“And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” - Revelation 22:17
Kempton New Church

Fifth Law
Day 4

    Listen:

The Laws of the Divine Providence
Providence is not evident, but man should acknowledge it.

Luke 1:52-53

He has taken down the powerful from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.

Readings

DP 182. III. IF A MAN CLEARLY SAW THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD EITHER DENY GOD OR MAKE HIMSELF GOD. The merely natural man says to himself, “What is Divine Providence? ...Are there not prudence, wisdom, cunning and malice, and are not all things in the world done from these?“

DP 182:2-3. He who in his heart denies the Divine Providence also denies God. 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.... Can what is dead govern anything?

DP 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.

DP 183:2. ...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.

DP 183:4. That the Lord continually humbles the proud and exalts the humble He Himself teaches in many places in the Word....

DP 186. ... 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.

Questions and Comments

  1. “He has taken down the powerful from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.” (Luke 1:52) Why is it necessary that the Lord “continually humbles the proud and exalts the lowly” (DP 183:4) ? Can both of these happen to the same person?
  2. What is a situation when your merely natural man has wondered or even doubted whether there is a Divine Providence? What answer did your spiritual man eventually provide?
  3. What a contrast! Either all things are governed by love and wisdom, or else all things are mostly dead and merely random. DP 182:3 ends, “If you think that what is dead can impart life to itself you are spiritually insane, for life must come from Life.”
  4. “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” (DP 183). Think how the children of Israel responded to the miracles in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and on Mt. Sinai—by worshiping a golden calf.
  5. “For man from his hereditary evil is always panting for the lowest hell.” Does this make sense to you?
  6. Since the Divine Providence operates as quietly as an imperceptible stream, how do we know that we are not just being manipulated against our will?
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