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AR Chapter 10
AR 484. To this I will add three Relations, of things that occurred in the spiritual world.
The First Relation is this: I once heard there the sound as of a mill. It was in the northern quarter. I wondered at first what this was; but I recollected that by "a mill" and by "grinding" in the Word is meant to seek from the Word what is serviceable for doctrine (n. 794). On which account I approached the place where that sound was heard; and when I was near, the sound died away; and I then saw a kind of arched roof above the earth, the entrance to which was through a cave. Seeing which, I descended and entered. And behold there was a chamber, in which I saw an old man sitting among books, holding before him the Word, and seeking therefrom what might be serviceable for his doctrine. Scraps of paper lay around, on which he wrote down what served him. There were scribes in an adjoining room, who gathered up the papers, and copied them upon an entire sheet. I asked first about the books around him. He said that they all treated of justifying faith; "those which were from Sweden and Denmark profoundly, those which were from Germany more profoundly, and those that were from Britain more profoundly still, and most profoundly those from Holland." And he added that they disagree in various things, but that in the article of justification and salvation by faith alone they all agree. Afterwards he said to me that he was now collecting from the Word this first point of justifying faith, that God the Father fell away from grace towards the human race on account of their iniquities; and that it was therefore a Divine necessity for the saving of men, that satisfaction, reconciliation, propitiation, and mediation should be made by some one, who should take upon himself the condemnation of justice; and this could by no means be done but by His only Son; and that after this was done, access to God the Father was open for His sake. And he said, "I see and have seen, that this is according to all reason. How otherwise could God the Father he approached, except through faith in that merit of the Son? I have now found also, that this is likewise according to Scripture." I heard this, and was astounded that he should say that it was according to reason and according to Scripture, when yet it is contrary to reason and contrary to Scripture; which I also told him plainly. He then rejoined in the wrath of his zeal, "How can you speak so?" Wherefore I opened my mind, saying, "Is it not contrary to reason to think that God the Father fell away from grace towards the human race, and rejected it? Is not the Divine Grace an attribute of the Divine Essence? Wherefore, to fall away from grace would be to fall away from His Divine Essence; and to fall away from His Divine Essence, would be to be no longer God. Can God be alienated from Himself? Believe me, that grace on the part of God, as it is infinite, is also eternal. The grace of God may be lost on the part of man, if he does not receive it; but never on the part of God. If grace should recede from God, there would be an end of the entire heaven and with it the entire human race, in so much that man would no longer be man in any respect; for which reason grace on the part of God endureth forever, not only towards angels and men, but also towards the devil himself. Since this is according to reason, why do you say that the only access to God the Father is through faith in the Son‘s merit, when yet there is perpetual access through grace? But why do you say, access to God the Father for the sake of the Son? and why not to God the Father through the Son? Is not the Son the Mediator and Saviour? Why do you not go to the Mediator and Saviour Himself? Is He not God and Man? Who on the earth goes immediately to an emperor, king or prince? Must there not be a deputy or introducer? Do you not know that the Lord came into the world, that He might introduce us to the Father; and that access is not given, except through Him? Search now in the Scriptures, and you will see that this is according to them; and that your way to the Father is contrary to Scripture, as it is contrary to reason. I tell you, too, that it is presumption to climb up to God the Father, and not through Him who is in the bosom of the Father, and alone is with Him. Have you not read (John 14:6)?" Hearing these things, the old man was so angry, that he leaped from his seat, and cried out to his scribes to cast me out. And when I immediately went out of myself, he threw out of doors after me the book which his hand by chance took hold of, and that book was the Word.
The Second Relation. After I went out, I again heard a harsh sound, but like that of two millstones in collision with each other. I went in the direction of the sound, and it died away. And I saw a narrow gate leading obliquely downwards into a kind of roofed building divided into little cells, in each of which two were sitting, who were also collecting from the Word confirmations in favor of faith; one collected, and the other wrote; and this alternately. I went up to one cell, and stood in the door, and asked, "What are you collecting and writing?" They said, "Concerning the act of justification, or, concerning faith in act; which is faith itself justifying, vivifying, and saving, and is the chief doctrine in Christendom." And I then said to him, "Tell me some sign of the act, when that faith is brought into the heart and into the soul of a man." He answered, "The sign of the act is in the moment when the man, moved with distress that he is condemned, thinks of Christ, that He took away the condemnation of the law, and takes hold of this His merit with confidence; and with this in his thought, goes to God the Father, and prays." Then I said, "Thus the act takes place, and this is the moment." And I asked, "How shall I comprehend what is said of this act, that not anything of the man contributes to it, any more than it would if he were a stock or a stone; and that the man, as to that act, cannot begin, will, understand, think, operate, cooperate, apply, and accommodate himself in any respect. Tell me how this agrees with your saying, that the act takes place at the time when the man thinks of the rightful power of the law, of his condemnation as taken away by Christ, of the confidence by which he takes hold of that merit of His; and when in thought concerning this he goes to God the Father, and prays; and all those things are done by the man as of himself." But he said, "They are not done actively by the man, but passively." And I replied, "How can one think, have confidence, and pray, passively? Take away the active or the reactive from the man at that time, do you not take away the receptiveness also, and thus the whole, and with it the act itself? What then becomes of your act, unless it be a mere ideal, which is called a thing of the reason? I know that you do not believe, with some, that such an act is given only with the predestined, who know nothing whatever of the infusion of faith with themselves. These may play at dice, to find out whether it is so. For which reason, my friend, believe that in the things of faith man operates and cooperates as of himself; and that without that cooperation, the act of faith, which you have called the chief of doctrine and of religion, is nothing but the statue of Lot’s wife, tinkling as mere salt when scratched by the scribe‘s pen, or finger-nail (Luke 17:32). I have said this, because, as to that act, you make yourselves like statues." When I said this, he rose, and seized the candlestick with the full force of his hand to cast it in my face; but the candle being then suddenly extinguished, in the thick darkness he threw it against the forehead of his companion; and I went away laughing.
The Third Relation. In the northern quarter of the spiritual world I heard as it were the roar of waters; therefore I approached thither; and when I was near, the roar ceased, and I heard a sound like that from a congregation. And then a house was seen full of holes, surrounded by a rough wall, from which that sound proceeded. I approached, and there was a door-keeper there, whom I asked who were there. He said that they were the wisest of the wise, who decide among themselves concerning supernatural things. He spoke thus from his simple belief. And I asked whether it was permitted to enter. He said that it was, "provided you say nothing. I may admit you, because I have leave to admit Gentiles, who stand with me at the door." I therefore entered; and behold, it was a circus, and in the midst of it a pulpit; and an assembly of the wise, and thus of the learned, were discussing the arcana of faith. And the matter or proposition then submitted for discussion was, whether the good which a man does in the state of justification by faith, or in the progression of it after the act, is the good of religion or not. They said unanimously, that by the good of religion was meant the good which contributes to salvation. The discussion was sharp; but those prevailed who said that the goods which a man does in the state or in the progression of faith, are only moral, civil, and political goods, which contribute nothing to salvation; but that faith only can do this. And they confirmed it thus. "How can any work of man be conjoined with free-grace? Is not salvation of free-grace? How can any good of man be conjoined with Christ’s merit? Is not salvation by that alone? And how can man‘s operation be conjoined with the operation of the Holy Spirit? Does not this do all, without the man’s help? Are not these three things alone saving in the act of faith? and these three things also remain as alone saving in the state or progression of faith. For which reason accessory good from the man can by no means be called the good of religion, which, as was said, contributes to salvation. But if one does this for the sake of salvation, it is rather to be called the evil of religion." Two Gentiles were standing in the entry near the door-keeper; and they heard these things, and said to each other, "These people have not any religion. Who does not see that to do good to the neighbor for the sake of God, and thus with God, and from God, is what is called religion?" And the other said, "Their faith hath infatuated them." And they then asked the door-keeper, "Who are these?" The door-keeper said, "They are wise Christians." And they answered, "Nonsense, you are deceiving us: they are play-actors; they speak like them." And I went away. And when I looked, after a time, to the place where that house was, behold it was a marsh. These things which I saw and heard, I saw and heard in the wakefulness of my body and at the same time of my spirit; for the Lord has so united my spirit to my body, that I may be in both at the same time. It was of the Divine auspices of the Lord, that I came to those houses, and that they then deliberated concerning these things; and that it took place as it is described.