(TCR) - True Christian Religion: Containing the Whole Theology of the New Church Predicted by the Lord in Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 21:1-2

TCR 137

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137. Fourth Memorable Relation:
I heard that a synod had been convoked of those celebrated for their writings and learning in respect to the faith of the present day and the justification of the elect thereby. This was in the world of spirits; and it was granted me to be present in spirit; and I saw an assembly of the clergy, both those of like belief and those of differing beliefs. On the right stood those who were called in the world the Apostolic Fathers, who had lived in the centuries preceding the Nicene Council; on the left stood men renowned in the succeeding centuries for their printed or manuscript works. Many of these latter had no beards, and wore curled wigs made of women's hair; and some of them wore ruffled collars with points; while the former had beards and wore their natural hair.
In front of them all stood a man (a judge and a critic of the writings of the present century), with a staff in his hand. He struck the floor and caused silence. He then ascended the upper step of the pulpit and breathed out a sigh, and wished to follow it up by a loud exclamation; but the sighing breath kept back the sound in his throat.
[2] At length he spoke and said, "O what an age, my brethren! There has risen up from the herd of the laity one having neither gown, tiara, nor laurel, who has plucked our faith from heaven and hurled it into the Styx. O horrible! And yet that faith alone is our star, shining like Orion in the night, and like Lucifer in the morning. That man, though advanced in years, is wholly blind to the mysteries of our faith, because he has not investigated it and seen in it the righteousness of the Lord our Savior and His mediation and propitiation; and as he has not seen these neither has he seen the wonders of its justification, which are the remission of sins, regeneration, sanctification, and salvation. This man, in place of our faith-which, being a faith in three Divine persons and therefore in the whole Deity, is saving to the utmost has transferred faith to the second person; yet not even to Him, but to His Human which we call Divine because of the incarnation of the Son from eternity; but is there anyone who thinks of it as any thing more than merely human? From this what else can result but a faith from which naturalism flows as from a fountain? And such a faith, not being spiritual, differs but little from faith in a pope or in a saint. You know what Calvin said in his time about worship from that kind of faith. And pray tell me, anyone of you, whence comes faith. Must it not be directly from God to thus have in it all things of salvation?"
[3] At this his companions on the left, who had shaven faces, curly wigs, and collars about their necks, clapped their hands and shouted, "You have spoken most wisely. We know that we can take nothing that is not given us from heaven. If this is not faith, let that prophet tell us where faith comes from, and what it is. It cannot be any thing else or from any other source. To set forth any faith that is a faith, other than this, is as impossible as for one to ride on horseback to some constellation in heaven, and to take a star from it and hide it in his pocket and bring it down." This they said to make their companions laugh at any new belief.
[4] Hearing this, the men on the right, who had bearded chins and wore their natural hair, were indignant. And one of them rose up (an old man, although he afterwards looked like a young man, for he was an angel from heaven, where those of all ages become youthful); and he spoke and said, "I have heard what your faith is, which the man in the pulpit has so magnified; but what is such a faith but our Lord's sepulchre after the resurrection, when it had been closed again by Pilate's soldiers? I have explored it and have seen nothing in it but the juggler's rods with which the magicians in Egypt wrought miracles. Indeed, externally your faith in your eyes is like a shrine of molten gold set with precious stones, but when opened it is found empty, except, perhaps, for a little dust in the corners from Papal relics, since that church has the same faith; only with them at the present day it is overlaid with external sanctities. Your faith, if I may indulge in further comparisons, is like a vestal virgin among the ancients who has been buried alive for letting the sacred fire go out. And I can assure you that in my eyes it is like the golden calf around which the children of Israel danced when Moses had gone away, and had ascended Mount Sinai to Jehovah. [5] Be not surprised that I use such comparisons in speaking of your faith; for so we speak of it in heaven. Our faith on the other hand is, was, and for ever will be, a faith in the Lord God the Savior, whose Human is Divine and whose Divine is Human; thus it is adapted to reception, and by it the Divine spiritual is united to the natural of man, and a spiritual faith is formed in the natural, and from the spiritual light in which our faith is the natural becomes as it were transparent. The truths of which our faith consists are as many as the verses in the sacred Volume; thee truths are all like stars, which by their light make the faith manifest and give it form. Man acquires this faith from the Word by means of his natural light, in which light it is knowledge, thought, and persuasion; but the Lord causes it, in those who believe in Him, to become conviction, trust, and confidence; thus faith becomes spiritual-natural, and by means of charity becomes living. With us this faith is like a queen adorned with precious stones, as numerous as those in the wall of the holy Jerusalem (Apoc. 21:17-20). [6] But lest you may look upon what I have said as mere boasting, and worthy of little regard, I will read to you some passages from the Holy Word, from which it will be evident that our faith is not faith in a man, as you suppose, but in the true God, in whom is the entire Divine. John says that:
Jesus Christ is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20). Paul says that:
In Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity bodily (Col. 2:9); and in the Acts of the Apostles:
That he preached both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (20:21). And the Lord Himself says:
That there was given to Him all power in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18).
These are but a few of such passages."
[7] After this the angel looked at me and said, "You know what those who are called Evangelical believe, or are expected to believe, about the Lord the Savior. Recite some of these things, that we may see whether they are so foolish as to believe that His Human is merely human, or whether they attribute to Him something of the Divine, and how."
And then, in the presence of those assembled, I read the following passages from their standard work called the Formula Concordioe, published at Leipsic in 1756: In Christ the Divine and the Human Natures are so united as to make one person (pp. 606, 762). Christ is truly God and Man in one undivided person, and so remains for ever (pp. 609, 673, 762). In Christ God is Man, and Man is God (pp. 607, 765). Christ's Human Nature is exalted to all Divine Majesty; this also from many of the Fathers (pp. 844-852, 860-865, 869-878). As to His Human nature Christ is omnipresent, and fills all things (pp. 768, 783-785). In Christ, as to His Human nature, resides all power in heaven and on earth (pp. 775, 776, 780). As to His Human nature Christ sits at the right hand of the Father (pp. 608, 764). Christ, as to His Human nature, is to be invoked; there proved by quotations from the Scriptures (p. 226). The Augustan Confession especially endorses this doctrine (p. 19).
[8] When I had read these passages I turned to the president and said, "I know that all here present are associated with their like in the natural world; tell me, I pray, do you know with whom you are associated?"
He answered in a grave tone, "I do; I am associated with a celebrated man, a leader of a host in the army of illustrious men in the church."
As he answered in so grave a tone I said, "Pardon me if I ask whether you know where that celebrated leader lives."
He answered, "I do; he lives not far from the tomb of Luther."
At this I smiled and said, "Why do you mention the tomb? Do you not know that Luther has risen, and has now renounced his erroneous ideas of justification by faith in three Divine persons from eternity, and therefore has been placed among the blessed in the new heaven, and sees and laughs at those who run mad after him?"
He replied, "I know, but what is that to me?"
I then addressed him in a grave tone like his own, saying, "Inspire your celebrated man with whom you are associated with this, Whether there is not reason to fear that in writing as he did against the worship of our Lord and Savior, he at the same time robbed the Lord of His Divinity, contrary to the orthodoxy of his church, or allowed his pen to plough a furrow in which he thoughtlessly sowed naturalism."
To this he replied, "That I cannot do, because he and I in that matter are almost of one mind; but what I say he does not understand, while all that he says I understand clearly." This is because the spiritual world enters into the natural and perceives the thoughts of men there, but not the reverse; such is the condition of association of spirits and men.
[9] As I had begun to talk with the president I continued, "If I may be permitted I will throw in still another query, Whether you are aware that the orthodoxy of the Evangelicals, in the manual of their church called the Formula Concordioe, teaches that in Christ God is Man, and Man is God, and that His Divine and Human are and will for ever remain one undivided Person? How then could he and how can you defile the worship of the Lord with naturalism?"
To this he replied, "I know that, and yet I do not know it." I therefore continued, "Let me ask him, or you in his place, since he is absent, from whom did the Lord our Savior derive His soul? If you say from the mother, you are irrational; if from Joseph, you profane the Word; if from the Holy Spirit, you say truly, provided that by the Holy Spirit you mean the proceeding and operating Divine, thus that He is the Son of Jehovah God. [10] Again, I ask, What is the hypostatic union? If you reply that it is a union as between two persons, a superior and an inferior, you are irrational; for thus you might make God the Savior two persons, as you make God three; but if you say that it is a personal union like that of soul and body, you say rightly: and this is in harmony with your doctrine, also with that of the Fathers. Consult the Formula Concordioe (pp. 765-768), also the Athanasian creed, where this is said, 'The correct faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is God and Man; who although He be God and Man, yet is not two, but is one Christ, one altogether, not by confusion of substance but by unity of Person; for as the reasonable soul and flesh are one man, so God and Man is one Christ. ' [11] I ask still further, What else was the damnable heresy of Arius, on account of whom the Nicene Council was convened by the Emperor Constantine the Great, than his denial of the Divinity of the Lord's Human? Tell me, moreover, whom you understand by these words in Jeremiah:
Behold, the days come that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as King, and this is His name, Jehovah our Righteousness (23:5, 6; 33:15, 16). If you say a Son born from eternity, you are irrational; that was not the Redeemer; but if you say the Son born in time, who was the only-begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 3:16), you say rightly; He through redemption became the righteousness upon which you build your faith. Read also Isaiah 9:6, besides other passages in which it is foretold that Jehovah Himself would come into the world."
At this the president was silent, and turned away.
[12] When all this had occurred the president wished to dismiss the synod with a prayer; but just then a man started up from the company on the left, with a turban on his head and a cap over the turban; and he touched his cap with his finger, and said, "I also am associated with a man in your world, who there occupies a position of great honor; this I know because I speak from him as from myself."
I asked where that eminent man lived.
He answered, "At Gottenburg; and from him I at one time thought that your new doctrines favored of Mohammedanism."
I saw that on hearing this all those on the right, where the Apostolic Fathers stood, were thunderstruck, and their countenances changed, and I heard such exclamations as these issuing from their minds through their mouths, "O horrible!" "O what an age!"
But to calm their just indignation I stretched forth my hand begged a hearing; which being granted I said, "I know that a man of that eminence wrote something of the kind in a letter which was afterwards printed; but if he had then known what blasphemy it was he would certainly have torn the letter to pieces and thrown it into the fire. A slander like that is meant by the Lord's words to the Jews, when they said that Christ wrought miracles by other than Divine power (Matt. 12:22-32); and in addition to this the Lord there says:
He that is not with Me is against Me, and be that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad" (verse 30).
At these words the countenance of the associate spirit fell; but presently he looked up and said, "I have now heard worse things from you than ever."
But I continued, "There are two items in this charge-naturalism and Mohammedanism-Which are wicked lies and crafty inventions; and two deadly stigmas, designed to turn aside the wills of men and to deter them from the holy worship of the Lord." And I turned to the latter associate spirit and said, "Tell the man at Gottenburg, if you can, to read what is said by the Lord in Apoc. 3:18, and also in 2:16."
[13] At these remarks a tumult arose; but it was quieted by light sent down from heaven, in consequence of which many of those on the left passed over to those on the right, those only remaining who thought superficially, and therefore depended on the word of some master, also those who thought of the Word as merely human. From both of these classes the light went down from heaven appeared to be thrown back, but to fall upon those who had passed over from the left to the right.


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