As to the existence of free will:
Behold I set forth in your sight this day a blessing and a curse: A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: A curse, if you obey not the commandments of the Lord your. God, but revolt from the way which now I shew you, and walk after strange gods which you know not.The Scriptures also declare that we can resist God's will:
If there is no free will then there can be no obeying nor revolt since all our actions are by the will of God.
Consider that I have set before thee this day life and good, and on the other hand death and evil: That thou mayst love the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and keep his commandments and ceremonies and judgments, and thou mayst live, and he may multiply thee, and bless thee in the land, which thou shalt go in to possess. But if thy heart be turned away, so that thou wilt not hear, and being deceived with error thou adore strange gods, and serve them: I foretell thee this day that thou shalt perish, and shalt remain but a short time in the land, to which thou shalt pass over the Jordan, and shalt go in to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. CHOOSE therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live: And that thou mayst love the Lord thy God, and obey his voice, and adhere to him (for he is thy life, and the length of thy days,) that thou mayst dwell in the land, for which the Lord swore to thy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give it them.
God has left the choice to us and His blessings, by His decree, are dependent of the choice we make.
But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord,YOU HAVE YOUR CHOICE: CHOOSE this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel. He added his commandments and precepts. If thou wilt keep the commandments and perform acceptable fidelity for ever, they shall preserve thee. He hath set water and fire before thee: stretch forth thy hand to which thou wilt. Before man is life and death, good and evil, that which he shall choose shall be given him.
Blessed is the rich man that is found without blemish: and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he, and we will praise him? for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting. He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed: and could do evil things, and hath not done them.
As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will you die, O house of Israel?
God does not declare that He desires only some of the wicked to turn away from their sins but all. God is pleading that the wicked change but the choice remains theirs.
Because I called, and you refused: I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded. You have despised all my counsel, and have neglected my reprehensions.By his sovereign command, God has given us the gift of free will so that we can freely choose to respond to his grace and love him as an act of our will.
I will number you in the sword, and you shall all fall by slaughter: because I called and you did not answer: I spoke, and you did not hear: and you did evil in my eyes, and YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE THINGS THAT DISPLEASE ME.
Wherefore I also will choose their mockeries, and will bring upon them the things they feared: because I called, and there was none that would answer; I have spoken, and they heard not; and they have done evil in my eyes, and have chosen the things that displease me.
And now, because you have done all these works, saith the Lord: and I have spoken to you rising up early, and speaking, and you have not heard: and I have called you, and you have not answered: I will do to this house, in which my name is called upon, and in which you trust, and to the places which I have given you and your fathers, as I did to Silo. And I will cast you away from before my face, as I have cast away all your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and THOU WOULDEST NOT?
You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always RESIST the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you also.
What you have described in each of these passages is a demand by God of man to choose. There is no question that He asks, no requires, men to choose. I do not argue that the demand has not been made upon man. The matter at hand is whether the choice has been possible, unaided and undirected.
First, let me mention that it appears the Ecclus. passages are from the Apochrypha. Those are not in any accepted Bible except for the Catholic collection. They have no standing here.
Second, each of the remaining passages in fact do note that God has placed this requirement before man, but in each case there has not been a man in existence who has chosen rightly. If your organization does in fact believe in "free will" one would think that someone, somewhere along the line chose rightly. But, Paul clearly notes from Old Test. Scriptures that in spite of the cajoling, the demands, the threats by God, no man ever chose to seek God. The proofs are from David's hand and Isaiah's hand, those who also penned the demands. Rom. 3.
Now, which must subsume which? If you pound your fist on the table and demand that I lift this office building, and try as I might, I cannot, does that still make the demand possible? Well, only if something significant changes. But, a couple things are clear...you have made the point about what is required and if I am paying attention (and am permitted to see this) I now know my inability.
That was the entire point of the Law. Gal. 3:24. It taught the Jews (the ones upon whom the demands you quote were actually made) that they could not comply with the demands of holiness. Did God require it? Of course. Did any man every comply unaided by God? Well, if they did then Pelagian was right. There exists enough righteousness in man to save himself.
But, you might argue that all we are talking about is the choice to turn to Christ to make up for all the failure. Well, that is not all you are arguing, but it is the beginning. This choice matter is based upon "God has done all He can, now it is up to us to choose Christ or death." That choice, according to Paul, is just as much in the hands of God as the initial choice to be holy or evil.
When Paul reaches the climactic argument in chap. 9 of the letter to the Romans, the point is that, "so then it does not depend upon the man who runs (acts) or the man who wills (chooses), but upon God who has mercy...and He will have mercy on some and harden some." Now, from my perspective, this has to subsume the raw demands made earlier in the story. Like any unfolding narrative, the story develops and then the decoding begins. In this case, Paul holds the decoder ring for the entire book.
We now find from Paul that there has never been a man that could seek God, nor actually tried to seek God. There is none who obeyed , nor tried to obey. Not really. No one really even understood the first thing about righteousness. Even in your system, the "free will" was not very successful if everyone SHOULD become a Catholic to find forgiveness. Forgiveness? Why forgiveness if some men of their own "free wills" could have chosen to be good from the get go? Let's just keep hollering "Obey, doggone it!!!!" Salvation will be unnecessary
And the same goes for resisting Him. Of course we have resisted Him. Every man has resisted Him. That is Paul's argument. We all like sheep have gone astray...at God's management. Man plans his way, but God directs his steps. Proverbs. Why? So He could send the Lamb slain BEFORE the foundation of the earth, to show His incredible Glory.
The whole matter of "free will" is foundationally impossible as I have mentioned before. Think about it. If God knows what sox you are going to pick out tomorrow, then that matter is really fixed...whether you "feel" it or not. He says He brings all things to pass. He is going to make all things that come into a believers life good. Just like He managed Joseph's life. This is how He directed all things to lead to the vicarious atoning death of His Son, per Peter Acts 2:22,23. Why would God predetermine to have His Son executed for men if some would choose to straighten up? Wouldn't He just want those who straightened up? But, Christ died for us while we were enemies. That is love.
The Catholic Church has confused the sense of turning toward Christ with an independent act of the man executing a choice apart from God's operation on him. Such a misunderstanding is either driven by a pride (at least we turned to Christ and they did not, so now we deserve salvation) or a misapprehension of just how lost, lost is.
No, my FRiend, these are the same old arguments that tend to put men on a pedastal. We are victims of God's will, His decisions, His mercy. Romans 9:19ff You and I are putty in His hands...thankfully.
Eph. 2:1ff "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (everyone lost). Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of the our flesh, indlulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive togther with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Now, where is man's "free will"?