How greatly they are deluded who remain in the sense of the letter alone, and do not search out the internal sense from other passages in the Word in which it is explained, is very evident from the many heresies, every one of which proves its dogmas from the literal sense of the Word; especially is this manifest from that great heresy which the insane and infernal love of self and the world has drawn from the Lord’s words to Peter:
I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound in the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed in the heavens (Matt. 16:15-19).
They who press the sense of the letter think that these things were said of Peter, and that power so great was given him; although they are fully aware that Peter was a very simple man, and that he by no means exercised such power; and that to exercise it is contrary to the Divine. Nevertheless, as owing to the insane and infernal love of self and the world they desire to arrogate to themselves the highest power on earth and in heaven, and to make themselves gods, they explain this according to the letter, and vehemently defend it; whereas the internal sense of these words is, that Faith itself in the Lord, which exists solely with those who are in love to the Lord and in charity toward the neighbor, has that power; and yet not faith, but the Lord from whom faith is. By “Peter” there is meant that faith, as everywhere else in the Word. Upon this is the Church built, and against it the gates of hell do not prevail. This faith has the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and it shuts heaven lest evils and falsities should enter in, and opens heaven for goods and truths. This is the internal sense of these words.
The twelve apostles, like the twelve tribes of Israel, represented nothing else than all the things of such faith. Peter represented faith itself, James charity, and John the goods of charity; in like manner as did Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, the firstborn sons of Jacob, in the representative Jewish and Israelitish Church, which is plain from a thousand passages in the Word. And as Peter represented faith, the words in question were said to him.
From this it is manifest into what darkness those cast themselves, and others with them, who explain all things according to the letter; as those who so explain these words to Peter, by which they derogate from the Lord and arrogate to themselves the power of saving the human race.