Why is it that the evil often prosper?
The question of Divine Providence troubles many people.
We can best explain this mystery by quoting the words of Swedenborg from the work entitled the New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine:
- Why is it that the evil often prosper, while the good suffer hard things?
- Is the Lord’s hand weak?
- Or does He not do what is just?
"They who think of the Divine Providence from worldly affairs conclude that its working is of a general nature, and that particulars depend upon human agencies. But such persons are unacquainted with the mysteries of heaven, because they form their conclusions under the influence of the love of self and the love of the world, and of their gross delights.The Lord is always caring for man, preparing him for the greatest happiness, and developing him to the greatest extent possible. The hardships and trials that we go through, the sufferings of this life, are but as a moment in His sight. As a mother digs out a thorn from her child’s finger, so the Lord permits us to undergo trials, always with the object of removing some evil, some fault. No man can know what is best; the Lord alone can judge whether happiness or sorrow will lead man to heaven the more readily. If a man chooses hell, then God so works that the evils into which he goes will be as mild as possible. Even in hell the Lord is always working to keep those who are there from sinking into worse evils.
"Hence, when they see the wicked exalted to honor, and acquiring riches more than the good, and when they see success attending the devices of the evil, they say in their hearts that these things would not be so, if Providence were everywhere working, and if it reached to every detail of the life of man. They do not consider that the Divine Providence does not regard that which is fleeting and passes away, and which comes to an end with the life of man in this world, but that it regards that which remains to eternity, and which has no end.
"It may be said of that which has no end that it really is, but of that which has an end that relatively it does not exist. Let him who is able consider whether a hundred thousand years be anything compared to eternity, and he will see that they are nothing. What, then, are a few years of life in this world?
"Whosoever rightly considers the subject may know that worldly rank and riches are not real Divine blessings, bestowed on man by the Lord, although men call them so; for they pass away and also seduce many. But that eternal life and happiness are real blessings bestowed on man by the Lord, He Himself plainly teaches in these words:
"'Provide for yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in heaven that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' (Luke 12: 33, 34.)"
(N.J. H. D. 269, 270.)
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