481. No one denies that man has freedom of choice in natural things. But this a man has from his freedom of choice in spiritual things; for, as has been shown already, the Lord flows into every man from above or within with the Divine good and truth, and thereby breathes into man a life distinct from the life of beasts, and gives him the power and the will to receive the Divine good and Divine truth and to act from these; and this He never takes away from any. From this it follows that it is the unceasing will of the Lord that man should receive truth and do good, and thus become spiritual, and for this he was born; and to become spiritual without freedom of choice in spiritual things is as impossible as it is to thrust a camel through the eye of a sewing needle, or to touch a star in the firmament with the hand. That the ability to understand truth and to will it is given to every man, even to devils, and is never taken away, has been shown me by living experience. On one occasion one of those who were in hell was brought up into the world of spirits, and was there asked by angels from heaven whether he could understand the things they said to him, which were Divine spiritual things; and he said that he could. He was then asked why he did not accept such things; and he replied that he did not wish for them because he did not love them. He was then told that he could wish for them. He was astonished at this, and said that he could not. Therefore the angels breathed into his understanding the glory of reputation with its pleasantness, receiving which he did wish for them and even loved them. But presently he was sent back into his former state, in which he was a plunderer, an adulterer, and a calumniator of his neighbor; and then he no longer understood those things because he did not wish to do so. From this it is clear that man is man by virtue of his freedom of choice in spiritual things, and that without it he would be like a stock, or a stone, or the statue of Lot's wife.