798. Since it is said that they have not any conjunction of good and truth, because with them there is not the marriage of the Lord and the church, something shall here be said of the authority of opening and shutting heaven, which acts as one with the authority of remitting and retaining sins, which they claim for themselves as the successors of Peter and the apostles. The Lord said to Peter:
Upon this same rock will I build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail over it; I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens (Matt. 16:18-19).
The Divine truth which is meant by "the rock" upon which the Lord will build His church is what Peter then confessed; which was:
Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16).
By "the keys of the kingdom of the heavens," which are that whatsoever that rock, which is the Lord, "shall bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens, and whatsoever it shall loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens," is meant that the Lord has power over heaven and earth, as He also says (Matt. 28:18); thus the power of saving the men who from faith of heart are in that confession of Peter.
 The Lord's Divine operation to save men is from firsts by ultimates; and this is what is meant by "whatsoever he shall bind or loose on earth shall be bound or loosed in heaven." The ultimates by which the Lord operates are on earth, and indeed with men. On account of this, that the Lord Himself might be in the ultimates as He is in the firsts, He came into the world, and put on the Human. That all the Lord's Divine operation is from firsts by ultimates, thus from Himself in the firsts and from Himself in the ultimates, may be seen in Divine Love and Wisdom (n. 217-219, 221); and that it is thence that the Lord is called "The First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the almighty," may be seen above (n. 29-31, 38, 57).
 Who cannot see, if he will, that the salvation of man is the continuous operation of the Lord with man from the first of his infancy even to the last of his life, and that this is a work purely Divine, and can never be given to any man? It is so Divine that it is at once the work of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence; and that man's reformation and regeneration, thus his salvation, are all of the Lord's Divine Providence, may be seen in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence, from beginning to end.
 The very coming of the Lord into the world was solely on account of man's salvation. For the sake of this He assumed the Human, removed the hells, and glorified Himself, and put on omnipotence even in the ultimates, which is meant by "sitting at the right hand of God." What, therefore, is more abominable, than to found a religious persuasion, by which it is sanctioned that the Divine authority and power belong to man and no longer to the Lord; and that heaven will be opened and shut, if only a priest says, "I absolve," or "I excommunicate;" and that sin, even if enormous, is remitted, provided he says, "I remit"? There are many devils in the world, who, in order to escape temporal punishments, seek and obtain absolution from a diabolical crime by arts and gifts. Who can be so insane as to believe that the authority is given of admitting devils into heaven?
 It was said above (n. 790, at the end), that "Peter" represented the truth of faith of the church, "James" the good of charity of the church, and "John" the good works of the men of the church; and that the twelve apostles together represented the church as to all things of it. It is clearly manifest that they represented them, from the Lord's words to them in Matthew:
When the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30).
By these words nothing else can be signified than that the Lord will judge all according to the goods and truths of the church. If this was not meant by these words, but the apostles themselves, all in the great city Babylon, who say they are the successors of the apostles, might claim to themselves that they will sit upon thrones as many in number as themselves, from the pontiff even to a monk, and that they will judge all in the whole world.