(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 258

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258. 5. The merely natural man confirms himself against the Divine Providence from the fact that among those who profess the Christian religion there are some who place salvation in certain phrases which they must think and say and not at all in good works which they must do. That such persons make faith alone saving and not the life of charity, thereby separating faith from charity, is shown in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING FAITH, where it is also shown that such are meant in the Word by Philistines, by the dragon, and by goats.
[2] It is of the Divine Providence also that such a doctrine has been permitted lest the Divinity (Divinum) of the Lord and the holiness of the Word should be profaned. The Divinity of the Lord is not profaned when salvation is placed in these words:
That God the Father may be merciful for the sake of His Son, who endured the cross and made satisfaction for us;
for in this form of words such persons do not approach the Divinity of the Lord but the Human which they do not acknowledge as Divine. Nor is the Word profaned, for they pay no attention to those passages where love, charity, doing and works are mentioned. All these, they say, are included in the faith expressed in the words quoted; and those who confirm this say to themselves, "The law does not condemn me, thus neither does evil; and good does not save me, because the good done by me is not good." They are therefore like those who have no knowledge of any truth from the Word, and on that account cannot profane it. But only those confirm the faith expressed in those words who from the love of self are in the pride of their own intelligence. They are not Christians at heart, but only desire to seem so.
[3] It will now be shown that the Divine Providence of the Lord is nevertheless continually operating for the salvation of those with whom faith separate from charity has become a matter of religion. It is of the Divine Providence of the Lord that, although that faith has become a matter of their religion, still everyone knows it is not that faith that saves but a life of charity with which faith acts as one. For in all Churches where that religion is received it is taught that there is no salvation unless a man examines himself sees his sins, acknowledges them, repents, desists from them, and enters on a new life. This is read with much zeal in the presence of all those who approach the Holy Supper; and it is added that unless they do this they mingle what is holy with what is profane, and cast themselves into eternal condemnation. In England, indeed, it is taught that unless they do this the devil will enter into them as he did into Judas and will destroy them soul and body. From this it is clear that in Churches where faith alone is received everyone is nevertheless taught that evils are to be shunned as sins.
[4] Moreover, everyone who is born a Christian also knows that evils are to be shunned as sins, because the Decalogue is placed in the hands of every boy and girl, and is taught by parents and teachers. Moreover, all citizens of the kingdom, especially the common people, are examined by a priest on the Decalogue alone, repeated from memory, as to what they know of the Christian religion and they are also admonished to do the things that are commanded there. At such times they are not told by the priest that they are not under the yoke of that law, or that they cannot do the things commanded because they cannot do anything good from themselves. Further, the Athanasian Creed has been received throughout the whole Christian world, and what is said at the end is also acknowledged, namely, that the Lord will come to judge the quick and the dead, when those who "have done good" will enter into life eternal, and those who "have done evil" into everlasting fire.
[5] In Sweden where the religion of faith alone has been received, it is also plainly taught that faith separate from charity or without good works is impossible. This is indicated in a certain Appendix* of things to be remembered, inserted in all their Psalm books, entitled IMPEDIMENTS OR STUMBLING-BLOCKS TO THE IMPENITENT (OBOTFERDIGAS FOERHINDER). In it there are these words:
Those who are rich in good works thereby show that they are rich in faith, because when faith is saving it operates through charity. For justifying faith never exists alone and separate from good works, as there is no good tree without fruit, no sun without light and heat, and no water without moisture.
[6] These few things have been set forth to make known that although a religious system of faith alone has been received, nevertheless the goods of charity, which are good works, are everywhere taught; and that this is of the Divine Providence of the Lord lest the common people should be led astray by it. I have heard Luther, with whom I have sometimes spoken in the spiritual world, execrating faith alone and saying that when he established it he was warned by an angel of the Lord not to do it; but that he thought to himself that if he did not reject good works, separation from the Catholic form of religion would not be effected. Therefore, contrary to the warning, he established that faith.
* This Appendix was omitted in the revision of the Psalm Book made in 1819.


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