333. The operation of the Divine Providence for the salvation of man is said to begin at his birth and to continue right on to the end of his life. In order to understand this it should be known that the Lord sees what the nature of a man is, and foresees what he desires to be, and thus what he will be; and in order that he may be a man and therefore immortal, the freedom of his will cannot be taken away, as has been shown above in many places. Therefore the Lord foresees man's state after death and provides for it from his birth right on to the end of his life. With the wicked the Lord provides by permitting and continually withdrawing them from evils; while with the good He provides by leading them to good. Thus the Divine Providence is unceasing in the work of saving man. However, no more can be saved than desire to be saved, and only those desire to be saved who acknowledge God and are led by Him; but those do not desire to be saved who do not acknowledge God and who lead themselves; for these give no thought to eternal life and salvation, while the others do. This the Lord sees and still He leads them, leading them according to the laws of His Divine Providence, contrary to which He cannot act, since so to act would be to act contrary to His Divine Love and contrary to His Divine Wisdom, that is, contrary to Himself.
 Now since the Lord foresees the state of all after death and also foresees the places in hell of those who do not desire to be saved, and the places in heaven of those who desire to be saved, it follows, as has been said, that He provides their places for the wicked by permitting and withdrawing, and their places for the good by leading; and unless this were done continually from the birth of everyone to the end of his life neither heaven nor hell would continue to exist, for without this foresight and Providence at the same time neither heaven nor hell would be anything but confusion. It may be seen above (n. 202, 203) that everyone has his place provided for him by the Lord from this foresight.
 This may be illustrated by the following comparison. If a javelin thrower or a musketeer were to aim at a target and a straight line were drawn from the target a thousand feet beyond it; and if he should err in his aim by only a nail's breadth, his weapon or bullet, at a distance of a thousand feet, would diverge very far from the line drawn beyond the mark. So would it be if the Lord did not every moment, even every least fraction of a moment, regard eternity in foreseeing and providing everyone's place after death. This, however, is done by the Lord because all the future is present to Him and all the present is to Him eternal. It may be seen above (n. 46-69, 214, and following numbers) that the Divine Providence in everything it does has regard to the infinite and the eternal.