151] Therefore the doctrine of repentance, because it not only commands new works, but also promises the remission of sins, necessarily requires faith. For the remission of sins is not received unless by faith. Therefore, in those passages that refer to repentance, we should always understand that not only works, but also faith is required, as in Matt. 6:14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Here a work is required, and the promise of the remission of sins is added, which does not occur on account of the work, but through faith, on account of Christ. 152] Just as Scripture testifies in many passages: Acts 10:43: To Him give all the prophets witness that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him, shall receive remission of sins; and 1 John 2:12: Your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake; Eph. 1:7: In whom 153] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Although what need is there to recite testimonies? This is the very voice peculiar to the Gospel, namely, that for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our works, we obtain by faith remission of sins. Our adversaries endeavor to suppress this voice of the Gospel by means of distorted passages which contain the doctrine of the Law, or of works. For it is true that in the doctrine of repentance works are required, because certainly a new life is required. But here the adversaries wrongly add that by such works we merit the remission of sins, or justification. 154] And yet Christ often connects the promise of the remission of sins to good works, not because He means that good works are a propitiation, for they follow reconciliation; but for two reasons. One is, because good fruits must necessarily follow. Therefore He reminds us that, if good fruits do not follow, the repentance is hypocritical and feigned. The other reason is, because we have need of external signs of so great a promise, because 155] a conscience full of fear has need of manifold consolation. As, therefore, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs that continually admonish, cheer, and encourage desponding minds to believe the more firmly that their sins are forgiven, so the same promise is written and portrayed in good works, in order that these works may admonish us to believe the more firmly. And those who produce no good works do not excite themselves to believe, but despise these promises. The godly on the other hand, embrace them, and rejoice that they have the signs and testimonies of so great a promise. Accordingly, they exercise themselves in these signs and testimonies. Just as, therefore, the Lord’s Supper does not justify us ex opere operato, without faith, so alms do not justify us without faith, ex opere operato.
156] So also the address of Tobias 4:11, ought to be received: Alms free from every sin and from death. We will not say that this is hyperbole, although it ought thus to be received, so as not to detract from the praise of Christ, whose prerogative it is to free from sin and death. But we must come back to the rule that without Christ the doctrine of the Law 157] is of no profit. Therefore those alms please God which follow reconciliation or justification, and not those which precede. Therefore they free from sin and death, not ex opere operato, but, as we have said above concerning repentance, that we ought to embrace faith and its fruits, so here we must say concerning alms that this entire newness of life saves [that they please God because they occur in believers]. Alms also are the exercises of faith, which receives the remission of sins and overcomes death, while it exercises itself more and more, and in these exercises receives strength. We grant also this, that alms merit many favors from God [but they cannot overcome death, hell, the devil, sins, and give the conscience peace (for this must occur alone through faith in Christ)], mitigate punishments, and that they merit our defense in the dangers of sins and of death, as we have said a little before concerning the entire repentance. [This is the simple meaning, which agrees also with other passages of Scripture. For wherever in the Scriptures good works are praised, we must always understand them according to the rule of Paul, that the Law and works must not be elevated above Christ, but that Christ and faith are as far above all works as the heavens are above the earth.] 158] And the address of Tobias, regarded as a whole, shows that faith is required before alms, Tobias 4:5: Be mindful of the Lord, thy God, all thy days. And afterwards, Tobias 4:19: Bless the Lord, thy God, always, and desire of Him that thy ways be directed. This, however, belongs properly to that faith of which we speak, which believes that God is reconciled to it because of His mercy, and which wishes to be justified sanctified, and governed by God. 159] But our adversaries, charming men, pick out mutilated sentences, in order to deceive those who are unskilled. Afterwards they attach something from their own opinions. Therefore, entire passages are to be required, because, according to the common precept, it is unbecoming, before the entire Law is thoroughly examined, to judge or reply when any single clause of it is presented. And passages, when produced in their entirety, very frequently bring the interpretation with them.
160] Luke 11:41 is also cited in a mutilated form, namely: Give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. The adversaries are very stupid [are deaf, and have callous ears; therefore, we must so often etc.]. For time and again we have said that to the preaching of the Law there should be added the Gospel concerning Christ, because of whom good works are pleasing, but they everywhere teach (without shame] that, Christ being excluded, 161] justification is merited by the works of the Law. When this passage is produced unmutilated, it will show that faith is required. Christ rebukes the Pharisees who think that they are cleansed before God, i.e., that they are justified by frequent ablutions [by all sorts of baptismata carnis, that is, by all sorts of baths, washings, and cleansings of the body, of vessels, of garments]. Just as some Pope or other says of the water sprinkled with salt that it sanctifies and cleanses the people; and the gloss says that it cleanses from venial sins. Such also were the opinions of the Pharisees which Christ reproved, and to this feigned cleansing He opposes a double cleanness, the one internal, the other external. He bids them be cleansed inwardly [(which occurs only through faith)], and adds concerning the outward cleanness: Give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. 162] The adversaries do not apply aright the universal particle all things; for Christ adds this conclusion to both members: “All things will be clean unto you, if you will be clean within, and will outwardly give alms.” For He indicates that outward cleanness is to be referred to works commanded by God, and not to human traditions, such as the ablutions were at that time, and the daily sprinkling of water, the vesture of monks, the distinctions of food, and similar acts of ostentation are now. But the adversaries distort the meaning by sophistically transferring the universal particle to only one part: 163] “All things will be clean to those having given alms.” (As if any one would infer: Andrew is present; therefore all the apostles are present. Wherefore in the antecedent both members ought to be joined: Believe and give alms. For to this the entire mission, the entire office of Christ points; to this end He is come that we should believe in Him. Now, if both parts are combined, believing and giving alms, it follows rightly that all things are clean: the heart by faith, the external conversation by good works. Thus we must combine the entire sermon, and not invert the parts, and interpret the text to mean that the heart is cleansed from sin by alms. Moreover, there are some who think that these words were spoken by Christ against the Pharisees ironically, as if He meant to say: Aye, my dear lords, rob and steal, and then go and give alms, and you will be promptly cleansed, so that Christ would in a somewhat sarcastic and mocking way puncture their pharisaical hypocrisy. For, although they abounded in unbelief, avarice, and every evil work, they still observed their purifications, gave alms, and believed that they were quite pure, lovely saints. This interpretation is not contrary to the text.] Yet Peter says, Acts 15:9, that hearts are purified by faith. And when this entire passage is examined, it presents a meaning harmonizing with the rest of Scripture, that, if the hearts are cleansed, and then outwardly alms are added, i.e., all the works of love, they are thus entirely clean, i.e., not only within, but also without. And why is not the entire discourse added to it? There are many parts of the reproof, some of which give commandment concerning faith, and others concerning works. Nor is it the part of a candid reader to pick out the commands concerning works, while the passages concerning faith are omitted.
164] Lastly, readers are to be admonished of this, namely, that the adversaries give the worst advice to godly consciences when they teach that by works the remission of sins is merited, because conscience, in acquiring remission through works, cannot be confident that the work will satisfy God. Accordingly, it is always tormented, and continually devises other works and other acts of worship, until it altogether despairs. This course is described by Paul, Rom. 4:5, where he proves that the promise of righteousness is not obtained because of our works, because we could never affirm that we had a reconciled God. For the Law always accuses. Thus the promise would be in vain and uncertain. He accordingly concludes that this promise of the remission of sins and of righteousness is received by faith, not on account of works. This is the true, simple, and genuine meaning of Paul, in which the greatest consolation is offered godly consciences, and the glory of Christ is shown forth, who certainly was given to us for this purpose, namely, that through Him we might have grace, righteousness, and peace.
165] Thus far we have reviewed the principal passages which the adversaries cite against us, in order to show that faith does not justify, and that we merit, by our works, remission of sins and grace. But we hope that we have shown clearly enough to godly consciences that these passages are not opposed to our doctrine; that the adversaries wickedly distort the Scriptures to their opinions; that the most of the passages which they cite have been garbled; that, while omitting the clearest passages concerning faith, they only select from the Scriptures passages concerning works, and even these they distort; that everywhere they add certain human opinions to that which the words of Scripture say; that they teach the Law in such a manner as to suppress the Gospel concerning Christ. 166] For the entire doctrine of the adversaries is, in part, derived from human reason, and is, in part, a doctrine of the Law, not of the Gospel. For they teach two modes of justification, of which the one has been derived from reason and the other from the Law, not from the Gospel, or the promise concerning Christ.
167] The former mode of justification with them is, that they teach that by good works men merit grace both de congruo and de condigno. This mode is a doctrine of reason, because reason, not seeing the uncleanness of the heart, thinks that it pleases God if it perform good works, and for this reason other works and other acts of worship are constantly devised, by men in great peril, against the terrors of conscience. The heathen and the Israelites slew human victims, and undertook many other most painful works in order to appease God’s wrath. Afterwards, orders of monks were devised, and these vied with each other in the severity of their observances against the terrors of conscience and God’s wrath. And this mode of justification, because it is according to reason, and is altogether occupied with outward works, can be understood, and to a certain extent be rendered. And to this the canonists have distorted the misunderstood Church ordinances, which were enacted by the Fathers for a far different purpose, namely, not that by these works we should seek after righteousness, but that, for the sake of mutual tranquillity among men, there might be a certain order in the Church. In this manner they also distorted the Sacraments, and most especially the Mass, through which they seek ex opere operato righteousness, grace, and salvation.
168] Another mode of justification is handed down by the scholastic theologians when they teach that we are righteous through a habit infused by God, which is love, and that, aided by this habit, we observe the Law of God outwardly and inwardly, and that this fulfilling of the Law is worthy of grace and of eternal life. This doctrine is plainly the doctrine of the Law. For that is true which the Law says: Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, etc., Deut. 6:5. Thou shalt love thy neighbor, Lev. 19:18. Love is, therefore, the fulfilling of the Law.
169] But it is easy for a Christian to judge concerning both modes, because both modes exclude Christ, and are therefore to be rejected. In the former, which teaches that our works are a propitiation for sin, the impiety is manifest. The latter mode contains much that is injurious. It does not teach that, when we are born again, we avail ourselves of Christ. It does not teach that justification is the remission of sins. It does not teach that we attain the remission of sins before we love, but falsely represents that we rouse in ourselves the act of love, through which we merit remission of sins. Nor does it teach that by faith in Christ we overcome the terrors of sin and death. It falsely represents that, by their own fulfilling of the Law, without Christ as Propitiator, men come to God. Finally, it represents that this very fulfilling of the Law, without Christ as Propitiator, is righteousness worthy of grace and eternal life, while nevertheless scarcely a weak and feeble fulfilling of the Law occurs even in saints.
170] But if any one will only reflect upon it that the Gospel has not been given in vain to the world, and that Christ has not been promised, set forth, has not been born, has not suffered, has not risen again in vain, he will most readily understand that we are justified not from reason or from the Law. In regard to justification, we therefore are compelled to dissent from the adversaries. For the Gospel shows another mode; the Gospel compels us to avail ourselves of Christ in justification; it teaches that through Him we have access to God by faith; it teaches that we ought to set Him as Mediator and Propitiator against God’s wrath; it teaches that by faith in Christ the remission of sins and reconciliation are received, 171] and the terrors of sin and of death overcome. Thus Paul also says that righteousness is not of the Law, but of the promise, in which the Father has promised that He wishes to forgive, that for Christ’s sake He wishes to be reconciled. This promise, however, is received by faith alone, as Paul testifies, Rom. 4:13. This faith alone receives remission of sins, justifies, and regenerates. Then love and other good fruits follow. Thus, therefore, we teach that man is justified, as we have above said, when conscience, terrified by the preaching of repentance, is cheered and believes that for Christ’s sake it has a reconciled God. This faith is counted for righteousness before God, Rom. 4:3-5. 172] And when in this manner the heart is cheered and quickened by faith, it receives the Holy Ghost, who renews us, so that we are able to observe the Law; so that we are able to love God and the Word of God, and to be submissive to God in afflictions; so that we are able to be chaste, to love our neighbor, etc. Even though these works are as yet far distant from the perfection of the Law, yet they please on account of faith, by which we are accounted righteous, because we believe that for Christ’s sake we have a reconciled God. 173] These things are plain and in harmony with the Gospel, and can be understood by persons of sound mind. And from this foundation it can easily be decided why we ascribe justification to faith, and not to love; although love follows faith, because love is the fulfilling of the Law. But Paul teaches that we are justified not from the Law, but from the promise which is received only by faith. For we neither come to God without Christ as Mediator, nor receive remission of sins for the sake of our love, but for the sake of Christ. 174] Likewise we are not able to love God while He is angry, and the Law always accuses us, always manifests to us an angry God. Therefore, by faith we must first apprehend the promise that for Christ’s sake the Father is reconciled and forgives. 175] Afterwards we begin to observe the Law. Our eyes are to be cast far away from human reason, far away from Moses upon Christ, and we are to believe that Christ is given us, in order that for His sake we may be accounted righteous. In the flesh we never satisfy the Law. Thus, therefore, we are accounted righteous, not on account of 176] the Law, but on account of Christ, because His merits are granted us, if we believe on Him. If any one, therefore, has considered these foundations, that we are not justified by the Law, because human nature cannot observe the Law of God and cannot love God, but that we are justified from the promise, in which, for Christ’s sake, reconciliation, righteousness, and eternal life have been promised, he will easily understand that justification must necessarily be ascribed to faith, if he only will reflect upon the fact that it is not in vain that Christ has been promised and set forth, that He has been born and has suffered and been raised again; if he will reflect upon the fact that the promise of grace in Christ is not in vain, that it was made immediately from the beginning of the world, apart from and beyond the Law; if he will reflect upon the fact that the promise should be received by faith, as 1 John 5:10 sq. says: He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. And Christ says, John 8:36: If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. And Paul, Rom. 5:2: By whom also we have access to God; and he adds: by faith. By faith in Christ, therefore, the promise of remission of sins and of righteousness is received. Neither are we justified before God by reason or by the Law.
177] These things are so plain and so manifest that we wonder that the madness of the adversaries is so great as to call them into doubt. The proof is manifest that, since we are justified before God not from the Law, but from the promise, it is necessary to ascribe justification to faith. What can be opposed to 178] this proof, unless some one wish to abolish the entire Gospel and the entire Christ? The glory of Christ becomes more brilliant when we teach that we avail ourselves of Him as Mediator and Propitiator. Godly consciences see that in this doctrine the most abundant consolation is offered to them, namely, that they ought to believe and most firmly assert that they have a reconciled Father for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our righteousness, and 179] that, nevertheless, Christ aids us, so that we are able to observe also the Law. Of such great blessings as these the adversaries deprive the Church when they condemn, and endeavor to efface, the doctrine concerning the righteousness of faith. Therefore let all well-disposed minds beware of consenting to the godless counsels of the adversaries. In the doctrine of the adversaries concerning justification no mention is made of Christ, and how we ought to set Him against the wrath of God, as though, indeed, we were able to overcome the wrath of God by love, or to love an angry God. 180] In regard to these things, consciences are left in uncertainty. For if they are to think that they have a reconciled God for the reason that they love, and that they observe the Law, they must needs always doubt whether they have a reconciled God, because they either do not feel this love, as the adversaries acknowledge, or they certainly feel that it is very small; and much more frequently do they feel that they are angry at the judgment of God, who oppresses human nature with many terrible evils, with troubles of this life, the terrors of eternal wrath, etc. When, therefore, will conscience be at rest, when will it be pacified? When, in this doubt and in these terrors, will it love God? What else is the doctrine of the Law than a doctrine of despair? 181] And let any one of our adversaries come forward who can teach us concerning this love, how he himself loves God. They do not at all understand what they say; they only echo, just like the walls of a house, the little word “love,” without understanding it. So confused and obscure is their doctrine: it not only transfers the glory of Christ to human works, but also leads consciences either to presumption or to despair. 182] But ours, we hope, is readily understood by pious minds, and brings godly and salutary consolation to terrified consciences. For as the adversaries quibble that also many wicked men and devils believe, we have frequently already said that we speak of faith in Christ, i.e., of faith in the remission of sins, of faith which truly and heartily assents to the promise of grace. This is not brought about without a great struggle in human hearts. And men of sound mind can easily judge that the faith which believes that we are cared for by God, and that we are forgiven and heard by Him, is a matter above nature. For of its own accord the human mind makes no such decision concerning God. Therefore this faith of which we speak is neither in the wicked nor in devils.
183] Furthermore, if any sophist cavils that righteousness is in the will, and therefore it cannot be ascribed to faith, which is in the intellect, the reply is easy, because in the schools even such persons acknowledge that the will commands the intellect to assent to the Word of God. We say also quite clearly: Just as the terrors of sin and death are not only thoughts of the intellect, but also horrible movements of the will fleeing God’s judgment, so faith is not only knowledge in the intellect, but also confidence in the will, i.e., it is to wish and to receive that which is offered in the promise, namely, reconciliation and remission of sins. 184] Scripture thus uses the term “faith,” as the following sentence of Paul testifies, Rom. 5:1: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Moreover, in this passage, to justify signifies, according to forensic usage, to acquit a guilty one and declare him righteous, but on account of the righteousness of another, 185] namely, of Christ, which righteousness of another is communicated to us by faith. Therefore, since in this passage our righteousness is the imputation of the righteousness of another, we must here speak concerning righteousness otherwise than when in philosophy or in a civil court we seek after the righteousness of one’s own work, which certainly is in the will. Paul accordingly says, 1 Cor. 1:30: Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption. And 2 Cor. 5:21: 186] He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. But because the righteousness of Christ is given us by faith, faith is for this reason righteousness in us imputatively, i.e., it is that by which we are made acceptable to God on account of the imputation and ordinance of God, as Paul says, 187] Rom. 4:3-5: Faith is reckoned for righteousness. Although on account of certain captious persons we must say technically: Faith is truly righteousness, because it is obedience to the Gospel. For it is evident that obedience to the command of a superior is truly a species of distributive justice. And this obedience to the Gospel is reckoned for righteousness, so that, only on account of this, because by this we apprehend Christ as Propitiator, good works, or obedience to the Law, are pleasing. For we do not satisfy the Law, but for Christ’s sake this is forgiven us, as Paul says, Rom. 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. This faith gives God the honor, gives God 188] that which is His own, in this, that, by receiving the promises, it obeys Him. Just as Paul also says, Rom. 4:20: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. 189] Thus the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive from God gifts; on the contrary, the worship of the Law is to offer and present our gifts to God. We can, however, offer nothing to God unless we have first been reconciled and born again. This passage, too, brings the greatest consolation, as the chief worship of the Gospel is to wish to receive remission of sins, grace, and righteousness. Of this worship Christ says, John 6:40: This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life. And the Father says, Matt. 17:5: This is My beloved Son, 190] in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him. The adversaries speak of obedience to the Law; they do not speak of obedience to the Gospel; and yet we cannot obey the Law, unless, through the Gospel, we have been born again, since we cannot love God, unless the remission of sins has been received. 191] For as long as we feel that He is angry with us, human nature flees from His wrath and judgment. If any one should make a cavil such as this: If that be faith which wishes those things that are offered in the promise, the habits of faith and hope seem to be confounded, because hope is that which expects promised things, —to this we reply that these dispositions cannot in reality be severed, in the manner that they are divided by idle speculations in the schools. For also in the Epistle to the Hebrews faith is defined as the substance (exspectatio) of things hoped for, Heb. 11:1. Yet if any one wish a distinction to be made, we say that the object of hope is properly a future event, but that faith is concerned with future and present things, and receives in the present the remission of sins offered in the promise.
192] From these statements we hope that it can be sufficiently understood, both what faith is, and that we are compelled to hold that by faith we are justified, reconciled, and regenerated, if, indeed, we wish to teach the righteousness of the Gospel, and not the righteousness of the Law. For those who teach that we are justified by love teach the righteousness of the Law, 193] and do not teach us in justification to avail ourselves of Christ as Mediator. These things also are manifest, namely, that not by love, but by faith, we overcome the terrors of sin and death, that we cannot oppose our love and fulfilling of the Law to the wrath of God, because Paul says, Rom. 5:2: By Christ we have access to God by faith. We urge this sentence so frequently for the sake of perspicuity. For it shows most clearly the state of our whole case, and, when carefully considered, can teach abundantly concerning the whole matter, and can console well-disposed minds. Accordingly, it is of advantage to have it at hand and in sight, not only that we may be able to oppose it to the doctrine of our adversaries, who teach that we come to God not by faith, but by love and merits, without Christ as Mediator; and also, at the same time that, 194] when in fear, we may cheer ourselves and exercise faith. This is also manifest, that without the aid of Christ we cannot observe the Law, as He Himself says, John 15:5: Without Me ye can do nothing. Accordingly, before we observe the Law, our hearts must be born again by faith. [From the explanations which we have made it can easily be inferred what answer must be given to similar quotations. For the rule so interprets all passages that treat of good works that outside of Christ they are to be worthless before God, and that the heart must first have Christ, and believe that it is accepted with God for Christ’s sake, not because of its own works. The adversaries also bring forward some arguments of the schools, which are easily answered, if you know what faith is. Tried Christians speak of faith quite differently from the sophists, for we have shown before that to believe means to rely on the mercy of God, that He desires to be gracious for Christ’s sake, without our merits. That is what it means to believe the article of the forgiveness of sin. To believe this does not mean to know the history only, which the devils also know. Therefore we can easily meet the argument of the schools when they say that the devils also believe, therefore faith does not justify. Aye, the devils know the history, but they do not believe the forgiveness of sin. Again, they say: To be righteous is to be obedient. Now, to perform works is certainly obedience; therefore works must justify. We should answer this as follows: To be righteous is a kind of obedience which God accepts as such. Now, God is not willing to accept our obedience in works as righteousness; for it is not an obedience of the heart, because none truly keep the Law. For this reason He has ordained that there should be another kind of obedience which He will accept as righteousness, namely, that we are to acknowledge our disobedience, and trust that we are pleasing to God for Christ’s sake, not on account of our obedience. Accordingly, to be righteous in this case means to be pleasing to God, not on account of our own obedience, but from mercy for Christ’s sake. Again, to sin is to hate God; therefore, to love God must be righteousness. True, to love God is the righteousness of the Law. But nobody fulfils this Law. Therefore the Gospel teaches a new kind of righteousness, namely, that we are pleasing to God for Christ’s sake, although we have not fulfilled the Law; and yet, we are to begin to do the Law. Again, what is the difference between faith and hope? Answer: Hope expects future blessings and deliverance from tribulation; faith receives the present reconciliation, and concludes in the heart, that God has forgiven my sin, and that He is now gracious to me. And this is a noble service of God, which serves God by giving Him the honor, and by esteeming His mercy and promise so sure that without merit we can receive and expect from Him all manner of blessings. And in this service of God the heart should be exercised and increase, of which the foolish sophists know nothing.]
195] Hence it can also be understood why we find fault with the doctrine of the adversaries concerning meritum condigni. The decision is very easy: because they do not make mention of faith, that we please God by faith for Christ’s sake, but imagine that good works, wrought by the aid of the habit of love, constitute a righteousness worthy by itself to please God, and worthy of eternal life, and that they have no need of Christ as Mediator. [This can in no wise be tolerated.] 196] What else is this than to transfer the glory of Christ to our works, namely, that we please God because of our works, and not because of Christ? But this is also to rob Christ of the glory of being the Mediator, who is Mediator perpetually, and not merely in the beginning of justification. Paul also says, Gal. 2:17, that if one justified in Christ have need afterwards to seek righteousness elsewhere, he affirms of Christ that He is a minister of sin, i.e., that 197] He does not fully justify. [And this is what the holy, catholic, Christian Church teaches, preaches, and confesses, namely, that we are saved by mercy, as we have shown above from Jerome.] And most absurd is that which the adversaries teach, namely, that good works merit grace de condigno, as though indeed after the beginning of justification, if conscience is terrifled, as is ordinarily the case, grace must be sought through a good work, and not by faith in Christ.
198] Secondly, the doctrine of the adversaries leaves consciences in doubt, so that they never can be pacified, because the Law always accuses us, even in good works. For always the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, Gal. 5:17. How, therefore, will conscience here have peace without faith, if it believe that, not for Christ’s sake, but for the sake of one’s own work, it ought now to please God? What work will it find, upon what will it firmly rely as worthy of eternal life, if, indeed, hope ought to originate from merits? 199] Against these doubts Paul says, Rom. 5:1: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God; we ought to be firmly convinced that for Christ’s sake righteousness and eternal life are granted us. And of Abraham he says, Rom. 4:18: Against hope he believed in hope.