From Swedenborg's Works


Divine Providence #330

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330. To show how vicious belief in predestination is, at least as predestination is commonly understood, I need to pick up these four propositions and support them.

(a) Any predestination but predestination to heaven is contrary to divine love, which is infinite. I explained in the book on Divine Love and Wisdom that Jehovah or the Lord is divine love and that this love is infinite and is the essential reality of all life, as well as that we are created in the image of God after the likeness of God. Since (as already noted [328]) we are all formed by the Lord in the womb in this image after this likeness, it follows that the Lord is the heavenly Father of us all and that we are his spiritual children. "Father" is in fact what Jehovah or the Lord is called in the Word, and "children" is what we are called in the Word. So it says, "Do not call your father on earth your father, for one is your Father, the one who is in heaven" (Matthew 23:9). This means that he alone is our Father in respect to our life, while our earthly fathers are fathers only as to the clothing of life, the body. This is why no one is called father in heaven but the Lord. We can also see in many passages of the Word that we are called his children and are said to have been born from him if we have not inverted that life.

[2] We can tell from this that divine love is in all of us, the evil and the good alike, and that therefore the Lord who is divine love must treat us with as much love as an earthly father treats his children--with infinitely more love, in fact, because divine love is infinite. Further, he can never withdraw from anyone, because everyone's life comes from him. It does seem as though he withdraws from evil people, but it is the evil who are withdrawing: he is still lovingly leading them. So the Lord says, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. Who among you will give a stone if his son asks him for bread? If then you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those who ask him?" (Matthew 7:7-11); and again, "Because he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). It is also recognized in the church that the Lord intends the salvation of all and the death of none.

This enables us to see that predestination to anything but heaven is contrary to divine love.

[3] (b) Any predestination but predestination to heaven is contrary to divine wisdom, which is infinite. It is through its divine wisdom that divine love provides the means by which we can all be saved; so to say that there is a predestination to anywhere but heaven is to say that divine love cannot provide the means of salvation. Yet we all do have the means, as just explained, and these come from divine providence, which is infinite.

The reason some of us are not saved is that divine love wants us to feel heaven's happiness and bliss in ourselves. Otherwise it would not be heaven for us; and this feeling cannot happen unless it seems to us that we are thinking and intending on our own. If it were not for this appearance, nothing could be given to us, and we would not be human. This is the reason for divine providence, which is the result of divine wisdom stemming from divine love.

[4] Still, this does not negate the truth that we are all predestined to heaven, and none to hell. This truth would be negated, though, if the means of salvation were lacking. However, I have already shown [326, 329] that we are all given the means of salvation, and that the nature of heaven is to provide a place there for all who lead good lives, no matter what their religion may be.

We are like the earth. It brings forth all kinds of fruit: this ability is what makes it the earth. The fact that it brings forth bad fruit does not negate its ability to bring forth good fruit; though it would negate it if it could bring forth only bad fruit. We are also like an object that changes the light rays that strike it. If we offer only ugly colors, that is not the fault of the light. The light rays can also be changed into attractive colors.

[5] (c) It is an insane heresy to believe that only those born in the church are saved. People born outside the church are just as human as people born within it. They come from the same heavenly source. They are equally living and immortal souls. They have religions as well, religions that enable them to believe that God exists and that they should lead good lives; and all of them who do believe in God and lead good lives become spiritual on their own level and are saved, as already noted [326].

Someone could point out that they have not been baptized. But baptism saves only people who have been spiritually washed, that is, regenerated. Baptism serves as a symbol and reminder of this.

[6] Someone could point out that they do not know the Lord, and that apart from the Lord there is no salvation. But no one is saved because of knowing about the Lord. We are saved because we live by his commandments. Further, the Lord is known to everyone who believes in God because the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, as he tells us in Matthew 28:18 and elsewhere.

Particularly, people outside the church have more of a concept of a personal God than Christians do; and people who have a concept of a personal God and lead good lives are accepted by the Lord. Unlike Christians, they believe in God as one in both person and essence. Further, they think about God as they lead their lives. They treat evils as sins against God; and people who do this are thinking about God as they lead their lives.

Christians get the commandments of their religion from the Word, but not many of them actually take any commandments of life from it.

[7] Catholics do not read it, and Protestants who believe in faith separated from charity pay no attention to what it says about life, only to what it says about faith. Yet the whole Word is nothing but a theology of life.

Christianity is found only in Europe. Islam and other non-Christian religions are found in Asia, the Indies, Africa, and America; and there are ten times as many people in these latter parts of the world as there are in the Christian part of the world--and relatively few of these latter people make their religion a matter of their lives. What could be more insane than to believe that these and only these individuals are saved, and that the others are damned, that heaven is ours by right of birth and not by conduct of life? That is why the Lord says, "I tell you that many will come from the east and from the west and will recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens, while the children of the kingdom will be thrown out" (Matthew 8:11-12).

[8] (d) It is a cruel heresy to believe that any member of the human race is damned by predestination. It is cruel, that is, to believe that the Lord, who is love itself and mercy itself, would allow such a vast number of people to be born for hell, or that so many millions would be born damned and doomed, that is, born devils and satans. It is cruel to believe that in his divine wisdom the Lord would not make sure that people who lead good lives and believe in God would not be cast into the flames and into eternal torment. After all, the Lord is the Creator and Savior of us all. He alone is leading us, and he does not want anyone to die; so it is cruel to believe and think that such a multitude of nations and people are by predestination being handed over to the devil as prey under the Lord's own guidance and oversight.

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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
Related New Christian Commentary

Related videos from Off The Left Eye

The videos shown here are provided by our friends at Off The Left Eye, a project of the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

What is God's Plan for You? - News From Heaven

The text is from Swedenborg's Divine Providence, number 330:2-4.

Who or What is Jesus? -- Swedenborg and Life

Who is Jesus? The son of God? An enlightened spiritual teacher? And do you have to believe in him to go to heaven? Join us, along with Dr. Jonathan Rose, as we discuss Emanuel Swedenborg's spiritual revelations about Jesus.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Everyone Can Go to Heaven
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 How Am I Saved?
The Lord wants to save all people but gives people the freedom to reject His love and choose the selfishness of hell instead, if they wish to.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Marriage and Family
The highest purpose of marriage is the nurturing of new human beings. The growth that comes from this work is a blessing from the Lord.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 True Freedom
Nothing is more important to the Lord than human freedom. Freedom to choose good or evil is one kind of freedom, but true freedom is experienced once a person chooses to be led by the Lord.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 What Is Heaven Like?
A lesson and activities about heaven. What is it like? And who can go to heaven?
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 What Is Heaven Like?
Emanuel Swedenborg visited heaven. His vivid accounts describe the nature of angels and the communities they live in.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

The Bible


Matthew 7:7-11



7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?


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