It Is a Law of Divine Providence That We Should Act in Freedom and in Accord with Reason

It is generally recognized that we have a freedom to think and intend whatever we wish but not a freedom to say whatever we think or to do whatever we wish.

The freedom under discussion here, then, is freedom on the spiritual level and not freedom on the earthly level, except to the extent that the two coincide. Thinking and intending are spiritual, while speaking and acting are earthly. There is a clear distinction between these kinds of freedom in us, since we can think things that we do not express and intend things that we do not act out; so we can see that the spiritual and the earthly in us are differentiated. As a result, we cannot cross the line from one to the other except by making a decision, a decision that can be compared to a door that has first to be unlocked and opened.

This door stands open, though, in people who think and intend rationally, in accord with the civil laws of the state and the moral laws of society. People like this say what they think and do what they wish. In contrast, the door is closed, so to speak, for people who think and intend things that are contrary to those laws. If we pay close attention to our intentions and the deeds they prompt, we will notice that there is this kind of decision between them, sometimes several times in a single conversation or a single undertaking.

I mention this at the outset so that the reader may know that “acting from freedom and in accord with reason” means thinking and intending freely, and then freely saying and doing what is in accord with reason.

from Divine Providence, Section 71

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