From the Writings
From the Writings – Life
Life 1. ALL RELIGION IS OF THE LIFE, AND THE LIFE OF RELIGION IS TO DO THAT WHICH IS GOOD.
Every man who has religion knows and acknowledges that he who leads a good life is saved, and that he who leads an evil life is damned; for he knows and acknowledges that the man who lives aright thinks aright, not only about God but also about his neighbor; but not so the man whose life is evil. The life of man is his love, and that which he loves he not only likes to be doing, but also likes to be thinking. The reason therefore why we say that the life is to do that which is good is that doing what is good acts as a one with thinking what is good, for if in a man these two things do not act as a one, they are not of his life.
DP 339. It is apparent now from this that all who think of salvation in terms of life think not of any instantaneous salvation out of mercy apart from means, but of the means of salvation into which and by which the Lord operates in accordance with the laws of His Divine providence, thus by which the Lord leads a person out of pure mercy.
On the other hand, people who do not think of salvation in terms of life, suppose there to be an instantaneous change in salvation and an absence of means in mercy, as those do who separate faith from charity (charity being life) and attribute an instantaneous change to faith, if not before, during the last hour of death. And those, too, do the same who believe that the forgiveness of sins is, without repentance, an absolution from sins and thus salvation, and go to Holy Supper. Likewise those who trust in the indulgences of monks, and in their prayers for the deceased, and in their dispensations by virtue of the power they claim to have over people’s souls.
AR 675 As for religion: Who can deny that religion consists in refraining from evil and doing good? Is there any religion where people are taught that faith alone saves, and not charity? Is there any religion where people are taught that charity emanating from people is nothing but moral and civic charity? Who does not see that in such charity there is no religion? Is there any deed or work in faith alone? And yet religion consists in doing.
From the Writings – Life/Mercy without Means
DP 338. Instantaneous salvation out of mercy apart from means is not possible. In the preceding discussions we showed that the operation of Divine providence to save a person begins at the person’s birth and continues to the end of his life, and afterward to eternity, and that this operation takes place unceasingly, through means, out of pure mercy. It follows from this that there is no instantaneous salvation, nor any mercy apart from means.
From The Writings – Natural Good Saves No One
AC 7761. A clear distinction must be made between spiritual good and natural good. As before said, spiritual good has its quality from the truths of faith, their abundance, and their connection; but natural good is born with the man, and also arises by accident, as by misfortunes, diseases, and the like. Natural good saves no one, but spiritual good saves all. The reason is that the good which is formed through the truths of faith is a plane into which heaven can flow, that is, the Lord through heaven, and lead man, and withhold him from evil, and afterward uplift him into heaven; but not so natural good; and therefore they who are in natural good can be as easily carried away by falsity as by truth, provided the falsity appears in the form of truth; and they can be as easily led by evil as by good, provided the evil is presented as good. They are like feathers in the wind.
From The Writings – Salvation as a Reward
AE 445 If a man is living according to the Lord’s commandments, it is permissible for him to think of eternal life, salvation, and heavenly joy; but it is not permissible for him to keep his mind intent upon reward, for if he does so he has reward as an end, and easily falls into the thought that by his life he deserves heaven and salvation, and this thought causes him to have regard to self in every particular, and such regard to self removes him from heaven; for so far as man looks to self in what he does, he does not look to heaven.