Extracts

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Luther

swedenborg

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[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Luther, Martin, and Lutherans" (search under Outer Life/People, Places, History)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 796"
Having frequently conversed with these three leaders, who were the reformers of the Christian church, I have been instructed concerning the state of their lives from the first, down to the present time. With respect to Luther, he, from his first coming into the spiritual world, was a most bitter asserter and defender of his own tenets, and his zeal for them increased in proportion as the numbers from earth increased who agreed with and favored them. He had a house allotted him, such as he had at Eisleben during his life in the body, and in one of the rooms of this house he set up a desk, raised a little from the ground, in which he took his seat; and setting open the door to admit his hearers, he disposed them in ranks, assigning the places nearest himself to such as were most favorable to his opinions, and remoter places to such as favored them less. Then he began his harangue, and at intervals allowed the audience to ask him questions, for the purpose of resuming the thread of his discourse from some new subject that might be started. In consequence of the general favor and applause which he acquired by this, he at last contracted a power of persuasion; and this in the spiritual world is of such efficacy, that no person is able to resist it, or to controvert what is thence asserted; but as this was a species of enchantment, in use among the ancients, he was seriously enjoined not to speak from it any longer; accordingly he taught afterwards, as he had done before, from his memory and understanding.
 This power of persuasion, which is a species of enchantment, derives its origin from the love itself in consequence of which the person under its influence grows by degrees so impatient of contradiction as to attack not only the sentiments but even the person of his opponent. This was his state of life till the last judgment, which took place in the spiritual world in the year 1757. The year after he was removed from his first house to another, and was at the same time brought into another state; and being informed that I, who am in the natural world, conversed with those who are in the spiritual world, he among several others came to me; and after asking some questions and receiving my answers, he perceived that the end of the former church is at this day accomplished, together with the beginning of the New Church foretold by Daniel, and by the Lord himself in the Evangelists, and that this new church is meant by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation, and by the everlasting gospel which the angel flying in the midst of heaven preached to those who dwell on the earth (xiv. 6). At this he grew very indignant, and railed against it; but as he perceived the New Heaven to increase, which was formed and is forming of those who acknowledge the Lord alone to be the God of heaven and earth, according to his own words (Matt, xxviii. 18); and as he observed his own congregations to diminish, his railing ceased, and then he approached nearer to me, and began to converse more familiarly with me; and when he was convinced that he had taken his principal tenet of justification by faith alone not from the Word of God, but from his own intelligence, he then suffered himself to be instructed concerning the Lord, charity, true faith, free-will, and lastly concerning redemption, and this from the Word [Bible] alone.
 At length, after conviction, he began to favor, and afterwards to confirm himself more and more in the truths on which the New Church is built and established. At this time he was with me daily, and then as often as he recollected the truths of the New Church, he began to ridicule his former tenets as in direct opposition to the Word; and I heard him say, "Do not be surprised that I laid hold so eagerly of that doctrine of justification by faith alone, and excluded charity from its spiritual essence, and likewise took away from men all free-will in spiritual concerns, besides falling into other errors which are dependent on the doctrine of faith alone, when once it is received, as the links of a chain are on each other; for my object was to be separated from the Roman Catholics at any rate, which could not otherwise be accomplished; so that I am not surprised that I have erred, but my surprise is, that the ravings of one should have deprived so many others of their senses."
 On saying this he cast a glance at some writers standing beside him, who were celebrated in their time for their theological works, and were firm adherents to his doctrine, not observing its contradictions to Holy Scripture, although they are so palpable. I was informed by the examining angels that this chieftain of the church is in a state of conversion far before many others who have confirmed themselves in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and that because in his youthful days, before he began his work of reformation, he had received a strong tincture of the doctrine which maintains the pre-eminence of charity. This was the reason why, both in his writings and sermons, he gave such excellent instruction in regard to charity; and hence it came to pass, that the faith of justification with him was implanted in his external natural man, but not rooted in his internal spiritual man. The case is different with those who in their youthful days confirm themselves against the spirituality of charity, which they must needs do, while they use proofs and arguments to establish justification by faith alone. I have conversed with the Prince of Saxony, who received and entertained Luther during his life on earth. He told me that he had often blamed him, particularly for separating charity from faith, and pronouncing the latter and not the former to be effective of salvation, when yet the Holy Scripture not only joins together those two universal means of salvation, but Paul even gives charity the preference.