69. That man in his conversion is like a stock, the faith of the present church acknowledges as its natural offspring in these express words. That man is altogether impotent in spiritual things [n. 15 (a) (b) (c)]. That in conversion he is like a stock, a stone, and a statue; and that he cannot so much as accommodate and apply himself to receive grace, but is like something that has not the use of any of the senses [n. 15 (c) (d)]. That man has only a locomotive power, whereby he is capable of going to assemblies to hear the Word and the Gospel, [n. 15 (e)]. But that a person who is regenerate by virtue of the Holy Spirit, from the new powers and gifts which he has received, does in a certain manner cooperate, [n. 15 (k)], besides many other passages. This description of man in his conversion, and during his repentance from evil works, is also an offspring produced from the same egg or womb, that is, from justification by faith alone, to the intent that man's works may be totally abolished, and not suffered to have the least conjunction with faith, not even to touch it. But because such ideas are repugnant to the common perception of all men concerning man's conversion and repentance, they have added the following words: "There is an immense difference between men baptized, and unbaptized, for it is according to the doctrine of Paul, that all who are baptized have put on Christ, and are truly regenerated; they are then endowed with a freedom of will, whereby they not only can hear the Word of God, but can also assent to the same, and embrace it by faith" [n. 15 (m)], and in the Formula Concordiae (p. 675). I appeal to the wise, to consider, whether this latter quotation be any way consistent with the preceding ones, and whether it be not a contradiction to say that a Christian in a state of conversion is like a stock or a stone, so that he is not able so much as to accommodate himself to the receiving of grace, when yet every Christian is baptized, and from baptism became possessed, not only of a power to hear the Word of God, but also to assent to it, and embrace it by faith; wherefore the comparing of a Christian man to a stock or a stone is a simile that ought to be banished from all churches in the Christian world, and to be done away with, like a meteor that vanishes from before the eyes of a man waking out of sleep; for what can be more repugnant to reason? But in order to elucidate the doctrine of the New Church concerning man's conversion, I will transcribe the following passage from a certain Relation in The Apocalypse Revealed.
"Who cannot see, that every man has freedom to think about God, or not to think about Him, consequently that every man has the same freedom in spiritual things, as he has in civil and moral things. The Lord gives this freedom continually to all: wherefore man becomes guilty or not guilty as he thinks. Man is man by virtue of this power, whereas a beast is a beast in consequence of its not possessing such a power; so that man is capable of reforming and regenerating himself as of himself, provided he only acknowledge in his heart that his ability is from the Lord. Every man who does the work of repentance, is reformed and regenerated. Both must be done by man as of himself, but this as of himself is also from the Lord, because the Lord gives both the power to will and perform, and never takes it away from anyone. It is true that man cannot contribute anything thereunto, nevertheless he is not created a statue, but a man, to do the work of repentance from the Lord as from himself. In this alone consists the reciprocality of love and faith, and of conjunction thereby, which the Lord altogether wills to be done by man from Him. In a word, act of yourselves, and believe that it is from the Lord, for thus you will act as of yourselves.
"But the power so to act is not implanted in man by creation, because to act of himself is the Lord's alone, but it is given continually; and in this case in proportion as man does good and learns truth as of himself, he is an angel of heaven; but in proportion as he does evil, and thence confirms falsity, which also is done as of himself, in the same proportion he is a spirit of hell. That in this latter case also man acts as of himself, is evident from his prayers, as when he prays that he may be preserved from the devil, lest he should seduce him, and bring his own evils upon him. Everyone, however, contracts guilt, who believes that he does of himself either good or evil; but not he who believes that he acts as of himself. For whatsoever a man believes that he does of himself, that he appropriates to himself; if he believes that he does good of himself, he appropriates to himself that good, and makes it his own, when nevertheless it is of God and from God; and if he believes that he does evil of himself, he also appropriates that evil to himself, and makes it his own, when yet it is of the devil and from the devil."
That many other false dogmas, even concerning the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper, as to the benefits reasonably to be expected from them, when considered according to the doctrine of justification by faith alone; as likewise concerning the Person of Christ; together with all the heresies from the first ages down to the present day; have flowed from no other source, than from a doctrine founded on the idea of three Gods. This we have not room to demonstrate within the limits of this epitome; but it will be shown and proved at large in the work itself.