Out of Sheer Mercy, God Granted Justice

From On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith (ca. 1134)

When God saw that humanity was not able by our own strength to escape from the yoke of condemnation, God had pity on us. First, God came to our help out of sheer mercy, that he might deliver humanity through justice. In other words, since humanity did not have the means of escaping justice, God, out of his sheer mercy, granted justice to us. For God’s deliverance of humanity would not have been perfectly reasonable unless it were just for both God and humanity… But humanity could never have this justice unless God were to bestow it on us through his mercy. In order, therefore, that God might be satisfied by man, God freely gave to us that which we were obligated to repay to God. God accordingly gave to humanity one of us who could make this repayment. Thus God became human for humanity… Christ was given to us, as Isaiah says: “A son is given to us.” The fact that Christ was given to humanity was God’s mercy…. In the nativity of Christ, God was justly placated toward humanity…   Accordingly, Christ being born paid humanity’s debt to the Father, and by dying expiated humanity’s guilt.

Hugh of St. Victor (ca. 1096-1141) was a Saxon theologian, Biblical commentator, and philosopher, one of the most influential thinkers of his time and leader of the school of the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris. Deeply influenced by St. Augustine, Hugh wrote pioneering works in mystical theology and his On the Sacraments is the first comprehensive summary of Christian teaching to be produced by the Paris schools. 


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