« EdellinenJatka »
When they were thus overwhelmed, and to appearance drowned, I was desirous to know their condition in the deep. And a voice from heaven said to me, "Thou shalt see and hear." And straitway the waters, in which they seemed to be drowned, disappeared; for waters in the spiritual world are correspondences, and hence appear to surround those who are in falses. Then they appeared to me in a sandy place like the bottom of the sea, where were large heaps of stones, among which they were running, and lamenting that they were cast out of their great city. And they lifted up their voices and cried, "Why hath all this befallen us? Are we not through our faith, clean, pure, just, and holy? Are we not, by our faith, cleansed, purified, justified and sanctified?" Others cried out, "Are we not by our faith, rendered such as to appear clean, pure, just, and holy before God the Father, and to be declared so before the angels? Are we not reconciled, propitiated, atoned for, and thus absolved, washed, and cleansed from sins? And is not the curse of the law taken away by Christ? Why then are we cast out hither as if subject to that curse? We have been told by a presumptuous preacher against sin in our great city, Believe in Christ, and do the work of repentance: But have we not believed in Christ whilst we believed in His merit? And have we not done the work of repentance whilst we confessed ourselves sinners? Why then has all this befallen us?" But immediately a voice from one side said to them, "Do ye know any one sin that is in you? Have ye ever examined yourselves? Have ye in consequence shunned any evil as a sin against God? For he who does not shun sin remains in it: and is not sin the devil? Thus ye are they of whom the Lord saith, Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets : but He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are ; depart from Me all ye workers of iniquity,' Luke xiii. 26, 27, Matt. vii. 22, 23. Depart ye therefore every one to his
place; ye see the openings into those caverns; enter, and there work shall be given each of you to do, and afterwards food in proportion to your work; and though ye should refuse at present to enter, the calls of hunger will speedily compel you."
After this there came a voice from heaven to some on earth, who were without that great city, and who are described also in the Revelation, chap. xi. 13, crying aloud "Take heed to yourselves, take heed how ye associate with such persons. Can ye not understand that evils, which are called sins and iniquities, render man impure and unclean? How can he be cleansed and purified from them, but by actual repentance, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Actual repentance consists in self-examination, in the knowledge and acknowledgement of sins, in owning to their guilt, in confessing them before the Lord, in imploring help and power to resist them, thus in desisting from them, and in leading a new life; doing all these things as of yourselves : practise this once or twice a year, when ye approach the holy communion, and afterwards, when the sins of which ye owned yourselves guilty recur, then say to yourselves,
We will not consent to them because they are sins against God;' this is actual repentance. Who cannot perceive that where a man does not search out and see his sins, he remains in them? For all evil is delightful to a man from his birth; it is delightful to him to take revenge, to commit whoredom, to defraud, to blaspheme, particularly to rule over others from a principle of self-love: does not the delight arising from these evils prevent you from seeing them; and if you happen to be told that they are sins, does not that delight prompt you to make excuses for them? Nay more, do you not strive by false reasonings, to make it appear that they are not sins, and thus continue in them, and practise them after
* By earth here is to be understood the earth in the spiritual world.
wards more than before, even till ye no longer know what sin is, or whether their be any such thing or no? But the case is otherwise with every one who performeth actual repentance; he knows and acknowledges his evils, and calls them sins, and on that account he begins to shun and turn away from them, and at last no longer feels satisfaction in their delights; and in proportion as this is the case, he sees and loves what is good, and at length feels delight in it, which is the delight of the angels of heaven: in a word, so far as any one casts the devil behind him, he is adopted by the Lord, and by Him is taught, led, withheld from evil, and kept in good: this is the way, and there is no other which leads from hell to heaven." It is something extraordinary, that Protestants have a certain deep rooted repugnance, abhorrence and aversion to actual repentance, which is so violent that they cannot force themselves to self-examination, neither can they look at their sins, nor confess them before God, for they are seized as it were with horror at the bare thought of such a duty. I have inquired of many in the spiritual world concerning this circumstance, who all told me that it was not in their power; and when they were informed that Roman Catholics practise such duties, that is, that they examine themselves, and confess their sins openly before a monk, they have greatly wondered, more especially as the Reformed cannot do the same in private before God, although it is equally enjoined them before they approach the Holy Supper. Some of them made an investigation into the cause of this, and discovered that it was the doctrine of faith alone which induced such an impenitent state, and such a heart: and then it was given them to see, that such of the Roman Catholics as adore Christ, and do not invoke saints, are saved.
After these events, there was heard as it were a noise of thunder, and a voice speaking from heaven, and saying, "We are astonished! Say to the assembly of Protestants, 'Believe in Christ, and do the work of repentance, and ye will be
saved:" I accordingly repeated these words to them; after which I added, "Is not BAPTISM a sacrament of repentance, and hence an introduction into the church? for what else do the sponsors promise for the person to be baptized, but that he will renounce the devil and his works? Is not the holy SUPPER a sacrament of repentance, and hence an introduction into heaven? for is it not declared to the communicants that they must do the work of repentance before they approach? Does not the DECALOGUE, which is the universal doctrine of the Christian Church, insist on repentance? for is it not said in six commandments of the second table, Thou shalt not do this and that evil,' and not, 'Thou shalt do this and that good?' Hence ye may understand, that in proportion as any one renounces and turns away from evil, he desireth and loveth good; and that before this he knows not what good is, nor even what evil is."
568. THE SECOND MEMORABLE RELATION. What wise and pious person is not desirous to know the condition of his life after death? To gratify such a wish I will here give some general account of it. Every man after death, when he finds that he is yet alive, and that he is in another world, and is told that above him is heaven where are eternal joys, and that beneath him is hell where are eternal sorrows, is first let again into his externals as in the former world. In this state he believes that he shall certainly go to heaven, and talks intelligently, and acts prudently: then some begin to profess, "We have lived moral lives, we have maintained fair characters, we have never intentionally done evil:" others say, "We have frequented the church, we have heard masses, we have kissed holy images, we have poured forth abundance of prayers on our knees:" others again profess, "We have given to the poor, we have assisted the needy, we have read books of devotion, and also the Word:" with
much more to the same purpose. After making these professions, the angels come to them and say, "The things ye have mentioned ye have done in externals, but ye are yet ignorant of the quality of your internals. Ye are now spirits in substantial bodies, and the spirit is your internal man, which thinks in you according to its will, and wills according to its love, and this is the delight of its life. Every man from his infancy enters upon life from externals, learning to act morally, and to speak intelligently; and when he first acquires some idea of heaven and its blessedness, he begins to pray, to frequent churches, and to perform the solemnities of worship: nevertheless, as evils spring up from their native fountain, he harbours them in the recesses of his mind, and also ingeniously veils them over by reasonings drawn from fallacies, until at length he no longer knows evil to be evil; and after this, his evils being veiled over and covered as it were with dust, he no longer thinks any thing of them, only keeping on his guard so as to prevent their appearing before the world: thus he studies only to lead a moral life in externals, and so becomes a two-fold or double man, being in externals a sheep, and in internals a wolf; hence he is like a box of gold filled with poison; or like a person of a foul breath who keepeth in his mouth some sweetsmelling substance, to prevent its being perceived by bystanders; or he is like a perfumed rat's skin. Ye profess that ye have lived moral lives, and have been attentive to the practice of piety; but let me ask, have ye ever examined your internal man, and there perceived any lusts prompting you to take vengeance even to death, to indulge in libidinous desires even to adultery, to defraud others even to the commission of theft, to tell lies even to the bearing of false witness? In four commandments of the decalogue it is said, 'Thou shalt not do such things,' and in the last it is said,
Thou shalt not covet them.' Do ye suppose that your internal man, with respect to those evils, is like your exter