True Christian Religion (Chadwick) n. 640

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640. V

It is impossible for Christ's merit and righteousness to be imputed.

In order to know how impossible it is for the merit and righteousness of Jesus Christ to be imputed, it is necessary to know what His merit and righteousness are, The merit of our Lord the Saviour is redemption; on the nature of this see the relevant chapter above (114-133). It is there described as being the conquest of the hells and the ordering of the heavens, followed by the foundation of a church; and so it was shown that it was an entirely Divine deed. It was also shown there that by redemption the Lord gave Himself the power to regenerate and save people who believe in Him and keep His commandments; without this act of redemption no flesh could have been saved. Since then redemption was an entirely Divine deed, and was the Lord's alone, this being His merit, it follows that this cannot be applied, attributed or imputed to any human being, any more than the creation and preservation of the universe can. Redemption was also a kind of fresh creation of the heaven of angels, and also of the church.

[2] The present-day church attributes that merit of the Lord the Redeemer to those who acquire faith by grace. This is plain from their dogmas, among which this is the principal. For the hierarchy of that church and their adherents, both in the Roman Catholic as well as in the Reformed churches, hold that through the imputation of Christ's merit those who have acquired faith are not merely counted righteous and holy, but actually are. They also assert that their sins are not sins in the sight of God, because they are forgiven; and they themselves are justified, that is, reconciled, made new, regenerated, sanctified and enlisted in heaven. This is the teaching of the whole Christian church at the present time, as is evident from the Council of Trent, the Confessions of Augusta and Augsburg*, and from the commentaries quoted and generally accepted.

[3] The inevitable consequence of what was said above, when transferred to that belief, is that the possession of that faith is that merit and righteousness of the Lord, and it follows that its possessor is Christ under another name. For it is said that Christ Himself is righteousness, and that that faith is righteousness, and that imputation (understood as meaning also attribution and application) makes them not only to be counted, but actually to be, righteous and holy. You have only to add transcription to imputation, application and attribution, and you will be a Pope, Christ's vicar.

* Apparently alternative names for the single document usually called 'the Confession of Augsburg'.

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