The Laws of the Divine Providence
Providence is not evident, but man should acknowledge it.
And [Moses] said, Make me see, I pray, Thy glory. And He said, I will make all My goodness pass by over thy faces, and will proclaim with the name of Jehovah before thee; and I will show grace to whom I show grace, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. And He said, Thou canst not see My faces; because man shall not see Me and live. And Jehovah said, Behold, a place with Me, and thou shalt stand up upon the rock; and it shall be when My glory passes by, that I will set thee in a cleft of the rock, and will shelter with My palm over thee, until I have passed by. And I will remove the palm of My hand, and thou shalt see My back; and My faces shall not be seen.
DP 187. IV. IT IS GRANTED TO MAN TO SEE THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN THE BACK AND NOT IN THE FACE, AND THIS IN A SPIRITUAL STATE AND NOT IN A NATURAL STATE. To see the Divine Providence in the back and not in the face is to see it after it operates and not before; and to see it from a spiritual state and not from a natural state is to see it from heaven and not from the world. All who receive influx from heaven and acknowledge the Divine Providence, and especially those who by reformation have become spiritual, when they see events in some wonderful series, see the Divine Providence, as it were, from an interior acknowledgment and confess it. They do not desire to see it in the face, that is, before it comes into operation, fearing lest their will should enter into anything of its order and tenor [or course, or direction].
DP 187:2. ...Those who do not admit any influx from heaven but only from the world, especially those who have become natural from confirming appearances in themselves, do not see anything of the Divine Providence in the back, that is, after it operates, but they desire to see it in the face, that is, before it comes into operation....
DP 189. The man who has become spiritual by the acknowledgment of God and wise by the rejection of his proprium sees the Divine Providence in the whole world and in all things in it in general and in particular. If he looks at natural things he sees it; if he looks at civil matters he sees it; if he looks at spiritual things he sees it.... He sees it especially in matters concerning the salvation of men, as that Jehovah gave the Word, taught men by it concerning God, heaven and hell and eternal life, and that He Himself came into the world that He might redeem and save men.
DP 190. There are many constant things created in order that there may exist things that are not constant. Such constants are the appointed changes in the rising and setting of the sun, moon, and stars... the seasons... the times of the day... also atmospheres, waters and lands....
DP 190:3. As for the varieties themselves which are produced from what is constant, fixed and certain, they go on to infinity, and have no end; and yet there is not one thing precisely the same as another in all the things of the universe in general and in particular, nor can there be in the succession of things to eternity. Who so disposes these varieties, which go on to infinity and to eternity, that they may be in order but He who created the constant things to the end that the varieties might exist in them?....
These things have been stated because some natural men, even from the constant and the fixed things which are necessary to the end that varieties may exist in them, eagerly seize upon arguments in support of their own spiritual insanity in favor of nature and their own prudence.
Questions and Comments
- “And He said, Thou canst not see My faces; because man shall not see Me and live.” (Exod. 33:20) Compare other stories in the Word when people saw the Lord in some way. What is different in this case?
- “...when they see events in some wonderful series, they see the Divine Providence, as it were, from an interior acknowledgment and confess it” (DP 187) . Isn’t this one of the goals of a New Church study of history? Do you have a favorite example, either from world events or from an individual’s life of Providence in action?
- Think of a situation in which it might be tempting to want to foreknow the future or even change the future. Can you see ways in which things would probably not turn out better if you knew or could intervene? Are there movies about changing the future that don’t turn out well?
- “If he looks at natural things he sees it; if he looks at civil matters he sees it; if he looks at spiritual things he sees it.” What we are looking for are signs that there is a loving, wise, all-powerful God taking care of us. It might be fun to look for one example in each of these areas, natural, civil and spiritual.
- Think of the constants in the life of a family, or a church’s worship service, or in a nation’s mores, that provide a foundation and freedom for variety and creativity. What are some of the most important ones?