Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE TO THE SECOND PART. - The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND PART. - Blaise Pascal, The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal 
The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal, translated from the text of M. Auguste Molinier by C. Kegan Paul (London: George Bell and Sons, 1901).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND PART.
TO speak of those who have treated of this subject.
I wonder at the boldness with which these persons undertake to speak of God, in addressing their words to the irreligious. Their first chapter is to prove Divinity by the works of nature. I should not be astonished at their undertaking if they addressed their argument to the faithful, for it is certain that those who have a lively faith in their heart see at once that all that exists is none other than the work of the God whom they adore. But for those in whom this light is extinguished, and in whom we desire to revive it, men destitute of faith and grace who, seeking with all their light whatever they see in nature to lead them to this knowledge, find only clouds and darkness,—to tell them they need only look at the smallest things which surround them in order to see God unveiled, to give them as the sole proof of this great and important subject, the course of the moon and planets, and to say that with such an argument we have accomplished the proof; is to give them ground for belief that the proofs of our Religion are very feeble. Indeed I see by reason and experience that nothing is more fitted to excite contempt.
Not after this fashion speaks the Scripture, which knows better than we the things of God. It says, on the contrary, that God is a God who hides himself, and that since nature became corrupt, he has left men in a blindness from which they can only escape by Jesus Christ, and except through him we are cut off from all communication with God. Nemo novitPatrem, nisi Filius, et cui voluerit Filius revelare.
This is what Scripture indicates when it says in so many places that those who seek God find him. It is not of a light like the sun at noonday that they thus speak. No one says that those who seek the sun at noonday, or water in the sea shall find them, and thus it follows that the evidence for God is not of that kind. Therefore it says to us elsewhere: Vere tu esDeus absconditus.
The metaphysical proofs of God are so apart from man’s reason, and so complicated that they are but little striking, and if they are of use to any, it is only during the moment that the demonstration is before them, but an hour afterwards they fear they have been mistaken.
Quod curiositate cognoverint,superbia amiserunt.
Such is the outcome of the knowledge of God gained without Jesus Christ, for this is to communicate without a mediator with the God whom they have known without a mediator.
Instead of which those who have known God by a mediator know their own wretchedness.
Jesus Christ is the goal of all, and the centre to which all tends. Who knows him knows the reason of all things.
Those who go astray only do so from failing to see one of these two things. It is then possible to know God without knowing our wretchedness, and to know our wretchedness without knowing God; but we cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing at the same time God and our wretchedness.
Therefore I do not here undertake to prove by natural reasons either the existence of God or the Trinity, or the immortality of the soul, nor anything of that sort, not only because I do not feel myself strong enough to find in nature proofs to convince hardened atheists, but also, because this knowledge without Jesus Christ is useless and barren. Though a man should be persuaded that the proportions of numbers are immaterial truths, eternal, and dependent on a first truth in whom they subsist, and who is called God, I should not consider him far advanced towards his salvation.
The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements, as is the god of the heathen and of Epicureans. Nor is he merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortunes of men, to crown his worshippers with length of happy years. Such was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and consolation, a God who fills the souls and hearts of his own, a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness, and his infinite mercy, who unites himself to their inmost spirit, filling it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, rendering them incapable of any end other than himself.
All who seek God apart from Jesus Christ, and who rest in nature, either find no light to satisfy them, or form for themselves a means of knowing God and serving him without a mediator. Thus they fall either into atheism, or into deism, two things which the Christian religion almost equally abhors.
The God of Christians is a God who makes the soul perceive that he is her only good, that her only rest is in him, her only joy in loving him; who makes her at the same time abhor the obstacles which withhold her from loving him with all her strength. Her two hindrances, self-love and lust, are insupportable to her. This God makes her perceive that the root of self-love destroys her, and that he alone can heal.
The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness creates pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.
[P. 91, l. 28.]Nemo novit. Matt. xi. 27.
[P. 92. l. 7.]Vere tu es. Is xlv. 15, see p. 3, l. 9.
[P. 92, l. 13.]Quod curiositate cognoverint. Probably cited from recollection of Saint Augustine, but the passage is not verbally to be found.