We saw in the last lecture that no works of the faithful please God, except through a gratuitous acceptance: it hence follows, that nothing can be ascribed to merits without derogating from the grace of Christ; for if the value of works depends on this, that God is our Father and is reconciled to us in Christ, nothing can be more absurd than to set up works, which ought to be subordinated to this paternal favor of God.
We now see how these two things harmonize -- that reward is promised to works, and that works themselves deserve nothing before God; for though God can justly reject them, he yet regards them as acceptable, because he forgives all their defects. Thus have we brief stated the reason why our works are approved by God; they are not so on account of any worthiness, but through his favor alone; for there is no work which would not on account of its imperfection be displeasing to God, were he to require that it should be according to the rule of his law. Hence God departs from his own law and turns to mercy, that he may regard works as acceptable, which otherwise could not, being defective, stand before his presence. It now follows --