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Produced by William J. Rotella

Angelic Wisdom about DIVINE PROVIDENCE


Emanuel Swedenborg

Translation By


_Standard Edition_


Originally published in Latin at Amsterdam 1764
First English translation published in U.S.A. 1851
51st Printing, 1975
(5th Printing Wunsch Translation).

ISBN 0-87785-059-3 (Student)
0-87785-060-7 (Trade)

_Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 74-30441_

Manufactured in the United States of America


Translator's Preface

I. What Divine Providence Is

II. The Goal of Divine Providence

III. The Outlook of Divine Providence

IV. Providence has its Laws

V. Its Regard for Human Freedom and Reason

VI. Even in the Struggle against Evil

VII. The Law of Noncompulsion

VIII. The Law of Overt Guidance

IX. The Law of Hidden Operation

X. Divine Providence and Human Prudence

XI. Binding Time and Eternity

XII. The Law Guarding against Profanation

XIII. Laws of Tolerance in the Laws of Providence

XIV. Why Evil is Permitted

XV. Providence Attends the Evil and the Good

XVI. Providence and Prudence in the Appropriation of Good and Evil to Man

XVII. The Salvation of All the Design of Providence

XVIII. The Steadfast Observance of its Laws by Providence

Index of Scripture Passages

Subject Index

[1]Swedenborg gave neither numbers nor brief captions to the chapters of
the book. Nor did he prefix a recital of all the propositions and
subsidiary propositions to come in the book; this was the work of the
Latin editor. For this the above, giving the reader a succinct idea of
the book's contents, is substituted. _Tr._


THE Book

The reader will find in this book a firm assurance of God's care of
mankind as a whole and of each human being. The assurance is rested in
God's infinite love and wisdom, the love pure mercy, the wisdom giving
love its ways and means. It is further grounded in an interpretation of
the universe as a spiritual-natural world, an interpretation fully set
forth in the earlier book, _Divine Love and Wisdom_, on which the present
work draws heavily. As there is a world of the spirit, no view of
providence can be adequate which does not take that world into account.
For in that world must be channels for the outreach of God's care to the
human spirit. There also any eternal goal - such as a heaven from the human
race - must exist. A view of providence limited to the horizons of the
passing existence can hardly resemble the care which the eternal God
takes of men and women who, besides possessing perishable bodies, are
themselves creatures of the spirit and immortal. The full title of the
book, _Angelic Wisdom about Divine Providence_, implies that its author,
in an other-world experience, had at hand the knowledge which men and
women in heaven have of God's care. Who should know the divine guidance
if not the men and women in heaven who have obviously enjoyed it? "The
laws of divine providence, hitherto hidden with angels in their wisdom,
are to be revealed now" (n. 70).

As it is presented in this book, providence seeks to engage man in its
purposes, and to enlist all his faculties, his freedom and reason, his
will and understanding, his prudence and enterprise. It acts first of all
on his volitions and thinking, to align them with itself. That it falls
directly on history, its events and our circumstances, is a superficial
view. It is man's inner life which first feels the omnipresent divine
influence and must do so. If we cannot be lifted to our best selves and
if our aims and outlook cannot be modified for the better, how shall the
world be bettered which we affect to handle? Paramount in God's presence
with all men, if only in their possibilities, is His providential care.

This care, to which man's inner life is open, is alert every moment, not
occasional. It is gentle and not tyrannical, constantly respecting man's
freedom and reason, otherwise losing him as a human being. It has set
this and other laws for itself which it pursues undeviatingly. The larger
part of the book is an exposition of these laws in the conviction that by
them the nature of providence is best seen. Is it not to be expected in a
universe which has its laws, and in which impersonal forces are governed
by laws, that the Creator of all should pursue laws in His concern with
the lives of conscious beings? To fit a world of laws must not the divine
care have its laws, too? Adjustment of thought about divine providence to
scientific thought is not the overriding necessity, for scientific
thought must keep adjusting to laws which it discerns in the physical
world. In consonance, religious thought seeks to learn the lawful order
in the guidance of the human spirit.

Do not each and all things in tree or shrub proceed constantly and
wonderfully from purpose to purpose according to the laws of their order
of things? Why should not the supreme purpose, a heaven from the human
race, proceed in similar fashion? Can there be anything in its progress
which does not proceed with all constancy according to the laws of divine
providence? (n 332)

Respecting the laws of providence, it is to be noted that there are more
laws than those, five in number, which are stated at the heads of as many
chapters in the book. Further laws are embodied in other chapters. At
n. 249(2) we are told that further laws were presented in nn. 191-213,
214-220, and 221-233. In fact, at n. 243. there is a reference to laws
which follow in even later chapters. In nn. 191-213 the law, partly
stated in the heading over the chapter, comes to full sight particularly
at n. 210(2), namely, that providence, in engaging human response, shall
align human prudence with itself, so that providence becomes one's
prudence (n. 311e). In nn. 214-220 the law is that providence employ the
temporal goals of distinction and wealth towards its eternal goals, and
perpetuate standing and wealth in a higher form, for a man will then have
sought them not for themselves and handled them for the use they can be.
To keep a person from premature spiritual experience, nn. 221-233, is
obviously a law of providence, guarding against relapse and consequent
profanation of what had become sacred to him.

The paradox of divine foreknowledge and human freedom, regularly
discussed in studies of providence, receives an explanation which becomes
more and more enlightening in the course of the book. The paradox,
probably nowhere else discussed, of man's thinking and willing to all
appearance all by himself, and of the fact that volition and thought come
to him from beyond him, receives a similar, cumulative answer. The
tension between the divine will and human self-will is a subject that
pervades the book; to that subject the profoundest insights into the
hidden activity of providence and into human nature are brought. On the
question, "Is providence only general or also detailed?" the emphatic
answer is that it cannot be general unless it takes note of the least
things. On miracle and on chance conclusions unusual in religious thought
meet the reader. The inequalities, injustices and tragedies in life which
raise doubts of the divine care are faced in a long chapter after the
concept of providence has been spread before the reader. What would be
the point in considering them before what providence is has been
considered? Against what manner of providence are the arguments valid? A
chapter such as this, on doubts of providence and on the mentality which
cherishes them, becomes a monograph on the subject, as the chapter on
premature spiritual experience, with the risk of relapse and profanation,
becomes a monograph on kinds of profanation.

Coming by revelation and by a lengthy other-world experience on
Swedenborg's part (in which he learned of the incorrectness of some of
his own beliefs, nn. 279(2), 290) the book, like others of his,
nevertheless has for an outstanding feature a steady address to the
reason. The profoundest truths of the spiritual life, among them the
nature of God and the laws and ways of providence, are not beyond grasp
by the reason. Sound reason Swedenborg credits with lofty insights.

_Divine Providence_ is a book to be studied, and not merely read, and
studied slowly. By its own way of proceeding, it extends an invitation to
read, not straight through, but something like a chapter at a time. In a
new chapter Swedenborg will recall for the reader what was said in the
preceding chapter, as though the reader had mean-while laid the book
down. The revelator proceeds at a measured pace, carries along the whole
body of his thought, and places each new point in this larger context,
where it receives its precise significance and its full force. It is an
accumulation of thought and not a repetition of statements merely that
one meets. "What has been written earlier cannot be as closely connected
with what is written later as it will be if the same things are recalled
and placed with both in view" (n. 193 (1)).


This volume has been translated afresh from the Latin; it is not a
revision of any earlier edition. Greater readableness has been striven
for. In the past, it is generally recognized, Latin sentence structure
and word order were clung to unnecessarily. "The defects in previous
translations of Swedenborg have arisen mainly from too close an adherence
to cognate words and to the Latin order of words and phrases." So wrote
the Rev. John C. Ager in 1899 in his translator's note in the Library
Edition of _Divine Providence_. Why, indeed, should English not be
allowed its own sentence structure and word order? In addition, in this
translation, long sentences, readily followed in an inflected language
like Latin, have been broken up into short ones. English also uses fewer
particles of logical relation than are at home in Latin. There is more
paragraphing, aiding the eye, which both British and American translators
have been doing for some years. Latin has neither a definite article nor
an indefinite article, and a translator into English must decide when to
use either or neither. The definite article, the present translator
thinks, has been overused, perhaps in a dogmatic tendency to be as
precise as can be. When, for instance, one is admitted into "truths of
faith" he is certainly not admitted into "the truths of faith," as though
he could comprehend them all. The very title of the book changes the
impression which it makes as the definite article is inserted or omitted
in it. "The divine providence" seems to single out a theological concept;
"divine providence" seems more likely to lead the thought to God's actual

Swedenborg has his carefully chosen terms, of course, like "proprium,"
which are best kept, although in the present translation that term is
sometimes rendered by an explanatory word and one which, in the
particular context, is an equivalent. The verb "appropriate" presents a
difficulty, but has been kept, partly because of the noun "proprium." One
could translate rather wordily "make" - something good or evil - "one's own."
The English word now means "take exclusive possession of," which one can
hardly do of good or evil. Assimilation is the thought and the act, and
with that in mind the verb "appropriate" and the noun "appropriation" can
be retained. The unusual locution "affection of truth" or "of good,"
which Mr. Ager abandoned, translating "for truth" and "for good," has
been returned to. Much is implied in that phrase which is not to be found
in the other wording, namely, that we are affected by truth and by good,
and that there is an influx of these into the human spirit. Similarly
meaningful is another unusual way of speaking in English, of a person's
being "in" faith or "in" charity, where we say that he has faith or
exercises charity. The thought is that faith and charity, truth and
goodness beckon to us, to be welcomed and entered into.

Latin sometimes has a number of words for an idea or an entity, and the
English has not, but when English has the richer vocabulary, why not
avail oneself of the variety possible? The Latin word "finis," for
example, used in so many connections, can be rendered by one word in one
connection and by another in another connection. The "goal" or the
"object" of providence is plainer than the "end" of providence. The
"close" of life is common speech. "Meritorious" has been kept in our
translations, for in a restricted field of traditional theology it does
mean that virtue, for example, _earns_ a reward. To most readers the word
will be misleading, for they will understand it in its usual meaning,
that some act is well-deserving. The former is Swedenborg's meaning,
which is that an act is done to earn merit, or is considered to have
earned merit. We translate variously according to context to make that
meaning clear (nn. 321(11), 326(8), 90).

As it is what Swedenborg has written that is to be translated, the
Scripture passages which he quotes are translated without an effort to
follow the Authorized Version, which he did not know. This is also done
when he refers to the book which stands last in our Bibles; the name he
knew it by, the Apocalypse, is retained.


The rewording in this translation would have necessitated revision of the
index long used in editions of _Divine Providence_, which goes back to an
index in French done by M. Le Boys des Guays. The opportunity was seized
to compile a subject instead of a word index. It is based on an analysis
of the contents of the book, and can serve as a reading guide. It does
not usually quote the text, but sends the reader to it. Definitions of a
number of terms are embodied in it.

The appearance that man thinks, wills, speaks and acts all of his own
doing is the subject of much of the book, and this the index shows. The
"life's love" deserves to be a separate entry, for little of a
psychological nature in the book becomes more prominent than the love
which forms in the way one actually lives, and which embodies one's
actual belief and thought. Single words which have been scattered entries
in the index long used - usually Scripture words of which the
correspondential meaning is given - are assembled alphabetically under the
entry "Correspondences."

A signal feature of Swedenborg's thought is the unities he perceives. Of
love and wisdom he says that they can only be perceived as one (4(5)). So
good and truth do not exist apart, nor charity and faith, nor affection
and thought. These and other pairs of terms are therefore entered in the
index; after references on the two together, references follow on each
term alone.

The index, it is hoped, will do more than introduce the reader to
statements made in the book, but will carry him into its stream of


Angelic Wisdom about DIVINE PROVIDENCE



1. To understand what divine providence is - namely, government by the
Lord's divine love and wisdom - one needs to know what was said and shown
earlier about divine love and wisdom in the treatise about them: "In the
Lord divine love is of divine wisdom, and divine wisdom of divine love"
(nn. 34-39); "Divine love and wisdom cannot but be in, and be manifested
in, all else, created by them" (nn. 47-51); "All things in the universe
were created by them" (nn. 52, 53, 151-156); "All are recipients of that
love and wisdom" (nn. 55-60); "The Lord appears before the angels as a
sun, the heat proceeding from it being love, and the light wisdom" (nn.
83-88, 89-92, 93-98, 296-301); "Divine love and wisdom, proceeding from
the Lord, make one" (nn. 99-102); "The Lord from eternity, who is
Jehovah, created the universe and everything in it from Himself, and not
from nothing" (nn. 282-284, 290-295). This is to be found in the treatise
entitled _Angelic Wisdom about Divine Love and Wisdom._

2. Putting with these propositions the description of creation in that
treatise, one may indeed see that what is called divine providence is
government by the Lord's divine love and wisdom. In that treatise,
however, creation was the subject, and not the preservation of the state
of things after creation - yet this is the Lord's government. We now treat
of this, therefore, and in the present chapter, of the preservation of
the union of divine love and wisdom or of divine good and truth in what
was created, which will be done in the following order:

i. The universe, with each and all things in it, was created from divine
love by divine wisdom.
ii Divine love and wisdom proceed as one from the Lord.
iii. This one is in some image in every created thing.
iv. It is of the divine providence that every created thing, as a whole
and in part, should be such a one, and if it is not, should become such a
v. Good of love is good only so far as it is united to truth of wisdom,
and truth of wisdom truth only so far as it is united to good of love.
vi. Good of love not united to truth of wisdom is not good in itself but
seeming good, and truth of wisdom not united to good of love is not truth
in itself but seeming truth.
vii. The Lord does not suffer anything to be divided; therefore it must
be either in good and at the same time in truth, or in evil and at the
same time in falsity.
viii. That which is in good and at the same time in truth is something;
that which is in evil and at the same time in falsity is not anything.
ix. The Lord's divine providence causes evil and the attendant falsity to
serve for equilibrium, contrast, and purification, and so for the
conjunction of good and truth in others.

3. (i) _The universe, with each and all things in it, was created from
divine love by divine wisdom._ In the work _Divine Love and Wisdom_ we
showed that the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, is in essence divine
love and wisdom, and that He created the universe and all things in it
from Himself. It follows that the universe, with each and all things in
it, was created from divine love by means of divine wisdom. We also
showed in that treatise that love can do nothing without wisdom, and
wisdom nothing without love. For love apart from wisdom, or the will
apart from understanding, cannot think anything, indeed cannot see, feel
or say anything, so cannot do anything. Likewise, wisdom apart from love,
or understanding apart from will, cannot think, see, feel, or speak,
therefore cannot do, anything. For if love is removed from wisdom or
understanding, there is no willing and thus no doing. If this is true of
man, for him to do anything, it was much more true of God - who is love
itself and wisdom itself - when He created and made the world and all that
it contains.

[2] That the universe, with each and all things in it, was created from
divine love by divine wisdom may also be established from objects to be
seen in the world. Take a particular object, examine it with some wisdom,
and you will be convinced. Take the seed, fruit, flower or leaf of a
tree, muster your wisdom, examine the object with a strong microscope,
and you will see marvels. Even more wonderful are the more interior
things which you do not see. Note the unfolding order in the growth of a
tree from seed to new seed; reflect on the continuous effort in all
stages after self-propagation - the end to which it moves is seed in which
its reproductive power arises anew. If then you will think spiritually,
as you can if you will, will you not see wisdom in all this? Furthermore,
if you can think spiritually enough, you will see that this energy does
not come from the seed, nor from the sun of the world, which is only
fire, but is in the seed from God the Creator whose wisdom is infinite,
and is from Him not only at the moment of creation but ever after, too.
For maintenance is perpetual creation, as continuance is perpetual coming
to be. Else it is quite as work ceases when you withdraw will from
action, or as utterance fails when you remove thought from speech, or as
motion ceases when you remove impetus; in a word, as an effect perishes
when you remove the cause.

[3] Every created thing is endowed with energy, indeed, but this does
nothing of itself but from Him who implanted it. Examine any other
earthly object, like a silkworm, bee or other small creature. View it
first naturally, then rationally, and at length spiritually, and if you
can think deeply, you will be astounded at all you see. Let wisdom speak
in you, and you will exclaim in astonishment, "Who does not see the
divine in such things? They are all of divine wisdom." Still more will
you exclaim, if you note the uses of all created things, how they mount
in regular order even to the human being, and from man to the Creator
whence they are, and that the connection, and if you will acknowledge it,
the preservation also of them all, depend on the conjunction of the
Creator with man. That divine love created all things, but nothing apart
from the divine wisdom, will be seen in what follows.

4. (ii) _Divine love and wisdom proceed as one from the Lord._ This, too,
is plain from what was shown in the work _Divine Love and Wisdom,_
especially in the propositions: "Esse and existere are distinguishably
one in the Lord" (nn. 14-17); "Infinite things are distinguishably one in
Him" (nn. 17-22); "Divine love is of divine wisdom, and divine wisdom of
divine love" (nn. 34-39); "Love not married to wisdom cannot effect
anything" (nn. 401-403); "Love does nothing except in union with wisdom"
(nn. 409, 410); "Spiritual heat and light, proceeding from the Lord as a
sun, make one as divine love and wisdom make one in Him" (nn. 99-102).
The truth of the present proposition is plain from these propositions,
demonstrated in that treatise. But as it is not known how two distinct
things can act as one, I wish now to show that there is no "one" apart
from form, and that the form itself makes it a unit; then, that a form
makes a "one" the more perfectly as the elements entering into it are
distinctly different and yet united.

[2] _There is no "one" apart from form, and the form itself makes it a
unit._ Everyone who brings his mind to bear on the matter can see clearly
that there is no "one" apart from form, and if a thing exists at all, it
is a form. For what exists at all derives from form what is known as its
character and its predicates, its changes of state, also its relevance,
and so on. A thing without form has no way of affecting us, and what has
no power of affecting, has no reality. It is form which enables to all
this. And as all things have a form, then if the form is perfect, all
things in it regard each other mutually, as link does link in a chain. It
follows that it is form which makes a thing a unit and thus an entity of
which character, state, affection or anything else can be predicated;
each is predicated of it according to the perfection of the form.

[3] Such a unit is every object which meets the eye in the world. Such,
too, is everything not seen with the eye, whether in interior nature or
in the spiritual world. The human being is such a unit, human society is,
likewise the church, and in the Lord's view the whole angelic heaven,
too; in short, all creation in general and in every particular. For each
and all things to be forms, He who created all things must be form
itself, and all things made must be from that form. This, therefore, was
also demonstrated in the work _Divine Love and Wisdom,_ as that "Divine
love and wisdom are substance and form" (nn. 40-43); "Divine love and
wisdom are form itself, thus the one Self and the single independent
existence" (nn. 44-46); "Divine love and wisdom are one in the Lord" (nn.
14-17, 18-22), "and proceed as one from Him" (nn. 99-102, and elsewhere).

[4] _A form makes a one the more perfectly as the elements entering into
it are distinctly different and yet united._ This hardly falls into a
comprehension not elevated, for the appearance is that a form cannot make
a one except as its elements are quite alike. I have spoken with angels
often on the subject. They said that this is a secret perceived clearly
by their wiser men, obscurely by the less wise. They said it is the truth
that a form is the more perfect as its constituents are distinctly
different and yet severally united. They established the fact from the
societies which in the aggregate constitute the form of heaven, and from
the angels of a society, for as these are different and free and love

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