Chapter 16. Of Good Works

Article 1. Good works are only such as God has commanded in His Holy Word and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men, out of blind zeal or on any pretence of good intentions.

Article 2. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith. By them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus for good works, so that having their fruit unto holiness they may have the end, eternal life.

Article 3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. In order that they may be thus enabled, an actual influence of the Holy Spirit is necessary, besides the graces they have already received, to work in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. Yet, they are not therefore to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

Article 4. They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life are so far from being able to supererogate or to do more than God requires, that rather they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

Article 5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins. Rather, when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty and are unprofitable servants. Moreover, inasmuch as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit, but inasmuch as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's punishment.

Article 6. Notwithstanding, in that the persons of believers are accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him, not as though they were in this life wholly blameless and unreprovable in God's sight, but because He, looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and graciously reward that which is sincere, despite their many weaknesses and imperfections.

Article 7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands and of good use both to themselves and others, yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the Word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful and cannot please God or make a man fit to receive grace from God. Yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.

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