The Laws of the Divine Providence
Introduction: The First Three Chapters
- Make me to know Thy ways, O Jehovah;
Teach me Thy paths.
- Make me to tread in Thy truth,
And teach me,
For Thou art the God of my salvation;
For Thee I wait all the day.
From Divine Providence
DP 60. IV. An image of the Infinite and Eternal is presented in an angelic heaven. Among the things of which it is necessary to have some knowledge is also the angelic heaven; for everyone who has any religion thinks about heaven and wishes to go there. But heaven is granted only to those who know the way to it and walk in that way. This way can be known to some extent by knowing the character of those who constitute heaven, and also by knowing that no one becomes an angel, that is, comes into heaven, unless he carries with him from the world something of the angelic character. And in this there is present a knowledge of the way from walking in it, and a walking in the way through a knowledge of it.
Moreover, in the spiritual world there are actually ways which lead to every society of heaven and to every society of hell, and each one, as if from himself, sees his own way. He sees it because there are ways there, one for every love; and love opens the way, and leads him to his fellows; nor does anyone see other ways than the way of his own love. From this it is clear that angels are nothing but heavenly loves, for otherwise they would not have seen the ways leading to heaven….
DP 69. Now since man by creation is a heaven in the least form, and consequently an image of the Lord, and since heaven consists of as many affections as there are angels, and each affection in its form is a man, it follows that it is the continual design of the Divine Providence that man may become a heaven in form and consequently an image of the Lord, and, since this is effected by means of the affection of good and truth, that he may become such an affection. Although this is the continual design of the Divine Providence, its inmost design is that a man may be in this or that place in heaven, or in this or that place in the Divine Heavenly Man; for thus he is in the Lord. This happens, however, only with those whom the Lord can lead to heaven; and as the Lord foresees this, He also provides continually that man may become like this; for in this way everyone who suffers himself to be led to heaven is prepared for his own place in heaven.
DP 69. The man, however, who does not suffer himself to be led to heaven and assigned there is prepared for his own place in hell. For man of himself continually tends to the lowest of the hells, but he is continually withheld by the Lord; and he who cannot be withheld is prepared for a certain place there, to which he also is assigned immediately after his departure from the world. This place is exactly opposite to one in heaven, for hell is the opposite of heaven. Therefore as the man who is now an angel has his place allotted to him in heaven according to his affection of good and truth, so the man who is a devil has his place allotted to him in hell according to his affection of evil and falsity. For two opposites, similarly arranged, are maintained in connected series over against one another. This is the inmost design of the Divine Providence in regard to hell.
Questions and Comments
- How often do we think about heaven and want to go there? Is this an essential part of religion?
- DP 60 speaks of “a knowledge of the way from walking in it, and walking in the way through a knowledge of it.” We can picture walking in a national or state park with a guide who knows the way from having walked the trails for years, and really knows what to look for; as compared with following a map, “walking in the way through a knowledge of it.”
- does this imagery apply to learning a new job and growing into it, and then helping a new colleague learn the ropes? How does this apply to getting married, and then being married for many years?
- The Lord’s goal for us is that we should each become an affection of good and truth. What are some of the goods that the Lord wants us to love? Think of an older person you love and respect: what sort of an affection is he or she?
- Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord’s inmost goal is to create a special place in heaven for each of us? “In My Father’s house are many dwellings; I go to prepare a place for you… that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). What does this imply about the variety of loves and views among us?
- In no. 69, we see that the Lord loves us to have free choice, and grants that we may live forever as we have chosen. “If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there” (Ps. 139:8). What does this imply about the way we love our neighbor as ourselves?