Apocalypse Explained #805

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)

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805. Verse 8. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, signifies the necessity of acknowledgment by those who have been born within the church. This is evident from the signification of "worshipping," as being to acknowledge and believe that a thing is true, and thence to receive it in doctrine and worship. That this is the signification of "worshiping" can be seen from what has been said above (n. Apocalypse Explained 759 Apocalypse Explained 759, 790), where what is signified by "they worshipped the dragon which gave authority unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast" is explained. That they acknowledge from necessity is evident from what has been said and shown in the preceding article. The above is evident also from the signification of "those that dwell on the earth," as being those who have been born within the church; for "the earth" signifies the church, and "those who dwell upon it" signify those who are there and live there. Those that have been born within the church are meant, because everyone adopts the religion of his native land, in the first place because he is educated in it, and is afterwards confirmed in it by preachings, and particularly because there are but few who study the doctrine of the church and the interior meaning of the Word, believing that such things transcend their comprehension, and also that they are not to be seen or understood, but only to be believed. This is the reason for the necessity of acknowledgment by those who have been born within the church, which is signified by "all that dwell on the earth shall worship the beast."

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 759, 790)


[2] That this is so can be seen, in the first place, from the received faith which is called the only saving faith, "That God the Father sent His Son into the world, that through the passion of His cross He might effect propitiation, redemption, and salvation." This faith if understood according to the ideas of those who defend faith separate from life, and thence according to preachings from their doctrine, is no faith; as is evident from each and every thing that is contained in that faith and that follows as a consequence from it; and these are:

(1) That there is propitiation, that is, a propitiation of God the Father by the passion or by the blood of His Son.

(2) That there is mercy or compassion of God the Father for the Son's sake.

(3) That there was a bearing of our iniquities by the Lord, and a consequent deliverance from them.

(4) That there is an imputative principle, and thus an imputation of the Lord's merit, through which we are saved.

(5) That there is an intercession of the Lord with the Father.

(6) That there is redemption and salvation without the means of life and faith, and thus there is immediate mercy.

(7) That in such a faith there is no religion, but it is emptiness and vacuity.

(8) That there is in it neither any faith in the Lord, nor any acknowledgment of His Divine in His Human.

(9) That consequently the trust and confidence of that faith which at this day is received as the only saving faith is an empty sound.

(10) That saving faith is wholly different.

But since it is on the lips of nearly all who are of the church that the Lord endured the cross for our sins, and that He took them upon Himself and bore them, and thereby not only reconciled the Father but also redeemed us from hell, and that by this merit of the Lord we are saved, provided we believe this in trust and confidence-it is necessary to inquire, in the first place, whether these things should be understood according to the common opinion.

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[3] In respect to the first proposition, "That there is propitiation, that is, a propitiation of God the Father by the passion or by the blood of His Son." This involves a rejection or alienation of the human race because of some anger or vengeance, that is called vindictive justice, which was laid upon His Son by God the Father, to the end that by the passion of His cross He might be reconciled to the human race, and thus be propitiated. But who does not see that for God the Father to reject from Himself the human race, or from justice to revenge their alienation, is contrary to the Divine essence itself, which is love itself, mercy itself, and goodness itself? Such vengeance, indeed, could not exist in any angel, and scarcely with any well disposed man, much less with God. Who does not also see that it is difficult to think that such vengeance was laid upon the Son by His Father, or that the Son took such vengeance upon Himself, and that God the Father has mercy from seeing or recalling this, and not from the Divine love itself, which in its essence is infinite, eternal, and immediate towards the whole human race? I do not know, therefore, whether anyone can think from God and with God that he has been rejected of God, and therefore that by the will of the Father the Son was condemned, and was thereby made a propitiatory and a throne of grace. Moreover, justice is a Divine attribute, but not vindictive justice, and still less can it be in one on another's account; and if it is not justice neither is it according to Divine order for one to be saved on another's account, though it may be by means of another. Nor can God be reconciled by any other means than by the repentance of the man himself. To be saved by means of the Lord, and also by means of the passion of His cross, thus by the Lord, is propitiation and expiation, as will be seen in what follows.

(2)

[4] "There is no mercy or compassion of God the Father for the Son's sake." The customary prayer in the churches, and by the men of the church at home and abroad, when they are in pious worship is, "May God the Father have mercy upon us for the sake of the Son, and for the sake of the passion of His cross." This prayer flows from the accepted belief respecting the propitiation or reconciliation of the Father by the Son, as mentioned just above; likewise from the doctrine of the church respecting justification by faith alone without good works. And as the defenders and vindicators of that doctrine separate the life which is of good works from faith, they could acknowledge nothing else as a saving faith than that God the Father sent His Son, and that He is moved to mercy by the passion of His cross; and for this reason this prayer is at this day accepted by the general body as the only voice that can enter heaven and move God even if man utters it with a confession of trust only at the hour of death. And yet that such a prayer has in it nothing of life from truth and good, can be seen from what has been said just above respecting propitiation and reconciliation, and thence the mercy of the Father; also from what will be said presently respecting the bearing of our iniquities by the Lord, respecting the imputation of His merit, respecting intercession, and respecting redemption and salvation apart from life as a means. Here let it be said merely that it is never granted to any man of the church to approach God the Father immediately, and to pray to Him for the Son's sake; for it is the Lord who must be approached and prayed to, since no one comes to the Father except by the Lord and in the Lord; and the Lord equally as the Father is God, infinite, eternal, uncreate, omnipotent, and neither of them is first nor last, nor greater nor less, but they are altogether equal. That no one comes to the Father except by the Lord He teaches in John:

No one hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath brought Him forth to view (1:18).

In the same:

Ye have never heard the Father's voice nor seen His form (John 5:37). In Matthew:

No one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal Him (11:27).

In John:

No one hath seen the Father save He who is with the Father,* He hath seen the Father (6:46).

In the same:

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one cometh unto the Father but through Me (John 14:6).

No one cometh to the Father except in the Lord, is because the Father and He are one, as He also teaches in John:

If ye know Me ye know My Father also; he that seeth Me seeth the Father. Philip, believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? Believe Me, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me (14: 7, 10, 11).

In the same:

The Father and I are one. That ye may know and believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me (John 10: 30, 38).

Add to this:

That the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, as He Himself teaches (John 3:35; 17:2; Matt. 11:27; 28:18);

and that thus He must be approached. It is also to be known, that unless the Lord is approached man is unable to think with the angels, because all angelic thought about God is about God-Man. Angels are unable to think otherwise about God, and consequently about things Divine, because their thoughts go forth into every part of heaven; and heaven is heaven in the form of a man. But on this more elsewhere.

(3)

(References: John 1:2, John 14:10-11)


[5] "There was no bearing of our iniquities by the Lord, and a consequent deliverance from them," as is taught by the common faith, which is, that the Lord took upon Himself the sins of the world and cast them into hell, and thus took them away. This they conclude from the words of John respecting Jesus:

Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29);

also from Isaiah, where the Lord is treated of:

He hath borne our sicknesses and sorrows, and He hath carried our iniquities (53: 4, 11).

But what is signified by "carrying iniquities" has not yet been understood in the churches; therefore it shall be told. It was according to Divine order for the prophets to represent the state of their church, that its quality might thus be known, as can be seen from the following. Isaiah was commanded:

To go naked and barefoot three years, for a sign and a wonder (Isa. 20:2, 3).

In this way he represented that there were no longer any truths in the church; for this is signified by "going naked and barefoot." Hosea was commanded:

To take to himself a woman of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms, because the land had committed whoredom (Hos. 1:2, seq.).

"A woman of whoredoms" signified a church that falsifies the truths of the Word. Also Ezekiel was commanded:

To take to himself a tile and to portray upon it Jerusalem, and to lay siege against it; and to lie upon his left side three hundred and ninety days, and afterwards upon his right side forty days. Also he was commanded to eat a cake of barley made with cow's dung; and it was said that so shall they be in want of bread and water in Jerusalem and shall pine away for their iniquity (Ezekiel 4:0).

This signified that the church was without goods and truths, and in mere falsities from evil; and it is said:

That thereby he should bear the iniquity of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 4:4-5).

Yet he did not thereby take away their iniquities, but only represented them; and this because a "prophet" signified doctrine from the Word, thus the church in respect to doctrine and worship therefrom. The like is meant by "bearing iniquities" where these words are applied to the Lord, who was the greatest Prophet, for He represented in Himself how the Jewish Church treated with contumely the Divine truth or the Word, for He was Himself the Word; therefore their scourging Him, spitting in His face, smiting Him with a reed, setting a crown of thorns upon Him, giving Him vinegar to drink, dividing His garments, and finally crucifying Him, were all representative of the state of that church (see above n. 83, 195, 627, 655). This, therefore, is signified by "bearing iniquities;" and in like manner also by His enduring temptations more grievous than those of all others. And yet to transfer to Himself the sins of others, and to take them away by sorrows and punishments admitted in Himself is contrary to the nature of the annulling of sins. For sins can be annulled only by repentance of life by him who has sinned. To take them away by drawing them from another upon oneself is a dogma of the Papists in which there is no truth.

(4)

(References: Ezekiel 4, 4:4-5; Hosea 1:2; Isaiah 20:2-3; The Apocalypse Explained 83, 195, 627, 655)


[6] "There can be no imputation, and thus no imputation of the Lord's merit." This cannot be because salvation by imputation is contrary to the laws of Divine order set forth in the Word; which are that man must learn what the sin is that he must shun, and what the truth is that he must do; and if he lives contrary to truths he must repent. These laws, with each and every thing that the doctrines of the churches teach from the Word, would be more than superfluous if man were saved by declaring with the confidence of faith that God has mercy on him for the sake of His Son and through the passion of His cross; and that thus the merit of the Lord would be imputed to him. For thus man might live wickedly, might commit adulteries, steal, act fraudulently, exercise hatred and revenge, calumniate, and other things, since be could not be saved by good works, but only by a faith that is wholly apart from any life. And yet it is blasphemy to say that a man can live wickedly and yet live from the Lord. It is likewise a contradiction that man must shun evils and do goods, and yet can be saved by mere faith in an imputed merit. The merit of the Lord is that from His own power He subjugated the hells and glorified His Human; by this He acquired for Himself the power to save all who believe in Him and who do what He taught. This merit cannot be attributed or imputed to anyone, still less can this be done by the Father, since it is the Lord's own merit; and salvation also is by the Lord, thus through the Lord, and not for the Lord's sake. In a word, no one's merit can be attributed to another unless he is a sharer with him through his life, according to which everyone is rewarded or punished; but life is from the Lord; this follows from His merit. Moreover, anything imputative is contrary to the essence of Divine love, which extends to all; for to impute means to love one and not another except for the sake of the one; it is also contrary to justice, which requires that everyone should have reward to the extent that he lives from the Lord.

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[7] "That there is intercession of the Lord with the Father" falls indeed into the ideas of men who are wholly simple, who think of the three Persons of the Divinity only as three sitting and talking together about what is to be, and that one moves the other to be merciful for His sake, which is to intercede. But the more learned see that intercession means a perpetual remembrance from love, since the one Person has the same essence or substance as the other, and the same love, thus the same mercy; and this cannot be excited or recalled to memory by any entreaty.

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[8] "That there is redemption and salvation without the means of life and faith, and thus there is immediate mercy." It is known that truths belong to faith, and goods to the life, and that without truths there can be no faith, as for example, without these truths: that there is a God, that the Lord is the Savior of the world, that there is a heaven and a hell, that there is a life after death, that the Word is holy, that the things that are in the Word must be believed and done, that the Holy Supper is the most holy thing of worship, and other like things; these must constitute faith; likewise that without goods there is no life of faith; for the Lord says:

He that heareth and doeth not is like a foolish man that buildeth his house upon the ground without foundation; but he that heareth and doeth is like a prudent man that buildeth his house upon a foundation from the rock (Matt. 7: 24, 26).

These and like things, so far as they are to be believed, are means, and are said to belong to faith; and so far as they are to be done are means, and are said to belong to the life, without which man cannot be saved. All these things would be unmeaning, if in their place there were only this one thing which is called faith, namely, that man is saved by the mere mercy of the Father for the sake of the Son and by the imputation of His merit. That there is no such thing as immediate mercy, but mediate, and that yet man from pure mercy is led by the Lord from infancy to his old age, and afterwards to eternity, may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell (n. 521-527). Thus neither is there any immediate salvation. From this it follows that redemption consists solely in the Lord's redeeming from hell those who believe in Him, and who do what He has commanded; moreover, these, without His coming into the world, could not have been saved, since without His coming they could not have believed in Him, or have done what He has commanded, and thus have lived from Him. That these are those that are meant in the Word by "the redeemed" will be seen elsewhere.

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[9] "That in that faith there is no religion, but it is emptiness and vacuity." What is religion except that man may so live that he may come into heaven, and that he may know how he should live? To know this is called doctrine; and to believe it and live according to it is called religion. From doctrine man will know not only what must be thought but also what must be done; for man must think that he may do, but not think what involves doing nothing. The faith here described consists in thinking without doing, so that it may be called a mere cogitative (or thought) faith, while man implores mercy alone, because the Son of God suffered for him, and took upon Himself the sins of the world, and thus redeemed and delivered him from hell, believing at the same time that the merit of the Son of God is attributed to him. Let anyone who is willing and able consider whether there is in this anything of the Word, in which believing and doing are so often mentioned, consequently whether there is in this faith anything of the church or anything of religion. For in the things presented here, where are the truths that must constitute faith, and the goods that must constitute life, and that must make the genuine doctrine from the Word, and thus the theology of the Christian world? And as these things do not exist in that faith, it follows that it is not only a faith empty and void but also a faith in what is not true. It is a wonder to many in the spiritual world, and to all in heaven, that the theology of the Christian world has been reduced to such emptiness and vacuity that at length the whole of it is comprised in a mere utterance of thought that is possible also to the evil at the hour of death from a fear of hell. Thus the same emptiness that prevails with the Papists is found with very many of the Reformed in the Christian world. But let them consider, if they will, whether such as these can have any lot among the angels of heaven, whose intelligence is from the truths in the Word, and whose wisdom is from truths in act, which are called goods. This is what is meant by the Lord's words:

When the Son of man shall come will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8).

(8)

[10] "That there is in them neither any faith in the Lord nor any acknowledgment of the Divine in His Human." For he who prays to the Father to have mercy for the sake of His Son approaches the Father, and does not approach the Lord, when yet the Lord must be approached, for He is the God of heaven and earth; and the Word teaches that the Father cannot be approached except by the Lord and in the Lord, as has been shown above; also that faith must be in the Lord; for the Lord says:

He that believeth in the Son hath eternal life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the anger of God abideth on him (John 3:36).

Likewise:

This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that everyone who seeth the Son and believeth in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).

And again:

Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he die, yet shall he live; but everyone that liveth and believeth in Me shall not die forever (11:25, 26);

and elsewhere. To believe in Him and not to approach Him, but to entreat the Father for His sake, is not to believe in Him; for all faith approaches Him in whom man believes; therefore to approach and see the Father was denied to Philip; and it was said:

That to see the Lord is to see the Father (John 14:7-11).

Thence also all were healed of their diseases who prayed to the Lord to have mercy upon them, and who had faith in Him. And the sons of Israel also were saved in the wilderness who looked upon the brazen serpent, which represented the Lord as to the ultimate in His Human, which is called the sensual. Furthermore, in the spiritual world all sight and thought from acknowledgment conjoins; but sight directed to the Father conjoins no one; for the Lord says:

Ye have never heard the Father's voice nor seen His shape (John 5:37).

(References: John 6:39, 11:25-26)


[11] Add to this that he who supplicates the Father to have mercy for the sake of the Son has no other idea of the Lord than as of an ordinary man; for he regards Him as beneath the Father, thus as a man from the mother Mary, who suffered the cross, and because of this there is mercy for man; thence the Lord's Divine is separated from His Human, although there is no such separation in the doctrine of the Nicene Council respecting the Trinity; for this teaches that the Divine and the Human of the Lord are not two but one Person, and that they are like the soul and body in man.

[12] But those who look to the Father, although they acknowledge the Lord's Divine yet do not approach it; for they place it near the Father above the Human of the Lord, and thus they see His Human apart from His Divine, although His Divine is His soul. This is why many at this time confess the Divine of the Lord with the mouth, while but few acknowledge it in heart; and he who does not acknowledge the Divine of the Lord in His Human, and does not look to that in his supplications, cannot have any conjunction with heaven. From this it follows that in this faith, namely, that the Father should have mercy for the sake of the Son, there is no faith in the Lord nor any acknowledgment of His Divine in His Human. This, moreover, is what the Lord foretold to Peter, that at the end of the church He would no longer be acknowledged.

(9)

[13] "That consequently the trust and confidence of that faith, which is at this day accepted as the only saving faith, is an empty word." For the trust of that faith is a natural trust, in which there is nothing spiritual, since there is nothing in it of truth and good, which belong to faith and life; when, therefore, that faith is confirmed by the learned, the truth of heaven may be destroyed and man shut out of heaven by such confirmation. In such emptiness the faith alone that is accepted in the churches, or faith separated from goods of life, terminates; and yet this faith, although it is empty, fills the entire theology of the Christian world. For this reason the learned of the church, when they come after death into the spiritual world, are in so many falsities as scarcely to know a single genuine truth. But it is otherwise with those who have not confirmed these falsities with themselves, and have lived at the same time in some measure the life of faith, which is charity. These can be instructed in the truths of faith, and when they have been instructed can be received among the angels in heaven. For it is one thing to believe these falsities with a confirmed faith, thus with the heart, and a wholly different thing to believe them with a faith not confirmed.

(10) "That saving faith is wholly different" shall be treated of in what next follows.

* The Latin has "Father" for "God."

(References: John 1:2, 3:35-36, 6:39, John 14:6-11)

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