Spiritual background for REVELATION 7    previous  -  next  -  text  -  Revelation  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AR Chapter 7

AR 386. To the above I will add this Relation.

Once when I looked around in the spiritual world, I heard as it were the gnashing of teeth, and also as it were a knocking, and mixed with them a grating sound; and I inquired what they were. And the angels who were with me said, "There are colleges which are called by us diversoria, where disputations are carried on. These disputations are so heard at a distance, but on coming near to them they are only heard as disputations." I drew near and saw small houses, constructed of reeds plastered with mud. And I desired to look in through a window, but there was none; for it was not allowed to enter through the door, because the light from heaven would flow in and confuse them. But suddenly a window was made on the right side; and then I heard them complain that they were in darkness. Shortly afterwards a window was made on the left side, and that on the right was closed; upon which the darkness gradually dispersed, and they seemed to themselves to be in the light.

After this I was permitted to go in through the door and hear. There was a table in the middle, and benches round about; but they all seemed to me to stand upon the benches, and to dispute sharply with one another concerning Faith and Charity: on one side, that faith was the principal thing of the church; on the other, that charity was. They who made faith the principal, said, "Have we not to do with God by faith, and with man by charity? is not faith therefore heavenly, and charity earthly? are we not saved by what is heavenly, and not by what is earthly? Again, cannot God give faith from heaven, because it is heavenly, and must not man procure to himself charity, because it is earthly? and what man procures for himself, is not of the church, and therefore does not save? Can anyone be justified in the sight of God by works, which are called works of charity? Believe us, we are not only justified, but also sanctified by faith alone, provided that faith be not defiled by things meritorious, which are from the works of charity." Besides many more things. But they who made charity the principal thing of the church, sharply refuted these things, saying, "That charity saves, and not faith; are not all dear to God, and does He not will the good of all? How can God effect this, except by men? Does God only give to men to talk with one another about such things as relate to faith? and does He not give to men to do those things which are of charity? Do you not see that it is absurd in you to say that charity is earthly? Charity is heavenly, and because you do not do the good of charity, your faith is earthly. How do you receive faith but as a stock or a stone? You say by the hearing of the Word only. But how can the Word operate by being heard only, and this too upon a stock or a stone? Perhaps you are vivified without knowing it; but what is this vivification except in being enabled to say that faith alone saves? But what faith is, and what saving faith, you do not know."

But there then arose one, who, by the angel that was talking with me, was called a Syncretist. He took off a turban from his head, and placed it on the table; but suddenly put it on again, because he was bald. He said, "Attend! you are all in error; it is true that faith is spiritual, and charity, moral; but yet they are joined together; and this by the Word, by the Holy Spirit, and by effect, without manís knowledge, which indeed may be called obedience, but in which man has no part. I have thought of these things with myself for a long time, and have at length discovered, that man may receive faith from God, which is spiritual, but that he cannot be moved by God to charity, which is spiritual, except as a pillar of salt." Having said this, he was applauded by those who were in faith alone, but hooted by those who were in charity; and the latter said, with indignation, "Hear, friend; you do not know that there is a moral life which is spiritual, and that there is a moral life merely natural; a moral life which is spiritual with those who do good from God, and yet as if from themselves; and a moral life merely natural with those who do good from hell, and yet as if from themselves."

It was said, that the disputation was heard as a gnashing of teeth, and as a knocking, with which a grating sound was mixed. The disputation heard as a gnashing of teeth, was by those who were in faith alone; but the disputation heard as a knocking, was by those who were in charity alone; and the grating sound that was mixed with them was from the Syncretist. The sounds of them were so heard at a distance, because when in the world, they all spent their time in disputations and did not shun any evil, and therefore they did not do any spiritual moral good; and, moreover, they were entirely ignorant that the all of faith is truth, and the all of charity, good, and that truth without good is not truth in spirit, and that good without truth is not good in spirit, and that thus one must make the other. The reason why there was darkness when a window was bade on the right side, is because light from heaven flowing in on that side affects the will; and the reason why there was light when the window on the right side was shut, and another was made in the left, is because light flowing in from heaven on the left side affects the understanding, and every man may be in the light of heaven as to his understanding, provided the will be closed as to its evil.

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