Arcana Coelestia #3854

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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3854. 'Jehovah saw' means the Lord's foresight and providence. This is clear from the meaning of 'seeing' in reference to the Lord as foresight and providence, dealt with in the next verse where Reuben is the subject, who was so named from the expression 'to see' - 'Jehovah' being the Lord, see 1343, 1736, 1793, 2156, 2329, 2921, 3023, 3035.

[2] As regards foresight and providence in general, foresight has reference more to man, providence more to the Lord. The Lord foresaw from eternity what the human race was going to be like in the future and what every member of it was going to be like, and that evil was going to increase all the time, so that at length man, of himself, would rush headlong into hell. That being so, the Lord has provided not only the means by which He makes it possible for him to be diverted from hell and led towards heaven, but also does in His providence divert and lead him all the time. The Lord also foresaw that it would be impossible for any good to take root in man except in his freedom, for that which does not take root in freedom is dispelled at the first sign of evil and of temptation. This the Lord foresaw, as well as the fact that of himself, that is, from his own freedom, man would be inclined towards the deepest hell. That being so, the Lord provided that if he would not allow himself to be led in freedom towards heaven he could still be diverted towards a milder hell; but if he would allow himself to be led in freedom towards good then he could be diverted towards heaven. From these considerations one may see what foresight is and what providence is, and that appropriate provisions are made for things that are foreseen.

[3] From this it may be seen how far someone errs who believes that the Lord has not foreseen and does not see the smallest individual thing with man, or that within the smallest individual thing He does not foresee and lead, when in fact the Lord's foresight and providence are present within the tiniest details of all the smallest individual things with him, and in details so tiny that it is impossible to comprehend in any manner of thought one in many millions of them. For every smallest fraction of a moment of a person's life entails a chain of consequences extending into eternity. Indeed every one is like a new beginning to those that follow, and so every single moment of the life both of his understanding and of his will is a new beginning. And since the Lord foresaw from eternity what man was going to be like in the future and even into eternity it is clear that providence is present in the smallest individual things, and, as has been stated, is governing him and diverting him so that he may be such, this being achieved by constant re-shaping of his freedom. But this subject will in the Lord's Divine mercy be discussed further later on.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.