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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 249 ff previous  ·  next


DP 249. 1. Every worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he sees in the world so many wicked people, and so many of their impieties in which some of them even glory, and yet no punishment of such by God. All impieties and also the glorying in them are permissions, the causes of which are laws of the Divine Providence. Every man may freely, indeed very freely, think what he will, both against God and in favour of God. He who thinks against God is rarely punished in the natural world, because there he is always in a state subject to reformation; but he is punished in the spiritual world after death, for then he can no longer be reformed.

[2] That the laws of the Divine Providence are the cause of permissions is clear from its laws as set forth above, if they are recalled and examined. These are: Man should act from freedom according to reason, a law treated of above (n. 71-99); Man should not be compelled by external means to think and will, and thus to believe and love, the things of religion, but should persuade and at times compel himself to do so (n. 129-153); There is no such thing as man’s prudence: it only appears that there is, and there ought to be this appearance; but the Divine Providence is universal because it is in things most individual (n. 191-213); The Divine Providence regards eternal things, and not temporal things except so far as they accord with eternal things (n. 214-220); Man is admitted interiorly into the truths of faith and into the goods of charity only so far as he can be kept in them right on to the end of life, a law treated of (n. 221-233).

[3] That the laws of the Divine Providence are causes of permissions will also be clear from the following; as from this: Evils are permitted for the sake of the end, which is salvation; also from this: The Divine Providence is continual both with the wicked and with the good; and lastly from this: The Lord cannot act contrary to the laws of His Divine Providence, because to act contrary to them would be to act contrary to His Divine Love and Wisdom, and thus contrary to Himself. If these laws are considered together they may make manifest the reasons why impieties are permitted by the Lord, and are not punished when they exist in thought only, and seldom also when they exist in intention and thus also in the will and not in act. Yet its own punishment follows every evil; it is as if its punishment were inscribed upon the evil, and this punishment the wicked man suffers after death.

[4] What has just been set forth also explains the following proposition stated in 237: The worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence still more when he sees that wicked designs, cunning devices and deceit are successful even against the pious, the righteous and the sincere, and that injustice triumphs over justice in the courts and in business. All the laws of the Divine Providence are necessities; and as they are the causes why such things are permitted it is clear that for man to be able to live as man, to be reformed and saved, these things can be removed from him by the Lord only by means. They are removed by means of the Word, and especially by the commandments of the Decalogue in the case of those who acknowledge all kinds of murder, adultery, theft and false witness as sins. In the case of those who do not acknowledge such things as sins, they are removed by means of the civil laws and fear of their penalties, and also by means of moral laws, and the fear of the loss of reputation and consequent loss of honour and wealth; and it is by these means that the Lord leads the wicked, but only away from doing such things and not from thinking and willing them. However, by the former means the Lord leads the good, not only away from doing these things but also from thinking and willing them.

DP 250. 2. The worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he sees the impious advanced to honours and become great in the state and leaders in the Church, and that they abound in riches and live in luxury and magnificence, while he sees the worshippers of God living in contempt and poverty. The worshipper of self and of nature believes that dignities and wealth are the supreme and the only happiness that can be granted, thus happiness itself. If in consequence of worship begun in infancy he has any thought of God, he calls them Divine blessings, and as long as he is not too puffed up by them, he thinks that there is a God, and even worships Him. But there lies hidden in the worship a desire, of which he is unaware at the time, that he may be raised by God to still higher dignities and to still greater wealth. If he attains these his worship tends more and more to outward things until it so falls away that at length he thinks God of little account and denies Him; and the result is the same should he be cast down from the dignity and opulence on which he had set his heart. What then are dignities and wealth to the wicked but stumbling blocks?

[2] To the good, however, they are not so, for these do not set their heart on them but on the uses or goods in the performance of which dignities and wealth serve as means. Therefore, from the circumstance that the wicked are promoted to honours and wealth and become great in the state and in the Church no one but a worshipper of self and of nature can confirm himself against the Divine Providence. Moreover, what is greater and lesser dignity, and what is greater and lesser wealth? In itself is it anything but something imaginary? Is one person more blessed and happy than another? In the case of a great man in the state, even a king or an emperor, after a single year, is the dignity regarded as anything more than something common which no longer exalts his heart with joy but may become worthless in his sight? All men by virtue of their high position any happier than those in a lower position, even the lowest of all, as farm-workers and their servants? It is possible that these may even enjoy a greater measure of happiness when things go well with them and they are content with their lot. Who is more restless at heart, more frequently provoked and more violently enraged than the lover of self and this as often as he is not honoured according to the pride of his heart, and when anything does not succeed according to his wish and pleasure? What then is dignity, if it does not pertain to some office or use, but an idea? And this idea can only exist in thought concerning self and the world, and in itself it is the idea that the world is everything and eternity nothing.

[3] Something will now be said concerning the reason why the Divine Providence permits the wicked at heart to be advanced to dignities and to acquire wealth. The impious or wicked can perform uses equally with the pious or the good; and, indeed, with greater zeal, for they have regard to themselves in the uses, and they regard the honours as uses. Therefore, whatever the height to which the love of self mounts up there burns within it the consuming desire of performing uses for the sake of its own glory. With the pious or good there is no such fire unless it is kindled from below by some feeling of honour. Therefore, the Lord governs the wicked at heart who are in positions of dignity by the reputation of their name, and moves them to perform uses to the community or country, society or city in which they dwell, and also to the fellow-citizen or neighbour with whom they associate. This is the Lord’s government, which is called the Divine Providence, with such; for the Lord’s kingdom is a kingdom of uses; and where there are but few who perform uses for the sake of uses He causes worshippers of self to be raised to the higher offices, in which everyone is moved to do good by means of his own love.

[4] Suppose there were an infernal kingdom in the world, although there is none, where only self-love prevailed, and self-love itself is the devil, would not everyone perform uses from the zeal of self-love and the splendour of his own glory to a greater extent than in any other kingdom? Now with all such the public good is on the lips but their own good in the heart. As each one looks to his own prince for his own advancement, for he aspires to be greatest, can he see that there is a God? A smoke like that of a conflagration surrounds him, through which no spiritual truth in its own light can pass. I have seen that smoke about the hells of such. Light your lantern and seek out how many there are in the kingdoms of the present day who aspire to dignities who are not lovers of self and the world. You will not find fifty in a thousand who are lovers of God, and among these only a few who aspire to dignities. Since then there are so few who are lovers of God and so many who are lovers of self and the world, and since the lovers of self and the world from their zeal perform more uses than do the lovers of God from theirs, how can anyone confirm himself against the Divine Providence from the fact that the wicked are in greater eminence and opulence than the good?

[5] This is established also by these words of the Lord:

The lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this age (A.V. world) are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations (Luke 16:8, 9).

It is clear what is meant by these words in the natural sense; but In the spiritual sense by the mammon of unrighteousness are meant the rational conceptions of truth and good possessed by the wicked, which they employ solely to acquire for themselves dignities and wealth. It is these knowledges of which the good or the children of light are to make themselves friends, and which shall receive them into everlasting habitations. That many are lovers of self and the world, and that few are lovers of God, the Lord teaches in these words:

Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: but narrow and strait is the way (A.V. because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way) which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt. 7:13, 14).

It may be seen above (n. 217) that dignities and wealth are either curses or blessings, and with whom they are the one or the other.

DP 251. 3. The worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he reflects that wars are permitted and in them the slaughter of so many men, and the plundering of their wealth. It is not from the Divine Providence that wars occur, because they involve murders, plunderings, violence, cruelties and other terrible evils which are diametrically opposed to Christian charity. Still they cannot but be permitted because, since the time of the most ancient people, meant by Adam and his wife, treated of above (n. 241), men’s life’s love has become such that it wills to rule over others, and finally over all; and also to possess the wealth of the world, and finally all wealth. These two loves cannot be kept in fetters, for it is according to the Divine Providence that everyone is allowed to act from freedom in accordance with reason, as may be seen above (n. 71-97); and without permissions man cannot be led from evil by the Lord, and consequently cannot be reformed and saved. For unless evils were allowed to break out, man would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and thus could not be induced to resist them. Hence it is that evils cannot be repressed by any act of Providence; for if they were they would remain shut in, and like a disease, such as cancer and gangrene, they would spread and consume everything vital in man.

[2] For man from birth is like a little hell, between which and heaven there is perpetual discord. No man can be withdrawn from his hell by the Lord unless he sees that he is in hell and wishes to be led out; and this cannot be done without permissions, the causes of which are laws of the Divine Providence. This is why there are lesser and greater wars, the lesser between owners of estates and their neighbours, and the greater between the sovereigns of kingdoms and their neighbours. The lesser and the greater differ only in this, that the lesser are kept within certain bounds by national law, and the greater by international law; and that, while both the lesser and the greater are willing to transgress their own laws, the lesser cannot, and the greater can, yet still within the limits of possibility.

[3] There are many other reasons stored up in the treasury of Divine Wisdom why the greater wars with kings and rulers, involving as they do murders, plunderings, violence and cruelties, are not prevented by the Lord, either in their beginning or in their progress, until in the end the power of one or the other has been so reduced that he is in danger of destruction. Some of these reasons have been revealed to me, and among them is this: that all wars, although they may be civil in character, represent in heaven states of the Church and are correspondences. Such were all the wars described in the Word, and such also are all wars at this day. The wars described in the Word are those which the Children of Israel waged with various nations, as with the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. Moreover, when the Children of Israel, who represented the Church, departed from their precepts and statutes and fell into the evils which were represented by those nations, for each nation with which the Children of Israel waged war signified some particular kind of evil, then they were punished by that nation. For example, when they profaned the holy things of the Church by foul idolatries they were punished by the Assyrians and the Chaldeans, because Assyria and Chaldea signify the profanation of what is holy. What was signified by the wars with the Philistines may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING FAITH (Faith 50-54).

[4] Similar things are represented by the wars of the present day, wherever they occur; for all things which take place in the natural world correspond to spiritual things in the spiritual world, and all spiritual things have relation to the Church. It is not known in this world which kingdoms in Christendom represent the Moabites and the Ammonites, which the Syrians and the Philistines, and which the Chaldeans and the Assyrians, and the others with whom the Children of Israel waged war; and yet there are peoples who represent them. Moreover, the quality of the Church on earth and what the evils are into which it falls, and for which it is punished by wars, cannot be seen at all in the natural world; because in this world externals only are manifest, and these do not constitute the Church. However, this is seen in the spiritual world where internal things appear, and in these is the Church itself; and there all are conjoined according to their various states. The conflicts of these in the spiritual world correspond to wars which on both sides are governed according to correspondence by the Lord in accordance with His Divine Providence.

[5] That wars in this world are governed by the Divine Providence of the Lord is acknowledged by the spiritual man but not by the natural man, except that, when a festival is appointed on account of a victory, he may then return thanks on his knees to God that He has given the victory; and except also by a few words before going into battle. But when he returns to himself he ascribes the victory either to the prudence of the general or to some measure or incident in the course of the battle which had not been thought of, by which nevertheless the victory was decided.

[6] It may be seen above (n. 212), that the Divine Providence, which is called fortune, operates in the most individual of even trivial affairs, and if you acknowledge the Divine Providence in these you will certainly acknowledge it in the affairs of war. Moreover, successes and incidents in warfare brought to a favourable conclusion are in common language called the fortune of war; and this is the Divine Providence, especially in the counsels and designs of the general, even although he at the time and also afterwards may ascribe it all to his own prudence. This he may do if he will, for he is at full liberty to think in favour of the Divine Providence or against it, and indeed in favour of God or against Him; but he should know that no part whatever of the counsel and design is from himself: it all flows in from heaven or from hell, from hell by permission, from heaven by Providence.

DP 252. 4. The worshipper of himself and of nature confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he reflects according to his perception that victories are on the side of prudence and sometimes not on the side of justice, and that it makes no difference whether the general is an upright man or not. Victories seem to be on the side of prudence, and sometimes not on the side of justice, because man judges from the appearance; and he favours one side more than the other, and that which he favours he can confirm by reasonings; nor does he know that the justice of a cause is spiritual in heaven and natural in this world, as has just been stated in what has gone before, and that these are joined together by means of a connection between things past and at the same time things to come that are known to the Lord alone.

[2] It makes no difference whether the general is an upright man or not because, as was established above (n. 250) the wicked perform uses as well as the good, and the wicked from their own zeal with more ardour than the good. Especially is this the case in wars because the wicked man is more crafty and cunning in contriving devices; and from a love of glory he takes more delight than a good man in killing and plundering those whom he knows and declares to be his enemies. The good man is prudent and zealous only in defense, and rarely does he exercise his prudence and zeal in attacking others. It is the same with spirits of hell and angels of heaven; the spirits of hell attack while the angels of heaven defend themselves. Hence is deduced this conclusion, that it is allowable for anyone to defend his country and his fellow-citizens against invading enemies, even by means of wicked generals, but that it is not allowable to make oneself an enemy without cause. When the cause is to seek glory alone it is in itself diabolical, for it springs from the love of self.

DP 253. Thus far have been explained the grounds set forth above (n. 237), on which the merely natural man confirms himself against the Divine Providence. The propositions which follow (n. 238) will now be explained, relating to the forms of religion in many nations which may also serve the merely natural man as arguments against the Divine Providence. For he says in his heart, How is it that there can exist so many discordant religions, instead of one true religion throughout the whole world when, as was shown above (n. 27-45) the Divine Providence has for its end a heaven from the human race? But I pray you, listen. All human beings that are born, however many and of whatever religion, can be saved, provided only that they acknowledge God and live according to the commandments in the Decalogue, which forbid committing murder, adultery, and theft, and bearing false witness, because to do such things is contrary to religion and thus contrary to God. With such persons there is the fear of God and the love of the neighbour: the fear of God because they think that to do these things is to act against God; and the love of the neighbour, because to murder, to commit adultery, to steal, to bear false witness and to covet the neighbour’s house and his wife is to act against the neighbour. Because these persons have regard to God in their life and do no evil to the neighbour, they are led by the Lord; and those who are so led are also taught in accordance with their religion concerning God and the neighbour; for those who so live love to be taught, but those who live otherwise have no such desire. As they love to be taught, after death when they become spirits they are also instructed by angels and willingly receive such truths as are in the Word. Something about them may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE (Sacred 91-97, 104-113).

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