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I. THAT IMPUTATION, AND THE FAITH OF THE PRESENT
626. That the faith of the present church, which alone is said to justify, is the same thing as imputation, or that faith and imputation in the present church are but one, is a consequence of their mutual connection and their dependance on each other, or of their mutual insertion into each other, whence each derives its being: for if faith be spoken of without the addition of imputation, it is an empty sound, and if imputation be spoken of without the addition of faith, it also is an empty sound; but if they are both spoken of conjointly, then the result is something articulate, or distinct in the expression, yet still without any meaning in order then that the understanding may have a perception of some meaning, there requires the addition of a third ingredient, which is the merit of Christ, and hence results a sentiment capable of being expressed with some appearance of reason: for the faith of the present church is, that God the Father imputeth the righteousness of His Son, and sendeth the Holy Ghost to operate its effects.
627. These three, therefore, faith, imputation, and the merit of Christ, form in the present church one whole, and may be called a triune, for in case one of the three were taken away, modern theology would cease to be, for it dependeth on the
three taken and perceived as one whole, just as a long chain hangeth from a hook to which it is fixed: suppose, for instance, you take away either faith, or imputation, or the merit of Christ, then all that is said of justification, of the remission of sins, of quickening, of renovation, regeneration, sanctification, and of the Gospel, of free-will, of charity and good works, and even of life eternal, would be like a desolate city, or like a temple in ruins; and faith itself, which is placed in front, would be annihilated, and thus the universal church would become a wilderness and a desolation. Hence it is evident what the pillar is, on which the house of God is at this day founded, and that if this pillar be pulled down, the house must fall, like that building in which the lords of the Philistines, with three thousand of the people, were gathered together to be entertained with sports, who were all slain and destroyed when Sampson pulled down the two columns which supported it, Judges xvi. 20. These remarks are premised, because it has been shewn in the preceding parts of this work, and is intended to be further shewn in the appendix, that such faith is not Christian faith, because it is at variance with the Word, and that the imputation of such faith is vain, because the merit of Christ is not imputable.
II. THAT THE IMPUTATION WHICH BELONGS TO THE FAITH OF THE PRESENT TIMES IS TWOFOLD, THE ONE PART RELATING TO THE MERIT OF CHRIST, AND THE OTHER TO SALVATION AS ITS CONSEQUENCE. 628. It is maintained throughout the whole Christian Church, that justification and consequent salvation are imparted by God the Father, through the imputation of the merit of Christ, His Son, and that such imputation is wrought of grace, WHEN AND WHERE HE WILLETH, consequently of God's free pleasure, and that such as have the merit of Christ imputed to them are adopted into the number of the children of God: now as the leaders of the
church have not stirred a step beyond such imputation, or raised their minds above it, they have, by decreeing and establishing God's election to be merely arbitrary, fallen into errors, enormous and fanatical, and at length into that detestable one of predestination, and also into this abominable conceit, that God doth not attend to the actions of man's life, but only to the faith inscribed on the interiors of his mind; so that unless the error respecting imputation were to be abolished, atheism would overrun the whole Christian world, and then the king of the bottomless pit would reign over them, whose "name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue Apollyon," Rev. ix. 11; by Abaddon and Apollyon is signified a destroyer of the church by falses, and by the bottomless pit, the place where those falses dwell, as may be seen by the APOCALYPSE REVEALED, n. 421, 440, 442; from which it appears, that that one false doctrine, and the falses resulting from it, over which that destroyer reigns, are in a long continued series; for, as was said above, the whole system of modern theology depends on the doctrine of imputation, just as a long chain hangeth from the hook to which it is fixed, or as the body with all its members is dependent on the head; and since this doctrine of imputation is every where prevalent, the words spoken in Isaiah are fulfilled, where it is written, "The Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail; the ancient and the honourable, he is the head, and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail," chap. ix. 14, 15.
629. It is affirmed above, that the imputation of the faith now prevailing is two-fold, but its two-fold distinction is not however like that of God and His mercy towards all, but as God and His mercy towards some; or not like that of a parent and his love towards all his offspring, but as of a parent and his love towards one or the other of them; or not like the distinction of the divine law and its commands extended to all, but as the divine law and its commands con
fined to a few: so that the two-fold distinction in the one case is extended and undivided, but in the other restricted and divided; in the latter case therefore it is really two-fold, but in the former it is unity, or singleness: for it is asserted, that the imputation of Christ's merit is of arbitrarious election, and that to such as are so elected it is an imputation of salvation, consequently that some are adopted, but the rest rejected; which would be like God's exalting some into Abraham's bosom, and delivering up some as a prey to the devil; when yet the truth is, that the Lord never rejects or delivers up any man to the devil, but it is the man who delivers up himself.
630. Add to this, that modern imputation taketh away from man all power in spiritual things from any principle of free determination, and does not even leave him the least ability of shaking off fire from his clothes, and securing his body from hurt, or of applying water to extinguish the flames of his house, and of assisting his family to make their escape; when yet the Word, from beginning to end, teaches that every one should shun evils because they are of the devil and from the devil, and should do good because it is of God and from God, and that he should so act of himself by the Lord's operation. But modern imputation, in order to prevent any thing of man from entering into it, or from mixing itself with the merit of Christ, disallows all such power of acting as fatal to faith and consequently to salvation, so that from its establishment this satanical tenet hath gushed out as a stream, that man is altogether impotent in spiritual things, which is the same thing as saying, "Walk forwards, although thou hast not a foot to walk on; wash thyself, though both thy hands are cut off; do good, but yet lie asleep; feed thyself but without a tongue :" it is also the same thing as to suppose a will given which is not will: and might not any one in such a case reasonably object, and say, "I am not able to do such things, any more than Lot's wife
when she was turned into a pillar of salt, or than Dagon, the god of the Philistines, when the ark of God was introduced into his temple; I am afraid that as that god lost his head, and the palms of his hands were found laying on the threshold, (1. Sam. v. 4,) so also it would happen unto me: nor have I any more power to act, than Beelzebub, the god of Ekron had, who, according to the signification of his name, could only drive away flies?"* That such impotence in spiritual things is believed at this day, may be seen from the extracts given above, in the chapter on free-will, n. 464.
631. As to what concerns the first part of the two-fold distinction in that imputation concerning the salvation of mankind, which consists in an arbitrarious imputation of Christ's merit, of which the imputation of salvation is a consequence, the maintainers of the doctrine are divided in their sentiments; some hold, that this imputation is absolute, and of free power, and is imparted to those whose external or internal form is well-pleasing; others again insist, that imputation is of prescience, or fore-knowledge, and is imparted to those into whom grace hath been infused, and to whom that faith can be applied: but still these two opinions meet in the same point, and are like the two eyes fixed on the same stone, or like the two ears attending to the same song: at first sight indeed it appears as if they took different directions, but yet they will be found in the end to unite, and to have the same scope and intention; for as they both assert man's absolute impotence in spiritual things, and both exclude from faith all human agency, it follows, that the grace receptive of faith, whether it be infused arbitrariously or of fore-knowledge, equally implies a partial election; for supposing the grace, which is called preventing grace, to be universal, man's application, by virtue of some power of his own, must needs be added to it, which nevertheless is in both cases rejected as leprous and unclean. Hence it is that no one knoweth, any more than a stock or a
* Beelzebub in the original signifies the god of the fly.