(TCR) - True Christian Religion: Containing the Whole Theology of the New Church Predicted by the Lord in Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 21:1-2

TCR 333

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333. Second Memorable Relation:
After a while I heard again from the lower earth the exclamations I had heard before, "O how learned! O how learned!" And I looked about to see who were present, and behold the angels were there who occupied the heaven directly above those who cried, "O how learned!"
To these I spoke about the shouting, and they said, "Those learned spirits are such as merely reason whether a thing is so or is not, and who rarely think that it is so. Therefore they are like winds that come and go, like bark around hollow trees, and like nutshells without a kernel; or like a rind about fruit without pulp; for their minds are devoid of interior judgment, and are merely united with the bodily senses; unless therefore the senses themselves decide, they are able to form no conclusions. In a word, they are merely sensual, and we call them Reasoners. They are so called because they never come to a conclusion about anything, but take up whatever they hear and dispute as to whether it is so or not, with unceasing contention. They love nothing better than to attack truths, and tear them to pieces by bringing them into disputation. These believe themselves to be more learned than all others in the world."
[2] Having heard this, I asked the angels to conduct me to them; and they led me to a cave, from which steps descended to the lower earth. We went down, following the cry, "O how learned!" And behold, several hundred spirits stood in one place, stamping upon the ground. Wondering at this, I asked why they thus stood and stamped the ground with their feet, adding, that they might make a hole in it with their feet.
At this the angels smiled and said, "They appear so to stand still, because their thought on any subject is never that it is so, but only whether it is so or not, and thus it is a matter of dispute; and as they never get beyond this in their thought, they appear as never advancing, but only as treading and wearing on one spot."
The angels also said, "Those who come from the natural world into this and hear that they are in another world form themselves into companies in many places and ask where heaven is, where hell is, and where God is. And when they have been told they begin to reason, dispute, and contend about whether there is a God. This they do, because in the natural world at the present day, there are so many naturalists, who, whenever religion is talked about, bring the subject into dispute, both among themselves and with others; and the discussion of this question rarely terminates in an affirmation of belief that there is a God. Afterwards these persons associate themselves more and more with the wicked, which is done because no one can do any good from the love of good, except from God."
[3] After this I was conducted to that assembly, and behold, there appeared to me men handsomely clothed and with faces not unbecoming; and the angels said, "These so appear in their own light; but if the light of heaven flows in, both their faces and their garments are changed." And when the light of heaven was admitted, they appeared with dusky faces and clothed in coarse black garments; but this light being withdrawn, they appeared as before.
Presently I talked with some of the assembly, and said, "I heard from the throng about you the shout, 'O how learned!' It may therefore be permissible to have a conversation with you on matters of the most learned nature."
They replied, "Say what you please; we will give you a satisfactory answer."
And I asked, "What kind of religion is necessary for the salvation of man?"
They answered, "We will divide this question into several; and until these are decided we can give no reply. The investigation will proceed as follows: (1) Is religion anything? (2) Is there such a thing as salvation or not? (3) Is one religion more efficacious than another? (4) Is there a heaven and a hell? (5) Is there is an eternal life after death? besides other questions."
I asked about the first question, Is religion anything? and they began to discuss it with a host of arguments. I begged of them to refer it to the assembly. They did; and the general response was, that this proposition required so much investigation that it could not be finished before evening.
I asked them whether they could finish it within a year.
One of them replied, that it could not be finished in a hundred years.
I answered, "Meanwhile you are without religion; and as salvation depends on this, you are without any idea of salvation or any belief in it or hope of it."
He replied, "Must it not first be shown whether there is such a thing as religion, and what it is, and whether it is anything? If it is, it must be also for the wise; if not, it must be for the vulgar only. It is known that religion is called a bond; but for whom is it a bond? If for the vulgar only in reality it is not anything; but if for the wise also, then it is something."
[4] Hearing this, I said, "You are anything but learned, because you are able to think only whether a thing is so or not, and bandy it from one side to the other. How can a man be learned unless he knows something for a certainty and advances in the knowledge of it as a man walks, step by step, thus gradually attaining to wisdom? Otherwise you do not even touch truths with the tip of your finger, but you remove them further and further out of sight. Therefore to reason merely as to whether a thing is so or not, is to reason about the fit of a cap or shoe without ever trying it on. What then comes of this but that you do not know whether anything is a reality, or is only an idea, thus whether there is such a thing as salvation, or eternal life after death, whether one religion is better than another, or whether there is a heaven and a hell? On these subjects you cannot think at all so long as you stick at the first step, and tread the ground there, instead of bringing forward one foot after the other, and going on. Have a care for your selves lest your minds, while standing thus outside the door of judgment, grow hard within and become like pillars of salt."
So saying I withdrew, while they from indignation threw stones after me. They then appeared to me like graven images in which there is nothing of human reason.
I asked the angels of the lot of such; and they said that the lowest of them were sent down into the deep, into a desert there, and are compelled to carry packs; and then, as they are unable to evolve anything from reason, they gabble and talk nonsense, and at a distance they appear like asses carrying burdens.


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