Category — Providence
SIX DOCTRINAL CLASSES ON THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN VARIOUS RELATIONS AND FOUR SERMONS ON THE TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS
THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN RELATION TO LIFE IN GENERAL
Bryn Athyn, Friday, November 20th 1936
In this series of classes we will treat of:
1. The Divine Providence in relation to life in general.
2. The Divine Providence in relation to a man’s occupation:
a. In relation to a minister,
b. To a teacher,
c. To a man whose occupation is in the world.
3. The Divine Providence in relation to other duties:
a. To the Church,
b. To the country,
c. To a man’s family.
4. The Divine Providence in relation to recreation.
5. The Divine Providence in relation to marriage.
In the Prologue of the Canons of the New Church we read: “In so much as the true things of life become of life, for so much the true things of faith become of faith, and not the least more or less. Some are of science and not of faith”. How easy it is to imagine that we are in the true things of faith when there is so little spiritually living in our daily life; in which case what we believe to be the true things of faith are with us but dead scientifics of faith.
A man must walk with equal step, the true things of life becoming of life and the true things of faith becoming of faith: what is more or less is of evil, for true things of faith, apart from the spiritual good of life, are dead, and the good of life not formed by true things is but a false appearance.
The following are examples of truths of faith and truths of life:
1. The Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, the first three of which are truths of faith and the remaining seven truths of life.
2. The Two Great Commandments in the New Testament, the first of which looks to love and faith in the Lord, and the second to charity towards the neighbor.
3. The faith of the New Heaven and the New Church in the Newest Testament, as found in the opening numbers of the True Christian Religion, where it speaks of:
a. The universals of faith relating to the Lord.
b. The universal principles of faith on man’s part.
4. Also in the Principles of the Academy, the Doctrine upon which the General Church* is founded, we find a similar division:
a. The first two principles are truths of faith.
b. The remaining ten are truths of life.
The internal advance of the Church depends on the increase of the good and the true, called in the Word fructification, or bearing fruit, and multiplication, or on the birth of spiritual sons and daughters. Where there are no births of spiritual sons and daughters, the Church will die just as surely as where there are no births of natural sons and daughters.
The question is this; Is the General Church having an increase of true things of life which become of life, and hence of true things of faith which become of faith? If there is not an increase in the true things of life which become of life, then all intellectual advancement is mere theological speculation, theological scientifics, which are of the memory and not of faith.
Since the coming into existence of the Principles of the Academy, what truths of life have been born in the Church? What new perceptions as to how a man should live? What are the signs of the times? Is the Church becoming more distinctive in its life? More like a heavenly society and less like the world about us? Does the sphere of the world affect us less? On the other hand, is it difficult for us not only to advance in distinctive true things of life which become of life, or even to maintain those set down in the Principles of the Academy?
If the latter is true it is indeed a serious situation, for a Church cannot stand still. If the Church does not go forward it goes backward and this at an accelerating speed; and when the Church starts to go backward it is indeed in a desperate state. While the New Church will endure for ever, history testifies that societies of the Church have a tendency to degenerate. How quickly the early dawn of the Church in England and America passed through noon into evening, until it died, save for the renewal in the Academy.
The great question is, How much do we believe in the Lord and in the Word? To believe is far more than merely to know and acknowledge; to believe is primarily of the life, for we read: “To believe in the Lord is not merely to acknowledge Him, but also to do His commandments; for only to acknowledge Him is solely of the thought out of some understanding, but to do His commandments is also of the acknowledgment out of the will”, T.C.R. 151.
Another great question is, Do we believe in the Divine Providence, not only in generals, but also in particulars and singulars? To acknowledge only the Divine Providence in generals, particulars, and singulars, is not enough; it must also be believed, that is, it must be of the life.
If a man in states of distress or despair, or in states of victory, raises his mind to the Lord and His Providence, and during the matters of his daily life fails to do this, he only believes in Providence in generals and disbelieves it in particulars and singulars, and this is true no matter how much he may think that he acknowledges it. Such a belief in the Divine Providence in generals is similar to deathbed repentance and is not saving. The Divine Providence must be believed in momentarily, or the belief is nothing.
Again, to put the question in a different form: A heading in Divine Providence reads: “That one’s proper prudence is nothing; and that it only appears to be something, and that it also should appear as if it were; but that the Divine Providence out of most singular things is universal”, n. 191. Let every one ask himself, does he merely acknowledge this or does he actually believe this? That is, is this a matter of his understanding only, or is it a matter of daily life? Does he meditate daily that he must act as if from himself, according to what appears like prudence, that his so acting is internally seen to be an appearance, and that in reality man’s prudence is nothing, it merely appears to be something, and should so appear? Is this belief continually ruling, inmostly ruling subconsciously in all the acts of his life, even when his mind is engaged on other things? Such a belief cannot exist without daily prayer and meditation, accompanied by daily repentance.
We are taught that the Lord does more things for every man every moment of his life than can be comprehended in any number. Again we must ask, do we believe this or do we only acknowledge it? If we believe this then every moment of our life our belief gives some little return to the Lord for the infinite things which He is doing for us every moment of our life, and this return from the will is ever present like the beating of the heart, even when the understanding is engaged in other things; this is the constant beating of the heart that is meant by loving the Lord with all the heart. The understanding must also continually give a return to the Lord like the constant breathing of the lungs; this is loving the Lord with all the soul, but of this man is not always aware. A sound heart, a heart of flesh new from the Lord, beats steadily with love to the Lord, and a man in such a state only notices when the heart stops or flutters.
We are told that in Heaven the Angels constantly face the Lord in the east, and this no matter in what direction they turn. So also it must be with the man of the New Church if he is to be truly a man of the Church. He must constantly face the Lord in the east, and this no matter in what direction he turns his mind, whether to the Church, to his business, to his family, to his country, or even to his recreation; he must constantly face the Lord in the east; otherwise the New Church is but a name we have stolen. If there is not a daily turning away from the sphere of the world, in our uses, our duties, and in our recreation, by means of repentance, we cannot believe in the Divine Providence.
We are told in the Word that if a man were to see his proprium he would flee from it as from a monster. Again, the proprium may be compared to a decaying corpse, the stench of which a man’s nostrils must be opened to perceive, if he is to rid himself of its dominion. Do we daily scent something of this?
The celestial Angels are in the greatest humility, and can pray for mercy, for the reason that a thousand times more clearly than others they perceive the disgusting horribleness of their proprium, and therefore they can be held by the Lord a thousand times more free from its influence, than can other Angels.
Concerning those who thus believe it is written: In the first state God seems to be absent; but after this state comes another, which is the state of conjunction with God; in this man acts similarly, but then out of God; nor does he then need, similarly as before, to ascribe to God every good thing that he wills and does, and every true thing that he thinks and speaks, because this is written upon his heart, and thence is inwardly in every action and speech of him. Similarly the Lord united Himself to His Father, and the Father Himself to Him”, T.C.R. 105.
* By the General Church in this work is meant the General Church of 1937 (wed editor, 2014).
Good Friday Service [on the love of self in relation to the things of the Word, the Doctrine and the Church]
“And as they did eat, He said, Amen I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord is it I?
“And He answered and said, he that dippeth hand with Me in the dish, the name shall betray Me… Then Judas, who betrayed Him, answered and said, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.”
If we are to come into the internal use of the Word, we should see that all things of the Word apply to ourselves, and that all the persons spoken of in the Word represent things that are in us.
We read: “The Lord being betrayed by Judas signifies that He was betrayed by the Jewish nation.” (Doctrine of Life 16)
Judas and the Jewish nation signifies the love of self. The Lord, with man, is love from the Lord into the Lord. It is nothing but the love of self which betrays the Lord in us.
The love of self is spoken of in three senses in the Word.
Concerning the favorable sense of the love of self we read: “The man, who is in the good of charity and faith, also loves himself and the world, but no otherwise than as a means to an end. With him the love, of self has regard to love of the Lord; for he loves himself as a means to the end that he may serve the Lord; and the love of the world has regard to love of the neighbor: for he loves the world as a means for the sake of the end that he may serve the neighbor.” (A.C. 7819)
“The reason the love of self and the love of the world are infernal loves, and the reason that man was able to come into them and thus destroy the will and understanding in himself, is that from creation the love of self and the love of the world are celestial; for they are loves of the natural man, which are of service to spiritual loves, as foundations are of service to houses. For from the love of self and the world man wills well to his body: he wants to be fed, clothed, and housed, to take thought for his household, to solicit employment for the sake of use, and even to be honored according to the dignity of the affairs which he administers, for the sake of obedience; and also to be delighted and recreated from the delights of the world. But all these things must be for the sake of the end which is use. For by these things he is in a state to serve the Lord, and to serve the neighbor. But where there is no love of serving the Lord and the neighbor, and only a love of serving himself from the world, then from being celestial, that love becomes infernal.” (D.L.W. 396)
There is an intermediate love of self which, while not good, can yet lead to goods, and there is the infernal love of self which makes hell for we read: “For example: if any one loves himself above others, and from this love studies to excel others in moral and civil life, in scientifics and doctrinal things, and to be exalted to dignities and also to wealth above others; and yet he acknowledges and adores God, performs offices to the neighbor from the heart, and does from conscience what is just and fair – the evil of this love of self is that with which good and truth can be mixed… Whereas, he who loves himself above others, and from this love despises others in comparison with himself, hates those who do not honor, and, as it were, adore him, and feels the delight of hatred and revenge – the evil of that love is that with which good and truth cannot be fixed; for they are contraries.” (A.C.3993.9)
The former evil of the love of self spoken of above can in time be purified and become the genuine love of self. While the latter love of self is totally infernal and must be cast out.
As we are frequently taught, the love of self, when not in the feet, is an infernal love which is the opposite of love into the Lord. If we are to have a further idea of this love we must come to a fuller idea of what love into the Lord is, and from this see the love of self which is its opposite.
We are taught that in the first place we are to love the Lord as to His essence and thence His person, and not the other way around. To love the Lord as to His essence is to love the Lord as to His Divine Love, His Divine Wisdom and as to His Divine use. No man can internally do this unless he is in the things of the Divine love, the Divine Wisdom, and the Divine Uses from the Lord. The Lord says, He that loveth Mo keepeth My Commandments, and the keeping of the Commandments of the Lord in the internal sense is nothing else than being in the things of Divine love, Divine wisdom and Divine use from the Lord.
We are taught that the Lord does more things for man every moment than can be comprehended in any number. While we can not comprehend the things of Infinite love, wisdom and use, which the Lord is doing for us every moment of our lives, we can comprehend a few of such things, and the more we advance the more of these things we can comprehend.
To love the visible Lord, in His Divine Human, is to love the Lord’s working or operation, His changing of our lives by regeneration; His constant effort to lead us away from our own proprial things into the things of eternal life. This is a tremendous work, and if our eyes are open we can see the Lord laboring to save us, out of His Great Love and Wisdom. At first we see this only occasionally, in great events of our life, in times of great joy or sorrow. If we become spiritual we see this in many things, and particularly in the spiritual things the Lord does for us through others, if we are in love to the neighbor. If a man should become celestial he would perceive some thing of the Lord’s love, wisdom and use in the Lord’s working in him from moment to moment. In every least event of his spiritual and natural life, he would perceive the Lord’s Divine Providence, and in this the Lord’s Divine Love and Wisdom. It therefore might be said: to love the Lord is to love His Divine Providence. The Divine Providence works in various ways; inmostly it works in ways that no angel or man can comprehend. The celestial can perceive the Lord’s presence, in the things of love and wisdom which are immediate from the Lord, and the wonder of the working of the Lord in the inmost of their mind.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11.)
Or in the order of the Greek, “Our bread the daily give us this day.”
Bread, or loaf, stands for food, and when it stands alone it includes drink as well; thus it represents all the things of love and wisdom, all things of the good and the true, of cognitions and scientifics, by which the spiritual body is fed.
After praying, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven so upon the land,” man looks to his cooperation with the Lord as if from himself, and thus towards the coming of the Lord’s Kingdom. But in order that man may cooperate as of himself towards this end he must have a spiritual body, which can cooperate. If man regenerates he receives the initiament of such a body, but this body must be fed from day to day with celestial food, in order that it may grow, and become strong, and in order that it may recover when sick.
This broad must be received doily, or day by day. Day by day, or daily, signifies into the eternal, an eternal series of states following each other, according to the Divine order of Providence. No man can foresee, know, or understand this Divine series, and hence cannot provide for it. The Lord alone can foresee and provide, and the Lord in His Divine Providence does so. The daily bread therefore represents the Divine Providence.
Because man does not know the future, and therefore can not provide for the future, the Lord says: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink.” (Matt. 6:25)
The Divine Providence is in the least particular and singular things, as well as in the generals, and in such least thing it provides for the succeeding state, in an eternal series. This is the miracle of miracles. Man’s prayer should be that in each day or state he should be kept in the stream of Providence, so that living in the present he may find the spiritual food that is necessary for that state, and be thus kept in the stream which loads from day to day according to the Divine Order into the Lord’s eternal life.
Providence is threefold: it operates immediately from the Lord into the soul of man; it operates mediately through the heavens and the spiritual world into the mind; and it operates from without through the natural body which is in the world. The immediate operation into the soul is above the consciousness of men and angels. Man or angel cannot perceive this operation, but he can believe in it. The operation of the spiritual world into the mind most men are totally unaware of, but if one reflects on one’s affections and thoughts, which are all from the spiritual world, in the light of Doctrine, one can come to perceive this operation of the Divine Providence. In fact this should become with man s primary thing.
When most people speak of the Divine Providence they think solely of its operation from without, that is, of things which happen to them from without.
As long as one views Providence in this way one has only s natural idea of the Divine Providence. There is nothing indeed, not the least thing which happens to man, which is not of the Divine Providence, or of the Divine Permission, which is also of Providence. But this operation of Providence apart from the other two operations could not save a man. The three operations of Providence work together so as to make one operation of the Divine Providence. Without this one operation which is threefold there could be no provision of man’s daily broad, and thereby for his spiritual life.