True Christian Religion #391

Nga Emanuel Swedenborg

Studioni këtë pasazh

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391. The seventh experience.

I have become aware as the result of conversations in the spiritual world with many laymen and many clergy what desolation of the truth and theological poverty exists in the Christian world at the present time. There is such spiritual famine among the clergy that they hardly know anything beyond the existence of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the fact that faith alone saves. About the Lord Christ they know only the historical facts about Him related in the Gospels. The rest, however, of what either Testament of the Word teaches, as that the Father and He are one, that He is in the Father and the Father in Him, that He has all power in heaven and earth, that it is the Father's will that men should believe in the Son, and that he who believes in Him has everlasting life, and much else - all this is to them as unknown and remote as what lies on the ocean bed, or rather, what lies at the centre of the earth. When these statements are extracted from the Word and read, they stand as if listening but hear nothing. The words do not penetrate deeper into their ears than the sighing of the wind or the beating of a drum. The angels who from time to time are sent out by the Lord to visit the Christian communities in the world of spirits, that is, below heaven, complain bitterly. They say that such is their stupidity and as a result the darkness under which they labour in matters relating to salvation that it is almost like listening to a talking parrot. Even their learned men say that in spiritual matters and those relating to God they do not understand more than so many statues.

[2] An angel once told me of a conversation he had with two clerics, one whose faith was separated from charity and another whose faith was not so separated. With the one whose faith was separated from charity the conversation ran like this.

'Friend, what are you?' 'I am a Christian of the Reformed church,' he replied. 'What is your doctrine and thus your religion?' 'Faith,' he answered. 'What is your faith?' said the angel. 'My faith,' he replied, 'is that God the Father sent the Son to take upon Himself the damnation of the human race, and by this means we are saved.' Then he asked him, 'What more do you know about salvation?' He replied that salvation is achieved by that faith alone. Next he said, 'What do you know about redemption?' He replied that it was accomplished by the passion on the cross, and that Christ's merit is imputed by means of that faith. Next, 'What do you know about regeneration?' He replied that it is the result of that faith. 'Say what you know about love and charity.' He replied that they are the same as that faith. 'Tell me what you think about the Ten Commandments and the remainder of the Word.' He replied that they are contained in that faith. Then he said: 'So you will do nothing?' 'What can I do?' he replied, 'I cannot of myself do any good which is good.' 'Can you,' he said, 'have faith of yourself?' 'I don't enquire into that,' he answered, 'I shall have faith.' Finally he said, 'Do you know anything at all more about salvation?' 'What more is there,' he replied, 'when salvation comes solely by means of that faith?' The angel then said, 'Your answers are like someone playing a single note on the flute; I hear nothing but faith. If you know that and nothing else, you know nothing. Go away and look for your companions.' So he went away and came upon them in a desert where there was no grass. He asked there why this was, and was told it was because they had no church among them.

[3] The angel's conversation with the one whose faith was linked with charity went thus. 'Friend, what are you?' 'I am a Christian of the Reformed church,' he replied. 'What is your doctrine and so your religion?' 'Faith and charity,' he replied. 'These,' said the angel, 'are two.' 'They cannot be separated,' he replied. 'What is faith?' he asked. 'Believing what the Word teaches,' he replied. 'What is charity?' 'Doing what the Word teaches.' 'Have you only believed these things or have you also done them?' 'I have also done them,' he replied. The angel from heaven looked at him and said, 'My friend, come with me and live with us.'

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.