The Nestorians and their Rituals/Volume 2/Chapter 17

CHAPTER XVII.

OF GOOD WORKS.

"Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of His Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but that they have the nature of sin."—Article XIII.

The doctrine of the Nestorians with respect to works done before Justification may be summed up as follows: Man is far gone from original righteousness, and is of himself unable to attain unto salvation by any efforts of his own, as has been already shown under Article IX. In this state of nature he is under the curse, and consequently nothing which he can do, while in that state, is pleasing to God, "for in those days men were like beasts in everything, living like brutes in sensual lusts, and they stumbled in their goings over the stumbling-block of sin through the obliquity of their souls; they were, moreover, vain-glorious, and walked after the law of their nature without any discernment."[1] But God in His mercy sent His Son to die for the sins of the whole world, and thereby removed the curse, and opened the kingdom of heaven which before had been shut against the whole race of Adam. Into this kingdom God calls whom He pleases, and in calling them. He bestows upon them His grace, which grace is communicated in the first instance, and without any merit whatever on the part of those who receive it, in holy baptism, whereby we become "members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of Heaven" in which new state of Grace, whatever good works we do are pleasing unto God, because they are wrought through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit Who adopts us to be the sons of God in the holy ordinance of baptism. As this subject however, will be treated more at length under Article XXVII., I shall at present restrict myself to adducing the following extract from the service appointed in the Gezza for the feast of the Epiphany corroborative of the above remarks.

"Ho, all ye who are driven without the holy Church, and who are like strangers to her communion, come, enter in, and receive the gift of baptism, and mingle with the reasonable sheep of Christ. Behold this is the accepted time to all such as are unbaptized. Come, enter in, and take rest, and delight yourselves in the hidden mysteries of our salvation, lest you should have no part or portion in the invitation of the priest who celebrates. For the gates are watched on your account, lest any of you should enter in not having on the wedding garment. Therefore, come all of you, and partake freely of this holy gift."