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this sphere it has also been given occasionally to perceive; the endeavor is perpetual, and soon as any opportunity is given, an effect thence bursts forth ; but that sphere is checked by the sphere of the endeavors of heaven which is from the Lord, and which is a sphere of doing good, wherein is all power, because it is from the Divine. Nevertheless, between those endeavors diametrically opposite to each other, an equilibrium is kept, to the intent that man may be in freedom, and thus in election.” A. C. 8209.

It should be remarked here, that this middle state of which Swedenborg speaks, is strikingly confirmed by the theology of the church in its first ages, and by the very evident scriptural teaching in regard to Hades. Indeed, the idea of immediate entrance into heaven or hell, at death, is comparatively of recent date. It seems to be an off-shoot of the Lutheran Reformation, and introduced into Protestantism by a too fierce assault upon the Catholic Purgatory. In destroying Purgatory, it destroyed the true doctrine of the Middle State with it. It has been well remarked, that since the time when the Christian Churches first came clearly into the light of history, which was the last quarter of the second century, “we find them universally in possession of the idea of a mediate place of souls, - one which was neither heaven nor hell, but preliminary to either. It was not an idea broached by heretics here and there. It was the belief of the Church Universal, which nobody called in question. Out of this belief the papacy shaped its purgatory, and practised on human credulity and fear.”

From the position of man's spirit in this middle state, and his consequent freedom, we may appreciate something more of that constant and providential moderation of his will by the angels of the Lord, as he works out the problem of his life. For by being thus situated, and acted on equally by heaven and by hell, that is, fairly and impartially, according as he

* See Sears' “Foregleams of Immortality,” pp. 258–324.

himself chooses good or evil, he is at liberty to turn himself to either. But he is assisted and regulated in this process by the most careful ministry of angels. Through years and years of the most trying and varied experience, the man must be watched by the angels who are thus placed over him ; and those angels must be changed according to the man's changing states ; he must be withheld from this thing, and encouraged to that; he must be supported in temptations, while those temptations are continually moderated to the extent which he can bear; he must be apparently left to himself, and still most closely attended; and through the whole experience of so vast a life, involving every moment eternal consequences, it must all be done with such perfect wisdom and precision as to keep the will in its utmost freedom and equilibrium between the powers of heaven on the one side and the powers of hell on the other.

“ The angels, by whom the Lord leads and also protects man are near the head; it is their office to inspire charity and faith, and to observe the man's delights, in what direction they turn themselves, and to moderate and bend them to good, so far as the man's free will enables them ; it is forbidden them to act violently, and thereby to break man's lusts and principles, but the injunction is to act with gentleness. Their office also is to rule the evil spirits who are from hell, which is effected by methods innumerable, of which it is allowed to mention only the following: when the evil spirits infuse evils and falses, the angels insinuate truths and goods, which, if they are not received, are yet the means of temperament; the infernal spirits are continually making assault

, and the angels affording protection; such is the order. The angels principally moderate the affections, for these constitute the life of man, and also his freedom. The angels also observe whether any hells are opened, which were not open before, from which there is influx with man, which takes place when man brings himself into any new evil; those hells the angels close so far as man suffers it, and if any spirits attempt to emerge thence, they are likewise removed by the angels. The angels also dissipate foreign and new influxes, from which are evil effects; especially do the angels call forth the goods and truths which are with man, and oppose them to the evils and falses which the evil spirits excite.

By such things the angels of the Lord lead and protect man, and this every moment, and every moment of a moment; for if the angels should only intermit a single instant, man would be plunged into evil, from which afterward it would be impossible he should be extricated.” A. C. 5992.

Thus it is with this most delicate instrument the human will. If we fail sometimes to comprehend the mystery, — if we find ourselves balked, and discouraged, and our most cherished plans defeated by some new emergency or old continued difficulty, let us not forget the many connections which run out far beyond this world, nor the myriads of wills, connected with the One Great Will, which are all invisibly acting in concert with ours, for eternal ends of salvation and use.

23

CHAPTER XIV.

DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND HUMAN PRUDENCE.

There is a destiny that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will.”Shakspeare.

It is a frequent remark of those who have had much experience in the world, and especially those who have met with many disappointments, that “there is no use in planning.” Indeed, how often do we hear it said — “Nothing that I ever undertook to do yet, came out as I intended. I never did any thing that I wanted to do, in my whole life. I have been balked in every thing. I seem to myself like drift-wood, floating down the great stream of life, not knowing what I was made for, or whither I am tending." Ah, yes,

A greater Power than thou couldst contradict
Hath thwarted thy intents.”

But it is one straight and continuous story ; God hath an infinite use for thee — an eternal ocupation. Thou must fill that place in the universe which from eternity was foreseen and provided. Thou art a particle from the Infinite Deity. And as sure as God exists, thou must do that work which was wrapped up in the germ of thy destiny from the very first.

Truly, there is but little use in planning. Many of us have lived long enough to see our most cherished plans utterly frustrated, and ourselves in such uses and stations as no human sagacity could foresee or imagine. “ Man appoints, God disappoints.” Look out into the world, and see the currents of its

first;

mighty forces, and the strongly interlinked connections of all its business, activity, and enterprise. And when we think of how it all came into being, — how much the past generations have had to do with the present scene, — how a child is born, and endowed, and circumstanced from the

very

then

may we ask ourselves how much of destiny, and how much of freewill, compose this complicated web and mystery of life.

But there is one thing connected with this subject, that we do not sufficiently reflect upon. It relates to the inmost affections of man, which form and determine his active thoughts. Whenever man acts or does any thing from what seems to him his own prudence, it is always from some love or affection from which the thought is. Now, it is the thought alone which comes into his sight, and not by any means the affection alone. Love in itself has no form, and only comes into manifest perception from the form which it takes in its own thought. As truth or falsity, it can be seen and taken cognizance of by man, but not as good or evil alone. Every truth is the form of some good, and every falsity of some evil. There are indeed certain gross and external affections which manifest themselves in the sensations of the body, but seldom ever in the thought of the mind. “ But the internal affections of thought, from which the external exist, never manifest themselves before man; concerning these one knows no more than one sleeping in a carriage concerning the road, and no more than he feels the circumrotation of the earth.” D. P. 199. Now, it is these internal, hidden affections, which are the more immediate subjects of the divine operation. And how innumerable, how infinite they are ! And when we reflect that the externals, which alone come into our sight, are from these internals, and it is these only which form the thought and reflection of man, and constitute all his prudence, how little does that prudence become, and how manifestly under the divine control !

Providence with God is prudence with man; and with those who are in the love of self and the world, all their thoughts and

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