(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 277

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277. I. EVERY MAN IS IN EVIL, AND MUST BE LED AWAY FROM EVIL THAT HE MAY BE REFORMED. It is well known in the Church that every man has hereditary evil, and that from this he is in the lust of many evils. The consequence is that man cannot do good of himself; for evil does not do good except such good as has evil within it. The evil that is within is, that he does good for the sake of self, and thus only in order that it may appear good. It is well known that this evil is inherited from parents. It is declared to be from Adam and his wife, but this is an error; for everyone is born into it from his own parent, and this parent from his parent, and he also from his. Thus it is successively transferred from one to another, and in this way it is increased and grows as it were to a great accumulation, and is transmitted to offspring. Hence it is that there is nothing sound in man, but he is altogether evil. Does anyone have a feeling that it is wrong to love oneself more than others? Who, then, knows that it is evil? and yet it is the head of all evils.
[2] That this evil is inherited from parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is clear from many circumstances that are well known in the world, as that households, families, and even nations are distinguished from each other merely by the face; and faces are types of minds (animus), and minds are in accord with the affections which belong to love. Moreover, sometimes the features of a forefather reappear in a grandchild or a great grandchild. From the features alone I know whether a person is a Jew or not; also, from what race others are derived; and I have no doubt there are others who have similar knowledge. If affections which belong to love are thus derived and handed down from parents, it follows that evils are also, for they pertain to the affections.
[3] The origin of this resemblance will now be explained. The soul of everyone is from the father, and it is only clothed with a body from the mother. That the soul is from the father follows not only from what has been mentioned above but also from many other indications; as from this circumstance, that a child born of a black father, for example an African, by a white mother, for example a European, is black, and vice versa; and especially from this, that the soul is in the seed, for impregnation is from the seed, and the seed is what is clothed with a body from the mother; the seed being the primal form of the love in which the father is, the form of his ruling love with its nearest derivations, which are the inmost affections of that love.
[4] In everyone these affections are clothed with the virtues that pertain to the moral life and with the goods that belong partly to the civil and partly to the spiritual life; and these constitute the external of life even with the wicked. Into this external of life every infant is born, and this is why it is lovable; but as the child reaches boyhood and youth he passes from that external to what is interior, and at length to the ruling love of his father. If this love has been evil, and has not by various means been modified and changed by his teachers, it becomes his love as it was his father's. Still [even if modified and changed] the evil is not eradicated, but only removed, as will be shown in what follows. Hence it may be evident that every man is in evil.

277a.* That a man must be withdrawn from evil in order that he may be reformed is evident without explanation; for he that is in evil in the world is in evil after his departure from the world; and therefore if evil is not removed in the world it cannot be removed afterwards. Where the tree falls, there it lies. So also does a man's life when he dies remain such as it has been. Moreover, everyone is judged according to his deeds; not that these are mentioned in detail, but because he returns to them and acts as before; for death is a continuation of life, with this difference, that the man cannot then be reformed. All reformation is effected in fullness, that is, in first things and at the same time in last things; and in the world last things are reformed in harmony with first things, and cannot be reformed afterwards, because the last things of life that man carries with him after death become quiescent and act in harmony, that is, as one, with his interiors.
* Original Edition repeats number 277.


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