(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 389

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389. Fifth Memorable Relation:
A paper was once seen let down from heaven into a society in the world of spirits, where there were two prelates of the church with subordinate canons and presbyters. The paper contained an exhortation to them to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the God of heaven and earth, as He Himself taught (Matt. 28:18), and to withdraw from the doctrine of faith justifying without the works of the law, because it is erroneous. This paper was read and copied by many, and many thought of what was in it and spoke with judgment.
But having received it, they said to each other, "Let us hear what the prelates say."
And the prelates were heard; and they objected to it and condemned it. For the prelates of that society were hardened in heart by falsities imbibed in the former world. So after a brief consultation with each other, they sent the paper back to heaven whence it came.
When this had been done, after some murmuring, most of the laity withdrew their previous assent, and then the light of their judgment in spiritual things, which had before shone brightly, was suddenly extinguished. After they had been admonished again, but to no purpose, I saw that society sinking down (how deeply I did not see), and thus it was withdrawn from the sight of those who worship the Lord only, and are averse to justification by faith alone.
[2] Some days after I saw nearly a hundred ascending from the lower earth, just where that little society had sunk. They drew near to me, and one of them said, "Listen to something wonderful. While we were sinking down the place appeared to us like a swamp, but presently like dry land, and then like a small town in which many had each his own house. When a day had passed, we consulted together as to what ought to be done. Many said that those two prelates of the church ought to be called upon and mildly censured for sending the paper back to the heaven it came from, on account of which this had befallen us. And they chose certain ones who went to the prelates (and the one who talked with me said that he was one of them), and one who surpassed the others in wisdom spoke to the prelates as follows, 'We have believed that the church and religion were with us more than with others, because we have heard it said that we are especially in the light of the Gospel; but there has been given to some of us enlightenment from heaven, and in the enlightenment a perception that in the Christian world at the present day there is no longer a church, because there is no religion.' [3] The prelates answered, 'What are you saying? Is not the church where the Word is, where Christ the Savior is known, and where the sacraments are?' To this our spokesman replied, 'These things belong to the church, and in fact constitute the church; but this they do, not outside of man, but within him.' And he said further, 'Can the church exist where three Gods are worshiped? Can the church exist where its whole doctrine is founded upon a single saying of Paul falsely understood, and consequently not upon the Word? Can the church exist so long as the Savior of the world, who is the very God of the church, is not approached? Who can deny that religion is to shun evil and do good? Is there any religion where it is taught that faith alone saves, and not charity together with faith? Is there any religion where it is taught that the charity proceeding from man is merely moral and civil charity? Who does not see that in such charity there is no religion? In faith alone is there anything of deeds or works? and yet religion consists in doing. In the whole world can a people be found that excludes all saving virtue from the goods of charity, which are good works, when in fact the whole of religion consists in good, and the whole of the church in doctrine which teaches truths, and by means of truths teaches good? What glory had been ours, if we had accepted those things that the paper let down from heaven carried in its bosom!'
[4] "The prelates then answered, 'You speak too loftily. Is not faith in act, which is faith fully justified and saving, the church? And is not faith in state, which is faith proceeding and perfecting, religion? Sons, lay hold on this.' But our wise spokesman said, 'Listen, fathers! According to your dogma does not man conceive of faith in act as a stock? Can a stock be vivified into a church? Is not faith in state, according to your idea, a continuation and progression of faith in act? And since, according to your dogma, all saving power is in faith, and nothing of it in the good of charity from man, where then is religion?'
"Then the priests answered, 'Friend, you so speak because you do not know the mysteries of justification by faith alone; and he who does not know these does not know interiorly the way of salvation. Your way is external and the way of the vulgar; go in it if you will, but know that all good is from God, and nothing from man, and thus man of himself has no ability in spiritual things. How then can man of himself do good that is spiritual good?' [5] At this our spokesman, being very indignant, replied, 'I know your mysteries of justification better than you do, and I tell you plainly, that I see nothing in them interiorly but specters. Is it not religion to acknowledge God and to shun and hate the devil? Is not God good itself, and the devil evil itself? Is there anyone in the whole world who has any religion who does not know this? Is not doing good because it is of God and from God, - is not this acknowledging God and loving God? And is not ceasing to do evil, because it is of the devil and from the devil, - is not this shunning and hating the devil? Or, what is the same thing, does your faith in act, which you call faith fully justifying and saving, or, what is again the same, your act of justification by faith alone, does this teach the doing of any good that is of and from God, or the shunning of any evil that is of the devil and from the devil? Not in the least; because you maintain that there is nothing of salvation in either. What is your faith in state, which you have called faith proceeding and perfecting, but the same thing as faith in act? And how can this be perfected when you exclude all good done by man as if by himself, saying in your mysteries, How can man be saved by any good done by himself, when salvation is gratuitous? And again you say, Is there any good done by man that is not made a matter of merit, when, in fact, all merit belongs to Christ? Therefore doing good for the sake of salvation is attributing to ourself what belongs to Christ alone, and is thus a desire to justify and save ourself. Again you say, How can any man do good, when the Holy Spirit does all things without any aid from man? What need is there of any accessory good from man, when all good that comes from man in itself is not good? and so on. [6] Are not these your mysteries? But in my eyes they are mere cavils and subtleties invented for the purpose of setting aside good works, which are the goods of charity, so that you may establish your faith alone. And because you do this, in respect to faith, and in general in respect to all spiritual things which pertain to the church and religion; you look upon man as a stock or an inanimate figure, and not as a man created in the image of God, to whom there has been given and is continually given the ability to understand and to will and to believe and to love, to speak, and to act, altogether as if of himself, especially in spiritual things, because from them man is man. If man, in spiritual things, did not think and operate as if of himself, why the Word, why the church and religion, and why worship? You know that doing good to the neighbor and from love is charity. And yet you do not know what charity is, although it is the soul and essence of faith and since charity is that soul and essence, what is faith separated from charity but dead faith? And dead faith is a mere specter. I call it a specter, because James calls faith apart from good works not only dead, but even diabolical.' [7] Then one of the prelates, when he heard his faith called dead, diabolical, and a specter, became so enraged that he snatched his miter from his head and dashed it upon the table, saying, 'I will not resume it until I have taken vengeance upon the enemies of the faith of our church;' and he shook his head, muttering, and saying, 'That James-that James.' On the front of his miter was a plate on which were engraved the words, Faith alone justifies. Then suddenly a monster appeared rising up out of the earth, with seven heads, with feet like a bear's, a body like a leopard's, and a mouth like a lion's, precisely like the beast described in the Apocalypse (13:1, 2), of whom an image was made and worshiped (verses 14, 15). This specter took the miter from the table, and stretched it wide at the bottom and placed it on his seven heads, and then the earth gaped beneath his feet and he sank down. Seeing this, the prelate shouted, 'Violence, violence!' We then left them; and lo, steps appeared before us, by which we ascended and returned above ground, and in sight of the heaven where we had been before."
All this was told me by the spirit who, with a hundred others, had ascended from the lower earth.


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