Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

Contarini on Justification (4)

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

To illustrate the differences between the (merely) human types of justice he first discussed and the “Christian justice” that befits the sons of God, Contarini constructs a simile that points up the differences between rustic manners, which Contarini ironically calls the “urbanity” of rural areas, and those that are required of a citizen–a dweller in a civitas or city–or, particularly, those that are required of a man in the service of the prince. Just as country manners do not befit palace life and are “far inferior” to it, so human justice is “far inferior” to the justice demanded of the sons of God.


We can aptly take an example of this matter from the life and habit of men. Suppose the case of some country-dweller, whose kind has always lived in the country; suppose that this man has sons, and that he educates them in the habits of the country, and that he instructs them well and diligently; undoubtedly, if a young man so instructed should become a citizen, if he should become a domestic servant in the prince’s household and a courtier in the service of the king’s son, undoubtedly [although] those habits from his previous life are relevant to the “urbanity” and “nobility” of a country-dweller, they are nevertheless far inferior to and of a less noble kind than the habits that are demanded from a citizen, and especially from a domestic servant in the prince’s household. Thus those human “justices” that are appropriate to man [as such] are far inferior to this “justice” that is demanded from the sons of God, from the partakers of the divine nature. (De Iustificatione, p. 589)

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.