439. XIII. IN THE EXERCISES OF CHARITY MAN DOES NOT PLACE MERIT IN WORKS SO LONG AS HE BELIEVES THAT ALL GOOD IS FROM THE LORD.
To ascribe merit to works that are done for the sake of salvation is harmful because evils lie concealed in so doing of which the doer is wholly ignorant. There also lies hid in it a denial of God's influx and operation in man; also a confidence in one's own power in matters of salvation; faith in oneself and not in God; self-justification; salvation by one's own abilities; a reducing of Divine grace and mercy to nought; a rejection of reformation and regeneration by Divine means; especially a limitation of the merit and righteousness of the Lord God the Savior, which such claim for themselves; together with a continual looking for reward, which they regard as the first and last end; a submersion and extinction of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor; a total ignorance and lack of perception of the delight of heavenly love as being without merit, and a sense only of self-love. For those who put rewards in the first place and salvation in the second, and who value salvation for the sake of the reward, invert order and immerse the interior desires of the mind in what is their own [proprium], and defile them in the body with the evils of the flesh. This is why the good that claims merit appears to the angels as rust, and the good that does not claim merit as purple. That good ought not to be done for the sake of reward, the Lord teaches in Luke:
If ye do good to them who do good to you, what thank have ye? But rather love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and then your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High for He is kind unto the unthankful and the evil (Luke 6:33-35).
And that man cannot do good that in itself is good, except from the Lord, He teaches in John:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye except ye abide in Me; for apart from Me ye can do nothing (15:4, 5). And again,
A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven (John 3:27).