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Jesus Lives! - The Lord God Jesus Christ: Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of Heaven and Earth

DP, sections 1 ff
DP, sections 27 ff
DP, sections 46 ff
DP, sections 70 ff
DP, sections 71 ff
DP, sections 100 ff
DP, sections 129 ff
DP, sections 135 ff
DP, sections 154 ff
DP, sections 175 ff
DP, sections 191 ff
DP, sections 214 ff
DP, sections 221 ff
DP, sections 234 ff
DP, sections 241 ff
DP, sections 249 ff
DP, sections 254 ff
DP, sections 262 ff
DP, sections 275 ff
DP, sections 279 ff
DP, sections 285 ff
DP, sections 308 ff
DP, sections 322 ff
DP, sections 331 ff
DP, sections 341 ff


Divine Providence  ·  Sections 191 ff previous  ·  next


DP 191. That there is no such thing as man’s own prudence is quite contrary to the appearance, and therefore contrary to the belief of many. Because this is so, no one who from the appearance holds the belief that human prudence does all things can be convinced unless by reasons resulting from deeper consideration, and these must be drawn from causes. This appearance is an effect, and causes disclose its source. In this preliminary statement something shall be said about the common belief on this subject. In opposition to this appearance the Church teaches that love and faith are not from man but from God, as well as wisdom and intelligence and thus prudence, and in general everything that is good and true. When this teaching is accepted it must also be accepted that there is no such thing as man’s own prudence, but that it only appears that there is. Prudence is from no other source than intelligence and wisdom, and these two are from no other source than the understanding and thought derived from it concerning what is good and true. What has just been said is received and believed by those who acknowledge the Divine Providence, but not by those who acknowledge human prudence alone.

[2] Now either what the Church teaches must be true, that all wisdom and prudence are from God, or what the world teaches, that all wisdom and prudence are from man. Can these be reconciled in any other way than by admitting that what the Church teaches is true, and what the world teaches is the appearance? For the Church confirms its teaching from the Word, while the world confirms its teaching from the proprium, and the Word is from God while the proprium is from man. Since prudence is from God and not from man, therefore the Christian in his devotions prays that God may lead his thoughts, his intentions and his actions; adding also, because he from himself cannot do this. Moreover, when he sees anyone doing good he says that he has been led to it by God; and many similar examples may be given. Can anyone so speak unless he at the same time interiorly believes it? And to believe it interiorly is from heaven. On the other hand, when one thinks within himself and collects arguments in favour of human prudence, he can believe the contrary, and this is from the world. Internal belief however, prevails with those who acknowledge God in their heart, while external belief prevails with those who do not acknowledge God in their heart whatever their oral profession may be.

DP 192. It has been said that no one who from the appearance holds the belief that human prudence does all things can be convinced unless by reasons based on deeper consideration, and these must be drawn from causes. In order, therefore, that reasons drawn from causes may be evident to the understanding they may be presented in their order as follows:

I. -All man’s thoughts are from the affections of his life’s love; and there are no thoughts whatever, nor can there be, except from them.

II. -The affections of a man’s life’s love are known to the Lord alone.

III. -The Lord leads the affections of a man’s life’s love by means of His Divine Providence, and at the same time also the thoughts from which human prudence is derived.

IV. -The Lord by means of His Divine Providence arranges the affections of the whole human race into one form, which is the human form.

V. -In consequence of this heaven and hell, which are from the human race, are in such a form.

VI. -Those who have acknowledged nature alone and human prudence alone constitute hell; while those who have acknowledged God and His Divine Providence constitute heaven.

VII. -None of these things can be effected unless it appears to man that he thinks from himself and disposes from himself.

DP 193. I. ALL MAN’S THOUGHTS ARE FROM THE AFFECTIONS OF HIS LIFE’S LOVE AND THERE ARE NO THOUGHTS WHATEVER, NOR CAN THERE BE, EXCEPT FROM THEM. It has been shown above in this treatise, and also in the work entitled ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM, particularly in the First and Fifth Parts, what in their essence are the life’s love and the affections and thoughts thence derived, and what the sensations and actions from these are which arise in the body. Now since the causes from which human prudence flows forth as an effect are derived from these, it is necessary that something concerning these should also be stated here. For things written elsewhere cannot be so closely connected with those written later as they can if they are repeated and presented to view together.

[2] Earlier in this treatise, and in the one mentioned above on THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM, it was shown that in the Lord are Divine Love and Divine Wisdom; that these two are Life itself; that from these two man has will and understanding, will from the Divine Love and understanding from the Divine Wisdom; that to these two the heart and the lungs in the body correspond; and that consequently it may be evident that as the pulsation of the heart together with the respiration of the lungs governs the whole man as to his body, so the will together with the understanding governs the whole man as to his mind. Thus, it has been shown, there are two principles of life in every man, the one natural and the other spiritual, the natural principle of life being the pulsation of the heart and the spiritual principle the will of the mind. Each of these joins to itself a consort with which it cohabits and with which it performs the functions of life, the heart joining to itself the lungs, and the will joining to itself the understanding.

[3] Now since the soul of the will is love and the soul of the understanding is wisdom, both being from the Lord, it follows that love is the life of everyone, and is life of such a quality as is joined to wisdom; or what is the same, that the will is the life of everyone, and is life of such a quality as is joined to the understanding. However, more on this subject may be seen above in this treatise, and especially in THE ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM in the First and Fifth Parts.

DP 194. In the treatises just mentioned it was shown that the life’s love produces from itself subordinate loves called affections, and that these are exterior and interior; and that these when taken together form as it were one dominion or kingdom, in which the life’s love is lord or king. It was also shown that these subordinate loves or affections join to themselves consorts, each its own; the interior affections consorts called perceptions, and the exterior affections consorts called thoughts; and that each cohabits with its own consort and performs the functions of its own life. The conjunction in each case, it was also shown, is like that of the being (esse) of life with the existing (existere) of life, which is such that the one is nothing without the other; for what is the being of life unless it exists, and what is the existing of life unless it is from the being of life? Moreover, this conjunction in the life is like that between sound and harmony, and between sound and speech, and in general like that between the pulsation of the heart and the respiration of the lungs; and this conjunction is such that one without the other is nothing, and that one becomes something by conjunction with the other. There must either be conjunctions in them, or conjunctions must take place by means of them.

[2] Take, for example, sound. He is greatly mistaken who thinks that sound has existence unless there is in it that which makes it distinctive. Moreover, sound corresponds to affection in man; and because there is always in it that which makes it distinctive, the affection of one’s love is known from the sound of his voice when speaking; and from the variation of sound, which is speech, his thought is known. Hence it is that the wiser angels, merely from the sound of the voice of one speaking, perceive his life’s loves, together with certain affections which are derivations from them. These things have been stated that it may be known that no affection is possible without its thought, and no thought without its affection. More on this subject may be seen above in this treatise and in THE ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM.

DP 195. Now since the life’s love has its own delight, and the wisdom proper to it its own pleasure, and likewise every affection, which in its essence is a subordinate love derived from the life’s love, as a stream from its fountain or a branch from its tree or an artery from its heart, therefore every affection has its own delight and every consequent perception and thought has its own pleasure. Hence it follows that those delights and pleasures constitute man’s life. What is life without delight and pleasure? It is not something living but lifeless. If you reduce delight and pleasure you will grow cold and torpid; and if you take them away you will certainly die. Vital heat is derived from the delights of the affections and from the pleasures of the perceptions and thoughts.

[2] Since every affection has its own delight and every thought thence derived has its own pleasure, it may be evident what is the source of good and truth, and also what good and truth are in their essence. Everyone’s good is that which is the delight of his affection, and his truth that which is pleasant to the thought derived from the affection. For everyone calls that good which from the love of his will, he feels to be delightful, and he calls that truth which from the wisdom of his understanding thence derived he perceives to be pleasant. Both of these flow forth from the life’s love as water flows from a fountain, or as blood from the heart; and both taken together are like an ocean or an atmosphere in which dwells the whole human mind.

[3] These two, delight and pleasure, are spiritual in the mind but natural in the body, and in both planes they constitute man’s life. From this it is clear what it is in man that is called good, and what it is that is called truth; also what it is in man that is called evil and what it is that is called falsity; namely, that that is evil to him which destroys the delight of his affection and that false which destroys the pleasure of his thought derived from it. Moreover, it is clear, that evil from its own delight and falsity from its own pleasure may be called good and truth and may be believed to be good and truth. Indeed, goods and truths are changes and variations of state in the forms of the mind; but these are perceived and have existence solely through their delights and pleasures. These things have been set forth that it may be known what affection and thought are in their life.

DP 196. Now since it is man’s mind and not his body that thinks, and thinks from the delight of his affection, and since man’s mind is his spirit, which lives after death, it follows that man’s spirit is nothing but affection and thought derived from it. That there can be no thought without affection is plainly evident from spirits and angels in the spiritual world, because all there think from the affections of their life’s love, and the delight of these affections presses close around each one as his atmosphere; and because all are united in accordance with these spheres which emanate from their affections through their thoughts. Moreover, the character of each one is known from the sphere of his life. Hence it may be evident that every thought is from affection and is the form of its affection. It is the same with the will and the understanding; also with good and truth; and also with charity and faith.

DP 197. II. THE AFFECTIONS OF A MAN’S LIFE’S LOVE ARE KNOWN TO THE LORD ALONE. Man knows his thoughts and consequent intentions because he sees them in himself; and as all prudence is from these, he sees that also in himself. Il, then, his life’s love is the love of sell, he comes into the pride of his own intelligence and ascribes prudence to himself, collecting arguments in favour of it and so receding from the acknowledgment of the Divine Providence. A similar result follows if the love of the world is his life’s love; but in this case he does not recede in the same degree. From these considerations it is clear that these two loves ascribe all things to man and his prudence, and when interiorly examined, nothing to God and His Providence. Therefore, when persons of this description happen to hear that the truth is that there is no such thing as human prudence but that the Divine Providence alone governs all things, they laugh at it if they are complete atheists; but if they retain something of religion in the memory, and they are told that all wisdom is from God, they indeed assent at first hearing, yet inwardly in their spirit they deny it. Such especially are those priests who love themselves more than God and the world more than heaven; or what is the same, who worship God for the sake of honours and riches, and yet have preached that charity and faith, every good and truth, likewise all wisdom and even prudence are from God, and nothing of these things from men.

[2] In the spiritual world I once heard two priests discussing with a certain royal ambassador about human prudence, whether it is from God or from man, and the discussion was heated. In heart the three believed alike, namely, that human prudence does all things and the Divine Providence nothing; but the priests, who were then in theological zeal, were maintaining that there is nothing of wisdom and prudence from man; and when the ambassador retorted that in this case there was nothing of thought either, they declared that this was so. As angels, however, perceived that the three believed alike, the ambassador was told to put on the robes of a priest and to believe himself to be a priest and then to speak. He put them on and believed; and then in lofty tones he declared that in no wise was it possible for any wisdom and prudence to be in man unless from God; and he defended this with his customary eloquent speech full of rational arguments. The two priests were then told to put off their robes and put on those of officers of state and to believe themselves to be officers. They did so, and then, thinking at the same time now from their interior self they spoke from the arguments they had inwardly entertained previously in favour of human prudence and against Divine Providence. Thereupon the three, as they believed alike, became cordial friends and entered together upon the way of one’s own prudence, which leads to hell.

DP 198. It was shown above that man has no thought except from some affection of his life’s love, and that thought is nothing but the form of affection. Since, then, man sees his thought, but cannot see his affection, for this he feels, it follows that it is from sight, which is in the appearance, that he concludes that one’s own prudence does all things; and not from affection, which does not come into sight but into feeling. For affection only makes itself manifest through a certain delight of thought and pleasure of reasoning concerning it; and then this pleasure and delight make one with the thought in those who believe in ones own prudence from the love of self or from the love of the world; and thought flows on in its own delight like a ship in the current of a river, a current to which the captain pays no heed, attending only to the sails which he unfurls.

DP 199. A man can reflect, indeed, upon the delight of his external affection while this delight is in harmony with the delight of some bodily sense; but yet he does not reflect upon the fact that this delight is from the delight of his affection in his thought. For example: when a fornicator sees a courtesan his eye glows with the fire of lasciviousness, and from that fire he feels delight in the body; but still he does not feel the delight of his affection or lust in his thought but only something of a strong desire associated with the body. It is the same with a robber in the forest when he sees travellers, a pirate on the sea when he sees vessels, and with others in like circumstances. It is clear that these delights govern a man’s thoughts, and that thoughts without them do not exist; but he regards them only as thoughts, when nevertheless thoughts are nothing but affections composed into forms by his life’s love to make themselves manifest in light; for all affection is in heat and thought in light.

[2] These are external affections of thought, and they manifest themselves indeed in bodily sensation, but rarely in the thought of the mind. But the internal affections of thought, from which the external affections exist, never make themselves manifest to man. Of these man knows no more than one sleeping in a carriage knows of the road or than one feels of the earth’s rotation. Now, since man knows nothing of the things going on in the interiors of his mind, which are so many that they cannot be numbered, and yet those few external things which come within the view of his thought are produced from the interiors, and since the interiors are governed by the Lord alone, by means of His Divine Providence, and those few external things by the Lord in conjunction with man, how then can anyone say that his own prudence accomplishes all things? If you were to see but one single idea of thought opened up you would see wonderful things more in number than tongue can tell.

[3] That there are in the interiors of man’s mind so many things that they cannot be numbered is clear from the infinitude of things in the body; and from these nothing comes to sight and sense but action alone in a very simplified form. Yet to this there contribute thousands of motor or muscular fibres, thousands of nerve fibres, thousands of blood-vessels, thousands of cells in the lungs which must co-operate in every action, thousands in the brains and in the spinal cord; and many more things still in the spiritual man, which is the human mind, in which all things are forms of affections and of their derived perceptions and thoughts. Does not the soul, which disposes the interiors, dispose also actions which spring from these? Man’s soul is nothing else than the love of his will and the consequent love of his understanding; and the whole man is such as this love is, and he becomes such according to the manner in which he disposes his externals in which he and the Lord are together. Therefore, if he attributes all things to himself and to nature, the love of self becomes the soul; but if he attributes all things to the Lord, love to the Lord becomes the soul; and this love is heavenly, but the other is infernal.

DP 200. Now, since the delights of man’s affections, springing from inmost things through interiors to exteriors and finally to outermost things in the body, bear him along as the waves and winds bear a ship; and since none of these things is apparent to man except what goes on in the outermost things of the mind and of the body, how can man claim what is Divine for himself from the single circumstance that those few outermost things appear to him to be his own? Still less ought man to claim what is Divine for himself when he knows from the Word that a man can receive nothing of himself unless it be given him from heaven; and from reason that this appearance has been granted him that he may live as a man, see what is good and evil, choose one or the other and appropriate to himself that which he chooses, that he may be reciprocally conjoined to the Lord, be reformed, regenerated and saved, and that he may live forever. It has been stated and shown above that this appearance has been granted to man in order that he may act from freedom according to reason, thus as of himself and not let his hands hang down and wait for influx. Hence it follows that the proposition has been confirmed which was set out to be proved under the third heading, III: The Lord leads the affections of a man’s life’s love by means of His Divine Providence, and at the same time also the thoughts from which human prudence is derived (n. 192).

DP 201. IV. THE LORD BY MEANS OF HIS DIVINE PROVIDENCE ARRANGES THE AFFECTIONS (OF THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE) INTO ONE FORM, WHICH IS THE HUMAN FORM. It will be seen in the following number that this is the universal end of the Divine Providence. Those who ascribe all things to nature also ascribe all things to human prudence; for those who ascribe all things to nature deny God in their heart, and those who ascribe all things to human prudence deny the Divine Providence in their heart; the two are inseparable. Yet both classes, for the sake of their good name and from fear of losing it, profess in words that the Divine Providence is universal, and that its individual things rest with man, and that these universal things in their complex are understood by human prudence.

[2] But reflect within yourself what universal providence is when the individual things are taken away. Is it anything more than a mere word? For that is said to be universal which is constituted of individual things taken together just as that is said to be general which exists from particulars. If therefore, you take away the individual things what then is the universal but like something empty within, thus like a surface with nothing beneath, or like a complex that includes nothing? If it should be said that the Divine Providence is a universal government, while nothing is governed, but things are merely maintained in connection, and matters pertaining to government are disposed by others, can this be called a universal government? No king has such a government as this; for if any king were to grant to his subjects to govern everything in his kingdom, he would no longer be a king, but would only be called king; and thus he would have only a nominal and not a real dignity. With such a king there cannot be predicated government, still less universal government.

[3] Providence with God is called prudence with men. As there cannot be said to be universal prudence with a king who has reserved to himself no more than the name in order that his kingdom may be called a kingdom and thus held together, so there cannot be said to be a universal providence if men from their own prudence were to provide all things. It is the same with the terms universal providence and universal government when used of nature, when it is understood that God created the universe and endowed nature with the power of producing all things from herself. What then is universal providence but a metaphysical term, a term and nothing more? Of those who attribute to nature everything that is produced and to human prudence everything that is done, and who nevertheless declare with the lips that God created nature, there are many who think of the Divine Providence only as an empty term. But the case really is that the Divine Providence is in the most individual things of nature and in the most individual things of human prudence, and from these it is universal.

DP 202. The Divine Providence of the Lord is universal from the most individual things because He created the universe in order that there might exist in it an infinite and eternal creation from Himself; and this creation exists that the Lord might form from men a heaven which should appear before Him as one man who should be the image and likeness of Himself. It was shown above (n. 27-45), that heaven formed from men is such in the sight of the Lord, and that this was the end of creation; and that the Divine, in everything that it does, regards what is infinite and eternal (n. 56-69). The infinite and eternal that the Lord regards in forming His heaven from men is that it may be extended to infinity and to eternity; and thus that He may constantly dwell in the end of His creation. This creation which the Lord provided by the creation of the universe is infinite and eternal; and in this creation He is constantly present by means of His Divine Providence.

[2] No one who knows from the doctrine of the Church and believes that God is infinite and eternal (for it is in the doctrine of all the Churches in the Christian world that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, is infinite, eternal, uncreated and omnipotent, as may be seen in the Athanasian Creed), can be so devoid of reason as not to admit as soon as he hears it that God cannot do otherwise than regard what is infinite and eternal in the great work of His creation. What else can He regard when He looks from Himself? Moreover, it must be admitted that God also regards this in the human race from which He forms His heaven. Now what else can the Divine Providence have for its end than the reformation of the human race and its salvation? And no one can be reformed by himself by means of his own prudence, but only by the Lord by means of His Divine Providence. Hence it follows that unless man were led by the Lord every moment, yea, every minutest fraction of a moment, he would depart from the way of reformation and perish.

[3] Every change and variation of state of the human mind makes some change and variation in the series of things present and consequently of things that follow; what, then, must it not do in the progression to eternity? It is like an arrow shot from a bow which, if it made the slightest deviation from the target at the moment of being aimed would deviate immensely at a distance of a thousand feet or more. So it would be if the Lord did not lead the states of human minds every fraction of a moment. This the Lord does in accordance with the laws of His Divine Providence; and it is in accordance with these laws that it should appear to man that he leads himself; but the Lord foresees how he leads himself and continually makes suitable adaptation. It will be seen in what follows that the laws of permission are also laws of the Divine Providence, and that every man can be reformed and regenerated, and that no other predestination is possible.

DP 203. Since, therefore, every man after death lives forever, and according to his life here has a place assigned to him either in heaven or in hell, and since both heaven and hell must exist in such a form as will act as one, as was said before; and since no one can be assigned in that form any place but his own, it follows that the human race throughout the whole world is under the guidance of the Lord, and that everyone from infancy even to the end of his life is led by Him in the most individual things and his place foreseen and also provided.

[2] From these things it is clear that the Divine Providence of the Lord is universal because it is in the most individual things; and that this is the infinite and eternal creation which the Lord provided for Himself by means of the creation of the universe. Man does not see anything of this universal providence; and if he did, it could not appear to him otherwise than as passers-by see the scattered heaps and collections of materials from which a house is to be built; while the Lord sees it as a magnificent palace with its work of construction and enlargement continually going on.

DP 204. V. HEAVEN AND HELL ARE IN SUCH A FORM. It was made known that heaven is in the human form in the work HEAVEN AND HELL, published in London in 1758 (HH 59-102) also in the treatise THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM; and also in several parts of this treatise. I therefore refrain from giving further proof. It is stated that hell also is in the human form; but it is in a monstrous human form, like that of the devil by whom is meant hell in the whole complex. Hell is in the human form because those who are there were also born men, and they also have the two human faculties called liberty and rationality, although they have abused their liberty in willing and doing evil, and their rationality in thinking and confirming it.

DP 205. VI. THOSE WHO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED NATURE ALONE AND HUMAN PRUDENCE ALONE CONSTITUTE HELL; WHILE THOSE WHO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED GOD AND HIS DIVINE PROVIDENCE CONSTITUTE HEAVEN. All who lead an evil life interiorly acknowledge nature and human prudence alone; for this acknowledgment lies inwardly hidden in all evil however covered over it may be with good and truth. These are only borrowed garments, or like wreaths of flowerets that perish, thrown around the evil lest it should appear in its nakedness. It is not known that all who lead an evil life interiorly acknowledge nature and human prudence alone, because of this general covering by which it is hidden from view. However, that they do acknowledge them may be clear from the source and cause of their acknowledgment. In order that this may be made evident it shall be stated whence man’s own prudence is and what it is; then whence the Divine Providence is and what it is; next who they are and what their nature is who acknowledge the Divine Providence, and who acknowledge man’s own prudence; and lastly, that those who acknowledge the Divine Providence are in heaven, and those who acknowledge man’s own prudence are in hell.

DP 206. Whence man’s own prudence is and what it is. It is from man’s proprium which is his nature, and is called his soul from his parent. This proprium is the love of self and the consequent love of the world, or it is the love of the world and the consequent love of self. It is the nature of the love of self to regard self only, and to regard others as insignificant or of no account. If it respects some it is only so long as they honour and pay court to it. Like the effort in the seed to fructify and produce offspring there lies concealed in the inmost of sell-love the desire to become great, and if possible to become a king, and then if still possible, to become a god. A devil is such a one, for he is self-love itself; he is such that he adores himself and favours no one who does not also adore him; and another devil like himself he hates because he wishes himself alone to be adored. As no love can exist without its consort, and as the consort of love or of the will in man is called the understanding, therefore when the love of self breathes its own love into its consort the understanding, it there becomes pride, that is the pride of man’s own intelligence from which springs man’s own prudence.

[2] Now since the love of self desires to be sole lord of the world, and thus a god, therefore the lusts of evil, which are derived from that love, have their life from it; as have in like manner the perceptions belonging to the lusts, perceptions which are cunning devices; as have also the delights pertaining to the lusts, delights which are evils, and as also have the thoughts pertaining to the delights, thoughts which are falsities. All these are like slaves and servants of their lord, responding to his every nod, unaware, however, that they do not act but are only acted upon, being acted upon by the love of self through the pride of their own intelligence. Hence it is that man’s own prudence, by virtue of its origin, lies concealed in every evil.

[3] The acknowledgment of nature alone also lies concealed in it because self-love has closed the window on its roof by which heaven lies open and also its side windows, lest it should see and hear that the Lord alone governs all things, that nature in herself is dead, and that man’s proprium is hell, and consequently that the love of the proprium is the devil. Then, with its windows closed, it is in darkness and there makes a fire on the hearth for itself at which it sits with its consort; and they reason together in a friendly way in favour of nature as against God, and in favour of man’s own prudence as against the Divine Providence.

DP 207. Whence the Divine Providence is and what it is. It is the Divine operation in the man who has removed the love of self; for, as has been said, the love of self is the devil; and lusts with their delights are the evils of his kingdom, which is hell. When this love has been removed the Lord enters with the affections of neighbourly love, and opens the window on the roof and then the side windows, and causes man to see that there is a heaven, a life after death and eternal happiness; and by means of the spiritual light and at the same time the spiritual love which then flow in He causes him to acknowledge that God by His Divine Providence governs all things.

DP 208. Who they are and what their nature is who acknowledge the Divine Providence, and who acknowledge man’s own prudence. Those who acknowledge God and His Divine Providence are like the angels of heaven, who regard with aversion being led of themselves, and who love to be led by the Lord; and a sign that they are led by the Lord is that they love the neighbour. On the other hand, those who acknowledge nature and man’s own prudence are like spirits of hell, who regard with aversion being led by the Lord and who love to be led of themselves. If they have been great men in a kingdom they wish to rule in all things; so also if they have been leaders in the Church. If they have been judges they pervert judgment and exercise arbitrary power over the laws. If they have been learned they apply scientific knowledge to confirm man’s proprium and the rule of nature. If they have been merchants they act as robbers; and if they have been husbandmen they act as thieves. They are all enemies of God and scoffers at the Divine Providence.

DP 209. It is a remarkable thing that when heaven is opened to spirits of this nature, and they are told that they are spiritually insane, and when this is also made evident to their perception by influx and enlightenment, they still, out of indignation, shut heaven against themselves and look to the earth, under which is hell. This happens with such spirits in the spiritual world who are still outside of hell. From this it is clear how mistaken they are who think, "When I have seen heaven and heard angels talking with me, then I shall acknowledge." Their understanding acknowledges; but if the will does not at the same time do so, they themselves do not acknowledge; for the will’s love inspires whatever it desires into the understanding, and not the reverse; it even destroys in the understanding everything that is not from itself.

DP 210. VII. NONE OF THESE THINGS CAN BE EFFECTED UNLESS IT APPEARS TO MAN THAT HE THINKS FROM HIMSELF AND DISPOSES FROM HIMSELF. It has been fully demonstrated in the preceding pages that unless it appeared to man that he lived as from himself and thus that he thought and willed, spoke and acted as of himself he would not be man. From this it follows that if man as from his own prudence did not dispose all things pertaining to his function and life he could not be led and disposed from the Divine Providence; for he would be like one standing with his hands hanging down, his mouth open, his eyes closed and holding his breath, awaiting influx. He would thus divest himself of the human, which he has from the perception and sensation that he lives, thinks, wills, speaks and acts as from himself; and at the same time he would divest himself of his two faculties, liberty and rationality, by which he is distinguished from the beasts. It has been shown above in this treatise, and in THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM, that without this appearance a man would not have the power to receive and to reciprocate, and thus would not have immortality.

[2] If therefore, you wish to be led by the Divine Providence use prudence as a servant and steward does who faithfully dispenses the goods of his master. This prudence is the talent which was given to the servants to trade with, of which they must render an account (Luke 19:13-25; Matt. 25:14-31). Prudence itself appears to man as his own; and it is believed to be his own so long as he keeps shut up within him the deadliest enemy of God and the Divine Providence, the love of self. This dwells in the interiors of every man from birth; if you do not recognise it, for it does not wish to be recognised, it dwells securely, and guards the door lest man should open it, and it should thus be cast out by the Lord. Man opens this door by shunning, as of himself evils as sins, with the acknowledgment that he does so from the Lord. This is the prudence with which the Divine Providence acts as one.

DP 211. The reason why the Divine Providence operates so secretly that scarcely anyone knows of its existence is that man may not perish. For man’s proprium, that is his will, in no wise acts as one with the Divine Providence, against which man’s proprium has an inborn enmity; for it is the serpent that seduced our first parents of which it is said,

I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head. (Gen. 3:15).

The serpent is evil of every kind, its head is self-love; the seed of the woman is the Lord; the enmity that is put, is between the love of man’s proprium and the Lord, and thus between man’s own prudence and the Divine Providence of the Lord. For man’s own prudence is continually raising that head, and the Divine Providence is continually putting it down.

[2] If man felt this he would be enraged and exasperated against God, and would perish; but while he does not feel this he may be enraged and exasperated against men, and against himself and also against fortune, without perishing. Hence it is that the Lord by His Divine Providence continually leads man in freedom, and the freedom appears to him to be none other than his own; and to lead man in freedom in opposition to himself is like lifting up a heavy and resisting weight from the ground by means of screws, through the power of which the weight and the resistance are not felt; or it is like what happens to a man in the company of an enemy who intends to kill him, an intention he is not aware of; and a friend leads him away by unknown paths and afterwards discloses to him his enemy’s intention.

DP 212. Who does not speak of fortune? Who does not acknowledge it, since he talks of it and knows something about it from experience? But who knows what it is? That it is something, because it exists and presents itself to view, cannot be denied; and a thing cannot exist and present itself without a cause; but the cause of this something, that is, of fortune, is unknown. Lest fortune, however, should be denied merely from ignorance of that cause, take dice or playing cards and play, or consult players. Does anyone of these deny fortune? For they play with it and it with them in a wonderful way. Who can do anything against fortune if it opposes him? Does it not then laugh at prudence and wisdom? When you shake the dice and shuffle the cards does it not seem to know and dispose the turns and twists of the hand and wrist to favour one player more than another, from some definite cause? Can the cause have any other source than the Divine Providence in ultimates, where by means of things constant and changing it works in a wonderful way along with human prudence, and at the same time conceals itself?

[2] It is well known that the Gentiles in days gone by acknowledged Fortune and built a temple to her, as did the people of Italy at Rome. Concerning this fortune, which is, as has been said, the Divine Providence in ultimates, it has been granted me to know many things that I am not permitted to make public. From these it was made clear to me that fortune is not an illusion of the mind, nor a sport of nature, nor something without a cause, for this has no reality; but that it is ocular evidence that the Divine Providence is in the most individual things of man’s thought and action. As the Divine Providence presents itself in the most individual things, so insignificant and trifling, why should it not do so in the most individual things, not insignificant and trifling, such as matters of peace and war on earth, and matters of salvation and life in heaven?

DP 213. However, I know that human prudence exercises more influence over the rational faculty than the Divine Providence does, because the Divine Providence does not make itself manifest, while human prudence does. Moreover, the reasoning in favour of the Divine Providence can be more easily accepted, namely, that there is only one Life, which is God, and that all men are recipients of life from Him, as has been shown in many places before; and yet it amounts to the same as the reasoning in favour of nature and human prudence, for prudence pertains to the life. Who in his reasoning, when speaking from the natural or external man, does not speak in favour of man’s own prudence and in favour of nature? On the other hand, who in his reasoning, when speaking from the spiritual or internal man, does not speak in favour of the Divine Providence and in favour of God? But, I say to the natural man, Pray write two books, one in favour of man’s own prudence, the other in favour of nature, and pack them with arguments plausible, probable, likely and in your judgment valid; and then put them into the hand of any angel; and I know that the angel will write under them these few words: They are all appearances and fallacies.

Divine Providence previous · next Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). www.biblemeanings.info