The True Doctrine of Imputation

The True Doctrine of Imputation

Since the fulfilling of the law, and the passion of the cross, have hitherto been understood by many in no other sense than that the Lord did by these two make satisfaction for the human race, and remove from them a foreseen or appointed damnation; from the connection [between them], and at the same time from the principle that man is saved by a mere belief that it is so, has followed the dogma of the imputation of the Lord’s merit,—these two, which were of the Lord’s merit, being accepted as a satisfaction. But this falls to the ground after what has been said of the fulfilling of the law by the Lord, and of His passion of the cross. And then at the same time it may be seen that imputation of merit is an expression without meaning, unless the remission of sins after repentance is meant by it. For nothing of the Lord can be imputed to man; but salvation may be awarded by the Lord, after a man has repented,—that is, after he has seen and acknowledged his sins, and then desists from them, and this from the Lord. Then salvation is awarded him, in this way; that the man is saved, not by his own merit and his own righteousness, but by the Lord,—who alone has fought and conquered the hells, and who alone afterwards fights also for man, and conquers the hells for him. These are the merit and righteousness of the Lord; and these can never be imputed to man; for if they were imputed the merit and righteousness of the Lord would be appropriated to man as his, and this never is and never can be done. If imputation were possible an impenitent and wicked man might impute to himself the merit of the Lord, and think himself justified by it; which yet would be to defile what is holy with things that are profane, and to profane the name of the Lord. For it would be to keep the thought fixed on the Lord, and the will in hell and yet the will is the all of man. There is a faith which is of God, and a faith which is of man. They that repent have the faith of God; and they that do not repent, but think continually of imputation, have the faith of man. (L n. 18)

To every one after death the evil in which he is is imputed,: and likewise the good. That this subject may be presented with some clearness, it shall be considered in the following order: 1. That every one has a life of his own. 2. That with every one his life remains after death. 3. That the evil of his life is then imputed to the evil, and the good of his life is imputed to the good. FIRST:—Every one has a life of his own, thus a life distinct from that of another. This is well known; for there is perpetual variety, and no one thing is the same as another; hence there is to each one what is peculiarly his own. This plainly appears from the faces of men; in that there is not one face exactly like another, nor ever can be to eternity,—because there are not two minds alike, and the face is from the mind. For the face, as it is said, is the type of the mind; and the mind derives its origin and form from the life. If man had not a life of his own, as he has a mind and a face of his own, he would have no life after death distinct from that of another; nay, heaven could not exist, for this consists of those who are perpetually different. Its form is solely from the variety of souls and minds, disposed in such order that they make one; and they make one from the One whose Life is in all and in every individual there, as the soul is in man. If this were not so heaven would be dispersed, because its form would be dissolved. The One from whom the life of all and every one is derived, and by virtue of whom that form coheres, is the Lord. SECOND:—With every one his life remains after death. This is known in the church from the Word, and in particular from these passages there: “The Son of Man shall come, … and then He shall render unto every one according to his deeds” (Matt. xvi. 27). “I saw, … and the books were opened, … and all were judged,.. according to their works” (Apoc. xxi. 12, 13). “In the day of judgment God will render unto every one according to his deeds” (Rom. ii. 5, 6; 2 Corinth. v. 10). The works according to which it shall be rendered unto every one are the life; for the life does them, and they are according to the life. Since it has been granted me during many years to be in company with the angels, and to converse with those who have come from the world, I can certainly testify that every one there is explored as to what the quality of his life has been; and that the life which he had contracted in the world abides with him to eternity. I have talked with those who lived ages ago, whose life was known to me from history, and have recognized their likeness to the description. And I have heard from the angels that the life of any one cannot be changed after death, because it is organized according to his love and faith, and his works therefrom; and that if it were changed the organization would be destroyed, which never can take place; moreover, that a change of organization can only take place in the material body, and by no means in the spiritual body after the former is rejected. THIRD:—The evil of his life is then imputed to the evil, and the good of his life is imputed to the good. The imputation of evil after death does not consist, in accusation, blame, censure, and judgment, as in the world; but the evil itself effects this. For the wicked of their own accord separate themselves from the good, because they cannot be together. The delights of the love of evil are averse to the delights of the love of good,—and their delights exhale from every one, as the odours from every plant on the earth; for they are not absorbed and concealed by the material body, as before, but freely flow forth from their loves into the spiritual air. And as evil is there perceived as it were in respect to its odour, it is this which accuses, blames, and judges,—not before any judge, but before every one who is in good; and this is what is meant by imputation. The imputation of good is effected in a similar manner. This takes place with those who in the world acknowledged that every good in them was and is from the Lord, and nothing of it from themselves. After being prepared they are let into the interior delights of their good; and then a way is opened for them to a society in heaven whose delights are homogeneous. This is done by the Lord. (BE n. 110)

Imputation not known in the Apostolic Church

Imputation not known in the Apostolic Church

The faith imputative of the merit of Christ was not known in the Apostolic church, which preceded; and is nowhere meant in the Word. The church which preceded the Nicene council is called the Apostolic church. That it was a great church, and extended into the three parts of the globe, Asia, Africa, and Europe, is evident from the fact that the Emperor Constantine the Great was a Christian, and a zealot for religion; and from his dominion over not only the region afterwards divided into the many kingdoms of Europe, but also over the neighbouring regions out of Europe. Wherefore, as was said before, he convoked the bishops of Asia, Africa, and Europe at his palace at Nice, a city of Bithynia, that he might banish from his empire the scandalous dogma of Arius. This was done of the Lord’s Divine Providence; since if the Divinity of the Lord is denied. the Christian church dies, and becomes as a sepulchre inscribed with the epitaph—”Here lies.” The church that existed before that time is called Apostolic; and the eminent writers of that church are called the Fathers, and the true Christians at their side, brethren. That this church did not acknowledge three Divine Persons, nor therefore a Son of God from eternity, but only the Son of God born in time, is evident from the creed which from their church is called Apostolic, where we read these words: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary… believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic church; the communion of saints.” From which it is plain, that they acknowledged no, other Son of God than the one conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, and by no means any Son of God’ born from eternity. This creed, like the two others, has been acknowledged as genuinely Catholic, by the whole Christian church to this day…. That in that primeval time all in the then Christian world acknowledged that the. Lord Jesus Christ was God, to whom was given all power in heaven and on earth, and power over all flesh, according to His very words (Matt. xxviii. 18; John xvii. 2), and that they believed in Him, according to His command from God the Father (John iii. 15, 16, 36; vi. 40; xi. 25, 26), is also very manifest from the convocation of all the bishops by the Emperor Constantine the Great, for the purpose of convicting and condemning, from the sacred Scriptures, Arius and his followers, who denied the Divinity of the Lord the Saviour born of the virgin Mary. This indeed was done; but in avoiding the wolf they fell upon a lion; or, as it is said in the proverb, eager to avoid Charybdis, they fell upon Scylla,—by inventing a Son of God from eternity, who descended and assumed the Human; believing that they should thus vindicate and restore Divinity to the Lord. Not knowing that God Himself the Creator of the universe descended, that He might become the Redeemer, and thus the Creator anew,—according to these plain declarations in the Old Testament; Isaiah xxv. 9; xl. 3, 5, 10, 11; 14; xliv. 6, 24; xlvii. 4; xlviii. 17; xlix. 7, 26; lx. 16; lxiii. 16; Jer. 1. 34; Hos. xiii. 4; Psa. xix. 14. To these add John i. 14. (TCR n. 636, 637)

That no faith imputative of the merit of Christ is meant in the Word, clearly appears from the fact that that faith was not known in the church until after the Nicene council introduced the three Divine Persons from eternity; and when this faith had been introduced and pervaded the whole Christian world, every other faith was cast into the shade. (ibid. n. 639)