501. It is asked at the present day, why miracles do not take place as formerly; for it is believed that if they were to occur, there would come from everyone a hearty acknowledgment. But miracles are not now wrought as formerly because they compel [belief] and take away man's freedom of choice in spiritual things, and make man natural instead of spiritual. Everyone in the Christian world, since the Lord's coming, has the ability to become spiritual, and he becomes spiritual solely from the Lord through the Word; but the capacity to become so would perish if man were led to believe through miracles, because, as just said, miracles compel and deprive man of freedom of choice in spiritual things; and everything that is compulsory in such matters betakes itself to the natural man, and closes the door, as it were, to the spiritual man, which is the truly internal man, depriving it of all power to see any truth in clear light, with the result that man then reasons about spiritual things from the natural man alone, which sees everything truly spiritual inversely.
 But before the Lord's coming miracles were wrought because the men of the church were then natural men, to whom spiritual things, which belong to an internal church, could not be disclosed; for if these had been disclosed they would have been profaned. Therefore all their worship consisted in rituals which represented and signified the internal things of the church; and they could be led to observe these rituals only by means of miracles; and not even, indeed, by means of miracles, because those representatives had in them a spiritual internal, as is evident from the children of Israel in the desert, who, although they had seen so many miracles in Egypt, and afterward that greatest of miracles upon Mount Sinai, still, after Moses' absence for a month, danced around a golden calf, and shouted that it had led them out of Egypt. In the land of Canaan they acted in a like manner, although they witnessed the great miracles wrought by Elijah and Elisha, and finally the truly Divine miracles by the Lord.
 Miracles are not wrought at the present day, especially for the reason that the church has deprived man of all freedom of choice. This it has done by decreeing that man is unable to contribute anything whatever toward the acquisition of faith or toward conversion, or in general toward salvation (see above, n. 464). The man who accepts this belief becomes more and more natural; and the natural man, as said above, looks at everything spiritual inversely, and consequently thinks in opposition to it. In this case the higher region of the man's mind, where freedom of choice in spiritual things has its primary seat, is thereby closed up, and the spiritual things which miracles seemingly confirm occupy the lower region of the mind, which is merely natural, and the falsities respecting faith, conversion, and salvation, thus remain above this region, and in consequence it comes to pass that satans have their abode above and angels below, like hawks above chickens. Then after a little while the satans break down their bars, and rush forth with fury upon the spiritual things which hold a place below them, not only denying these, but also blaspheming and profaning them; and the result is that the latter state of man becomes worse than the former.