(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 114

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114. IV. EVILS IN THE EXTERNAL, MAN CANNOT BE REMOVED BY THE LORD EXCEPT THROUGH MAN'S INSTRUMENTALITY. In all Christian Churches this tenet of doctrine has been accepted, that before a man approaches the Holy Communion he shall examine himself, see and acknowledge his sins, and do the work of repentance by desisting from them and rejecting them because they are from the devil; and that otherwise his sins are not forgiven, and he is condemned. Although the members of the English Church hold the doctrine of faith alone, yet in the exhortation to the Holy Communion they openly teach self examination, the acknowledgment and confession of sins, repentance and newness of life, threatening those who do not comply in words which declare that "otherwise the devil will enter into them as he did into Judas, and fill them with all iniquity and destroy both body and soul". The Germans, the Swedes and the Danes, who also hold the doctrine of faith alone, teach the same in the exhortation to the Holy Communion, also threatening that otherwise they will render themselves subject to eternal condemnation* for mingling the holy and the profane. This is read out by the priest in a loud voice before those who are about to observe the Holy Supper, and is listened to by them with full acknowledgment that it is so.
[2] Nevertheless, when these same persons the same day listen to preaching concerning faith alone to the effect that the Law does not condemn them because the Lord has fulfilled it for them, and that of themselves they cannot do any good except what is merit-seeking and thus that works have nothing of salvation in them, but faith only, they return home entirely forgetful of their former confession and rejecting it in proportion as they think from the preaching concerning faith alone. Now which doctrine is true, the first or the second?-for two things contrary to each other cannot both be true, the first stating that without self-examination, recognition, acknowledgment, confession and rejection of sins, thus without repentance, there is no forgiveness of them, thus no salvation, but eternal condemnation; the second stating that such things contribute nothing to salvation because the Lord made full satisfaction for all the sins of men by the passion of the cross, for those who have faith, and that those who have faith only, being fully confident that this is true, and trusting in the imputation of the Lord's merit, are without sins, and appear before God like those with faces washed and shining brightly.
[3] It is clear from this that it is the common religious belief of all the Churches in the Christian world that man should examine himself, should see and acknowledge his sins and then desist from them; and that otherwise there is no salvation but condemnation. Moreover, that this is the Divine Truth (Veritas) itself is evident from passages in the Word where man is commanded to repent, as the following:
Jesus (A.V. John) said: Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. . . . Now also the axe is laid unto the root of the tree; every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Luke iii. 8, 9.
Jesus said: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke xiii. 3, 5.
Jesus preached: The gospel of the kingdom of God repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mark i. 14, 15.
Jesus sent forth His disciples: And they went out and preached that men should repent. Mark vi. 12.
Jesus said to the apostles that 'repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations.' Luke xxiv. 47.
John preached: The baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Mark i. 4; Luke iii. 3.
Consider this with some degree of understanding; and if you have any religious principles you will see that repentance from sins is the way to heaven, that faith separate from repentance is not faith, and that those who are not in faith because they are not repentant are on the way to hell.
* Original Edition has "quod . . . se . . . reos . . . facturos esse." Tafel Latin edition (1855) has "quod . . . se reos . . . facturos essent (corrected in erata to facturi)"; and Worcester Latin edition (1899) has "quod . . . se reos . . . facturi essent."


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