The Laws of the Divine Providence
Man Should Act From Freedom According to Reason
Let him who thirsts come; and he who desires, let him take the water of life freely.
From Divine Providence
DP 75. The human mind is of three degrees…. Consequently a man can be raised up from natural knowledge into spiritual intelligence and from that into celestial wisdom; and from these two, intelligence and wisdom, he can look to the Lord, and thus be conjoined with Him, whereby he lives forever. But this exaltation in respect to affection would not be possible unless man had from rationality an ability to raise the understanding, and from liberty an ability to will this.
For this reason those that have no wish to understand anything except what pertains to the world and its nature, and no wish to understand what moral and spiritual good and truth are, cannot be raised from knowledge into intelligence, still less into wisdom. For they have closed up these capacities, and therefore make themselves to be men no further than having an ability to understand, if they will, and an ability to so will, from the rationality and liberty implanted in them. From these two faculties man is able to think, and to speak from thought. In all other things men are not men but beasts; and some, from the abuse of these faculties are worse than beasts.
DP 76. From this it may be clearly evident that, although everything that a man perceives and thence thinks and knows, and wills and does in accordance with the perception, flows into him, still it is of the Divine Providence of the Lord that it should appear to be his own; for, as has been said, man would otherwise receive nothing, and therefore could not be gifted with any understanding and wisdom. It is well known that everything that is good and true is not man’s but the Lord’s, and yet that it appears to man to be his own. And because everything that is good and true so appears, even all things of the Church and of heaven, consequently all things of love and wisdom, and also of charity and faith, so appear, and yet nothing of these is man’s. No one can receive them from the Lord unless it appears to him that he perceives these things as if from himself. From these considerations the truth on this matter may be evident, namely, that whatever a man does from freedom, whether it be of reason or not, provided it be according to his reason, appears to him to be his own.
DP 77. A man from his faculty called rationality is able to form conclusions regarding the goods which are useful to society in the spiritual world, and regarding the evils which are harmful there, if in place of evils he understands sins, and in place of goods, the works of charity. This also a man is able to make a matter of his reason, if he be so disposed, since he has rationality and liberty; and so far as he shuns these evils as sins, his rationality and liberty are uncovered and become apparent. They assume control of his affairs and grant him perception and power; and so far as he acts thus, he regards the good works of charity as a neighbor regards the neighbor, from mutual love.
Now because the Lord, for the sake of reception and conjunction, wills that whatever a man does freely according to reason should appear to him to be his own, and as this is in accordance with reason itself, it follows that man can will to act thus from reason, because it constitutes his eternal happiness; and that he can do so from the Divine power of the Lord when this is invoked.
Questions and Comments
- DP 75 indicates that man can be worse than beasts if we abuse the faculties of freedom and rationality. What do you think this means? Can you think of an example in which a person is worse than a beast?
- What would happen if we were not able to feel as though our thoughts and perceptions were our own?
- How are knowledge, intelligence and wisdom different from one another and how do the faculties of freedom and rationality help us move from knowledge to intelligence to wisdom?
- DP 77 says that we can use our rationality to understand how evils are harmful to society if we can recognize an evil to be a sin. Are there any evils in society today that do not appear to be recognized as sins by the popular culture? If so, do you see a connection between natural freedom (see Day One) and the failure to recognize an evil as a sin?
- How are freedom and happiness linked? Often times it may seem that freedom causes lots of misery.