(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 265

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265. 3. A doubt may be raised against the Divine Providence from the fact that hitherto it has not been known that to shun evils as sins is the Christian religion itself. That this is the Christian religion itself is shown in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM, from beginning to end; and because faith separated from charity is the only obstacle to its being received, that also is treated of. It is stated that it has not been known that to shun evils as sins is the Christian religion itself; for it is unknown to almost everyone, and yet everyone does know it, as may be seen above (n. 258). Nevertheless, it is unknown to almost everyone, because faith so separated has obliterated it; for this faith affirms that faith alone saves and not any good work, that is, good of charity; also that they are no longer under the yoke of the law but are free. Those who have frequently heard such teaching no longer give any thought to any evil of life or to any good of life. Moreover, everyone by nature is inclined to embrace this idea; and once he has embraced it he gives no further thought to the state of his life. This is why it is not known [that to shun evils as sins is the Christian religion itself].
[2] That this is unknown was disclosed to me in the spiritual world. I have asked more than a thousand newcomers from this world whether they knew that to shun evils as sins is religion itself. Their answer was that they did not know it; and that this was a new idea they had not heard before, but that they had heard that they cannot do good of themselves, and that they are not under the yoke of the law. When I asked whether they knew that a man must examine himself see his sins, repent, and then enter upon a new life, and that otherwise sins are not remitted, and that if sins are not remitted men are not saved; and when I reminded them that this was read aloud to them each time they approached the Holy Supper, they replied that they paid no attention to these things, but only to this, that they have remission of sins by means of the Sacrament of the Supper, and that faith, without their knowledge, does the rest.
[3] Again I asked, Why did you teach your children the Decalogue? Was it not that they might know what evils are sins to be shunned? Or was it only that they might know these things and believe, and not act accordingly? Why then is it asserted that this is new? To this they could only reply that they know and yet do not know, declaring that they never think about the sixth* commandment when committing adultery, or about the seventh commandment when committing theft or fraud by stealth, and so on; still less do they think that such things are contrary to Divine law, and thus offences against God.
[4] When I mentioned many things from the doctrines of the Churches and from the Word confirming the teaching that to shun and to turn away from evils as sins is the Christian religion itself and that everyone has faith only in proportion as he does so, they were silent. They were convinced, however, that this is true when they saw that all were examined as to their life, and were judged according to their deeds, and that no one was judged according to faith separated from life, because the faith of everyone is commensurate with his life.
[5] The circumstance that the Christian world for the most part did not know this is from the law of the Divine Providence that everyone is left to act from freedom according to reason, treated of above in (n. 71-99); and (n. 100-128); also from the law that no one is taught immediately from heaven, but mediately through the Word, and doctrine and preaching from the Word, treated of in n. 154-174; and also from all the laws of permission, which are also laws of the Divine Providence. Concerning these more may be seen above (n. 258).
* In Swedenborg's Writings the numbering of the Commandments is that adopted by Roman Catholics and Lutherans, combining into the First Commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, etc." The numbering adopted by Anglicans and other Protestants follows that of the Westminster Catechism, and divides the First Commandment on the acknowledgment and worship of God into two, and combines the Ninth and Tenth on coveting into one. See TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, No. 325.


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