The Fathers gave countenance to the Doctrine of
Imputation; and some Papists
(The original Latin texts have been omitted. Only our Authorís translations have been included here.)
††††††††† That it may not be thought, that the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, is a new upstart opinion, I shall here set down some of their testimonies unto this truth.
††††††††† Justin Martyr Epist. ad Diognet. p. 386. For what else could cover our sins, but his (i.e. Christís) righteousness? in whom else, could we, who are naked and ungodly, be accounted for righteous persons? than only in the Son of God? O sweet permutation! O unsearchable contrivance! O benefits exceeding all expectation! that the iniquity of many should be hid in one just one, and the righteousness of one should make many, who are unrighteous, be accounted righteous.
††††††††† Again, in lib. de Expositione Fidei. The Son of God, as man, led a life free of all fault, and suffered a voluntary death; obliterating sin by his exact and accurate conversation, and deleting the debt by an undue death.
††††††††† Irenaeus Adv. Haeres. c. 15. The Lord brought us into friendship by his incarnation, being made a Mediator betwixt God and man, Propitiating the Father for us, against whom we sinned and comforting us over our disobedience: but freely giving us that conversation and subjection, which is to our Maker.
††††††††† Athanasius Tom. 2. p. 270. It is necessary, yea most necessary, to believe the Holy Scriptures, to confess the first fruits (i.e. Christ) of our kind, to celebrate that singular love of him that assumed (viz. Manís nature) unto mankind; to be astonished at that miracle of the great
economy and disposition; not to fear the curse of the Law (for Christ hath delivered us from the curse of the Law) ascribe or impute the fulfilling of the Law, done by the first fruits, unto the whole mass.
††††††††† The same author de Incarn. Verbi contra Samosat. Tom. 1 p. 461. It is impossible that purity and innocence shall be exhibited in† manís nature, unless we believe, that God is in the flesh, who hath brought into the world a righteousness free of all sin, of which because we are made partakers, we shall live and be saved: for that there is not a just man upon earth, who doth good and sinneth not, doth appertain to all men in common, wherefore he descended from heaven, who was to give a pure righteousness of himself.
††††††††† Chrysostom, When a caviling Jew shall object, How can the world be saved by the rectitude, or obedience of one Christ? Answer him again, by asking, How came the world to be condemned by the disobedience of one Adam?
††††††††† Greg. Nyssen. Orat. 2. in Cantic. Christ having translated the filth of my sins upon himself, did communicate unto me his own purity, and made me a partaker of that beauty, which is in him.
††††††††† By these we may see, that even before Augustineís days, this truth was asserted, though Mr. Baxter, in his book against D. Tully, ch. 1. ß 3. intimate the contrary.
††††††††† Cyrillus Alexandr. in Joan. lib. 11. c. 25. As by the transgression of the first man, as in the first fruits of our kind, we are adjudged unto death; so the same way by the obedience and righteousness of Christ, in as much as he subjected himself to the Law, though he was the author of the Law, the blessing and vivification, which is by the Spirit, did reach to our whole nature.
††††††††† Leo Epist. 72. ad Juvenalem. But that he might repair the life of all, he undertook the cause of all, and paying for all made void the force of the Old obligation, to the end that as by one manís guilt all were made sinners, so by one manís innocence, all might become innocent; righteousness coming unto men thence, where the human nature is taken on.
††††††††† August. ad. Laurent. Cap. 41. He was sin as we were righteousness, not our own, but of God, not in ourselves but in him: as he did demonstrate himself to be sin, not his own, but ours; not in himself, but in us, by the similitude of sinful flesh, in which he was crucified.
††††††††† Idem in Psalm 30 Conc. 1. Deliver me in thy righteousness. Because thou didst not find my righteousness in me, deliver me in thine; that is it which delivereth me, which justifieth me, that maketh of me ungodly godly, and of unrighteous righteous.
††††††††† Id. in Psalm 70, Deliver me in thy righteousness. Not in mine, but in thine; for if in mine, I should be of them, of whom he saith, being ignorant of Godís righteousness and willing to establish their own, they did not subject themselves unto the righteousness of God.
††††††††† Id. Tom. 9. Tract. 3. in Joan. All that are of Adam with sin are sinners, all who are justified by Christ, are righteous; not in themselves, but in him; for if you ask, what they are in themselves, they are Adamís; if you ask what they are in him, they are Christís.
††††††††† Bernard. Serm. 61 in Cantic. Shall I make mention of my righteousness? Lord, I will make mention of thine only: for that is also mine, because thou art made of God unto me righteousness. Is it to be feared that that one shall not serve two? It is not a short cloak, that according to the prophet, cannot cover two; thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and that large and eternal righteousness shall cover both thee and me, and in me indeed it shall cover a multitude of sins.
††††††††† Id. Dom. 1. post Octav. Epiph. Serm. 1. But, that thou o man, should not have whereof to complain, for against the disobedience of Adam (which he said before, was imputed) the obedience of Christ is given unto thee, to the end, that if thou be sold for nothing, thou shalt also be redeemed for nothing.
††††††††† Idem Epist. 190 ad Innocent. Pont. Rom.
For what could man, a servant of sin and a bound slave of the devil, do of himself, to recover the righteousness, which he had once lost? Therefore another is assigned unto him, because he wanted his own, and the same is so. The Prince of the world came, and found nothing in the Savior, and when notwithstanding he put hands on the innocent, he lost those most justly, when he held; when he, who owed nothing to death, having received the injury of death, he did by right loose him, who was liable to the debt of death, and deliver him from the dominion of Satan, for by what right could he exact that the second time? seeing as it was man, who owed, so it was man, who paid: for if one, he saith, died for all, then are all dead, that, to wit, the satisfaction of one, might be imputed to all, as that one did bear the sins of all; Neither now is it found, that one did the wrong and another satisfied, for the head and the body are one Christ: the head therefore did satisfy for the members, Christ for his own bowels. But if he shall say, Thy Father bound thee over; I shall answer, But my brother hath redeemed me, why should not righteousness be from another; as guilt was from another? one who made man a sinner, and another who justifieth from sin: the one in the seed, the other in blood. Was sin in the seed of a sinner; and shall not righteousness be in the blood of Christ. It is not right, that the Son should bear the iniquity of the Father, and be defrauded of the righteousness of his brother.
††††††††† Idem Serm. ad Milites Templi c. 1.
He took away the desert of sin, giving to us his righteousness, the same by his merits, paid the debt, and restored life; for if death be dead, life returneth; even as sin being taken away, righteousness returneth: Moreover death is banished away in Christís death, and Christís righteousness is imputed to us &c. He who took on our flesh, and underwent death, thinks thou, that he shall deny to us his righteousness? He who willingly was incarnate, willingly suffered, willingly was crucified, shall he withhold his righteousness from us? one man sinned and all are guilty, and shall the innocence of one be accounted only to one? One manís sin hath wrought death unto all, and shall the righteousness of one restore life only to one? Shall Godís righteousness be more powerful to condemn, than to restore? Could Adam do more in sin, than Christ in good? Shall Adamís sin be imputed unto me, and shall not Christís righteousness belong unto me?
††††††††† Ambrose lib. 3. de Virginit. p. 100. Christ is all things to us, if we be willing, if thou desirest to have thy wound cured, he is the chirurgeon: if thou burn with fevers, he is a fountain: If thou be burdened with sin, he is righteousness: If thou want help, he is virtue: If thou fear death, he is the life: if thou desirest heaven, he is the way: If thou fleest from darkness, he is the light: if thou seek meat, he is aliment.
††††††††† Macarius Homil. 20. Whoever standeth in his own righteousness and redemption laboreth in vain: for all conceived opinion of our own righteousness shall be manifest to be a menstrual cloth, in the last day, as the prophet Isaiah says ĖLet us ask therefore, and beseech the Lord, that he would cloth us with the garment of salvation our Lord Jesus Christ, that ineffable light, whom if our soul puts on and wear, they shall never be denuded thereof.
††††††††† Even some Papists of old, (though few or none now since the Council at Trent,) did assent unto this imputation of the righteousness of Christ.
††††††††† In Colon there was a book written anno 1475 directing, how to comfort dying persons, wherein these words are found. Go to then, while thy soul is in thee, put all thy confidence in this death alone, have confidence in no other thing, commit thyself wholly unto this death, cover thyself wholly with this death alone, mix thyself wholly in this death, roll thyself wholly in this death; and if the Lord will judge thee, say, Lord, I cast up the death of our Lord J.C. betwixt me and thy judgment; no other way do I contend with thee. And if he say to thee, that thou art a sinner, say, I put the death of the Lord Jesus Christ betwixt thee and my sins. If he say, that thou deserved damnation, say, Lord, I hold forth the death of our Lord J.C. betwixt thee and my evil merits; and I offer his merits, for the merit, which I should have had, and have not. If he say, that he is angry at thee; say, Lord, I set up the death of our Lord J.C. betwixt me and thine anger.
††††††††† Isidorus Clavius Orat. 40 in Luc. We say, we are justified at first neither by faith, neither by charity, but by the righteousness of God alone in Christ, bestowed upon us.
††††††††† Albertus Pighius Controv. 2. de fide. It may be they (i.e. the Scholastics) would condemn this opinion of ours, whereby we take away from all the Sons of Adam, their own righteousness, which is of their own works, before God, and did teach, that we must lean upon the righteousness of God, in Christ, alone, and that by that alone, we are righteous before God though destitute of our own, if we had not confirmed it a little more diligently.
††††††††† Idem ibid.
That our hope of the Lordís good will, and of life is not by our works, nor in our righteousness, but only in the mercy of God, forgiving iniquities. Paul to the Romans confirms by the testimony of David, proving to us, that we may lean to no other righteousness, but that, which he affirms to be imputed to us without our works. He says not blessed are they, who are righteous before God by their own works; blessed is the man, that hath done no iniquity; but blessed are they, whose iniquities are mercifully pardoned, whose sins he covers, and hides with his own righteousness.
††††††††† Thereafter the same man says, In him (that is, Christ) therefore we are justified before God, not in ourselves; not by our own but by his righteousness, which is imputed to us, when now we communicate with him. Being void of a righteousness of our own he teaches us to seek a righteousness, without ourselves; in him, when he says he made him sin for us, who knew no sin, that is, he made him a sacrifice for sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. By what Law? By that of friendship, which makes a community of all things among friends, according to the old and well known proverb. Being insert into Christ, glued and united unto him, he makes what is his to be ours, he communicates unto us his riches, he interposes his righteousness betwixt the Fatherís judgment and our unrighteousness, and under it, as under a shield, he hides, defends, and protects us from Godís wrath, which we had deserved; Yea at length gives it to us, and makes it ours; with which being covered and adorned, we may boldly and safely come before the tribunal of God, and we not only appear righteous, but also are righteous.
††††††††† Ruardus Taperus Tom. 2. Art. 8. p. 36. As our iniquities were imputed by God unto Christ, because of his voluntary assuming of them, and of the near union of the mystic body: so his righteousness, as head to us his members, is imputed unto us unto righteousness, and life eternal.
††††††††† Yea Bellarmine grants lib. 2. de justif. c. 10. that Christ may be called our righteousness, because he satisfied the Father for us, and did so give and communicate that satisfaction to us, when he justified us, that it may be called our satisfaction and righteousness. And again; this way it were not absurd to sat, that Christís righteousness and merits were imputed to us, when they are given and applied to us, as if we ourselves had satisfied God. So in Resp. ad. 3. Arg. We are said to be the righteousness of God, not in ourselves, but in Christ, because he is our head, and what agrees to the head, agrees to the members, not as they are distinct from the head, but as they are one with it. So c. 11. in Resp. ad Arg. 2. The similitude of putting on a garment may be safely accommodated unto imputed righteousness; if one say, we must put on Christís merits, and some way be covered with them, seek pardon of sins. cap. 7. Arg. 4 he says Christís merits are imputed to us, because gifted to us, and we may offer them to the Father for our sins, because Christ took upon him the burden of satisfying for us, and of reconciling us to God the Father.
††††††††† After Cardinal Bellarmine we may mention Cardinal Contarenus, who is more orthodox here, than any of them; and speaks as plain truth, as any of the orthodox themselves can do, for so doth he state the question, in Tract. de Justif. because by faith we obtain a twofold righteousness, one inherent in us, love and grace, whereby we are made partakers of the divine nature; the other the righteousness of Christ, given and imputed to us, because in Christ, and because we have put on Christ: It is †fittest to enquire, unto which of these we ought to lean ourselves, and account ourselves justified before God, that is looked upon as righteous and holy.
††††††††† The question thus proposed he thus determines: I verily think, that it is piously and Christianly said, that we ought to lean (I say lean, as to a stable thing, that shall certainly hold us up) unto Christís righteousness, given unto us; but not unto the righteousness and holiness, that is inherent in us: for this righteousness of ours is inchoate and imperfect, that cannot hinder us from sinning daily; therefore we cannot for this righteousness,
in the sight of God be accounted just and good, as would become the sons of God to be: but the righteousness of Christ is true and perfect righteousness, which every way pleases Godís eyes, in which is nothing that can displease God, and doth not highly please him: Therefore we must only lean to this certain and stable thing, and believe, that for it alone we are justified before God; that is, accounted righteous, and so called. This is the precious treasure, which he who finds, he sells all he hath, and buys it.
††††††††† Yea this he confirms afterward by experience, saying, Hence it is, that by experience we see, holy men, how farther they advance in the truth, please themselves less, and therefore do more understand, that they have need of Christ, and of his righteousness given unto them: wherefore they relinquish themselves, and lean upon Christ alone: This comes not to pass, because they become a more base and law spirit: Yea the further they advance in holiness, they are of greater spirits, and see more clearly.