(BE) - A Brief Exposition of the Teachings for the New Church Meant by the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation

BE 46

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What nation is there in the whole world, which has religion and sound reason, that does not know and believe, that there is one God, and that to do evils is contrary to Him, and that to do goods is with Him, and that man must do this from his soul, from his heart, and from his strength, although they inflow from God, and that herein religion consists? Who therefore does not see, that to confess three Persons in the Divinity, and to declare that in good works there is nothing of salvation, is to separate religion from the church? For it is declared that in good works there is not salvation, in these words: That faith justifies without good works [n. 12 (a) (b)]; that works are not necessary to salvation, nor to faith, because salvation and faith are neither preserved nor retained by good works [n. 12 (g) (h) (m) (n)]; consequently, that there is no bond of conjunction between faith and good works. It is indeed said afterwards, that good works nevertheless spontaneously follow faith, as fruit is produced from a tree [n. 13 (i) (n)]. But then who does them, yea, who thinks of them, or who is spontaneously led to perform them, while he knows and believes that they contribute nothing to salvation, and also, that no one can do any good thing towards salvation of himself, and so on? If it is said, that still they have conjoined faith with good works; we reply, this conjunction when closely inspected, is not conjunction, but it is mere adjunction, and this only like a superfluous appendage, that neither coheres nor adheres in any other manner than as a dark background to a picture, from which the picture appears more living. And because religion is of the life, and this consists in good works according to the truths of faith, it is evident that religion is the picture itself, and not the mere appendage; yea, with many it is like the tail of a horse, which because it avails nothing, may be cut off at pleasure. Who can rationally conclude otherwise, while he perceives such expressions as these according to their obvious meaning: That it is a folly to dream that the works of the second table of the Decalogue justify before God [n. 12 (d)]; and these: That if any one believes he shall therefore obtain salvation, because he hath charity, he brings reproach upon Christ [n. 12 (e)]; as also these: That good works are utterly to be excluded, in treating of justification and eternal life [n. 12 (f)]; with more to the same purpose? Who, therefore, when he reads afterwards, that good works necessarily follow faith, and that if they do not follow, the faith is a false and not a true faith [n. 13 (p) (q) (y)], with more to the same purpose, attends to it? or if he attends to it, understands whether such good works are attended with any perception? Yet good flowing forth from man without perception is inanimate as if from a statue. But if we inquire more deeply into the rise of this doctrine, it will appear as though the leading reformers first laid down faith alone as their rule, in order that they might be severed from the Roman Catholics, as mentioned above (n. 21, 22, 23); and that afterwards they adjoined thereto the works of charity, that it might not appear to contradict the Sacred Scripture, but have the semblance of religion, and thus be healed.


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