Salvation takes time


[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Salvation, not instantaneous" (search under Outer Life/Doctrine, Rites, Scriptures)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 279[4]"
It is an error of the age to believe that the state of man s life can be changed in a moment, so that from wicked he can become good, and consequently can be led from hell and transported at once to heaven, and this by the Lord’s direct mercy. Those who separate charity and faith and place salvation in faith alone, commit this error. For they suppose that merely to think and speak formulas of that faith, if it is done with trust and confidence, justifies and saves one. Many think it is done instantly, too, and if not previously, can be done in the last hour of one's life. These are bound to believe that the state of man's life can be changed in a moment and that he can be saved by direct mercy. But the Lord's mercy is mediated, and man cannot become good in a moment from being wicked, but rather can be led from hell and transported to heaven only by the continual activity of divine providence from infancy to the very close of life. Here it need only be said that all the laws of divine providence have the salvation and reformation of the human being for their object, in other words, the inversion of his state, which by nativity is infernal, into the opposite, which is heavenly. This can only be done progressively as man recedes from evil and its enjoyment and comes into good and its enjoyment.

[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Regeneration, how it works" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 586"
That a man cannot be regenerated except by successive degrees, may be illustrated by the case of all things, even to the minutest particulars, which exist in the natural world. A tree does not arrive at the maturity of its state, so as to become a tree in a single day, but, first grows from its seed, afterwards from its root, and thence from its shoot, which becomes a stem; from this proceed branches and leaves, and lastly flowers and fruits. Neither does a crop of wheat or barley become fit for the sickle in one day; nor is a house built in one day; nor does a man attain to his full bodily stature in one day, much less to the stature of wisdom; so neither is the church established and perfected in one day; nor is it possible for any progression to arrive at its end, unless there be a beginning to set out from. Those who form any other notion of regeneration than this, are entirely ignorant of the nature of charity and faith, and of the growth of each according to man’s co-operation with the Lord. Hence it is evident that the several stages of man's regeneration answer to his natural conception, gestation in the womb, birth, and education.