The Fact That Evil Is an Option Available to Everyone’s Inner Self Makes It Obvious That We Have Free Choice in Spiritual Matters (Continued)

There are countless particular arguments that would show that we have just as much free choice in spiritual matters as in earthly matters.

If you wish, you could do an experiment on yourself. See if you are able to think about God, the Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the divine matters known as the spiritual concepts of the church seventy times a day or three hundred times a week. And if it is some pleasure or even some craving that brings you to do it (whether you happen to have faith or not), do you feel any compulsion in doing so? Whatever state you are in, consider whether you could think at all if you did not have free choice. Surely, free choice is of supreme importance in what you say, in prayers to God, in preaching, and in listening. In fact, since you take a breath after each instance of speaking your thoughts, if your free choice did not extend to specific things even down to the most minute details, would you be able to breathe any more than a statue can?

I say “any more than a statue” rather than “any more than an animal,” because an animal breathes as a result of its earthly free choice. We breathe as a result of our free choice in earthly matters and also our free choice in spiritual matters. We are born different from animals. From birth, animals and all the ideas they have, which are associated with their earthly love, are focused on food and reproduction. We, however, have no innate ideas at birth; we have only a faculty for knowing, understanding, and becoming wise, and an inclination to love ourselves and the world and also to love our neighbor and God. This is why I said that if free choice were taken away in regard to the individual things we will and think, we would breathe no more than a statue does; I did not say we would breathe no more than an animal does.

from True Christianity, Section 480

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