God Himself says that the beginning of our faith, as well as our complete faith, is from Himself. " Faith," the Apostle saith, "is the gift of God." "But to you it is given," given as a gift of grace, " in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." S. Paul blends in one the beginning and the end of the Christian's life. To die for Christ is the crowning act of the Christian's life ; sufferings for Christ are the highest gift of grace. What they who suffered in His Name, spake in their hour of trial, Christ saith, the Holy Ghost "spake in them;" what they endured, they endured through the power of Christ. "Christ, the Guardian of their faith, fought and conquered in those His servants. He approved them, willing; He aided them, struggling ; He crowned them, conquering ; rewarding in them with the recompense of His Fatherly goodness and love what He Himself wrought, and honouring what He Himself accomplished in them."
Yet not less is it the gift of God, S. Paul says, to believe on Christ than to suffer for Him." I was compassionated of the Lord to become faithful." S. Paul was inspired to speak of his own belief in Christ as being so wholly the grace of God that he speaks of it in a passive form, " I was compassionated by the Lord to be faithful," or a believer, whence "the compassionated " becomes even a title for those brought, through the grace of God, into the faith of the Gospel. "Who before were not compassionated, but now have been compassionated "; "now ye have been compassionated through their unbelief"; "that through the compassion upon you they too may be Compassionated.
With this coincides his other saying, " It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." " Not plainly," says S. Bernard, "as though any could indeed will or indeed run in vain, but that he who willeth and runneth, should boast not in himself but in Him from Whom he hath both to will and to run." Of himself S. Paul says again, " By the grace of God I am what I am." He reserved no part to himself, as if this were his own, not God's. All which is good in me, all which I have or am of good, that 1 am, by the grace of God. He speaks of his very " I," himself, not of any gifts, graces, wisdom, knowledge of Divine things, inspirations, labours, love, zeal ; not of any one thing which God had given him, not of the aggregate of all God's gifts, but his very self, around whom all these things hung, in whom they were, his very inward self, had become what it was, by the grace of God.
The stream is not distinct from the fountain ; nor the ray from the sun; nor is the ripened fruit of other kind than the blossom ; nor is the perfection of grace the gift of God and the beginning from nature.