(BE) - A Brief Exposition of the Teachings for the New Church Meant by the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation

BE 114

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114. To the above shall be added two Relations taken from The Apocalypse Revealed. The First is this: I was seized suddenly with a disease almost deadly. My whole head was oppressed with pain; a pestilential smoke was let in from the great city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11:8). I was half dead with severe anguish, I expected the end. Thus I lay in bed through three days and a half; my spirit became such, and from it my body. Then I heard about me voices saying, "Lo! he lieth dead in the street of our city, who preached repentance for the remission of sins, and Christ the man as the only God." And they asked some of the clergy, whether he was worthy of burial, as was said concerning the two witnesses slain in that city (Rev. 11:8-10). And they answered, "No, let him lie, let him be looked at"; and they passed to and fro, and mocked. All this befell me of a truth, when that chapter of Revelation was being explained. Then there were heard severe speeches from them, such as the following: "How can repentance be performed without faith? And how can Christ, the man, be adored as God? Whilst we are saved freely without any merit of our own, what need is there of anything besides faith alone, that God the Father sent the Son to take away the damnation of the law, to impute His merit to us, and so to justify us in His sight, and absolve us from our sins, and then to give the Holy Spirit to operate all good in us? Are not these things agreeable to Scripture, and to reason also?" The crowd standing by applauded these things. I heard all this without any power to reply, being almost dead. But after three days and a half my spirit recovered, and as to the spirit I went forth from the street into the city, and again said, "Repent, and believe in Christ, and your sins will be remitted, and you will be saved, but otherwise you will perish. Did not the Lord Himself preach repentance for the remission of sins, and that men should believe in Him? Did He not command His disciples to preach the same? Does not a full security of life follow the dogma of your faith?" But they said, "What idle talk! Has not the Son made satisfaction? And does not the Father impute it to us, and justify us who have believed this? Thus we are led by the spirit of grace, then what sin is in us, what death is with us? Dost thou comprehend this gospel, thou preacher of sin and repentance?" But then a voice went forth from heaven, saying, "What is the faith of an impenitent man, but a dead faith? The end is come, the end is come upon you that are secure, unblamable in your own eyes, justified in your own faith, devils." And suddenly a deep gulf was then opened in the midst of that city, which spread itself far and wide, and the houses fell one upon another, and were swallowed up; and presently water began to bubble up from a large whirlpool, and overflowed the waste. When they were thus submerged, and seemed inundated, I desired to know their lot in the deep; and it was said to me from heaven, "Thou shalt see and hear." And immediately the waters wherein they seemed to be inundated disappeared, for waters in the spiritual world are correspondences, and consequently appear around those who are in falsities; and then they appeared to me in a sandy bottom, where were large heaps of stones, among which they ran, and lamented that they were cast out of their great city: and they shouted and cried, "Why has all this befallen us? Are we not, through our faith, clean, pure, just, and holy?" Others exclaimed, "Are we not, through our faith, cleansed, purified, justified, and sanctified?" And others cried, "Are we not, through our faith, rendered worthy to be reputed and esteemed clean, pure, just, and holy, before God the Father, and before the whole Trinity, and to be declared such before the angels? Are not we reconciled, atoned for, expiated, and thereby absolved, washed and cleansed from sins? And is not the curse of the law taken away by Christ? Why then are we cast down hither like the condemned? We have heard from an audacious preacher of sin in our great city, Believe in Christ, and do the work of repentance. Have we not believed in Christ, whilst we believed in His merit? And have we not done the work of repentance, whilst we confessed ourselves sinners? Why then has all this befallen us?" But then a voice from one side said to them, "Do you know any one sin in which you are? Have you ever examined yourselves? Have you in consequence thereof shunned any evil as sin against God? And whosoever does not shun it, remains in it. Is not sin the devil? Wherefore you are they of whom the Lord says:
Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets; but He shall answer, I say unto you, I know you not, whence ye are; depart from Me all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13:26, 27; Matt. 7:22, 23).
Depart therefore every one to his place; you see the openings into those caverns, enter therein, and work shall be given each of you to do, and afterwards food in proportion to your work; but if not, still presently you will be compelled by hunger to enter.
Afterwards there came a voice from heaven to some on that land, who were without the great city, and who are also described in the Apocalypse (11:13), crying aloud, "Take heed to yourselves, take heed how you associate yourselves with such persons. Cannot you understand, that evils, which are called sins and iniquities, render man unclean and impure? How can man be cleansed and purified from them, but by actual repentance, and faith in the Lord God the Savior? Actual repentance consists in a man's examining himself, in knowing and acknowledging his sins, in making himself guilty, in confessing them before the Lord, in imploring help and power to resist them, and thus in desisting from them, and leading a new life, and doing all these things as of himself. Do this once or twice in a year, when you come to the Holy Communion; and afterwards when the sins, whereof you made yourselves guilty, recur, then say to yourselves, we will not consent to them, because they are sins against God; this is actual repentance. Who cannot understand, that he who does not examine himself and see his sins, remains in them? For all evil is delightful to a man from his birth; it is a delight to revenge, to commit whoredom, to defraud and to blaspheme; does not the delight cause them not to be seen? And, if perchance it is said that they are sins, do you not on account of that delight excuse them?
"Yea, do you not by falsities confirm them, and persuade yourselves that they are not sins, and so remain in them, and afterwards do them more than before; even till you do not know what sin is, or whether there be any sin? But the case is otherwise with everyone who performs actual repentance; the evils which he has known and acknowledged he calls sins, and therefore he begins to shun and be averse to them, and to feel their delight as undelightful; and in proportion as this is the case, so far he sees and loves goods, and at length feels the delights of these, which are the delights of heaven. In a word, so far as anyone rejects the devil to the back, so far he is adopted by the Lord, and by Him is taught, led, withheld from evils, and held in goods. This is the way, and there is no other from hell to heaven." This is wonderful, that there is in the Reformed a certain deep-rooted opposition and aversion to actual repentance, which is so great, that they cannot force themselves to self-examination, and to see their sins, and to confess them before God; they are seized as it were with horror when they intend it. I have inquired of many in the spiritual world concerning this, and they all said, that it is above their power.
When they heard that the papists practice such duties, namely, that they examine themselves, and confess their sins openly before a monk, they greatly wondered, and likewise that the Reformed cannot do the same in private before God, although it is alike enjoined them previous to their approaching the Holy Supper. Some have examined into the cause of this, and found, that faith alone induces such an impenitent state and such a heart; and then it was given them to see, that such of the papists as approach and adore Christ, and do not adore, but only honor, the primates and leaders of their church are saved.
After the above admonition, was heard as it were thunder, and a voice speaking from heaven, saying, "We are amazed; say unto the assembly of the Reformed, believe in Christ, and do the work of repentance, and you shall be saved." And I told them; and added further, "Is not baptism a sacrament of repentance, and thereby an introduction into the church? What else do the sponsors promise for the person to be baptized, but that he will renounce the devil and his works? Is not the Sacred Supper a sacrament of repentance, and thereby an introduction into heaven? Is it not declared to the communicants, that they must altogether do the work of repentance before they approach? Is not the Decalogue, which teaches repentance, the doctrine of the whole Christian Church? Is it not there said, in the six commandments of the second table, thou shalt not do this and that evil, and not said, thou shalt do this and that good? Hence you may know, that in proportion as anyone shuns evil, in the same proportion he loves good, and that before this, he does not know either what good is, nor what evil is."


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