The Laws of the Divine Providence
Led by the Word, as if by himself
MAN IS TAUGHT BY THE LORD BY MEANS OF THE WORD (DP 171).
And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send; and who will go for us? And I said, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8
DP 174. Everyone knows that man thinks, wills, speaks and acts to all appearance as of himself, and everyone can see that without this appearance man would have no will and understanding, and thus no affection and thought, and also no reception of any good and truth from the Lord. This being so, it follows that without this appearance there would be no rational conception of God, no charity and no faith, consequently no reformation and regeneration, and therefore no salvation. From these considerations it is clear that this appearance is given to man by the Lord for the sake of all these uses; and especially that he might have the power to receive and to reciprocate, whereby the Lord may be conjoined to man and man to the Lord; and that man through this conjunction may live for ever.
AE 1173:2. The Lord does not teach man truths either from Himself or through the angels immediately; but He teaches mediately by means of the Word, preaching, reading, conversation, and communication with others, and thus by thoughts within oneself about these things. Man is thus enlightened in the measure of his affection of truth from use. Otherwise man could not act as if from himself.... These laws are unchangeable, because they are laws of the Divine wisdom and also of the Divine love; and yet they would be disturbed if man should be taught immediately, either by influx or by speech.
DP 172:6. The fact that this is done mediately by preaching does not destroy its immediate nature. The Word can only be taught mediately through parents, teachers, preachers, books, and especially through the reading of it. Nevertheless, it is not taught by these, but by the Lord through them.
This, moreover, is in keeping with what preachers know, for they say that they do not speak from themselves but from the spirit of God, and that all truth, as also all good, is from God. They are indeed able to declare the Word and bring it to the understanding of many, but not to the heart of anyone; and what is not in the heart perishes in the understanding; and by the heart is meant man’s love. From these considerations it may be seen that man is led and taught by the Lord alone; and that he is taught immediately by Him when this is done from the Word. This is a central truth (arcanum) of angelic wisdom.
AC 10635. All those within the church who are in the good of life acknowledge the Divine in the Word. The reason is that while they are reading the Word there flows into them from heaven a holy feeling, although they do not know that this is effected by means of correspondences; nor is it perceived otherwise than as a general holy influence, in which the mind is kept. HD 318. Priests ought to teach the people, and to lead them by truths to the good of life, but still they ought to compel no one, since no one can be compelled to believe contrary to what he thinks from his heart to be true. He who believes otherwise than the priest, and makes no disturbance, ought to be left in peace; but he who makes disturbance, ought to be separated; for this also is of order, for the sake of which the priesthood is established.
Questions and Comments
- How does learning from the Word support freedom?
- Love is reciprocal and freely given. Apply this to marriage, raising children, and the church.
- What should we do if we don’t “get anything out of reading the Word”? Are we conscious of all that we “get” out of reading the Word?
- How do the books you read, the TV you watch, and your conversations contribute to the life described in the Word? How do they undercut it?
- What should you do if you think that you see contradictions in the Word? In the sermons you hear?
- When you feel out of touch with the Lord, how does reading the Word help? What parts help you most?
- Do you read the Word to get truth or good/use out of your reading?
- “The church is where the Word is, and is from the Word; and worship is from those things which are in the Word. Thus such as is a man's understanding of the Word, such is the church in him, and such is his worship” (AC 10707). How does this apply to sermons, hymns, the sanctuary, and what we do on Sunday?