OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF ONESELF AND OF GRACE
The more deeply I consider the benefit of Christ, considering how He is in everyone and all those who accept Him, the more I marvel that all men do not run after Him, and do not embrace Him and put in their hearts; when they have been offered as a gift the remission of sins and reconciliation with God, and therefore immortality and life with Christ.
And having put myself many times to consider, from where it may come that they do not accept this most singular grace all those who have news of it, I have understood that it comes from not knowing the man, neither to himself, nor to God.
And in fact it happens that, knowing the man in himself the impiety neither the malignancy nor the rebellion, that are natural to him by the original sin, does not distrust of itself, neither of power by itself to satisfy God, nor to be just In front of God. It also happens that, because man does not know goodness, mercy, and fidelity in God, he does not trust God, and thus can not be persuaded, or assured in his mind, that the righteousness of Christ belongs to him. for what Christ suffered, God accepts him as righteous. And if man knew himself, considering himself impious, malignant and rebellious, not only for himself, but for being - as he is - son of Adam, he would distrust himself, if he could justify himself; and if he knew God, knowing in him goodness, mercy and fidelity, he would easily trust him by accepting the forgiveness offered him by the Gospel, and all the more since knowing himself, it would not seem very strange that God would forgive him, without own merit, the evils and inconveniences in which it is known fallen.
From where I understand, that just as it is impossible for man, not knowing himself or knowing God, accept the grace of the Gospel and secure himself with it; so it is impossible for the man, knowing himself and knowing God, pretend or think to be justified by his own works; neither by dodging the bad ones, nor by applying to the good ones.
And if one were to say to me: -Well, how did the Hebrew saints, who knew themselves and knew God, pretend to justify themselves with the sacrifices that the Law commands? I will answer that the saints Hebrews did not constitute their justifications in their sacrifices, but in the word of God, which promised to forgive them, making them those sacrifices. And here I understand that it was much more difficult to the Hebrew saints, because they knew themselves and knew God, the reduction to be considered as just sacrificing; and that it is not so much to the Christian saints, who know themselves they know God, the reduction to be considered as righteous believing and accepting the grace of the Gospel. For it is very certain that the Hebrew saints, sacrificing, knew that they gave to God what they themselves, by their natural inclination, were pleased to give him; and they knew that in itself that did not please or satisfy God, as is shown by many things that we read in the ancient Holy Scripture, and particularly in the Psalms and in Isaiah. And because it is very absolute also that the Christian saints, believing, know that they give to God what by their natural inclination they would not want to give it, and of what God is pleased and wants to be given, as is confirmed by all the new holy Scripture.
For what I resolve, that the men who at the time of the Gospel pretend to justify themselves by working (that is, with their works), testify that they do not know themselves, nor do they know God; that those who claim to be righteous, believing, testify that they know themselves, and know God.
In this discourse I learn, among others, two very important things: the first is that, since it is true that God does not ask men to sacrifice, asking them to believe, that they accept the grace, the remission of sins and the reconciliation with God that the Gospel offers them, showing them how having put God in Christ the sins of all men, in Him he has punished them all, being satisfied his justice; man, no matter how sinful and bad, who does not consider himself forgiven and reconciled to God, and thus just; by the very fact, he will give testimony that he does not know God, since he does not trust his word, and that he does not know CHRIST, since he is not sure that he is righteous in CHRIST. And if this man tries to justify himself by acting, he will testify that he does not know the natural inclination of man So, or should I know myself in CHRIST, even though I know myself as a sinner in me, or I must deny what the Gospel affirms: that in Christ God has punished the iniquities and sins of all men, and mine with them ; or I am constrained to say, that God is unjust, punishing twice the sins, one in Christ, and another in me; and because to say this would be impiety, and to deny the other would be unbelief, it is only that I strive to have myself forgiven and reconciled with God, and thus, by righteousness in CHRIST, subjecting natural light to spiritual light.
The second thing I learn is that, being true that the impossibility that man has to accept this holy Gospel of Christ comes from not knowing man himself or to know God, every man must apply himself very truly to know himself and his natural inclination, taking it from Adam; and to know God, taking as its main application the continuous communion and desire in Christ, affectionately and fervently praying to God to open his eyes, so that he comes to this knowledge, and begging him, that if he has begun to open them, he will open them every more day And in this way, if he has not begun to accept the holy Gospel of CHRIST, by moving away from impossibility, he will begin to accept it; and if he had begun to accept it, having taken away the difficulty he had in receiving it, he would accept it more and better, faith in him being efficacious to mortify and vivify him, with which things the Christian faith is confirmed in us, which is the foundation of this most divine confession of Peter, when he said to Christ:
«You are the Christ, the son of the vivifying God».