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Wisdom, and that these two principles are the very esse and life, from which every thing is and lives ; moreover it is shewn, that the same proceedeth from him, and that this proceeding Divine is himself: among the things which proceed from him, the Divine Providence is primary: for this is continually in the end for which the universe was created: the operation and progression of the end by its means is what is called the Divine Providence. Now forasmuch as the proceeding Divine is himself, and the Divine Providence is the primary thing that proceedeth, it follows, that to act against the Laws of his Divine Providence is to act against himself. It may also be said, that the Lord is Providence, as it is said that God is order; for the Divine Providence is the Divine order primarily respecting the salvation of men ; and as there is no order without laws, for laws constitute it, and every law derives this from order, that it also is order, it hence follows, that as God is order, he is also the law of his own order: the same may be said of the Divine Providence, that as the Lord is his own providence, he is also the law of his own providence: hence it is evident, that the Lord cannot act against the laws of his Divine Providence, because to act against them would be to act against himseif. Now, there can be no operation but upon a subject, and by means operating upon that subject ; operation, except upon a subject, and upon that by certain means, is not possible; the subject of the Divine Providence is man; the means are Divine Truths whereby he hath wisdom, and divine goods, whereby he hath love; the Divine Providence by these means operates its end, which is the salvation of man, for he who willeth an end, also willeth means, wherefore when he operates the end, he operates it by means. But these particulars will be made more evident, when they are reviewed in the following order. 1. That the operation of the Divine Providence in saving man begins at his birth, and continues to the end of his life, and afterwards to eternity. 2. That the operation of the Divine Providence is continually effected by means out of pure mercy. 3. That momentaneous salvation from immediate mercy is not possible. 4. That momentaneous salvation from immediate mercy is the fiery flying serpent in the church.
1. That the operation of the Divine Providence in saving man, begins at his birth, and continues to the end of his life, and afterwards to eternity. It was shewn above, that a heaven out of the human race is the very object of the creation of the universe, and that that end in its operation and progression is the Divine Providence for the salvation of men, and that all things which are without man, and serve for his use, are secondary ends of creation which in sum have relation to all things that exist in the three kingdoms, the animal, vegetable, and mineral; when these things proceed constantly according to the laws of divine order established at their first creation, how then can the primary end (object), which is the salvation of the human race, do otherwise than proceed constantly according to the laws of its order, which are the laws of the Divine Providence; only observe a fruit tree; doth it not first spring from a small seed as a tender germ, and afterwards grow successively into a stalk, and spread forth its branches, which are then covered with leaves, and afterwards put forth flowers, and bear fruit, wherein it deposits new seeds, by which it provides for its perpetuity ? it is the same with every shrub and every herb of the field: do not all and singular things therein constantly and wonderfully proceed according to the laws of their order from end to end? Why then should not the primary end, which is a heaven out of the human race, do the same ? can any thing possibly take place in its progression, which doth not most constantly proceed according to the laws of the Divine Providence ? forasmuch as there is a correspondence between the life of man and the vegetation of a tree, make a parallelism or comparison; the infancy of man is comparatively like the tender germ of a tree springing out of the earth from the seed; the childhood and youth of man is like that germ increasing to a stem and branches; natural truths, which every man first imbibes, are like the leaves with which its branches are covered, leaves having no other signification in the Word ; Man's initiation into the marriage of good and true, or the spiritual marriage, is like the flowers which that tree produceth in the spring time, spiritual truths being the small leaves of those flowers; the first fruits of the spiritual marriage are like the beginnings of the fruit; spiritual goods, which are the goods of charity, are like the fruit, and are also signified by fruit in the Word; the procreations of Wisdom from Love, are like the seeds, by means of which procreations man becometh like a garden and a paradise : man is also described in the Word by a tree, and his wisdom from love by a garden ; Nothing else is signified by the garden of Eden. Man indeed is an evil tree from the seed, but yet there is provided an ingrafting or inoculation of branches taken from the tree of life, by which the juices drawn from the old root are converted into juices producing good fruit. This comparison is made, in order that it may be known, that when there is so constant a progression of the Divine Providence in the vegetation and regeneration (reproduction) of trees, it must by all means be constant in the reformation and regeneration of men, who are of much more value tnan trees, according to these words of the Lord,
"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, yet not one of them is forgotten before God; but even tbe
head are all numbered, fear not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows. And which of you with taking thought, can add to this stature one cubit; if ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest; consider the lilies how they grow: if God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith,” Luke xii. 6, 7, 25, 26, 27, 28.
It was said that the operation of the Divine Providence in sav. ing man, begins at his birth, and continues to the end of his life ; that this may be understood, it is to be noted, that the Lord seeth what man is, and forseeth what he desireth to be, consequently what he will be ; and in order that he may be a man, and thereby immortal, the freedom of his will cannot be taken away, as hath been abundantly shewn above, wherefore the Lord foreseeth his state after death, and provides for it from his birth to the end of his life ; with the wicked he provides by permitting and continually withdrawing them from evils, but with the good he provides by leading them to good; thus the divine providence is continually in the operation of saving man; but more cannot be saved than desire to be saved, and they desire to be saved, who acknowledge God, and are led by him; and they do not desire to be saved, who do not acknowledge God, but lead or guide themselves; for the latter do not think of eternal life, and salvation, whereas the former do: this the Lord seeth, but still leadeth them, and leadeth them according to the laws of his divine providence, against which he cannot act, because to act against them, would be to act against his divine love and against his divine wisdom, which is to act against himself. Now forasmuch as he foreseeth the state of all after death, and also foreseeth the places of those, who are not willing to be saved, in hell, and the places of those, who are willing to be saved, in heaven, it follows, that, as was said, he provideth for the wicked their places by permitting and withdrawing, and places for tbe good by leading them ; which, unless it were done continually from the birth of every one to his life's end, neither heaven nor hell could subsist; for without such foresight and providence at the same time, both heaven and hell would be nothing but confusion: that every one hath his place provided for him, by means of the Lord's fore-knowledge, may be seen above, n. 202, 203. This may be illustrated by the following comparison; if an archer or marksman were to shoot at a mark, and a line were drawn from the mark to the distance of a mile beyond it; if in shooting, the arrow or ball
Vol. 1.-No. 8.
were to miss the mark only a nail's breadth, at the end of the mile it would diverge immensely from the line drawn beyond the mark, so it would be, if the Lord did not every moment, yea every the most minute point of time, respect eternity in foreseeing and providing every one his place after death ; but this is done by the Lord, because all the future is present to him, and all the present is to him eternal. That the Divine Providence, in all it doeth, hath respect to infinity and eternity, may be seen above, n. 46 to 69, 214, and the subsequent numbers.
It was said that the operation of the Divine Providence continues to eternity, because every angel is perfected in wisdom to eternity; but every one according to the degree of affection for goodness and truth, in which he was when he departed out of the world ; it is this degree which is perfected to eternity ; what is beyond this degree, is without the angel, and not within him, and that which is without him, cannot be perfected within him: this is meant by the good measure, pressed down, shaken, and running over, which shall be given into the bosom of those, who give and forgive others, Luke vii. 37, 38; that is, who are in the good of charity.
That the operation of the Divine Providence is continually effected by means out of pure mercy. There are means and modes of the Divine Providence ; means are all those things, by virtue whereof man is made man, and perfected with respect to his understanding and his will; modes are those things whereby such means are effected. The means, by virtue whereof man is made man, and perfected with respect to his understanding, are included under the general term or appellation of truths, which become ideas in the thought, and are called things in the memory, and in themselves are knowledges, from which sciences are derived. All these means considered in themselves are spiritual; but whereas they exist in things natural, from their clothing or covering they appear as natural things, and some as material. These means are infinite in number, and infinite in variety; they are more or less simple and compound, and more or less perfect or imperfect. There are means for forming and perfecting civil natural life; also for forming and perfecting moral rational life; and likewise for forming and perfecting spiritual celestial life. These means succeed, one kind after another, from infancy to the latest age of man, and after that to eternity; and as they succeed by increasing, those which were prior become means of those which are posterior, inasmuch as they enter into every thing that hath a form às mediate causes, for from these every effect or every conclusion is efficient, and thence becomes a cause ; thus posteriors successively become means or meditates : and whereas this goes on to eternity, there is no postreme or ultimate that closes the whole; for as eternity is without end, so wisdom, which increaseth to eternity, is without end : If there were any end to wisdom in a wise man, the delight of his wisdom, which consists in its perpetual multiplication and fructification, would perish, and in place of it would succeed the delight of glory, in which alone there is no celestial life ; in such case a man no longer becomes wise like a young man, but like an old man, and at length like a decrepid man. Although the wisdom of a wise man in heaven increases to eternity, yet there is no such approximation of angelic wisdom to the Divine wisdom as to reach it; it is comparatively like what is said of a right line drawn about an hyperbola continually approaching, but never touching it; and like what is said of squaring the circle. Hence it may appear, what is meant by means, by which the Divine Providence operates, that man may be man, and be perfected in regard to his understanding, and that these means are ineluded under the general appellation of truths, There are also a like number of means, whereby man is formed and perfected in regard to his will, but these are comprehended under the general appellation of goods; from the latter man de rives love, from the former wisdom ; the conjunction of them makes the man, for such as the conjunction is, such is the man : It is this conjunction which is called the marriage of goodness and truth.
But the modes, by which the Divine Providence operates upon means, and by means in forming man, and perfecting him, are also infinite in number, and infinite in variety ; in number they are as many as there are operations of the Divine Wisdom from the Divine Love for the salvation of man, consequently as many as there are operations of the Divine Providence according to its laws above treated of. That these modes are of a very hidden nature, was illustrated above by the operations of the soul upon the body, concerning which man knoweth so little, that it can scarely be called anything; as how the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongne, and the skin feel, and how the stomach digests, the mesentery prepares the chyle, the liver elaborates the blood, the panereas and spleen purify it, the kidneys separate impure humours from it, the heart collects and distributes it, the lungs decant it, and how the brain sublimates the blood and vivifies it anew, besides innumerable other things, all which are Arcana, which scarce any science can enter into. Hence it is evident, that still less can the secret operations of the Divine Providence be entered into; it it sufficient that the laws of it be known.