The reason why the Divine Providence permits the wicked at heart to be advanced to dignities and to acquire wealth – The impious or wicked can perform uses equally with the pious or the good; and, indeed, with greater zeal, for they have regard to themselves in the uses, and they regard the honours as uses. Therefore, whatever the height to which the love of self mounts up there burns within it the consuming desire of performing uses for the sake of its own glory. With the pious or good there is no such fire unless it is kindled from below by some feeling of honour. Therefore, the Lord governs the wicked at heart who are in positions of dignity by the reputation of their name, and moves them to perform uses to the community or country, society or city in which they dwell, and also to the fellow-citizen or neighbour with whom they associate. This is the Lord’s government, which is called the Divine Providence, with such; for the Lord’s kingdom is a kingdom of uses; and where there are but few who perform uses for the sake of uses He causes worshippers of self to be raised to the higher offices, in which everyone is moved to do good by means of his own love. …
This is established also by these words of the Lord:
The lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this age (A.V. world) Are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. Luke 16:8, 9.
It is clear what is meant by these words in the natural sense; but in the spiritual sense by the mammon of unrighteousness are meant the rational conceptions of truth and good possessed by the wicked, which they employ solely to acquire for themselves dignities and wealth. It is these knowledges of which the good or the children of light are to make themselves friends, and which shall receive them into everlasting habitations. That many are lovers of self and the world, and that few are lovers of God, the Lord teaches in these words:
Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: but narrow and strait is the way (A.V. because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way) which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt. 7:13, 14.
It makes no difference whether the general is an upright man or not because the wicked perform uses as well as the good, and the wicked from their own zeal with more ardour than the good. Especially is this the case in wars because the wicked man is more crafty and cunning in contriving devices; and from a love of glory he takes more delight than a good man in killing and plundering those whom he knows and declares to be his enemies. The good man is prudent and zealous only in defence, and rarely does he exercise his prudence and zeal in attacking others. It is the same with spirits of hell and angels of heaven; the spirits of hell attack while the angels of heaven defend themselves. Hence is deduced this conclusion, that it is allowable for anyone to defend his country and his fellow-citizens against invading enemies, even by means of wicked generals, but that it is not allowable to make oneself an enemy without cause. When the cause is to seek glory alone it is in itself diabolical, for it springs from the love of self.