59. BRIEF ANALYSIS
That the understanding is to be kept under obedience to faith, is set as a motto before the dogmas of the present church, to denote that their interiors are mysteries, or arcana, which, because they transcend, cannot flow into the superior region of the understanding, and be there perceived, see above (n. 54). Those ministers of the church who are ambitious to be eminent for their reputation of wisdom, and wish to be looked upon as oracles in spiritual things, imbibe and swallow down in the schools, such things especially as surpass the comprehension of others, which they do with avidity, but nevertheless with difficulty. And because they are thence accounted wise, and they who have distinguished and enriched themselves from such hidden stores are honored with doctors' caps and episcopal robes, they revolve in their thoughts, and teach from their pulpits, scarce anything else but mysteries concerning justification by faith alone, and good works as her humble attendants.
And from their erudition concerning both faith and good works, they in a wonderful manner sometimes separate them, and sometimes conjoin them; comparatively as if they held faith by itself in one hand, and the works of charity in the other, and at one time extend their arms and so separate them, and at another time bring their hands together and so conjoin them.
But this shall be illustrated by examples. They teach, that good works are not necessary to salvation, because if done by man they are meritorious; at the same time they also teach, that good works necessarily follow faith, and that both together make one in the article of salvation. They teach that faith without good works, as being alive, justifies; and at the same time, that faith without good works, as being dead, does not justify. They teach, that faith is neither preserved nor retained by good works; and at the same time, that good works proceed from faith, as fruit from a tree, light from the sun, and heat from fire. They teach, that good works being adjoined to faith make it perfect; and at the same time, that being conjoined as in a marriage, or in one form, they deprive faith of its saving essence. They teach, that a Christian is not under the law; and at the same time, that he must be in the daily practice of the law. They teach, that if good works are intermixed in the business of salvation by faith, as in the remission of sins, justification, regeneration, vivification, and salvation, they are hurtful; but if not intermixed, that they are profitable. They teach, that God crowns His own gifts, which are good works, with rewards also spiritual, but not with salvation and eternal life, because faith without works, they say, is entitled to the crown of eternal life. They teach, that faith alone is like a queen, who walks in a stately manner with good works as her train of attendants behind her; but if these join themselves to her in front, and kiss her, she is cast from her throne and called an adulteress. But particularly, when they teach faith and good works at the same time, they view merit on the one hand, and no merit on the other, making choice of expressions which they use in two different senses; one for the laity, and the other for the clergy; for the laity, that its nakedness may not appear, and for the clergy, that it may. Consider now, whether anyone hearing such things can draw from them any doctrine leading to salvation, or whether he will not rather, from the apparent contradictions therein, become blind, and afterwards grope for the objects of salvation, like one walking in the dark. Who in this case can tell from the evidence of works, whether he has any faith or not; and whether it is better to omit good works on account of the danger of merit, or to do them for fear of the loss of faith? But do you, my friend, tear yourself away from such contradictions, and shun evils as sins, and do goods, and believe in the Lord, and saving justification will be given you.