340. IV. INSTANTANEOUS SALVATION FROM IMMEDIATE MERCY IS THE FIERY FLYING SERPENT IN THE CHURCH. By this fiery flying serpent is meant evil glowing from infernal fire, the same as is meant by the fiery flying serpent in Isaiah:
Rejoice not thou, whole Philistia (A.V. Palestina) because the rod (A.V. of him) that Smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent. Isa. xiv. 29.
Such evil is flying in the Church when there is belief in instantaneous salvation from immediate mercy; for by it
1. Religion is abolished;
2. Security is induced;
3. And condemnation is ascribed to the Lord.
 Concerning the First: By it religion is abolished. There are two things that are the essentials and at the same time the universals of religion, namely, the acknowledgment of God and repentance. These two are void of meaning to those who believe they are saved from mercy alone, no matter how they live; for what need is there of anything more than to exclaim, Have mercy on me, O God? With regard to everything else pertaining to religion they are in darkness, and they even love the darkness. With regard to the first essential of the Church, namely, the acknowledgment of God, they only think, What is God? Who ever saw Him? If it is said that there is a God, and that He is one, they say that He is one; if it is said that there are three, they also say that there are three, but that the three must be called one. This is their acknowledgment of God.
 With regard to the other essential of the Church, namely, repentance, they give it no thought; and consequently they give no thought to any sin, and at length they do not know that there is such a thing as sin. Then they hear, and drink it in with pleasure, that the law does not condemn, because the Christian is not under its yoke. If only you say, Have mercy on me, O God, for the sake of the Son, you will be saved. This with them is the repentance of life. If, however, you take away repentance, or what is the same thing, separate life from religion, what remains but the words, Have mercy on me? Hence it is that they could not do otherwise than maintain that salvation is instantaneous, effected by uttering these words, even at the hour of death, if not before. What, then, is the Word to them but a voice obscure and enigmatic, issuing from a tripod in a cave, or like an unintelligible response from the oracle of an idol? In a word, if you take away repentance, that is, if you separate life from religion, what then is man but evil glowing from infernal fire, or a fiery flying serpent in the Church? For without repentance man is in evil, and evil is hell.
 Second: By a belief in instantaneous salvation from pure mercy alone security of life is induced. Security of life arises either from the belief of the impious man that there is no life after death, or from the belief of the man who separates life from salvation. Although the latter might believe in eternal life he still thinks, Whether I live well or wickedly I can be saved, because salvation is pure mercy, and the mercy of God is universal for He does not desire the death of anyone. If perchance the thought occurs to him that mercy must be implored in the words of the accepted faith, he may think that this can be done, if not done before, still just at the point of death. Everyone in such a state of security makes light of adultery, fraud, injustice, deeds of violence, blasphemy and revenge, and gives a free rein to his body and spirit for the commission of all these evils; nor does he know what spiritual evil is, and its lust. Should anything from the Word reach his ears concerning this, it is like something that falls on ebony and rebounds, or like something that falls into a ditch and is swallowed up.
 Third: By that belief condemnation is ascribed to the Lord. Who can help concluding that if he is not saved it is not the man but the Lord who is in fault, when the Lord is able to save everyone from pure mercy? If it is said that faith is the medium of salvation, it will be urged, But what man is there to whom this faith cannot be given? For it is only thought, and this may be imparted with all confidence in every state of the spirit when it is withdrawn from worldly things. The man may also say, I cannot acquire that faith of myself. Accordingly, if it is not bestowed on him and he is condemned, what else can the condemned one think but that the Lord is in fault who could have given him faith but would not? Would this not be to call the Lord unmerciful? Moreover, in the glowing ardour of his faith he may say, How can He see so many condemned in hell when He is able to save them all in a moment from pure mercy? And much more in a similar strain, which can only be termed wicked impeachment of the Divine. From these things it may now be evident that belief in instantaneous salvation from pure mercy is the fiery flying serpent in the Church.
 Excuse the addition of what follows to fill up the paper that is left.
Certain spirits by permission ascended from hell and said to me, You have written many things from the Lord; write something from us, too. I replied, What shall I write? They said, Write that every spirit, whether good or wicked, is in his own delight; the good spirit is in the delight of his good and the wicked spirit is in the delight of his evil. I then asked, What is your delight? And they replied that it was the delight of committing adultery, stealing, defrauding and telling lies. Again I asked, What are these delights like? They replied, They are perceived by others as offensive odours from excrement, and as the putrid smell from dead bodies, and as the reeking stench from stagnant urine pools. I then said, Are they delightful to you? And they replied, They are most delightful. I said, Then you are like unclean beasts that live in such filth. To this they replied, If we are, we are; nevertheless, such things are a delight to our nostrils.
 I asked, What more shall I write from you? They said, Write this, that everyone is permitted to gratify his own delight, even that which is most unclean, as it is called, provided he does not molest good spirits and angels; but as we could not do otherwise than molest them we were driven away and cast into hell, where we suffer dreadfully. I asked, Why did you molest the good? And they replied that they could not do otherwise. It was as if a certain fury seized hold of them when they caught sight of any angel and felt the Divine sphere around him. Thereupon I said, You are indeed like wild beasts. When they heard this a fury came over them which appeared like the fire of hate; and to prevent them doing any harm they were withdrawn to hell. Concerning delights perceived as odours and offensive smells in the spiritual world see above (n. 303-305, 324).