The Laws of the Divine Providence
Put away evils in the external man
DP 100. …Evil is the opposite of good, and falsity is the opposite of truth; and two opposites can in no way mingle together, but when one approaches the other a combat takes place, which lasts till one gives way to the other….
DP 100:2. This opposition is meant by Abraham’s words from heaven to the rich man in hell (Luke 16:26):
Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they who would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us who want to come from there.
DP 101. Many, however, especially those who have confirmed themselves in a faith separated from charity, do not know that they are in hell when they are in evils.… They say, moreover, that because they cannot contribute anything to their salvation, they cannot remove any evil from themselves; and, further, that they cannot do any good from themselves. They neglect to give any thought to evil, and [so]… they are in evil continually.
DP 101:2. For those who give no thought to the evils in themselves, that is, who do not examine themselves and afterwards refrain from evils, cannot but be ignorant of what evil is and then love it because of its delight. For he who does not know evil loves it, and he who neglects to think about it is continually in it.… If such people abstain from doing evils they do not abstain because these are sins against God, but because they are afraid of the laws and of their reputation. They still do evils in their spirit, for it is man’s spirit that thinks and wills; and therefore what a man thinks in his spirit in the world, he does when he becomes a spirit after his departure from the world.
DP 101:3. In the spiritual world, into which every man comes after death, the question that is asked is not, What was your faith, or what was your doctrine? but, What was the nature of your life? Was it of this or that quality? Thus the inquiry is concerning the nature and quality of the life; for it is known that such as one’s life is, such is his faith and also his doctrine, because the life fashions doctrine and faith for itself….
DP 103. I. Every man has an external and an internal of thought….
DP 104. ...This is clear to anyone who observes carefully the thoughts and intentions of another as exhibited in his speech and actions, and who observes also his own thoughts and intentions when he is in company and when he is alone. For anyone can talk with another in a friendly way from external thought, and yet be at enmity with him in internal thought…. Those do so who are in the lusts of evil and who yet wish it to appear before the world that they are not in them.
DP 104:2. …That both exterior and interior thought are given to man is clearly evident from this fact, that from his interior thought he can view his exterior thought, reflect upon it and pass judgment on it, deciding whether it is evil or not evil…. Unless man had… an external and an internal of thought he would not be able to perceive and view any evil in himself and be reformed; in fact, he would not be able to speak, but only to utter sounds like a beast.
DP 105. The internal of thought is from the life’s love and its affections and consequent perceptions; while the external of thought is from the contents of the memory, which minister to the life’s love as confirmations and as means to further its end….
Questions and Comments
- The first point is that good and evil are opposites, so evil must be removed before good can flow in. This is very inconvenient to the unregenerate natural man. No wonder there is such a tendency to blur the difference between good and evil. Can you think of examples of blurring the “great gulf” between good and evil?
- Evil must be “removed.” This does not mean completely eradicated, but moved out of the center of our life to the circumferences. Another phrase is “put away,” or put out of the way.
- What are some keys to reflecting on the evils in our attitudes and habits in a healthy way, so as to remove them, rather than feeling hopeless?
- “In the spiritual world… it is not asked what your belief has been… but what your life has been.” What does this imply about the way we treat fellow New Churchmen or fellow Christians with different beliefs?
- What an amazing gift, that we can reflect on our own thoughts and judge whether they are good or bad! What are some helpful questions to ask ourselves in order to discern the quality of our external thoughts?
- The way we live determines our life’s love. Our ruling love determines our internal thought, and this in turn draws agreeable things out of the memory to serve our life’s love.