356. (1) Man can acquire for himself faith. This is shown in the sections above (n. 343-348), as follows, that faith in its essence is truth, and that anyone is able to acquire truths from the Word, and that so far as anyone does acquire them for himself, and loves them, he implants in himself the beginnings of faith. To which shall be added, that unless man were able to acquire faith for himself, all that is commanded in the Word respecting faith would be useless. For we there read that it is the will Of the Father that men should believe in the Son, and that whosoever believes in Him has eternal life, and he who does not believe shall not see life. We read also that Jesus was to send the Paraclete, who would convince the world respecting sin because it believed not on Him; besides other statements cited above (n. 337, 335); furthermore, that all the apostles preached faith, a faith in the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ. What meaning would there be in all this, if a man were to stand with hanging hands like a sculptured statue with movable joints, and await influx, and meanwhile the joints (being able only to adapt themselves to receive faith) were inwardly moved toward something that has no relation to faith? For modern orthodoxy, in that part of the Christian world that is separate from Roman Catholicism, teaches as follows: Man is so utterly corrupt and dead to good that until he is regenerated there does not abide in man's nature, or continue in it since the fall, even a spark of spiritual strength by which he is capable from or by himself of being prepared for God's grace, or of apprehending it when offered, or of retaining it; nor is he able for himself, in things spiritual, to understand, believe, embrace, think, will, commence, carry out, act, operate, co-operate, or apply or adapt himself to grace, or do anything toward his own conversion, wholly, or by halves, or in the smallest measure; also that in spiritual things, which regard the salvation of the soul, he is like the statue of salt of Lot's wife, or like a stock or a stone destitute of life, having no use of eyes, or mouth, or any other sense. Nevertheless he has the power to move from place to place, to direct his external members, to go to public meetings, and to hear the Word and the Gospel. This doctrine is set forth in the book of the Evangelical churches called the Formula Concordance, the Leipsic edition of 1766 (pp. 656, 658; 661-663; 671-673); to which book, consequently to which faith, the priests take oath at their inauguration. The Reformed churches profess a like faith. But who that has reason and religion would not hiss at these things as absurd and ridiculous? Would he not say to himself, If this were so, what would the Word amount to, or religion, or the priesthood, or preaching, but mere emptiness, or sound about nothing? Tell some pagan who has any judgment and whom you wish to convert, that he is such in respect to conversion and faith, and would he not look upon Christianity as one would look upon an empty vessel? For take from man all power of believing as of himself, and what else is he? But this will be placed in clearer light in the chapter on Freedom of Choice.