For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
1. No works of ours can merit salvation. Even the justified merit nothing.
(1) Works even of sanctification cannot merit salvation, because they are the motions of us already saved; they are the effects of salvation already revealed in us, not the causes of that we have not.
(2) Works are imperfect in us, the flesh and spirit so striving, that the action even of that which is predominant is brought forth (by reason of this strife) with great imperfection.
(3) Infants are saved, but they have no merits; for the habits of holiness are not meritorious, as being freely received. Salvation, therefore, is grounded on some other thing than works, or infants could not be heirs of heaven.
2. There is not anything left in man wherein he may rejoice, as deserving salvation. Whatever he is, or can do, it must be all reckoned as loss in this business; for this is the end of the whole mystery of our salvation, that we might be all in God, out of ourselves.
3. Whatsoever we receive in Christ cannot stand in desert of salvation. The reason is plain.
(1) Whatsoever must be meritorious in salvation and righteousness, must be given us in creation.
(2) Whatsoever is received in Christ, must stand with grace; for, Grace, Christ, Faith, stand together. But whatsoever in us should deserve, cannot stand with grace; therefore, whatsoever we are in Christ cannot deserve; faith is not of doing; grace is not of working.
(3) If this which we become in Christ should enable us to justify and save ourselves, then Christ should bring us back again to the law. But we are dead to the law.
(4) If we should, by that we are in Christ, deserve our salvation, then Christ should make us our own saviours. If Christ have deserved it, we have not; if we have, He hath not.
(5) It is a contradiction to say, Christ has deserved heaven for us, so that He makes us deserve it; as if it should be said, One has paid my debt for me, so I will pay it myself: One has purchased such a thing for me, but so that I must purchase it myself. But it may be said, It is no prejudice that Christ should merit in us: as God is more glorious that He does many things mediately, than if He should do them alone; as He gives light, but by the sun. Answer: Christ merited, not that we should merit, but be accepted. What we come to receive in Christ, is salvation and glory. If Christ should make us also by grace to deserve, then He should make us able to make His death in vain. Anything joined with Christ overturns Christ. Christ has not deserved, that His own desert should be in vain.
Parallel VersesKJV: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: