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Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me. John xvii. 4, &c.
[As much as if he had said, I found them slaves and in bondage, in Satan's kingdom, sinning against thee with an high hand and out-stretched arm; but I have had pity upon them; I have redeemed them with my blood; I have paid the price which thy justice demanded; and now, O Father, I pray not for the world, but for these, whom I have redeemed; receive them, I beseech thee, into thy kingdom, that they may behold my glory; impute not their sin unto them, but unto me; impute my obedience unto them, view them through me, and let them stand acquitted in thy sight.] As it is written:
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. 2 Cor. v. 19.
David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Rom. iv. 6-8.
Nor he their outward only with the skins
The doctrine of imputation may be defined thus:
To impute, is to charge a thing upon a person, whether guilty or not, as the circumstances hereafter are proved or not. Thus, Shimei entreated David that he would not "impute iniquity to him" for some former transaction, 2 Sam. xix. 19. And the apostle Paul, Rom. iv. 8. declares them blessed "unto whom the Lord will not impute sin." This is the general sense of imputation. But in the case of the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ to his people, and their sins imputed to him, the sense of imputation goes further, and ascribes to Christ and to the sinner that which each Lath not, but by the very act of imputing it to them. Hence the
apostle Paul explains it in the clearest manner in two scriptures: the first is 2 Cor. v. 21. where, speaking of the imputation of our sins to Christ, and his righteousness to us, he refers it into the sovereignty and good pleasure of God the Father; for, speaking of Christ, it is said, “God hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Here the doctrine of imputation is most plainly and fully stated. Christ is the imputed sinner, or rather, sin itself in the total abstract, and in the very moment when he knew no sin; and the sinner is said to be righteous, yea, the righteousness of God in Christ, when at the same time he hath not a single portion of righteousness in himself, or in any of his doings. This is, therefore, to impute Christ's righteousness to his people, and their sins to him. The other scripture that explains the doctrine is but in part, namely, respecting the imputation of sin. Gal. iii. 13. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Here Christ stands with all the curse of a broken law charged upon him, as the sinner's surety; yea, as the curse itself. And, consequently, as in the doing of this, he takes it from his people, they are redeemed from it. The original debtor, and the surety who pays for that debtor, cannot both have the debt at the same time charged home upon them. This, therefore, is the blessed doctrine of imputation: Our sins are imputed to Christ; his righteousness is imputed to us. And this by the authority and appointment of God; for without this authority and appointment of God, the transfer could not have taken place. For it would have been totally beyond our power to have made it; but, surely, not beyond the right and prerogative of God. And if God accepts such a ransom; (yca, he himself appoints it) and if the sinner by Christ's righteousness be made holy; and if the sins of the sinner be all done away by Christ's voluntary sufferings and death; if the law of God be thus honoured; his justice thus satisfied; all the divine perfections glorified by an equivalent, yea, more than an equivalent, inasmuch as Christ's obedience and death infinitely transcend in dignity and value the everlasting obedience of men and angels; surely, here is the fullest assurance of the truth of the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteous 2 P
ness, and the perfect approbation of Jehovah to the plan of redemp Well, therefore, might the apostle, when speaking of the faith of Abraham on this point, declare the cause of it: "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Now (says the apostle) it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed unto him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." Rom. iv. 3, 25.
Imputed, shall absolve them, who renounce
Their own, both righteous and unrighteous deeds;
And live in thee transplanted, and from thee
Receive new life.
The Greek verb, which we render to impute, has four senses, viz. to think of to judge to reason with-and to impute, or place to account; and all these senses may be admitted, with great propriety, in God's act of justifying a sinner by the divine and infinite righteousness of Christ; for he thought of it with delight; he judged it fit for us; he reasons with his justice and holiness concerning it; and he places it to our account as our justifying righteousness.
You enquire after the proofs of this imputed righteousness. From a multitude I shall select a few; sufficient, I hope, to make it appear, that this is the declared doctrine of our Church, and the avowed belief of her most eminent divines; that it is copiously revealed through the scriptures, revealed in many express passages, and deducible from a variety of instructive similitudes,
Hear the language of our Common Prayer, in a very affecting and solemn address to the Almighty: "We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness." If we may not, if we dare not, rely on our own righteousness, when we approach the eucharistic table, much less may we depend upon it when we are summoned to the decisive tribunal. Should you ask, On what are we to depend? the exhortation to the Communion furnishes an answer: "On the meritorious death and
passion of Christ, whereby alone we obtain remission of sins, and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven.”
The collect appointed for the festival of Circumcision has this remarkable introduction: "Almighty God, whose blessed Son was obedient unto the law for man." In what sense, or with what propriety, can this be affirmed, unless Christ's perfect obedience be referable to us, and accepted instead of ours? On any other interpretation, I should think he was obedient, not for man, but for himself.
Should the artful critic give another turn to these passages, it will avail but little. Because the Church, her own best expositor, has explained the meaning of such phrases, and put the matter beyond all doubt. In her eleventh Article she says, "We are accounted righteous before God only for the merits of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ." The doctrine relating to pardon of sin had been stated in a preceding article. This displays the method whereby sinners may appear righteous in the sight of God, and in the court of heaven; so as to recover the divine favour, and obtain a title to eternal bliss. This is done, not by any native or acquired righteousness, but wholly by an imputed righteousness. The two former methods are so far from constituting our reconciling and justifying righteousness, that they have no share in it; they contribute nothing towards it; but are totally excluded from it. We are accounted righteous, and accepted as such, ONLY (mark the expression) ONLY through the meritorious obedience and propitiating blood of our great Mediator.
The Homilies are, if it be possible, still more explicit, and more cogent. In the Homily concerning the salvation of mankind, we read the following words: "The apostle toucheth three things, which must go together in our justification. On God's part, his great mercy and grace. On Christ's part, the satisfaction of God's justice, or the price of our redemption, by the offering of his body, and shedding of his blood, with fulfilling of the law perfectly. On our part, true and lively faith in the merits of Jesus Christ, which yet is not ours, but by God's working in us." You see, according to the judgment of our venerable reformers, not only the offering of
Christ's body, and shedding of Christ's blood, but also his perfect fulfilling of the law, are the adequate price of our redemption. All these act conjointly, they sweetly harmonize, in the great and glorious work. To suppose their disunion, is a doctrinal mistake, somewhat like that practical error of the papists, in severing the sacramental wine from the sacramental bread; administering to the laity the symbols of the slaughtered body, but withholding the symbols of the streaming blood.
There are other clauses in the same homily, which set the seal of the church to our sentiments. I shall content myself with transcribing one from the conclusion: "Christ, says that form of sound words, is the righteousness of all them that do truly believe. He for them paid their ransom by his death. He for them fulfilled the law in his life. So that now, in him, and by him, every trụe Chris, tian man may be called a fulfiller of the law; forasmuch as that which their infirmity lacked, Christ's righteousness hath supplied." This authority is as clear, as the doctrine authorised is comfortable! May the former sway our judgment; may the latter cheer our hearts. Hervey
It would have remained a puzzling question to men and angels, How should man be just with God? had not his grace employed his wisdom to find out a ransom, whereby he has delivered his people from going down to the pit of corruption; which ransom is no other than his own Son, whom he sent, in the fulness of time, to execute the scheme he had so wisely formed in his eternal mind; which he did, by finishing transgression, making an end of sin, making reconciliation for iniquity, and bringing in an everlasting righteousness, which being wrought out by Christ, God was wellpleased with, because hereby his law was magnified and made honourable; and, having graciously accepted of it, be imputes it freely to all his people, and reckons them righteous on the account of it. The Hebrew word and the Greek words, which are used to express this act of imputation, signify to reckon, repute, estimate, attribute, or place any thing to the account of another; as when the apostle Paul said to Philemon, concerning Onesimus, "If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on my account;"