Freedom Essential to Virtue
Philemon 1:14
But without your mind would I do nothing; that your benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

Freedom is essential to virtue. If a man "could not help it" there is neither praise nor blame due. That freedom Christianity honours and respects. So in reference to the offer of the gospel blessings, men are not forced to accept them, but appealed to, and can turn deaf ears to the pleading voice, "Why will ye die?" Sorrows and sins and miseries without end continue, and the gospel is rejected, and lives of wretched godlessness lived, and a dark future pulled down on the rejecters' heads, and all because God knows that these things are better than that men should be forced into goodness, which indeed would cease to be goodness if they were. For nothing is good but the free turning of the will to goodness, and nothing bad but its aversion therefrom. The same solemn regard for the freedom of the individual and low estimate of the worth of constrained service influence the whole aspect of Christian ethics. Christ wants no pressed men in His army. "Must" is not in the Christian vocabulary, except as expressing the sweet constraint which bows the will of him who loves to harmony, which is joy, with the will of Him who is loved. Christ takes no offerings which the giver is not glad to render.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

WEB: But I was willing to do nothing without your consent, that your goodness would not be as of necessity, but of free will.

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