274.* 4. A doubt may be raised against the Divine Providence from the fact that hitherto it has not been known that a man lives as a man after death, and that this has not been disclosed before. This has not been known before because in those who do not shun evils as sins there lies interiorly concealed a belief that man does not live after death; and therefore it is a matter of no moment to them whether it is said that man lives after death or whether it is said that he will rise again at the day of the Last Judgment. If there happens to occur to anyone a belief in the resurrection he says to himself, The case is no worse for me than for others; if I go to hell I shall have many to accompany me, and also if I go to heaven. Yet all who have any religion have a rational conception implanted in them that after death they live as men. The idea that they live as souls and not as men is held only by those who have been obsessed with their own intelligence, and by no others.
It may be evident from the following considerations that in anyone who has any religion there is implanted a rational conception that he lives after death as a man:
(1) Does anyone think otherwise when he is dying?
(2) What panegyrist when lamenting the dead does not exalt them to heaven, and place them among the angels as conversing with them and partaking of their joy? Consider also the deification of some men.
(3) Who among the common people does not believe that when he dies, if he has lived well, he will go to a heavenly paradise, be clothed in white raiment, and enjoy life everlasting?
(4) What priest is there who does not say these or similar things to one about to die? And when he says so he believes it, provided he is not thinking at the same time of the Last Judgment.
(5) Who does not believe that his little children are in heaven, and that after death he will see his wife, whom he has loved? Who thinks that they are ghosts, still less that they are souls or minds hovering about in the universe?
(6) Who objects when anything is said about the lot or state of those who have passed from time into the life eternal? I have said to many that such and such is the state or lot of various persons, and I have never heard anyone affirm that the lot of these has not yet been decided but will be at the time of the Judgment.
(7) When one sees angels in paintings or in sculpture does he not recognise them to be such? Who then thinks that they are spirits without a body, or air, or clouds, as certain of the learned do?
(8) Roman Catholics believe that their saints are men in heaven, and that the rest are somewhere else; Mohammedans believe the same of their dead; Africans especially, and many other races, have a similar belief. Why then do not the Reformed Christians believe this, when they know it from the Word?
(9) Moreover, it is from this conception implanted in everyone that some aspire to immortal fame; for it is directed by some to this aspiration and rouses in them heroism and bravery in war.
(10) Inquiry was made in the spiritual world whether this conception is implanted in all; and it was learned that it is so implanted - in the spiritual idea, however, belonging to their internal thought, but not in the natural idea belonging to their external thought.
Hence it may be evident that doubt ought not to be raised against the Divine Providence because it is thought that now for the first time it has been revealed that man lives as a man after death. It is only the sensual mind of man that desires to see and touch what he is to believe; and he whose thought is not elevated above this is in the darkness of night regarding the state of his life.
* This numbering follows the Original Edition.