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AR 456

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456. Verse 20. And the rest of the men who were not killed by these plagues, signifies those in the church of the Reformed, who are not so spiritually dead from visionary reasonings and from self-love, the pride of their own intelligence, and from the lusts thence, as the former, and yet have made faith alone the head of their religion. By "the rest of the men" are meant they who are not as the former, but yet make faith alone the head of their religion; by "those who were not killed," are signified those who are not so spiritually dead; by "these plagues" in which they are, self-love, the pride of their own intelligence, and the lusts of evil and falsity from them are meant; these three being signified by "fire," "smoke," and "brimstone," concerning which above (n. 452, 453). That such is the signification of "plagues," will be seen below.
[2] But something must first be said respecting this class of persons, whom also it has been granted me to see and to converse with. They dwell in the northern quarter towards the west, where some of them have cottages with roofs, and some without roofs. Their beds are of bulrushes, their garments of goat's hair. In the light flowing in from heaven their faces appear livid and also stupid. The reason is, because they know nothing more about religion than that there is a God, that there are three Persons, that Christ suffered for them on the cross, and that it is faith alone by which they are saved; and likewise by worship in temples, and by prayers at stated times. As to the rest of the things relating to religion and its doctrine, they pay no attention; for the worldly and corporeal things, with which their minds are filled and overcharged, close up their ears against them. There are many of the presbyters among them, whom I asked, "What do you think, when you read in the Word of works, of love and charity, of fruits, of the precepts of life, of repentance, in brief of things to be done?" They replied, that they did indeed read them, and thus saw them; but still they did not see them, because they held their minds in faith alone, and therefore thought that all these were faith, and did not think that they were effects of faith. That such ignorance and stupidity prevails with those who have embraced faith alone, and made it the all of their religion, is scarcely credible; nevertheless it has been granted me to know it by much experience.
[3] That by plagues are meant spiritual plagues, by means of which man dies as to his spirit or soul, is evident from these passages:
Thy breach is desperate, thy plague grievous; I will restore health unto thee, I will heal thee of thy plagues (Jer. 30:12, 14, 17).
Everyone that passeth by Babylon shall hiss at all her plagues (Jer. 50:13).
In one day shall the plagues come upon Babylon, death and lamentation (Rev. 18:8).
I saw the seven angels that had the seven last plagues, by which the anger of God is to be consummated (Rev. 15:1, 6).
Woe to the sinful nation, to the people heavy with iniquity; from the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it, a wound and a scar and a recent stroke, not pressed, not bound up, not softened with oil (Isa. 1:4, 6).
In the day that Jehovah bound up the breach of His people, and healed the wound of their plague (Isa. 30:26. Besides other places, as Deut. 28:59; Jer. 49:17; Zech. 14:12, 15; Luke 7:21; Rev. 11:6; 16:21).


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