(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 73

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73. I. MAN HAS REASON AND FREEDOM, OR RATIONALITY AND LIBERTY; AND THESE TWO FACULTIES ARE FROM THE LORD IN MAN. That man has the faculty of understanding, which is rationality, and the faculty of thinking, willing, speaking and doing that which he understands, which is liberty; and that these two faculties are from the Lord, in man, have been treated of in the treatise THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM (n. 264-270, 425); and also above (n. 43, 44). As many doubts, however, may arise concerning both these faculties when they are made subjects of thought, I will at the outset merely present some observations on freedom of acting according to reason in man. [2] First, however, it should be known that all freedom is of love, insomuch that love and freedom are one; and as love is the life of man, freedom also is of his life. For every delight that a man has is from his love, nor can delight come from any other source; and to act from the delight of love is to act from freedom, for a man is led by delight as something that is borne along by the current of a river. Now, since there are many kinds of loves, some in harmony and others discordant, it follows that there are likewise many kinds of freedom; but in general there are three, natural, rational and spiritual.
[3] Natural freedom every man has from inheritance. From it man loves nothing but self and the world: his first love is nothing else. Since all evils exist from these two loves, and hence also become evils of love, it follows that to think and to will evils is man's natural freedom; and that when he has confirmed evils in himself by reasonings he does evils from freedom in accordance with his reason. To act thus is from his faculty called liberty, and to confirm the evils is from his faculty called rationality. [4] A man's desire, for example, to commit adultery, to defraud, to blaspheme, to take revenge, is from the love into which he is born; and when he confirms these evils in himself and thereby makes them allowable, then from delight in the love of them he thinks and wills them freely as it were in accordance with his reason, and so far as civil laws do not restrain, he speaks and acts accordingly. It is from the Divine Providence of the Lord that man is permitted to do so, because he has freedom or liberty. Man is in this freedom by nature, because from inheritance, and in this freedom are those who by reasonings have confirmed it in themselves from the delight of self-love and the love of the world.
[5] Rational freedom is from the love of reputation for the sake of honour and gain. The delight of this love is to appear externally as a moral man; and because such a one loves this reputation, he does not defraud, commit adultery, take revenge, or blaspheme; and because he makes his conduct a matter of reason, he also from freedom according to his reason acts in sincere, chaste and friendly ways; indeed, he can from reason speak well of such conduct. But if his rational is merely natural, and not at the same time spiritual, this freedom is only external and not internal freedom; for he does not in the least interiorly love such good, but only outwardly for the sake of reputation, as has been said; and for this reason the good deeds that he does are not in themselves good. Still, he can say that such things ought to be done for the public welfare; but this he says not from any love of the public welfare, but from the love of his own honour or gain. His freedom, therefore, derives nothing from a love of the public welfare, nor does his reason derive anything, for it harmonises with his love. Consequently this rational freedom is merely a more interior natural freedom; and this freedom also by the Divine Providence of the Lord remains with every man.
[6] Spiritual freedom is from the love of eternal life. Into this love and its delight no one comes but the man who thinks that evils are sins, and consequently does not will them, and at the same time looks to the Lord. As soon as a man does so, he is in this freedom; for no one has the power not to will evils because they are sins and so to refrain from doing them, unless from a more interior or higher freedom which is from a more interior or higher love. At first this freedom does not appear to be freedom, and yet it is; and later it does so appear, when the man acts from freedom itself according to reason itself, in thinking, willing, speaking and doing what is good and true. This freedom increases as natural freedom decreases and becomes subservient; and it conjoins itself with rational freedom which it purifies. [7] Everyone may come into this freedom provided he is willing to think that there is an eternal life, and that the temporary delight and bliss of a life in time are but as a fleeting shadow compared with the never-ending delight and bliss of a life in eternity. This a man can think if he wishes, because he has rationality and liberty, and because the Lord, from whom these two faculties are derived, continually gives him the ability to do so.


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