Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE PERPETUITY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. - The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal
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THE PERPETUITY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. - 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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THE PERPETUITY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
PERPETUITY.—That religion has always existed on earth, which consists in believing that man has fallen from a state of glory and of communion with God into a state of sorrow, penitence, and estrangement from God, but that after this life we shall be restored by a Messiah who was to come. All things have passed away, and this has subsisted for which are all things.
Men in the first age of the world were carried away into every kind of misconduct, and yet there were holy men, as Enoch, Lamech and others, who waited with patience the Christ promised from the beginning of the world. Noah saw the evil of men at its height; and he was found worthy to save the world in his person, by the hope of the Messiah of whom he was the type. Abraham was compassed round about by idolaters, when God revealed to him the mystery of the Messiah, whom he greeted from afar. In the days of Isaac and Jacob abomination was spread over the whole earth, but these holy men lived in faith, and Jacob dying and blessing his children, cried in a transport which made him break off his discourse, “I await, O my God, the Saviour whom thou hast promised. Salutare tuum expectabo , Domine.” The Egyptians were infected both with idolatry and magic, even the people of God were led astray by their example. Yet Moses and others saw him whom they saw not, and adored him, looking to the eternal gifts which he was preparing for them. The Greeks and Latins then enthroned false deities, the poets made a hundred divers theologies, the philosophers separated into a thousand different sects, and yet in the heart of Judæa were always chosen men who foretold the advent of this Messiah, known to them alone. He came at length in the fulness of time, and since then, notwithstanding the birth of so many schisms and heresies, so many revolutions in government, such great changes in all things, this Church, adoring him who has ever been adored, has subsisted without a break. It is a wonderful, incomparable and wholly divine fact, that this Religion which has ever endured, has ever been assailed. A thousand times has it been on the eve of an universal ruin, and whenever it has been in that state God has restored it by extraordinary manifestations of his power. This is marvellous, so also that it has survived without yielding to the will of tyrants. For it is not strange that a State subsists when its laws sometimes give way to necessity, but that . . .
States would perish if they did not often make their laws bend to necessity, but Religion has never suffered this or practised it. And indeed there must be either compromise or miracles. There is nothing unusual in being saved by yielding, and strictly speaking this is not endurance, besides in the end they perish utterly: there is none which has endured a thousand years. But that this Religion, although inflexible, should always have been maintained, shows that it is divine.
The religion which alone is contrary to our nature, to common sense, and to our pleasures, is that alone which has always existed.
The science which alone is contrary to common sense and human nature, is that alone which has always subsisted among men.
To show that the true Jews and the true Christians have one and the same Religion.—The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, sacrifices and ceremonies, in the ark, in the temple at Jerusalem, and lastly, in the Law, and the Covenant with Moses.
I say that it consisted in none of these, but solely in the love of God, and that all else was rejected by him;
That God did not accept the posterity of Abraham;
That the Jews if they transgressed were to be punished like strangers. Deut. viii. 19. “If thou at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish as the nations which God has destroyed before you.”
That strangers if they loved God were to be received by him as the Jews. Isaiah lvi. 3. “Let not the stranger say, The Lord will not receive me.—The strangers that join themselves unto the Lord God to serve him and love him, will I bring unto my holy mountain, and accept their sacrifices, for mine house is an house of prayer,”
That the true Jews ascribed all their merit to God, and not to Abraham. Isaiah lxiii. 16. “Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not. Thou art our Father and our Redeemer.”
Moses himself said that God would not accept the person of any.
Deut. x. 17. “God,” said he, “accepteth neither persons nor sacrifices.”
That the circumcision commanded was that of the heart. Deut. x. 16; Jeremiah iv. 4. “Be ye circumcised in heart. Cut off the superfluities of your heart, harden not your hearts, for your God is a great God, strong and terrible, who accepteth not the person of any.”
That God said he would one day do it. Deut. xxx. 6. “God will circumcise thine heart, and thy children’s heart, that thou mayest love him with all thine heart.”
That the uncircumcised in heart should be judged.
Jer. ix. 26. For God will judge the uncircumcised peoples, and all the people of Israel, because he is uncircumcised in heart.
That the exterior is nothing in comparison of the interior. Joel. ii. 13. Scindite corda vestra, etc. Isaiah lviii. 3, 4, etc.
The love of God is commanded in the whole of Deuteronomy, Deut. xxx. 19: “I call heaven and earth to witness that I have set before you death and life, that you may choose life, and that you may love God, and obey him, for God is your life.”
That the Jews, for lack of their love, should be rejected for their crimes, and the Gentiles chosen in their stead.
Hosea i. 10.
Deut. xxxii. 20. “I will hide myself from them in view of their latter sins, for they are a froward generation. They have provoked me to anger by things which are no gods, and I will provoke them to jealousy by a people which is not my people, by an ignorant and foolish nation.”
Isaiah lxv. 1. That temporal goods are false, and than the true good is to be united to God.
Psalm cxliii. 15. That their feasts were displeasing to God.
Amos v. 21. That the sacrifices of the Jews were displeasing to God.
Isa. lxvi. 1-3; l. 11; Jerem. vi. 20.
David, Miserere. Even on the part of the good, Expectavi.
Psalm xlix. 8-14. That he has established them only for their hardness. Micah, admirably, vi. 6-8.
I. Kings xv. 22; Hosea vi. 6.
That the sacrifices of the Gentiles should be accepted of God, and that God would none of the sacrifices of the Jews. Malachi i. 11.
That God would make a new covenant with the Messiah, and that the Old should be disannulled. Jer. xxxi. 31.
Mandata non bona. Ezek. xx. 25.
That the old things should be forgetten. Isa. xliii. 18, 19; lxv. 17, 18.
That the ark should come no more to mind. Jer. iii. 15, 16.
That the temple should be rejected. Jer. vii. 12—14.
That the sacrifices should be rejected, and purer sacrifices established. Malachi i. 11.
That the order of Aaron’s priesthood should be rejected and that of Melchizedek introduced by the Messiah. Dixit Dominus.
That this sacrifice should be eternal. Ib.
That Jerusalem should be rejected, and Rome admitted.
That the name of the Jews should be rejected and a new name given. Isa. lxv. 15.
That this new name should be more excellent than that of the Jews, and eternal. Isa. lvii. 5.
That the Jews should be without prophets, Amos, without a king, without princes, without sacrifice, without an idol.
That the Jews should nevertheless always remain a people. Jer. xxxi. 36.
Perpetuity.—Men have always believed in a Messiah. The tradition from Adam was still fresh in Noah and in Moses. After these the prophets bore witness, at the same time foretelling other things which being from time to time fulfilled in the eyes of all, demonstrated the truth of their mission, and consequently that of their promises touching the Messiah. Jesus Christ worked miracles, and the Apostles also, who converted all the Gentiles; and the prophecies being thus once accomplished, the Messiah is for ever proved.
. . . On that account I reject all other religions.
In that I find an answer to all objections.
It is just that a God so pure should only disclose himself to those whose hearts are purified.
Therefore that religion is lovable to me, and I find it sufficiently authorised by so divine a morality, but I find yet more . . .
I find it a convincing fact that since the memory of man has lasted, it was constantly declared to men that they were universally corrupt, and that a Redeemer should come;
That it was not one man who said it, but an infinity of men, and a whole nation lasting for four thousand years, prophesying, and created for that very purpose . . . So I stretch out my arms to my Redeemer, who having been foretold for four thousand years, has come to suffer and to die for me on earth at the time and under all the circumstances which had been foretold, and by his grace I await death in peace, in the hope of being eternally united to him; yet I live with joy, whether in the good which it pleases him to bestow on me, or in the ill which he sends for my good, and which he has taught me to bear by his example.
The Synagogue preceded the Church, the Jews preceded the Christians, the prophets foretold the Christians, Saint John foretold Jesus Christ.
No religion but our own has taught that man is born in sin; no sect of philosophers ever said this, therefore none has said the truth.
No sect or religion has always existed on earth, except the Christian religion.
The Christian religion is that alone which renders man lovable and happy at once. Living in the world he cannot be lovable and happy at the same time.
In all times either men have spoken of the true God, or the true God has spoken to men.
There are two foundations, one interior and the other exterior, grace and miracles, and both are supernatural.
[P. 196, l. 21.]Salutare tuum expectalo. Gen. xlix. 18.
[P. 199, l. 20.]Miserere. The first word of Ps. li., “Miserere mei Deus.” Expectavi. The first word of Ps. xl., “Expectans expectavi Dominum.”
[P. 199, l. 39.]Dixit Dominus. The first words of Ps. cx.