497. X. MAN'S WILL AND UNDERSTANDING ARE IN THIS FREEDOM OF CHOICE; NEVERTHELESS IN BOTH WORLDS, THE SPIRITUAL AND THE NATURAL, THE DOING OF EVIL IS RESTRAINED BY LAWS; BECAUSE OTHERWISE SOCIETY IN BOTH WORLDS WOULD PERISH.
Every man can know that he has freedom of choice in spiritual things merely by observing his own thought. Is not any man able to think in freedom about God, the Trinity, charity and the neighbor, faith and its operation, and about the Word and all its teachings, and, when he has studied theology, about the particulars of these subjects? And who cannot think and even draw conclusions, and teach and write, either for or against these things? If man were deprived of this freedom for a single moment, could he continue to think; would not his tongue be dumb, and his hand powerless? Therefore, my friend, you may if you choose, by merely observing your own thought, reject and detest that absurd and hurtful heresy, which at this day has induced upon Christendom a lethargy respecting the heavenly doctrine of charity and faith, and of salvation thereby, and eternal life.
 The reasons why this freedom of choice resides in man's will and understanding are the following: (1) Because these two faculties must first be instructed and reformed, and then by means of these the two faculties of the external man, which cause him to speak and act. (2) Because these two faculties of the internal man constitute his spirit which lives after death, and which is subject only to Divine law, the primary thing of which is, that man should think of the law, should practice and obey it of himself, although from the Lord.  (3) Because, as to his spirit, man is midway between heaven and hell, thus between good and evil, and therefore in equilibrium, and in consequence of this he has freedom of choice in spiritual things (on which equilibrium see above, n. 475 seq.). But so long as man lives in the world, he is as to his spirit in equilibrium between heaven and the world, and then he is scarcely aware that so far as he withdraws from heaven and draws nearer to the world, he draws near to hell. He is aware of this and yet not aware, in order that even in this respect he may be in freedom, and may be reformed.
 (4) Because these two, the will and the understanding, are the two receptacles of the Lord, the will the receptacle of love and charity, the understanding the receptacle of wisdom and faith; and each one of these is made active by the Lord while man is in complete freedom, in order that there may be a mutual and reciprocal conjunction between them, whereby salvation is effected. (5) Because all the judgment that is effected in man after death is in accord with the use he has made of freedom of choice in spiritual things.