Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Doctrine of Grace
By Richard Hooker (15541600)
From the Sermon on Justification
WHEREIN then, do we disagree? We disagree about the nature of the very essence of the medicine whereby Christ cureth our disease; about the manner of applying it; about the number and the power of means, which God requireth in us for the effectual applying thereof to our souls comfort. When they are required to show, what the righteousness is whereby a Christian man is justified, they answer, that it is a divine spiritual quality; which quality received into the soul, doth first make it to be one of them who are born of God; and secondly, endue it with power to bring forth such works, as they do that are born of Him; even as the soul of man being joined unto his body, doth first make him to be in the number of reasonable creatures, and secondly enable him to perform the natural functions which are proper to his kind; that it maketh the soul gracious and amiable in the sight of God, in regard whereof it is termed Grace; that it purgeth, purifieth, washeth out, all the stains and pollutions of sin; that by it, through the merits of Christ we are delivered, as from sin, so from eternal death and condemnation, the reward of sin. This grace they will have to be applied by infusion; to the end, that as the body is warm by the heat which is in the body, so the soul might be righteous by inherent grace; which grace they make capable of increase; as the body may be more and more warm, so the soul more and more justified, according as grace shall be augmented; the augmentation whereof is merited by good works, as good works are made meritorious by it. Wherefore the first receipt of grace is in their divinity the first justification; the increase thereof, the second justification. As grace may be increased by the merit of good works; so it may be diminished by the demerit of sins venial; it may be lost by mortal sin. Inasmuch, therefore, as it is needful in the one case to repair, in the other to recover, the loss which is made; the infusion of grace hath her sundry after-meals; for which cause they make many ways to apply the infusion of grace. It is applied unto infants through baptism, without either faith or works, and in them it really taketh away original sin, and the punishment due unto it; it is applied unto infidels and wicked men in their first justification through baptism, without works, yet not without faith; and it taketh away both sin actual and original, together with all whatsoever punishment eternal or temporal thereby deserved. Unto such as have attained the first justification, that is to say, the first receipt of grace, it is applied further by good works to the increase of former grace, which is the second justification. If they work more and more, grace doth more and more increase, and they are more and more justified. To such as have diminished it by venial sins, it is applied by holy water, Ave Marias, crossings, papal salutations, and such like, which serve for reparations of grace decayed. To such as have lost it through mortal sin, it is applied by the sacrament (as they term it) of penance; which sacrament hath force to confer grace anew, yet in such sort, that being so conferred, it hath not altogether so much power as at the first. For it only cleanseth out the stain or guilt of sin committed, and changeth the punishment eternal into a temporal satisfactory punishment, here, if time do serve, if not, hereafter to be endured, except it be either lightened by masses, works of charity, pilgrimages, fasts and such like; or else shortened by pardon for term, or by plenary pardon quite removed and taken away. This is the mystery of the man of sin. This maze the Church of Rome doth cause her followers to tread, when they ask her the way of justification. I cannot stand now to unrip this building and to sift it piece by piece; only I will set a frame of apostolical erection by it in few words, that it may befall Babylon, in presence of that which God hath builded, as it happened unto Dagon before the ark.