Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. - The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal
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OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. - 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).
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I SEE the Christian Religion founded on an earlier Religion, and this is what I find of positive fact.
I do not here speak of the miracles of Moses, of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles, because they do not at first seem convincing, and because I only wish here to adduce in evidence all those foundations of the Christian Religion which are beyond a doubt, and on which doubt cannot be cast by any person soever. It is certain that we see in many places in the world a peculiar people, separated from all other peoples of the world, which is called the Jewish people.
I see then a mass of religions in many countries, and in all times, but they neither please me by their morality, nor convince me by their proofs. Thus I should equally have refused the religion of Mahomet and of China, of the ancient Romans and of the Egyptians, for the sole reason, that none having more marks of truth than another, nor any thing which necessarily decides me, reason cannot incline to one rather than the other.
But while I consider this vacillating and strange variety of morals and beliefs at different times, I find in one corner of the world a peculiar people, separated from all other nations upon earth, the oldest of all, and whose histories are earlier by many ages than the most ancient in our possession.
I find then this great and numerous people, sprung from a single man, who adore one God, and guide themselves by a law, given them as they say, by his own hand. They maintain that to them alone in the world God has revealed his mysteries, that all men are corrupt and under the wrath of God, are all abandoned to their senses and imagination, whence arise the strange errors and continual changes among them, both of religions and of manners, whereas this nation remains unshaken in its conduct: but that God will not leave other nations in darkness for ever, that there will come a Saviour for all, that they are in the world to announce his coming, that they were expressly formed to be the forerunners and heralds of this great advent, and to call on all nations to join with them in the expectation of this Redeemer.
Advantages of the Jewish people.—In this search the Jewish people at first attracts my attention by a number of wonderful and singular things which appear among them.
I see first that they are a people wholly composed of brethren, and whereas all others are formed by the assemblage of an infinity of families, this, though so prodigiously fruitful, has sprung from one man only, and being thus all one flesh, and members one of another, they form a powerful state consisting of one family, a fact without example.
This family or nation is the most ancient known to men, a fact which seems to invest it with a peculiar veneration, especially in regard to our present enquiry, because if God has during all time revealed himself to men, these are they from whom we must learn the tradition.
This people is not peculiar only by their antiquity, but also remarkable by their duration, which has been unbroken from their origin till now. For while the nations of Greece and Italy, of Lacedæmon, Athens and Rome, and others who came after, have long been extinct, these still remain, and in spite of the endeavours of many powerful princes who have a hundred times striven to destroy them, as their historians testify, and as we can easily understand by the natural order of things during so long a space of years, they have nevertheless been preserved, and extending from the earliest times to the latest, their history comprehends in its duration all our histories.
The Law by which this people is governed is at once the most ancient law in the world, the most perfect, and the only one which has been kept without interruption in a State. This is what Josephus excellently shows, against Apion, as does Philo the Jew in many places, where they point out that it is so ancient that the very name of law was only known by the men of old more than a thousand years afterwards, so that Homer, who has treated the history of so many States, has not once used the word. And it is easy to judge of the perfection of the Law by simply reading it, for it plainly provides for all things with so great wisdom, equity and judgment, that the most ancient legislators, Greek and Roman, having had some glimpse of it, have borrowed from it their principal laws, as appears by those called Of the Twelve Tables, and by the other proofs given by Josephus.
Yet this Law is at the same time severe and rigorous beyond all others in respect to their religious worship, constraining the people, in order to keep them in their duty, to a thousand peculiar and painful observances, on pain of death. Whence it is a most astonishing fact that it has been constantly preserved during many ages by a people so rebellious and impatient, while all other States have changed their laws from time to time, although they are far more lenient.
The book containing this Law, the first of all laws, is itself the most ancient book in the world, those of Homer, Hesiod and others dating from six or seven hundred years later.
Falsity of other religions.—They have no witnesses; this people has them. God challenges other religions to produce such marks. Is. xliii. 9,—xliv. 8.
This is fact. While all philosophers separate into different sects, there is found in one corner of the world, a people, the most ancient in the world, declaring that all the world is in error, that God has revealed to them the truth, that they will abide always on the earth. In fact, all other sects come to an end, this one still endures, and has done so for four thousand years. They assert that they hold from their ancestors that man has fallen from communion with God, is entirely separated from God, but that he has promised to redeem them, that their doctrine shall always exist on the earth;
That their law has a twofold sense, that during sixteen hundred years they have had people whom they believed prophets foretelling both the time and the manner;
That four hundred years after they were scattered everywhere in order that Jesus Christ should be everywhere announced, Jesus Christ came in the manner and time foretold;
That the Jews have since been scattered abroad under a curse, yet nevertheless still exist.
The creation and the deluge being past, and God not intending any more to destroy the world, nor to create it anew, nor to give any such great proofs of himself, he began to establish a people on the earth, formed of set purpose, which should last until the coming of that people whom Messiah should mould by his spirit.
The Jews who were called to subdue the nations and their kings were slaves of sin, and the Christians whose calling has been to be servants and subjects, are free children.
The devil troubled the zeal of the Jews before Jesus Christ, because he would have been their salvation, but not since.
The Jewish people mocked of the Gentiles, the Christian people persecuted.
Republic.—The Christian and even the Jewish Republic has only had God for master, as Philo the Jew notices, On Monarchy.
When they fought, they did so for God alone, their chief hope was in God alone, they considered their towns as belonging to God, and they kept them for God. 1 Chron. xix. 13.
The sceptre was not interrupted by the carrying away into Babylon, because the return was promised and foretold.
A single phrase of David or of Moses, as for instance that God will circumcise the heart, enables us to judge of their spirit. If all the rest of their language was ambiguous, and left it doubtful whether they were philosophers or Christians, one single sentence of this kind would determine all the rest, as one sentence of Epictetus determines the character of the rest to be the contrary. So far we may be in doubt, but not afterwards.
While the prophets were for maintaining the law, the people was negligent, but since there have been no more prophets, zeal has taken their place.
The zeal of the Jewish people for the law, especially since there have been no more prophets.
Maccabees after they had no more prophets. The Masorah after Jesus Christ.
[P. 119.]Of the Jewish People. This position in his intended treatise, before the sections on the Sacred Books and on Prophecy, is that which Pascal himself designed for his remarks on the Jews.
[P. 123, l. 18.]The Masorah. The unwritten tradition of the Jews.