(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 503

Remove Highlights | Highlight Search Terms


503. To the foregoing these Memorable Relations shall be added:
I heard that an assembly was convoked, which was to deliberate on man's freedom of choice in spiritual things. This was in the spiritual world. There were present learned men from every quarter, who had thought upon that subject in the world in which they had formerly lived, also many who had been present at the greater and smaller councils both before and after that of Nice. They were assembled in a kind of circular temple like the temple at Rome called the Pantheon, which was formerly consecrated to the worship of all the gods, and afterward dedicated by the Papal chair to the worship of all the holy martyrs.
In this temple near the walls were what seemed to be altars, but near them were low benches, and upon these the assembly reclined, resting their elbows on the altars, as upon so many tables. No president was appointed to act as primate among them, but each one, when the desire seized him, rushed forth into their midst, poured out what he had at heart, and delivered his opinion; and what I wondered at, all who were in the assembly were full of proofs of man's utter impotence in spiritual things, and ridiculed the idea of freedom of choice in such matters.
[2] As soon as they had all come together one of them sprang up suddenly into the midst, and with a loud voice harangued them as follows: "Man has no more freedom of choice in spiritual things than Lot's wife had after she had been turned into a pillar of salt. If man had any more freedom of choice than that, he would surely of himself arrogate to himself the faith of our church, which faith is, that God the Father bestows faith gratuitously to whom He will and when He will, out of His entire freedom and good pleasure. This good pleasure and gratuitousness would be impossible to God, if man from any freedom or good pleasure could arrogate that faith to himself, and thus indeed, our faith, which is like a star shining before us night and day, would be dissipated like a meteor in the air."
[3] After him another sprang up from his bench and said, "Man has no more freedom of choice in spiritual things than a beast, or even a dog; for if he had, he would do good of himself, when yet all good is from God, and man can take to himself nothing that is not given him from heaven."
After him another sprang up from his seat into the middle space and raised his voice, saying, "Man has no more freedom of choice in spiritual things, not even in the discernment of them, than an owl has in the day time, or even a chicken still hidden in the shell; in these things he is as wholly blind as a mole; for if he were lynx-eyed in his clear perception of matters of faith, salvation, and eternal life, he would still believe that he could regenerate and save himself, and would endeavor to do so, and thus would profane his thoughts and deeds by adding merit to merit."
Again another ran out into the middle space and delivered this speech: "The man who imagines himself to be able, since Adam's fall, to will or understand anything spiritual is insane, and becomes a maniac, since he would then believe himself to be a little god or a kind of deity, possessing a share of the Divine power in his own right. "
[4] After him another rushed panting to the middle space carrying under his arm a book called the Formula Concordiae, by the orthodoxy of which, as he called it, the Evangelicals now swear. This he opened, and from it read the following: "Man is wholly corrupt and dead to good, so that in his nature since the fall, before regeneration, there does not remain or abide even a spark of spiritual power, whereby he is able to be prepared for the grace of God, or to apprehend it when offered, or from and by himself to be deceptive of it, or in spiritual things to understand, believe, embrace, think, will, begin, finish, act, operate, co-operate, or apply or adapt himself to receive grace, or to do anything of himself toward his conversion, either in the half or in the smallest part. And in spiritual things, which regard the salvation of the soul, man is like the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was turned, or like a lifeless stock or stone, having no use of eyes, or mouth, or any of the senses. Nevertheless, he has the power of locomotion, or of directing his external members, to attend public meetings, and hear the Word and the Gospel." this is found in my edition, on pages 656, 658, 661-663, 671-673.
After this they all crowded together and together exclaimed, "This is true orthodoxy."
[5] I stood near and listened intently to all that had been said; and my spirit being aroused, I asked with a loud voice, "If you make man in spiritual things a pillar of salt, a beast, blind, and irrational, what is your theology? Is not each and all things of that spiritual?"
To this, after a period of silence, they replied: "In our whole theology there is nothing spiritual whatever that the reason comprehends. The only thing spiritual in it is our faith; but that we keep strictly closed up, that no one may look into it; and we have taken care that not a single ray of spirituality shall escape therefrom and appear before the understanding. Moreover, man does not contribute thereto the least particle from any choice of his own. Charity also we have removed from everything spiritual, and have made it merely moral; likewise the Decalogue. Respecting justification, the forgiveness of sins, regeneration, and salvation thereby, we teach nothing spiritual; we say that these are wrought by faith, but how, we are utterly ignorant. In place of repentance, we have put contrition, and lest this should be believed to be spiritual, we have removed it from faith, even as to any least touch. Respecting redemption we have adopted none but purely natural ideas, which are, that God the Father included the whole human race in a sentence of damnation, and that His Son took that damnation upon Him. Self, suffered Himself to be hanged upon a cross, and thus moved His Father to compassion; besides other like ideas, in which you will find nothing spiritual, but only what is natural. "
[6] But at this my former indignation continued, and I said, "If man had no freedom of choice in spiritual things, what would he be but a brute? Is it not by means of that that he is above brute beasts? Without that, what is the church but the black face of a fuller, with a white speck only in his eyes? Without it, what is the Word but an unmeaning volume? What is more frequently declared and commanded therein, than that man should love God and should love the neighbor, and should also believe; and again, that he has life and salvation in the measure of his love and faith? Is there any man who has not the ability to understand and do what is commanded in the Word and in the Decalogue? How could God have given such precepts and commandments to men without an ability to do them?
[7] Tell any rustic whose mind has not been blocked up by fallacies in theological matters, that he has no more ability to understand and will in matters of faith and charity, and of salvation therefrom, than a stock or a stone and no ability to adapt or conform himself to them; will he not most heartily laugh at you and say, 'What can be more irrational? What then have I to do with the priest and his preaching? What is a church more than a stable? And what is worship more than ploughing? What madness to speak so! It is folly upon folly. Who denies that all good is from God? Is it not given to man to do good of himself from God? It is the same with believing.'"
Hearing this they all cried out, "We spoke from orthodoxy in an orthodox way; but you from rustic notions in a rustic way."
Then suddenly lightning fell from heaven, and lest it should consume them, they rushed out in troops and fled away, each to his own home.


User-Contributed Related Pages

Be the First to Find a Related Page!

Add a Related Page

Translate This Page

Add Small Canon Search to Your Website

Add a Small Canon Search™ button to my Google Toolbar

Add Small Canon Search™ to my Firefox Search Bar!

Add to Google

Daily Bible Verse

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Green Hosting

5 FREE Domains with Select Hosting Plans. Get yours!