(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 309

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309. I will here relate what I heard from some in the spiritual world. They were among those who believe their own prudence to be everything and the Divine Providence nothing. I said that man has not any proprium of his own, unless you choose to call that his proprium which consists in being this or that kind of subject, or this or that kind of organ, or this or that kind of form. This, however, is not the proprium that is meant, but is merely a description of its quality. No man in fact has any proprium in the sense in which this is commonly understood. Those who ascribed all things to their own prudence, and who may be called examples of self-ownership (proprietarii in imagine sua), so flared up at this that flames appeared to issue from their nostrils as they declared, "You are uttering absurd and insane words. Would not a man in such a case be an empty nonentity? Would he not be a mere phantasmal figment of the mind, or a graven image or a statue?"
[2] To this I could only answer that it is absurd and insane to believe that man is life from himself, and that wisdom and prudence do not flow in from God but are in man, consequently also the good that belongs to charity and the truth that belongs to faith. To attribute these to oneself is called insanity by every wise man, and thus it is absurd. Moreover, persons doing so are like those who occupy the house and property of another, and being in possession persuade themselves that these are their own; or they are like stewards and estate managers who believe all their master's property to be their own; or like serving men to whom their master gave large and small sums to trade with, but who rendered no account of them and kept them as their own, and so acted as thieves.
[3] Of such it may be said that they are spiritually insane, indeed that they are empty nonentities and also idealists,* since they have not in themselves from the Lord any good which is the being (esse) itself of life, nor consequently any truth. Therefore, such are even called dead, and also nothing and vanity (Isaiah XL. 17-23); and elsewhere, image-makers, graven images and statues. However, more will be said concerning these in what follows, and will be considered in this order:
I. What one's own prudence is, and what prudence not one's own is.
II. Man from his own prudence persuades himself and confirms in himself that all good and truth originate from himself and are in himself; and in like manner all evil and falsity.
III. Everything of which man has persuaded himself and which he has confirmed in himself remains with him as his own.
IV. If man believed, as is the truth, that all good and truth originate from the Lord, and all evil and falsity from hell, he would not appropriate good to himself and account it meritorious, nor would he appropriate evil to himself and account himself responsible for it.
* Clearly this word is not used in its modern sense, but describes those who trust only their own ideas.


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