19Laying up for themselves a good foundation Besides, he adds an incitement drawn from the promise of a reward; that, by bestowing and communicating, they will procure for themselves a better treasure than they can have on earth. By the word foundation he means a firm and lasting duration; for the spiritual riches which we “ up for ourselves” in heaven, are not exposed to the ravages of worms or thieves, (Mat_6:20,) or fires, but continue always to be placed beyond all danger. On the contrary, nothing on earth is solidly founded; but everything may be said to be in a floating condition.
The inference drawn by Papists from this passage, that we therefore obtain eternal life by the merit of good works, is excessively frivolous. It is true that God accepts as given to himself everything that is bestowed on the poor. (Mat_25:40.) But even the most perfect hardly perform the hundredth part of their duty; and therefore our liberality, does not deserve to be brought into account before God. So far are we from rendering full payment, that, if God should call us to a strict account, there is not one of us who would not be a bankrupt. But, after having reconciled us to himself by free grace, he accepts our services, such as they are, and bestows on them a reward which is not due. This recompense, therefore, does not depend on considerations of merit, but on God’ gracious acceptance, and is so far from being inconsistent with the righteousness of faith, that it may be viewed as an appendage to it.