Wherefore, even eternal life itself, which p. 272 is surely the reward of good works, the apostle calls the gift of God. “For the wages of sin,” he says, “is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1300 Wages (stipendium) is paid as a recompense for military service; it is not a gift: wherefore he says, “the wages of sin is death,” to show that death was not inflicted undeservedly, but as the due recompense of sin. But a gift, unless it is wholly unearned, is not a gift at all. 1301 We are to understand, then, that mans good deserts are themselves the gift of God, so that when these obtain the recompense of eternal life, it is simply grace given for grace. Man, therefore, was thus made upright that, though unable to remain in his uprightness without divine help, he could of his own mere will depart from it. And whichever of these courses he had chosen, Gods will would have been done, either by him, or concerning him. Therefore, as he chose to do his own will rather than Gods, the will of God is fulfilled concerning him; for God, out of one and the same heap of perdition which constitutes the race of man, makes one vessel to honor, another to dishonor; to honor in mercy, to dishonor in judgment; 1302 that no one may glory in man, and consequently not in himself.
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