Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 41.--Even in Judgment God's Mercy Will Be Necessary to Us.
For the Holy Scripture testifies that God's mercy is then also necessary for them, when the Saint says to his soul concerning the Lord its God, |Who crowneth thee in mercy and compassion.| The Apostle James also says: |He shall have judgment without mercy who hath showed no mercy;| where he sets forth that even in that judgment in which the righteous are crowned and the unrighteous are condemned, some will be judged with mercy, others without mercy. On which account also the mother of the Maccabees says to her son, |That in that mercy I may receive thee with thy brethren.| |For when a righteous king,| as it is written, |shall sit on the throne, no evil thing shall oppose itself to him. Who will boast that he has a pure heart? or who will boast that he is pure from sin?| And thus God's mercy is even then necessary, by which he is made |blessed to whom the Lord has not imputed sin.| But at that time even mercy itself shall be allotted in righteous judgment in accordance with the merits of good works. For when it is said, |Judgment without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy,| it is plainly shown that in those in whom are found the good works of mercy, judgment shall be executed with mercy; and thus even that mercy itself shall be returned to the merits of good works. It is not so now; when not only no good works, but many bad works precede, His mercy anticipates a man so that he is delivered from evils, -- as well from evils which he has done, as from those which he would have done if he were not controlled by the grace of God; and from those, too, which he would have suffered for ever if he were not plucked from the power of darkness, and transferred into the kingdom of the Son of God's love. Nevertheless, since even that life eternal itself, which, it is certain, is given as due to good works, is called by so great an apostle the grace of God, although grace is not rendered to works, but is given freely, it must be confessed without any doubt, that eternal life is called grace for the reason that it is rendered to those merits which grace has conferred upon man. Because that saying is rightly understood which in the gospel is read, |grace for grace,| -- that is, for those merits which grace has conferred.