639. No faith that imputes Christ's merit is to be understood in the Word, as is perfectly plain from the fact that that faith was quite unknown in the church, until after the Council of Nicaea had introduced the idea of three Divine Persons from eternity. Once this belief had been introduced and spread throughout the Christian world, all other belief was thrown out into darkness. Whoever, therefore, at this time reads the Word and discovers faith, its imputation and Christ's merit, comes of his own accord upon what he believes to be the only thing it says. It is like someone reading the writing on one page and stopping there, without turning the page and seeing something else. Or it is like someone persuading himself of the truth of a proposition, though it is untrue, and proving that alone; then he sees falsity as truth, truth as falsity. And afterwards he would set his teeth and hiss at anyone attacking this view, saying 'You are not intelligent.' His mind is totally committed to this view, being coated with a hard skin, which rejects as heterodox everything which disagrees with his so called orthodox beliefs. For his memory is like a writing tablet inscribed with this one dominant theological idea; if anything else penetrates it, there is no room to take it in, so it is thrown out, like foam from the mouth.
For instance, take a confirmed believer in nature, who thinks either that nature created itself, or that God came into existence after nature, or that nature and God are one and the same thing, and tell him that the exact opposite is the case, and he is bound to regard you as someone deluded by the fables of the clergy, or as simple-minded, or as dense or crazy. The same applies to every idea which has been fixed in the mind by persuasion and proof; and eventually they look like tapestries fixed by many nails to a wall stuck together out of crumbling stones.