(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 621

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621. To this the following Memorable Relations shall be added. First:
I saw an assembly of spirits, all on their knees praying to God to send angels to them, with whom they might speak face to face, and to whom they might open the thoughts of their hearts. And when they rose up, there appeared three angels in white standing in their presence. And the angels said "The Lord Jesus Christ has heard your prayers, and has therefore sent us to you; open to us the thoughts of your hearts."
[2] And the spirits replied, "Our priests have told us that in theological matters it is not the understanding but faith that avails, and that an intellectual faith does not profit in such matters, because it springs from and savors of man, and is not from God. We are Englishmen, and we have heard many things from our sacred ministry which we believed; but when we have spoken with others who also called themselves reformed, and with some who called themselves Roman Catholics, and again with those of various sects, they all seemed learned, and yet in many things they did not agree with one another; although they all said, 'Believe us,' and some said, 'We are ministers of God, and we know.' But as we know that Divine truths, which are called truths of faith and are the truths of the church, are no one's by birthright alone, or by inheritance, but are from God out of heaven; and as they point the way to heaven and enter the life together with the goods of charity, and thus lead to eternal life; we have become anxious, and on our knees have prayed to God."
[3] Then the angels answered, "Read the Word and believe in the Lord, and you will see the truths which must be the truths of your faith and of your life. All in the Christian world draw their doctrinals from the Word as the one only fountain."
But two of the assembly said, "We have read, but have not understood."
The angels replied, "You have not approached the Lord, who is the Word, and also have first confirmed yourselves in falsities." The angels said further, "What is faith without light; and what is thinking without understanding? It is not human. Ravens and magpies can also learn to talk without understanding. We can assure you that every man whose soul desires it, is able to see the truths of the Word in clear light. There is no animal that does not know its life's food when it sees it; and man is a rational and spiritual animal; he sees the food of his life, not his body's but his soul's food, which is the truth of faith, provided he hungers for it and seeks it from the Lord. [4] Moreover, the substance of anything that is not received in the understanding, does not remain in the memory, but only the verbal statement of it. So when we looked down from heaven into the world, we have not seen anything, but have only heard sounds, and for the most part discordant ones. But we will enumerate some things which the learned of the clergy have separated from the understanding, not knowing that there are two ways to the understanding, one from the world and the other from heaven, and that when the Lord is enlightening the understanding He withdraws it from the world. But if the understanding is closed in regard to religion, the way to it from heaven is closed; and then man sees no more in the Word than a blind man. We have seen many such fall into pits out of which they did not rise. [5] Let this be made clear by examples. Can you not understand what charity is and what faith is, that charity is doing rightly with the neighbor, and faith is thinking rightly respecting God and the essentials of the church; and consequently that he who does rightly and thinks aright, that is, lives well and believes aright, is saved?"
To this the spirits answered that they understood.
[6] The angels said further, "Man must repent of his sins in order to be saved, and unless he repents he remains in the sins into which he was born; and repentance consists in man's ceasing to will evils because they are contrary to God, searching himself once or twice a year, seeing his evils, confessing them before the Lord, praying for help, refraining from evils, and beginning a new life; and so far as he does this, and believes in the Lord, his sins are forgiven."
Then some of those from the assembly said, "That we understand, and consequently what the forgiveness of sins is."
[7] Then they asked the angels to give them still further information, and first of all about God, the immortality of the soul, regeneration, and baptism.
To this the angels replied: "We shall not say anything but what you will understand; otherwise our words would fall like rain upon the sand, and upon the seeds therein which wither and die, however they may be watered from heaven."
And about God they said, "All who enter heaven are allotted a place there, and thus eternal joy according to their idea of God, because this idea universally reigns in everything pertaining to worship. The idea of God as a Spirit, when spirit is supposed to be something like ether or wind, is an idea without meaning; but the idea of God as a Man is the right idea; for God is Divine love and Divine wisdom, together with every quality thereof, and the subject of these is not ether or wind, but Man. In heaven the idea of God is that He is the Lord the Savior; He is the God of heaven and earth, as He Himself has taught. Let your idea of God be like ours, and we shall be associated together." When this had been said, their faces beamed.
[8] Of the immortality of the soul they said, "Man lives forever, because he is capable of conjunction with God through love and faith; every man is capable of this. That this capability is what constitutes the immortality of the soul you can understand if you think a little more deeply about the matter."
[9] Of regeneration they said, "Who does not see that every man has the freedom to think about God, or not to think about Him, provided he has been taught that there is a God? Thus every man has freedom in spiritual things as well as in civil and natural things. The Lord gives this to all unceasingly; therefore it is man's fault if he does not think. It is because of this ability that man is man; while it is because of the absence of it that a beast is a beast. Man consequently has the ability to reform and regenerate himself as if from himself, provided he acknowledges in his heart that it is from the Lord. Everyone who repents and believes in the Lord is being reformed and regenerated. Man does both as if from himself; but the as if from himself is from the Lord. It is true that man cannot contribute anything to this work from himself, not an iota; nevertheless, you were not created statues but men, in order that you may do this from the Lord as if from yourselves. This one and only reciprocation of love and faith, is what the Lord above all things wishes man to make to Him. In a word, act from yourselves, and believe that it is from the Lord; this is acting as if from yourselves."
[10] Then they asked whether this acting as if from himself was implanted in man from creation.
An angel replied, "It was not, because to act from himself belongs to God alone, but He gives it unceasingly, that is, joins it [to man] unceasingly; and then so far as man does good and believes truth as if from himself, he is an angel of heaven; while so far as he does evil and therefrom believes falsity, which he also does as if from himself, he is a spirit of hell. You may wonder that he does this also as if from himself, nevertheless you can see that it is so, when you pray to be guarded from the devil lest he seduce you, and enter into you as he did into Judas, and fill you with all iniquity, and destroy you soul and body. But a man becomes guilty when he believes that he acts from himself, whether in doing good or evil, and not when he believes that he acts as if from himself; for when he believes that the good is from himself, he claims as his own what belongs to God, and when he believes the evil to be from himself he attributes to himself what belongs to the devil."
[11] Respecting baptism they said, that baptism is spiritual washing, which is reformation and regeneration; that a child is reformed and regenerated when, having become an adult, he does the things that his sponsors promised for him, namely, these two, repents, and believes in God. For they promise first that he will renounce the devil and all his works, and secondly, that he will believe in God. All infants in heaven are initiated into these two duties; but to them the devil is hell and God is the Lord. Moreover, baptism is a sign to the angels that a man belongs to the church."
Hearing this, those of the assembly said, "We understand that."
[12] Then a voice was heard from the side, crying out, "We do not understand," and another, "We do not wish to understand." Inquiry was made from whom those voices came, and it was found that they came from those who had confirmed themselves in falsities of faith, and who wished to be believed as oracles, and so to be worshiped.
The angels said, "Do not be surprised; there are many such at this day; to us from heaven they appear like sculptured images made with such skill that they can move the lips and make sounds like those of the vocal organs, but do not know whether the breath which the sound comes from is from hell or from heaven, because they do not know whether it is false or true. They reason and reason, and they confirm and confirm, and yet do not see whether anything is so or not. But know this, that human ingenuity can confirm whatever it will, even until it seems to be actually true; therefore heretics can do so, and impious persons; and atheists are more able to prove that there is no God, but nature only."
[13] After this the assembly of the English, inflamed with a desire to be wise, said to the angels, "They say so many different things about the holy supper, tell us what the truth is about it."
The angels replied, "The truth is, that the man who looks to the Lord and repents, is by that most holy ordinance conjoined with the Lord and introduced into heaven."
Those of the assembly said, "That is a mystery."
The angels replied, "It is a mystery, and yet such as may be understood. The bread and wine do not effect this; from these there is nothing holy; but material bread and spiritual bread, as also material wine and spiritual wine correspond to each other mutually, spiritual bread being the holy principle of love, and spiritual wine the holy principle of faith, both from the Lord, and both being the Lord. From this comes the conjunction of the Lord with man and of man with the Lord, not with the bread and wine, but with the love and faith of the man who has repented; and conjunction with the Lord is also introduction into heaven."
And after the angels had taught them something about correspondence, those of the assembly said, "Now for the first time we can understand this also." And when they had said this, behold, a flame with light descended from heaven and affiliated them with the angels, and they loved each other mutually.


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