(DP) - Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence

DP 83

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83. The reason why no one can come into the kingdom of God unless he has been born again is, that man by inheritance from his parents is born into evils of every kind, with the faculty of becoming spiritual by the removal of these evils; and unless he becomes spiritual he cannot come into heaven. From being natural to become spiritual is to be born again or regenerated. But in order that it may be known how man is regenerated these three things must be considered: the nature of his first state, which is a state of condemnation; the nature of his second state, which is a state of reformation; and the nature of his third state, which is a state of regeneration.
[2] Man's first state, which is a state of condemnation, everyone has by inheritance from his parents; for man is thereby born into the love of self and the love of the world, and from these as wellsprings, into evils of every kind. He is led by the delights of these loves, and these delights prevent him from knowing that he is in evils, for every delight of love is felt as good. Therefore, unless a man is regenerated, he knows no other than that to love himself and the world above all things is goodness itself; and that to rule over all, and to possess the wealth of all others, is the highest good. Moreover, this is the source of all evil; for a man regards no one but himself from love; and if he regards another from love, it is as a devil regards a devil, and as a thief regards a thief, when they act in common.
[3] Those who confirm in themselves these loves and the evils which flow from them, from the delight they have in them, remain natural and become sensually corporeal, and in their own thought, which is the thought of their spirit, they are insane (spiritually); still they are able, while in the world, to speak and to act rationally and wisely, because they are men, and therefore have rationality and liberty; but even this they do from the love of self and the world. When these men after death become spirits, they cannot have any other delight than that which they had in spirit while in the world; and that is the delight of infernal love, which turns to what is unpleasant, painful and direful, meant in the Word by torment and hell-fire. Hence it is clear that man's first state is a state of condemnation, and that they are in it who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated.
[4] Man's second state, which is a state of reformation, is that in which he begins to think about heaven on account of the joy there; and thus concerning God from whom the joy of heaven comes to him. At first such thoughts spring from the delight of self-love; for to him this delight is heavenly joy. But as long as the delight of this love reigns, together with the delight of the evils flowing from it, he cannot but understand that to go to heaven is to pour out prayers, listen to preachings, take part in the Holy Supper, give to the poor, help the needy, spend money on churches, make contributions to hospitals, and so on. A man in this state has no other idea than that he is saved merely by thinking about those things which religion teaches, whether it be about what is called faith, or about what is called faith and charity. He has no other idea than that he is saved merely by having those thoughts, because he gives no heed to the evils in which he takes delight; and as long as their delight remains, the evils also remain. The delights of evil spring from their lust, which continually breathes them forth and also brings them into being when no fear restrains.
[5] As long as evils remain in the lusts and consequently in the delights of their love, there is no faith, charity, piety, or worship, except in externals only, which to the world seem real, and yet are not. They may be compared to water issuing from an impure fountain, which no one can drink. As long as man is such that he thinks about heaven and about God from a principle of religion and not at all about evils as sins, he is still in the first state; but he comes into the second state, the state of reformation, when he begins to think that there is such a thing as sin; and still more when he thinks that this or that is a sin, and spends some little time in examining it in himself, and does not will it.
[6] Man's third state, which is a state of regeneration, follows upon and is a continuation of the former state. It begins when man desists from evils as sins, and it progresses as he shuns them, and it is perfected as he fights against them; and then, as he from the Lord conquers them, he is regenerated. With one who is regenerated the order of life is changed. From being natural he becomes spiritual; for when the natural is separated from the spiritual it is contrary to order, and the spiritual is according to order. Therefore the regenerate man acts from charity, and makes what belongs to his charity belong also to his faith. Yet he becomes spiritual only so far as he is in truths, for every man is regenerated by means of truths and a life according to them; because by means of truths he knows the life, and by means of the life he performs the truths. He thus unites good and truth, and this is the spiritual marriage in which is heaven.


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