“All religion is of life; and the life of religion is to do good.” - Doctrine of Life §1
Kempton New Church

Third Law
Day 1


The Laws of the Divine Providence
No external compulsion to religion

Luke 16:31

And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.


And when the crowds congregated, He began to say, This is a wicked generation; it seeks a sign, and a sign shall not be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also shall the Son of Man be to this generation (Luke 11:29, 30).

DP 130. It cannot be denied that miracles induce a belief and powerfully persuade that what is said and taught by him who does the miracles is true, and that this at first so occupies man’s external thought as to bind and fascinate it, as it were. But by this, man is deprived of his two faculties called rationality and liberty, and thus of the ability to act from freedom in accordance with reason; and then the Lord can no longer flow in through the internal into the external of his thought, except merely to leave the man to confirm by his rationality what he has been made to believe through the miracle.

DP 131. When a miracle alone leads a man to acknowledgment, worship, and piety, he acts from the natural man and not from the spiritual. For a miracle imparts faith through an external way and not through an internal way, thus from the world and not from heaven; and the Lord enters into man through no other than an internal way, which is through the Word, and doctrine and preachings from the Word. And as miracles close this way, at this day no miracles are wrought.

DP 133. But the effect of miracles on the good and on the evil is different. The good do not desire miracles, but they believe in the miracles recorded in the Word. And when they hear anything about a miracle they give thought to it only as an argument of no great weight that confirms their faith; for they think from the Word, thus from the Lord, and not from the miracle. It is not so with the evil. They may be driven and compelled to a belief by miracles, and even to worship and piety, but only for a short time; for their evils are shut in; and the lusts of their evils and the enjoyments therefrom continually act upon their external of worship and piety; and in order to get out of their confinement and break away they reflect upon the miracle, and at length call it a trick or artifice, or a work of nature, and thus go back to their evils. And he who returns to his evils after he has worshiped profanes the goods and truths of worship; and the lot after death of those who commit profanation is the worst of all. Such as these are meant by the Lord's words (Matt. xii. 43-45), that their last state becomes worse than the first. Furthermore, if it is needful to work miracles for the sake of those who do not believe from miracles in the Word, they must be wrought for all such continually and visibly. All this makes clear why miracles are not wrought at this day.

Letter to F. C. Oetinger, November 11, 1766 Query: Is a sign required to show that I have been sent by the Lord to do what I am doing? Answer: Signs and wonders do not take place at the present day, because they compel externally, and internally do not convince. What effect did the miracles in Egypt and Jehovah's descent on Mount Sinai have upon the Israelitish people, who, notwithstanding, after the lapse of a month made for themselves a golden calf, and worshipped it in place of Jehovah? And what effect did the Lord's miracles have upon the Jewish nation, by whom He was notwithstanding crucified? The same would be the case now, should the Lord appear in the clouds with the angels and trumpets; as described in (Luke 14:16, 29-31). The sign, given at this day, will be enlightenment, and thence an acknowledgment and a reception of the truths of the New Church.

Questions and Comments

  1. What was the sign of Jonah? The scribes and Pharisees who asked for a sign did not get to see this sign. But who did see this sign, and why?
  2. What was the sign that Jonah actually gave the Ninevites? (see Jonah 3) The Son of Man gave a similar sign to the Pharisees. Did these signs take away their freedom? How did the Pharisees respond in comparison to the Ninevites? Why?
  3. What would happen to our free choice, upon which our salvation depends, if the Lord provided us with manifest miracles that He is God the Creator, that He is Human, and that He is continually with us? (Note: In many ways the Lord does do this, but without taking away our freedom.)
  4. If miracles close the interior understanding why did the Lord use miracles to start the Christian Church, and even give signs to the apostles to help start this church as well? Put another way, what is the difference between miraculous faith and genuine faith?
  5. Why did miracles cease early in the Christian Church? Why are there no such miracles today, at least to help the New Church get started? What would be the result if this had happened?
  6. Do we sometimes wish for a sign or miracle to convince us and others that the Heavenly Doctrine is the Second Coming of the Lord? What sign does the Lord actually promise the New Church? Can this sign convince us of the truth, and does this take away our freedom and rationality?
previous next