(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 259

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259. 6. The merely natural man confirms himself against the Divine Providence by the fact that there have been and still are so many heresies in the Christian world, such as Quakerism, Moravianism, Anabaptism, and others. For he may think to himself, If the Divine Providence were universal in the most individual things, and had as its end the salvation of all, it would have brought it about that there should be one true religion throughout the whole world, and that one not divided, still less torn into heresies. However, reason the matter out and, if you can, give it closer consideration. Can a man be saved unless he be first reformed? For he is born into the love of self and of the world; and as these loves do not bear within themselves any love to God and towards the neighbour, except for the sake of self, he is born also into evils of every kind. Is there any love or mercy in these loves? Does he regard it of any moment to defraud another, to defame him, to hate him even to death, to commit adultery with his wife, to act cruelly to him when moved by revenge, while he cherishes in his mind (animus) the desire to be supreme over all, thus regarding others compared with himself as insignificant and worthless? In order that such a man may be saved must he not first be led away from these evils, and so be reformed? It has been shown above in many places that this can only be effected in accordance with several laws, which are laws of the Divine Providence. These laws are for the most part unknown; and yet they are laws of the Divine Wisdom and at the same time of the Divine Love; and the Lord cannot act contrary to them, for to do so would be to destroy man, not to save him.
[2] You will see this if you read through and compare the laws that have been set forth. Since, then, it is in accordance with these laws that there is no immediate influx from heaven, but only mediate influx through the Word, doctrine and preaching; and since the Word to be Divine could only have been written throughout wholly by correspondences, it follows that dissensions and heresies are inevitable, and that the permission of these is also in accordance with the laws of the Divine Providence. Moreover, when the Church itself has assumed as its essentials things which belong to the understanding only, that is, to doctrine, and not things which belong to the will, that is, to the life; and when those things which belong to the life are not made essentials of the Church, then man from his understanding is in complete darkness and wanders about like a blind man, everywhere running up against things and falling into pits. For the will must see in the understanding, and not the understanding in the will; or what is the same, the life and its love must lead the understanding to think, speak and act, and not the reverse. If the reverse were the case the understanding, from an evil, indeed a diabolical love, might seize upon whatever presents itself through the senses and insist upon the will doing it. From these considerations it may be seen how dissensions and heresies arise.
[3] Yet it has been provided that everyone, no matter in what heresy he may be with respect to his understanding, may still be reformed and saved, if only he shuns evils as sins and does not confirm heretical falsities in himself. For by shunning evils as sins the will is reformed, and through the will the understanding, which then first emerges out of darkness into light. There are three essentials of the Church: an acknowledgment of the Divinity of the Lord, an acknowledgment of the holiness of the Word, and the life that is called charity. According to the life which is charity is every man's faith; from the Word he has a rational perception of what the life should be; and from the Lord he has reformation and salvation. Had these three been held as essentials of the Church intellectual dissensions would not have divided but would have merely varied it, as light varies colours in beautiful objects, and as the various emblems of royalty constitute the beauty of a kingly crown.


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