Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead) n. 802

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

802. Verse 7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, signifies combat with those who are in truths from good, and who on account of appearances have not followed out the combinations. This is evident from the signification of "war," as being spiritual combat, which is the combat of truth against falsity and of falsity against truth (see above, n. 573, 734); consequently "to make war" means to fight from truths against falsities and from falsities against truths, here from falsities against truths. Also from the signification of "saints," as being those who are in truths from good (see above, n. 204). Also from the signification of "overcoming them," as being to make them to be of their doctrine and thence of their religion; and as this is done by reasonings by which they induce upon falsities the appearance of truth, and by passages from the sense of the letter of the Word by which they confirm their reasonings, therefore these words also signify those who have not followed out, or have not understood, how faith can be conjoined with good works, because of the appearances of truth that have been induced upon falsities. From this it can be seen that "it was given unto the beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them" signifies combat with those who are in truths from good, and who on account of appearances have not followed out these combinations. [2] The reasonings by means of which the defenders of faith separated from the life have induced upon falsities the appearance of truth, by which they have seemed to themselves to have cleared away the disagreements with the Word, have been treated of in several places before; but that they have not cleared away these disagreements, but have woven as it were an invisible spider's web, that they might induce a faith in falsities, can be seen from what has been presented above (n. 780, 781, 786, 790); also from this, that by doctrine, preaching, and writings, they assert and insist that faith was given as the means of salvation, because man is unable to do good of himself; also that God continues to operate whatever is good in man while man is unconscious of it, and by this operation the evils that are done by a man who is justified by faith are not sins but infirmities of nature; and that deliberate or voluntary evils are forgiven, either immediately or after some repentance of the mouth; and finally that it follows that by "works" and "doing," in the Word, faith and to have faith are meant. [3] This is their web by which they induce the simple to believe that out of the treasures of wisdom or interior perception, that are stored up only with the teachers and the learned, they have brought forth clear evidences to establish the doctrine of faith separated from any manifest endeavor of man (which is the will) to do what is good. Thus for themselves and all the people of the church they give license and free rein to acting and living according to the bent and trend of all lusts; and as this dogma is pleasing to the flesh and to the eyes, the common crowd gladly receive it. This, therefore, is what is here signified by "it was given to the beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them." But lest the leaders of the church, who are initiated into this dogma when they are initiated into the priesthood, and from them the people of the church, should be infected by the poison drawn from these crafty reasonings, from which they cannot but die, I will take up again the arguments just mentioned respecting the separation of faith from the goods to be done by man, also the conjunctions fallaciously contrived, by which they proceed from something to nothing, or from truth to falsity, and I will present to the light before the understanding in any degree enlightened, the detestable falsities of evil and evils of falsity that are contained in that more than heretical dogma, and that gush forth from it in a constant stream. [4] First, "That faith was given as the means of salvation, because man is unable to do good of himself." That man is unable to do good of himself is true; and as man is unable to have any faith of himself it follows that as he is not able to do anything from himself, so is he not able to believe anything of himself. For what man of the church does not acknowledge that faith is from God and not from man? Therefore altogether similar things must he said of faith as is said of works. Of works it is said, that in case they are from man, and while they are from man, they do not justify. It must be similar with faith in case it is from man and while it is from man. And yet everyone believes from himself, for he evidently thinks and wishes to think in himself as if from himself that which belongs to faith. Therefore if the same is true of faith as of works, it follows that the elect only can have faith and be saved; and this implies predestination, from which with the evil flow all kinds of security of life, and with the good deprivation of all hope from which comes despair; and yet all are predestined for heaven, and those are called the elect who learn truths and do them. Again, since the same is true of faith and of good works, it follows that man cannot act and should not act otherwise than as an automaton, or as a thing that has no life, waiting to be moved by influx from God, and thus go on thinking nothing and willing nothing that is commanded in the Word; and yet such a man is continually willing and thinking something from himself. But as that which is from oneself is not from God but from hell, and yet to think and will from hell is against God, and two opposites cannot exist together, such a man is either foolish or an atheist. If anyone after this shall say that because faith is given to be the means of salvation it can be received by man as of himself he will say what is true; but to have faith, that is, to think that a thing is so and from that to speak as of oneself, and yet to be unable to will a thing because it is so as of oneself, is to annihilate faith; for one without the other is a nonentity. But if anyone shall say that justifying faith is simply to believe that God the Father sent the Son, that by the passion of His cross He might effect propitiation, redemption, and salvation, and this does not involve anything to be done, also because it is imputation that saves, it follows (since there is no truth of heaven in such belief, as will be shown in its place) that a belief in falsity, which is a dead faith, justifies. [5] Secondly, "That still God operates what is good with man, while man is unconscious of it." It is true that God operates what is good with man, and for the most part while man is unconscious of it, and yet God gives man the power to perceive the things that are necessary to salvation. For God operates that man may think and speak those things that belong to faith, and may will and do those things that belong to love; and when man thence thinks, speaks, wills, and does, he must needs think, speak, will, and do, as if of himself. God operates into those things in man that are from Himself with him; that is, into the truths that belong to faith and into the goods that belong to love; consequently when God presents the former in the understanding and the latter in the will they appear to man as if they were his own, and he brings them forth as his own. In no other way can anyone think and speak and will and act from God. It is enough for man to know and acknowledge that these things are from God. This Divine operation itself often takes place while man is unconscious of it, but the effects that come from it man is conscious of. This is the meaning of the words:

That man can receive nothing unless it be given him from heaven (John 3:27). Jesus said, Without Me ye can do nothing (John 15:5). If man had no consciousness in thinking truths and in doing goods, that they might not become goods and truths from himself, he would be either like an animal or like a stock; and thus would be unable to think and will anything of God or anything from God, thus would not be able to be conjoined with God by faith and love and live to eternity. The difference between animals and men is that animals are unable to think and speak truths and to will and do goods from God, while men are able to do this, and thus to believe those things that they think, and to love those things that they will, and this as if of themselves. If it were not as if of themselves the Divine influx and operation would flow through and not be received, for man would be like a vessel without a bottom, which receives no water. Man's thought is the receptacle of truth, and his will the receptacle of good; and reception is not possible unless man is conscious of it. And if there is no reception there can be given no reciprocal, which makes that which is of God to be as if it were of man. Every agent that wills to conjoin himself with another must needs have something that is seemingly his own with which conjunction is effected, for otherwise there is no reagent; and where there is no action and at the same time reaction no conjunction is possible. The things in man with which God, who is the sole Agent, conjoins Himself, are the understanding and the will. These faculties are man's; and although when they act they act from God, they cannot act otherwise than as if of themselves. From this it now follows that truths and goods that do not so act are not anything. But this shall be illustrated by examples. It is commanded in the Word that man must not commit adultery, must not steal, must not kill, must not bear false witness. It is known that man is able to do all these things of himself, also that he is able to refrain from them because they are sins; and yet he is not able to refrain from them from himself, but only from God; yet when he refrains from them from God he still thinks that he wills to refrain from them because they are sins, and thus he refrains from them as if from himself; and when this is done, then because he calls adultery a sin he lives in chastity and loves chastity, and this as if of himself; and because he calls theft a sin he lives sincerely and loves sincerity, and this also as if of himself. When he calls murder a sin he lives in charity and loves charity, and this as if of himself. When he calls false testimony a sin he lives in truth and justice and loves truth and justice, and this as if of himself. And although he lives and loves these as if of himself, yet he lives and loves them from God; for whatever a man does from chastity itself, from sincerity itself, from charity itself, and from truth itself and justice itself, as if of himself, he does from God, and consequently they are goods. In a word, all things whatever that a man does from these principles as if from himself, these, when evils are removed, are from God and are goods. But all things that a man does before evils are removed, although they are works of chastity, works of sincerity, works of charity, or works of truth and justice, are not goods, because they are from man. Since all works, both those that are done from God and those that are not done from God, must needs be carried on by man or as if by him, it is evident why "works," "deeds," "working," and "doing," are so frequently mentioned in the Word, which would never have been so mentioned and commanded if they were done by God without man's knowledge, as is taught in the interior meaning of the doctrine of those who separate faith from good works. [6] Thirdly, "That the evils that a man does who is justified by faith are not sins but infirmities of his nature; and that voluntary or deliberate evils are forgiven, either immediately or after some repentance of the mouth." This is the profession of those who have inwardly examined and entered into the mysteries of the separation of faith from good works, with a difference with some according to the keenness of their ability to reason and draw conclusions. This, indeed, necessarily follows. For those who ascribe everything of salvation to faith alone, and ascribe nothing of salvation to good works, say that they are in grace, and some that they are in God; and if in grace they conclude that evils are not seen, and if they are seen that they are immediately forgiven; if in God they conclude that nothing condemns them, thus that their evils are not sins, since sins condemn, but are infirmities of nature. And as evils from the will, which are called in the Word "sinning with a high hand," are not infirmities of nature, they say that they are forgiven, either immediately or after some repentance of the mouth, since he who has been justified by faith is in good and has no need of repentance of life; and some add, because these evils are done by permission. Again, this follows as a consequence from the belief that he who is justified by faith is redeemed, purified before God, and regenerated; and since he cannot do good of himself, that the merit of the Lord is ascribed and imputed to him, and by virtue of this imputation, together with redemption and regeneration, he is adopted as a son of God, and is led by God the Father, and enlightened by the Holy Spirit; consequently his works are accepted, and his evils are not evils like evils with others; and as they do not condemn they cannot be called sins, but infirmities, such as cling to everyone as an inheritance from Adam, and which, as soon as they come forth, are forgiven and cast out. These and various other opinions they assert, according to their ideas about the essence of faith, and its separation from the goods of life, or the conjunction of faith with those goods. But to investigate all these particulars is not necessary, for they are all streams from a false principle, from which nothing but falsities can flow forth in a continual series. Who does not know and acknowledge, when he thinks by himself, that man should examine himself, confess his sins before God, abominate them, and afterwards lead a new life, that he may inherit life eternal? This is taught in the appointed prayers in the churches, especially in those preparatory to observing the sacrament of the Supper; this is taught in the Word, and in all preachings from the Word; and reason that is at all enlightened declares it. And yet the light of this truth is extinguished as soon as anyone studies the arcana of this doctrine, and desires to gain a reputation for learning therefrom; for being led by the love of self and thence by the pride of self-intelligence, he departs from the faith of the common people, and embraces the falsity that destroys every truth of the Word and every truth of heaven. And as he is believed to be learned he draws after him and misleads many; and thus the sheep that he ought to gather he scatters, by teaching that he who is able to think and declare with confidence that Christ suffered for him, and thereby redeemed him, is condemned by no evil. But that there is nothing of life in such a faith will be seen in what follows. Such are not unlike those who from fantasy have visions, and who believe the men whom they see to be specters, and when they see phantoms believe them to be men, thus they see truths as falsities and falsities as truths, especially when the fantasy arising from the lumen of their infatuation is skillful in forming by means of fallacies images conformable to their lumen. In the delirium of their arcana they see wisdom, not knowing that those who know nothing about these things have after their life in this world a better lot. [7] Fourthly, "That by "works" and "doing" in the Word, faith and to have faith are meant." The wish of such is to persuade others by these means that they are verifying all things of the Word, when in fact they are falsifying all things of it, for this conclusion is both a contradiction and a false statement. It is a contradiction to say that doing goods means to have faith, when nevertheless the received faith not only separates good works but also excludes them from the means of salvation; and that which is separated and excluded from anything (thus from the faith which is said not only to be something but also everything), cannot possibly exist in it, and thus cannot be meant by it. It is also a contradiction to say that that which is saving and spiritual which is said to belong to faith-means at the same time that which is not saving and not spiritual; for they call faith saving and spiritual, but they call works not saving and so not spiritual. It is a false statement to say that the Divine operation, without any co-operation by man, is meant by "works" and "doing" in the Word when yet man is commanded to do these. It is also a false statement to say that "good works" mean the faith that is received and is called saving, when yet that faith is of the thought alone and not at all of the will. Furthermore they say that "works" and "deeds" are mentioned in the Word on account of the simple who do not grasp the arcana of faith. But it is to be noted that it is one thing to believe a person and another thing to believe in him; as to believe that there is a God and to believe in Him. To believe in God or in His name signifies both to do and to have faith, as in John:

As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God, to them that believe in His name; who were born, not of bloods nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man (vir), but of God (1:12, 13). Those born "not of bloods" are those who do not falsify the Word; those born "not of the will of the flesh" are those who are not in lusts from love of self; those born "not of the will of man" are those who are not in falsities from the pride of self-intelligence; those "born of God" are those who are regenerated by the Lord by means of truths from the Word and a life according to them; these are they who believe in the name of the Lord, and thence are called "sons of God." Such a faith is not the faith of the teachers of the church at this day.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church