Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5854

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5854. The Lord sees to it that spirits should flow into a person's thoughts and desires, but that angels should flow into the ends he has in view and so through those ends into whatever ensues from them. The angels also flow by means of good spirits into the various good deeds he does in life and the truths he believes, and they use these to lead him away as far as possible from evils and falsities. This inflowing takes place silently, without the person knowing it; but even though it is hidden it works effectively. Above all the angels turn aside ends that are evil and introduce ones that are good. If this is not possible they withdraw; and the less possible it is, the further they withdraw and the more remote the position is from which they inflow, with the result that the evil spirits draw closer. For the angels cannot be present within evil ends, that is, within self-love and love of the world; even so, they remain present, but remotely so.

[2] The Lord could by means of angels use almighty force to lead a person to have good ends in view; but that would be to take the person's life away from him, since his life consists of loves entirely contrary to those ends. It is therefore an inviolable law of God that a person should be left in freedom, and that goodness and truth, or charity and faith, should be implanted when he is in freedom, and by no means under compulsion. For what is received in a state of compulsion does not remain but disperses. Compelling a person to do something is not the same as instilling it into his will, for under compulsion the person must do someone else's will; when therefore his own will, that is, his own freedom, is restored to him, whatever was instilled under compulsion is rooted out. For this reason the Lord governs people by means of their freedom and restrains them as far as possible from the freedom of thinking and willing what is evil. For unless restrained by the Lord they would be constantly hurling themselves into the deepest hell. It has just been stated that the Lord could by means of angels use almighty force to lead a person to have good ends in view; for even if a person is surrounded by tens of thousands of evil spirits, they can be driven away in an instant, and it takes only one angel to do it. But then the person would go through such torment and hell that he could not possibly stand it, for his life would be wrenched from him. For a person's life consists of evil desires and false notions opposed to goodness and truth. Unless evil spirits were used to sustain and thereby correct that life, or at least to guide it, he could not survive one minute. For nothing else takes hold of him but love of self and of gain, and of reputation for selfish and gainful reasons, thus of whatever is contrary to order. So if he were not brought gently and gradually back to a state of order by having his freedom guided he would perish instantly.

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