489. VIII. IF THERE WERE NO FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN SPIRITUAL THINGS, GOD WOULD BE THE CAUSE OF EVILS AND THUS THERE WOULD BE NO IMPUTATION.
That God is the cause of evil follows from the prevailing belief, which was first hatched by those who held council in the city of Nice. There was concocted and established the still persistent heresy, that there were from eternity three Divine persons, each one a God by Himself. This egg being hatched, the adherents of the belief must needs approach each Person separately as God. They compiled a creed that imputed to men the merit or righteousness of the Lord God the Savior; and that no man might share with the Lord in that merit, they took away from man all freedom of choice in spiritual things, and decreed the utmost impotence as to that faith. And as they deduced everything spiritual pertaining to the church from that faith alone, they asserted a like impotence with reference to everything that the church teaches concerning salvation. Hence sprung, one after another, direful heresies based upon that faith and man's impotence in spiritual things, and also that most pernicious heresy, predestination, which was treated of in the preceding section; all of which imply that God is the cause of evil, or that He created both good and evil. But, my friend, put faith in no council, but in the Lord's Word, which is above councils. What have not Roman Catholic councils produced? Or that of Dort, from which came forth that terrible viper, predestination? It may be thought that giving to man freedom of choice in spiritual things was the mediate cause of evil; consequently, that if such freedom of choice had not been given him, he could not have transgressed. But, my friend, pause here, and consider whether any man could have been so created as to be a man without freedom of choice in spiritual things. If deprived of that, he would be no longer a man but only a statue. What is freedom of choice but the power to will and do, and to think and speak to all appearance as if of oneself? Because this power was given to man in order that he might live as a man, two trees were placed in the garden of Eden, the tree of life and the tree of the Knowledge of good and evil; and this signifies that because of the freedom given him, man is able to eat of the fruit of the tree of life or of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.