, hold frequent converse with our Master. For the world is like the sea to us, my brethren, of which it is written, ‘This is the great and wide sea, there go the ships; the Leviathan, which You have created to play therein. ‘ We float on this sea, as with the wind, through our own free-will, for every one directs his course according to his will, and either, under the pilotage of the Word, he enters into rest, or, laid hold on by pleasure, he suffers shipwreck, and is in peril by storm. (Letters 19.7)

Abba Poemen the Great ca. 4th cent.

The will of man is a brass wall between him and God, and a stone of stumbling. When a man renounces it, he also says to himself, ‘In my God, I pass over the wall’ (Ps. 18:29). Therefore, if righteousness is united with the will, a man can labor successfully. (Sayings of the Desert Fathers)

Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735

Rev 22:17 And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth, let him come. And he that will, let him take the water of life, freely.

So far forth is free-will allowed by saying, ‘He who will, let him take’; that grace is set forth immediately in that which follows, ‘The water of life’, with no merits assuredly preceding. For even to will is a gift of God. 

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