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THE DIVINE ESSENCE IN THE INMOSTS AND ULTIMATES OF
“And I have felt
We are now prepared to speak still more pertinently to the confusion and disorder of the world, in connection with those evils, both moral and intellectual, which so desolate the earth, and make it a scene of strife and misery.
First, then, let it be observed, that all these occurrences have had their origin, substantially speaking, in the one only eternal Divine Essence. First the spiritual creations, and then the material creations, have proceeded from the great Divine Sun, which is the first procedure of the Divine Love and Wisdom. And if every thing had maintained its orderly procedure, we should have had nothing, either in material or spiritual experience, contrary to our best ideas of the Divine Providence in every thing. But because they have in part proceeded disorderly, . does that cut them off from the Divine Source ? Certainly not; except so far as the free-will of man comes in to arrest, at certain points, the line of orderly procedure, and turn it into that which is disorderly. It is precisely like the flowing of a river,
which might flow on in regular and beauteous directness to a certain point, and thence be diverted into irregularity, and even opposite directions. But the source is the same, and the essence and substance are the same; in like manner, all events of the spiritual and material universe. Their first cause, without regard either to good or evil, is substantially in God : for there is but one original and eternal substance. Thus, then, we are able with the utmost clearness to put our finger upon the point of connection between God and all occurrences in the natural and spiritual universe. Because man has perverted the line of procedure, it does not, we say, cut off the connection; and we can plainly begin to perceive how, this being the case, a providence can be instituted, rather is instituted, over every thing that exists.
The Divine has a hold upon every thing, being in the inmost, invariably, even where the utmost perversion and confusion reign in the exterior.
This is well illustrated by a passage from Swedenborg's Diary. There was a multitude of spirits, he says, around him, whose influx was inordinate and tumultuous, there being nothing of unity among them, but each at variance with his fellow,
that the whole threatened destruction. “ But in the midst of these spirits,” he says, “I perceived and heard a gentle sound, thus angelic and sweet, wherein was nothing but what bespoke order ; those from whom it proceeded were within, while the disorderly spirits were without. This angelic flowing [as it were] continued for a time; it was often repeated, and it was told me that the Lord governs, in this manner, all those things that are discomposed or disorderly, and inordinate, etc., which are circumfluent or exist around. For the Lord acts from a pacific principle, thus peacefully, wherefore the things which exist without, or in the circumference, are necessarily reduced to order; each thing [is reduced] according to the error of its acquired nature; consequently the human race and their external principles, which are their fantasies, by wbich at the present day their actions and their conversation
are governed. As I was thinking about this subject, I compared the disorderly states of the said multitude of spirits to a tempest in the air, and to the stormy clouds, and the dust flying at that time through the atmosphere, all of which are then out of their equilibrium ; but in the mean time the purer atmosphere, or ether, remains in a tranquil state, and acting by its latent and silent power of equilibrium, is continually operating upon the turbulent state of the atmosphere, until it reduces it into equilibrium and rest. A similar state exists also in man, when his external emotions disturb him, and his internal states are pacific. The case is analogous in very many instances.” (S. D. 1175, 11763.) So also we say of the whole confusion and disorder of the outward world. A Divine Providence can be instituted over it, because, having proceeded from the Divine, the Divine itself is in the inmost of the whole of it; and it can be done in the above-mentioned way. Truth to say, how often it is done, when men know nothing of the power that is operating, by this silent and invisible influx from the spiritual world! It is thus that outbreaks are quelled, rebellions subdued, the evil dispersed, and much of public and domestic strise reduced to quietness and order.
But now, in the second place, it must be observed, that all that exists in exteriors, in the natural universe or in human society, whether orderly or disorderly, has not only had its origin substantially in God, but is in fact an ultimate of the Divine Essence, either in true order, or in perversion. Or rather, instead of saying an ultimate of the Divine Essence, let us say an ultimate from the Divine Essence. For the things so ultimated are not the Divine Essence, but from it. Thus, all that we see, in the confusion that reigns around us, whether criminal or accidental, the whole drive and stir of the city, and the busy movement of the whole world, is but an ultimate existence, substantially connected all the way, from the Great Divine Interior Cause. And every man, when he walks the streets, or contemplates the subject at all, ought to feel it so.
may then be delivered from one great cause of scepticism. He sees the confusion; that is only a perverted ultimate. He sees crime, and villany, and hap-hazardness through all human operations; frightful accidents occurring at every hand, and distressing casualties, and a reign, as it were, of human free-will and mystical fatality the least like providence that can possibly be imagined ; let him know that the Divine must be in the whole of it, and controlling the whole of it, because there is, in the first place, but one original divine Substance, and not two, and it is that alone which is here ultimated into externals, either in true order or in perversion. It is not, in the language before explained, “continuous” from the Divine, but " discretely” from the Divine, and that is continuous in one sense. All the substance is from God. And although the evil originates with man, yet he could not have originated even the evil had there not been a Divine Essence for him to pervert. It was not, substantially, self-created by man; it was only perverted by man. And in still further reflection, even the confusion, seen from a Divine, interior standpoint, in reference to its necessity, and its instrumentality for higher good, and its constant tendency and overruling for that end, prompts us to a partial recognition of the poet's truthful
“ All nature is but art unknown to thee;
Thus, then, we come to the most satisfactory conclusions. When looking abroad upon this vast scene of earthly confusion,-its crimes, its villanies, its terrible strifes, its fearful accidents and apparent misrule, we can, without abating one jot from the real Divine Will in the case, see how, philosophically, there is a necessary Divine Providence in every thing. If we do not, however, hold on to this element of necessity,
rightly and divinely considered, we cannot solve the problem. We cannot explain human society. We cannot account for the terrible confusion which reigns around. Oh! how many fatal things there are that grate upon the reason and the heart, which are only eternal necessities of the Divine Love and Wisdom, growing out of a Divine Order which we cannot comprehend, and that order perverted by man. Can it be providence ? says one, — this amazing complication of city life, — the whirl, and drive, and iniquity, and hap-hazard of all this world? Yes, we answer, necessary providence. From out the one eternal Substance the world and all its substances and motions came, and in the most superficial view that meets the eye, whether of crime, or accident, or vanity, or passing folly, we recognize the ultimates of that existence which is first or substantially in the eternal Cause, and which man has really nothing to do with, only so far as he abuses it, from the first to the last motion of it. Practically and qualitively, it is he that turns it into evil. And it is he that most righteously and tremendously suffers. But the Divine Being is necessarily in and over the whole of it, controlling and regulating every particle of it. And furthermore, as the Divinity is necessarily eternal, and necessarily infinite, as well as good and wise, so it is absolute and necessary truth, that each one of these incidents, though trifling in itself, is connected with infinity and eternity; — that the chain and complication of events extends through the soul's eternal experience; - that nothing can happen which does not more or less affect the spirit of man, and that the most trivial thing may be, as it is sometimes seen to be, the necessary link in a chain of events which reaches to the most momentous results, involving many individuals in its providential occurrence. And thus, in the language of the Scriptures, that “the very hairs of our heads are all numbered,” and in the language of the Seer of Stockholm, that "the Divine Providence, in all that it does, regards the infinite and eternal, especially in man's salvation."