Divine Providence #151

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151. At this point, though, I need to explain how the inner self is reformed and how this leads to the reformation of the outer self.

The inner self is not reformed simply by gaining knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, not, that is, simply by thinking. We are reformed inwardly by intending to do what our knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom tell us. When our knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom tell us that there is a heaven and a hell, that everything evil comes from hell, and that everything good comes from heaven, then if we do not intend evil, on the grounds that it is from hell, and instead intend good, on the grounds that it is from heaven, we are on the first step of reformation. We are on the threshold of hell, facing heaven. When we take the next step and intend to stop doing wrong, we are on the second step of reformation. We are outside of hell, but not yet in heaven. We see heaven as above us, and it has to be within us if we are to be completely reformed. Still, we are not reformed until both the outer and the inner self are reformed. The outer self is reformed by means of the inner self when the outer self refrains from the evils that the inner self intends not to do because they are from hell. We are more completely reformed when for that reason we abstain from them and fight against them. In this way, what is within is intending and what is outside is acting; for unless we do what we intend, there is a lack of real intention inside that eventually becomes unwillingness.

[2] These few observations show how our outer self is reformed by means of our inner self. This is what the Lord's words to Peter mean as well:

Jesus said, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." Peter said to him, "Lord, don't wash just my feet; wash my hands and head as well." Jesus said to him, "Those who have been washed need only to have their feet washed, and they are wholly clean." (John 13:8-9, 10)

Washing means spiritual washing, which is cleansing from evils. Washing head and hands means cleansing the inner self, and washing feet means cleansing the outer self. When the inner self has been cleansed, the outer self needs to be cleansed, which is what is meant by saying that those who are washed need only to have their feet washed. It means that all cleansing from evils is done by the Lord when it says that "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me."

There is ample evidence in Secrets of Heaven that for the Jews washing meant cleansing from evils, that this is what washing means in the Word, and that washing feet means cleansing the earthly or outer self.

(References: John 13:8-10)

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Table of Contents
Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence 1-26 The Lord's Divine Providence Has as Its Goal a Heaven from the Human Race 27-45 In Everything That It Does, the Lord's Divine Providence Is Focusing on What Is Infinite and Eternal 46-69 There Are Laws of Divine Providence That People Do Not Know 70 It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Act in Freedom and in Accord with Reason 71-99 It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Put Aside Evils in Our Outer Nature, Regarding Them as Sins and Doing So in Apparent Autonomy, and That This Is the Only Way the Lord Can Put Aside the Evils in Our Inner Nature and in Our Outer Nature Alike 100-128 It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Not Be Compelled by Outside Forces to Think and Intend and So to Believe and Love in Matters of Our Religion, but That We Should Guide Ourselves and Sometimes Compel Ourselves 129-153 It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Be Led and Taught by the Lord, from Heaven, by Means of the Word, and Teaching and Preaching from the Word, and That This Should Happen While to All Appearances We Are Acting Independently 154-174 It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Not Sense or Feel Anything of the Working of Divine Providence, but That We Should Still Know about It and Acknowledge It 175-190 Our Own Prudence Is Nothing--It Only Seems to Be Something, As It Should. Rather, Divine Providence Is All-Inclusive Because It Extends to the Smallest Details 191-213 Divine Providence Focuses on Eternal Matters, and Focuses on Temporal Matters Only As They Coincide with Eternal Ones 214-220 We Are Not Granted Inner Access to the Truths That Our Faith Discloses and the Good Effects of Our Caring Except As We Can Be Kept in Them to the End of Our Life 221-233 Laws of Permission Are Also Laws of Divine Providence 234-274 Evils Are Permitted for a Purpose: Salvation 275-284 Divine Providence Is for Evil People and Good People Alike 285-307 Divine Providence Does Not Charge Us with Anything Evil or Credit Us with Anything Good; Rather, Our Own Prudence Claims Both 308-321 Everyone Can Be Reformed, and There Is No Such Thing as Predestination 322-330 The Lord Cannot Act Contrary to the Laws of Divine Providence, Because to Do So Would Be to Act Contrary to His Own Divine Love and His Own Divine Wisdom, and Therefore Contrary to Himself 331-340
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Divine Providence 244, 249

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