Examine thoroughly, you elect brother, every word of the sixteenth chapter of Matthew! There you will find that no one can believe in Christ unless he has previously become like him. When the elected person becomes conscious of his own unbelief, he abandons all his contrived faith, all that he has learned, or listened to, or read in the manner of the scribes. For he sees that an external testimony can produce nothing genuine in him. Rather, he sees that an external testimony only serves the purpose for which it was created. Therefore, a member of the elect does not turn to every saying of inexperienced people. Rather, he is zealous for revelation, like Peter who showed the way for all by saying [Mt. 16:16], “I know it to be true that Christ is the son of the living God.” For the unbelief concealed in my flesh and blood is almost completely overcome through the desire that the mustard seed and the good leaven consume and penetrate and that breaks through all unbelief. [Before this breakthrough of faith], one must have suffered despair and the deepest contradictions. First, hell itself must be suffered, if one is to guard one’s self against the trap of the devouring gates [of hell]. The damned and the elect do not have the same assumptions. The godless one accepts Scripture with infinite gladness. Since another suffers for him, the godless one constructs a strong faith. But when it concerns perceiving the lamb who unlocks the book [see Rev. 5:6-8], a godless person does not want to lose his soul, does not want to become like the lamb, and wants to help himself in his comfortable way with clear texts of Scripture. This is false.
If the whole Scripture is set forth in human fashion for one of the scribes, he still cannot grasp it, even if he cracks his head open trying. He must wait until it is opened for him with the key of David [Is. 22:22] in the winepress [of tribulation; see Rev. 14:19]. For he must be crushed in all of his usual ways so that he becomes so poor in spirit that he finds absolutely no other faith in him except that he gladly wants the right faith. This is the faith that is as small as a mustard seed [Lk. 17:6]. Then the person must see that he patiently endures the action of God, so that he grows from day to day in the knowledge of God. Then the person is taught only by God, totally and completely, and not by any creature. What all creatures know becomes for him a bitter gall because it is based on an inverted way of knowing.
May God guard and save all of his elect from this false way after they have fallen into it. May Christ grant this. Amen