(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 217

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217. These three points shall now be illustrated separately. First: Honours and wealth are blessings and they are curses. Common experience testifies that both the pious and the impious, or both the just and the unjust, that is, both the good and the wicked, possess dignities and wealth; and yet no one can deny that the impious and the unjust, that is, the wicked, go to hell, while the pious and the just, that is, the good, go to heaven. This being true, it follows that dignities and riches, or honours and wealth, are either blessings or curses; and that with the good they are blessings, and with the wicked curses. In the work HEAVEN AND HELL, published in London in the year 1758 (n. 357-365), it has been shown that in heaven and also in hell there are both rich and poor, and both great and small. From this it is clear that dignities and riches were blessings in the world with those now in heaven, while they were curses with those now in hell.
[2] Moreover, anyone may know why they are blessings and why they are curses if only he will give a little rational consideration to the matter; that is, he may know that they are blessings with those who do not set their heart on them, and curses with those who do set their heart on them. To set the heart on them is to love oneself in them; and not to set the heart on them is to love uses and not self in them. It has been stated above (n. 215), what the difference is between those two loves, and what the nature of that difference is. To this it must be added that some are led astray by dignities and wealth but some are not. They lead astray when they excite the loves of a man's proprium, which is the love of self; and it has also been stated that this is an infernal love, which is called the devil; but they do not lead astray when they do not excite this love.
[3] Both the wicked and the good are raised to honours and advanced to wealth because the wicked as well as the good perform uses; the wicked do so for the sake of their own personal honours and gain, but the good for the sake of the honour and profit of the office [for which they work]. The good regard the honour and profit of the office as principal causes or motives, and personal honours and gain as instrumental causes; but the wicked regard personal honours and gain as principal causes, and the honour and profit of the office as instrumental causes. Yet who does not see that the person, whatever his function and his honour, is for the sake of the office which he administers, and not the reverse? Who does not see that the judge is for the sake of justice, the magistrate for the sake of the common welfare, the king for the sake of the kingdom, and not the reverse? Therefore everyone is invested with dignity and honour, according to the laws of the kingdom, in keeping with the high office which he administers; and who does not see that the difference between the two loves is like that between what is principal and what is instrumental? The man who attributes to himself, that is, to his own person, the honour belonging to his office appears in the spiritual world, when visual representation of it is made, like a man with his body inverted, feet up and head down.
[4] Second: When dignities and wealth are blessings they are spiritual and eternal, but when they are curses they are temporal and fleeting. There are dignities and wealth in heaven as in the world, for there are governments there, and consequently administrations and functions. There is also trade there, and consequently wealth, since there are societies and communities there. The universal heaven is divided into two kingdoms, one of which is called the celestial kingdom, the other the spiritual kingdom. Each kingdom is divided into innumerable societies, greater and smaller, all which, and likewise all within which, are arranged according to differences of love and of wisdom thence derived; the societies of the celestial kingdom according to the differences of celestial love, or love to the Lord, and the societies of the spiritual kingdom according to the differences of spiritual love, or love towards the neighbour. Because there are such societies, and because all who are in them have been men in the world and therefore retain the loves they had in the world, with this difference that they are now spiritual, and that the dignities and wealth are spiritual in the spiritual kingdom and celestial in the celestial kingdom, therefore those who have love and wisdom more than others have dignities and wealth more than others; and these are they to whom dignities and wealth were blessings in the world.
[5] From these considerations may be evident the nature of spiritual dignities and wealth, namely, that they pertain to the office, or use, and not to the person. A person who is in high office in the spiritual world is in magnificence and glory, like that of kings on earth; yet such do not regard the dignity itself as anything, but the uses in the administration and discharge of which they are engaged. They receive every one indeed the honours of his high office, but they do not attribute these to themselves, but to the uses; and as all uses are from the Lord, they attribute the honours to the Lord, from whom they are derived (a quo). Such, therefore, are spiritual dignities and wealth which are eternal.
[6] It is otherwise, however, with those to whom dignities and wealth in the world were curses. Because they attributed these to themselves and not to the uses, and because they did not desire that uses should control them but that they should control uses, which they regarded as uses only so far as they ministered to their own honour and glory, they are accordingly in hell, where they are vile slaves, despised and miserable. Therefore, because these dignities and wealth perish they are called temporal and fleeting. Concerning these two classes the Lord teaches as follows:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt. vi. 19-21.
[7] Third: Honours and wealth that are curses, in comparison with those that are blessings, are as nothing compared with everything, or as that which in itself has no existence compared with that which has existence in itself. Everything that perishes and comes to nothing is inwardly in itself nothing. Outwardly, indeed, it is something, and even appears to be much, and to some everything, as long as it lasts; but inwardly in itself it is not. It is like a surface with nothing beneath; and like a character on the stage in royal robes until the play is ended; but that which remains to eternity is in itself something perpetually, thus everything; and it also Is, for it does not cease to be.


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