st john cassian on forgiveness

If we remember that thief who, for a single confession, was taken into Paradise, we shall realize that it was not for the merit of the life he lived that he obtained so great blessedness, but that it was his by the gift of God, Who had mercy on him. Or let us think of David, the king, whose two such grievous and awful crimes were wiped away by one word of penitence. Neither here do we see that the merit of what he did was equal to obtaining pardon for such great offense, but the grace of God did the more abound when on the occasion of true penitence He did away with all that weight of sin for one single word of genuine confession. Again, when we consider the beginnings of man’s calling and salvation, which, as the Apostle tells us, is not of ourselves or of our words, but we are saved by the gift and grace of God, we shall be able clearly to perceive how the end of perfection is not “of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God Who showeth mercy,” Who makes us victors over our vices, although we have no merit at all of life or labors to weigh against them, nor does the effort of our will avail for us to reach the steep summit of righteousness, or to subdue the flesh which we are bound to use… For the outcome of all good flows from His grace, Who hath bestowed so great an eternity of bliss and such immeasurable glory , with manifold generosity, upon the weak will and the short life-work of man.’ (Institutes, 12.11.)

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