(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 562

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562. I have asked many of the Reformed in the spiritual world, why they did not practice actual repentance, when it was enjoined upon them both in the Word and at baptism, as also before the holy communion in all their churches. They made various replies. Some said that contrition with a lip-confession that they were sinners, is sufficient; some that such repentance, because it takes place while man is acting from his own will, is not consistent with the generally accepted faith. Others said, "How can anyone examine himself, when he knows that he is nothing but sin? This would be like casting a net into a lake filled from bottom to top with mud containing noxious worms." Others said, "Who can look into himself so deeply as to see in himself Adam's sin, from which all his actual evils flow? Are not both kinds of evil washed away by the water of baptism, and removed or covered up by the merit of Christ? What then is repentance but a requirement, which sadly disturbs the conscientious? By the Gospel are we not under grace, and not under the hard law of that repentance?" and so on. Some said, that whenever they undertake to examine themselves, dread and terror fill their minds as if they saw a monster near their bed in the morning twilight. From all this the reasons are made clear why actual repentance in the Reformed Christian world has become rusty, as it were, and is discarded. [2] In the presence of these persons I also asked some who adhered to the Roman Catholic religion about their actual confession to their ministers, whether it was difficult. They replied, that after they had been initiated into it they were not afraid to recount their trespasses to a confessor who was not severe, that they gathered them up with a kind of pleasure, telling the lighter ones cheerfully, and the more serious somewhat timidly; also from habit they freely returned annually to their appointed confession, and, after receiving absolution, to festivity; moreover, that they look upon all who are not willing to disclose the defilements of their hearts, as impure. Hearing this, the Reformed who were present hastened away, some deriding and laughing, some astounded and yet commending. [3] Afterward some drew near who belonged to that same church, but had lived in Protestant countries, who, according to the usage there established, did not make a special confession, as their brethren do elsewhere, but a general confession to one who held the keys for them. These said that they were utterly unable to examine themselves, to trace out and set forth their actual evils and the secrets of their thoughts; and that they felt this to be as repugnant and terrifying as an attempt to cross a ditch to a rampart where an armed soldier stands and cries, "Keep back." From all this it is now clear that actual repentance is easy to those who at times practice it, but is extremely difficult to those who have not practiced it.


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