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so " peculiar" as he imagined.

" The word punishment, too," he says, " has a peculiar sense
in the vocabulary of the historian." — P. 344. Here again he ap-
peals to Dr. Webster, and here again we must dissent ; not so much
from the doctor's definition, as from the Spectator's exposition of
it. The Dr. says that punishment is " any pain or suffering inflict-
ed on a person for a crime or offence." To this we have no spe-
cial objection. But that the crime or offence must necessarily
belong personally to the individual punished, as the Spectator
seems to take for granted, we are very far from admitting ; for this
is the very turning point in the whole discussion respecting impu-
tation. Punishment, according to our views, is any evil inflicted
on a person, in the execution of a judicial sentence, on account of
sin. That the word is used in this sense, for evils thus inflicted on
one person for the offence of another, cannot be denied. It would
be easy to fill a volume with examples of this usage, from writers
ancient and modern, sacred and profane. We quote a few instan-
ces from theologians, as this is a theological discussion. Grotius
(p. 313), in answering the objection of Socinus, that it is unjust that
our sins should be punished in Christ, says, " Sed ut omnis hie er-
ror dematur, notandum est, esse quidem essentiale poenac, ut infli-
gatur ob peccatum, sed non item essentiale ei esse, ut infligatur ipsi


qui peccavit." On the same pnge, " Puniri alios ob aliorum dclicta
non audet negare Socinus." It' he uses the word once, he does, we
presume, a hundred times in this sense in this single treatise.
Owen says, " there can be no punishment but with respect to the
guilt of sin personally committed or imputed." — P. 287. Storr and
other modern and moderate theologians, use the word in this sense
perpetually. Storr says, "Jedes durch einen richterlichen Aus-
spruch um der Siinden willen verhangte Leiden, Strafe heisst," that
is, " Every evil judicially inflicted on account of sin, is punishment."
— Zweck des Todcs Jcsu, p. 58.5. No one has ever denied that in
its most strict and rigid application, punishment has reference to
personal guilt ; but this does not alter the case, for usage, the only
law in such n^atters, has sanctioned its application in the manner
in which we have used it, and that too among the most accurate of
theological writers.

Having fixed the sense in which these terms are used by the
writers to whom we shall refer, we will now proceed to establish
our position, that the doctrine of imputation, as taught by standard
Calvinistic authors, does not involve, either the idea of a personal
oneness with Adam, so that his act is strictly and properly our act,
or that of the transfer of moral character.

Our first testimony is from Knapp, whom we quote, not as a Cal-
vinist, but as a historian. In his Christliche Glaubenslehre, section
70, he says, "However various the opinions of theologians are re-
specting imputation, when they come to explain themselves dis-
tinctly on the subject, yet the majority agree in general as to this
point, the expression, God imputes the sin of our first parents
to their descendants, amounts to this, God punishes the descendants
on account of the sin of their first parents." This testimony is no
otherwise valuable than as the opinion of an impartial man, as to
the substance of the doctrine. That there are various views, ex-
planations, and modes of defending this doctrine, no one ever
dreamed of denying, and it would stand alone, in this respect, if
there were not.

Turrettin {Quaest. ix., p. 678) thus explains his views of this
subject. '• Imputation is either of something foreign to us, or pro-
perly ours. Sometimes that is imputed to us which is personally
ours, in which sense God imputes to sinners their transgressions,
whom he punishes for crimes properly their own ; and in reference
to what is good, the zeal of Phineas is said to be imputed to him
for righteousness. — Ps. cvi. 31. Sometimes that is imputed which
is without us, and not performed by ourselves ; thus the righteous-
ness of Christ is said to be imputed to us, and our sins are imputed
to him, although he has neither sin in himself, nor we righteous-
ness. Here we speak of the latter kind of imputation, not of the
former, because we are treating of a sin commit ted by Adam, not
by us." (Quia agitur de pcccato ab Adamo commisso, non a
nobis.) We have here precisely the two ideas excluded from the
doctrine which we have rejected, and which the Spectator seems


to think essential to it. For Turrettin says, that in this case the
thing imputed is something without us (extra nos, nee a nobis prae-
stitum), and secondly, the moral turpitude of the act is not trans-
ferred, for it is analogous, he tells us, to the imputation of Christ's
righteousness to us, and our sins to him, licet nee ipse peccatum in
se habeat. nee nos justitiam. That there must be some ground for
this imputation is self-evident, and this can only be some relation
or union in which the parties stand to each other. This union,
however, according to Turrettin, is nothing mysterious, nothing
which involves a confusion of identity. The union which is to
serve as the ground of imputation, he says, may be threefold : " 1.
Natural, as between a father and his children ; 2. Moral and poli-
tical, as between a king and his subjects ; 3. Voluntary, as among
friends, and between the guilty and his substitute." The bond be-
tween Adam and his posterity is twofold : " 1. Natural, as he is the
father, and we are his children. 2. Political and forensic, as he
was the prince and representative head of the whole human race.
The foundation, therefore, of imputation is not only the natural con-
nection which exists between us and Adam, since, in that case, all
his sins might be imputed to us, but mainly the moral and federal,
in virtue of which God entered into covenant with him as our

All the arguments which Turrettin urges in support of his doc-
trine, prove that he viewed the subject as we have represented it.
He appeals, in the first instance, to Rom. v. 12 — 21. The scope of
the passage he takes to be, the illustration of the method of justifi-
cation, by comparing it to the manner in which men were brought
under condemnation. As Adam was made the head of the whole
race, so that the guilt of his sin comes on all to condemnation, so
Christ is made the head of his people, and his obedience comes on
all of them to justification. On page 681, he says, "We are con-
stituted sinners in Adam in the same way (eadem ratione) in which
we are constituted righteous in Christ ; but in Christ we are con-
stituted righteous by the imputation of righteousness. Therefore
we are made sinners in Adam by the imputation of his sin, other-
wise the comparison is destroyed." Another of his arguments is
derived from the native depravity of men, which he says is a great
evil, and cannot be reconciled with the divine character, unless we
suppose that men are born in this state of corruption as a punish-
ment. As this evil has the nature of punishment, it necessarily
supposes some antecedent sin, on account of which it is inflicted,
for there is no punishment but on account of sin. " It cannot, how-
ever, be a sin properly and personally ours, because we were not
yet in existence. 'Therefore it is the sin of Adam imputed to us."
Non potest autem esse peccatum nostrum proprium et personale,
auiA NONDUM fuimus actu. Almost the very form of expression
quoted from us by the Spectator to prove that we have abandoned
the old doctrine of imputation.

In order to evince his sense of the importance of the doctrine, he


remarks on its connection with that of the imputation of the right-
eousness of Christ, and says that all the objections urged against
the one, bear against the other ; so that if the one be rejected, the
other cannot stand. We shall give in his own words a passage
from page G89, which appears to us very decisive as to the point
in hand. " Voluntas ergo Adami potest dici singularis actus pro-
prietate, universalis repraesentationis jure, singularis quia ab uno
ex individuis humanis profecta est, universalis quia individuum illud
universum genus huinanum repraesentabat. Sic justitia Christi est
actus unius, et bene tamen dicitur omnium fidclium per divinam
imputationem ; ut quod unus fecit, omnes censeantur fecisse, si unus
mortuus est, omnes sunt mortui." — 2 Cor. v. 15. Is it possible to
assert in clearer language, that the act of Adam was personally his
own and only his, and that it is only on the principle of representa-
tion that it can be said to be ours?

These quotations from Turrcttin we think abundantly sufficient
to establish our assertion, that the doctrine under consideration nei-
ther involves any confusion of personal identity, nor any transfer
of the moral turpitude of Adam's sin to his posterity. As Turrcttin is
universally regarded as having adhered strictly to the common
Calvinistic system, and on the mere question of fact as to what that
system is, is second to no man in authority, we might here rest our
cause. But we deem this a matter of much practical importance, and
worthy of being clearly established. Misconceptions on this subject
have been, and still are, the means of alienating brethren. They
are the ground of many hard thoughts, and of much disrespectful
language. It is not easy to feel cordially united to men whom we
consider as teaching mischievous absurdities; nor is it, on the other
hand, adapted to call forth brotherly love to have oneself held up
to the public as inculcating opinions which shock every principle
of common sense, and contradict the plainest moral judgments of
men. We hope, therefore, to be heard patiently, while we attempt
still further to prove that our doctrine is such as has been so often

We refer in the next place to the testimony of Tuckney, not only
because he was a man of great accuracy and learning, but also be-
cause he stands in an intimate relation to our church. He was a
member of the Westminster assembly of divines, and of the com-
mittee which drafted our confession of faith.* He is said also to
have drawn up a large portion of the larger catechism. He is,
therefore, a peculiarly competent witness as to the sense in which
our formularies mean to teach the doctrine of imputation. In his
Praclectiones Theologicae, read, as royal professor, in the univer-
sity of Cambridge, and published in 1679, there is a long and learn-
ed discourse on the imputation of Christ's righteousness. In the ex-
planation and defence of this doctrine, he enters into an accurate

Reid's Memoirs of the Lives and Writings of the Divines of the Westminster
Assembly, vol ii., p. 187.


investigation of the whole subject of imputation. This discourse
abounds in the minute scholastic distinctions of the day, which it is
not necessary for our purpose to detail. It will be sufficient to
show that his view of the subject is the same as that which we
have presented. In reference to the two passages, 2 Cor. v. 21,
and Rom. v. 18, he says, " We have a most beautiful twofold ana-
logv. We are made the righteousness of God in Christ in the same
way tliat he was made sin for us. That is, by imputation. This
analogy the former passage exhibits. But the other (Rom. v. 18)
presents one equally beautiful. We are accounted righteous
through Christ m the same manner that we are accounted guilty
through Adam. The latter is by imputation, therefore also the for-
mer." — P. 234. The same idea is repeatedly and variously pre-
sented. As, therefore, he so clearly states, that in all these cases
imputation is of the same nature, if we can show (if indeed it needs
showing) that he does not teach that our sins are so imputed to
Christ as to make htm morally a sinner, or his righteousness to us
as to make us morally righteous, we shall have proved that he
does not teach such an imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity as
involves a transfer of its moral character. The cardinal Bellarmin,
it seems, in arguing against the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's
rifhteousness, uz'ged the same objection which we are now con-
sidering, maintaining that if Christ's righteousness is imputed to us,
then are we really inherently righteous in the sight of God. To
this Tuckney replies, " Who of us has ever been so much beside
himself as to pretend that he was inherently righteous, in the sense
of Bellarmin, so that he should think himself pure and immacu-
late f — P. 226. The same sentiment is still more strongly ex-
pressed on page 220. " We are not so foolish or blasphemous as
to say, or even think, that the imputed righteousness of Christ ren-
ders Lis formally and subjectively righteous.'' And adds, we might
as well be made wise and just with the wisdom and integrity of
another. " The righteousness of Christ belongs properly to him-
self, and is as inseparable and incommunicable as any other attri-
bute of a thing, or its essence itself." Bellarmin, however, as so
often happens in controversies of this nature, admits the very thing
he is contending against. Tuckney quotes him as confessing,
"Christum nobis justitiam factum quoniam salisfccit Patri pro no-
bis, et eam satisfactionem ita nobis donat et communicat cum nos
justilicat, ut nostra satisfactio et justitia dici possit, atque hoc mode
non esse absurdum si quis diceret nobis imputari Christi justitiam et
merita cum nobis donentur et appliccntur ac si nos ipsi Deo satisfe-
cissemus." On which our author remarks, that neitiicr Luther nor
Calvin could more appropriately describe justification by imputed

To the other objection of Bellarmin (which proceeds upon the
same erroneous supj3t>s.tion, that imputation conveys the moral
character of the thing imputed), that Christ must be regarded as
morally a sinner, if our sins were imputed to him, Tuckney replies.


" Although we truly say that our sins are imputed to Christ, yet
who of us was ever so blasphemous as to say, that they were so
imputed as if he had actually committed them, or that he was inhe-
rently and properly a sinner, as to the stain and pollution of sin."
Bellarmin admitted that our sins were imputed to Christ, quoad
dcbitum satisfaciendi, and his righteousness to us, quoad satisfac-
tionem, and the Protestants replied, this was all they contended

We do not know how it could be more pointedly or variously
denied, that the transfer of moral character is included in this doc-
trine. The testimony of Tuckney is the more valuable, as he not
only clearly expresses his own opinion, but utterly denies that any
of his fellow Calvinists ever understood or taught the doctrine in
this manner.

The same views arc presented by Owen, who carried matters
as far as most Calvinists are wont to do. In his work on justifica-
tion, this subject naturally presents itself, and is discussed at length.
A few quotations will sutiice for our purpose. The imputation of
that unto us which is not antecedently our own, he says, may be
various. " Only it must be observed, that no imputation of this
kind is to account them unto whom anything is imputed, to
have done the things themselves that are imputed to them. That
were not to impute, but to err in judgment, and indeed to over-
throw the whole nature of gracious imputation. But it is to make
that to be ours by imputation which was not ours before, unto all
the ends and purposes whereunto it would have served if it had
been our own without any such imputation. It is therefore a mani-
fest mistake of their own, which some make the ground of a charge
on the doctrine of imputation. For they say, if our sins were im-
puted unto Christ, then must he be esteemed to have done what we
have done amiss, and so be the greatest sinner that ever was : and
on the other side, if his righteousness be imputed unto us, then are
we esteemed to have done what he did, and so stand in no need of
pardon. But this is contrary unto the nature of imputation, which
proceeds on no such judgment, but, on the contrary, that we our-
selves have done nothing of what is imputed unto us; nor Christ
anything of what was imputed unto him." — P. 236.

Again, on the same page, " Things that are not our own origi-
nally, personally, inherently, may yet be imputed unto us, ex justi-
tia, by the rule of righteousness. And this may be done upon a
double relation unto those whose they are, 1, federal; 2, natural.
Things done by one may be imputed unto others, propter relatio-
nem foederalem, because of a covenant relation between them. So
the sin of Adam was, and is imputed unto all his posterity, as we
shall afterwards more fully declare. And the ground hereof is, that
we stood in the same covenant with him, who was our head and

Here then it is asserted that the sin of Adam is not ours, " origi-
nally, personally, inherently," and that the ground of imputation



is not a mystic oneness of person, but the relation of representa-

On page 242 he says, " This imputation (of Christ's righteousness)
is not the transmission or transfusion of the righteousness of another
into them that are to be justified, that they should become perfect-
ly and inherently righteous thereby. For it is impossible that the
righteousness of one should be transfused into another, to become
his subjectively and inherently." Neither is it possible, according
to Owen, that the unrighteousness of one should be transfused into
another. For these two cases are analogous, as he over and over
asserts ; thus, p. 307, " As we are made guilty by Adam's actual
sin, which is not inherent in us, but only imputed to us ; so are we
made righteous by the righteousness of Christ which is not inherent
in us, but only imputed to us," On page 468 he says, " Nothing is
intended by the imputation of sin unto any, but the rendering them
justly obnoxious unto the punishment due unto that sin. As the not
imputing of sin is the freeing of men from being subject or liable
unto punishment."

It would be easy to multiply quotations to almost any extent on
this subject, from the highest authorities, but we hope that enough
has been said to convince our readers that the doctrine of the im-
putation of Adam's sin includes neither the idea of any mysterious
union of the human race with him, so that his sin is strictly and
properly theirs, nor that of a transfer of moral charcter. This we
are persuaded is the common Calvinistic doctrine.

It is proper to state, however, that there is another theory on
this subject. About the middle of the seventeenth century, Pla-
caeus, professor in the French Protestant school at Saumur, reject-
ed the doctrine of imputation, and taught that original sin consisted
solely in the inherent native depravity of men. In consequence of
his writings, a national synod was called in 1644-5, in which this
doctrine was condemned. The decree of the synod, as given by
TuiTettin and De Moor, is in these words ; "Cumrclatum esset ad
synodum, scripta quaedam alia typis evulgata, alia manu exarata
prodiisse, quae totam rationem peccati originalis sola corruptione
haereditaria, in omnibus hominibus inhaerente definiunt, et primi
peccati Adami imputationem negant: Damnavit Synodus doctri-
nam ejusmodi, quatenus peccati originalis naturam ad corruptioncm
haercditariam posterorum Adae ita restringit, ut imputationem ex-
cludat primi illius peccati, quo lapsus est Adam : Adeoque censuris
omnibus ecclesiasticis subjiciendos censuit, Pastores, Professores,
et quoscunque alios, qui in hujus quaestionis disceptatione a com-
muni sententia recesserint ecclesiarum Protestantium, quae omnes
hactenus et corruptioncm illarn, etjmputationem banc in omnes Ada-
mi posteros descendentem agnoverunt, &c." — Tur., p. 677.

In order to evade the force of this decision, Placaeus proposed
the distinction between mediate and immediate imputation. Ac-
cording to the latter (which is the common view), the sin of Adam
is imputed to all his posterity, as the ground of punishment antece-
dently to inherent corruption, which in fact results from the penal


withholding of divine influences ; but according to the former, the
imputation is subsequent to the view of inherent depravity, and is
founded upon it as the ground of our being associated with Adam
in his punishment. This distinction, which Turrettin says was ex-
cogitated ad fucum faciendum, merely retains the name, while the
doctrine of imputation is really rejected. " For if the sin of Adam
is only said to be imputed to us mediately, because we are rendered
guilty in the sight of God, and obnoxious to punishment on account
of the inherent corruption which we derive from Adam, there is
properly no imputation of Adam's sm, but only of mherent corrup-
tion."— P. 677.

Our readers may find a long account of the controversy which
arose on this question in De Moor's Commentary on Mark's Com-
pend, vol. iii., p. 202, et seq. One of the most interesting works
which appeared at this time, was the tract by the celebrated Rivet,
intended to prove that all the Protestant churches and leading di-
vines held the doctrine of imputation as it was presented by the
national synod of France, in opposition to Placaeus. In a com-
mendation of this work, the prolcssors of theology at Leydcn ex-
press their grief, that among other doctrines recently agitated in
France, that of tlie imputation of Adam's sin had been called in
question, " Cum tamen eo negate, nee justa esse possit originalis
naturae humanae corruptio, et facilis inde via sit ad negationem
imputationis justitiae secundi Adami." While they rejoiced in the
unanimous decision of the French synod, they deeply regretted that
any should disregard it, and endeavour to disseminate a doctrine
" contrarium communi omnium ferme Chi-istianorum consensui, so-
ils Pclagii et Socini discipulis exccptis." They recommend strong-
ly the work of their colleague, Rivet, who, they say, had endea-
voured, " Synodi nationalis decretum tueri, dogma vcrc Catholicuni
stabilire, bene sentientes in veritate confirmare, aberrantes in viam
rcducere auctoritatibus gravibus, et laiiversali totius orhis Christi-
anorum consensu'' — Opera Riveti, torn, iii., p. 223, or De Moor,
tom. iii., p. 274.

Instead of writing an article, we should be obliged to write a
volume, if we were to take up and fully discuss all the subjects, re-
levant and irrelevant, presented in the Protestant's inquiries. We
have followed our own judgment in the selection of topics, and
touched on those points which we thought most likely to be inte-
resting and useful. We feel, therefore, perfectly authorized to dis-
miss, at least for the present, the history of this doctrine. Turret-
tin, the French synod, the professors of Leyden, the Augsburg
Confession, nssert as strongly as we have done, its general preva-
lence among orthodox Christians. The second article of the
Augsburg Confession runs thus ; " Item docent, quod post lapsum
Adae, omnes homines naturali modo propagati nascentes habeant
peccatum originis. Intelligimus autem peccatum originis, quod sic
vocant Sancti Patres, et omnes orthodoxi et pie cruditi in Ecclcsia,
videhcet reatum, quo nascentes propter Adae lapsum rci sunt irae


Dei et mortis aeternae, et ipsam corruptioncm humanae naturae
propagatam ab Adamo." These quotations will at least satisfy
our readers that we have not been more rash in our assertions than
many others before us, and is as much, we think, as the Protes-
tant's inquiry on this point calls for. Our principal concern is with
the editors of the Spectator, who have presented the most interest-
ing subject of investigation. We revert, therefore, to their state-
ment, that Edwards, Stapfcr, and "other standard writers on the
subject," taught the doctrine of imputation differently from what we
have done. That this is not correct, as relates to the great body
of the Reformed Theologians, we have, we think, sufficiently proved.
How the case stands with Edwards and Stapfer we shall now pro-
ceed to inquire.
\ As Edwards appears to have borrowed, in some measure, his

views on this subject from Stapfer, we shall begin with the latter.
We must, in the outset, dissent from the remark of the Spectator,

Online LibrarySamuel John BairdTheological essays: → online text (page 19 of 90)