The one shall be taken, and the other left. And who or what is it that decides which one shall be taken and which left? Events are often occurring which convey to us the impression of -
I. THE LARGE AMOUNT OF ACCIDENT which enters into the fabric of human life. Take, for example, a bad railway accident. How accidental it seems that one man should just miss that train and be saved, and that another should just catch it and be killed; that one should take a seat in the carriage which is crushed, and another in the carriage which is left whole; that one should be sitting exactly where the bent and twisted timber pierced him, and another exactly where no injury was dealt, etc.! It is the same with the battle-field, with the thunderstorm, with the falling house. One is taken, and another left; and the taking of the one and the leaving of the other seems to be pure accident - not the result of reason or forethought, but entirely fortuitous.
II. OUR CORRECTED THOUGHT CONCERNING IT.
1. Of accident in the sense of chance we know there is nothing. Everything is "under law;" and even where there is no law apparent, we are assured, by the exercise of our reason, that there must be the operation of law, though it is out of our sight. In this world of God's, pure chance has not an inch of ground to work upon.
2. There is usually much more play of reason and habit in "accidental events" than seems at first sight. Things result as they do because habit is stronger than judgment, or because foolish men disregard the counsel of the wise; because thoughtful men take the precautions which result in their safety, and because thoughtless men take the action which issues in their suffering or death.
3. The providence of God covers the entire field of human life. May we venture to believe that the hand of God is in the events and issues of life? I think we may.
(1) It is clearly within the range of the activities of an Infinite Being to whom nothing is small as nothing is great.
(2) His Fatherhood would lead him to follow the course of every one of his children with parental interest, and to interpose his hand wherever he saw it was wise to do so.
(3) Scripture warrants the conclusion: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints;" "The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;" "Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father: ye are of more value than many sparrows."
III. THE LARGE MEASURE OF UNCERTAINTY THAT REMAINS AND MUST REMAIN. Human science has introduced many safeguards, but it has also introduced new perils. The "chapter of accidents" is as long as it ever was in the contemporary history of mankind. God is supreme, but he lets many things happen we should antecedently have supposed he would step in to prevent; he lets good men take the consequence of their mistakes; he permits the very holy and the very useful to be overtaken by sad misfortunes and even by fatal calamities. We cannot guarantee the future; we cannot ensure prosperity, health, friends, reputation, long life. To one that seems to be heir to all these good things they will fall; to another who seems equally likely to inherit them they will be denied: one is taken, the other left. Therefore let us turn to -
IV. THE ONE GOOD THING ON WHICH WE CAN ABSOLUTELY COUNT. There is "a good part which shall not be taken away." This is a Christian character; its foundations are laid in repentance and faith; it is built up of reverent study, of worship, of the obedience of love. Its glory is in resemblance to Jesus Christ himself. This is within every man's reach, and it cannot be taken; it must be left. He who secures that is safe for ever. No accident can rob him of his heritage. His treasure and himself are immovable; for "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." - C.
Wheresoever the body is.
The twofold inquiry that always greets the prophet is Where? and When? These two questions are prompted by curiosity and self-interest. The passionate desires of human nature to know the future are testified to by the whole history of superstition and imposture. Even inspired prophecy has been treated in the spirit of this desire. Our Lord teaches us how such questions should be answered, and how such a spirit should be dealt with. He does not answer the "Where" and "When"; not even in the revelation to His beloved disciple does He do so.
I. Observe how in A VERY REAL SENSE HE DOES ANSWER THE QUESTIONS. The answer in effect is this: My judgment shall come upon the earth as come the vultures upon the dead by an unerring and terrible instinct. So truly then as there is ripeness for judgment, and wherever there is that ripeness, there shall come the judgment of the day of the Lord.
II. MARK WHAT THESE WORDS TELL US CONCERNING THE GREAT LAWS OF GOD'S JUDGMENT. These judgments are not arbitrary judgments, but are joined to the offence by a natural and necessary law. Where there is ripeness for them there is no escape from them; but they only fall where there is that ripeness. We learn also, that before the last and crowning judgment there must be many lesser and preliminary days of judgment.
III. WHERE ARE WE TO LOOK FOR SIGNS OF OUR LORD'S COMING? Not to the heavens far off, but at the dead thing which lies, it may be, at your very feet. Can we discern here and there the corpse that calls and the eagles of judgment that come at its calling. In the case of individuals it is not wise to judge; but with families, churches, nations, there is no judgment sound but a present judgment. The practical lesson is, "Judge therefore, yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged by the Lord."
In the sphere of human life, that which is the life of things is their use. When that is spent, all things else conspire to have them not only disabled but abolished. On sea and land where man is not, it may be only contingent, though usual, that where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered together; but where man is, it is certain. Steam and electricity are new ideas, new forces by which man has extended his command over material resources indispensable for his existence. As surely as these new ideas are introduced, there is found to be implied in them destruction as well as creation. A host of things in which there was life because there was use become refuse and old lumber — hand-looms, wooden ships, mail coaches — and with regard to them the question is how they are to be got rid of. A new gun is invented in America or in England, and all the stands of arms in all places of arms throughout the world become lumber until they have undergone a process of conversion which is a process of destruction. Belshazzar's feast is not a spectacle pleasing to gods or men, that small part of mankind excepted for whom the lights flare upon rude riot and excess. It may be a product of civilization and of national struggles and aspirations. It is not exuberant life, but rampant disease and corruption, and as such it is marked for dissolution and destruction. Always when it is at its height there is to be seen the handwriting on the wall, telling that tyranny and oppression have but their day, that they are weighed in the balance and found wanting, that the next thing to heedless excess is destruction. The doctrine of constitutional liberty gains a footing in a country ignorant of it before — the result, if not at once, inevitably is, that institutions, laws, privileges, class distinctions, offices and officers, lose what vitality they had, and with regard to them, as with regard to all that is dead, the question is, what is the swiftest and most effectual method of destruction. In every department of human life the same process is at work, that which lives and grows necessitating the dissolution and removal of that which is useless and corrupt. In this view of it, the process is a necessary part of the fulfilment of the Divine order on the side of progress and improvement. It is beneficent. That which so often makes it seem other than beneficent — and this too has to be recognized as a fact — is the redundance of vested interests — it is that in so many instances the interests and affections of men and nations are linked rather with what may have been once good than with that which being better is destined to dissolve and to replace it. This is why destruction which goes along with creation is so often a painful and terrible experience. It is not unfortunate or unnecessary for mankind that Belshazzar and his courtiers should have but their day, or rather their night; but, when the handwriting on the wall makes its appearance, the mighty king and his court cannot well be expected to welcome it. There is comfort and satisfaction for a benevolent and thoughtful mind in the reflection that the sanatory arrangements of the universe are as wonderful as any of the other arrangements in it; but for men and nations whose habits and feelings are involved in the existence and perpetuation of what is opposed to them and inconsistent with them, these arrangements cannot but be felt to act often in a harsh, peremptory, ruthless, unsparing manner. It is well, however, to accustom ourselves to look at them in the proper light, namely, as beneficent, not only that we may not miss or misread a great deal which is written for our learning in the pages of history, but that in the changing fashions of our theology we may be always mindful of one thing, to recognize God as not a God of the dead but of the living.
It will be necessary here to compare the ancient and modern interpretations of the verse — "for wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together."
1. The generally received modern interpretation sees here the great law of Divine judgment condensed into one terrible image. The "carcass," according to this, is the putrid carrion; the "eagles" are, strictly speaking, vultures. Thus, to the modern mind, we have here the condensed image of the continuous judgment of God. In hot countries God has so moulded the instincts of the winged scavengers of cliff and peak, that far away, as they wheel and circle over the awful depths into which the traveller looks with reeling brain, they scent the slain in battle, or the bodies that taint the air. So, wherever there is a body of moral and spiritual death — something rotten in Church or State — the vultures of judgment, the punishers and avengers that belong to it in the very nature of things, come mysteriously from their places, and with boding voices, deepening upon the breezes, gather round the spoil. So with Jerusalem falling to pieces in its last decomposition and self-dissolution. The flap of avenging wings was heard overhead by prophetic ears. The vultures were wheeling on the steaming air, under the vault of the Syrian sky, barking in the far mountain glens, and collecting together to gorge themselves upon the "glittering rottenness." This view is not only rhetorically powerful, but something more and higher.
2. Notwithstanding this, the ancient interpretation represents more truly the Divine thought in the symbol of the eagles and their food. And so this image of the eagle belongs to the glorious Lord and to His Christ. And His people are as His eaglets — nay, themselves eagles of God. Is it not written — "Ye have seen how I bare you on eagles' wings"? And more fully — "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did bear him." Is not the Church the woman to whom were given "the wings of the eagle, that great eagle," which is Christ? Even here and now, wherever the corpse is, wherever Jesus is evidently set forth crucified, there, mysteriously raised above earthly things, made lofty and royal in their graces, Christ's eagles "gather round" Him who is the spiritual food and the life eternal of all such eagles. The meaning, then, on the whole, according to this interpretation, is as follows: The "carcass" — the corpse of Jesus Christ as crucified — that is the meeting-point of human souls, the centre of attraction in the world of spirits. The Lord of nature, in the Book of Job, says of the eagle, His creature — "she abideth upon the rock from thence she seeketh the prey; her eyes behold afar off... where the slain are, there is she." The Lord of grace adds His application — as the eaglets gather round the corpse, so the souls of men, and especially of the elect, gather round Jesus. Ay, and round Jesus, not always as the eternal Word, not always as in His glory, but in the pathetic beauty of His weakness, staggering under the weight of His cross. Nay more, dying, with the red drops of the Passion upon His brow; dead — nay, fallen in His sacred helplessness. There are mysterious instincts in every heart that turn to Jesus crucified. Keen and swift as eagles for the prey are Christians for the Lord who died. It is the same underlying thought with that noble utterance in the twelfth chapter of St. John. There the few Greeks are to that prophetic eye the first shoreward ripple of the great springtide of humanity which is to break in thunder at His feet. The lifting up a few feet above the soil of Golgotha becomes, by a majestic irony, the elevation above the earth, the centre of attraction for uncounted souls. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." So He seems to promise — "I, if I be fallen upon the earth, the helpless, lifeless, ruined thing which men call a corpse, will yet gather round Me every eagle that clasps the crag, or soars upward with the sunlight in his glorious eye."
These words have many meanings for us. First we may think of them as referring to the fall of Jerusalem. There indeed was the body, the dead corrupt body of the Jews, who had refused to hear the message of salvation, and had taken and slain the Son of God outside the wall of their fated city. And where the body was, there were the eagles gathered together. That enemy, of which the prophets had spoken long ago, had come, and encompassed Jerusalem in on every side. The Roman eagles glittered upon their helmets, and flashed upon their standards. They set up their banners for tokens, even within the sacred courts of the temple, and so was fulfilled the prophecy of the "abomination of desolation standing in the holy place."
2. Again, we take the words of the text as applying to the hour of death, and first of the death of the body. Whoever has stood at a good man's death-bed must feel that the dying man is not alone, nor allowed in that last hour for any pains of death to fall from God. Where that poor worn-out body lies, there are the eagles of God's host gathered together, strengthening, comforting the dying man, ready to bear his soul as swift as on eagles' wings to Paradise. There is a beautiful fancy of the East which makes Azrael, the angel of death, speak thus to a dying saint: —
"'Thou blessed one,' the angel said, 'I bring thy time of peace,
When I have touched thee on the eyes, life's latest ache will cease;
God bade me come as I am seen amid the heavenly host, —
No enemy of awful mould, but he who loveth most.'"So looks the Christian on death, as being a fair and gracious messenger from God, bringing to the captive liberty, and to the weary rest. "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
3. These words are terribly true of the death of the godless and impenitent. Julian, the apostate emperor, took for his crest an eagle pierced through the heart by an arrow feathered from his own wing, and as a motto the words, "Our death flies to us with our own feather." So every sinner who dies impenitent knows that the arrow of remorse which pierces him is of his own making, that the dark spectres, which are gathered like eagles around him, are of his own inviting.
4. Once more, and in another and brighter sense, we will take the text as applying to the Blessed Sacrament of the altar; so it has always been understood by the old writers of the Church. One of them says —
"Where the sacred body lieth, eagle souls together speed;
There the saints and there the angels find refreshment in their need.
And the sons of earth and heaven on that one Bread ever feed."When we kneel at that altar and receive the Body of our Lord, we are not alone. The very word "Communion" teaches us that we are encompassed by a great cloud of witnesses. Not only are we in that Sacrament made one with Christ, and with all true members of His Church, but we join in the work of saints and angels, and they take part with us. Thus we say, "With angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name." "Wheresover the body is," wheresoever the Body of Jesus Christ is present in the Sacrament, there will the faithful worshippers be gathered together like eagles, and there too will be high and holy ones present, although unseen by us, making the altar a ladder between earth and heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it.
, Road to Jerusalem
TopicsAnswering, Body, Collected, Dead, Eagles, Flock, Gather, Gathered, Inquired, Master, Replied, Sir, Thither, Vultures, Wheresoever, Wherever
Outline1. Jesus teaches to avoid occasions of offense;3. and to forgive one another.5. The power of faith.6. How we are bound to God.11. Jesus heals ten lepers.22. Of the kingdom of God, and the coming of the Son of Man.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLuke 17:26-37
2309 Christ, as judge
LibraryMay 7 Evening
They persecute him whom thou hast smitten.--PSA. 69:26. It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!--Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.--They did spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?--Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
June 5 Morning
When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.--LUKE 17:10. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.--What hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?--By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
June 18 Evening
Faith as a grain of mustard seed.--MATT. 17:20. Barak said unto [Deborah], if thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan.--Gideon . . . feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, . . . did it by night. And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand as thou hast said, . . . let me prove, I pray thee. And God did so. Thou hast a little strength, …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
Where are the Nine?
'And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
'Doth He thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him! I trow not. 10. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.' --LUKE xvii. 9-10. There are two difficulties about these words. One is their apparent entire want of connection with what precedes--viz., the disciples' prayer, 'Lord, increase our faith,' and the other is the harshness and severity of tone which …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty
Numberless marks does man bear in his soul, that he is fallen and estranged from God; but nothing gives a greater proof thereof, than that backwardness, which every one finds within himself, to the duty of praise and thanksgiving. When God placed the first man in paradise, his soul no doubt was so filled with a sense of the riches of the divine love, that he was continually employing that breath of life, which the Almighty had not long before breathed into him, in blessing and magnifying that all-bountiful, …
George Whitefield—Selected Sermons of George Whitefield
On the Words of the Gospel, Luke xvii. 3, "If Thy Brother Sin, Rebuke Him," Etc. , Touching the Remission of Sins.
Delivered at the Table of St. Cyprian, in the presence of Count Boniface. 1. The Holy Gospel which we heard just now as it was being read, has admonished touching the remission of sins. And on this subject must ye be admonished now by my discourse. For we are ministers of the word, not our own word, but the word of our God and Lord, whom no one serves without glory, whom no one despises without punishment. He then the Lord our God, who abiding with the Father made us, and having been made for us, …
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament
The Necessity of Increased Faith
It is a matter of dispute as to the occasion when these words were uttered. Some think that we must look at the connection of the chapter for the explanation. Jesus Christ had been teaching his disciples that if their brother should trespass against them seven times a day, and seven times a day turned again to them, saying, I repent, they were to forgive him, and that constrained the apostle to say "increase our faith." They conceived it to be so hard a duty incessantly to pardon and constantly to …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855
14th Sunday after Trinity. S. Luke xvii. 18. "There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." INTRODUCTION,--There is nothing that the merciful God desires more from man than thanks, and there is nothing of which He receives less. In the Gospel for to-day we have an example. Christ performs a notable miracle. He heals ten lepers, and only one returns to thank Him. The disease from which He delivered them was disgusting, and it was one which cut the sufferers off …
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent
The Ten Lepers
(Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.) Luke xvii. 17, 18. Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. No men, one would have thought, had more reason to thank God than those nine lepers. Afflicted with a filthy and tormenting disease, hopelessly incurable, at least in those days, they were cut off from family and friends, cut off from all mankind; forced to leave their homes, and wander away; forbidden to enter the …
Charles Kingsley—Town and Country Sermons
The First Degree of Prayer
The First Degree of Prayer Those who have not learnt to read, are not, on that account, excluded from prayer; for the Great Book which teacheth all things, and which is legible as well internally as externally, is Jesus Christ Himself. The method they should practice is this: They should first learn this fundamental truth, that "the kingdom of God is within them" (Luke xvii. 21), and that it is there, only it must be sought. It is as incumbent on the Clergy, to instruct their parishioners in prayer, …
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer
Answer to Mr. W's Second Objection.
I pass, says Mr. W. p. 15. to a second observation.--What became of these three persons after their resurrection? How long did they live afterwards? And of what use and advantage were their restored lives to the church or to mankind? The evangelical and ecclesiastical history is entirely silent as to these questions, which is enough to make us suspect their stories to be merely romantick or parabolical; and that there were no such persons raised from the dead; or we must have heard somewhat of their …
Nathaniel Lardner—A Vindication of Three of Our Blessed Saviour's Miracles
Of the Fewness of those who Love the Cross of Jesus
Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross. He hath many seekers of comfort, but few of tribulation. He findeth many companions of His table, but few of His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to undergo anything for His sake. Many follow Jesus that they may eat of His loaves, but few that they may drink of the cup of His passion. Many are astonished at His Miracles, few follow after the shame of His Cross. Many love Jesus so long as no …
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ
Of the Inward Life
The kingdom of God is within you,(1) saith the Lord. Turn thee with all thine heart to the Lord and forsake this miserable world, and thou shalt find rest unto thy soul. Learn to despise outward things and to give thyself to things inward, and thou shalt see the kingdom of God come within thee. For the kingdom of God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and it is not given to the wicked. Christ will come to thee, and show thee His consolation, if thou prepare a worthy mansion for Him within thee. …
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ
Are You Willing to be a Servant?
Nothing is clearer from the New Testament than that the Lord Jesus expects us to take the low position of servants. This is not just an extra obligation, which we may or may not assume as we please. It is the very heart of that new relationship which the disciple is to take up to God and to his fellows if he is to know fellowship with Christ and any degree of holiness in his life. When we understand the humbling and self-emptying that is involved in really being a servant, it becomes evident that …
Roy Hession and Revel Hession—The Calvary Road
Journey to Jerusalem. Ten Lepers. Concerning the Kingdom.
(Borders of Samaria and Galilee.) ^C Luke XVII. 11-37. ^c 11 And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. [If our chronology is correct, Jesus passed northward from Ephraim about forty miles, crossing Samaria (here mentioned first), and coming to the border of Galilee. He then turned eastward along that border down the wady Bethshean which separates the two provinces, and crossed the Jordan into Peræa, where we soon …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
"Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt …
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord
His Passion and Crucifixion.
AS all active virtues meet in Jesus, so he unites the active or heroic virtues with the passive and gentle. He is the highest standard of all true martyrdom. No character can become complete without trial and suffering; and a noble death is the crowning act of a noble life. Edmund Burke said to Fox, in the English Parliament, "Obloquy is a necessary ingredient of all true glory, Calumny and abuse are essential parts of triumph." The ancient Greeks and Romans admired a good man struggling with misfortune, …
Philip Schaff—The Person of Christ
The Conflict with Evil
The Kingdom of God Will Have to Fight for Its Advance The great objective is the Kingdom of God. In realizing the Reign of God on earth three recalcitrant forces have to be brought into obedience to God's law: the desire for power, the love of property, and unsocial religion. We have studied Christ's thought concerning these in the foregoing chapters. The advance of the Kingdom of God is not simply a process of social education, but a conflict with hostile forces which resist, neutralize, and defy …
Walter Rauschenbusch—The Social Principles of Jesus
The Two Classes.
"Two men went up into the temple to pray."--Luke xvii. 10. I now want to speak of two classes: First, those who do not feel their need of a Saviour who have not been convinced of sin by the Spirit; and Second, those who are convinced of sin and cry, "What must I do to be saved?" All inquirers can be ranged under two heads: they have either the spirit of the Pharisee, or the spirit of the publican. If a man having the spirit of the Pharisee comes into an after-meeting, I know of no better portion …
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It
Whether a Man Can Merit Anything from God
Whether a Man can Merit Anything from God We proceed to the first article thus: 1. It seems that a man cannot merit anything from God. No one merits a reward by repaying what he owes to another. But we cannot even fully repay what we owe to God, by all the good that we do. For we always owe him more than this, as the philosopher says in 8 Ethics 14. Hence it is said in Luke 17:10: "when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that …
Aquinas—Nature and Grace
Whether Charity is Prior to Hope
Whether Charity is Prior to Hope We proceed to the eighth article thus: 1. It seems that charity is prior to hope. For on Luke 17:6, "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed . . .," the gloss by Ambrose says: "From faith issues charity, and from charity issues hope." But faith is prior to charity. Hence charity is prior to hope. 2. Again, Augustine says (14 De Civ. Dei. 9): "good movements and affections are derived from love, and from holy charity." Now to hope, as an act of hope, is a good movement …
Aquinas—Nature and Grace
The Boasted Merit of Works Subversive Both of the Glory of God, in Bestowing Righteousness, and of the Certainty of Salvation.
1. After a brief recapitulation, the question, Whether or not good works merit favor with God, considered. 2. First answer, fixing the meaning of the term Merit. This term improperly applied to works, but used in a good sense, as by Augustine, Chrysostom, Bernard. 3. A second answer to the question. First by a negative, then by a concession. In the rewarding of works what to be attributed to God, and what to man. Why good works please God, and are advantageous to those who do them. The ingratitude …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
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