254. III. CONFIRMATIONS FROM THE RELIGIOUS CONDITIONS OF VARIOUS PEOPLES AGAINST THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE. (Summarised in n. 238.) 1. The merely natural man confirms himself against the Divine Providence when he regards the religious conditions of the various peoples, observing that there are some who are totally ignorant of God, and some who worship the sun and moon, and some who worship idols and graven images. Those who draw arguments from these circumstances against the Divine Providence are ignorant of the interior truths (arcana) of heaven. These are innumerable, but man is acquainted with scarcely any of them. Among these is this, that man is not taught immediately from heaven but mediately, as may be seen treated above (n. 154-174). Because man is taught mediately, and the Gospel by means of missionaries could not reach all who dwell in the whole world, and yet religion could be passed on in various ways even to the nations who occupy the remote corners of the earth, therefore this has been effected by the Divine Providence. For a knowledge of religion does not come to a man from himself, but through another who has either learned it himself from the Word or by tradition from others who have learned it, as that there is a God, that there are a heaven and a hell, that there is a life after death, and that God must be Worshipped in order that man may be made happy.  That religion was spread throughout the whole world from the Ancient Word and afterwards from the Israelitish Word may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE (n. 101-103); and that unless there had been a Word no one could have had any knowledge of God, of heaven and of hell, of the life after death, still less of the Lord (n. 114-118 in the same work). When once a religion is established in a nation the Lord leads that nation according to the precepts and dogmas of its own religion; and He has provided that in every religion there should be precepts similar to those in the Decalogue; as, that God is to be worshipped, His name is not to be profaned, a holy day is to be observed, parents are to be honoured, murder, adultery, and theft are not to be committed, and false witness is not to be spoken. The nation which regards these precepts as Divine and lives according to them as a matter of religion is saved, as has just been stated above (n. 253). Moreover, most nations remote from the Christian world regard those laws not as civil but as Divine and hold them sacred. That man is saved by a life according to those precepts may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM [CONCERNING LIFE] FROM THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE DECALOGUE, from beginning to end.  Among the interior truths of heaven there is this also: The angelic heaven before the Lord is as one Man, whose soul and life is the Lord. This Divine Man is in every particular of His form a Man, not only as to the external members and organs but also as to the internal members and organs which are more in number; and also as to the skins, membranes, cartilages and bones; but in that Man all these, both external and internal, are not material but spiritual. Further, it has been provided by the Lord that those who could not be reached by the Gospel, but only by a form of religion, should also have a place in that Divine Man, that is, in heaven, by constituting those parts that are called skins, membranes, cartilages and bones, and that they like others should be in heavenly joy. For it makes no difference whether they are in such joy as that experienced by the angels of the highest heaven or by the angels of the lowest heaven, since every one who enters heaven comes into the highest joy of his own heart; anything greater he does not assume, for he would be suffocated by it.  For illustration of this compare a peasant and a king. A peasant may be in a state of the highest joy when he goes about in a new suit of rough home-spun, and sits down at a table on which is pork, a piece of beef cheese, beer and fiery wine; and he would be distressed at heart if he were to be clothed like a king in purple, silk, gold and silver, and if a table were to be set for him with delicacies and costly food of many kinds with noble wine. From this it is clear that there is heavenly happiness for the last as well as for the first, for each in his degree; and consequently for those also who are outside the Christian world, provided they shun evils as sins against God because they are contrary to religion.  There are a few who are totally ignorant of God. If these have lived a moral life they are instructed by angels after death and receive in their moral life something spiritual. This may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE (n. 116). It is the same with those who worship the sun and the moon, believing God to be in them. They do not know otherwise, and therefore this is not imputed to them as a sin, for the Lord says:
If ye were blind (that is, if ye did not know), ye should have no sin. John ix. 41. But there are many who worship idols and graven images, even in the Christian world. This is indeed idolatrous, and yet not with all; as there are some to whom graven images serve as a means of arousing thought concerning God; for it is by virtue of influx from heaven that those who acknowledge God desire to see Him; and as they are not able to raise their minds above sensual things, like the interiorly spiritual worshippers, their thought of God is aroused by the graven object or image. Those are saved who do this, and who do not worship the image itself as God, if they also live according to the precepts of the Decalogue from a principle of religion.  Hence it is clear that as the Lord desires the salvation of all He has also provided that everyone, if he lives well, may have some place in heaven. Before the Lord heaven is as one Man; thus heaven corresponds to all things in general and in particular that are in man; and there are also those who represent skins, membranes, cartilages and bones. This may be seen in the work HEAVEN AND HELL, published in London, 1758 (n. 59-102); and in the ARCANA COELESTIA (n. 5552-5569) (Original Edition 5564); and also above (n. 201-204).