From Swedenborg's Works


Divine Providence #332

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332. (1) The operation of Divine providence to save a person begins at the person's birth and continues to the end of his life, and afterward to eternity. We showed above that a heaven from the human race is the fundamental end in the creation of the universe, that this end in its operation and progress is Divine providence working to save humankind, and that all else surrounding a person and serving to benefit him are secondary ends in creation, ends which relate, in sum, to everything found in the three kingdoms, animal, plant and mineral. As the things found there proceed constantly according to laws of Divine order established at the beginning of creation, how then can the primary end, namely, the salvation of the human race, fail to proceed constantly according to the laws of its order, namely, the laws of Divine providence?

[2] Simply consider a fruit tree. It is first born from a tiny seed as a tender sprout, is it not, and gradually grows after that into a sapling and spreads its branches, and these become covered with leaves, until it puts forth flowers and bears fruit, and in them places new seeds by which it provides for its perpetuation.

The same is the case with every bush and with every herb of the field. Do not each and all of the constituents in them proceed from first end to last end constantly and marvelously according to the laws of their order? Why not the primary end likewise, which is a heaven from the human race? Can there be anything in its progress which does not proceed constantly according to the laws of Divine providence?

[3] Since a person's life has a correspondence with the growth of a tree, let us draw a parallel or comparison. A person's early childhood is comparatively like the tender sprout of a tree shooting up from its seed out of the earth. A person's later childhood and adolescence are like the same sprout growing into a sapling and its little branches. The natural truths with which every person is first equipped are like the leaves which cover the sapling's branches (leaves have just this symbolic meaning in the Word). A person's initial introductions into the marriage of goodness and truth, or spiritual marriage, are like the flowers which the tree produces in the spring. Spiritual truths are the petals of those flowers. The first stages of the spiritual marriage are like the beginnings of the fruit. Spiritual goods - the goods of charity - are like the fruits themselves (they are also symbolized by fruits in the Word). The propagations of wisdom from love are like the seeds, as a result of which propagations a person becomes like a garden or paradise. A person is also described by a tree in the Word, and his wisdom from love by a garden. Nothing else is symbolically meant by the Garden of Eden.

[4] A person is, indeed, owing to his seed a bad tree, but still possible is an engrafting or insertion of shoots taken from the tree of life, which turn the sap drawn from the old root into a sap producing good fruits.

We draw this comparison to make it known that, since the progress of Divine providence is so constant in the growth and rebirth of trees, it must be utterly constant in the reformation and rebirth or regeneration of people, who are of much more value than trees, in keeping with these words of the Lord,

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than... sparrows... .

Moreover, which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow?. (That) if ... God so clothes the grass in the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you people of little faith? (Luke 12:6-7, 25-28)

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The Bible


Luke 12:6-7

Study the Inner Meaning


6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.


   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Luke 12      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verses 1-2. That hypocrisy in spiritual things out especially to be shunned, since every evil of life, and every false principle of doctrine, must, sooner or later, be detected.

Verse 3. And the truth, which was in obscurity, will be perceived in brightness, and the good, which was received in obedience, will be made sensible in will's love.

Verses 4-5. Therefore none ought to cherish natural fear, but spiritual fear, lest by evils of life and falsities of doctrine they should avert the Divine love in themselves, and thereby hurt it.

Verses 6-7. Since all and singular things belonging to man's intellectual principle are under the view and protection of the Lord ; how much more so the things of charity and faith!

Verse 8. That whoever has communication and conjunction by faith and love with the Lord's Divine Human principle, has communication and conjunction at the same time with the essential Divine principle.

Verse 9. But whoever has not conjunction by faith and love with the Lord's Divine Human principle, cannot have any conjunction with the essential Divine principle.

Verse 10. Such conjunction however does not imply that man does not interpret the sense of the letter of the Word according to appearances, but it implies that he does not deny the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human principle, and also that he does not adulterate its essential goods, and falsify its essential truths.

Verses 11-12. Nevertheless it is expedient that man should testify concerning the Lord's Divine Human principle, notwithstanding all opposition of evils and falsities, since in such testimony he will be instructed and confirmed by Divine Truth proceeding from Divine Good.

Verses 13-15. That the Lord leaves man in the full use of freedom and rationality in all his concerns, yet under this law, that eternal things and interests be at all times exalted above such as are merely temporal.

Verses 16-22. For temporal things and interests, if separated from eternal, cannot profit man.

Verses 17-19. Whatsoever may be their abundance, and in whatever degree they may excite natural delight.

Verse 20. Since they cease to be his property when the soul is separated from the material body.

Verse 21. And that this is the case with all knowledge, if it be received only in self love, and not submitted to the guidance and government of the Divine Love.

Verses 22-23. Which love with its intelligence, and all the truths of faith, are continually provided for man by the Lord.

Verse 24. Insomuch that the rational principle of man is under the Lord's auspices, much more therefore the principles of spiritual and celestial life.

Verses 25-26. So that man cannot give increase to intelligence and love by any care of his own, separate from the Divine providence.

Verse 27. Which, in like manner, provides all inferior truths, replenishing them with Divine Truth and Good.

Verse 28. If then the Lord's providence thus extends to the lowest things and principles of regenerate life, how much more to the higher!

Verses 29-30. Man therefore ought to depend on the Divine providence for sustenance in all degrees of his life, more than on his own prudence, and not to be as the unregenerate, who are more solicitous about external or natural life than about internal or spiritual life, when yet the former life ought to administer to the latter.

Verse 31. And thus spiritual truth and good ought to be exulted above natural, in which case both are preserved.

Verses 32-33. And the spiritual man ought not to be subject to fear like the natural man, but to alienate from himself the things proper to himself, which are nothing but evils and falsities, that so he may receive goods and truths from the Lord.

Verse 34. For such as is man's reception of goods and truths, such will be the elevation of his will or love.

Verses 35-36. The good of love therefore, and the truths of faith ought to be exalted in man's will and understanding above all other things, that so he may live at all times under the Lord's Divine influence, and enjoy continual communion with him.

Verses 37-38. In which case he will be gifted by the Lord with every good, and will have conjunction with the Lord in every state of intelligence and wisdom.

Verse 39. And will not be deprived of good and truth by any secret machinations of false principles from beneath.

Verse 40. But will at all times submit himself to the guidance of good and truth, which. flow in perpetually from the Lord.

Verses 41-45. Until he discovers that those principles are in connection with the Divine Human principle of the Lord, and have thence dominion over all inferior principles.

Verses 45-46. That a contrary lot is the portion of those who are not attentive to Divine influence, and who therefore pervert all truths and their affections, and appropriate to themselves evils and falsities, and thus separate themselves from conjunction of life with heaven and the Lord.

Verses 47-48. Therefore it is better not to know truths, and especially not to acknowledge them, than to know and acknowledge, and yet not to live accordingly.

Verses 49-54. That Truth Divine from the Lord's Divine Human principle, combating against evils and falsities, is intended to make manifest the disagreement between the internal and external man, and that therefore man must undergo temptation-combats, before the disagreement can be removed, and internal peace restored.

Verses 54-55. For every coming of the Lord is attended with an influx of Divine Truth and Divine Good, and from this influx arise contentions and combats against what is false and evil.

Verse 56. Yet this influx and its effects are not attended to, by reason of the blindness induced by falsities.

Verse 57. When nevertheless man is endowed by the Lord with the capacity of attending to it.

Verses 58-59. And therefore in all states of spiritual combat, he ought to consider whence it arises, and so to put his whole trust in the Lord, that he may escape condemnation and spiritual imprisonment.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2826

Divine Providence 332

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 453, 548, 696

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