Jeanne Guyon - Grace Vs. Works

Grace Vs. Works

In the Christian dispute regarding grace and works, Guyon defended the belief that salvation is the result of grace rather than works alone. Like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Calvin, and Martin Luther, she thought that a person's deliverance can only come from God as an outside source, never from within the person himself or herself. Accordingly, God is supposed to decide who is to be saved, regardless of anyone's efforts or industry. He then, as a result of His own free will, bestows his favour as a gift. This predestination was opposed by the Pelagians, who considered it to be irrational in that God would favour a wicked sinner over a good person. However, according to Schopenhauer, "if it were works, springing from motives and deliberate intention, that led to the blissful state, then, however we may turn it, virtue would always be only a prudent, methodical, far–seeing egoism. … Works …can never justify, because they are always an action from motives." In her autobiography, for example, Madame Guyon criticized self–righteous people who try to gain heaven through their works. She praised lowly sinners who merely submitted themselves to God's will. Of the righteous, she wrote:

…the righteous, supported by the great number of works of righteousness he presumes to have done, seems to hold his salvation in his own hands, and regards heaven as the recompense due to his merits.… His Saviour is, for him, almost useless.

These righteous persons expect God to deliver and save them as payment for their good works. In contrast to the self–sufficient, righteous egoists, the sinners who have selflessly submitted to God "are carried swiftly by the wings of love and confidence into the arms of their Saviour, who gives them gratuitously what He has infinitely merited for them." God's "bounties are effects of His will, and not the fruits of our merits."

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