Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF ORIGINAL SIN. - The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
OF ORIGINAL SIN. - 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.
OF ORIGINAL SIN.
THERE are two truths of faith equally sure: the one, that man in the state of creation, or in that of grace, is raised above all nature, is made like unto God and is a sharer in divinity; the other, that in the state of corruption and sin, he has fallen from the higher state and is made like unto the beasts. These two propositions are equally firm and certain. The Scripture declares it plainly, as when it says in certain places: Deliciæ meæ , esse cum filiis hominum. Effundam spiritum meum super omnem carnem. Dii estis, etc.; and when it says in others: Omnis caro fœnum. Homo comparatus est jumentis insipientibus, et similis factus est illis. Dixi in corde meo de filiis hominum, ut probaret eos Deus et ostenderet similes esse bestiis, etc.
The wicked, who abandon themselves blindly to their passions, without the knowledge of God, and without taking the trouble to seek him, themselves confirm this foundation of the faith which they attack, that the nature of man is corrupt. And the Jews, who so obstinately assail the Christian religion, again confirm that other foundation of the same faith which they assail, namely, that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, who has come to redeem men, and deliver them from the corruption and misery in which they were, as much by the condition in which we see them at this day, and which was foretold by the prophets, as by these same prophecies which they possess and keep so inviolably as the tokens whereby the Messiah is to be recognised.
I would ask them if it is not true that they themselves confirm this foundation of the faith they assail, which is that the nature of man is corrupt.
Marton sees indeed that nature is corrupt, and that men are opposed to honourable conduct, but he knows not why they cannot fly higher.
The meaning of the words good and evil.
Original sin is foolishness to men, but it is admitted to be so. This doctrine must not then be reproached with want of reason, since I admit that it has no reason. But this foolishness is wiser than all the wisdom of men, sapientius est hominibus. For without this, how can we say what man is? His whole state depends on this imperceptible point, and how should it be perceived by his reason, since it is a thing against reason, and since reason, far from finding it out by her own ways, revolts from it when it is offered her?
There is nothing on earth which does not show either human misery or divine mercy; either the weakness of man without God, or the power of man with God.
Thus the whole universe teaches man, either that he is corrupt, or that he is redeemed; every thing teaches him his greatness or his misery; the abandonment by God is shown in the heathen, the protection of God is shown in the Jews.
Nature has her perfections to show that she is the image of God, and her defects to show that she is no more than his image.
Men being unaccustomed to form merit, but only to recompense it when they find it formed, judge of God by themselves.
When we wish to think of God, there is a something which turns us aside, and tempts us to think on other subjects; all this is evil and born with us.
Lust has become natural to us, and has made our second nature. Thus there are two natures in us, one good, the other evil.—Where is God? Where you are not, and the kingdom of God is within you.—The Rabbis.
It is then true that everything instructs man concerning his condition, but the statement must be clearly understood, for it is not true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all hides him. But it is true both that he hides himself from those who tempt him, and that he reveals himself to those who seek him, because men are both unworthy and capable of God; unworthy by their corruption, capable by their original nature.
We cannot conceive the glorious state of Adam, nor the nature of his sin, nor the transmission of it to us. These things took place under the conditions of a nature quite different to our own, transcending our present capacity.
The knowledge of all this would be of no use in helping us to escape from it, and all we need know is that we are miserable, corrupt, separate from God, but ransomed by Jesus Christ, and of this we have on earth wonderful proofs.
Thus the two proofs of corruption and redemption are drawn from the wicked, who live indifferent to religion, and from the Jews who are its irreconcilable enemies.
All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam, and all morality in lust and in grace.
Shall he only who knows his nature know it only to his misery? Shall he alone who knows it be alone miserable?
He must not see nothing whatever, nor must he see so much as to believe he possesses it, but he must see enough to know that he has lost it; for to be aware of loss he must see and not see, and that is precisely the state in which he is by nature.
We wish for truth, and find in ourselves only uncertainty.
We seek after happiness, and find only misery and death.
We cannot but wish for truth and happiness, and we are incapable neither of certainty nor of happiness. This desire is left to us, as much to punish us as to make us feel whence we are drawn.
Will it be asserted that because men have spoken of righteousness as having fled from the earth, therefore they knew of original sin?—Nemo ante obitum beatus est. —That therefore they knew death to be the beginning of eternal and essential happiness?
The dignity of man while innocent consisted in using and having dominion over the creatures, but now in separating himself from them, and subjecting himself to them.
Source of contradictions.—A God humbled, even to the death of the cross, a Messiah by his death triumphing over death. Two natures in Jesus Christ, two advents, two states of human nature.
Of original sin.—Ample tradition of original sin according to the Jews.
On the word in Genesis, viii. 21. The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
R. Moses Haddarschan: This evil leaven is placed in man from the time that he is formed.
Massechet Succa: This evil leaven has seven names in Scripture. It is called evil, an unclean prepuce, an enemy, a scandal, a heart of stone, the north wind; all this signifies the malignity which is concealed and ingrained in the heart of man.
Midrasch Tillim says the same thing, and that God will free the good nature of man from the evil.
This malignity is renewed every day against man, as it is written, Psalm xxxvii. The wicked watcheth the just, and striveth to kill him, but God will not abandon him.
This malignity tries the heart of man in this life, and will accuse him in the other.
All this is found in the Talmud.
Misdrach Tillim on Ps iv: “Stand in awe and sin not.” Stand in awe and be afraid of your lust, and it will not lead you into sin. And on Ps xxxvi: “The wicked has said in his heart: Let not the fear of God be before me.” That is to say that the malignity natural to man has said that to the wicked.
Misdrasch el Kohelet: “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king who cannot foresee the future.” The child is virtue, and the king is the malignity of man. It is called king because all the members obey it, and old because it is in the heart of man from infancy to old age, and foolish because it leads man in the way of perdition which he does not foresee.
The same thing is in Misdrasch Tillim.
Bereschist Rabba on Ps xxxv: “Lord, all my bones shall bless thee, who deliverest the poor from the tyrant.” And is there a greater tyrant than the evil leaven? And on Proverbs xxv; “If thine enemy be hungry, feed him.” That is to say, if the evil leaven hunger, give him the bread of wisdom of which speaks Prov. ix., and if he be thirsty, give him the water of which speaks Isaiah lv.
Misdrasch Tillim says the same thing, and that the Scripture in that passage speaking of our enemy, means the evil leaven, and that in giving it that bread and that water, we heap coals of fire on his head.
Misdrasch Kohelet on Ecclesiastes ix. “A great king besieged a little city.” This great king is the evil leaven, the great engines with which he surrounds it are temptations, and there has been found a poor wise man who has delivered it, that is to say virtue.
And on Ps. xli. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor.”
And on Ps. lxxviii. The spirit goeth and returneth not again, whereof some have taken occasion of error concerning the immortality of the soul; but the sense is that this spirit is the evil leaven, which accompanies man till death, and will not return at the resurrection.
And on Ps. ciii. the same thing.
And on Ps. xvi.
The citations of pages are from the book Pugio.
Page 27, R. Hakadosch, anno 200, author of the Mischna or vocal law, or second law.
Commentaries on the Mischna, anno 340:
The one Siphra.
Bereschit Rabah, by R. Osaiah Rabah, commentary on the Mischna.
Bereschit Rabah, Bar Naconi, are subtle and agreeable discourses, historical and theological. The same author wrote the books called Rabot.
A hundred years after the Talmud Hierosol; anno 440, was made the Babylonian Talmud, by R. Ase, by the universal consent of all the Jews, who are necessarily obliged to observe all that is contained therein.
The addition of R. Ase is called the Gemara, that is to say the commentary on the Mischna.
And the Talmud as a whole comprises the Mischna and the Gemara.
[P. 190, l. 8.]Deliciæ meæ. Prov. viii. 31. Effundum. Joel, ii. 28. Dii estis. Ps. lxxxii. 6. Omnis caro fonum. Is. xl. 6. Homo comparatus est. Ps. xlix. 20. Dixi in corde. Eccles. iii. 18.
[P. 191. l. 4.]Marton. Probably a mistake of the amanuensis for Miton. See p. 12, l. 24.
[P. 191, l. 12.]Sapientius est hominibus. 1 ad Cor. i. 25.
[P. 193, l. 9.]Nemo ante obitum beatus est. Ovid, Met. iii. 136. The passage runs:—
[P. 193, l. 23.]The citations from the Rabbis are taken from the Pugio Fidei.
[P. 195, l. 1.]Chronology of Rabbinism. The chronology here given is in many points at variance with modern scholarship.