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soever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Innumerable are the passages of a similar import, which might be produced from the sacred volume, to confirm this doctrine, that eternal life is to be given as a reward, which consequently pre-supposes merit on the part of the just. One passage more, possessing peculiar weight, ought not to be omitted by a divine who undertakes to discuss this important subject. It is found in the close of the Second Epistle to Timothy ', where the illustrious apostle, after recounting with dignity the general character of his labours, thus energetically and feelingly exclaims : Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto them also that love his appearing. What can more demonstratively prove the position, that ihe just merit by their good works, in the sense before explained, than this decisive declaration of St. Paul, who represents God as a just judge, apportioning a crown to each, according to the nature and quality of his works?
But, says the catechist, according to St. Paul, we are justified by grace, sanctified by grace, and glorified by grace: where therefore is there any room for merit? We are unquestionably
1 C. iv. 8.
indebted to the divine bounty and to the merciful and abundant redemption of Christ for every blessing of grace, sanctity, and glory ; and if we claim any species of merit, it is not by ascribing such merit to the efforts of nature, but to the assistance and influence of divine grace, and by making such a use of the gratuitous favours of God, as to ensure the promised crown. These favours are therefore gratuitous, because they are the pure
effects of the divine bounty; but the actions of the just become meritorious, because by the help of divine grace, they so co-operate with the merciful dispensations of God, as to obtain the reward, which the just judge apportions to each man's deeds. Hence St. Augustine observes, in a well-known passage, that God, in crowning the merit of his servants, crowns but his own gifts
If, after this explanation, the catechist is at a loss to discover the proportion between the finite actions of a justified person, and the reward which is infinite, it must be said, that the proportion lies, not between the finite and unsupported efforts of the creature and immortal glory, but between the grace of God on one side, to which, when properly used by the creature, an eternal reward is promised, and that final consummation of all our desires on the other.
· St. Aug. Enarr. in Psalm xcviii.
When the catechist, in allusion to what St. Paul writes”, that the sufferings of the present life are not to be compared to future glory, infers that therefore we cannot merit by such sufferings, he evidently mistakes the meaning of the apostle. All that can be collected from this passage is, that ihere is no comparison to be instituted between what is temporal and what is eternal ; that our present sufferings are light and momentary, but that future glory, both in substance and duration, exceeds what we here undergo. All this is undoubtedly true; but it by no means affords the shadow of a proof, that God will not give to his elect a crown, which is to be merited by works, performed by the influence of his
grace. With as little reason can it be asserted, that the flaws and imperfections found in human actions, destroy all kind of merit. It is perfectly true, that nothing defiled can enter the kingdom of heaven, and that before our final doom can be fixed in the enjoyment of eternal happiness, all our stains must be washed away. But it by no means follows, that faults inseparable from human nature preclude all merit; for in that case, the promises of a crown, of a reward, of an adequate retribution for good works, so frequently made to us in the sacred writings, would be altogether without meaning. It must therefore be said, with St. Augustine', that while God crowns the merits of the saints with eternal glory, he shews them mercy, by forgiving them those flaws and blots, which accompany their works.
i Rom. vii. 18.
After this, will it be alleged by the catechist, with
any appearance of reason, that the promises of God will prove his goodness only, but not our merits? We speak not of merit in the rigorous sense, as has been before observed; but from what has been said, it will clearly appear, that the promises of God will prove his goodness—his rewards will prove him to be a just judge, to use St. Paul's expression-and his mercy will appear in remitting all minor imperfections and defects.
It would be no difficult task to accumulate innumerable passages from the holy fathers, in confirmation of the doctrine, which relates to the merit of good works, explained in the Catholic
Let the authority of the immortal St. Augustine alone suffice. He says, in words not to be misconstrued”, “Let us, who have purposed to gain eternal life, love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind. For eternal life is altogether a reward, the pro
· Lib. de Correptione et Gratiâ, c. 13. 2 Lib. de Moribus Eccles. Cath, c. 25.