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DIRECT AND INDIRECT PROVIDENCES.
“God moves in a mysterious way in grace as well as nature, concealing his operations under an imperceptible succession of events, and thus keeps us always in the darkness of faith. He not only accomplishes his designs gradually, but by means that seem the most simple, and the most competent to the end, in order that human wisdom may attribute the success to the means, and thus his own working be less manifest; otherwise every act of God would seem to be a miracle, and the state of faith, wherein it is the will of God that we should live, would come to an end.”—Fenelon.
As before stated, the whole of the Divine Providence is by influx from the Divinity into all that is beneath Him. But influx is of two kinds; mediate, through the spiritual world, and immediate from God. We are not so entirely dependent upon angels and spirits for divine influences that the Divine Being may not make some immediate applications of Himself; were it so, we could not feel that intimate connection with God which it is necessary to feel, and which the deepest and strongest intuitions assure us ought to exist between man and his Maker. But on a subject so confessedly high and interior as this, we trust that no apology is necessary for introducing again the words of one who evidently enjoyed in greater fulness than any other man, spiritual and divine illumination, and whose great fame and experience entitle him to the utmost respect. Says Swedenborg
“ The influx of the Lord is also immediate with every one, for without immediate influx, the mediate is of no effect. *** What proceeds immediately, is above all the understanding of the angels; but what proceeds mediately, is adequate to the angels
in the heavens, and also to men, for it passes through heaven, and hence puts on angelic quality and human quality. For all and single things are from the First Esse, and the order is so instituted, that the First Esse may be present in the derivatives both mediately and immediately, thus alike in the ultimate of order and the first of order. 11 A. C., 9683.
“ That many things on earth are effected immediately from the Lord, is evident from the case of the apostles, who sometimes, when they spake, were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the words which they should speak were given to them, which was immediate inspiration.”- Spiritual Diary, 1509.
This last assertion we find no difficulty in crediting. We can readily believe, not only that angels of a high order approached to influence the prophets and apostles, but that the Lord Himself, in a more direct manner, also comes into the interiors of men, and did so come in many cases of divine inspiration. That the Lord when in the world received into his humanity the Divine Spirit " without measure," and this immediately from the Father, or principle of Divine Good, is presumptive evidence that He can impart of it in the same way to others. And that many did receive of the “Holy Spirit,” and were said to be “full” of it; also that Jesus himself" breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit," (John 20: 22 ; ) is evidence enough, we should think, that the Divine Influx can thus be imparted from God to man, without the medium of angelic agency.
At the same time we are constrained to confess, that the instances with man at the present day, when he can receive such direct application and prompting from the Divinity, seem of necessity rare and unfrequent. Of the common immediate influx, such as is required to give effect to the mediate, and such as "flows into all things," we do not now speak: but of that other immediate, or rather what Swedenborg calls the conjunction of the two, this he says “is not effected unless in the case of those who have perception of truth from good ; for they with whom immediate divine influx is conjoined with mediate, suffer themselves to be led by
the Lord, but they with whom those influxes are not conjoined, lead themselves, and this they love.” (A. C. 7055.)
So with regard to all the providences of God. Some of them may be direct or immediate, some indirect or mediate, and others more or less so. But while on this subject, we cannot refrain from the following liberal quotation from the “ Macrocosm and Microcosm,” before referred to. After stating that “ God orders even his providences according to laws, or, it may almost be said, has made them synonymous with laws,” the writer remarks :
“ It may safely be believed that the present order and plan of creation is the best that could have been devised by the Divine Mind; for otherwise the present plan would not have been adopted. But if it is the best, then it requires no fundamental changes, and not even any modifications, except such as may comport with a constant general progression on the basis of the original plan. But while all progression in each department is dependent upon an influx or inhalation (hence free bestowment by the Divine Being) of additional degrees of the Divine vitalizing influence which is specifically suitable to itself, and while all progression is in this sense providential, God cannot, either in causing a progressional or any other change, and without deranging the established and hence best possible order of things, act providentially and directly upon any department of creation, except through the medium of that particular kind of force or vitality of which the thing acted upon is a suitable receptacle.
“Thus, considering the universe in its most general aspect as one grand whole, God cannot act directly upon it, or modify its existing activities and tendencies, except through the medium of those forces and laws of Expansion, Contraction, Circulation, Aggregation, etc., in the degree in which they apply to the universe as a whole. He cannot act directly upon solar systems and worlds, except through the medium of the same laws and forces in their higher degrees of unfolding as applicable to solar systems and worlds; God cannot act directly upon Mineral creations, except through the forces and laws of chemical affinities; He cannot act directly upon Vegetable Kingdoms, except through the forces and laws of vegetable life; He cannot act directly on the Animal Kingdom, or any of its forms, except
through the forces and laws of animal, sensational, and semiintellectual life; He cannot act directly on selfish and sinful human nature, only by those isolated and disjointed motive forces which are adapted to reach and affect the disjointed mental and moral constitutions of selfish and sinful human beings; while God can act directly and fully as God, in all his affectional, intellectual, and moral nature, only upon a perfectly pure and sinless intelligence - a being fitted for the harmonious influx of all the affectional, intellectual, and voluntative principles of the Divine Soul -a being, hence, who stands in the perfect image of God, and who, in principle, is one with Him. Hence, when such a being acts (and there never was but one such a being), it may be said that God acts with him, in him, and through him, and that his every act is in the fullest and most Divine sense, a providence.
“ But as the infinite Divine, personal, volitional Intelligence is above all things, and over all things, and is the inexhaustible Source of all streams of vitality and motive force which flow into the various departments of His creation, it may be rationally conceived, that by withholding his inflowings into the universal system as a whole, He could cause universal stagnation and dissolution to ensue ; or that by increasing those inflowings, He could stimulate all firmamental developments and solar and planetary motions, to unwonted activity; or that by diminishing his influence in one portion of space, and increasing it in another, He could cause the dissolution of some worlds, and the absorption of their materials by others; or that by modifying his influences upon the electric, ærial, and subterranean forces of a particular planet (such as our own), He could cause floods to deluge the earth, or subterranean fires to overwhelm cities, and destroy such human beings as must otherwise stand as obstructions to true progress ; or that in a similar way, He might cause a rarification of the atmosphere in one locality, and a condensation in another, and thus cause a current of wind sufficiently violent to cleave the waters of a gulf, and afford a dry passage for a particular people through whom he designed to effect great purposes.
“ It will doubtless still be argued that such occurrences, if they ever do take place, are results simply of the forces and laws of nature. In a qualified sense, this is granted, as we have shown before that all action, whether physical or spiritual, is according to some laws; but we insist that it is an exceed
ingly superficial view of the laws of nature, which supposes that they are self-generative and self-active, or that they can exist for a moment as separate from that Divine vitalizing and spiritual Principle which, in an earlier stage of this work, we showed was necessarily self-existent and eternal.*
"But if this self-existent, all-generative, and vitalizing Divine principle may operate upon mundane forces and developments in the way just described, He may, in a similar way, control, modify, and direct chemical and mineral, or vegetable, animal, and spiritual forces and developments, by a voluntary gradation of those influences proceeding from himself
, as adapted to either of these departments of his creation. And all such operations would be instances of direct providences.
“ But while it would be impossible for God, consistently with the fundamental, which we have presumed to be the best possible plan of creation, to act directly upon any one department of being, by forces specifically adapted only to another, (as, for instance, to act directly upon mind, by that Degree of attractive force known as "gravitation,' or to directly control planets by the motive forces of moral and rational convictions,) it is none the less conceivable that each department of existence may be indirectly influenced through the medium of some other department, which is made the receptacle of direct influence. Thus it may be conceived as possible for God, by special and designed action upon a particular planet, to change the orbit of such planet, and thus mediately change the orbits of all the planets with which it may be associated, and thus to change their seasons, and thus their inhabitants, if they have any, and thus even to produce an endless concatenation of spiritual changes ; or, that by action upon one particular department of the Mineral, Vegetable, or Animal Kingdom, He might change other departments of the same kingdom, and thus indefinitely change the relations existing between them all.
* Operations upon the atmosphere, and upon the physical globe, even to the production of storms, and other like occurrences, such as are here referred to by our author, are no doubt effected when wanted, by the mediation of spirits and angels. By working upon the electric elements of nature, they are thus probably enabled to control to a great degree, when permitted, the material conditions of our earth. The Scriptures also speak of whole armies given to destruction; and of a pestilence of which seventy thousand men died, effected by the destroying angel. 2 Samuel, 24 : 15-17.