The reason the Lord cannot treat everyone alike from his divine essence, which is goodness, love, and mercy, is that our evil and false preoccupations stand in the way, not only blunting his divine inflow but even rejecting it. These evil and false proclivities are like black clouds that stand between the sun and our eyes and deprive us of the clear sunlight. All the while, the sun is trying to dispel the clouds. It is behind them, working away, and in the meantime a little hazy light does get through to our eyes by various detours. It is much the same in the spiritual world. The sun there is the Lord and divine love (see Sections 116–140), the light there is divine truth (Sections 126–140). The black clouds there are falsities from evil, the eye there is our ability to discern. To the extent that we are absorbed in malevolent falsity, there is a cloud around us whose blackness and density depends on the level of our evil. We can see from this simile that the Lord’s presence with everyone is constant, but that our acceptance varies.
Evil spirits are punished severely in the world of spirits to keep them terrified of doing evil. This too seems to come from the Lord, but still no punishment there does come from the Lord. It comes from the evil itself, since an evil is so closely united to its punishment that they cannot be separated. The hellish mob craves and loves nothing more than inflicting harm, especially punishing and torturing, and they do inflict harm and punishment on anyone who is not being protected by the Lord. So when something evil is being done from an evil heart, since this rejects any protection by the Lord, evil spirits assail the evildoer and inflict punishment.
To some extent, this can be illustrated by evil deeds and their punishments in the world, where they are also united. The laws here set penalties for each crime, so anyone who plunges into evil is plunging into its punishment as well. The only difference is that in the world, evil can be hidden, which cannot happen in the other life.
We can therefore conclude that the Lord does not do harm to anyone. It is like this in the world as well. It is not the king or the judge or the law that is responsible for the punishment of the guilty, because they are not responsible for the evil of the criminal.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 549-550
Sections 116-140: Published 11/15/2016-12/2/2016