In the work of the Redemption of man, not only the mercy, but also the justice, of God is displayed.
15. Man therefore was lawfully delivered up, but mercifully set free. Yet mercy was shown in such a way that a kind of justice was not lacking even in his liberation, since, as was most fitting for man's recovery, it was part of the mercy of the liberator to employ justice rather than power against man's enemy. For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of himself to recover that righteousness which he had formerly lost? Therefore he who lacked righteousness had another's imputed to him, and in this way: The prince of this world came and found nothing in the Saviour; and because he notwithstanding laid hands on the Innocent he lost most justly those whom he held captive; since He who owed nothing to death, lawfully freed him who was subject to it, both from the debt of death, and the dominion of the devil, by accepting the injustice of death; for with what justice could that be exacted from man a second time? It was man who owed the debt, it was man who paid it. For if one, says S. Paul, died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor. v.14), so that, as One bore the sins of all, the satisfaction of One is imputed to all. It is not that one forfeited, another satisfied; the Head and body is one, viz., Christ. The Head, therefore, satisfied for the members, Christ for His children, since, according to the Gospel of Paul, by which Peter's falsehood is refuted, He who died for us, quickened us together with Himself, forgiving us all our trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross, having spoiled principalities and powers (Col. ii.13, 14).
16. May I be found amongst those spoils of which the opposing powers were deprived, and be handed over into the possession of my Lord. If Laban pursue the and reproach me for having left him by stealth, he shall be told that I came to him by stealth, and therefore so left him. The secret power of sin subjected me, the hidden plan of righteousness freed me from him; or I will reply, that if I was sold for nothing shall I not be freely redeemed? If Asshur has reproached me without cause, he has no right to demand the cause of my escape. But if he says, |Your father sold you into captivity,| I will reply, |But my Brother redeemed me.| Why should not righteousness come to me from another when guilt came upon me from another? One made me a sinner, the other justifies me from sin; the one by generation, the other by His blood. Shall there be sin in the seed of the sinner and not righteousness in the blood of Christ? But he will say, |Let righteousness be whose it may, it is none of yours.| Be it so. But let guilt also be whose it may, it is none of mine. Shall the righteousness of the righteous be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked not be upon him? It is not fitting for the son to bear the iniquity of the father, and yet to have no share in the righteousness of his brother. But now by man came death, by Man also came life. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. xv.21, 22). I attain to une and to the other in the same way: to the one by the flesh, to the other by faith. And if from the one I was infected with concupiscence from my birth, by Christ spiritual grace was infused into me. What more does this hired advocate bring against me? If he urges generation, I oppose regeneration; and add that the former is but carnal, while the latter is spiritual. Nor does equity suffer that they fight as equals, but the higher nature is the more efficacious cause, and therefore the spirit must necessarily overcome the flesh. In other words, the second birth is so much the more beneficial as the first was baneful. The offence, indeed, came to me, but so did grace; and not as the offence so also is the free gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification (Rom. v.16). From the first man flowed down the offence, from the highest heaven came down the free gift: both from our father, one from our first father, the other from the Supreme Father. My earthly birth destroys me, and does not my heavenly much more save me I? And I am not afraid of being rejected by the Father of lights when I have been rescued in this way from the power of darkness, and justified through His grace by the blood of His Son: It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? He who had mercy on the sinner will not condemn the righteous; I mean that I am righteous, but it is in His righteousness, for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Rom. x.4). In short, He was made our righteousness by God the Father (1 Cor. i.30). Is not that righteousness mine which was made for me? If my guilt was inherited, why should not my righteousness be accorded to me? And, truly, what is given me is safer than what was born in me. For this, indeed, has whereof to glory, but not before God; but that, since it is effectual to my salvation, has nothing whereof to glory save in the Lord. For if I be righteous, says Job, yet will I not lift up my head (Job x.15), lest I receive the answer: What hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Cor. iv.7).