1174. Saying, What is like this great city.- That this signifies astonishment that that doctrine and religion should be destroyed, is evident from the signification of the great city, which is Babylon, as denoting its doctrine and religion; for a city signifies doctrine, and Babylon its religion, as above (n. 1134); astonishment at their destruction is signified by their crying out and saying, "What is like it," and follows from their seeing the smoke of her burning.
 Continuation.- But how the Lord enters by influx, and how man is led accordingly, cannot be known from any other source than the spiritual world. In that world is man as to his spirit, thus as to his affections and consequent thoughts; for thoughts and affections constitute the spirit of man. It is this that thinks from its own affection, and not the body. The affections of man, from which his thoughts proceed, extend into the societies in the spiritual world in every direction, into a greater or less number of them, according to the extent and quality of his affection. Within those societies is man, as to his spirit, attached to them as it were with long cords, which limit the space in which he can walk. Then as he proceeds from one affection to another, so he passes from one society to another, and whatever society he is in, and wherever he is in the society, there is the centre from which his affection and its thought go forth to all the other societies as to circumferences. These societies are thus in unbroken connection with the affection of the centre, and from this affection lie at the time thinks and speaks.
Man acquires for himself this sphere - which is the sphere of his affections and their thoughts - while in the world; if evil, he is in hell; if good, he is in heaven. He is not aware that this is the case, because he is ignorant of the fact that such things exist. Through these societies the man, that is, his mind, walks free, although bound; and the Lord leads him, nor does he take a step in which and from which he is not so led. Moreover, it is continually provided that he should have no other knowledge than that he goes of himself in full liberty; he is permitted to persuade himself of this, because it is from a law of Divine Providence that a man should be taken whither his affection wills. If his affection is evil, he is taken round through infernal societies, and if he does not look to the Lord, he is brought into them more interiorly and deeply, but still the Lord leads him as it were by the hand, by permitting and withdrawing him so far as the man is willing to follow from freedom. On the other hand, if he looks to the Lord, he is led forth from those societies successively, according to the order and connection in which they are; and this order and connection are known to none but the Lord alone. It is in this way that he is brought by continual steps out of hell upwards towards heaven, and into heaven.
 This is effected by the Lord without man's knowledge, since if man were aware of it, he would disturb the continuity of that progress by being his own guide. It is sufficient for him to learn truths from the Word, and by truths what goods are, and from truths and goods what evils and falsities are, in order that he may be affected by truths and goods, and uninfluenced by falsities and evils. He may indeed know evils and falsities before he knows goods and truths, but he cannot see them and perceive them. It is in this way and no other that man can be led from affection to affection in freedom and as if of himself. If he acknowledges the Divine Providence of the Lord in everything, he is then led in agreement with his affection for good and truth; but if he does not acknowledge the Divine Providence of the Lord, he is then led in agreement with his affection for evil and falsity, by permission. Then also he can be led in no other way so as to be able to receive intelligence corresponding to affection, for he receives this, so far as he fights from truths against evils as if of himself. It is necessary for this to be revealed, because it is not known that the Divine Providence is continual, and in the most minute particulars of man's life, and this because the mode of its operation is unknown.