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and therefore, notwithstanding ye can introduce such passages into your discourse, yet the ideas ye attach to them are such as pervert them; and this is a necessary consequence of your removing all things that are of God from man, as to communication and conjunction: what more can you reject, unless you also abandon all things belonging to worship?" After I had ended these words, the assembly appeared to me in the light of heaven, which detects and manifests the true nature and quality of every one; and then they no longer seemed floating aloft in a ship, as if exalted into heaven, nor clothed in purple, nor crowned with laurel wreaths, but in a sandy place in tattered garments, having their loins girt about with nets like those used by fishermen, through which their nakedness appeared: and then they sunk down to the society bordering on the Machiavelists.
463. BEFORE I proceed to deliver the doctrine of the
New Church on FREE-WILL, it may be necessary to state the opinions and tenets maintained by the present church in her books on that subject; or else any person of sound reason and religion might suppose, that it would not be worth while to advance any thing new on this point: for he might urge, "Who can be ignorant, that every man is endowed with freedom of will in spiritual things? Were it not so, of what use would be the preaching of ministers, instructing us that we must believe in God, be converted, and live a life according to the commandments in the Word; that we must fight against the lusts of the flesh, and prepare ourselves to become new creatures, with much more to the same purpose?" Every person of sound reason and religion must needs conclude, that all such injunctions are mere empty sounds unless man hath free-will in
* The contents of this chapter are singularly interesting, and have an especial claim on the reader's attention. The nature of free-will is a subject which hath hitherto been little known or understood, and we will venture to affirm, was never before opened according to its true spiritual ground and origin. Its importance however must be acknowledged, nothing having a greater tendency to strengthen and establish the soul in godliness and well-doing, than a clear apprehension of its own native freedom regarding spiritual things and whence that freedom is derived; and nothing, on the contrary, tending so to bewilder and deaden the soul in its spiritual progress, as the dark and mistaken notions which generally prevail on this subject. We do therefore earnestly recommend this chapter to the reader's particular notice and attention.
whatever concerns his salvation, and that to deny such freedom is nothing short of madness, because it is contradictory to common sense. That the present church however maintains such contradiction, and doth not admit the doctrine of free-will into its creeds, will appear manifestly from the following passages collected from the book entitled FORMULA CONCORDIE, which is received by the people called Evangelical Protestants, as the exposition of their faith; and that the same doctrine, and consequently the same faith, in regard to free-will, prevails throughout the reformed churches, whether in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, England, or Holland, and indeed throughout all Christendom, is evident from the books that contain an exposition of their doctrines. The following quotations are transcribed from the FORMULA CONCORDIÆ, according to the edition published at Leipsic, in the Year 1756.
464. 1. "The doctors of the Augsburgh confession insist, "that man, in consequence of the fall of his first parents, "is become so thoroughly corrupt, that he is by nature "blind as to things spiritual, or such as relate to conver❝sion and salvation, and that he neither understandeth, "nor is able to understand, the Word of God when preach❝ed to him, but judgeth it to be a trifling foolish thing, and 66 never of himself draweth nigh unto God, but is rather "God's enemy, and continueth to be so, until by the power "of the Holy Ghost operating through the preaching and "hearing of the Word, he is of mere grace, without any co"operation on his part, converted, gifted with faith, regene"rated, and renewed," page 656. 11. "We believe that "the understanding, heart, and will, of an unregenerate "man, in regard to things spiritual and divine, are, of their "own natural powers, utterly incapable of understanding, "believing, embracing, thinking, willing, beginning, finish"ing, acting, operating, or co-operating, in any respect, "but that man is altogether corrupt and dead to what is
"good, insomuch that in the nature of man,since the fall, "before regeneration, there is not a single spark of spiri"tual strength remaining, whereby he can prepare himself "to receive the grace of God, or apprehend it when offered "him, or accommodate himself, and of himself be capable "of accepting it, or contribute, act, operate, or co-operate, "of himself, by his own power, in any respect, towards his "conversion, either wholly, partly, or in the smallest de(c gree; but that man is the servant of sin and slave of Satan, "by whom he is instigated, in consequence whereof his na"tural free-will, by reason of his corrupted powers and "depraved nature, is only active and efficacious in such "things as are displeasing and opposed to God," page 656. III. "That man is industrious and ingenious in civil and "natural things, but that in things spiritual and divine, "which relate to the salvation of his soul, he is like a stock, "a stone, or the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was "turned, which have no use either of eyes, of mouth, or of
any other senses," page 661. IV. "That nevertheless "man still enjoyeth a loco-motive power, whereby he can "direct his outward members, and can hear the Gospel; "and can in some measure meditate on what he hears: but “that still in his private thoughts he despiseth it as a foolish "thing, and is incapable of believing it, in which respect "he is worse than a stock, unless the Holy Ghost is effica"cious in him, kindling and working in him faith, obedi66 ence, and other virtues which God approveth," page 662. V. "In one respect man may be said not to be a stock or a "stone, inasmuch as a stock or a stone maketh no struggle "or opposition, nor understandeth, or perceiveth what is "doing with it; whereas man continually struggles and "strives in his will against God, until he be converted to "God and yet it is true, that man, before conversion, is a "reasonable creature, having understanding, although not "in divine things, and having a will, although not disposed
"to any saving good; but still he can contribute nothing "towards his conversion, and in this respect is worse than a "stock or a stone," page 672, 673. VI. "That conversion "is the entire operation, gift, and work of the Holy Ghost "alone, who effecteth and produceth it, by his virtue and 66 power, through the Word, in the understanding, heart, and "will of man, as in a passive subject, man doing nothing “at all, but remaining altogether passive; and yet this "operation is not like the forming of wood into a statue, or "the stamping an impression on wax, inasmuch as wood and "wax have neither knowledge nor will," page 681. VII. "It is maintained by certain fathers, and modern doctors, "that God indeed draweth, but only such as are willing to be "drawn, consequently that the will of man is in some re"spect active in the business of conversion; this opinion "however is not consonant with the words of Holy Scripture "for it establisheth a false notion of the powers of the human "will in regard to conversion," page 582. VIII. "That "in respect to the outward concerns of the world, which fall "under the cognizance of reason, there still remaineth in 66 man some share of understanding, strength, and ability,al"though these miserable remains are very weak; and even "these, small as they are, are infected and contaminated "with the poison of the hereditary disease, so as to be of 66 no account in the sight of God," page 641. IX. "That 66 man, in the business of conversion, whereby from a child "of wrath he becometh a child of grace, doth not co-ope"rate with the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the work of con"version is of the Holy Ghost wholly and solely," page 219, 519, 663, and append. 143. "That nevertheless a regene"rate man, by the power of the Holy Ghost, can co-ope"rate, although his co-operation is attended with much in"firmity; and that he co-operateth well, so long, and in "such proportion, as he is led, guided, and governed by "the Holy Ghost; but still his co-operation with the Holy "Ghost is not like that of two horses drawing together in