The passages of Scripture above cited are taken as an occasion for a digression, wherein our Lord’s freedom of action is proved from the ascription to the Spirit of such freedom, and from places where it is attributed to the Son.
47. Let us now, for the present, explain more fully why our Lord said,
If it be possible, and so call a truce, as it were, while we show that He possessed freedom of will. You deny— so far are you gone in the way of iniquity— that the Son of God had a free will. Moreover, it is your wont to detract from the Holy Spirit, though you cannot deny that it is written:
The Spirit does breathe, where He will.
Where He will, says the Scripture, not
where He is ordered. If, then, the Spirit does breathe where He will, cannot the Son do what He will? Why, it is the very same Son of God Who in His Gospel says that the Spirit has power to breathe where He will. Does the Son, therefore, confess the Spirit to be greater, in that He has power to do what is not permitted to Himself?
48. The Apostle also says that
all is the work of one and the same Spirit, distributing to each according to His will. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
According to His will, mark you— that is, according to the judgment of a free will, not in obedience to compulsion. Furthermore, the gifts distributed by the Spirit are no mean gifts, but such works as God is wont to do—the gift of healing and of working deeds of power. While the Spirit, then, distributes as He will, the Son of God cannot set free whom He will. But hear Him speak when He does even as He will:
I have willed to do Your will, O my God; and again:
I will offer You a freewill offering.
49. The holy Apostle later knew that Jesus had it in His power to do as He would, and therefore, seeing Him walk upon the sea, said:
Lord, if it be You, bid me come to You over the waters. (Matthew 14:28) Peter believed that if Christ commanded, the natural conditions could be changed, so that water might support human footsteps, and things discrepant be reduced to harmony and agreement. Peter asks of Christ to command, not to request: Christ requested not, but commanded, and it was done— and Arius denies it!
50. What indeed is there that the Father will have, but the Son will not, or that the Son will have, but the Father will not?
The Father quickens whom He will, and the Son quickens whom He will, even as it is written. (John 5:21) Tell me now whom the Son has quickened, and the Father would not quicken. Since, however, the Son quickens whom He will, and the action [of Father and Son] is one, you see that not only does the Son the Father’s will, but the Father also does the Son’s. For what is quickening but quickening through the passion of Christ? But the passion of Christ is the Father’s will. Whom, therefore, the Son quickens, He quickens by the will of the Father; therefore their will is one.
51. Again, what was the will of the Father, but that Jesus should come into the world and cleanse us from our sins? Hear the words of the leper:
If You will, You can make me clean. (Matthew 8:2) Christ answered,
I will, and straightway health, the effect, followed. See you not that the Son is master of His own will, and Christ’s will is the same as the Father’s. Indeed, seeing that He has said,
All things that the Father has are Mine, (John 16:15) nothing of a certainty being excepted, the Son has the same will that the Father has.