St. Cyril on Free Will and Total Depravity

Isa. 1:19-20 LXX If you are willing and hearken unto Me, you will eat the good things of the earth. But if you are unwilling and will not hearken unto Me, a sword will consume you. The mouth of the Lord it was, after all, spoke these things.

St. Cyril of Alexandriaca. 376-444

Yet we consider how rich the benefits the prophetic word brings both to the souls of the uncontaminated and to those of people genuinely founded in faith. Since the God of all placed in the inclination of those under guidance the choice of good and the avoidance of evil, He confirms that He has given to everyone on earth control of what has to be done and avoided, and that whatever they choose, they can freely pursue. Since this is the case, it would be idle and futile to indulge in fanciful inventions and claim that evil is natural to human beings, or that fate and chance and birth determine human affairs, and by constraining each one’s judgment they make them agents of vice and virtue, not moving in that direction by a willing inclination but, as it were, bound by unnatural urges and experiencing difficulty under pressure from what rules them. After all, if evil is embedded in our nature, as they stupidly claim, how is it strengthened or weakened by each person’s will? If I were to chose to be good, in fact, there is nothing to prevent my seeming to be so, whereas if evil, there is no obstacle to my taking that direction either. Where is the force of chance or fate? Or what kind of birth imposes a yoke of necessity on people if it follows each person’s wishes, and by displaying obedience they eat the fruits of the earth? And they fall to the sword if by infidelity and disobedience they oppose the divine laws? (Commentary on Isaiah Vol. 1: Chapters 1-14 trans. by Robert Charles Hill pg. 47)

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