True Christian Religion, by Emanuel Swedenborg, , tr. by John C. Ager  at sacred-texts.com
It is asked at the present day, why miracles do not take place as formerly; for it is believed that if they were to occur, there would come from everyone a hearty acknowledgment. But miracles are not now wrought as formerly because they compel [belief] and take away man's freedom of choice in spiritual things, and make man natural instead of spiritual. Everyone in the Christian world, since the Lord's coming, has the ability to become spiritual, and he becomes spiritual solely from the Lord through the Word; but the capacity to become so would perish if man were led to believe through miracles, because, as just said, miracles compel and deprive man of freedom of choice in spiritual things; and everything that is compulsory in such matters betakes itself to the natural man, and closes the door, as it were, to the spiritual man, which is the truly internal man, depriving it of all power to see any truth in clear light, with the result that man then reasons about spiritual things from the natural man alone, which sees everything truly spiritual inversely.  But before the Lord's coming miracles were wrought because the men of the church were then natural men, to whom spiritual things, which belong to an internal church, could not be disclosed; for if these had been disclosed they would have been profaned. Therefore all their worship consisted in rituals which represented and signified the internal things of the church; and they could be led to observe these rituals only by means of miracles; and not even, indeed, by means of miracles, because those representatives had in them a spiritual internal, as is evident from the children of Israel in the desert, who, although they had seen so many miracles in Egypt, and afterward that greatest of miracles upon Mount Sinai, still, after Moses' absence for a month, danced around a golden calf, and shouted that it had led them out of Egypt. In the land of Canaan they acted in a like manner, although they witnessed the great miracles wrought by Elijah and Elisha, and finally the truly Divine miracles by the Lord.  Miracles are not wrought at the present day, especially for the reason that the church has deprived man of all freedom of choice. This it has done by decreeing that man is unable to contribute anything whatever toward the acquisition of faith or toward conversion, or in general toward salvation (see above, n. 464). The man who accepts this belief becomes more and more natural; and the natural man, as said above, looks at everything spiritual inversely, and consequently thinks in opposition to it. In this case the higher region of the man's mind, where freedom of choice in spiritual things has its primary seat, is thereby closed up, and the spiritual things which miracles seemingly confirm occupy the lower region of the mind, which is merely natural, and the falsities respecting faith, conversion, and salvation, thus remain above this region, and in consequence it comes to pass that satans have their abode above and angels below, like hawks above chickens. Then after a little while the satans break down their bars, and rush forth with fury upon the spiritual things which hold a place below them, not only denying these, but also blaspheming and profaning them; and the result is that the latter state of man becomes worse than the former.502.
The man who by means of falsities respecting the spiritual things of the church has become natural, must needs think of the Divine omnipotence as superior to order, and thus of a Divine omnipotence without order, in consequence of which he would fall into the following insane thoughts: Why the Lord's advent into the world, and why was redemption effected in that way, when by His omnipotence God could have accomplished the same thing out of heaven as well as upon the earth? Why might He not by redemption have saved the whole human race without an exception? How is it that the devil has since been able to prevail over the Redeemer in man? Why is there a hell? Could not God have blotted out hell by His omnipotence, and cannot He now do so, or else deliver all men from it, and make them angels of heaven? Why a last judgment? Cannot God transfer all the goats from His left to His right, and make them sheep? Why did He cast down the angels of the dragon and the dragon himself from heaven, instead of changing them into angels of Michael? Why does He not to all of these impart faith and impute His Son's righteousness, and thus forgive their sins, and justify, and sanctify them? Why does He not cause the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea to talk, give them intelligence, and introduce them along with men into heaven? Why did He not, or does He not, make the whole world a paradise, with no tree of the knowledge of good and evil and no serpent in it; and where all the hills would flow with generous wine and produce gold and silver naturally, so that all might live therein with jubilee and song, and thus in perpetual festivity and joy, as images of God? Would not such things be worthy of an omnipotent God? Besides other like questions. But, my friend, this is all idle talk. The Divine omnipotence is not without order; God is Himself Order; and all things were created from order, in order, and for order, because they were created from God. There is an order into which man was created, namely, that blessing or curse depends for him upon his freedom of choice in spiritual things; for, as said above, it is impossible to create a man without freedom of choice, nor even a beast, a bird, or a fish. But beasts have only a natural freedom of choice, while man has not only natural freedom of choice but also spiritual freedom of choice.503.
To the foregoing these Memorable Relations shall be added: First: 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.  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."  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. "  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."  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. "  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?  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.504.
Second Memorable Relation: I was once in that interior spiritual sight in which the angels of the superior heaven are, but I was then in the world of spirits. And I saw two spirits not far away, standing apart from each other; and I perceived that one of them loved good and truth, and was thereby in conjunction with heaven, while the other loved evil and falsity, and was thereby in conjunction with hell. I approached and called them; and from their tones and their replies, I gathered that one could perceive truths as well as the other, could acknowledge them when perceived, could thus think from the understanding, and direct his intellectual faculties as he pleased, and his voluntary faculties as he wished; consequently that they were in like freedom of choice in rational matters. I observed, moreover, that from that freedom there appeared in their minds a lucidity extending from their first sight, which was that of perception, to their last, which was that of the eye.  But when the one who loved evil and falsity was left to his own thought, I noticed that a kind of smoke arose from hell, and extinguished that lucidity which was above the memory, so that there was a thick darkness in him there like that of midnight; and also that the smoke ignited and burned like a flame, which illuminated the region of his mind below the memory, and this caused him to think enormous falsities arising from the evils of the love of self. But when the other, who loved good and truth, was left to himself, I saw, as it were, a gentle flame flowing down from heaven, which illuminated the region of his mind above the memory, and also the region below it even to the eye; also that the light from that flame shone brighter and brighter, in proportion as from the love of good he had a perception and thought of the truth. From seeing this, it was made clear to me that every man, good and evil alike, has spiritual freedom of choice, but that hell sometimes extinguishes it in the wicked, while heaven exalts and enkindles it in the good.  Afterward I talked with both of them, first with the one who loved evil and falsity, and when, after a few words about his lot, I mentioned freedom of choice, he fired up, and said, "What madness it is to believe that man has freedom of choice in spiritual things! What man can acquire faith of himself, or do good of himself? Does not the priesthood of today teach from the Word that no man can receive anything unless it be given him from heaven? And the Lord Christ said to His disciples, 'Apart from Me ye can do nothing.' To which I will add, that no man can move hand or foot to do any good, or move his tongue to speak any truth from good. Therefore the church by her wise men has concluded that man can no more will, understand or think anything spiritual, or even adapt himself to willing, understanding, or thinking truth, than a statue, a stock or a stone; and therefore it is God who according to His good pleasure inspires faith, to whom alone belongs most free and unlimited power; and this faith, without any labor or power of ours, under the operation of the Holy Spirit, produces all that the unlearned ascribe to man."  I then talked with the other, who loved good and truth; and when, after a few remarks about his lot, I mentioned freedom of choice, he said, "What madness it is to deny man's freedom of choice in spiritual things! Who is not able to will and do good, and think and speak what is true of himself from the Word, thus from the Lord who is the Word? For He has said, 'Make the fruit good,' and 'Believe in the right,' and 'Love one another,' and 'Love God,' and also, 'Whosoever heareth My precepts and doeth them, loveth Me, and I will love him;' besides thousands of like sayings throughout the Word. What then is the Word good for, if man has no power to will and think, and from that to do and say what is there commanded? Without that power in man, what would religion in the church be but like a wrecked vessel lying at the bottom of the sea, with the captain standing on the very top of the mast and crying out, 'I can do nothing;' while he sees the crew in the small boats with sails spread and sailing away? Was there not given to Adam the freedom to eat of the tree of life, and also of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? And because from his freedom he ate of this latter tree, smoke from the serpent, that is, from hell, entered his mind, on account of which he was cast out of Paradise and cursed. And still he did not lose his freedom of choice, for we read that the way to the tree of life was guarded by a cherub, and unless this had been done, he might still have wished to eat of it."  At these remarks the other, who loved evil and falsity, said, "What I have heard, I pass by; what I before advance I still adhere to. But who does not know that God alone is alive and thus active, while man is of himself dead and therefore merely passive? How can a being who is in himself dead and merely passive take to himself anything living and active?" To this I replied, "Man is an organ of life, and God alone is life; and God pours His life into the organ and into every least part of it; as the sun pours its heat into a tree and every least part of it. It is also God's gift that man should feel that life in himself as if it were his own, and it is God's will that he should so feel it, in order that man as if of himself may live in accordance with the laws of order, which are as numerous as the precepts of the Word, and thus may dispose himself for the reception of God's love. Nevertheless, God perpetually holds with his finger the perpendicular above the scales, and moderates man's freedom of choice, but never violates it by compulsion.  A tree cannot receive anything that the heat of the sun brings to it through its roots, unless it grows warm and is heated in every least fiber; nor can the elements rise up through its roots, unless every least fiber gives out heat from that which it has received, and thus contributes to the passage of those elements. Man does likewise from the heat of life that he receives from God; but unlike a tree, man feels the heat as his own, and yet it is not his own; and while so far as he believes that it is his and not God's, he receives the light of life, he does not receive the heat of love from God, but the heat of love from hell; and this being gross obstructs and closes the purer branchlets of the organism, as impure blood clogs the capillary vessels of the body. Thus man from being spiritual makes himself merely natural.  Man's freedom of choice is from this, that any life in himself is felt as his own, and that God leaves him so to feel in order that a conjunction may be effected between them, which is not possible unless it is reciprocal; and it becomes reciprocal when man acts from freedom altogether as if of himself. If God had not left this to man, he would not be man, neither would he have eternal life; for reciprocal conjunction with God is the cause that man is man, and not a beast, and also that he lives after death to eternity. This is the effect of freedom of choice in spiritual things."  After hearing this, the evil spirit removed to a distance, and then I saw upon a certain tree a flying serpent, such as is called a fiery serpent, which held out to somebody fruit from the tree. I then drew near in spirit to the place, and instead of the serpent a monstrous man was seen there, his face so covered with beard that only his nose was visible; and instead of the tree there was a burning stump, near which stood the man whose mind the smoke had formerly entered, and who had afterwards rejected the idea of freedom of choice in spiritual things. And just then a similar smoke came out of the stump, and enveloped them both; and as they were thus taken out of my sight, I went away. But the other spirit, who loved good and truth, and held that man has freedom of choice in spiritual things, accompanied me home.505.
Third Memorable Relation: I once heard a grating sound like that of two mill-stones grinding on each other; I approached the sound and it ceased. Then I saw a narrow gate leading obliquely downward to a kind of vaulted house, in which were several chambers containing cells, and in each cell sat two persons, who were collecting from the Word proofs of justification by faith alone; one collecting the proofs, and the other writing them down, and this by turns. I approached one cell, which was near the door, and asked, "What are you collecting and writing?" They said, "Concerning the Act of Justification, or Faith in Act, which is faith itself justifying, vivifying and saving, and is the chief doctrine of the church in our part of Christendom. I then said to him, "Tell me some sign of that act, when than faith is brought into the heart and soul of man. " He replied, "The sign of that act appears at the moment that man is overcome by conviction that he is damned, and when in that state of contrition he thinks of Christ as having taken away the condemnation of the law, and lays hold upon this merit of Christ with confidence, and with it in his thought approaches God the Father and prays. "  Then I said, "Thus is the act accomplished, and that is the moment of its accomplishment. But," I asked, "How am I to understand what is said of this act, namely, that nothing pertaining to man concurs in it, any more than if he were a stock or a stone; and in respect to the act man is incapable of beginning, willing, understanding, thinking, operating, co- operating, or applying and adapting himself thereto? Tell me how this agrees with your remarks, that the act takes place when man thinks of the claims of the law, of its condemnation having been taken away by Christ, of the trust with which he lays hold on that merit of Christ's, and with it in his thought, approaches God the Father and prays? Is not all this done by man?" He answered, "It is not done by man actively, but passively."  I answered, "How can any man think, trust and pray passively? Take away from man activity and operation, and do you not also take away receptivity, thus everything, and with everything the act itself? What does your act then become but a purely ideal thing, such as is called an entity of reason? I hope that you do not believe with some, that such an act takes place in the predestined only, who know nothing what ever of the infusion of faith into them. They may throw dice, and in that way determine whether faith has been infused into them or not. Therefore, my friend, believe that man with regard to faith and charity is active of himself from the Lord, and without this activity of man, your act of faith, which you have called the chief doctrine of the church in Christendom, is nothing more than the statue of Lot's wife composed of mere salt, which tinkles when scratched by a scribe's pen or fingernail (Luke 17:32). This I have said, because as to that act of faith you make yourselves like statues." When I said this, he picked up his candlestick, intending to throw it with all his might in my face; but the light going out suddenly, he struck the forehead of his companion, and I went away laughing.506.
"Fourth Memorable Relation: There appeared in the spiritual world two flocks, one of goats and the other of sheep. I wondered who they were, as I knew that the animals seen in the spiritual world were not animals, but correspondences of the affections, and the thoughts therefrom, of those who are there. I therefore drew nearer, and as I approached, the animal forms vanished, and in place of them men were seen; and it became manifest that those who formed the flock of goats were such as had confirmed themselves in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, while those who made up the flock of sheep were those who believed that charity and faith are one, as good and truth are one.  I then spoke with those who appeared as goats, and said, "Why are you thus gathered together?" Most of them were of the clerical order, who gloried in their reputation for learning, because they knew the mysteries of justification by faith alone. They said that they had assembled to hold a council, because they had heard [that some were claiming] that Paul's saying, That a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:28), was not rightly understood, for by faith here [it was claimed] Paul did not mean the faith of the present church, which is a faith in three Divine persons from eternity, but faith in the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ; also that by "the deeds of the law," he did not mean the deeds of the law of the Decalogue, but the deeds of the Mosaic law, which were for the Jews; thus that by a wrong interpretation of those few words, two enormous falsities had been established, one, that Paul here meant the faith of the present church, and the other, that he meant the deeds of the law of the Decalogue. It is clearly evident [these claimed] that Paul meant the works of the Mosaic law, which were for the Jews, and not the works of the Decalogue, from what he said to Peter, whom he accused of Judaizing, although he knew That no one is justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:14-16); "the faith of Jesus Christ" meaning faith in Him and from Him (as may be seen above, n. 338). And because by "the deeds of the law" Paul meant the deeds of the Mosaic law, he distinguished between the law of faith and the law of works, and between the Jews and the Gentiles, or "circumcision" and "uncircumcision," "circumcision" signifying Judaism here as everywhere else. Moreover, Paul closes with these words: Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid; but we establish the law (saying this in connection with the foregoing), (Rom. 3:27-31). Likewise in the preceding chapter: Not the hearers of a law shall be justified before God, but the doers of a law shall be justified (Rom. 2:13); again: God will render to every man according to his deeds (Rom. 2:6); and again: For we must all be made manifest before the judgement-seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done through the body, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10); besides other passages in his writings. From all this it is clear that Paul rejected faith without works, just as James did (2:17-26).  That Paul meant the deeds of the Mosaic law, which were for the Jews, these were still further convinced from the fact that all the statutes written for the Jews in uses are called "the law," thus, "the deeds of the law," as can be seen from the following: This is the law of the meal offering (Lev. 6:14, 18 seq.). This is the law for the burnt offering, for the meal offering, and for the sin offering, and for the guilt offering, and for the consecrations (Lev. 7:37). This is the law of the beast and of the fowl (Lev. 11:46 seq.). This is the law for her that beareth a son or a daughter (Lev. 12:7). This is the law of leprosy (Lev. 13:59; 14:2, 32, 54, 57). This is the law of him that hath an issue (Lev. 15:32). This is the law of jealousy (Num. 5:29, 30). This is the law of the Nazarite (Num. 6:13, 21). This is the law of cleansing (Num. 19:14). This is the law respecting the red heifer (Num. 19:2). The law for the king (Deut. 17:15-19). Indeed, the whole book of Moses is called "the book of the law," Deut. 31:9, 11, 12, 26; also in Luke 2:22; 24:44; John 1:45; 7:22, 23; 8:5.  To this they have also added, that they saw in Paul that men should live according to the law of the Decalogue, and that the law is fulfilled by charity (Rom. 13:8-11); and that he also says: That these are three, faith, hope, charity, and that the greatest of these is charity (1 Cor. 13:13), not faith therefore. For these reasons they said that they had been assembled. But lest I should disturb them I withdrew; and again they appeared at a distance like goats, and sometimes as if lying down, sometimes as if standing, but they turned away from the flock of sheep. They seemed to be lying down when they were deliberating, and to be standing when they had formed their conclusions. But I kept my sight fixed on their horns; and I wondered that those in their foreheads seemed at one time to reach forward and upward, at another to bend backward towards their backs, and finally to turn entirely back. Just then they turned towards the flock of sheep, but still retained the appearance of goats. I therefore approached them again and asked, "what now?" They said they had decided that faith alone produces the goods of charity, as a tree produces fruit. Then thunder was heard, and lightning was seen overhead; and immediately an angel appeared standing between the two flocks; and he cried out to the flock of sheep, "Do not listen to them; they have not receded from their former faith, which is, that faith alone justifies and saves, and actual charity contributes nothing whatever thereto. Faith is not the tree, but man is the tree. But repent, and look to the Lord, and you will have faith. Before that, faith is not a faith that has anything living in it." Then the goats, with their horns turned back, wished to approach the sheep. But the angel standing between them separated the sheep into two flocks; and he said to those on the left, "Join the goats; but I tell you that a wolf is coming, that will carry them off, and you along with them. "  But when the two flocks of sheep had been separated, and those on the left had heard the threatening words of the angel, they looked at one another and said, "Let us speak to our former companions." The left-hand flock then spoke to the right, saying, "Why did you desert our shepherds? Are not faith and charity one, as a tree and its fruit are one? For the tree through its branches is continued into the fruit. Tear from the branch that through which the tree by continuity flows into the fruit, will not the fruit perish, and with it all the seed of any tree to be reproduced from it? Ask our priests if it is not so." They asked the priests, who looked round upon the rest, and these were winking at them to have them say that they had spoken rightly. And the priests then answered, "You have well said; but as to the continuation of faith into good works, like that of a tree into the fruit, we know many mysteries which must not be made known here. In the chain or thread of faith and charity there are many knots, which we priests only are able to untie. "  Then one of the priests from among the sheep on the right arose and said, "They have told you that this is so, but they tell their own that it is not so, because they think differently." Therefore they asked, "How then do they think? Do they not think as they teach?" He answered, "No, they think that any good of charity, which is called a good work, that is done by man for the sake of salvation and eternal life, is not good in the least degree, for the reason that it is the man's wish to save himself by work that he does of himself, appropriating to himself the merit and righteousness of the one Savior; and they claim that it is so with every good work in which man is sensible of his own will. Therefore they assert that there is no conjunction whatever between faith and charity; and that faith is not even retained and preserved by good works."  But those of the left flock said, "You tell lies about them. Do they not openly preach to us charity and the works of charity, which they call works of faith?" He replied, "You do not understand their preaching; only a clergyman who may be present attends to it and understands it. They mean moral charity only, and its civil and political good works, those they call the works of faith, although they are nothing of the kind, for an atheist may do them in the same manner and under the same form. Therefore with one accord they declare that no one is saved by any works, but by faith only. But let this be illustrated by comparisons: An apple tree produces apples; but if a man does good for the sake of salvation, as the tree produces those apples by continuity, then such apples are inwardly rotten and full of worms. They also say that a vine produces grapes; but that if a man were to do spiritual good works as the vine produces grapes, he would produce wild grapes."  Then they asked, "What is the nature of their goods of charity or works, which are the fruits of faith?" He replied, "They regard them, perhaps, as something imperceptible, located somewhere near faith, but having no connection with it, being like the shadow that follows a man when he faces the sun, which shadow he does not notice unless he turns around; or I may say, they are like horses' tails, which are now cut off in many countries; for the people say, 'What is the use of them? They are good for nothing; if they remain on, they are quickly befouled." Hearing this, one from the left flock said, indignantly, "There is certainly some conjunction; otherwise, how can they be called the works of faith? Perhaps the goods of charity are insinuated by God into man's voluntary works by some influx, as by some affection, aspiration, inspiration, incitement, or excitement of the will by tacit perception in thought and exhortation therefrom, by contrition and thus conscience, and the urging thereof, by obedience to the Decalogue and the Word, such as is rendered by a child or a wise man, or by some other similar means. Otherwise, how can they be called the fruits of faith?" To this the priest replied, "Not so; and if they claim that anything is done by such means, they still in their sermons overload it with words which make out that such works are not from faith. Nevertheless, some teach such works, although as signs of faith, and not as the bonds connecting it with charity. And some have divined a conjunction by means of the Word." Some then said, "Is not conjunction so effected?" But he replied, "They do not think that; but only that it is effected by the hearing of the Word; for they maintain that everything of man's rationality and volition in matters of faith is impure and tainted with a sense of merit, since man in spiritual things is no more able to understand, will, operate, or co-operate, than a stock."  But when one of them heard that man is believed to be such in all things pertaining to faith and salvation, he said, "I heard a man say, 'I have planted a vineyard; now I will drink wine until I am drunk.' But another asked him, 'Will you drink the wine from your own cup by your own right hand?' He answered, 'No; but from an unseen cup by an unseen hand.' And the other replied, 'You will certainly not get drunk.'" Presently the same man said, "I pray you, listen to me; I advise you to drink wine from the Word understood. Do you not know that the Lord is the Word? Is not the Word from the Lord? Is He not in it therefore? Consequently, if you do good from the Word, are you not doing it from the Lord, from His lips and will? And if you then look to the Lord, He Himself will lead and teach you, and you will do that good of yourselves from the Lord. Who that does something at the word and mandate of a king, can say, 'This I do from my own word or mandate, and from my own will?'"  He then turned toward the clergy, and said "Ministers of God, do not mislead the flock." Hearing these remarks, the greater part of the flock on the left withdrew, and united with the flock on the right. Then some of the clergy said, "We have heard what we never heard before; we are the shepherds; we will not leave the sheep." And they withdrew also; and they said, "This man spoke a true word. Who that acts from the Word, thus from the Lord, from his lips and will, can say, 'This I do from myself?' Who that acts from the word and will of a king can say, 'This I do from myself?' Now we behold the Divine Providence, why it is that a conjunction of faith and good works, acknowledged by an ecclesiastical society, has not been found. It could not he found, because it could not exist, for there has been no faith in the Lord, who is the Word, and therefore there has been no faith from the Word." But the other priests, who belonged to the flock of goats, went away, waving their caps and shouting, "Faith alone! Long live faith alone!"507.
Fifth Memorable Relation: Once when conversing with the angels, I finally spoke of the lust of evil which is in every man from his birth. One said, "In the world where I am, those who are in lust seem to us angels as if they were infatuated; but to themselves they seem to be consummately wise. Therefore, in order to withdraw them from their infatuation, they are let alternately into it and into the rationality which they possess in externals; but in this latter state although they see, acknowledge, and confess their folly, they long to return from their rational to their foolish state, and they "let themselves down into that state as if they were exchanging what is compulsory and disagreeable for what is free and delightful. Thus it is lust and not intelligence that gives them interior delight.  There are three universal loves, of which every man is by creation composed; love of the neighbor, which is also a love of performing uses, which love is spiritual; love of the world, which is also a love of possessing wealth, which love is material; and love of self, which is also a love of ruling over others, which love is corporeal. Man is truly a man, when love of the neighbor, or love of performing uses, constitutes the head; and love of the world, or love of possessing wealth constitutes the chest and abdomen; while love of self or of ruling over others, forms the feet and the soles of the feet. But when love of the world forms the head, man is merely hunchbacked; while if love of self forms the head, he is not like a man standing on his feet, but like one standing on the palms of his hands with his head down and his posteriors in the air.  When a love of doing forms the head, and the other two form the body and feet in their order, the man appears in heaven with an angelic face and a beautiful rainbow about his head; but if the love of the world or of wealth forms the head, he appears from heaven with a face pale like that of a corpse, and a yellowish circle about the head; and if love of self, or of ruling over others, forms the head, he appears from heaven with a dusky-glowing face and a white circle about the head." Thereupon I asked, "What do the circles about the head represent?" They replied, "They represent intelligence; the white circle about the head with the dusky-glowing face represents that the intelligence of that man is in externals or round about him, while in his internals or within him there is folly; and furthermore, such a man is wise when in the body, but foolish when in the spirit; and no man is wise in spirit except from the Lord, and he becomes such when he is born and created anew by the Lord."  After these remarks the earth was opened toward the left, and I saw rising up through the opening a devil with a dusky, glowing face and a white circle about his head; I asked, "Who are you?" He said, "I am Lucifer, the son of the morning; and because I made myself like unto the Most High, I was cast down, as I am described in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah." He was not that Lucifer, but he believed that he was. I said, "Since you have been cast down, how can you rise again out of hell?" He replied, "There I am a devil; but here I am an angel of light. Do you not see that my head is girt with a white band? You shall also see, if you wish, that I am moral among the moral, rational among the rational, and even spiritual among those who are spiritual. I have also been able to preach." I asked, "How did you preach?" He replied, "Against defrauders, adulterers, and all infernal loves; and then being Lucifer, I even called myself the devil, and against myself I accused him; and for so doing I was borne up to heaven with praises. That is why I have been called the son of the morning. And what astonished myself, when I was in the pulpit I had no thought but that I was speaking rightly and truly. But the cause of this was disclosed to me; namely, that I was in externals, and these were then separated from my internals. But although this was disclosed to me, still I could not change, because I had exalted myself above the Most High, and set myself up against Him."  Finally I asked, "How could you talk so, when you yourself are a defrauder and an adulterer?" He replied, "I am one thing when in externals or in the body, and another when in internals or in spirit. In the body I am an angel, but in spirit a devil; for in the body I am in understanding, but in spirit I am in the will; and the understanding carries me upward, while the will carries me downward. While I am in the understanding a white band encompasses my head; but when the understanding gives itself up wholly to the will, and becomes the will's, which is our final lot, then the band grows black and disappears, and when this takes place, I am no longer able to ascend into this light." But all at once, as he saw the angels with me, his face grew red and his voice excited, and even the band about his head became black, and he sank down to hell through the opening by which he had arisen. From what they had seen and heard, the bystanders came to this conclusion, that a man's quality is such as his will is, not such as his understanding is, since the will easily draws the understanding over to its side and enslaves it.  I then asked the angels, "Whence have the devils rationality?" And they said, "It is from the glory of the love of self, for the love of self is encompassed with a glory, this glory being the resplendence of its fire, and it exalts the understanding almost into the light of heaven. For the understanding in every man is capable of elevation according to his knowledges; but the will can be elevated only by a life according to the truths of the church and of reason. Hence it is that even atheists, who are in the glory of fame from self-love, and thereby in the pride of self-intelligence, enjoy a loftier rationality than many others; but that is when they are in the thought of the understanding, not in the love of the will, and the love of the will possesses the internal man, but the thought of the understanding the external." The angel furthermore explained why man is composed of three loves, namely, the love of use, the love of the world, and the love of self; it is in order that man may think from God, yet wholly as if of himself. He said that the highest things of man's mind were turned upward towards God, the intermediate outward towards the world, and the lowest downward into the body; and because these latter are turned downward, although man thinks from God, he thinks wholly as of himself.508.
Sixth Memorable Relation: One day there appeared to me a magnificent temple, square in form, the roof of which was crown-shaped, arched above and raised round about; its walls were continuous windows of crystal; its door was of a pearly substance. Within, on the south side, towards the west was a pulpit, on the right-hand side of which lay the open Word enveloped in a sphere of light, the splendor of which surrounded and illuminated the whole pulpit. In the center of the temple was a sanctuary, before which there was a veil, at that time raised, and there a golden cherub stood with a sword turning hither and thither in his hand.  While I looked at these things, the significance of each one of them flowed into my meditation: The temple signified the New Church; the door of pearly substance, entrance into it; the windows of crystal, the truths that enlighten it; the pulpit, the priesthood and preaching; the Word lying open upon the pulpit and illuminating the upper part of it, signified the revelation of the internal sense of the Word, which is spiritual; the sanctuary in the center of the temple signified the conjunction of that church with the angelic heaven; the golden cherub therein, the Word in the sense of the letter; the sword waving in his hand signified that this sense can be turned in any direction, provided it is done in adaptation to some truth; the veil before the cherub being raised, signified that the Word is now laid open.  Afterward, when I drew nearer, I saw this inscription above the door, Nunc Licet - It is now permitted - which signified that it is now permitted to enter understandingly into the mysteries of faith. From seeing this inscription it came into my thought that it is exceedingly dangerous to enter with the understanding into dogmas of faith that are concocted out of self-intelligence, and therefore out of falsities, and still more so to confirm them from the Word; by this means the understanding is closed above, and gradually below as well, to such a degree that theology is not only despised but also obliterated from the mind, as writing on paper is by worms, or the wool of a garment by moths. Then the understanding abides only in political matters, which have regard to man's life under the government where he is, and in the civil matters pertaining to his employment, and in the domestic affairs of his own house. And in all these things he constantly kisses nature, and owing to the allurements of her pleasures, loves her as an idolater loves the golden image in his bosom.  Since then, the dogmas of the present Christian churches have not been formed from the Word, but from self-intelligence, and therefore from falsities, and also have been confirmed by certain passages from the Word; by the Lord's Divine Providence the Word among the Roman Catholics has been taken from the laity, and among Protestants has been opened, and yet has been closed by their common declaration that the understanding must be held in obedience to their faith.  But in the New Church the contrary is the case; there it is permitted to enter with the understanding and penetrate into all her secrets, and to confirm them by the Word, because her doctrines are continuous truths laid open by the Lord by means of the Word, and confirmations of these truths by rational means cause the understanding to be opened above more and more, and thus to be raised into the light in which the angels of heaven are. That light in its essence is truth, and in that light acknowledgment of the Lord as the God of heaven and earth shines in its glory. This is what is meant by the inscription Nunc Licet over the door of the temple, and also by the veil of the sanctuary before the cherub being raised. For it is a canon of the New Church, that falsities close the understanding, and that truths open it.  After this I saw above my head something like an infant, holding in his hand a paper. As he drew near to me, he increased to the stature of a medium-sized man. He was an angel from the third heaven, where all at a distance look like infants. When he came to me, he handed me the paper; but as the writing was in rounded letters, such as they have in that heaven, I returned the paper, and asked him to explain to me the meaning of the words there written, in terms adapted to the ideas of my thought. He replied, "This is what is here written: Enter hereafter into the mysteries of the Word, which has been heretofore shut up; for the particular truths therein are so many mirrors of the Lord."509.
CHAPTER 9 REPENTANCE. After treating of Faith, Charity, and Freedom of Choice, next in connection comes Repentance, because without repentance true faith and genuine charity are impossible; and without freedom of choice no man can repent. Repentance is now treated of for the further reason that the subject of Regeneration follows, and no man can be regenerated until the more grievous evils, which render him detestable in the sight of God, are put away, and this is done by means of repentance. What is an unregenerate man but an impenitent one? And is not an impenitent man like one who is in a state of lethargy, who knows nothing of sin, and therefore cherishes it in his bosom, and kisses it every day, as an adulterer kisses a harlot in his bed? But to make clear what repentance is, and what it accomplishes, the treatment of it shall be separated into sections.510.
I. REPENTANCE IS THE FIRST THING OF THE CHURCH IN MAN. The communion called the church consists of all men in whom the church is, and the church enters into man when he is becoming regenerate, and everyone becomes regenerate by abstaining from the evils of sin, and shunning them as one would an infernal horde with torches in hand, endeavoring to overtake him and throw him upon a burning pile. There are many means by which man, as he progresses in his early years, is prepared for the church and introduced into it; but the means whereby the church is established in man are acts of repentance. Acts of repentance are all such things as cause man not to will and consequently not to commit evils, which are sins against God; for until this takes place man stands outside of regeneration, and if any thought respecting eternal salvation should then creep into his mind, he turns toward it, but immediately turns away from it; for it enters the man no further than into the ideas of his thought, and from that goes forth into the words of his speech, and also, it may be, into some gestures conformable to speech. But when such thought enters the will, it is in the man; for the will is the man himself, because in it his love resides, while thought is outside of the man, except when it proceeds from his will, and then will and thought act as one, and both together constitute the man. From this it follows, that, for repentance to be repentance, and to be effective in man, it must be a repentance of the will and from that of the thought, and not of the thought only; therefore that it should be actual repentance, and not merely verbal. That repentance is the first thing of the church, is very evident from the Word. John the Baptist, who was sent beforehand to prepare men for the church which the Lord was about to establish, when he baptized preached at the same time repentance; and therefore his baptism was called the baptism of repentance, for the reason that baptism signified spiritual washing, which is a cleansing from sin. This John did in Jordan, because Jordan signified introduction into the church, for it was the first boundary of the land of Canaan where the church was. The Lord Himself also preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins, teaching thereby that repentance is the first thing of the church, and that so far as man repents his sins are put away, and so far as they are put away, they are forgiven. And still further, the Lord commanded His twelve apostles, and also the seventy whom He sent forth, to preach repentance. From all this it is clear that the first thing of the church is repentance.511.
That the church is not in man until the sins in him have been put away, anyone may conclude from reason, and it may be illustrated by the following comparisons: Who can introduce sheep, and kids and lambs into fields or woods where there are all kinds of wild beasts, before he has driven out the beasts? Who can make a garden out of a piece of ground that is overgrown with thorns, briars, and nettles, before he has rooted out those noxious weeds? Who can establish a mode of administering justice according to judicial practices in a city held by hostile forces, and establish citizenship, before he has expelled those forces? It is the same with evils in man. They are like wild beasts, like thorns and briars, and like hostile forces; and the church can no more have a common abode with evils than a man can dwell in a cage where there are tigers and leopards; or sleep in a bed with poisonous herbs strewed upon it and stuffed into the pillows; or sleep at night in a church, beneath the floor of which are sepulchres containing dead bodies. Would not ghosts infest him there like furies?512.
II. THE CONTRITION, WHICH AT THE PRESENT DAY IS SAID TO PRECEDE FAITH, AND TO BE FOLLOWED BY THE CONSOLATION OF THE GOSPEL, IS NOT REPENTANCE. In the Reformed Christian world a certain kind of anxiety, grief, and terror are spoken of, which they call contrition, which precedes faith in those who are about to be regenerated, and which is followed by the consolation of the Gospel They claim that this contrition in such persons arises from a fear of that just wrath of God and consequent eternal damnation which inheres in every man, owing to the sin of Adam and the resulting proclivity of man to evil; also, that without that contrition, the faith which imputes to man the merit and righteousness of the Lord the Savior, is not bestowed; and that those who have obtained this faith, receive the consolation of the Gospel, which is, that they are justified, that is, renewed, regenerated and sanctified, without any co-operation of their own, and are thus transferred from a state of damnation to one of eternal blessedness, which is life eternal. But respecting this contrition the following questions are to be considered: 1. Is it repentance? 2. Is it of any consequence? 3. Is there such a thing?513.
Whether contrition is repentance or not, may be inferred from the description of repentance given hereafter, where it is shown that repentance is impossible unless man is aware that not only generally but in every least particular he is a sinner; and this no man can know, unless he examines himself, sees the evils that are in him, and condemns himself on account of them. But the contrition that is declared to be necessary to faith, has nothing in common with all this; for it is merely the thought and the confession therefrom, that man is born into the sin of Adam, and into a proclivity to the evils springing from it; consequently, that the wrath of God is upon him, and therefore a well-deserved damnation, doom, and eternal death. From all this it is plain that contrition is not repentance.514.
The next point is, since that contrition is not repentance, is it of any consequence? It is said to contribute to faith as an antecedent to its consequent, although it does not enter into faith and conjoin itself with it by mingling therewith. But what is the faith that follows it, but that God the Father imputes the righteousness of His Son, and then declares man, while he is yet unconscious of any sin, to be righteous, renewed, and holy, and thus clothes him in a robe washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb? And when man walks in this robe, what are the evils of his life but like stones of sulfur thrown into the depths of the sea? And what is then the sin of Adam but something covered over, or set aside, or carried away by the imputed righteousness of Christ? When man, because of that faith, walks in the righteousness and at the same time in the innocence of God the Savior, what is the use of that contrition unless to give him the assurance that he is in Abraham's bosom, and may therefore regard those who have not experienced the contrition that precedes faith as miserable in hell, or as dead, since it is said that those who lack contrition have no living faith? Consequently it may be asserted that when those who have experienced such contrition have sunk or are sinking into damnable evils, they pay no more attention to them, and are no more sensible of them, than pigs lying in muddy gutters of the street are sensible of the stench. Evidently, therefore, such contrition, not being repentance, is of no consequence.515.
The third point to be considered is, Whether apart from repentance there can be any such contrition? In the spiritual world I asked many who had confirmed in themselves a faith imputative of Christ's merit, whether they had experienced any contrition; and they replied, "Why contrition, when from childhood we have believed as a certainty that Christ took away all our sins by His passion? Contrition does not square with this belief; for contrition is a man's casting himself into hell and torturing his conscience, when he knows, nevertheless, that he has been redeemed and thus delivered from hell, and is consequently secure from harm." To this they added, that this law of contrition is a purely fictitious thing accepted in place of the repentance that is so frequently mentioned and also enjoined in the Word; although with the simple, perhaps, who know but little about the Gospel, there is some emotion of mind when they hear or think about the torments of hell. They also said, that the consolation of the Gospel impressed upon their minds from earliest youth so banished contrition, that in their hearts they laughed at the mere mention of it; and that hell could no more strike them with terror than the fires of Vesuvius or Etna could terrify those who live at Warsaw or Vienna, or than the basilisks and vipers in the deserts of Arabia, or the tigers and lions in the forests of Tartary, could terrify those who live in safety, tranquillity, and quiet in some European city; also that the wrath of God excited no more terror or contrition in them than the wrath of the king of Persia would excite in those who live in Pennsylvania. By all this together with rational inferences from their declarations I was convinced that contrition, unless it is repentance such as is hereinafter described, is nothing but a freak of imagination. The reason why the Reformed adopted contrition in place of repentance, was that they might separate themselves from the Roman Catholics, who insist upon repentance and at the same time upon charity; and when they afterward established the doctrine of justification by faith alone, they alleged as their reason for this change, that by repentance, as by charity, something of the man's own, which savored of merit, entered into his faith and blackened it.516.
III. THE MERE LIP-CONFESSION THAT ONE IS A SINNER IS NOT REPENTANCE. On this lip-confession the Reformed who adhere to the Augsburg Confession teach as follows: "No man can ever know his sins; wherefore they cannot be enumerated; moreover, they are interior and hidden, so that a confession of them would be false, uncertain, maimed and mutilated; but he who confesses himself to be nothing but sin, includes all sins, excludes none, and forgets none. Still the enumeration of sins, although not necessary, is not to be done away with, out of regard for tender and timid consciences; but this is only a childish and common form of confession for simpler and ruder people" (Formula Concordiae, pages 327, 331, 380). But by the Reformed, after they had separated from the Roman Catholics, this confession was adopted in place of actual repentance, because it is based upon their imputative faith, which alone apart from charity, and thus apart from repentance also, works the forgiveness of sins and regenerates man; it is based also upon this, which is an inseparable appendix to that faith, that there is no co-operation on man's part with the Holy Spirit in the act of justification; also upon this, that man has no freedom of choice in spiritual things; and again upon this, that all things depend upon mercy apart from means, and nothing what ever is effected mediately by or through man.517.
Among the many reasons why the mere lip-confession of being a sinner is not repentance, is this, that everyone, an impious man or even a devil, may make that declaration, and this with external devotion, when he thinks of the torments of hell, either those present or impending. But who does not see that this is not from any internal devotion, consequently that it is imaginary and therefore a matter of the lungs, and not a matter of the will from within, and thus of the heart? For an impious man and a devil still burn inwardly with the lusts of the love of doing evil, by which they are moved like windmills given by strong winds; therefore such a declaration is nothing but a contrivance to cheat God for the sake of deliverance or to deceive the simple. For what is easier than to compel the lips to cry out, and the breath of the mouth to adapt itself thereto, to turn up the eyes and raise the hands? This is the same as what the Lord says in Mark: Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you, hypocrites, This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me (7:6); and in Matthew: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they are full with extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter that the outside may be clean also (23:25, 26; and more in the same chapter).518.
In a like hypocritical worship are those who have confirmed in themselves the faith of the present church, that the Lord by the passion of the cross took away all the sins of the world, meaning thereby the sins of every man, if only they pray according to the formularies about propitiation and mediation. Some of them can pour forth from the pulpit, with loud voices and apparently burning zeal, many holy utterances about repentance and charity, while they deem both of these useless in respect to salvation; for by repentance they mean no other than lip-confession, and by charity that charity only that pertains to public life; but this they do to please the people. It is such who are meant by these words of the Lord: Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied by Thy name? and in Thy name done many mighty works? But then will I profess unto them, I know you not; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:22, 23). In the spiritual world I once heard a man praying after this manner: "I am full of sores, leprous, unclean from my mother's womb; there is not a sound spot in me from my head to the sole of my foot; I am not worthy to raise my eyes towards God; I am deserving of death and eternal damnation; have mercy upon me for the sake of Thy Son; purify me in His blood; on Thy good pleasure depends the salvation of all; I implore mercy." Hearing him pray thus, the bystanders asked, "How do you flow that you are such?" He replied, "I know it because I have heard so." But he was then sent to angelic examiners, before whom he spoke in the same way; and these, after examination, reported that he had spoken the truth about himself, and yet without knowing a single evil in himself, because he had never examined himself, but had believed that after lip-confession evils were no longer evils in the sight of God, both because God turns His eyes away from them, and because He has been propitiated. In consequence of this he had not come to a sense of any evil, although he was a willful adulterer, a thief, a wily detractor, and intensely revengeful; such he was in heart and will, and therefore would be such in word and deed did not the fear of the law and of the loss of reputation restrain him. After he was found to be such, he was judged and sent away to the hypocrites in hell.519.
The character of such may be illustrated by comparisons. They are like temples where only the spirits of the dragon, and those who are meant by "locusts" in the Apocalypse, are congregated; and they are like the pulpits therein, where the Word is not because it is put beneath the feet. They are like plastered walls with the plaster beautifully colored, but within them when the windows are opened, owls and direful night birds are flying about. They are like whitened sepulchres which contain dead men's bones. They are like coins made of the dregs of oil or of dried dung covered with gold. They are like the bark and wood fiber covering rotten wood; like the garments of Aaron's sons about a leprous body; and even like ulcers containing pus covered over with a thin skin, and supposed to be healed. Who does not know that a holy external and a profane internal do not accord? Such also are more afraid than others to examine themselves; therefore they are no more sensible of the viciousness within them, than they are of the pungent and ill-smelling substances in their stomachs and bowels before they are cast out into the draught. But it must be remembered that those here spoken of are not to be confounded with those who do well and believe rightly, nor with those who repent of some sins, and when worshiping, and still more when in spiritual temptation, speak within themselves or pray from a like oral confession; for such a general confession both precedes and follows reformation and regeneration.520.
IV. MAN IS BORN [WITH AN INCLINATION] TO EVILS OF EVERY KIND; AND UNLESS HE TO SOME EXTENT REMOVES HIS EVILS BY REPENTANCE, HE REMAINS IN THEM; AND HE WHO REMAINS IN EVILS, CANNOT BE SAVED. That every man is born [with an inclination] to evils, so that he is nothing but evil from his mother's womb, is well known in the church; and it has become known because it has been handed down by the councils and leaders of the churches, that the sin of Adam was transmitted to all his posterity; and that for this sin alone every man after him has been damned along with him; and that it is this sin that is inherent in every man by birth. On this assertion, moreover, other things taught by the churches are based, as that the washing of regeneration, which is called baptism, was instituted by the Lord in order that this sin might be removed; that this was the reason for the Lord's coming; and that faith in His merit is the means whereby it is removed, besides other doctrines which have been based by the churches upon this assertion. But that there is no inherited evil from that origin can be seen from what has been shown above (n. 466, seq.), that Adam was not the first man, but that the story of Adam and his wife representatively describes the first church on this earth -the garden of Eden its wisdom, the tree of life its looking to the Lord who was to come, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil its looking to self and not to the Lord. That this church is what is representatively described by the first chapters of Genesis has been clearly proven by many parallel passages from the Word in the Arcana Coelestia, published at London. When these things are understood and accepted the opinion heretofore entertained that the evil innate in man from his parents is from that source falls to the ground, for that evil has a different origin. In the chapter on Freedom of Choice it has been fully shown that the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are in every man, and that they are said to be located in a garden to signify man's freedom of choice to turn to the Lord or to turn away from Him.521.
But, my friend, parents are the only source of inherited evil; not the evil itself which a man actually commits, but the inclination thereto. Everyone who combines reason and experience will acknowledge that this is so. Who does not know that children are born with a general resemblance to their parents in features, manners, and disposition, and even grandchildren and great-grandchildren with a resemblance to grandparents and great-grandparents; also that many are able thus to distinguish families from each other, and even nations, as Africans from Europeans, Neapolitans from Germans, Englishmen from Frenchmen, and so on? Who does not recognize a Jew by his face, eyes, speech and gestures? And if you were sensible of the sphere of life flowing out from the native genius of everyone, you would in like manner be convinced of the resemblance of dispositions and minds.  From all this it follows, that man is not born into actual evils, but only into an inclination to evils, but with a greater or lesser proclivity towards particular evils; consequently after death man is not judged from any inherited evil, but from the actual evils which he himself has committed. This is also evident from the following statute of the Lord: The father shall not die for the son, and the son shall not die for the father; everyone shall die for his own sin (Deut. 24:16). This was made certain to me in the spiritual world from the state of those who die in infancy; in that they have only an inclination to evils, and thus favor them in will, but do not commit them; for they are educated under the auspices of the Lord and are saved.  The aforesaid inclination and proclivity to the evils that are transmitted by parents to children and their posterity, are broken only by the new birth from the Lord, which is called regeneration. Without this, that inclination not only continues uninterrupted, but is also increased by successive parents, and becomes a stronger proclivity to evil, and at length a proclivity to every kind of evil. It is from this that the Jews are still images of their father Judah, who took a Canaanitish woman to wife, and committed adultery with Tamar his daughter-in-law, and thus begat three branches of them. Therefore, this inherited disposition has in process of time so increased in them that they are still unable to embrace the Christian religion with a hearty faith. They are said to be unable to do so, because the interior will of their minds is adverse thereto, and this adverse will is the cause of their inability.522.
That all evil, unless removed, remains in man, and that man cannot be saved if he remains in his evils, follows of itself. That no evil can be removed except by the Lord, and except in those who believe in Him and love the neighbor, can be clearly seen from what has already been said, especially from the following in the chapter on Faith. The Lord, charity, and faith make one, like life, will, and understanding, and if they are divided, each perishes like a pearl reduced to powder. And from this: The Lord is charity and faith in man, and man is charity and faith in the Lord. But it is asked, How can man enter into this union? The reply is, that he cannot, unless to some extent he removes his evils by repentance. It is said that man must remove them, because this is not done by the Lord directly, apart from man's co-operation; which is also fully shown in that same chapter, and in that following on Freedom of Choice.523.
It is asserted that no man can fulfil the law, and the less so, since he who trespasses against one commandment of the Decalogue trespasses against all. But the meaning of this assertion is different from its sound, for it is to be understood thus, that he who purposely or deliberately acts contrary to one commandment, acts contrary to the rest, since to so act from purpose and deliberation is to deny utterly that it is sin, and when it is said to be sin, to reject the statement as of no account; and he who so denies and rejects the idea of sin gives no thought to anything that is called sin. Those who are unwilling to hear anything about repentance come into this fixed attitude of mind; but on the other hand, those who by repentance have removed some evils that are sins, come into a settled purpose to believe in the Lord and love the neighbor. Such are kept by the Lord in the purpose to refrain from other evils; and if therefore from ignorance or some over-powerful lust, they are led to commit sin, it is not imputed to them, because they did not commit it deliberately, and do not confirm it in themselves. This may be confirmed by the following facts: In the spiritual world I have met with many who in the natural world had lived like others, dressing finely, feasting delicately, making money by trading like others, attending theaters, joking about lovers as if from licentiousness, and doing other like things; and yet the angels charged these things upon some as evils of sin, and not upon others, declaring the latter innocent, but the former guilty. Being asked the reason of this, since all had done the same things, they replied, that all are viewed by them from their purpose, intention, and end, and are distinguished accordingly; and therefore they excuse or condemn those whom the end excuses or condemns, since good is the end of all in heaven, and evil the end of all in hell.524.
But these statements shall be illustrated by comparisons: The sins an impenitent man holds fast to may be compared to various diseases in him, from which, he dies unless remedies are applied and the malignities thereby removed. They may be compared especially to the disease called gangrene, which unless healed in time, spreads, and causes inevitable death; in like manner to boils and abscesses, unless they break out or are opened; for from them empyemata or collections of pus will be diffused into the neighboring parts, from these into adjoining viscera, and finally into the heart, from which comes death.  These sins may also be compared to tigers, leopards, lions, wolves, and foxes, which unless kept in dens or bound with chains or ropes, would attack the flocks and herds and kill them as the fox does poultry; also to poisonous serpents, which unless held tight with sticks, or deprived of their teeth, would inflict deadly wounds upon man. A whole flock, if left in fields where there are poisonous herbs, instead of being led by the shepherd to safe pastures; would perish. So the silk-worm would perish, and all silk with it, unless other worms were kept from the leaves of its tree.  These sins may also be compared to grain in granaries or barns, which would be rendered musty and rotten and thus useless, if the air were not permitted to pass freely through it, and remove whatever is injurious. If a fire were not quenched at the very outset, it might lay waste a whole city or forest. Thorns, briars, and thistles would take full possession of a garden unless rooted out. Gardeners know that a tree sprung from a bad seed and root conveys its bad sap to the branch of a good tree budded or engrafted upon it, and that the bad sap which comes up is turned into good sap, and produces useful fruit. And the like takes place in man through the removal of evil by means of repentance; for man is thereby engrafted into the Lord as a branch into a vine, and bears good fruit (John 15:4-6).525.
V. RECOGNITION OF SIN AND THE DISCOVERY OF SOME SIN IN ONESELF, IS THE BEGINNING OF REPENTANCE. No man in the Christian world can be without recognition of sin, for everyone is taught from infancy what evil is, and from childhood what the evil of sin is. All youths learn this from parents and teachers, also from the Decalogue (which is the primary instruction given to all within Christendom), also, in their subsequent progress, from preaching at church and instruction at home, and in fullness from the Word; and furthermore from the civil laws of justice, which teach the same things as are taught in the Decalogue and other parts of the Word. For the evil of sin is no other than evil against the neighbor, and evil against the neighbor is also evil against God, which is sin. But recognition of sin effects nothing until a man examines the actions of his life, and sees whether he has secretly or openly done any such thing. Until then, there is nothing but knowledge, and what the preacher then says is a mere sound going in at the left ear and out at the right, and finally it becomes a mere matter of thought and something devout in the breathing, and with many merely imaginative and chimerical. But it is wholly different if man, according to what he recognizes as sin, examines himself, discovers something in himself, says to himself, "This evil is a sin," and from fear of eternal punishment abstains from it. Then what has been said in churches in the way of instruction and devotion is first received by both ears, is communicated to the heart, and from a pagan the man becomes a Christian.526.
Can there be anything better known in the Christian world than that man ought to examine himself? For everywhere in empires and kingdoms, whether in those adhering to the Roman Catholic or to the Evangelical religion, before approaching the holy supper, men are taught and admonished to examine themselves, to recognize and acknowledge their sins, and to live a new and different life. In the English dominions this exhortation is accompanied with fearful threatenings, where, from the address preceding the communion, the following is read and proclaimed by the priest from the altar: "The way and means" to become a worthy partaker of the holy supper, "is first to examine the deeds and conversations of your life by the rule of God's commandments, and whereinever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinful nature, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God but also against your neighbor, then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto him, being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other, and being likewise ready to forgive others that have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God's hand; for otherwise the receiving of the holy communion does nothing else but increase your damnation. Therefore if any of you be a blasphemer of God, a hinderer or slanderer of His Word, an adulterer, or be in malice or envy, or in any other grievous crime, repent ye of your sin, or else come not to that holy table, lest after the taking of that holy sacrament, the devil enter into you as he entered into Judas, and fill you full of all iniquity, and bring you to destruction both of body and soul."527.
Yet there are some who cannot examine themselves, such as infants, boys and girls before they arrive at the age when they are capable of self-examination, also the simple minded, who are not capable of reflection; and again, all those who have no fear of God, and beside these some who are sick in mind and body; and above all those who are confirmed in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which imputes Christ's merit to man, and who have persuaded themselves, that by such examination and repentance something of man would enter, which would destroy faith, and thus would banish and reject salvation from its one only abiding-place. To all such a mere lip-confession is serviceable. That this is not repentance has been shown above in this chapter.  But those who know what sin is, and still more those who know many things from the Word and teach them, and yet do not examine themselves, and consequently see no sin in themselves, may be likened to those who scrape up wealth and lay it up in chests and coffers, making no further use of it than to look at it and count it; also to those who gather into their treasuries jewels of gold and silver, or hide them in vaults, for the mere sake of being rich. Such are like the trader who hid his talent in the earth, and like him who hid his pound in a napkin (Matt. 25:25; Luke 19:20). They are also like the hard wayside and the stony places upon which the seed fell (Matt. 13:4, 5). Also like fig trees full of leaves but bearing no fruit (Mark 11:13). They are the hearts of adamant, which do not become hearts of flesh (Zech. 7:12). They are like the partridges which gather and bring not forth; they get riches, but not with judgment; they leave them in the midst of their days, and at their end become fools (Jer. 17:11). They are like the five virgins who had lamps but no oil (Matt. 25:1-12).  Those who acquire from the Word much about charity and repentance, and who have abundant knowledge of its teachings, and yet do not live in accordance therewith, may be compared to gluttons, who stuff their food into their mouths in chunks, and swallow it without chewing, so that it remains undigested in the stomach, and when it passes out vitiates the chyle, and brings on lingering diseases, from which they finally die a miserable death. And as such are without spiritual heat, however much light they may possess, they may be called winters, frozen grounds, arctic climates, and even fields of snow and ice.528.
ACTUAL REPENTANCE IS EXAMINING ONESELF, RECOGNIZING AND ACKNOWLEDGING ONE'S SINS, PRAYING TO THE LORD, AND BEGINNING A NEW LIFE. That man ought by all means to repent, and that his salvation depends thereon, is evident from many passages and plain sayings of the Lord in the Word, from among which the following shall at present be mentioned: John preached the baptism of repentance, and said, Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:3, 8; Mark 1:4). Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent (Matt. 4:17). And He said, Because the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent ye (Mark 1:14, 15). Again: Except ye repent, ye shall all perish (Luke 13:5). Jesus commanded His disciples, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations (Luke 24:47; Mark 6:12). Therefore Peter preached repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Luke 2:38). And he also said: Repent ye and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19). Paul preached that they should all everywhere repent (Acts 18:30). Paul also declared in Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance (Acts 26:20). Again he testified both to Jews and to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). The Lord said to the church at Ephesus: I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first charity; repent, but if not I will move thy lampstand out of its place, except thou repent (Rev. 2:4, 5). To the church at Pergamos: I know thy works, repent (Rev. 2:13, 16). To the church at Thyatira: I will cast her into great affliction, except they repent of their works (Rev. 2:19, 22, 23). To the church of the Laodiceans: I know thy works, be zealous, and repent (Rev. 3:15, 19). There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:7). (Beside other passages.) From all this it is clear that men ought by all means to repent; but the quality and mode of their repentance shall be shown in what follows.529.
Cannot any man understand, from the reason given him, that the mere lip-confession of being a sinner is not repentance, or the recounting of various particulars in regard to it, as the hypocrite did who was mentioned above (n. 518)? For what is easier for a man when he is in trouble and agony, than to utter sighs and groans from his lungs and lips, and also to beat his breast and make himself guilty of all sins, and still not be conscious of any sin in himself? Do the diabolical horde who then occupy his loves, depart along with his sighs? Do they not rather hiss at those things, and remain in him as before, as in their own house? From this it is clear that such repentance is not what is meant in the Word; but repentance from evil works, as is said.530.
The question therefore is, How ought man to repent? And the reply is, Actually; that is to say, he must examine himself, recognize and acknowledge his sins, pray to the Lord, and begin a new life. That without examination repentance is not possible, has been shown in the preceding section. But of what use is examination except that one may recognize his sins? And why should he recognize his sins, except that he may acknowledge that they are in him? And of what use are these three things, except that man may confess his sins before the Lord, pray for help, and then begin a new life, which is the end sought? This is actual repentance. That man ought so to proceed and do, everyone may know (after he has passed the first period of life, and more and more as he comes under his own control and into the exercise of his own reason) first, from his baptism, the washing of which means regeneration; for in baptism his sponsors have promised for him that he will reject the devil and all his works, and also from the holy supper, for all are forewarned that before they can worthily approach it, they must repent of their sins, turn to God, and enter upon a new life; and still further, from the Decalogue or Catechism which is in the hands of all Christians, where, in six of the commandments nothing is commanded but that they should not do what is evil. And unless evils are removed by repentance, man cannot love his neighbor, still less God; yet on these two commandments hang the law and the prophets, that is, the Word, consequently salvation. If at recurring seasons there is actual repentance, as often, for instance, as a man prepares for the communion of the holy supper, and if he afterward abstains from one or another sin which he then discovers in himself, this is sufficient to initiate him into the actuality [of the repentance], and when he is in that he is on the way to heaven, for he then from being natural begins to be spiritual, and to be born anew from the Lord.531.
This may be illustrated by the following comparisons. Before repentance man is like a desert where there are terrible wild beasts, dragons, owls of various kinds, vipers and poisonous serpents, and in the thickets are the ochim and the tziim, and there satyrs dance. But when these have been cast out by the industry and labor of man, that desert may be ploughed and made ready for planting, and sown first with oats, beans, and flax, and afterward with barley and wheat. Man before repentance may also be compared to the wickedness that reigns so largely among men where the wicked are not corrected according to law and punished by stripes or death, in which case no city, nor any kingdom even, could continue. Man is like a miniature society; unless he deals with himself in a spiritual manner, as the wicked in society at large are dealt with in a natural manner, after death he will be corrected and punished until he ceases to do evil for fear of the penalty, although he can never be brought to do good from the love of good.532.
VII. TRUE REPENTANCE IS EXAMINING, NOT ONLY THE ACTIONS OF ONE'S LIFE, BUT ALSO THE INTENTIONS OF ONE'S WILL. True repentance is examining, not only the actions of one's life, but also the intentions of one's will, for the reason that the acts are done by the understanding and will; for man speaks from his thought, and acts from his will; therefore speech is the thought speaking, and action is the will acting. And this being the source of words and deeds, it follows indubitably that it is will and thought that sin when the body sins. Man can indeed repent of evils that he has done in body, and still think and will evil; but this is like cutting off the trunk of a bad tree, and leaving its root in the ground, from which the same bad tree grows up again, and spreads forth its branches. But it is different when the root also is torn up; and this is done in man when he examines the intentions of his will, and puts away his evils by repentance. Man examines the intentions of his will when he examines his thoughts, for in these the intentions make themselves manifest; as, for example, when his thought, will, and intention incline to revenge, adultery, theft, false witness, and to lust therefore, also to blasphemy against God and the holy Word and the church, and so on; if he continues to direct his attention to this, and to inquire whether he would actually commit these evils if fear of the law and for his reputation did not hinder; and if after this scrutiny he determines that he will not will to do these things, because they are sins, he truly and interiorly repents; and still more when these evils are delightful to him, and he is free to do them, and yet resists and abstains. He who practices this repeatedly, perceives the delights of evil, when they return, as undelightful, and finally he condemns them to hell. This is what is meant by these words of the Lord: Whoever wisheth to find his soul shall lose it; and whoever would lose his soul for My sake shall find it (Matt. 10:39). He that puts away the evils of his will, by such repentance, is like one who in due time plucks up the tares sown in his field by the devil, so that the seed implanted by the Lord God the Savior finds a clear soil and grows to a harvest (Matt. 13:24-30).533.
There are two loves which have long been enrooted in the human race, the love of ruling over all, and the love of possessing the goods of all. The former love, if free rein is given to it, rushes on even so far as to wish to be the God of heaven; and the latter, if free rein is given to it, rushes on even so far as to wish to be the God of the world. To these two loves are subordinated all other evil loves, of which there are hosts; but to examine these two is exceedingly difficult, because they reside most deeply within and hide themselves; for they are like vipers concealed in a cloven rock, which retain their poison, so that when one lies down upon the rock they give their deadly stroke, and again withdraw to their hiding-place. They are also like the sirens of the ancients, who allured men by their song, and by that means slew them. These two loves also decorate themselves in splendid attire, as a devil by magical hallucinations does among his own, or among those whom he wishes to delude.  But it must be clearly understood that these two loves may bear rule among the humble more than among the great, among the poor more than among the rich, among subjects more than among kings; for the latter classes are born to dominion and wealth, and these they at length come to regard in the same way as any other man, a governor, a director, a sea captain, or even a poor farmer, regards his servants and possessions. It is different, however, with kings who aspire to dominion over the kingdoms of others.  The intentions of the will must be examined, because in the will the love resides, for the will is its receptacle, as shown above. From the will every love breathes out its delights into the perceptions and thoughts of the understanding, for these act from the will and not at all from themselves, because they wait on the will and consent to and confirm all that pertains to its love. The will therefore is the very house in which the man dwells, and the understanding is the hall through which he goes out and in. This is why it has been said that the will's intentions must be examined; and when these have been examined and removed, man is lifted out of the natural will in which both inherited and actual evils have their seat, into the spiritual will through which the Lord reforms and regenerates the natural, and by means of this again, what is sensual and voluntary in the body, thus the whole man.534.
Those who do not examine themselves, are comparatively like invalids whose blood is vitiated by the closing of the capillary vessels, which causes atrophy, numbness of the limbs, and painful chronic diseases arising from a thickening, tenacity, acridness, and acidity of the humors, and consequently of the blood. But on the other hand, those who examine themselves even as to the intentions of the will, are like those who have been cured of these diseases, and restored to the life they enjoyed in youth. Those who examine themselves properly, are like ships from Ophir laden with gold, silver, and valuables; but before they have examined themselves they are like ships loaded with filth, such as are used to carry off the mud and ordure of the streets. Those who examine themselves interiorly become like mines, all the walls of which are resplendent with ores of precious metals; but before this, they are like marshes with foul exhalations, containing snakes and poisonous serpents with glittering skins and noxious insects with shining wings. Those who do not examine themselves are like the dry bones in the valley; but after they have examined themselves, they are like these same bones when the Lord Jehovah had laid sinews upon them, caused flesh to come upon them, covered them with skin, and put breath in them, and they lived (Ezek. 37:1-14).535.
VIII. THOSE ALSO REPENT WHO ALTHOUGHT THEY DO NOT EXAMINE THEMSELVES, YET REFRAIN FROM EVILS BECAUSE THEY ARE SINS; AN THOS WHO FROM RELIGION DO THEWOKS OF CHARITY EXERICSE SUCH REPENTANCE. Since actual repentance, which is examining oneself recognizing and acknowledging one's sins, praying to the Lord and beginning a new life, is in the Reformed Christian world exceedingly difficult for many reasons that will be given in the last section of this chapter, therefore an easier kind of repentance is here presented, which is, that when anyone is giving thought to any evil and intending it, he shall say to himself, "Although I am thinking about this and intending it, I will not do it because it is a sin." By this means the temptation injected from hell is checked, and its further entrance prevented. It is strange that anyone can find fault with another for his evil intentions, and say, "Do not do that because it is a sin," and yet find it difficult to say this to himself; but this is because the latter touches the will, but the former only the thought nearest to hearing. Inquiry was made in the spiritual world as to who were capable of this [actual] repentance, and they were found to be as few as doves in a vast desert. Some said that they could repent in the easier way; but were not able to examine themselves and confess their sins before God. All who do good from religion, avoid actual evils, but they very rarely reflect upon the interiors pertaining to the will, for they believe that they are not in evil because they are in good, and even that the good covers the evil. But, my friend, the first thing of charity is to shun evils. This is taught in the Word, the Decalogue, baptism, the holy supper and even by the reason; for how can anyone flee away from evils and banish them without some self-inspection? And how can good become good until it has been interiorly purified? I know that all pious men, and also all men of sound reason, will assent to this when they read it, and will see it as genuine truth; but still, that few will act accordingly.536.
And yet all who do good from religion, not only Christians, but even pagans, are accepted and after death adopted by the Lord; for the Lord said: I was an hungered, and ye gave Me to eat; I was thirsty and ye gave Me to drink; I was a sojourner, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick, and ye visited Me I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. And He said, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of My brethren, even the least, ye did it unto Me. Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:31 seq.). To this I will add the following, which is new: All those who do good from religion, after death reject the doctrine of the present church respecting three Divine persons from eternity, and also its faith as applied to the three in their order. These turn to the Lord God the Savior, and accept with pleasure what belongs to the New Church.  But the rest, who have not exercised charity from religion, have hearts of adamant, that is, hardened hearts. They first approach three Gods, then the Father alone, and finally no God. They look upon the Lord God the Savior as the son of Mary only, born from marriage with Joseph, and not as the Son of God; and then they discard all the goods and truths of the New Church, and straightway connect themselves with the spirits of the dragon, and with them are driven away into deserts or into caverns on the very confines of what is called the Christian world; and after a time, because they are separated from the New Heaven, they rush into crime, and are therefore sent down to hell.  Such is the lot of those who do not do works of charity from religion, because of their belief that no one is able to do good of himself, except such as he claims merit for; consequently they disregard such works, and associate themselves with the goats, who are damned and cast into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, because they have not done what was done by the sheep (Matt. 25:41-46). It is not there said that they did what is evil, but that they did not do what is good; and those who do not do what is good from religion do what is evil, since: No man can serve two masters; for either he hates the one and loves the other, or he holds to the one and despises the other (Matt. 6:24). Jehovah says through Isaiah: Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; then although your sins have been as scarlet, they shall become as white as snow; although they have been red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa. 1:16-18). And in Jeremiah: Stand in the gate of Jehovah's house, and proclaim there this word, Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, The temple of Jehovah, this is the temple of Jehovah (that is, the church). Will ye steal, murder, and swear falsely, and then come and stand before Me in this house, upon which My name is named, and say, We are delivered while we do all these abominations? Is this house become a den of robbers? Behold, even I have seen it, saith Jehovah (Jer. 7:2-4, 9-11).537.
It must be understood that those who do good from natural goodness only, and not also from religion, are not accepted after death, because there is only natural good in their charity, and not spiritual good also; and it is the spiritual that conjoins the Lord to man, and not the natural apart from the spiritual. Natural goodness belongs to the flesh merely, being acquired by birth from parents; but spiritual goodness belongs to the spirit born anew from the Lord. Those who do the good works of charity from religion, and consequently do not commit evil, before they have accepted the doctrine of the New Church concerning the Lord, may be likened to trees that bear good fruit, although but little, and also to trees that bear excellent small fruit, which are nevertheless cared for in gardens. They may also be likened to olive trees and fig-trees in forests, and again to fragrant herbs and balsamic shrubs on hills. They are like little chapels or houses of God, where pious worship is performed; for they are the sheep on the right hand, and the rams which the goats assault, according to Daniel (8:2-14). In heaven such are clothed in garments of a red color, and when they have been initiated into the goods of the New Church they are clothed with garments of a purple color, which acquire a beautiful golden glow in proportion as they also receive truths.538.
IX. CONFESSION OUGHT TO BE MADE BEFORE THE LORD GOD THE SAVIOR, FOLLOWED BY SUPPLICATION FOR HELP AND THE POWER TO RESIST EVILS. The Lord God the Savior is to be approached because He is the God of heaven and earth, the Redeemer and Savior, to whom omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, mercy itself, and also justice, belong; also because man is His creature and the church is His sheepfold; also because in the New Testament He frequently commands men to approach, worship, and adore Him. That He alone is to be approached He has enjoined in the following words in John: Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not through the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber; but he that entereth in through the door is the shepherd of the sheep, I am the door, through Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall find pasture. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have abundance. I am the good shepherd (John 10:1-2, 9-11). That man is not "to climb up some other way" means that he is not to approach God the Father, because He is invisible and therefore inaccessible, and conjunction with Him is impossible; and this is why He Himself came into the world, and made Himself visible and accessible, and conjunction with Him possible; which was done solely that man might be saved. For unless in thought God is approached as a Man, every idea of God perishes; it falls as sight does when directed out upon the universe, that is, into empty nothingness, or into nature, or into what is met within nature. That God Himself, who from eternity is One, came into the world, is clearly evident from the birth of the Lord the Savior, in that He was conceived by the power of the Most High through the Holy Spirit, and from this conception His Human was born of the virgin Mary; from which it follows, that His soul was the Divine Itself that is called the Father (for God is indivisible); and that the Human born therefrom is the Human of God the Father, which is called the Son of God (Luke 1:32, 34, 35). From this again it follows that when the Lord God the Savior is approached, God the Father is approached also; therefore, to Philip asking Him to show them the Father, He replied: He that seeth Me seeth the Father; how sayest thou then, show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me (John 14:6-11). But on these points more may be seen in the chapters on God; the Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity.539.
There are two duties incumbent on man, to be done after examination, namely, supplication and confession. The supplication should be that the Lord may be merciful, that He may give power to resist the evils that have been repented of, and that He will provide inclination and affection for doing good, Since apart from the Lord man can do nothing (John 15:5). The confession will be that he sees, recognizes, and acknowledges his evils, and finds himself to be a miserable sinner. There is no need for man to enumerate his sins before the Lord, nor to supplicate forgiveness of them. He need not enumerate them, because he has searched them out and seen them in himself, and consequently they are present to the Lord because they are present to himself. Moreover, the Lord led him to search them out, disclosed them, and inspired grief for them, and together with this an effort to refrain from them and begin a new life. Supplication need not be made to the Lord for forgiveness of sins, for the following reasons: First, because sins are not abolished, but removed; and they are removed so far as man continues to refrain from them and enters upon a new life; for there are innumerable lusts inherent, coiled up as it were, in every evil, and they cannot be put away instantly, but only gradually, as man permits himself to be reformed and regenerated. The second reason is, that as the Lord is mercy itself, He forgives all men their sins, nor does He impute a single sin to anyone, for He says, "They know not what they do." Nevertheless, the sins are not thereby taken away; for to Peter asking how often he should forgive his brother's trespasses, whether he should do so seven times, the Lord said: I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21-22). What, then, will not the Lord do? Still it does no harm for one burdened in conscience to enumerate his sins before a minister of the church, in order to lighten his burden and obtain absolution; because he is thereby initiated into a habit of examining himself, and reflecting upon each day's evils. But this kind of confession is natural, while that described above is spiritual.