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THAT THE JEWISH LAW WAS FIGURATIVE. - 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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THAT THE JEWISH LAW WAS FIGURATIVE.
CONTRADICTION.—It is not possible to give a good expression to a portrait save by bringing all contraries into harmony, and it is not enough to dwell upon a series of accordant qualities, without reconciling the contraries. To understand the meaning of an author we must harmonise all the contrary passages.
Thus, to understand Scripture, we must find a sense in which all the contrary passages are reconciled; it is not enough to have one which agrees with many consonant passages, but we must find one which reconciles even dissonant passages.
Every author has a sense in which all the contradictory passages agree, or he has no meaning at all. The latter cannot be said of Scripture and the prophets, which assuredly abound in good sense. We must then seek for a meaning which harmonises all contraries.
The true sense then is not that of the Jews, but in Jesus Christ all dissonances are brought into harmony.
The Jews could not make the cessation of the royalty and principality foretold by Hosea accord with the prophecy of Jacob.
If we take the law, the sacrifices, the kingdom as realities, we cannot reconcile all the passages. Of necessity then they are but figures. We cannot even reconcile the passages of the same author, nor of the same book, nor sometimes of the same chapter, which abundantly denotes what was the meaning of the author. As when Ezekiel, chap. xx., says that man will live by the commandments of God and will not live by them.
It was not lawful to sacrifice elsewhere than at Jerusalem, the place which the Lord had chosen, nor even to eat the tithes in any other place. Deut. xii. 5, etc.; Deut. xiv. 23, etc.; xv. 20; xvi. 2-15.
Hosea foretold that the Jews should be without king, without prince, without sacrifice and without idols, which is accomplished at this day, since they are not able to make a lawful sacrifice out of Jerusalem.
Types.—If the law and the sacrifices are the truth it must be pleasing to God, and not displeasing to him. If they are figures they must be both pleasing and displeasing.
Now through the whole of Scripture they are both pleasing and displeasing. It is said that the law shall be changed, that the sacrifice shall be changed, that they shall be without law, without a prince and without sacrifices, that a new covenant shall be made, that the law shall be renewed, that the precepts which they have received are not good, that their sacrifices are abominations, that God has required none of them.
It is said, on the contrary, that the law shall abide for ever, that the covenant shall be eternal, that sacrifice shall be eternal, that the sceptre shall never depart from among them, because it shall not depart from them till the coming of the eternal King.
Now are all these passages obviously literal? No. Are they obviously typical? No, they are obviously either real or typical. But the first set, which bar a literal interpretation, prove that the whole are typical.
All these passages together cannot apply to the thing signified, all can apply to the type, therefore they are not spoken of the thing signified, but of the type.
Agnus occisus estab origine mundi. A sacrificing judge.
Types.—God willing to form to himself an holy people, whom he should separate from all other nations, whom he should deliver from their enemies, and should establish in a place of rest, has not only promised this, but has foretold by his prophets the time and the manner of his coming. And yet, to confirm the hope of his elect through all ages, he made them to see it in a figure, but never left them without assurances of his power and of his will to save them. For at the creation of man, Adam was the witness, and the guardian of the promise made concerning the Saviour who should be born of the woman, when men were still so near the creation that they could not have forgotten their creation and their fall. When those who had seen Adam were no longer in the world, God sent Noah, whom he saved, and drowned the whole earth by a miracle which marked sufficiently both the power which he had to save the world, and the will which he had to do so; and to raise up of the seed of the woman him whom he had promised.
This miracle was enough to confirm the hope of men. The memory of the deluge being fresh among men while Noah was still living, God made promises to Abraham, and while Shem was still living God sent Moses, etc. . . .
Types.—God, willing to deprive his own of perishable possessions, made the Jewish people in order to show that this arose from no lack of power.
The Jews had grown old in these earthly thoughts, that God loved their father Abraham, his flesh, and all that would spring from it; that for this reason he had multiplied them, and set them apart from all other peoples, without allowing them to intermingle; that when they were languishing in Egypt he brought them out with many wonderful signs in their favour; that he fed them with manna in the wilderness, and brought them out into a very fat land; that he gave them kings and a well-built temple, there to offer beasts before him, by the shedding of whose blood they were purified; that at last he would send Messiah to make them masters of the whole world, and foretold the time of his coming.
The world having grown old in these carnal errors, Jesus Christ came at the time foretold, but not with the expected glory, and therefore men did not think it was he. After his death Saint Paul came to teach that all these things had happened in figures, that the Kingdom of God was not in the flesh, but in the spirit; that the enemies of men were not the Babylonians, but the passions; that God delighted not in temples made with hands, but in a pure and contrite heart; that bodily circumcision was unprofitable, but that of the heart was needed; that Moses gave them not that bread from heaven, etc.
But God, not willing to disclose these things to a people unworthy of them, yet nevertheless willing to foretell them, in order that they might be believed, foretold the time clearly, and expressed the things sometimes clearly, but generally in figures, so that those who loved the emblems might rest in them, and those who loved the things figured might see them therein.
All that tends not to charity is figurative.
The sole aim of the Scripture is charity.
All which tends not to that only end is figurative, for since there is but one end, all which does not refer to it in express terms is figurative.
God has so varied that sole precept of charity to satisfy our curiosity, which seeks for diversity, by that diversity which still leads us to the one thing needful. For one only thing is needful, yet we love diversity, and God satisfies both by these diversities, which lead to the one thing needful.
The Jews so loved the mere shadows, and waited for them so entirely, that they misunderstood the substance, when it came in the time and manner foretold.
The rabbis take the breasts of the Spouse for figures, as they do every thing which does not express the only aim they had, that of temporal good.
And Christians take even the Eucharist as a type of the glory for which they strive.
Charity is no figurative precept. It is horrible to say that Jesus Christ, who came to take away the figure and establish the truth, came only to establish the type of charity and take away the existing reality.
If the light be darkness, what must the darkness be?
When David foretold that Messiah would deliver his people from their enemies, we may believe that these according to the flesh were the Egyptians, and then I know not how to show that the prophecy was fulfilled. But we may well believe also that the enemies were their sins, for in truth the Egyptians were not their enemies, and their sins were. This word enemies is therefore equivocal.
But if he say, as in fact he does elsewhere, that he will save his people from their sins, as do also Isaiah and others, the ambiguity is removed, and the double sense of enemies is reduced to the single sense of iniquities. For if he had sins in his mind he might well denote them by the word enemies, but if he thought of enemies, he could not designate them by the word iniquities.
Now Moses, David, and Isaiah employ the same terms. Who will say then that they have not all the same meaning, and that the sense of David which is plainly that of iniquities when he spoke of enemies, is not the same as that of Moses when speaking of enemies.
Daniel prays that the people may be delivered from the captivity of their enemies, but he was thinking of sins, and to show this, he says that Gabriel came to tell him that his prayer was heard, and that there were only seventy weeks to wait, after which the nation would be delivered from iniquity, that sin would have an end, and the Redeemer, the Most Holy, should bring in eternal righteousness, not legal, but eternal.
The Jews had a doctrine of God as we have one of Jesus Christ, and confirmed by miracles; they were forbidden to believe every worker of miracles, and more, they were ordered to have recourse to the chief priests, on whom only they should rely.
Thus, in regard to their prophets, they had all those reasons which we have for refusing to believe the workers of miracles.
And yet they were very blameworthy in refusing the prophets because of their miracles, and had not been blameworthy had they not seen the miracles. Nisi fecissem , peccatum non haberent.
Therefore all belief rests on miracles.
Whoever estimates the Jewish religion by its coarser minds will know it but ill. It is to be seen in the sacred books, and in the tradition of the prophets, who have made it plain enough that they did not understand the law according to the letter. So our Religion is divine in the Gospel, in the Apostles, and in tradition, but ridiculous in those who corrupt it.
The Messiah, according to the carnal Jews, was to be a mighty temporal prince. Jesus Christ, according to carnal Christians, has come to dispense us from the love of God, and to give us sacraments which shall operate without our concurrence. This is no more the Christian religion than was the other the Jewish.
True Jews and true Christians have always expected a Messiah who should inspire them with the love of God, and by that love should make them triumph over all their enemies.
The carnal Jews hold a midway place between Christians and Pagans. The Pagans know not God, and love this world only. The Jews know the true God, and love this world only. Christians know the true God, and love not the world. Jews and Pagans love the same good. Jews and Christians know the same God.
The Jews were of two kinds, one having merely Pagan, the other having Christian affections.
The carnal Jews understood neither the greatness nor the humiliation of Messiah as foretold by their prophecies. They misunderstood him in his foretold greatness, as when he said that Messiah should be lord of David, though his son, and that he was before Abraham who yet had seen him. They did not believe him so great as to be eternal, and so too they misunderstood him in his humiliation and in his death. Messiah, said they, abideth for ever, and this man has said that he shall die. They believed him then neither mortal nor eternal, and they only looked in him for a carnal greatness.
Typical.—God availed himself of the lust of the Jews to make them avail for Jesus Christ.
Typical.—Nothing is so like charity as covetousness, and nothing is so contrary to it. Thus the Jews, full of possessions which flattered their covetousness, were very like Christians and very contrary. And by this means they had the two qualities which were necessary to them, to be very like the Messiah in order to be figures of him, and very contrary that they might not be suspected witnesses.
Antiquity of the Jews.—What difference there is between book and book. I am not surprised that the Greeks made the Iliad, nor the Egyptians and the Chinese their histories.
We have only to see how this comes about. These fabulous historians are not contemporaneous with the facts they narrate. Homer writes a romance, which he puts forth as such, and which is received as such, for no one supposed that Troy or Agamemnon existed more than did the golden apple. So he thought not of making a history, but solely a book to amuse; he is the only man who wrote in his time, the beauty of his work has made it last, every one learns it and talks of it, we are bound to know it, and we each get it by heart. Four hundred years afterwards the witnesses of these things are no more, no one knows of his own knowledge if it be fable or history; he has only learnt it from his ancestors, and this may pass for true.
The sincerity of the Jews.—They preserve with faithfulness and zeal the book in which Moses declares that they have been all their life ungrateful to God, and that he knows they will be still more so after his death; that he therefore calls heaven and earth to witness against them, and that he has taught them enough.
He declares that finally God, being angry with them, would scatter them among all the nations of the earth, that as they have angered him, in worshipping gods who were not their God, so he will provoke them by calling a people which is not his people, and wills that all his words shall be eternally preserved, and that his book shall be placed in the Ark of the Covenant to serve for ever as a witness against them.
Isaiah says the same thing, xxx. 8.
However, they have kept at the cost of their life this very book which dishonours them in so many ways. This is a sincerity which has no example in the world, and no root in nature.
Every history which is not contemporaneous is open to suspicion, thus the books of the Sibyls and Trismegistus and so many others which have been credited by the world are false, and found to be false in the course of time. It is not so with contemporaneous authors.
There is a great difference between a book written by a private man, and dispersed among a whole people, and a book which itself creates a people. We cannot doubt that the book is as old as the people.
The sincerity of the Jews.
Defective and final letters.
Sincere against their honour, and dying in its defence; this has no example in the world’s history, and no root in nature.
They are visibly a people expressly formed to serve as witnesses to the Messiah, Isaiah xliii. 9; xliv. 8, they bear the books, and love them while they understand them not. And all this was foretold, that God’s judgments might be entrusted to them, but as a sealed book.
Types.—When once the secret is disclosed it is impossible not to see it. If the Old Testament be read in this light, we shall see if the sacrifices were real; if the fatherhood of Abraham was the true cause of the friendship of God; that the promised land was not the true place of rest. These were then but types. If in the same way we examine all those ordained ceremonies, and all those commandments which are not of charity, we shall see that they are types.
All these sacrifices and ceremonies were then either figures or absurdities. But there are things which are clear, and yet too lofty for us to think them absurdities.
Adam forma futuri. Six days to form the one, six ages to form the other. The six days which Moses represents for the formation of Adam, are but the representation of the six ages to form Jesus Christ and the Church. If Adam had not sinned, and Jesus Christ had not come, there had been only one covenant, only one age of men, and the creation would have been represented as done at one single time.
The six ages, the six Fathers of the six ages, the six miracles at the opening of the six ages, the six mornings at the opening of the six ages.
Types.—The Jewish and Egyptian peoples were visibly foretold by the two men whom Moses met, the Egyptian beating the Jew, Moses avenging him and slaying the Egyptian while the Jew was ungrateful.
The conversion of the Egyptians, Isaiah xix. 19. An altar in Egypt to the true God.
The sabbath was only a sign, Exodus xxxi. 13, and in memory of the deliverance from Egypt. Deut. v. 19. Therefore it is no more necessary, for we ought to forget Egypt.
Circumcision was only a sign, Gen. xvii. 11, therefore it came to pass that in the desert they were not circumcised, because they could not be confounded with other peoples, and after Jesus Christ came it was no longer needful.
Those who ordained these sacrifices knew their uselessness, and those who have declared their uselessness, ceased not to practise them.
Your name shall be accursed to my elect, and I will give them another name.
Harden their heart. How? By flattering their lust, and making them hope to accomplish it.
Fac secundum exemplarquod tibi ostensum est in monte.
The Jewish religion then was formed on its likeness to the truth of the Messiah, and the truth of the Messiah was recognised by the religion of the Jews which was the figure of it.
Among the Jews the truth was only prefigured. In heaven it is revealed.
In the Church it is hidden, yet recognised by its correspondence with the type.
The type was made according to the truth, and the truth is recognised according to the type.
Saint Paul says himself that people would forbid to marry, and he himself speaks to the Corinthians in a way which is a trap. For if a prophet had said the one, and Saint Paul had afterwards said the other, he would have been accused.
Typical.—Make all things like unto the pattern which was showed thee in the mount. On which Saint Paul says that the Jews shadowed forth heavenly things.
Typical.—The key of the cipher. Veri adoratores . Ecce agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi.
That the law was typical. Types.—The letter kills. All happened in a figure. This is the cipher which Saint Paul gives us. Christ must suffer. An humiliated God. Circumcision of the heart, a true fast, a true sacrifice, a true temple. The prophets indicated that all these must be spiritual.
Not the meat which perishes, but that which perishes not.
You shall be free indeed. Then the former liberty was only a type of liberty.
I am the true bread from heaven.
Particular types.—A double law, double tables of the law, a double temple, a double captivity.
The Synagogue did not perish because it was a type, but because it was no more than a type it fell into servitude. The type subsisted till the reality came, in order that the Church should be always visible, either in the representation which promised it, or in the substance.
In the time of the Messiah the people were divided. Those that were spiritual embraced the Messiah, the carnal remained to serve as witnesses of him.
[P. 168, l. 34.]Agnus occisus est. Apoc. xiii. 8.
[P. 170, l. 28.]the breasts of the Spouse. Song of Songs, iv. 5.
[P. 171, l. 37.]Nisi fecissem. A partial citation of Joh. xv. 24.
[P. 175, l. 1.]Adam forma futuri, ad Rom. v. 14.
[P. 175, l. 10.]the six mornings, This passage is taken from S. Aug. De Genesi contra Manichæos, i. 23. Pascal probably intending to write les six orients, dawns or mornings, his amanuensis has written les six arians, a source of much misunderstanding. The six mornings are, the creation; the deliverance from the Ark; the call of Abraham; the carrying away into Babylon; the preaching of Jesus.
[P. 175, l. 33.]Fac secundum exemplar. Exod. xxv. 40, but the Vulgate has monstratum.
[P. 176, l. 11.]Saint Paul says. 1 Cor. vii.; 1. Tim, iv. 3.
[P. 176, l. 17.]On which Saint Paul says. Heb. viii. 5.
[P. 176, l. 19.]Veri adoratores. Joh. iv. 23. Ecce agnus Dei. Joh. i. 29.