The Laws of the Divine Providence
Man Should Act From Freedom According to Reason
You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.
From Divine Providence
DP 73. All freedom is a property of love, insomuch that love and freedom are one. And as love is the life of man, freedom also belongs to his life. For every enjoyment that man has is from his love; no enjoyment is possible from any other source; and acting from love’s enjoyment is acting from freedom; for a man is led by enjoyment as a thing is borne along by the current of a river. Since, then, there are numerous loves, some harmonious and some discordant, it follows that there are likewise numerous kinds of freedom; but in general three, natural, rational, and spiritual.
Natural freedom every man has from inheritance. From it man loves nothing but self and the world: his first love is nothing else. Since all evils exist from these two loves, and hence also become evils of love, it follows that to think and to will evils is man’s natural freedom; and that when he has confirmed evils in himself by reasonings he does evils from freedom in accordance with his reason. To act thus is from his faculty called liberty, and to confirm the evils is from his faculty called rationality.
Rational freedom is from the love of reputation with a view to honor or gain. The enjoyment of this love lies in appearing externally as a moral man; and because man loves such a reputation, he does not defraud, commit adultery, take revenge, or blaspheme; and because he makes this a matter of reason, he acts from freedom in accordance with his reason in sincere, just, chaste, and friendly ways; and furthermore, from this reason he can advocate such conduct. But if his rational is merely natural and not also spiritual, such freedom is merely external freedom, not internal freedom; for he does not love these goods in the least inwardly, but only outwardly for the sake of his reputation, as has been said, and for this reason the good deeds that he does are not in themselves good…. Consequently, this rational freedom is a more internal natural freedom. This freedom, too, by the Lord’s Divine Providence remains with everyone.
Spiritual freedom is from a love for eternal life. Into that love and its enjoyment no one comes except he who thinks evils to be sins and in consequence does not will them, and at the same time looks to the Lord. As soon as one does this he is in that freedom. For one’s ability not to will evils because they are sins, and not to do them for that reason, comes from the more internal or higher freedom which is from his more internal or higher love. At first such a freedom does not seem to be freedom, and yet it is; and afterwards it so appears, and then man acts from freedom itself, in accordance with reason itself, in thinking, willing, speaking, and doing what is good and true. This freedom increases as natural freedom decreases and becomes subservient; and it conjoins itself with rational freedom and purifies it.
Any one may come into this freedom if he is but willing to think that life is eternal, and that the temporary enjoyment and bliss of life in time are but as a fleeting shadow, compared with the never ending enjoyment and bliss of a life in eternity; and this a man can think if he wishes, because he has rationality and liberty, and because the Lord, from whom these two faculties are derived, continually gives the ability.
Questions and Comments
- How are natural, rational and spiritual freedom different from each other? Where does natural freedom come from? Where does rational freedom come from? Where does spiritual freedom come from?
- How does what we love determine whether we are in natural, rational or spiritual freedom?
- DP 73 states that spiritual freedom at first does not seem to be freedom. Can you relate to this idea? What is something you do now that brings happiness, but when you first started doing it, felt compelled?
- If we are in spiritual freedom, as opposed to natural or rational freedom, how might we act differently?
- How does thinking eternally rather than temporally help us come into spiritual freedom?
- Long term thinking produces different rational choices than short term thinking. One way of thinking about spiritual freedom as opposed to natural freedom is that natural freedom focuses on immediate gratification, while spiritual freedom focuses on eternal happiness.