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Divine Providence and Chance
Also: Fortune, Sagacity, Prudence

See also Influx

AC 6485. I have conversed with good spirits about the Divine Providence and about man's own sagacity, and by means of a representation familiar among them they showed me about this matter, namely, by dust scattered and rare in the atmosphere. They said that relatively to the Divine Providence man's own sagacity is like that speck of dust in comparison with the universal atmosphere, and which is relatively nothing and falls to the ground. They added that those who attribute all things to their own sagacity are like those who wander in dark forests, not knowing the way out, and if they find it they attribute it either to their own sagacity or to fortune. The angels said further that all accidents are of Providence, and that for many reasons Providence acts silently and secretly; and that if it acted openly, man could not possibly be reformed.

Here are various answers one can give to the fundamental question of who or what controls the events of the world and of our lives.

1. The interactionist point of view says that each event has a multiplicity of causes. To some extent it is due to natural laws in the environment, and to some extent to human decision. Some people add God or divine providence as an additional factor under certain conditions.

This point of view includes atheists, agnostics, humanists, spiritists, theosophists, cultists, and churchgoers who do not believe in a personal God, in contrast to the traditional religious point of view (number 2 below). The materialists and the humanist transcendentalists both put the locus of control in humans, and not at all in Divine intervention. The materialists, because they deny the existence of the Divine; the transcendentalists, because they define the Divine or the spiritual in non-personal terms (for example, "God is not a person").

2. The traditional religious point of view asserts God's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence, hence by faith, accept God's hand in every event. The incidents and accidents that make up our individual unique biographies are woven together by God to serve His purposes and His ways (in other words, "God is a Divine Person").

Within this tradition there are varieties of views with regards to the extent of God's personal involvement. There are those who believe that God has created intermediary forces such as nature, and good and evil influences. We are subject to these forces and it is up to us to gain power over them. At the same time, they believe that God can intervene at any time, given the appropriate circumstances. For example, there is the widespread belief that God lets things run their course but may decide to intervene as a result of someone's special prayer request.

3. The Swedenborgian or rational religious point of view presupposes God's personal and direct intervention in the smallest of events. No event can occur except through God's direct and continuous creation, supervision, and continuation. This includes the motion of atomic particles, the events and accidents of history, or the sequence of thoughts and feelings of an individual from birth to eternity. Thus, by definition, if it is something, then it is being managed by God. Thus, omnipotence is not merely the power to intervene anytime anywhere; it is also the continuous creation or management of every single event.

Note that this point of view is both rational and religious. It is rational because it leaves nothing out of the chain of causation. There are no blind events, or events unforeseen by God, or unmanaged. The whole, and each of its single elements, is managed by One Omnipotent Divine Person. This Person is God.

According to this rational religious perspective, our responsibility lies not in the outcome of events and decisions, for this is managed by God. Rather, our ethics, morals, and faith lie in our intentions: these are from God, when good, and from self, when evil. In other words, when we choose good we receive spiritual benefits not for being good (since only God is good), but for choosing good when we could have chosen bad. Choosing good does not make us good; it only allows us to benefit from it spiritually. To benefit spiritually means that we become happier, more loving and wiser individuals.

God maintains in the mind of everyone, an impression of selfhood and freedom. Thus, our choices in taste, preference, and style are really our own, hence, we reap the spiritual consequences. Our choices are our own when we are allowed to be free. Coerced choices are not spiritually harmful or beneficial. Free choices follow our loves. What we choose in freedom from love is spiritually significant and remains with us forever.

To summarize:

There are three types of answers possible to the question of who or what controls events in the world. First, is the interactionist view. This says that events are the outcome of multiple factors, such as, nature, human decision, and possibly, spiritual (pantheistic) forces. Second, is the traditional religious view. This affirms an omnipotent personal God who can intervene anytime, depending on circumstances. Third, is the rational religious, or Swedenborgian, point of view. This says that no event can occur without God's direct, and personal creation and supervision; this includes the sequence of our thoughts and feelings, but not our free choices made from one's loves or affections. These are not created by God but by the individual. Everything is managed by God, including our thoughts and feelings, but not our choices or intentions. Choices for good create a regenerated character which intends well and thinks wisely. Choices for bad create an evil selfish character which is unwise and delights in the demise of others.

See related concepts: |Regeneration| |Self-witnessing and Awareness| Vertical Community |

Quoting from Swedenborg:

Divine Providence

70. THERE ARE LAWS OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE, AND THESE ARE UNKNOWN TO MEN

It is well known that there is a Divine Providence, but it is not known what its nature is. This is not known because the laws of the Divine Providence are interior truths, hitherto concealed within the wisdom of the angels; but they are now to be revealed in order that what belongs to the Lord may be ascribed to Him, and what does not belong to man may not be ascribed to any man. For very many in the world attribute all things to themselves and their own prudence; and what they cannot so ascribe they call accidental or happening by chance, not knowing that human prudence is nothing and that accidental and happening by chance are empty words.

[2] It is said that the laws of the Divine Providence are interior truths, hitherto concealed within the wisdom of the angels. This is because in the Christian world, as far as religion is concerned (ex religione), the understanding has been closed in respect to Divine things, and consequently has become in such things so dull and resisting that man has not been able because he has not been willing, or has not been willing because he has not been able, to understand anything about the Divine Providence except the fact that it exists, and to reason whether it exists or not, and also whether it is only universal or also particular. When, so far as religion is concerned, the understanding has been closed in respect to Divine things, it could advance no further.

[3] Since it has been acknowledged in the Church that man is unable from himself to do good that is in itself good, and is unable from himself to think truth that is in itself truth, and since these are one with the Divine Providence so that belief in one depends on belief in the other, therefore, lest one be affirmed and the other be denied and thus both perish, it must be explicitly revealed what the Divine Providence is. This, however, cannot be revealed unless the laws are disclosed by which the Lord provides and rules the things of man's will and understanding; for these laws enable man to know the nature of the Divine Providence; and only he who knows its nature can acknowledge it, for in this case he sees it. For this reason the laws of the Divine Providence, hitherto concealed within the wisdom of the angels, are now revealed.

Divine Providence 71.

71. 1. IT IS A LAW OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT MAN SHOULD ACT FROM FREEDOM ACCORDING TO REASON.

It is well known that man has the freedom of thinking and willing as he pleases, but not the freedom to say whatever he thinks and to do whatever he wills. Therefore the freedom that is here meant is spiritual freedom, and not natural freedom, except when the two make one; for thinking and willing are spiritual but speaking and doing are natural. Moreover, these are clearly distinguished in man; for a man can think what he does not speak, and can will what he does not do. From this it is clear that the spiritual and the natural in man are discriminated, so that he cannot pass from one to the other unless by an act of determination. This determination may be compared to a door, which must first be unfastened and then opened, a door which stands open as it were in those who think and will from reason in accordance with the civil laws of the state and the moral laws of society; for they say what they think and do what they will; but a door which stands closed as it were in those who think and will in opposition to those laws. He who pays attention to what he wills and to his consequent actions will observe that such determination takes place, sometimes frequently in a single conversation and in a single action. These things have been stated at this point to make it clear that by acting from freedom according to reason is meant to think and will and thence to speak and do freely what is in accordance with reason.

Divine Providence 72.

72. But as few know that this can be a law of the Divine Providence, chiefly because man has thus freedom also to think evil and falsity, although the Divine Providence is continually leading man to think and to will what is good and true, therefore, that this may be clearly perceived it will be set forth distinctly step by step in the following order:

I. Man has reason and freedom, or rationality and liberty; and these two faculties are from the Lord in man.

II. Whatever a man does from freedom, whether it be of reason or not, provided it is according to his reason, appears to him to be his own.

III. Whatever a man does from freedom according to his thought, is appropriated to him as his own, and remains with him.

IV. It is by means of these two faculties (rationality and liberty) that man is reformed and regenerated by the Lord; and without them he cannot be reformed and regenerated.

V. By means of these two faculties man can be so far reformed and regenerated as he can be led by means of them to acknowledge that everything true and good that he thinks and does is from the Lord, and not from himself.

VI. The conjunction of the Lord with man, and the reciprocal conjunction of man with the Lord, are effected by means of these two faculties.

VII. The Lord preserves these two faculties in man unimpaired and as sacred in every step of His Divine Providence.

VIII. Therefore it is of the Divine Providence that man should act from freedom according to reason.

Divine Providence 175.

175. 5. IT IS A LAW OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT MAN SHOULD NOT PERCEIVE AND FEEL ANYTHING OF THE OPERATION OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE, BUT STILL THAT HE SHOULD KNOW AND ACKNOWLEDGE IT.

The natural man who does not believe in Divine Providence thinks within himself, "What is Divine Providence when the wicked are advanced to honors and acquire wealth more than the good, and when many such things fall to those who do not believe in a Divine Providence beyond the lot of those who do? Indeed, the unbelieving and the impious can inflict injuries, loss, misfortunes, and sometimes death, upon the believing and the pious, and this by cunning and malice." Therefore he thinks, "Do I not see from actual experience as in clear daylight that crafty devices, if only a man by skillful cunning can make them appear to be trustworthy and just, prevail over fidelity and justice? What, then, is left but necessities, consequences and things of chance, in which nothing of Divine Providence appears? Do not necessities belong to nature? Are not consequences causes flowing out from natural or civil order? And do not things of chance come from causes which are not known, or from no cause at all?" Such are the thoughts of the natural man who ascribes nothing to God but all things to nature; for he that attributes nothing to God attributes nothing to the Divine Providence, since God and the Divine Providence make one.

[2] The spiritual man, on the other hand, speaks and thinks within himself quite differently. Although he has no perception in his thought, and is not sensible by his eyesight, of the Divine Providence in its course, still he knows and acknowledges it. Now since the appearances and consequent fallacies mentioned above have blinded the understanding, and this can receive no sight unless the fallacies which induced the blindness and the falsities which induced the darkness are dispelled, and since this cannot be done except by truths which have in them the power of dispelling falsities, therefore these truths shall be disclosed; and for the sake of distinctness this shall be done in the following order:

I. If a man perceived and felt the operation of the Divine Providence he would not act from freedom according to reason; nor would anything appear to him to be as from himself. It would be the same if he foreknew events.

II. If man saw clearly the Divine Providence he would interpose in the order and tenor of its course, and would pervert and destroy that order.

III. If man saw clearly the Divine Providence he would either deny God or make himself God.

IV. It is granted to man to see the Divine Providence in the back and not in the face; and this in a spiritual state and not in a natural state.

Divine Providence 176.

176. I. IF A MAN PERCEIVED AND FELT THE OPERATION OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD NOT ACT FROM FREEDOM ACCORDING TO REASON; NOR WOULD ANYTHING APPEAR TO HIM TO BE AS FROM HIMSELF. IT WOULD BE THE SAME IF HE FOREKNEW EVENTS. It has been duly made clear to the understanding in the above articles that it is a law of the Divine Providence that man should act from freedom according to reason; also that everything a man wills, thinks, speaks and does should appear to him as of himself; and that without this appearance no man would have anything of his own, nor would he be a man in his own right. Therefore he would have no proprium; and so there would be no imputation to him, without which it would be a matter of indifference whether he did evil or good, and whether he had the faith of God or the persuasion of hell; in a word, he would not be a man.

[2] It will now be shown that a man would have no liberty to act according to reason, and that nothing would appear to him to be as from himself if he perceived and felt the operation of the Divine Providence; since, if he perceived and felt it, he would also be led by it. For the Lord leads all by means of His Divine Providence, and it is only an appearance that a man leads himself, as was also shown above. Therefore, if a man had a lively perception and feeling of being led he would not be conscious of life: and he would then be moved to utter sounds and to act much like a graven image. If he were still conscious of life he would be led like one bound hand and foot, or like a beast of burden yoked to a cart. Who does not see that a man would then have no freedom? If he had no freedom he would have no reason, for everyone thinks from freedom and in freedom; and whatever he does not think from freedom and in freedom appears to him to be not from himself but from another. Indeed, if you consider this interiorly you will perceive that he would have no thought, still less any reason; and consequently he would not be a man.

Divine Providence 177.

177. It is the continual operation of the Divine Providence of the Lord to withdraw man from evils. If anyone were to perceive and feel this continual operation, and yet were not led as one bound, would he not continually struggle against it, and thus either dispute with God or mingle self with the Divine Providence? If he did the latter he would make himself also God; if the former he would release himself from restraint and deny God. It is very evident that there would then be two powers continually acting against each other, the power of evil from man and the power of good from the Lord; and when two opposites act against each other then either one conquers or both perish. In this case if one conquers they both perish; for the evil that belongs to man does not receive good from the Lord in a moment, nor does good from the Lord cast out the evil from man in a moment; for if either were done in a moment no life would be left to man. These and many other harmful results would follow if man were manifestly to perceive or feel the operation of the Divine Providence. But this will be clearly demonstrated by examples in what follows.

Divine Providence 178.

178. Man is not granted a knowledge of future events, also for the reason that he may be able to act from freedom according to reason; for it is well known that a man desires to have in effect whatever he loves, and he leads himself to this end by his reason. It is also known that everything a man meditates in his reason arises from the love of bringing it into effect by means of his thought. Therefore, if he knew the effect or result from Divine prediction his reason would come to rest, and with it his love; for love with reason comes to an end in the effect, and from that point it begins anew. It is the very delight of reason to see from love the effect in thought not the effect in its attainment, but before it, that is, not in the present but in the future. Hence man has what is called Hope, which increases and decreases in the reason as he sees or looks forward to the event. This delight is completed in the event, but it thereafter fades away with the thought concerning the event. It would be similar in the case of an event that was foreknown.

[2] The mind of man is continually in these three things, called end, cause, and effect. If one of these is wanting the human mind is not in its life. The affection of the will is the originating end (a quo); the thought of the understanding is the operative cause (per quam); and the action of the body, as the speech of the mouth, or external sensation, is the effect of the end by means of the thought. It is clear to anyone that the human mind is not in its life when it is in nothing beyond the affection of the will, and similarly when it is only in the effect. Therefore, the mind has no life from one of these separately, but only from the three conjointly. This activity of the mind would diminish and pass away if the event were foretold.

Divine Providence 179.

179. As a foreknowledge of future events destroys the human itself, which is to act from freedom according to reason, therefore it is not granted to anyone to know the future; but everyone is permitted to form conclusions concerning future events from the reason; hence reason with all that pertains to it enters into man's life. It is on this account that a man does not know his lot after death, or know of any event before he is involved in it. For if he knew this, he would no longer think from his interior self how he should act or how he should live in order to meet the event; but he would only think from his exterior self that he was meeting it. Now this state closes the interiors of his mind in which the two faculties of his life, liberty and rationality, especially reside. A longing to know the future is innate with most people; but this longing derives its origin from the love of evil. It is therefore taken away from those who believe in the Divine Providence; and there is given them a trust that the Lord is disposing their lot. Consequently they do not desire to know it beforehand lest they should in any way set themselves against the Divine Providence. This the Lord teaches by many passages in Luke xii. 14-48.

[2] That this is a law of the Divine Providence may be confirmed by many things from the spiritual world. Most persons when they enter that world after death desire to know their lot. They are told that if they have lived well their lot is in heaven, and if they have lived wickedly it is in hell. But as all, even the wicked, fear hell, they ask what they should do and what they should believe to enter heaven. They are told that they may do and believe as they will; but that they should know that in hell good is not done and truth is not believed, but only in heaven. To each one the answer is: "Seek out what is good and what is true; then think the truth and do the good, if you are able." So in the spiritual world as in the natural world all are left to act from freedom according to reason; but as they have acted in this world so do they act in the spiritual world. His own life awaits everyone and consequently his own lot, for the lot pertains to the life.

Divine Providence 180.

180. II. IF A MAN SAW CLEARLY THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD INTERPOSE IN THE ORDER AND TENOR OF ITS COURSE, AND WOULD PERVERT AND DESTROY THAT ORDER. In order that this may come within the clear perception of the rational man and also of the natural man it may be illustrated by examples and in this order:

1. There is such a connection between external and internal things that they make one in every operation.

2. Man is associated with the Lord only in certain externals; and if he were at the same time in internals he would pervert and destroy the whole order and tenor of the course of the Divine Providence;

but as has just been said, it will be illustrated by examples.

[2] First: There is such a connection between external and internal things that they make one in every operation. This will be illustrated here by examples taken from several parts of the human body. In the whole body and in every part there are both externals and internals; its externals are called skins, membranes, and sheaths (or coverings); while the internals are forms variously composed and interwoven of nerve fibers and blood vessels. The surrounding sheath by offshoots from itself enters into all the interiors even to the inmost parts; and thus the external, which is a sheath, unites itself with all the internals, which are organic forms composed from fibers and vessels. From this it follows that as the external acts or is acted upon so the internals act or are acted upon; for there is a continuous binding together of them all.

[3] Take some common sheath in the body, the pleura for example which is the common sheath of the chest, or of the heart and lungs, and examine it with an anatomical eye; or if you have not made a study of anatomy, consult anatomists. You will learn that this common sheath, by various circumvolutions, and then by continuations from itself becoming finer and finer, enters into the innermost parts of the lungs, even into the tiniest bronchial branches and into the very minute sacs which are the beginnings of the lungs; not to mention its subsequent progress through the trachea to the larynx towards the tongue. From these things it is clear that there is a continuous connection between the outer-most things and the inmost. Therefore, just as the outermost acts or is acted upon so also the interiors from the inmost things act or are acted upon. This is the reason that, when this outermost sheath, the pleura, becomes congested or inflamed or ulcerated, the lungs labor from their inmost parts; and if the disease grows worse, all action of the lungs ceases and the man dies.

[4] It is the same everywhere else in the whole body; as with the peritoneum, the common sheath covering all the abdominal viscera, and also with the sheaths surrounding the several organs as the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, the spleen, the intestines, the mesentery, the kidneys, and the organs of generation in both sexes. Take any one of these viscera, and either examine it yourself and you will see, or consult those skilled in this science and you will learn. Take for instance the liver, and you will find that there is a connection between the peritoneum and the sheath of that organ and through the sheath with its inmost parts; for there are continual extensions from the sheath, and insertions towards the interior parts, and in this way continuations to the inmost parts. Hence there is a binding together of the whole so that when the sheath acts or is acted upon the whole form acts or is acted upon in like manner. It is the same with the rest of the organs, because in every form the general and the particular, or the universal and the singular, by wonderful conjunction act as one.

[5] It will be seen below that in spiritual forms and in the changes and variations of their state, which have relation to the operations of the will and the understanding, the same course is followed as in natural forms and in their operations, which have relation to motion and action. Now since man is associated with the Lord in certain external operations, and since no one is deprived of the liberty of acting according to reason, it follows that the Lord can only act in internals as He acts together with man in externals. Therefore, if man does not shun and turn away from evils as sins, the external of his thought and will and at the same time the internal become vitiated and are destroyed, comparatively as the pleura is affected by its disease called pleurisy, which causes the death of the body.

[6] Second: If man were at the same time in internals he would pervert and destroy the whole order and tenor of the Divine Providence. This also may be illustrated by examples from the human body. If man knew all the workings of both brains into the fibers, of the fibbers into the muscles, and of the muscles into actions, and from his knowledge of these things were to dispose all things as he disposes his actions, would he not pervert and destroy them all? [7] If man knew how the stomach digests, how the surrounding viscera absorb their own portion, work upon the blood, and distribute it for all the needs of life, and if he had the disposing of these as he has of external things, such as eating and drinking, would he not pervert and destroy them all? When he is unable to dispose the external, which appears to be a single thing, without destroying it by luxury and intemperance, what would he do if he had the disposition of the internals, which are infinite in number? Therefore man's internals, lest he should enter into them by the exercise of his will and gain control of them, are entirely removed from the scope of the will, with the exception of the muscles which constitute the covering; and, moreover, it is not known how these act; it is only known that they do act.

[8] It is the same with the other organs; as, for example, if man had the disposing of the interiors of the eye for seeing, the interiors of the ear for hearing, the interiors of the tongue for tasting, the interiors of the skin for feeling, the interiors of the heart for systolic action, the interiors of the lungs for breathing, the interiors of the mesentery for distributing the chyle, the interiors of the kidneys for secretion, the interiors of the organs of generation for propagating, the interiors of the womb for perfecting the embryo, and so on, would he not in innumerable ways pervert and destroy in them the order of the course of the Divine Providence? It is known that man is in externals, as, for example, that he sees with the eye, hears with the ear, tastes with the tongue, feels with the skin, breathes with the lungs, contributes to propagation, and so on. Is it not enough for him to know about the externals and to dispose them for the health of body and mind? When he is unable to do this, what would happen if he also had the disposing of the internals? Hence it may now be evident that if man saw clearly the Divine Providence he would interpose in the order and tenor of its course, and pervert and destroy that order.

Divine Providence 181.

181. It is the same in the spiritual things of the mind as it is in the natural things of the body, because all things of the mind correspond to all things of the body. For this reason also the mind actuates the body in externals, and generally in response to its every suggestion. It moves the eye to see, the ears to hear, the mouth and tongue to eat and drink, and also to speak, the hands to act, the feet to walk, the generative organs to propagate. The mind moves not only the externals to these actions but also the internals throughout the whole series, the last from the inmost and the inmost from the last. Thus while it is moving the mouth to speak, it at the same time moves the lungs, the larynx, the glottis, the tongue, the lips, each separately to its own function, and even the face to present a suitable expression.

[2] Hence it is clear that what was said of the natural forms of the body may also be said of the spiritual forms of the mind, and that what was said of the natural operations of the body may also be said of the spiritual operations of the mind. Consequently, as man disposes the externals so the Lord disposes the internals; and this He does in one way if man, of himself, disposes the externals, and in another way if he disposes the externals from the Lord and at the same time as of himself. Moreover, the mind of man in its entire form is a man; for it is man's spirit, and this alter death appears a man precisely as in the world; and consequently there are similar things in both body and mind. So what has been said of the conjunction of externals with internals in the body is to be understood of the conjunction of externals with internals in the mind; with this difference only, that the one is natural and the other is spiritual.

Divine Providence 182.

182. III. IF A MAN SAW CLEARLY THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD EITHER DENY GOD OR MAKE HIMSELF GOD. The merely natural man says to himself, "What is Divine Providence? Is it anything else or more than a phrase that the common people have picked up from the clergy? Who sees anything of it? Are there not prudence, wisdom, cunning and malice, and are not all things in the world done from these? Are not the other things that result from these necessities and consequences, and are there not many more things that happen by chance? Does the Divine Providence lie concealed in these? How can it be in deeds of treachery and cunning? Yet it is maintained that the Divine Providence does all things. Well, then, make it visible to me and I will believe in it. Can anyone believe in it before he sees it?"

[2] So says the merely natural man; but the spiritual man speaks differently. Because he acknowledges God, he also acknowledges the Divine Providence, and moreover he sees it. However, he cannot make it manifest to anyone whose thoughts are only in nature and from nature; for such a one cannot raise his mind above nature and see in its phenomena anything of the Divine Providence, or draw conclusions concerning it from the laws of nature, which are also laws of Divine Wisdom. If, therefore, he saw clearly the Divine Providence he would mingle it with nature, and so would not only enshroud it with fallacies but would also profane it; and instead of acknowledging it he would deny it; and he who in his heart denies the Divine Providence also denies God.

[3] It must be thought that either. God or nature governs all things. He who thinks that God governs all things thinks that they are governed by Love itself and Wisdom itself, thus by Life itself. But he who thinks that nature governs all things thinks that they are governed by natural heat and natural light; and yet these in themselves are dead, because they are derived from a dead sun. Does not what is itself living govern what is dead? Can what is dead govern anything? If you think that what is dead can impart life to itself you are spiritually insane, for life must come from Life.

Divine Providence 183.

183. It does not appear to be likely that if man saw clearly the Divine Providence and its operation he would deny God; for it would appear that if anyone saw it clearly he could not but acknowledge it and thus acknowledge God; yet the contrary is the case. The Divine Providence in no circumstance acts together with the will's love in man, but constantly acts against it. For man from his hereditary evil is always panting for the lowest hell; but the Lord by His Providence is continually leading him away and withdrawing him from it, first to a milder hell, then away from hell, and finally to Himself in heaven. This operation of the Divine Providence is perpetual. Therefore, if man saw clearly or felt this withdrawal or leading away, he would become angry and, regarding God as his enemy, from the evil of his proprium he would deny God. Therefore, in order that man may not know this he is kept in a state of freedom, and consequently he knows no otherwise than that he leads himself.

[2] But examples may serve to illustrate this. Man by his hereditary nature desires to become great and also to become rich; and in proportion as these desires are unrestrained he longs to become greater and richer, and at length to be greatest and richest; nor would he rest here, but would desire to be greater than God Himself and to possess heaven itself. This inordinate desire lies most deeply concealed in hereditary evil, and consequently in man's life and in his life's nature. The Divine Providence does not remove this evil in a moment; for if it were removed in a moment man would cease to live; but the Divine Providence removes it quietly and gradually without man's knowing anything about it. This it does by permitting man to act according to thought which he rationally adopts. Then by various means, rational, civil and moral, it leads him away; and he is thus withdrawn as far as he can be led in freedom. Nor can evil be removed from anyone unless it becomes evident, and is seen and acknowledged. It is like a wound which does not heal unless it is opened.

[3] If, therefore, man were to know and see that the Lord, through His Divine Providence, operates in this manner against his life's love which is the source of his highest delight, he could not but go in the opposite direction and, becoming enraged, take action against it, revile it, and finally from his evil set aside the operation of the Divine Providence by denying it and thus denying God. This especially would he do if he saw it as an obstacle to his success, and if he saw himself cast down from his position of honor and stripped of his wealth.

[4] It should be known, however, that the Lord in no wise leads man away from seeking honors and acquiring wealth, but that He leads him away from the inordinate desire of seeking honors for the sake of eminence alone, that is, for the sake of himself and also from acquiring wealth* for the sake of opulence alone, that is, for the sake of riches. However, when the Lord leads man away from these He introduces him into the love of uses, in order that he may regard high position not for his own sake but for the sake of uses; and thus as belonging to the uses and hence to himself, and not as belonging to himself and hence to the uses. The same is true of wealth. That the Lord continually humbles the proud and exalts the humble He Himself teaches in many places in the Word; and what He there teaches is also of His Divine Providence.

Divine Providence 184.

184. The same course is followed with other evils in which man is from heredity, such as adulteries, frauds, revenge, blasphemy, and others of a like nature; and none of these could be removed unless the liberty to think and will them were left to man and he from this liberty removed them as of himself. Yet this he cannot do unless he acknowledges the Divine Providence and implores that the work may be done by it. Without this liberty and at the same time the Divine Providence those evils would be like poison kept in and not expelled, which would quickly spread and bring death to the whole system; or they would be like a disease of the heart itself from which the whole body soon dies.

Divine Providence 185.

185. That this is so cannot be better known than from the case of men after death, in the spiritual world. Most of those there who became great and wealthy in the natural world, and who in their honors and wealth regarded themselves alone, at first speak of God and of the Divine Providence as if they had acknowledged them in their hearts. But as they now see clearly the Divine Providence, and from it their final lot, which is that they are to come into hell, they join the devils there, and then not only deny but also blaspheme God; finally reaching such a state of madness that they acknowledge the more powerful of the devils as their gods, and desire nothing more ardently than that they also should themselves become gods.

Divine Providence 186.

186. If man saw clearly the operations of the Divine Providence he would go contrary to God and also deny Him, because man is in the delight of self-love, and this delight constitutes his very life. Therefore, when he is kept in the delight of his life he is in his freedom, for freedom and that delight make one. If, therefore, he perceived that he is constantly being led away from his delight he would be enraged as against one who desired to destroy his life, and would regard him as an enemy. In order to prevent this the Lord does not manifestly appear in His Divine Providence, but by it He leads man as silently as an imperceptible stream or favoring current bears a vessel along. Consequently, man does not know but that he is constantly in his own proprium, for man's freedom and his proprium make one. Hence it is clear that freedom appropriates to man what the Divine Providence introduces; but this would not take place if the Divine Providence made itself evident. To be appropriated is to become part of the life.

Divine Providence 182.

182. III. IF A MAN SAW CLEARLY THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD EITHER DENY GOD OR MAKE HIMSELF GOD. The merely natural man says to himself, "What is Divine Providence? Is it anything else or more than a phrase that the common people have picked up from the clergy? Who sees anything of it? Are there not prudence, wisdom, cunning and malice, and are not all things in the world done from these? Are not the other things that result from these necessities and consequences, and are there not many more things that happen by chance? Does the Divine Providence lie concealed in these? How can it be in deeds of treachery and cunning? Yet it is maintained that the Divine Providence does all things. Well, then, make it visible to me and I will believe in it. Can anyone believe in it before he sees it?"

[2] So says the merely natural man; but the spiritual man speaks differently. Because he acknowledges God, he also acknowledges the Divine Providence, and moreover he sees it. However, he cannot make it manifest to anyone whose thoughts are only in nature and from nature; for such a one cannot raise his mind above nature and see in its phenomena anything of the Divine Providence, or draw conclusions concerning it from the laws of nature, which are also laws of Divine Wisdom. If, therefore, he saw clearly the Divine Providence he would mingle it with nature, and so would not only enshroud it with fallacies but would also profane it; and instead of acknowledging it he would deny it; and he who in his heart denies the Divine Providence also denies God.

[3] It must be thought that either. God or nature governs all things. He who thinks that God governs all things thinks that they are governed by Love itself and Wisdom itself, thus by Life itself. But he who thinks that nature governs all things thinks that they are governed by natural heat and natural light; and yet these in themselves are dead, because they are derived from a dead sun. Does not what is itself living govern what is dead? Can what is dead govern anything? If you think that what is dead can impart life to itself you are spiritually insane, for life must come from Life.

Miracles and Signs

18. The Divine miracles which take place to-day are not manifest, but hidden. In the course of their occurrence there are many happenings which, because they do not appear as miracles, are ascribed to chance, to prudence, or to nature, except by those who acknowledge the Divine Providence in every single event. They are hidden, for the reason already stated, in order that those minds should not be influenced inopportunely, whose interiors the Lord is preparing for receiving good and truth; but that they should be in freedom, that is, that they should receive their faith from an interior affection. That is why the Lord said to Thomas: 'Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they who do not see, and yet believe.' (John 20:29.)

Conjugial Love

316. The second Memorable Relation:

Walking once in tranquillity of animus and delightful peace of mind, I saw in the distance a grove, midway in which was an avenue leading to a small palace; and I saw maidens and young men and husbands and wives entering therein. In the spirit, I also went thither, and asked a guard standing at the entrance whether I too might enter. He looked at me, and I said, "Why do you look at me?" He answered: "I look at you to see whether the delight of peace which is in your face is in any way derived from the delight of conjugial love. Behind this avenue is a small garden, and in its center a house where are two newly married partners, and today their friends of both sexes are coming to them to wish them happiness. Those whom I admit, I myself do not know, but I was told that I would know them by their faces; if in their faces I saw the delight of conjugial love I was to admit, but not others."

All angels can perceive the heart's delights of others from their faces, and because I was meditating on conjugial love, it was the delight of that love that he saw in my face; the meditation shone forth from my eyes and thence entered the interiors of my face. Therefore he told me I might enter.

[2] The avenue by which I entered was an avenue of fruit trees joined together by their branches, thus forming a continuous wall of trees on either side. Through this avenue I passed into a small garden which breathed a pleasant fragrance from its shrubs and flowers. The shrubs and the flowers were in pairs, and I heard that gardens of this kind appear around houses where there are or have been weddings, and that they are therefore called nuptial gardens.

I then went into the house and there saw the two partners holding each other by the hand and conversing together from love truly conjugial; and it was given me to see from their faces the effigy of conjugial love, and from their conversation its vitality.

With many others, I offered my congratulations and wished them happiness, after which I went into the nuptial garden. There, on the right, I saw a group of young men to which all who came from the house were hastening. The reason they were all hastening was because the discourse there was about conjugial love, and by some hidden power such discourse attracts the minds of all. I then heard a wise man speaking of that love, and what I heard was in brief as follows:

[3] "The Lord's Divine Providence is most singular and at the same time most universal in regard to marriages in the heavens, and in the marriages themselves, because all the happiness of heaven springs from the delights of conjugial love, as sweet waters from the sweet vein of a fountain. Therefore it is provided by the Lord that conjugial pairs be born, and that, all unknown to the boy and girl, they be continually educated for marriage; that in due time, the girl, then a marriageable maiden, and the boy then a young man fit for entrance into marriage, meet somewhere as if by chance and see each other; that, as if by instinct, they instantly know that they are mates, and, as though from a kind of inner dictate, think within themselves, the young man, "She is mine", and the maiden, "He is mine"; and that after this thought has dwelt for some time in the minds of both, they deliberately address each other and are betrothed. It is said, as if by fate and as if by instinct, but what is meant is by Divine Providence because, when not known, Divine Providence has this appearance."

That conjugial pairs are born, and, unknown to both, are educated for marriage, this he confirmed by the conjugial similitude visible in the faces of both; also by their inmost and eternal union, in animus and mind. Unions of this kind, such as they are in heaven, are not possible unless foreseen and provided by the Lord.

[4] After the wise man had thus spoken and the company had applauded, he said further: "There is something conjugial in the very minutest particulars with man, both male and female; but this conjugial is one thing with the male and another with the female. In the masculine conjugial there is something conjunctive with the feminine conjugial, and vice versa, and this in their most single parts." This he confirmed by the marriage of the will and understanding in each individual. "These two act together upon the most single parts of the mind, and upon the most single parts of the body, and from this it can be seen that the conjugial is present in each individual substance, even the least. This becomes evident from their compound substances, these being made up of simple substances. Thus there are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two cheeks, two lips, two arms and hands, two loins, two feet; and within man, two hemispheres of the brain, two ventricles of the heart, two lobes of the lungs, two kidneys, two testicles; and where the organs are not dual they are yet divided into two parts. They are two because the one pertains to the will and the other to the understanding, and these act upon each other so marvelously that they present a one. Thus the two eyes make one sight, the two ears one hearing, the two nostrils one smell, the two lips one speech, the two hands one labor, the two feet one walking, the two hemispheres of the brain one dwelling-place of the mind, the two chambers of the heart one life of the body by means of the blood, the two lobes of the lungs one respiration, and so on; but the masculine and feminine when united by love truly conjugial make one life completely human."

[5] While these words were being spoken, there appeared on the right, lightning which became red; and on the left, lightning which became a bright white. Both were mild, and through the eyes they entered into the mind and enlightened this also. After these lightnings came thunder, being a gentle murmur flowing down from the angelic heaven and growing louder. Hearing and seeing this, the wise man said: "This is a sign and admonition to me that I should add these words to my discourse: The right of those pairs signifies their good, and the left their truth. This is from the marriage of good and truth which is inscribed on the whole man and on his every single part; and good harks back to the will, and truth to the understanding, and both together to a one. It is because of this that in heaven the right eye is the good of sight, and the left its truth; the right ear the good of hearing, and the left its truth; the right hand the good of man's power, and the left its truth; and so likewise with the other pairs. It was because the right and left have these significations that the Lord said:

If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; and if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off Matt. 5:29, 30. by which He meant that if good becomes evil, it is to be cast out; and also that He told His Disciples that they should cast the net on the right side of the ship, and when they did so, they took a great multitude of fishes (John 21:6, 7), by which He meant that they should teach the good of charity and thus would gather men."

[6] After these words, the two lightnings were again seen but milder than before; and it was then seen that the lightning on the left derived its bright whiteness from the ruddy fire of the lightning on the right. Seeing this, the wise man said, "This is a sign from heaven confirmatory of what I have said; for in heaven the fiery is good, and bright white is truth. The sight of the lightning on the left taking its brightness from the ruddy fire of the lightning on the right is a sign showing that the bright whiteness of light, or light itself, is nothing else than the brilliance of fire."

On hearing this, all went home, kindled by those lightnings and by the discourse concerning them, with the good and truth of gladness.

Arcana Coelestia

AC 6481. Spirits coming into the other life bring with them the opinion that the Divine Providence is universal, but not in the singulars. The cause of this opinion had been that they had seen the evil exalted to honors, and become rich, and crowned with success, which such persons ascribe to their own sagacity; not knowing that the Divine Providence has for its end the eternal salvation of man, thus not his good fortune in this world, namely, his opulence and eminence, wherein most persons during the life of the body make happiness itself consist; when yet the fact is not so, for eminence usually begets the love of self, and opulence the love of the world, thus what is contrary to love to God and to charity toward the neighbor. Therefore such things are given to the evil, and also to the good if they are not unsuitable and do not withdraw them from heaven. Moreover the Lord provides for His ends through the evil equally as through the good; for the Lord moves the evil through their very loves to do what is good to the neighbor, to their country, and the church; for the evil desire to be in eminence, they desire their own advantage, and for the sake of these things they desire to seem upright and zealous, and from this desire, as from a fire, they are more strongly moved to do such things than are the well-disposed. It is also permitted the evil to believe that all things are of their own sagacity, and that there is no Divine Providence, or only one that is universal. As they are not willing to perceive otherwise, and in order that they may perform such things as are conducive to the public good, successes are also given them in accordance with their projects, which successes are greater incitements to them from the fact that they ascribe them to themselves.

AC 8478. Let no one make a residue of it till the morning. That this signifies that they should not be solicitous about acquiring it from themselves, is evident from the fact that the manna was to be given every morning, and that worms would be bred in that which was left over, by which is signified that the Lord daily provides necessaries, and that therefore they ought not to be solicitous about acquiring them from themselves. This also is meant by the "daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer, and likewise by the Lord's words in Matthew:

Be not solicitous for your soul, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on; why are ye solicitous about things to put on? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: therefore be ye not solicitous, saying, What shall we eat? and what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the nations seek; doth not your Heavenly Father know that ye have need of all these things? Seek ye first the kingdom of the heavens, and His righteousness; then shall all these things be added to you; therefore be ye not solicitous for the morrow, for the morrow will take care of the things of itself (6:25, 28, 31-34).

In like manner in Luke 12:11, 12, 22-31.

[2] As in this and the following verses in the internal sense care for the morrow is treated of, and as this care is not only forbidden, but is also condemned (that it is forbidden is signified by that they were not to make a residue of the manna till the morning, and that it is condemned is signified by that the worm was bred in the residue, and it stank), he who looks at the subject no deeper than from the sense of the letter may believe that all care for the morrow is to be cast aside, and thus that the necessaries of life are to be awaited daily from heaven; but he who looks at the subject deeper than from the letter, as for instance he who looks at it from the internal sense, is able to know what is meant by "care for the morrow." It does not mean the care of procuring for oneself food and raiment, and even resources for the time to come; for it is not contrary to order for anyone to be provident for himself and his own. But those have care for the morrow who are not content with their lot; who do not trust in the Divine, but in themselves; and who have regard for only worldly and earthly things, and not for heavenly things. With such there universally reigns solicitude about things to come, and a desire to possess all things and to dominate over all, which is kindled and grows according to the additions thus made, and finally does so beyond all measure. They grieve if they do not obtain the objects of their desire, and feel anguish at the loss of them; and they have no consolation, because of the anger they feel against the Divine, which they reject together with everything of faith, and curse themselves. Such are they who have care for the morrow.

[3] Very different is the case with those who trust in the Divine. These, notwithstanding they have care for the morrow, still have it not, because they do not think of the morrow with solicitude, still less with anxiety. Unruffled is their spirit whether they obtain the objects of their desire, or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of them, being content with their lot. If they become rich, they do not set their hearts on riches; if they are raised to honors, they do not regard themselves as more worthy than others; if they become poor, they are not made sad; if their circumstances are mean, they are not dejected. They know that for those who trust in the Divine all things advance toward a happy state to eternity, and that whatever befalls them in time is still conducive thereto.

[4] Be it known that the Divine Providence is universal, that is, in things the most minute; and that they who are in the stream of Providence are all the time carried along toward everything that is happy, whatever may be the appearance of the means; and that those are in the stream of Providence who put their trust in the Divine and attribute all things to Him; and that those are not in the stream of Providence who trust in themselves alone and attribute all things to themselves, because they are in the opposite, for they take away providence from the Divine, and claim it for themselves. Be it known also that insofar as anyone is in the stream of Providence, so far he is in a state of peace; also that insofar as anyone is in a state of peace from the good of faith, so far he is in the Divine Providence. These alone know and believe that the Divine Providence of the Lord is in everything both in general and in particular, nay, is in the most minute things of all (as may be seen shown above, n. 1919, 4329, 5122, 5894, 6058, 6481-6486, 6490, 7004, 7007), and that the Divine Providence regards what is eternal (n. 6491).

[5] But they who are in the opposite are scarcely willing to hear Providence mentioned, for they ascribe everything to their own sagacity; and what they do not ascribe to this they ascribe to fortune or chance; some to fate, which they do not educe from the Divine, but from nature. They call those simple who do not attribute all things to themselves or to nature. From all this again it can be seen what is the quality of those who have care for the morrow, and what the quality of those who have no care for the morrow.

AC 6487. When I was talking with the angels about the Divine Providence of the Lord, there were spirits also present, who had impressed on themselves some notion about fate or absolute necessity. They supposed the Lord to act from this necessity, because He cannot proceed otherwise than according to the most essential things, thus according to the things that belong to the most perfect order. But they were shown that man has freedom, and that if he acts from freedom, it is not from necessity. This was illustrated by the case of houses which are to be built, in that the bricks, mortar, sand, stones serving for foundations and columns, also timbers and beams, and the like, are brought together not in that order in which the house is to be constructed, but at pleasure; and that the Lord alone knows what kind of a house may be built with these materials. All the things which are from the Lord are most essential; but they do not follow in order from necessity, but in a manner that is applicable to the freedom of man.

AC 7007. 'And will teach you the things you will do' means that the Divine will therefore be within every single thing that is going to happen. This is clear from the meaning of 'teaching' as flowing in, and when it is used as it is here in reference to the Divine, as going forth, as above in 6999; and from the meaning of 'the things you will do' as things that are going to happen. Every single one is meant because what is said refers to the Divine. Something must be said here about what is meant by the Divine within every single thing that happens in a person's life. To man this seems to be altogether untrue, because he thinks that if the Divine were present in every single thing that happens no evil deeds would be done and no one would be damned either, and also that justice would always prevail, the upright would prosper in the world rather than those who are not upright, and many other conditions like these. But because they see the opposite of such conditions they do not believe that the Divine is in every single thing. As a consequence they attribute matters of a specific nature to themselves and their own prudence, and merely general, overall control to the Divine, calling everything else fortune and chance, which to them are blind natural forces.

 

[2] But a person thinks in that kind of way because he has no knowledge of the arcana of heaven, which are that the Lord leaves each person in freedom, for unless a person is in freedom he cannot be reformed at all. What a person does under compulsion does not reform him because compulsion does not allow anything to take root; for anything a person does under compulsion is not an act of willing, whereas what he does in freedom is an act of willing. What is good and true, if it is to be present in a person as his own, must take root in his will. What is outside the will is not the person's own. And since everyone is for that reason left in freedom people are allowed to think what is evil and, so far as outward fears do not hold them back, to do what is evil; and - since everyone is in freedom - those who are not upright rejoice and glory in the world seemingly more than those who are upright. But the glorying and rejoicing of those who are not upright is external or of the body and in the next life it is turned into hellish misery, whereas the glorying and rejoicing of those who are upright, being internal or of the spirit, remains and becomes heavenly bliss.

 

[3] Furthermore high rank and wealth bring worldly but not eternal happiness. This being so, that happiness may be experienced both by those who are not upright and by those who are upright; and if the upright are denied it, it is in order that such things may not divert them from what is good. And since a person thinks that Divine blessings consist in worldly kinds of goodness and bliss, his weakness leads him into errors about God's providence when He sees the opposite taking place. He also draws conclusions from present circumstances as he sees them. He gives no thought to the idea that Divine Providence has what is eternal in view, working especially to bring all things into a state of order in heaven, and also in hell, and so to ensure that heaven will unceasingly resemble a single human being, hell will exist opposite it, and equilibrium will therefore result. He gives no thought to the idea that these things cannot be brought about at all except by means of Divine providence at work in the most specific details of all, thus unless the Divine is constantly governing and directing people's freedom.

[4] For anything further on the subject see what has been stated and shown already regarding Divine providence:

The Lord's providence cannot be overall unless it is present in the most specific details, 1919 (end), 4319, 5122 (end), 5894 (end), 6481-6486, 6490.

The Lord's providence has in view what is eternal, 5264, 6490.

The Lord foresees what is evil and makes provision for what is good, 5155, 5195, 6489.

The Lord turns evil that He foresees into good, 6574.

Things that happen by chance are all part of providence, 5508, 6493, 6494.

One's own prudence is like dust thinly distributed in the air, while providence is, like the entire atmosphere, 6485.

Quite a number of mistaken ideas deny the presence of Divine providence in specific details, 6481.

AC 6485. I have talked to good spirits about Divine Providence and about a person's own prudence. They demonstrated what they had to say on the subject by means of a representation that is a familiar one among them, dust thinly distributed in the air. They have said that one's own prudence compared with Divine Providence is like that dust and the whole atmosphere. In comparison the dust is nothing; and it also falls to the ground. The good spirits added that people who attribute everything to their own prudence are like those who wander in dark forests and do not know the way out; and if they find it they attribute their success either to their own prudence or to fortune. Those spirits went on to say that all things which happen by chance are the work of Providence and that Providence acts silently and secretly, for very many reasons. If it acted openly, they said, a person could not possibly be reformed.

AC 6484. There was a certain spirit who had become quite convinced that nothing was the work of Divine Providence, but that every single thing was attributable to prudence, and also to fortune and chance. He asserted the existence of fortune yet did not know what it was. He was one of the evil spirits who are crafty, for he had spent more time in thinking than in talking to and mixing with others. When he entered the next life he continued there the life he had led previously, as everyone usually does. He enquired after and also learned about everything - including magical devices - which he thought might be of service to him, in looking out for his own happiness. I talked to him and he said that he was in his heaven when things were thus, and that no other heaven could possibly exist than that which he created for himself. But I was led to reply that his kind of heaven is turned into hell as soon as heaven as it really is flows into it. (That spirit was at this time in the world of spirits, and when people are there they experience the joys associated with the loves that ruled them when they were in the world, 5852). It so happened that at that point heaven flowed into that spirit's joy, and suddenly he had the feeling of hell. Horrified by it he said that he would never have believed it. Some good spirits told me that he was more wicked than all the rest, for what flowed from him had more craftiness in it than what flowed from others.

[2] After this the same spirit was taken back into the state of his early childhood. The Lord showed the angels what that state had been like, and also what his future life was foreseen to be like. It was shown that every specific detail of his life had been subject to the Lord's guidance, and that if it had not been he would have thrown himself headlong into an utterly horrible hell, that is, if there had been the smallest lapse in the constant watch kept by the Lord's Providence, as can be demonstrated to the angels in a visual manner. The spirit was also asked whether he ever thought about eternal life. He said that he had no belief in it and cast aside everything of the kind, for the reason that he saw so much confusion, the suffering of the righteous and boasting of the wicked, and the like. He also saw, he said, that animals have senses similar to men's, and similar life, as well as powers of observation and prudence. So his belief was that when he died he would be like them. He went on to say that he was utterly amazed when he realized that he was alive after death.  

AC 5508. 'And they pointed out to him all that was happening to them means reflection by the good of that truth on what was provided up to then. This is clear from the meaning of 'pointing out' as thought and reflection, dealt with in 2861, for what is pointed out to someone is thought based on reflection; and from the meaning of 'all that was happening to them' as what was providential or provided, dealt with below. The reason why it is the good of truth that reflects is that the one to whom 'they pointed out' was Jacob their father, who represents the good of truth, 5506. The reflection did not originate in the truths represented by 'the sons of Jacob', as the sense of the letter implies, for the reason that all reflection and thought based on it which take place in what is lower or more external begin in what is higher or more internal, though they appear to begin in what is lower or more external. And because the good of truth, which 'Jacob' represents, is more internal, reflection by the good of truth is therefore meant.

[2] The reason 'what is happening' means what is providential or has been provided is that every happening or contingency which is otherwise described as fortuitous and attributed to chance or luck is something providential. Divine Providence does its work out of sight and in ways beyond comprehension, for the reason that a person may be able in freedom to attribute that work either to providence or else to chance. For if providence performed its acts in seen and comprehensible ways the dangerous condition would then exist in which a person would first believe, because of what he has seen and comprehended, that those acts were providential, but after that would move away into a contrary belief. In that case truth and falsity would then be joined together in his interior man and the truth would be rendered profane - a condition that holds eternal damnation within it. The retention therefore of a person such as this in a state of disbelief is preferable to his having faith at one point and then departing from it.

[3] This condition is meant in Isaiah,

Say to this people, Hearing, hear- but do not understand; and seeing, see - but do not comprehend. Make the heart of this people fat and their ears heavy, and plaster over their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and their heart understands, and they turn again and are healed. Isa. 6:9, 10; John 12:40.

This also explains why miracles do not take place at the present day. For as with everything else that is seen and comprehensible, miracles would compel a person to believe; and anything that compels takes freedom away. But the whole of a person's reformation and regeneration takes place while he is in freedom; nothing implanted in him if he is not in freedom remains fixed in him. Things are implanted in freedom if an affection for goodness and truth are present in the person, 1937,1947, 2744, 2870-2893, 3145, 3146, 3158, 4401.

[4] The reason why great miracles occurred among the descendants of Jacob was that they were compelled by those miracles to fulfill in their outward form the religious laws they were given; for no more than this was required of those limited to representatives of the Church. With those people things of an external nature were separated from internal ones, which was why they could not undergo any interior reformation. They completely rejected things of an internal nature and were therefore unable to render truths profane, 3398, 3399, 3479, 4680. Such people could be subjected to compulsion without any danger of their profaning what was holy.

[5] People of today ought to believe what they do not see, as is also clear from the Lord's words to Thomas, in John,

Because you have seen Me, Thomas, you have believed; blessed are those who do not see and yet believe. John 20:29.

The truth that contingencies which are otherwise attributed to chance or luck are due to Divine Providence is indeed accepted by the Church; yet there is no real belief in it. Who does not say that God has saved him, who does not give thanks to God when, seemingly by good fortune, he gets out of some great danger? Also, when he is promoted to important positions or comes into wealth, does he not also call this a blessing received from God? Thus the member of the Church accepts that all contingencies are attributable to providence, even though he does not really believe this. But more on these matters will in the Lord's Divine mercy be presented elsewhere.

AC 5179. I once observed an anxious feeling in the lower part of the stomach, from which it was evident to me that such spirits were present. I spoke with them, and said that they should go away, because their sphere induced anxiety and did not agree with the spheres of the spirits who were with me. I then discoursed with them about spheres, saying that there are very many spiritual spheres about man, and that men do not know nor desire to know that such is the case, because they deny all that which is called spiritual, and some whatever is not seen and touched; thus that certain spheres from the spiritual world encompass man, agreeing with his life, and that by means of them man is in company with spirits of similar affection, and that many things take place thereby which the man who attributes all things to nature either denies or ascribes to a more occult nature-as for example that which is ascribed to fortune; for by their experience some persons are fully persuaded that something called fortune is secretly at work, but they know not what is the source of it. That this hidden something is from a spiritual sphere, and is the ultimate of Providence, will of the Lord's Divine mercy be shown elsewhere, from what has been attested by experience.

AC 6493. I have often spoken with spirits about fortune, which in the world appears like chance, because men know not whence it is; and because they do not know this, some deny that there is such a thing. When something happened to me which seemed to be by chance, I was told by the angels that it had happened because spirits of that kind were present; and that when it was a mischance, the sphere of spirits of a corresponding kind had prevailed. Moreover evil spirits have found out how to produce by their arts a sphere giving rise to misfortunes, which appeared exactly as if of chance. And it was further said that all things, nay, the leasts of all things, down to the leasts of the leasts, are directed by the Providence of the Lord, even as to the very steps; and when such a sphere prevails as is contrary thereto, misfortunes happen. They also confirmed the fact that there is no such thing as chance, and that apparent accident, or fortune, is Providence in the ultimate of order, in which all things are comparatively inconstant.

AC 6494. For a number of years I have carefully observed whether fortune is anything, and I have found that it is, and that sagacity then availed nothing. Moreover all who have long reflected on this subject, know and confess this, but they do not know whence it is: scarcely anyone knows that it is from the spiritual world, when yet this is the source of it. I once played in company a common game of chance with dice, and the spirits who were with me spoke to me about fortune in games, and said that what is fortunate was represented to them by a bright cloud, and what is unfortunate by a dusky cloud; and that when a dusky cloud appeared with me, it was impossible for me to win; moreover by this sign they predicted to me the turns of fortune in that game. From this it was given me to know that what is attributed to fortune, even in games, is from the spiritual world; much more that which befalls man in relation to the vicissitudes in the course of his life; and that what is called fortune is from the influx of Providence in the ultimates of order, where it so comes forth; thus that Providence is in the veriest singulars of all things, according to the Lord's words, that not even a hair falls from the head without the will of God.

AC 9010. But God caused it to happen to his hand. That this signifies appearing as of chance, is evident from the idea concerning chance among the ancients, which was that it happened from God; and therefore they expressed the idea of chance by the phrase, "God caused it to happen to the hand." For they who were of the ancient churches knew that the Providence of the Lord is in each and all things, and that things which happen, that is, which appear as of chance, were of Providence. Wherefore the simple, who could not distinguish between the things which were of permission, and those which were of good pleasure, attributed to the Lord both good and evil; good because they knew that all good is from Him; and evil by reason of the appearance. For when a man does evils, and thereby turns himself away from the Lord, it appears as if the Lord turns Himself away; for the Lord then appears to him behind, and not in front. From this then it is that if anyone smote another by chance, thus without will from foresight, it was expressed by the words, "God caused it to happen to the hand." (That the Providence of the Lord is in each and all things, has been already shown, see n. 1919, 4329, 5122, 5155, 5195, 5894, 6058, 6481-6487, 6489, 6491, 7004, 7007, 8478, 8717; also that things which happen, or are of chance, are of Providence, n. 5508, 6493, 6494; and that evil is attributed to the Lord, when yet it is from man, n. 2447, 5798, 6071, 6832, 6991, 6997, 7533, 7877, 7926, 8197, 8227, 8228, 8282, 8284, 8483, 8632.)

AC 5508. And told him all that had befallen them. That this signifies reflection from the good of that truth upon the things hitherto provided, is evident from the signification of "telling," as being to think and reflect (see n. 2862), for what is told anyone is thought of from reflection; and from the signification of "all that had befallen," as being what is of providence, or what is provided (of which in what follows). The reason why the reflection was from the good of truth is that they told Jacob their father, by whom the good of truth is represented (n. 5506). The reason why the reflection was not from the truths represented by the sons of Jacob, as the sense of the letter implies, is that all the reflection and thence thought that the lower or exterior has, comes from the higher or interior, although it appears to come from the lower or exterior; and as the good of truth that Jacob represents is interior, therefore reflection from the good of truth is signified.

[2] That the things which befell them are things of providence or things provided, is because everything that befalls or happens, which in other words is called accidental, and is ascribed to chance or fortune, is of providence. Divine providence works thus invisibly and incomprehensibly in order that man may in freedom ascribe an event either to providence or to chance; for if providence acted visibly and comprehensibly, there would be danger of man's believing, from what he sees and comprehends, that it is of providence, and afterward changing into the contrary. Thus truth and falsity would be conjoined in the interior man, and truth would be profaned, which profanation is attended with eternal damnation. Therefore it is better for such a man to be kept in unbelief than to be in faith and then recede from it.

[3] This is what is meant in Isaiah:

Say to this people, Hearing hear ye, but understand not; and seeing see ye, and know not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and besmear their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and their heart should understand, and they should turn again, and be healed (Isa. 6:9-10; John 12:40). It is for this reason also that miracles are not wrought at this day, for these, like all visible and comprehensible things, would compel men to believe, and whatever compels takes away freedom; when yet all the reformation and regeneration of man is effected in his freedom. That which is not implanted in freedom does not stay. It is implanted in freedom when the man is in the affection of good and truth (see n. 1937, 1947, 2744, 2870-2893, 3145, 3146, 3158, 4031).

[4] That miracles so great were wrought among the posterity of Jacob was for the sake of their being compelled to observe the statutes in their outward form; for this was sufficient for those who, being only in the representatives of a church, were in external things separate from internal, and therefore could not be reformed as to the interiors; for they entirely rejected interior things, and therefore they could not profane truths (n. 3147, 3398, 3399, 3480, 4680). Men like these could be compelled without danger of profaning what is holy.

[5] That man at this day ought to believe what he does not see, is evident from the Lord's words to Thomas, in John:

Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they who do not see, and yet believe (John 20:29).

That the things which happen (in other words which are ascribed to chance or fortune) are of the Divine providence, the church indeed acknowledges, but still does not believe; for who does not say, when apparently by chance he comes out of some great peril, that he has been preserved by God, and also gives God thanks? And likewise when he is exalted to honors, and also when he becomes wealthy, he calls it a blessing from God. Thus the man of the church acknowledges that what happens is of providence, but still does not believe. But on this subject, of the Lord's Divine mercy more will be said elsewhere.

AC 6493. I have often spoken with spirits about fortune, which in the world appears like chance, because men know not whence it is; and because they do not know this, some deny that there is such a thing. When something happened to me which seemed to be by chance, I was told by the angels that it had happened because spirits of that kind were present; and that when it was a mischance, the sphere of spirits of a corresponding kind had prevailed. Moreover evil spirits have found out how to produce by their arts a sphere giving rise to misfortunes, which appeared exactly as if of chance. And it was further said that all things, nay, the leasts of all things, down to the leasts of the leasts, are directed by the Providence of the Lord, even as to the very steps; and when such a sphere prevails as is contrary thereto, misfortunes happen. They also confirmed the fact that there is no such thing as chance, and that apparent accident, or fortune, is Providence in the ultimate of order, in which all things are comparatively inconstant.

Divine Providence 175. 5. IT IS A LAW OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT MAN SHOULD NOT PERCEIVE AND FEEL ANYTHING OF THE OPERATION OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE, BUT STILL THAT HE SHOULD KNOW AND ACKNOWLEDGE IT.

The natural man who does not believe in Divine Providence thinks within himself, "What is Divine Providence when the wicked are advanced to honors and acquire wealth more than the good, and when many such things fall to those who do not believe in a Divine Providence beyond the lot of those who do? Indeed, the unbelieving and the impious can inflict injuries, loss, misfortunes, and sometimes death, upon the believing and the pious, and this by cunning and malice." Therefore he thinks, "Do I not see from actual experience as in clear daylight that crafty devices, if only a man by skillful cunning can make them appear to be trustworthy and just, prevail over fidelity and justice? What, then, is left but necessities, consequences and things of chance, in which nothing of Divine Providence appears? Do not necessities belong to nature? Are not consequences causes flowing out from natural or civil order? And do not things of chance come from causes which are not known, or from no cause at all?" Such are the thoughts of the natural man who ascribes nothing to God but all things to nature; for he that attributes nothing to God attributes nothing to the Divine Providence, since God and the Divine Providence make one.

[2] The spiritual man, on the other hand, speaks and thinks within himself quite differently. Although he has no perception in his thought, and is not sensible by his eyesight, of the Divine Providence in its course, still he knows and acknowledges it. Now since the appearances and consequent fallacies mentioned above have blinded the understanding, and this can receive no sight unless the fallacies which induced the blindness and the falsities which induced the darkness are dispelled, and since this cannot be done except by truths which have in them the power of dispelling falsities, therefore these truths shall be disclosed; and for the sake of distinctness this shall be done in the following order:

I. If a man perceived and felt the operation of the Divine Providence he would not act from freedom according to reason; nor would anything appear to him to be as from himself. It would be the same if he foreknew events. II. If man saw clearly the Divine Providence he would interpose in the order and tenor of its course, and would pervert and destroy that order. III. If man saw clearly the Divine Providence he would either deny God or make himself God. IV. It is granted to man to see the Divine Providence in the back and not in the face; and this in a spiritual state and not in a natural state.

Spiritual Experiences 1088. On Foresight and Providence

It is a fact beyond doubt that the Lord governs the universe, and this government is called Providence. But because evils are not provided, but foreseen,* so also are permissions. But to make it understood how this matter stands: foresight pertains to evils, and providence is the disposal of evils toward good outcomes.

However, there is no such thing as chance, that is, evil happening by chance, but all evils are controlled in a way that not a single one of them is permitted to happen to a person on earth or to a soul that does not lead to good. Furthermore, nothing is permitted to happen that has not been foreseen, for otherwise it cannot happen.

Consequently, all evils are bent in such a way that just those, and not any others, do happen, because it cannot be helped in view of the so corrupt state [of mankind].

So it is providence alone that governs, for foresight is thus turned into Providence, and then those evils are provided which result in good. If the evils planned by evil spirits were permitted, it would be to the destruction of mankind and of [departed] souls. Therefore the doings intended by the wicked are limited to the kind that have to be permitted. 1748, 29 February. * The Latin is, alliteratively, non provisa sunt, sed praevisa.

Divine Providence 70. THERE ARE LAWS OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE, AND THESE ARE UNKNOWN TO MEN

It is well known that there is a Divine Providence, but it is not known what its nature is. This is not known because the laws of the Divine Providence are interior truths, hitherto concealed within the wisdom of the angels; but they are now to be revealed in order that what belongs to the Lord may be ascribed to Him, and what does not belong to man may not be ascribed to any man. For very many in the world attribute all things to themselves and their own prudence; and what they cannot so ascribe they call accidental or happening by chance, not knowing that human prudence is nothing and that accidental and happening by chance are empty words.

[2] It is said that the laws of the Divine Providence are interior truths, hitherto concealed within the wisdom of the angels. This is because in the Christian world, as far as religion is concerned (ex religione), the understanding has been closed in respect to Divine things, and consequently has become in such things so dull and resisting that man has not been able because he has not been willing, or has not been willing because he has not been able, to understand anything about the Divine Providence except the fact that it exists, and to reason whether it exists or not, and also whether it is only universal or also particular. When, so far as religion is concerned, the understanding has been closed in respect to Divine things, it could advance no further.

[3] Since it has been acknowledged in the Church that man is unable from himself to do good that is in itself good, and is unable from himself to think truth that is in itself truth, and since these are one with the Divine Providence so that belief in one depends on belief in the other, therefore, lest one be affirmed and the other be denied and thus both perish, it must be explicitly revealed what the Divine Providence is. This, however, cannot be revealed unless the laws are disclosed by which the Lord provides and rules the things of man's will and understanding; for these laws enable man to know the nature of the Divine Providence; and only he who knows its nature can acknowledge it, for in this case he sees it. For this reason the laws of the Divine Providence, hitherto concealed within the wisdom of the angels, are now revealed.

Spiritual Experiences. 4567. CONCERNING FORTUNE. INFLUX. (((Once upon a time, I played a game of chance with a certain person; and then the spirits around me thought concerning chance or accidental circumstances; and they said that good-luck was represented to them by a bright cloud, and ill-luck by a black one; they said, also, that they had, at that time, a perception that he with whom was the blackish cloud could by no means win the game, but he with whom was the bright cloud - which also happened. They asserted this, and apprehended whence came accidental circumstances, to wit, that [they are] from the Providence of the Lord and His influx into the ultimates of order, where it thus appears; and that such a thing could by no means exist, unless the Providence of the Lord were in the minutest particulars of all things.)))

4567a. CONCERNING THE SPEECH OF ANGELIC SPIRITS.

Several times, in sleep, there appeared to me representatives accompanied by perception, and this for a long time; and, at the time, I plainly understood what I was thinking and speaking. But, as soon as I had waked, I could not recall what it was, because it appeared imperceptible and inexpressible, as, also, to the sense of the body and thence to perception, for the most part, it was. During this night, there appeared to me, in like manner, as it were a certain something approaching to the form of an arm, then to that of a thick stick, and this for a long time; and I then continually reflected, from various points of view, concerning absolute power in kingdoms; and, afterwards, the arm, or that stick, was more densely fibrated and compacted, and I then considered that this was not an orderly state of things, and consequently, that power ought not to be absolute, but limited by laws. From this it was apparent, that the representatives of power were in the place of a foundation, whereupon was supported a perceptive thought for these things - concerning which I then [reflected] and so in other matters. It was also perceived that there is such a language with man, as to interior thought - whereof he is ignorant - and that he comes into it after the life of the body, and that innumerable things can be expressed and comprehended thereby, which can in no way be expressed by the speech of the body.

Divine Providence 182. III. IF A MAN SAW CLEARLY THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD EITHER DENY GOD OR MAKE HIMSELF GOD.

The merely natural man says to himself, "What is Divine Providence? Is it anything else or more than a phrase that the common people have picked up from the clergy? Who sees anything of it? Are there not prudence, wisdom, cunning and malice, and are not all things in the world done from these? Are not the other things that result from these necessities and consequences, and are there not many more things that happen by chance? Does the Divine Providence lie concealed in these? How can it be in deeds of treachery and cunning? Yet it is maintained that the Divine Providence does all things. Well, then, make it visible to me and I will believe in it. Can anyone believe in it before he sees it?"

[2] So says the merely natural man; but the spiritual man speaks differently. Because he acknowledges God, he also acknowledges the Divine Providence, and moreover he sees it. However, he cannot make it manifest to anyone whose thoughts are only in nature and from nature; for such a one cannot raise his mind above nature and see in its phenomena anything of the Divine Providence, or draw conclusions concerning it from the laws of nature, which are also laws of Divine Wisdom. If, therefore, he saw clearly the Divine Providence he would mingle it with nature, and so would not only enshroud it with fallacies but would also profane it; and instead of acknowledging it he would deny it; and he who in his heart denies the Divine Providence also denies God.

[3] It must be thought that either. God or nature governs all things. He who thinks that God governs all things thinks that they are governed by Love itself and Wisdom itself, thus by Life itself. But he who thinks that nature governs all things thinks that they are governed by natural heat and natural light; and yet these in themselves are dead, because they are derived from a dead sun. Does not what is itself living govern what is dead? Can what is dead govern anything? If you think that what is dead can impart life to itself you are spiritually insane, for life must come from Life.


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