286. Now as it is a law of the Divine Providence that man should act from freedom according to reason, that is, from the two faculties liberty and rationality; and as it is also a law of the Divine Providence that what he does should appear to him as from himself and consequently as his own; and further as it is a law that evils must be permitted in order that man may be led out of them; it follows that man can abuse these faculties and from freedom according to reason confirm whatever he pleases. For he can make whatever he will to be reasonable whether it is reasonable in itself or not. Therefore some say, What is truth? Can I not make true whatever I will? Does not also the world do so? Whoever does this does it by reasoning. Take the greatest falsity and tell a clever dialectician to prove it, and he will do so. For example, tell him to prove that man is a beast; or that the soul is like a small spider in its web, governing the body as the spider governs by means of its threads; or tell him that religion is nothing but a restraining bond, and he will prove any one of these propositions until it appears to be true. What is easier? For he does not know what an appearance is, or what a falsity is which from blind faith is assumed as a truth.
 Hence it is that a man cannot see this truth, namely, that the Divine Providence is in the most individual things of the understanding and of the will, or what is the same, in the most individual things of the thoughts and of the affections in every man, whether wicked or good. He becomes confused principally by supposing that in this case evils also would be from the Lord; but, nevertheless, it will be seen in what now follows that there is not a particle of evil from the Lord, but that evil is from man, through his confirming in himself the appearance that he thinks, wills, speaks and acts from himself. In order that these things may be clearly seen they will be demonstrated in the following order:
I. The Divine Providence, not only with the good but also with the wicked, is universal in things most individual; and yet it is not in men's evils.
II. The wicked are continually leading themselves into evils, but the Lord is continually leading them away from evils.
III. The wicked cannot be wholly withdrawn by the Lord from evil and led in good so long as they believe their own intelligence to be everything and the Divine Providence nothing.
IV. The Lord governs hell by means of opposites; and the wicked who are in the world he governs in hell as to their interiors, but not as to their exteriors.