Chapter 10.—There Was No Other More Suitable Way of Freeing Man from the Misery of Mortality Than The Incarnation of the Word. The Merits Which are Called Ours are the Gifts of God.
13. Those then who say, What, had God no other way by which He might free men from the misery of this mortality, that He should will the only-begotten Son, God co-eternal with Himself, to become man, by putting on a human soul and flesh, and being made mortal to endure death?—these, I say, it is not enough so to refute, as to assert that that mode by which God deigns to free us through the Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, is good and suitable to the dignity of God; but we must show also, not indeed that no other mode was possible to God, to whose power all things are equally subject, but that there neither was nor need have been any other mode more appropriate for curing our misery. For what was so necessary for the building up of our hope, and for the freeing the minds of mortals cast down by the condition of mortality itself, from despair of immortality, than that it should be demonstrated to us at how great a price God rated us, and how greatly He loved us? But what is more manifest and evident in this so great proof hereof, than that the Son of God, unchangeably good, remaining what He was in Himself, and receiving from us and for us what He was not, apart from any loss of His own nature, and deigning to enter into the fellowship of ours, should first, without any evil desert of His own, bear our evils; and so with unobligated munificence should bestow His own gifts upon us, who now believe how much God loves us, and who now hope that of which we used to despair, without any good deserts of our own, nay, with our evil deserts too going before?
14. Since those also which are called our deserts, are His gifts. For, that faith may work by love, 806 “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” 807 And He was then given, when Jesus was glorified by the resurrection. For then He promised that He Himself would send Him, and He sent Him; 808 because then, as it was written and foretold of Him, “He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” 809 These gifts constitute our deserts, by which we arrive at the chief good of an immortal blessedness. “But God,” says the apostle, “commendeth His love towards as, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” To this he goes on to add, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Those whom he first calls sinners he afterwards calls the enemies of God; and those whom he first speaks of as justified by His blood, he afterwards speaks of as reconciled by the death of the Son of God; and those whom he speaks of first as saved from wrath through Him, he afterwards speaks of as saved by His life. We were not, therefore, before that grace merely anyhow sinners, but in such sins that we were enemies of God. But the same apostle calls us above several times by two appellations, viz. sinners and enemies of God,—one as if the most mild, the other plainly the most harsh,—saying, “For if when we were yet weak, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” 810 Those whom he called weak, the same he called ungodly. Weakness seems something slight; but sometimes it is such as to be called impiety. Yet except it were weakness, it p. 175 would not need a physician, who is in the Hebrew Jesus, in the Greek Σωτήρ, but in our speech Saviour. And this word the Latin language had not previously, but could have seeing that it could have it when it wanted it. And this foregoing sentence of the apostle, where he says, “For when we were yet weak, in due time He died for the ungodly,” coheres with those two following sentences; in the one of which he spoke of sinners, in the other of enemies of God, as though he referred each severally to each, viz. sinners to the weak, the enemies of God to the ungodly.
Gal. 5.5Gal. v. 5174:807
Rom. 5:4, 5Rom. 5:4, 5174:808
John 20:22, John 7:39, John 15:26John xx. 22, vii. 39, and xv. 26174:809
Eph. 4:8, Ps. 68:18Eph. iv. 8 and Ps. lxviii. 18174:810
Rom. 5.6-10Rom. v. 6-10