Divine Providence #190

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190. There are many constants that have been created so that varying things can happen. The fixed regularities of the rising and setting of sun, moon, and stars are constants. There are the times called eclipses when they obscure and block out each other. There are the warmth and light they provide. There are the times of the year that we call spring, summer, fall, and winter and the times of the day called morning, noon, evening, and night. There are also atmospheres, liquids, and solids in their own right; there is the power of germination in the plant kingdom; there is this power as well as the power of reproduction in the animal kingdom; and there are all the events that consistently result from these powers when they are put into action according to the principles of the design.

These and many other constants have been provided from creation itself in order that an infinite variety of events may happen. These various events could not happen except in the context of things that are constant, fixed, and reliable.

[2] Some examples may serve to illustrate. The various kinds of vegetation could not exist if it were not for the constant rising and setting of the sun and the constancy of heat and light. There is an infinite variety of harmony, but this would be impossible if the atmosphere were not constant in its principles and the ears were not constant in their form. The things we see are of infinite variety as well, which would not happen unless the ether were constant in its laws and the eye in its form. Colors would not be possible if light were not constant. The same holds true for our thoughts, our words, and our actions. These are of infinite variety, which would not happen unless the organization of our bodies were constant. Does not a house have to be constant so that people can do different things in it; a church, too, so that various acts of worship, sermons, teaching, and devout thoughts can happen in it? The same holds true in other matters.

[3] As for the variations themselves that happen in the context of things that are constant, fixed, and reliable, they extend to infinity and have no limit, yet there will never be one exactly like another in all the universe or any of its smallest parts. There cannot be in the march of time to eternity. Given these variations marching on to infinity and eternity, who is arranging them so that they are orderly except the one who has created the constants so that these changes can take place within them? And who is able to manage the infinite varieties of life in humans except one who is life itself, that is, love itself and wisdom itself? If it were not for his divine providence, which is like a constant creation, could the infinitely varied desires and consequent thoughts of humanity, and therefore the individual people themselves, be so arranged that they form a single whole, with the evil desires and their thoughts forming a single demon who is hell and the good desires and thoughts a single Lord in heaven? (I have already explained a number of times that in the Lord's sight, the whole angelic heaven looks like a single person who is his image and likeness, while the whole hell, conversely, looks like one grotesque person.)

I present this because some materialistic people have used the existence of constant and reliable laws, which are essential as the context for the variety of events, as a basis for senseless arguments in favor of the material world and human prudence.

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