Divine Providence

We define Divine Providence as "the government of the Lord's Divine love and wisdom." It includes everything and yet it operates secretly in such a way that human free will is preserved at all cost. In fact, Swedenborg outlines specific LAWS of providence that operate as certainly as laws of physics on the material plane, and the first law is that people should act in freedom according to their own rationality.

Obviously this leads to all sorts of problems as people serving their own interests invariably end up in conflict with one another. Some win, some lose, and people get hurt. But the purpose of providence is not to ensure a pleasant life on earth, it is to prepare us for eternal life in heaven. So, we read, "evils are permitted for the sake of the end, which is salvation." How? First of all, by exposing the evils for what they are, including their awful consequences, God in His providence can bring us to appreciate their seriousness and address the root causes in ourselves. But it goes far beyond that. Even the innocent victims of evil in this world still have the freedom to fulfill their heavenly potential by living in spiritual faith and charity. And if, on the other hand, God prevented every evil He would stifle both freedom and our sense of responsibility, since nothing we did or tried to do would matter.

And then there is the whole business of having our own individual feelings of love, joy, pleasure, trust and so on. Without real freedom we would not have any sense of our own identity, and so we believe God operates above and beyond our personal consciousness in order to provide that sense of "ownership" we need to be truly human.

Yet, we believe, God foresees everything, and provides for every one of us according to our inmost loves. He teaches and leads (in the most intricate and mysterious ways), orchestrating everything with a view to eternal life but always, always leaving us in freedom to choose our own spiritual path and destiny.

You can read more about Divine providence in the book by that title as well as others on the same theme from the bookstore at www.swedenborg.ca.