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By Mr. Joseph S. David

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A canoe moves through a tree lined creek.

There is a Divine providence that is always working. The overall end and purpose of providence is the leading of all people to heaven, while still providing that everyone be in freedom to reject the leading if they so choose.

Providence is hidden from mankind, because if it was not we would try to avoid it or bend it, thinking that we know better.

For those who wish to live rightly and try to do so, providence is like an unseen and unfelt current that bears them along toward heaven like a ship on an ocean current. For those who wish to live in their selfish loves, providence keeps them in an equilibrium between good and evil influences so that they can, if they wish, change their ways.

Providence is the Lord’s, and He is infinite love and infinite wisdom, which we need to keep in mind if we find ourselves wondering if we could do better at running things.

Swedenborg published a 300 page book about the Divine Providence. The first chapter heading is definitive; “The Divine Providence is the Government of the Lord’s Divine Love and Wisdom.” We – everyone on earth or on any other inhabited planet in the universe – are all under that government. We are free to accept the direction of the Lord’s leading or not; our freedom is paramount. The Lord will always knock, but we must open the door to Him.

There are five laws of Divine providence:
1. A person should act from freedom according to reason.
2. A person should, as-from-self, remove evils as sins from his/her externals. In that way, and in no other way, the Lord can remove evils in the internal person, and then at the same time in the external.
3. People should not be compelled by external means to think and will, and thus to believe and love, the things of religion. Rather, they should persuade and at times compel themselves to do so.
4. People should be taught and led by the Lord from heaven by means of the Word, and doctrine and preaching from the Word, and this should happen, to all appearances, as if they are acting indendently.
5. People should not perceive and feel anything of the operation of the divine providence, but still we should know about it and acknowledge it.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 609, 1755, 3854, 5155; Arcana Coelestia 3951 [1]; Divine Providence 21, 22, 23, 27, 55, 232, 234, 286, 322)

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