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AR Chapter 11
AR 531. To the above I will add this Relation.
I was once seized suddenly with a disease almost deadly. My whole head was weighed down. A pestilential smoke ascended from that Jerusalem which is called "Sodom and Egypt." I was half dead with the severe pain. I expected the end. Thus I lay in my bed three days and a half. My spirit became such, and from it my body. And then I heard voices about me, saying, "Lo, he who preached repentance for the remission of sins, and the Man Christ alone, lies dead in the streets of our city."
And they asked some of the clergy whether he was worthy of burial. They said, "No; let him lie to be looked at." And they passed to and fro, and mocked. All this befell me, of a truth, when I was explaining this chapter of The Apocalypse. Then were heard harsh speeches of scoffers, especially these, "How can repentance be performed without faith? How can the man Christ be adored as God? Since we are saved of free grace without any merit of our own, what need we then but the faith alone, that God the Father sent the Son to take away the curse of the law, to impute His merit to us, and so to justify us in His sight, and absolve us from our sins by His herald the priest, and then give us the Holy Spirit to operate all good in us? Are not these things according to Scripture, and also according to reason?" These things the crowd standing by applauded. I heard these things, nor could I reply, because I lay almost dead. But after three days and a half my spirit recovered, and, being in the spirit, I left the street and went into the city, and said again, "Do the work of repentance, and believe in Christ, and your sins will be remitted, and ye will be saved; but otherwise ye will perish. Did not the Lord Himself preach repentance for the remission of sins, and that they should believe in Him? Did not He command the disciples to preach the same? Does not a full security of life follow the dogma of your faith?" But they replied, "What idle talk! Has not the Son made satisfaction? And does not the Father impute it to us, and justify us who have believed in it? Thus are we led by the spirit of grace; what sin can then be with us? What power has death over us? Do you comprehend this Gospel, thou preacher of sin and repentance?" But then a voice came forth out of heaven, saying, "What is the faith of an impenitent man, but a dead faith? The end is come, the end is come upon you that are secure, blameless in your own eyes, justified in your own faith, devils." And suddenly a deep gulf was opened in the midst of that city, which spread itself far and wide; and the houses fell one upon another, and were swallowed up; and presently water began to bubble up from the wide whirlpool, and overflowed the waste.
When they were thus submerged, and they seemed inundated, I desired to know their lot in the deep. And it was said to me from heaven, "Thou shalt see and hear." And then the waters, in which they seemed to be inundated, disappeared before my eyes; for waters in the spiritual world are correspondences, and hence appear around those who are in falsities. Then they appeared to me in a sandy place, where heaps of stones were piled up; amongst which they were running, and lamenting that they were cast out of their great city. And they lifted up their voices, and cried, "Why has all this befallen us? Are we not, by our faith, clean, pure, just, and holy?" And others said, "Are we not, by our faith, cleansed, purified, justified, and sanctified?" And others said, "Are we not, by our faith, become such as to appear before God the Father, and to be seen and reputed clean, pure, just, and holy, and declared so before the angels? Are we not reconciled, propitiated, expiated, and thus absolved, washed, and cleansed from sins? And is not the condemnation of the law taken away by Christ? Why then are we cast down here as the condemned? We have heard from an audacious preacher of sin in our great city, `Believe in Christ and repent.’ But have we not believed in Christ whilst we believed in His merit? And have we not done the work of repentance while we confessed ourselves sinners? Why then has all this befallen us?" But immediately a voice from one side said to them, "Do you know any sin in which you are? Have you ever examined yourselves? Have you, 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? Ye are therefore of those of whom the Lord said:--
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 say to you, I know you not, whence ye are; depart from Me all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13:26, 27; Matt. 7:22, 23).
Depart ye, therefore, everyone to his own place. You 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; if not, still hunger will compel you to enter."
After this there came a voice from heaven to some on earth, who were without that great city, and who are described also (verse 13), crying aloud, "Take heed to yourselves, take heed how you associate with such persons; can you not understand that evils, which are called sins and iniquities, render man unclean and impure? How can man be cleansed and purified from them, but by actual repentance, and by faith in Jesus Christ? Actual repentance is to examine one‘s self to know and acknowledge his sins, to hold himself guilty, to confess them before the Lord, to implore help and the power to resist them, and thus to desist from them, and lead a new life, doing all these things as of yourselves. Do this once or twice a year, when you approach the Holy Communion, and afterwards when the sins, of which you have found 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 understand that he who does not search out and see his sins, remains in them? For all evil is delightful from birth; for it is delightful to revenge, to commit whoredom, to defraud, to blaspheme, and especially to rule over others from self-love; is it not the delight that causes them not to be seen, and if perchance it is said they are sins, do you not from that delight excuse them? Yea, you persuade yourselves by falsities and confirm that they are not sins, and thus continue in them, and practise them afterwards more than before, even till you no longer know what sin is, or whether there be sin. It is otherwise with everyone who actually repents. His evils which he knows and acknowledges, he calls sins, and on that account begins to shun and turn away from them, and to feel their delight as undelightful. And in proportion as this is the case, he sees and loves goods, and at length feels delight in them, which is the delight of heaven. In a word, so far as anyone rejects the devil, so far he is adopted by the Lord, and by Him is taught, led, withheld from evils, and is held in goods. This and no other is the way from hell to heaven." It is wonderful, that the Reformed have a certain deep-rooted opposition and aversion to actual repentance, which is so great, that they cannot force themselves to examine themselves, neither can they see their sins, and confess them before God. It is as if a horror invades them when they think of it. I have inquired of many in the spiritual world concerning this, and they all said that it was beyond their power. When they heard that the Papists do it, 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 alike enjoined them before they approach the Holy Supper. Some have inquired into the cause of this, and it was discovered that faith alone induced such a state of impenitence, and such a heart. And then it was given them to see that those of the Papists who adore Christ, and do not invoke saints, nor adore His vicar, so-called, and any key-bearer of His, are saved.
After this, there was heard as it were thunder, and a voice speaking from heaven, saying, "We are astonished! say to the assembly of the Reformed, Believe in Christ, and do the work of repentance, and you will be saved." And I said further, "Is not Baptism a sacrament of repentance, and thence an introduction into the church? 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? Is it not declared to the communicants, that they should by all means do the work of repentance before they approach? Does not the Catechism, which is the universal doctrine of the Christian church, teach repentance? Is it not said in the six commandments of the second table, Thou shalt not do this and that evil, and not, Thou shalt do this and that good? Hence you may know, that as far as anyone shuns evil, so far he loves good, and that before this he does not know what good is, nor even what evil is."