2406. The angels pressed Lot to hasten. That this signifies that the Lord withheld them from evil and kept them in good is evident from the signification of "pressing" and "hastening," as being to urge; and that by these words is signified to be withheld from evil, is evident both from the internal sense of these words and from what follows. The internal sense is that when the church begins to fall away from the good of charity, its people are at that time withheld from evil by the Lord more strongly than when it is in the good of charity. The same is evident from what follows, namely, that although the angels pressed Lot to go out of the city, he still lingered; and that they then laid hold of the hands of himself, his wife, and his daughters, and led them forth, and set them without the city; by which is signified and described the character of man in that state; for it is the second state of this church that is here treated of. The first state is described in the first three verses of this chapter; which state is such that they are in the good of charity and acknowledge the Lord, and are confirmed in good by Him. The second state is described here, which is such that with the men of the church themselves evils begin to act against goods, and that they are then powerfully withheld from evils and kept in goods by the Lord; which state is treated of in this verse, and in the 15th, 16th, and 17th, that follow.
 As regards this matter, few, if any, know that all men without exception are withheld from evils by the Lord, and this by a mightier force than man can ever believe. For the endeavor of every man is continually toward evil, and this both from what is hereditary, into which he is born, and from what is actual, which he has procured for himself; and this to such a degree that if he were not withheld by the Lord, he would rush headlong every moment toward the lowest hell. But the mercy of the Lord is so great that at every moment, even the least, the man is uplifted and held back, to prevent him from rushing thither. This is the case with the good also, but with a difference according to their life of charity and faith. Thus the Lord combats continually with man, and for man with hell, although it does not so appear to the man. That it is really so has been given me to know by much experience, which of the Lord's Divine mercy will be related elsewhere. (See also n. 929, 1581.)