(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 460

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460. Second Memorable Relation:
Once when looking about in the spiritual world I heard something like the gnashing of teeth, also a kind of beating, and mingled with these a grating sound, and I asked what they were.
The angels who were with me said: "They are fraternities, which are called by us debating clubs, where they dispute with each other. Their disputations sound at a distance in this way, but near at hand their disputations only are heard."
Drawing near, I saw huts built of reeds plastered together with mud. I wished to look in through a window (not being permitted to enter through the door, because light would then flow in from heaven and produce confusion), but there was no window. But just then a window was made suddenly on the right side, and then I heard them complaining that they were in darkness. Presently a window was made on the left side, that on the right being closed, and then the darkness was gradually dispelled, and they appeared to themselves to be in their proper light. Afterward I was permitted to enter by the door and listen.
In the center there was a table, and benches round about; yet to me they all seemed to be standing on the benches and disputing bitterly with each other about faith and charity; one party maintained that faith is the essential of the church, and the other, charity.
Those who made faith the essential thing, said: "By faith do we not deal with God, and by charity with man? Therefore is not faith heavenly, and charity earthly? Is it not by means of heavenly things that we are saved, and not by means of earthly things? Again, cannot God bestow faith from heaven, because it is heavenly, and must not man acquire charity for himself, because it is earthly? And what man acquires for himself does not pertain to the church, and thus is not saving. Therefore can anyone be justified before God by the works that are called the works of charity? Believe us, that we are not only justified but also sanctified by faith alone if our faith is not defiled by a sense of merit arising from works of charity;" and so on.
[2] But those who made charity the essential of the church sharply refuted these arguments, saying: "Charity is saving, and not faith. Does not God hold all men dear, and desire the good of all? How can God effect this good except through men? Does God merely give us the power to talk to men about matters of faith, and not the power to do for them what charity requires? Do you not see that your saying that charity is earthly is absurd? Charity is heaven, and because you do not do the good of charity, your faith is earthly. How do you receive your faith except like stocks or stones? You say, by hearing the Word. But how can the Word operate merely by being heard, and how upon a stock or a stone? It may be that you are quickened, yourselves being wholly unconscious of it. But what is the quickening, except that you are able to say that faith alone justifies and saves? And what faith is, and what kind of faith is saving, you do not know."
[3] Then one arose who by the angel conversing with me was called a syncretist. He took off his cap and placed it on the table, but hastily put it on his head again, because he was bald. He said: "Listen to me; you are all wrong. It is true that faith is spiritual, and charity is moral, but still they are conjoined; and they are conjoined by means of the Word, and thus by means of the Holy Spirit, and by their effect which may be called obedience, although man has no more part whatever in it because when faith is brought in man knows no more about it than a statue. I have long meditated on these subjects, and I have at length discovered that man may accept from God a faith that is spiritual, but he can no more be moved by God to a charity that is spiritual than a stock."
[4] When this was said those who were in faith alone applauded, but those who were in charity hissed; and these, being indignant, said; "Listen, friend; you do not know that there is spiritual moral life and merely natural moral life-spiritual moral life with those who do good from God and yet as if of themselves, and merely natural moral life with those who do good from hell, and yet as if of themselves."
[5] I said that the disputation sounded like the gnashing of teeth, also like a kind of beating mingled with a grating sound. The disputation that sounded like the gnashing of teeth was from those who made faith the one only essential of the church; the beating was from those who made charity the one only essential; and the mingled grating sound was from the syncretist. The tones of their voices were so heard at a distance, because they had all when in the other world been given to disputation, and had not shunned any evil, and therefore had not done any good that was from a spiritual source. Moreover, they were wholly ignorant that the all of faith is truth and the all of charity is good; that truth without good is not truth in spirit, and that good without truth is not good in spirit; and thus that each constitutes the other.


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