Pentecost 12 Saturday
“Abram believed the Lord, and this the Lord credited to him as righteousness.”
I know well that love, hope, and other virtues are God’s gifts that have God’s command. I also know that the Holy Spirit awakens and preserves them in our heart. I also know that faith is nothing without such gifts. However, here our question is what the proper manner and nature of faith and love is. In other words, you may hold different kinds of seed in your hand, but I do not ask to what other kinds this or that seed is connected, but what the peculiar manner and power of each is. Accordingly, now say loud and clear what faith is able to do in and by itself, but not with what kind of virtues it deals and by what kind of works it is adorned. Now, faith by itself grasps the promise, believes God’s promise and, when God offers and gives something to it, it stretches out the hand and accepts it. This is the proper work of faith alone. Yet love, hope, patience, and other works deal with other things and have their particular place, measure, and purpose where they remain, for they do not grasp the promise but do the orders; they hear God as he commands and gives orders, but they do not hear what he promises, which faith does…When God makes promises, he deals with us himself and gives and offers us something. Yet when he gives orders and commands by the law, he demands something from us and wants us to do something. This is why we should observe this distinction, that faith, which deals with God and his promise and grasps and accepts the same, alone justifies and saves. However, love, which deals with God and his order and command, obeys God and carries out his order…Therefore, learn not to attribute and ascribe righteousness to your love, your works, or merits; for these are always soiled, imperfect, and stained, which is why they require us to confess our unworthiness and to humble ourselves and to ask for grace. Rather, learn to attribute and ascribe righteousness only to the grace and mercy of God, only to the promise concerning Christ which faith accepts and by which it protects and defends itself against its conscience in God’s judgment. Such is the correct, pure, and true doctrine.
St. Louis ed., 1:946-948.