« PreviousContinue »
just," namely, in regard of the faithful performance of his promise. For promise, we see, amongst honest men is counted a due debt; but the thing promised being free, and on our part altogether undeserved, if the promiser did not perform, and proved not to be so good as his word, he could not properly be said to do me wrong, but rather to wrong himself, by impairing his own credit. And therefore Aquinas himself confesseth, “ that God is not hereby simply made a debtor to us, but to himself; inasmuch as it is requisite that his own ordinance should be fulfilled." Thus was Moses careful to put the children of Israel in mind touching the land of Canaan (which was a type of our eternal habitation in heaven) that it was a land of promise, and not of merit, which God did give them to possess,
“ notk for their righteousness, or for their upright heart, but that he might perform the word which he sware unto their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Whereupon the Levites say in their prayer unto God: « Thou' madest a covenant with Abraham, to give unto his seed the land of the Canaanites, and hast performed thy word, because thou art Just.” Now because the Lord had made a like “ promise of the crown of life to them that love him;" therefore St. Paul doth not stick in like manner to attribute this also to God's justice. “ Henceforth" is laid up” saith he, "for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Upon which place, Bernard, in his book of Grace and Free will, saith most sweetly: “ That' therefore, which Paul expecteth, is a crown of righteousness, but of God's righteousness, not
For it is just that he should give that which he
i Non sequitur, quod Deus efficiatur simpliciter debitor nobis, sed sibi ipsi ; in quantum debitum est, ut sua ordinatio impleatur. Thom. 1. cap. 2. quæst. 114. art. 1. ad. 3. k Deut. chap ver. 5.
| Nehem. chap. 9. ver. 8. m James, chap. 1. ver. 12.
2 Tim. chap. 4. ver. 8. • Est ergo quam Paulus expectat, corona justitiæ, sed justitiæ Dei, non suæ. Justum quippe est ut reddat quod debet ; debet autem quod pollicitus est. Et hæc est justitia Dei, de qua præsumit apostolus, promissio Dei. Bern. lib. de gratia et libero arbitrio.
oweth, and he oweth what he hath promised : and this is the righteousness of God, of which the apostle presumeth, the promise of God.”
But this will not content our Jesuits, unless we yield unto them: “ that we do as properly and truly merit rewards, when with the grace of God we do well, as we do merit punishments, when without grace we do evil.” So saith Maldonat, that is to say, unless we maintain, “ that? the good works of just persons do merit eternal life condignly, not only by reason of God's covenant and acceptation, but also by reason of the work itself: so that in a good work proceeding from grace, there may be a certain proportion and equality unto the reward of eternal life;" so saith cardinal Bellarmine. For the further opening whereof, Vasquez taketh upon him to prove in order these three distinct propositions. First, “ that the good works of just persons are of themselves, without any covenant and acceptation, worthy of the reward of eternal life, and have an equal value of condignity to the obtaining of eternal glory." Secondly, “ Thats no accession of dignity doth come to the works of the just by the merits or person of Christ; which the same should not have otherwise, if they had been done by the same grace bestowed liberally by God alone without Christ.” Thirdly, " That God's promise is annexed indeed to the works of just men, yet it belongeth no way to the reason of the merit, but cometh rather to the works, which are already not worthy only, but also
p Nos tam proprie ac vere cum gratia Dei bene agentes præmia mereri, quam sine illa male agentes supplicia meremur. Jo. Maldonat. in Ezech. cap. 18. ver. 20.
9 Opera bona justorum meritoria esse vitæ æternæ ex condigno, non solum ratione pacti et acceptationis, sed etiam ratione operis ; ita ut in opere bono ex gratia procedente, sit quædam proportio et æqualitas ad præmium vitæ æternæ. Bellar. de Just. lib. 5. cap. 17.
Opera bona justorum ex seipsis, absque ullo pacto et acceptatione, digna esse remuneratione vitæ æternæ ; et æqualem valorem condignitatis habere ad consequendam æternam gloriam. Gabr. Vasquez. Commentar. in 1am. 2æ. quæ. 114. disp. 214. cap. 5. init,
• Operibus justorum nullum dignitatis accrementum provenire ex meritis aut persona Christi, quod alias eadem non haberent, si fierent ex eadem gratia a solo Deo liberaliter sine Christo collata. Ibid. init. cap. 7.
' Operibus justorum accessisse quidem divinam promissionem : eam tamen
meritorious." Unto all which he addeth afterwards this corrollary: “Seeingų the works of a just man do condignly merit eternal life, as an equal recompence and reward, there is no need that any other condign merit, such as is the merit of Christ, should come between, that eternal life might be rendered unto them. Yea the merit of every just man hath somewhat peculiar in respect of the just man himself, which the merit of Christ hath not : namely, to make the man himself just and worthy of eternal life, that he may worthily obtain the same. But the merit of Christ, although it be most worthy to obtain glory of God for us, yet it hath not this efficacy and virtue, to make us formally just, and worthy of eternal life : but men by virtue derived from him, attain this effect in themselves. And so we never request of God by the merits of Christ, that the reward of eternal life may be given to our worthy and meritorious works : but that by Christ grace may be given unto us, whereby we may be enabled worthily to merit this reward." In a word: “ Our' merits," saith he, “ have this force in us, that they make us formally worthy of eternal life: the merits of Christ do not make us worthy formally; but Christ is worthy, in regard of them, to impetrate unto us whatsoever he requesteth for us.”
Thus doth Vasquez the Jesuit discover unto us to the full the mystery of this iniquity: with whom (for the better information of the English reader) we join our Rhemists, who deliver this as their Catholic doctrine: “ That" all good works done by God's grace after the first justification, be truly and properly meritorious, and fully worthy of everlasting life: and that thereupon heaven is the due. and just stipend, crown, or recompence, which God by his justice oweth to the persons so working by his grace. For he rendereth or repayeth heaven," say they, “ as a just judge, and not only as a merciful giver: and the crown which he payeth is not only of mercy, or favour, or grace, but also of justice.” And again :
nullo modo pertinere ad rationem meriti ; sed potius advenire operibus, non tantum jain dignis, sed etiam jam meritoriis. Vasquez. com. in 1am. 2æ. quæ. 114. disp. 214. init. cap. 8.
u Cum opera justi condigne mereantur vitam æternam, tanquam æqualem mercedem, et præmium ; non opus est interventu alterius meriti condigni, quale est meritum Christi, ut eis reddatur vita æterna ; quinimo aliquid habet peculiare meritum cujuscunque justi respectu ipsius hominis justi, quod non habet meritum Christi : nempe reddere ipsum hominem justum, et dignum æterna vita, ut eam digne consequatur, meritum autem Christi licet dignissimum sit, quod obtineat a Deo gloriam pro nobis ; tamen non habet hanc efficaciam et virtutem, ut reddat nos formaliter justos, et dignos æterna vita : sed per virtutem ab ipso derivatam hunc consequuntur effectum homines in seipsis. Et ita nunquam petimus a Deo per merita Christi, ut nostris dignis operibus et meritoriis reddatur merces æternæ vitæ : sed ut per Christum detur nobis gratia, qua possimus digne hanc mercedem promereri. Id. ibid. disp. 222. cap. 3. num. 30, 31.
"Merita nostra in nobis hanc vim habent, ut reddant nos formaliter dignos vita æterna : merita autem Christi non reddunt nos dignos formaliter ; sed Christus dignus est, qui propter illa nobis impetret quicquid ipse pro nobis petierit, Ibid. num. 32.
And again : “ Thatman's works done by Christ's grace, do condignly or worthily deserve eternal joy:" so as “works can be none other but the value, desert, price, worth, and merit of the same.” Whereupon they put us in mind, that the word reward, “ which in our English tongue may signify a voluntary or bountiful gift, doth not here so well express the nature of the Latin word, Merces, or the Greek Molòs, which are rather the very stipend that the hired workman or journeyman, covenanteth to have of him whose work he doth; and is a thing equally ard justly answering to the time and weight of his travels and works, rather than a free gift."
This is that doctrine of merits, which from our very hearts we detest and abhor, as utterly repugnant to the truth of God, and the common sense of all true hearted Christians. The lesson which our Saviour taught his disciples, is far different from this:“ When ye have done all those things which are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do." And “ if he be unprofitable,” saith St. Hierome, who hath done all, what is to be said of him,
* Rhem. annotat. in 2 Tim. chap. 4. ver. 8.
a Luke, chap. 17. ver. 10. 1. Si inutilis est, qui fecit omnia : quid de illo dicendum est, qui explere non potuit ? Hieron. ad ont, contr. Pelag.
who could not fulfil them?” So likewise the Romans themselves might remember, that they were taught by St. Paul at the beginning: that there is no proportion of condignity to be found betwixt not the actions only but the passions also of the saints, and the reward that is reserved for us in the world to come. “ For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us :" saith he. And Bernard thereupon: “ Concerning the life eternal we know, that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the future glory; no, not if one man did sustain them all. For the merits of men are not such, that for them eternal life should be due of right; or God should do any injury, if he did not give it. For, to let pass that all merits are God's gift, and in that respect a man is for them made a debtor to God, more than God to man: what are all merits in comparison of so great a glory?" and St. Ambrose long before him: “ Alle those things which we suffer, are too little and unworthy, for the pains whereof there should be rendered unto us so great reward of good things to come, as shall be revealed unto us, when being reformed according to the image of God we shall merit (or obtain) to see his glory face to face.”
Where for the better understanding of the meaning of the fathers in this point, we may further observe, that merits in their writings do ordinarily signify nothing but works (as in the alleged place of Bernard :) and to merit',
€ Rom. chap. 8. ver. 18.
d De æterna vita scimus, quia non sunt condignæ passiones hujus temporis ad futuram gloriam; nec, si unus omnes sustineat. Neque enim talia sunt hominum merita, ut propter ea vita æterna deberetur ex jure ; aut Deus injuriam aliquam faceret, nisi eam donaret. Nam, ut taceam quod merita omnia dona Dei sunt, et ita homo magis propter ipsa Deo debitor est, quam Deus homini : quid sunt merita omnia ad tantam gloriam ? Bern. serm. I. in Annunt. B. Mariæ.
e Omnia quæ patimur, minora sunt et indigna quorum pro laboribus tanta rependatur futurorum merces bonorum, quæ revelabitur in nobis, cum ad Dei imaginem reformati gloriam ejus facie ad faciem aspicere meruerimus. Ambros. epist. 35. op. tom. 2. pag. 926.
| Verum quidem est, neque id me fugit, usurpari nonnunquam nomen meriti, ubi nulla est ratio meriti, neque ex congruo, neque de condigno. Andr. Vega, defens. concil. Trident. de Justificat. lib. 8. cap. 8. Si aliquis vocabulo prome.