Let us return now to the Apostle Paul, who, as we have found, obtained Gods grace, who recompenses good for evil, without any good merits of his own, but rather with many evil merits. Let us see what he says when his final sufferings were approaching, writing to Timothy: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.” 3033 He enumerates these as, of course, now his good merits; so that, as after his evil merits he obtained grace, so now, after his good merits, he might receive the crown. Observe, therefore, what follows: “There is henceforth laid up for me,” he says, “a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” 3034 Now, to whom should the righteous Judge award the crown, except to him on whom the merciful Father had bestowed grace? And how could the crown be one “of righteousness,” unless the grace had preceded which “justifieth the ungodly”? How, moreover, could these things now be awarded as of debt, unless the other had been before given as a free gift?
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