501. The question is asked today why miracles do not happen as they once did; for people think that if they took place, everyone would acknowledge them in his heart. The reason why miracles do not take place at the present time as they did formerly is that they compel and take away free will in spiritual matters, turning a person from a spiritual man into a natural one. Everyone in the Christian world since the Lord's coming has been able to become spiritual; and the only way to be made spiritual is by Him through the Word, and the ability to undergo this would be destroyed, if he were brought to believe by means of miracles. As I said before, they compel and take away his free will in spiritual matters; and everything in such matters done under compulsion lodges in the natural man, shutting off the spiritual man as if with a door. It is the spiritual who is the real internal man, and this deprives him of all power to see any truth in light. After this, therefore, his reasoning about spiritual matters comes solely from the natural man, who sees everything which is truly spiritual back to front.
 The reason, however, why before the Lord's coming miracles took place was that at that time the people in the church were natural men, to whom spiritual matters to do with the internal church could not be disclosed. For if they had been, they would have profaned them, All their worship, therefore, was confined to ritual acts, which represented and symbolised the internal matters of the church; and these people could only be induced to carry out the rituals properly by means of miracles. Because these representative acts had a spiritual internal, not even miracles could at times induce them to carry them out, as is plain from the Children of Israel in the desert, who, despite seeing so many miracles in Egypt and then the greatest one on Mount Sinai, still after Moses had been absent for a month danced around the golden calf, crying out that it had brought them out of Egypt. They behaved in much the same way in the land of Canaan despite seeing the outstanding miracles performed by Elijah and Elisha and in due course the truly Divine miracles performed by the Lord.
 The main reason why miracles do not happen at the present time is that the church has taken away all free will from people. It has done so by decreeing that man can make no contribution to the reception of faith, nor to his conversion or his salvation as a whole (see above, 464). Anyone who believes this becomes more and more natural; and the natural man, as I said before, looks at everything spiritual back to front, so that in thought he opposes it. The higher region of the human mind, the chief seat of free will in spiritual matters, would then be shut off. Spiritual ideas, which would have received a sort of confirmation by the miracles, would occupy the lower or purely natural region of the mind, while false ideas about faith, conversion and salvation stayed on top. This would make satans live above and angels below, like vultures living over hens. Then a little while later the satans would burst the bolts and rush furiously on the spiritual ideas occupying the lower position, not only denying them, but cursing and profaning them. So the person's last state would be much worse than his former one,