The Laws of the Divine Providence
Providence is not evident, but man should acknowledge it.
And they approached the man that was over Joseph’s house, and they spoke to him at the door of the house, and said, “In me [i.e., please], my lord, coming down we came down in the beginning to purchase food. And it was, when we came to the inn and we opened our bags, then behold, everyone’s silver was in the mouth of his bag, our silver in its weight; and we have returned it back in our hand. And we have brought down the other silver in our hand to purchase food. We do not know who put our silver in our bags.” And he said, “Peace be to you, fear not; your God and the God of your father gave you a concealed gift in your bags; your silver came to me.”
AC 5664. Gave you a hidden gift in your bags. That this signifies that it was from Him without any prudence of theirs, is evident from the signification of a “hidden gift,” as being the truth and good that are given by the Lord without the man’s knowing it....
AC 5664a. Your silver came to me. That this signifies that it will seem as truth procured by them.... But as the truth which is of faith is never procured by any man, but is instilled and given by the Lord, and yet seems as if acquired by man, it is said that it will seem as truth procured by them.
AC 5664:3. ...He who believes the truths of faith brings them forth from the heart at the same time as from the lips. For with him the truths of faith are so deeply rooted in as to have their root in the outer memory, and to grow from there toward what is interior or higher, like fruit- bearing trees. And like trees they deck themselves with leaves, and at last with blossoms, for the sake of the end of bearing fruit. So it is with such a man.
AC 5664:4. He also aims at nothing else through the truths of faith than uses, which are the practices of charity, which to him are the fruits.
These are the truths which man cannot procure for himself, even in the smallest degree; but they are gratuitously bestowed on him by the Lord, and this in every moment of his life—in fact, if he will believe it, without number in every moment.
But as man is of such a nature as to have no perception of their flowing in—for if he had the perception he would resist, because he would believe that he would then lose his proprium, and with his proprium his freedom, and with his freedom his delight, and would thus become a thing of no value—it is therefore brought about that man does not know but that he procures truths by himself.
This then is what is meant by saying that it will seem as truth procured by them. Moreover, in order that a heavenly proprium and heavenly freedom may be bestowed on man, he must do good as of himself and think what is true as of himself. But when he reflects, he should acknowledge that these are from the Lord.
Questions and Comments
- We are responsible for learning what is true from the Word, but all we acquire this way is knowledge, not truth. For knowledge to become truth, there has to be an influx of light from heaven, by which we see the truth interiorly and want to live by it. Can you think of a knowledge that became a truth for you?
- The story of Joseph secretly putting his brothers’ silver into their sacks is a wonderful illustration of how much the Lord loves us. He wants to give us lots of precious things, but He is very careful not to diminish our sense of responsibility for our own lives, and thus the delight of living as of ourselves. Can you think of an example of secretly giving a gift to someone—a child, a spouse, or someone else—while wanting to preserve their autonomy and dignity?
- “But when he reflects, he should acknowledge that these are from the Lord.” What benefits come from acknowledging that all our truths and all the good things we do are from the Lord, rather than from ourselves?
- Of the five laws we have studied, do you have
- Man must act in freedom, with reason.
- Man should put away evils in the external man.
- Man should not be compelled in things of religion but should guide himself.
- Man is led by the Lord through the Word, to all appearance as of himself.
- Nothing of Divine Providence should appear, but we should acknowledge it.