Contarini continues to discuss conversion and one’s preparation for it. He does not view it as normally instantaneous (though it can be), and states that the one “who is being converted” should act in accordance with what is also the first principle of the law of nature: do good and avoid evil.
Such obedience, however, is not for Contarini the ground of justification or, interestingly, sanctification. Contarini has three authorities in his corner to claim that justification and sanctification are not give for works: Paul, Augustine, and Thomas. Both are rather “owed” to faith (see note below). But faith is not the ground or the cause (terms which can be used synonymously) of justification; it merits, or deserves (mereamur), nothing. Faith is instead the instrument by which justification is received–this is the force of the preposition per in the expression per fidem. Faith enables man to be connected to and to receive the righteousness of God. As textual support, he cites the letters to the Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews.
Meanwhile, however, while the soul is thus being prepared 1 by the Lord and prepares itself, since this preparation does not come about in a moment of time, except in the case of a miracle, as happened to the Apostle Paul, if the opportunity should be present he who is being turned [converted] does good works and refrains from evil. Nevertheless, justification and sanctification is not rendered 2 for works–as Paul says, as blessed Augustine says in countless passages, and as Thomas [says] expressly in the First Part of the Second Part–but is owed to faith, 3 not because we merit justification by faith and because we believe, but because we receive it 4 by faith; for thus the Apostle says in the Letter to the Galatians: “receiving the promise of the Spirit by faith.” Likewise in the Letter to the Romans: “through whom we have access into this grace by faith.” In the Letter to the Hebrews: “It is necessary that the one approaching God believe,” because by believing do we approach this access. That which the Apostle calls “receiving” blessed Thomas in the Third Part names “application,” 5 saying that the passion of Christ is, as it were, a common 6 medicine, which each one applies to himself by faith and the sacraments 7 of faith. (De Iustificatione, p. 591)
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