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"and in it stood a cherub of gold, with a sword in his hand "that turned every way. Whilst I was taking a view of all "these things, and meditating upon them, the signification of "each object was discovered to me by an influx from above: "thus I saw that the temple signified a new church; the gate "of a pearly substance, entrance into it; the windows of "crystal, the truths which enlighten it; the pulpit, the priest"hood and preaching; the Word, which was open upon the "pulpit, and illuminated the higher part of it, the revelation "of its internal sense, which is spiritual; the sacred place "in the midst of the temple, the conjunction of that church "with the angelic heaven; the cherub of gold within, the "Word in its literal sense; the sword vibrating in his hand, "signified, that this sense of the letter is capable of being "turned every way, supposing only that it be applied to "favour any particular truth; the removal of the veil before "the cherub, signified, that now the Word is laid open. Af"terwards, when I approached nearer, I saw written over the "gate these words: Now IT IS ALLOWABLE; which signifi"ed, that now it is allowable to enter intellectually into the "mysteries of faith. On seeing this writing it occurred to "my thoughts, how extremely dangerous it is to enter intel"lectually into tenets of faith, formed from man's own in"telligence, and consequently consisting of falses ; and how "much more so to confirm them from the Word, so as to "close the understanding above, and by degrees below also, "and that to such a degree, that matters of a theological na"ture are not only held in disgust, but are also obliterated "and effaced, just like writing on paper by worms, or the nap "on cloth by moths, whilst the understanding abides only in "political concerns, such as regard a man's life in the state "to which he belongs, in civil concerns relating to his own "particular function, and in domestic concerns, or the busi<< ness of his own family; in all which he attaches himself "continually to nature, being smitten with the love of her
"from the fascinating pleasures which she presents, and feels as enamoured as an idolater when he kisses the golden "image which he carries in bis bosom. Now the tenets main"tained at this day in all Christian churches, are derived, not "from the Word, but from man's own intelligence, and con"sequently consist of falses which yet are confirmed by some passages out of the Word; therefore amongst the Roman "Catholics, by the divine providence of the Lord, the Word "was taken out of the hands of the laity; and though it "was left accessible among the Protestants, it was still "closed up by the maxim common amongst them, that the "understanding is to be kept bound under obedience to "faith. But in the New Church the case is totally reversed: "in this it is allowed to enter with the understanding, "and to penetrate into all its secrets, and likewise to confirm "them by the Word; and the reason is, because its doctrinals 66 are a chain of truths revealed from the Lord by the "Word, and their confirmation by rational considerations "causes the understanding to be opened more and more up"wards, and thus to be elevated into the light which the "angels of heaven enjoy, which light in its essence is truth, " and in this light the acknowledgement of the Lord as God "of heaven and earth is resplendent in all its glory. This is "meant by the writing over the gate of the temple, Now IT "IS ALLOWABLE, and also by the veil being removed from "before the cherub in the sacred place; for it is one of the
canons of the New Church, that falsities close the under"standing, and that truths open it. After this I saw as it 66 were an infant over my head, holding a paper in his hand, "who as he approached me grew up to the stature of a "middle sized man: he was an angel from the third heaven, "where all appear at a distance like infants: when he was 66 come near he presented me the paper, but as it was writ"ten with letters of a rounded form, such as are used in "that heaven, I gave it him back, and requested him to ex
"plain the meaning of its contents in words adapted to the "ideas of my thought: then he replied, "The contents are "these: FROM THIS TIME ENTER YE INTO THE MYS<< TERIES OF THE WORD, WHICH BEFORE WAS CLOSED "UP; FOR ALL ITS TRUTHS ARE SO MANY MIRRORS 66 OF THE LORD."
509. AFTER treating on faith, charity, and free-will, repentance comes next in order for consideration, since true faith and genuine charity are not attainable without repentance, and none can do the work of repentance without free-will. Another reason also for considering the subject of repentance in this place is, because the chapter on regeneration immediately succeeds it, and none can become regenerate before those more grievous evils, which render
*The contents of this chapter, like those of the former, demand the serious attention of the pious reader, who wishes to obtain a victory over sin, and to be established in the strength and power of a divine life, as his qualification to be admitted to the blessedness and glories of the New Jerusalem. In the present church, the necessity of repentance is acknowledged, and yet it is not acknowledged; it is acknowledged in word, but it is not acknowledged in practice. This is a sure consequence of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which, asserting salvation to be an effect of God's immediate mercy, of course supposeth it possible for the soul to be saved, although it neither know nor renounce its sins. In opposition to this fatal doctrine, our enlighted author opens, in the following chapter, the true ground, nature, and necessity of Gospel-repentance; he shews that every soul is by nature born in innumerable sins, which are a consequence of that hereditary evil derived by long succession from its corrupt parents; he asserts the utter impossibility of such things being removed, until the soul know them in itself, acknowledge them, fight against them, and through the divine grace and power of the Redeemer, finally gain a victory over them. Herein, according to our enlightened au
man detestable in the sight of God, are removed, and the removal of such evils can only be effected by repentance. What is an unregenerate man, but an impenitent man? And what is an impenitent man, but like a person in a lethargy, knowing nothing of the nature of sin, and therefore cherishing it in his bosom, and hugging it to his embraces, as an adulterer the partner of his shame? But in order to understand what repentance is, and what are its effects, it may be expedient to arrange the consideration of it under separate heads or articles.
I. THAT REPENTANCE IS THE FIRST CONSTITUENT OF THE CHURCH IN MAN.
510. The fellowship, or communion, called the church, consists of all such persons as have the church abiding in them; and it gains admission into every one when he is regenerating; and every one becomes regenerate in proportion as he abstains from the evils of sin, and shuns them as he would shun troops of infernal spirits, whom he saw ready to assault him with burning torches, to cast him on a pile of fire. There are several things which, in the first stages of life, prepare man for the church, and introduce him into it, but acts of repentance alone effect a formation of the church in him. Acts of repentance are all such as make a man cease to will, and in consequence cease to practise evils, which are sins against God: for before this, man stands in an outer place with respect to regeneration; in which case, supposing any thought to enter his mind about eternal salvation, he turneth towards it, and presently away from it; for it penetrates no further than the ideas of
thor, consisteth the true nature of profitable repentance, and of Gospel-salvation; for as sin, or self, or Satan, (for all mean the same thing,) are thus removed and subdued, in the same proportion, and in no other, goodness and truth from the Lord are implanted in the soul, and with them the Lord Himself entereth, and establisheth the kingdom of His eternal life, peace, and blessing. Every unprejudiced and candid mind will readily acknowledge the truth of this doctrine; may he also be wise enough thoroughly to practise it!