True Christian Religion #500

True Christian Religion (Chadwick translation)

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500. X. If people did not have free will in spiritual matters, everyone throughout the world could in the course of a single day have been brought to believe in the Lord. But this would be impossible, because what a person does not accept of his own free will does not last.

The idea that God without giving people free will in spiritual matters could bring everyone throughout the world in the course of a single day to believe in Himself, is a consequence of failing to understand God's omnipotence. Those who misunderstand God's omnipotence may think either that there is no such thing as order, or that God can act just as much against order as in accordance with it. Yet in fact without order no creation would have been possible.

The primary end of order is that man should be an image of God; consequently he should become more and more perfect in love and wisdom, and thus more and more an image of God. God is continually working to produce this result in man; but without free will in spiritual matters, which enables a person to turn towards God and link himself in turn with Him, it would be labour in vain, since it would be impossible. For it is order from which and according to which the whole world with every single thing in it was created. Because all creation derives from order and is in accordance with order, God is called order itself. It is therefore the same thing whether you speak of acting contrary to Divine order or acting contrary to God. In fact, God Himself cannot act contrary to His Divine order, if this is really acting contrary to Himself. He therefore guides every person in accordance with Himself as order, and those who have strayed and fallen away He guides to it, and those who resist towards it.

[2] If man could have been created without free will in spiritual matters, what would then have been easier for almighty God than to bring everyone throughout the world to believe in the Lord? Surely He could have implanted this faith in everyone, both directly and indirectly? Directly, through His absolute power and its irresistible working, which never ceases aiming at man's salvation; or indirectly, through causing him to feel the pangs of conscience, through convulsions of the body producing unconsciousness, and serious threats of death, if he fails to accept. In addition, by opening up hell and displaying devils with terrifying torches in their hands, or by summoning up from hell the dead whom they had known in the form of terrible spectres. The reply to these suggestions is given in Abraham's words to the rich man in hell:

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead, Luke 16:31.

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 The Man Born Blind
In what way might a person who bases their thinking only on the material world be "blind?" Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." Explore ways in which revealed truth gives spiritual sight.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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