332. I. THE OPERATION OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE FOR THE SALVATION OF MAN BEGINS AT HIS BIRTH AND CONTINUES RIGHT ON TO THE END OF HIS LIFE, AND AFTERWARDS TO ETERNITY. It was shown above that a heaven from the human race is the essential end of the creation of the universe, and that this end in its operation and progress is the Divine Providence for the salvation of men; and also that all things which are external to man and which are serviceable for his use are secondary ends of creation; and these in short have relation to all things that exist in the three kingdoms, the animal, the vegetable and the mineral. When the things in these kingdoms constantly proceed according to the laws of Divine order established at their first creation, how can the primary end, which is the salvation of the human race, fail to proceed constantly according to the laws of its order, which are the laws of the Divine Providence?  Just observe a fruit tree. It first springs from a tiny seed as a slender shoot, and afterwards gradually grows to a stem and spreads forth branches which are then covered with leaves. It later puts forth flowers and bears fruit, depositing therein new seeds by which it provides for its perpetuity; and it is the same with every shrub and herb of the field. Do not all things therein, in general and in particular, proceed constantly and wonderfully from one end in view to another according to the laws of their own order? Why then should not the primary end, which is a heaven from the human race, proceed in a similar manner? Can there be anything in the course of its progress which does not proceed with unfailing constancy according to the laws of the Divine Providence?  As there is a correspondence between the life of man and the growth of a tree, draw a parallel or comparison between them. In the language of comparison man's infancy is like the tender shoot of a tree springing out of the earth from the seed; and his childhood and youth are like the shoot growing up to a stem with its little branches. Natural truths which everyone first acquires are like the leaves with which the branches are covered, for leaves in the Word signify these truths. Man's first steps in the marriage of good and truth, that is, the spiritual marriage, are like the flowers which the tree puts forth in the spring-time, and spiritual truths are the petals of these flowers. The earliest results of the spiritual marriage are like the beginnings of the fruit, while spiritual goods, which are the goods of charity, are like the fruit; and these are signified by fruit in the Word. Wisdom's offspring from love resembles the seed, and by such offspring man becomes as a garden and a paradise. Moreover, man is described in the Word by a tree, and his wisdom from love by a garden. This is what is signified by the Garden of Eden.  Man, indeed, is a corrupt tree from the seed; but, nevertheless, there is possible a grafting or budding with shoots taken from the Tree of Life, by which the sap drawn up from the old root is turned into sap forming good fruit. This comparison is made in order that it may be known that when there is so constant a progression of the Divine Providence in the development and regeneration of trees there must be a constant progression in the reformation and regeneration of men, who are of much more value than trees, as we read in these words of the Lord:
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and not one of them is forgotten before God:
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.... Which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow.... If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow Is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith? Luke xii. 6, 7; 25-28.