Brief Exposition (Stanley) n. 96

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He that sat upon the throne, that is, the Lord, said these words to John, when John saw the New Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven. That by the New Jerusalem is meant a New Church, will be shown in the following chapter. The reason why the falsities of the dogmas of the faith of the present Church must first be exposed and rejected, before the truths of the dogmas of the New Church are revealed and received, is because they do not agree in any one point or particular for the dogmas of the present Church are founded upon a faith in which it is unknown whether there is any essential of the Church or not. The essentials of the Church, which unite themselves with a faith in one God, are charity, good works, repentance, and a life according to Divine laws; and since these, together with faith, affect and move man's will and thought, they unite man to the Lord and the Lord to man. As, therefore, none of these essentials enters into the faith of the present Church in its first reception, which they call the act of justification, it cannot possibly be known whether this faith is in a man or not; consequently, whether it is anything, or only an idea. For it is said that a man in the act of justification is like a stock or stone, and that with respect to its reception he can neither will, think nor co-operate; no, nor even apply or accommodate himself in the smallest degree: see above, n. 15 (c, d). Since, therefore, no one can guess, much less know, whether that faith is in him; thus, whether it is like a painted flower with him, or like a flower of the field in him; or whether it is like a bird flying past him, or like a bird that has built her nest in him; by what tokens or signs will he know? If it be answered that it is to be known by the charity, good works, repentance, and conformity with the law, which result from this faith, when yet they maintain that there is no bond between these things and that faith, I leave it to men of sense to enquire whether anything which has no connection with faith can be a sign testifying to faith. For this faith of theirs is neither preserved nor retained by the above-mentioned works of charity, as may be seen above, n. 12 (m, n). From what has been said this conclusion is to be drawn, that in the faith of the present Church there is nothing of the Church; consequently it is not anything, but only an idea that it is something. Since, then, this faith is such, it deserves to be rejected; yea, it rejects itself, as that for which there is nothing worthy of commendation by the Church.

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