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The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal, translated from the text of M. Auguste Molinier by C. Kegan Paul (London: George Bell and Sons, 1901).
The collection of writings known as “Thoughts” were not published in Pascal’s lifetime. They consist of his musings about life, religion, god, sin, miracles, and other matters.
The text is in the public domain.
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Those to whom the Life of Pascal and the Story of Port Royal are unknown, must be referred to works treating fully of the subject, since it were impossible to deal with them adequately within the limits of a preface. Sainte-Beuve’s great work on Port Royal, especially the second and third volumes, and “Port Royal,” by Charles Beard, B.A., London, 1863, may best be consulted by any who require full, lucid, and singularly impartial information.
But for such as, already acquainted with the time and the man, need a recapitulation of the more important facts, or for those who may find an outline map useful of the country they are to study in detail, a few words are here given.
Blaise Pascal was born at Clermont-Ferrand in Auvergne, on June 19, 1623. He sprung from a well-known legal family, many members of which had held lucrative and responsible positions. His father, Etienne Pascal, held the post of intendant, or provincial administrator, in Normandy, where, and at Paris previously, Pascal lived from the age of sixteen to that of twenty-five; almost wholly educated by his father on account of his precarious health. His mother died when he was eight years old. Etienne Pascal was a pious but stern person, and by no means disposed to entertain or allow any undue exaltation in religion, refusing as long as he lived to allow his daughter Jaqueline to take the veil. But he had the usual faiths and superstitions of his time, and believing that his son’s ill-health arose from witchcraft, employed the old woman who was supposed to have caused the malady to remove it, by herbs culled before sunrise, and the expiatory death of a cat. This made a great impression on his son, who in the “Thoughts” employs an ingenious argument to prove that wonders wrought by the invocation of the devil are not, in the proper sense of the term, miracles. At any rate the the counter-charm was incomplete, as the child’s feeble health remained feeble to the end.
Intellectually, Blaise Pascal grew rapidly to the stature and strength of a giant; his genius showing itself mainly in the direction of mathematics; at the age of fifteen his studies on conic sections were thought worthy to be read before the most scientific men of Paris, and in after years of agonizing pain mathematical research alone was able to calm him, and distract his mind from himself. His actual reading was at all times narrow, and his scholarship was not profound. In 1646, his father, having broken his thigh at Rouen, came under the influence of two members of the Jansenist school of thought at that place, who attended him in his illness, and from that time dated the more serious religious views of the family. Jaqueline was from the first deeply affected by the more rigorous opinions with which she came in contact. Forbidden to enter the cloister, she lived at home as austere a life as though she had been professed, but after her father’s death won her brother’s reluctant consent to take the veil at Port Royal, and became one of the strictest nuns of that rigid rule.
Blaise Pascal went through a double process of conversion. When the family first fell under Jansenist influence he threw himself so earnestly into the study of theology that he seriously injured his frail health, and being advised to refrain from all intellectual labour, he returned to the world of Paris, where his friends the Duc de Roannez, the Chevalier de Méré and M. Miton were among the best known and most fashionable persons. His father’s death put him in possession of a fair fortune, which he used freely, not at all viciously, but with no renunciation of the pleasures of society. There is some evidence of a proposal that he should marry the Duc de Roannez’ sister, and no doubt with such a scheme before him he wrote his celebrated “Discours sur les Passions de l’Amour.” This, however, resulted only in the conversion of the duke and his sister, the latter of whom for a time, the former for the whole of his life, remained subject to the religious feelings then excited.
In the autumn of 1654, whether after deliverance in a dangerous accident, or from some hidden cause of which nothing can now be even surmised, there came a second sudden conversion from which there was no return. That hour wrought a complete change in Pascal’s life; austerity, self-denial, absolute obedience to his spiritual director, boundless alms-giving succeeded to what at most had been a moderate and restrained use of worldly pleasure, and he threw himself into the life, controversy and interests of Port Royal, with all the passion of one who was not only a new convert, but the champion of a society into which those dearest to him had entered even more fully than he. He became, for a time, one of the solitaries of Port Royal before the close of that same year.
The Cistercian Abbey of Port Royal des Champs was situated about eighteen miles from Paris. It had been founded early in the thirteenth century, and would have faded away unremembered but for the grandeur of its closing years. The rule of the community had been greatly relaxed, but it was reformed with extreme rigour by Jaqueline Arnauld, its young abbess, known in religion as La Mère Angélique. The priest chosen as Director of the community was Jean du Vergier de Hauranne, Abbé de St. Cyran, a close friend of Cornelius Jansen, Bishop of Ypres. They had together devoted themselves to the study of Saint Augustine; and the “Augustinus,” the work to which Jansen gave his whole life, was planned with the assistance of St. Cyran. Certain propositions drawn from this work were afterwards condemned, and the controversy which raged between the two schools of the Jesuits and the Jansenists divided itself into two parts, first, whether the propositions were heretical, and secondly, whether as a fact they were contained in, or could fairly be deduced from, Jansen’s book. The strife, which raged with varying fortunes for many years, need not here detain us.
After the reform of Port Royal, and when the Society, however assailed and in danger, was at the height of its renown, the whole establishment consisted of two convents, the mother house of Port Royal des Champs, and one in Paris to which was attached a school for girls. To Port Royal des Champs, as to a spiritual centre, and to be under the guidance of the three great directors, who in succession ruled the abbey, M. de St. Cyran, M. Singlin, and M. de Saci, there came men and women, not under monastic vows, but living for a time the monastic or even the eremetical life. The women, for the most part, had rooms in the convent, the men built rooms for themselves hard by, or shared between them La Grange, a farm belonging to the abbey. It need scarcely be said that in so strict a community the sexes were wholly separate; a common worship, and the confidence of the same confessor, together with similarity of views in religion, were the ties which bound together the whole society.
When Pascal formally joined Port Royal, the Abbey and all that was attached to it greatly needed aid from without. A Bull in condemnation of Jansen had been gained from the Pope, and a Formulary, minimizing its effect as far as possible, was drawn up by the General Assembly in France, which was ultimately accepted by Port Royal itself. But if the Port Royalists minimized the defeat, and, with great intellectual dexterity, showed that the condemned propositions were not in precise terms what they had held, and were not in Jansen’s book, their enemies exaggerated the victory. A confessor in Paris refused absolution to a parishioner because he had a Jansenist living in his house, and had sent his grand-daughter to school at Port Royal. Antoine Arnauld, known as Le Grand Arnauld, brother of La Mère Angélique, himself in danger of condemnation by the Sorbonne, drew up a statement of the case intended to instruct the public on the points in dispute. On reading this to the Port Royal solitaries before printing it, he saw that it would not do, and turning to Pascal, who had then been a year under M. Singlin’s direction, he suggested to him as a younger man with a lighter pen to see what he could do. The next day Pascal produced the first of the “Provincial Letters,” or to give it the correct title, “A Letter written to a Provincial by one of his friends.” In these Letters Pascal formed his true style, and took rank at once among the great French writers. They contributed largely to turn the scale of feeling against his adversaries; they, and an occurrence in which he saw the visible finger of God, saved Port Royal for a time. But the history of the “Provincial Letters” must be read elsewhere, as must also in its fulness the miracle of the Holy Thorn, on which a few words are needed.
The “Provincial Letters” were in course of publication, but M. Arnauld had been condemned by the Sorbonne just as the first was issued, and his enemies said he was excommunicated, which was not technically true; he was in danger of arrest, and was in hiding; the solitaries of Port Royal were almost all dispersed; the schools were thinned of their pupils, and on the point of closing, the confessors were about to be withdrawn and the nuns sent to various other convents, when the miracle took place. Marguerite Perier, a child of ten years old, daughter of Pascal’s elder sister, was one of the pupils at Port Royal in Paris, not as yet dismissed to her home. She was tenderly nursed by the nuns for an ulcer in the lachrymal gland, which had destroyed the bones of the nose, and produced other horrors of which there is no need to speak. A relic of the Saviour, one of the thorns of his crown of mockery, which had been intrusted to the nuns, was specially venerated during a service in its honour, and as it would seem was passed from hand to hand in its reliquary. When the turn of the scholars came, Sister Flavia, their mistress, moved by a sudden impulse said, “My child, pray for your eye,” and touched the ulcer with the reliquary. The child was cured, and the effect on the community was immediate. The remaining solitaries were not dispersed, some of those who had gone returned, the confessors were not removed, the school was not closed, and Port Royal was respited.
The miracle was to Pascal at once a solemn matter of religion and a family occurrence; he took henceforward as his cognizance an eye encircled with a crown of thorns and the motto Scio cui credidi, he jotted down various thoughts on the miracle, and the manner in which as it seemed to him God had by it given as by “a voice of thunder” his judgment in favour of Port Royal, and he sketched a plan of a work against atheists and unbelievers. In the year between the spring of 1657, and that of 1658, the last year of his good health, if that can be called good which was at best but feeble, he indicated the plan, and wrote the most finished paragraphs of his intended work. The detached thoughts which make up the bulk of it were scribbled, as they occurred to him during the last four years of his life, on scraps of paper, or on the margin of what he had already written, often when he was quite incapable of sustained employment. Many were dictated, some to friends, and some to a servant who constantly attended him in his illness.
Towards the end of his life he was obliged to move into Paris again, where he was carefully nursed by his sister Madame Perier, to whose house he was moved at the last, where he died on August 9th, 1662, at the age of thirty-nine, having spent his last years in an ecstasy of self-denial, of charity, and of aspiration after God.
Not for six years after his death were his family and friends able to consider in what form his unfinished work should be given to the world. Then Port Royal had a breathing space, what was known as the Peace of the Church was established by Clement IX., and it was considered that the time had come to set in order these precious fragments. The duty of giving an author’s works to the world as he left them was little understood in those days, and the Duc de Roannez even suggested that Pascal’s whole work should be re-written on the lines he had laid down. Some editing was, on all hands, allowed to be needful; thus the arrangement of chapters, and the fragments to be included in chapters, were matter for fair discussion. But the committee of editors went further, and even when the text had been settled by them, it had to undergo a further censorship by various theologians. Finally, in January, 1670, the “Pensées” appeared as a small duodecimo, with a preface by the Perier family, and no mention of Port Royal in the volume.
For a full account of this and other editions, the reader must be referred to the preface to M. Molinier’s edition, Paris, 1877-1879, and to that of M. Faugère, Paris, 1844.
M. Victor Cousin was the first to draw attention to the need of a new edition of Pascal in 1842. He showed that great liberties had been taken with and suppressions made in the text, and the labour to which he invited was first undertaken by M. Prosper Faugère. M. Havet adopting his text departed from his arrangement, reverted in great measure to that of the old editors, and accompanied the whole by an excellent commentary and notes, 2nd edition, Paris, 1866. M. Molinier has again consulted the MSS. word for word, and while in a degree following M. Faugère’s arrangement has yet been guided by his own skill and judgment. It must always be remembered that each editor must necessarily follow his own judgment in regard to the position he should give to fragments not placed by the writer. But provided that an editor makes no changes merely for the sake of change, and that he loyally enters into the spirit of his predecessors, each new comer, till the arrangement is finally fixed, has a great advantage. Such an editor is M. Molinier, and in his arrangement the text of Pascal would seem to be mainly if not wholly fixed; so that for the first time we have not only Pascal’s “Thoughts,” but we have them approximately arranged as he designed to present them to his readers.
The course of an English translator is clear; his responsibility is confined to deciding which text to follow, he has no right to make one for himself. In the present edition, therefore, M. Molinier’s text and arrangement are scrupulously followed except in two places. In regard to one, M. Molinier has himself adopted a different reading in his notes made after the text was printed, the second is an obvious misprint. Pascal’s “Profession of Faith,” or “Amulet,” is transferred from the place it occupies in M. Molinier’s edition to serve as an introduction to the work, striking as it does the key-note to the “Thoughts.”
Pascal’s quotations from the Bible were made of course from the Vulgate, but very often indeed from memory, and incorrectly, while he often gave the substance alone of the passage he used. No one version of the Bible therefore has been used exclusively, but the Authorized Version and the Douai or Rheims versions have been used as each in turn most nearly afforded the equivalent of the quotations made by Pascal.
The notes are mainly based on those of MM. Faugère, Havet, and Molinier.
This year of Grace 1654, Monday, November 23rd, day of Saint Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology, Eve of Saint Chrysogonus, martyr, and others; From about half past ten at night, to about half after midnight, Fire.
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, Not of the philosophers and the wise.
Security, security. Feeling, joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ Deum meum et Deum vestrum.
Thy God shall be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of all save God.
He can be found only in the ways taught in the Gospel.
Greatness of the human soul.
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have separated myself from him.
fontem aquæ vivæ.
My God, why hast thou forsaken me? . . .
That I be not separated from thee eternally.
This is life eternal: That they might know thee the only true God, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.
I have separated myself from him; I have fled, renounced, crucified him.
May I never be separated from him.
He maintains himself in me only in the ways taught in the Gospel.
Renunciation total and sweet.
LET them at least learn what is the Religion they assail, before they assail it. If this religion claimed to have a clear view of God, and to possess it openly and unveiled, then to say that we see nothing in the world which manifests him with this clearness would be to assail it. But since on the contrary it affirms that men are in darkness and estranged from God, that he has hidden himself from their knowledge, that the very name he has given himself in the Scriptures is and if indeed it aims equally at establishing these two points, that God has set in the Church evident notes to enable those who seek him in sincerity to recognise him, and that he has nevertheless so concealed them that he can only be perceived by those who seek him with their whole hearts; what advantages it them, when, in their professed neglect of the search after truth, they declare that nothing reveals it to them? For the very obscurity in which they are, and for which they blame the Church, does but establish one of the points which she maintains, without affecting the other, and far from destroying, establishes her doctrine.
In order to assail it they ought to urge that they have sought everywhere with all their strength, and even in that which the Church proposes for their instruction, but without avail. Did they thus speak, they would indeed assail one of her claims. But I hope here to show that no rational person can thus speak, and I am even bold to say that no one has ever done so. We know well enough how men of this temper behave. They believe they have made great efforts for their instruction, when they have spent a few hours in reading some book of Scripture, and have talked with some Ecclesiastic on the truths of the faith. Whereupon they boast that they have in vain consulted books and men. But indeed I will tell them what I have often said, that such carelessness is intolerable. We are not here dealing with the light interest of a stranger, that we should thus treat it; but with that which concerns ourselves and our all.
The immortality of the soul is a matter of so great moment to us, it touches us so deeply, that we must have lost all feeling if we are careless of the truth about it. Our every action and our every thought must take such different courses, according as there are or are not eternal blessings for which to hope, that it is impossible to take a single step with sense or judgment, save in view of that point which ought to be our end and aim.
Thus our first interest and our first duty is to gain light on this subject, whereon our whole conduct depends. Therefore among unbelievers, I make a vast difference between those who labour with all their power to gain instruction, and those who live without taking trouble or thought for it.
I can have nothing but compassion for all who sincerely lament their doubt, who look upon it as the worst of evils, and who, sparing no pains to escape it, find in that endeavour their principal and most serious occupation.
But as for those who pass their life without thought of the ultimate goal of life, who, solely because they do not find within themselves the light of conviction, neglect to seek it elsewhere and to examine thoroughly whether the opinion in question be among those which are popularly received with credulous simplicity, or among those which, although in themselves obscure, have yet a solid and indestructible basis,—of those, I say, my thoughts are very different.
This neglect of a matter in which themselves are concerned, their eternity, and their all, makes me angry rather than compassionate; it astonishes and terrifies me, it is to me something monstrous. I do not say this out of the pious zeal of a spiritual devotion. I mean on the contrary that such a feeling should spring from principles of human interest and self-love; and for this we need see no more than what is seen by the least enlightened persons.
We need no great elevation of soul to understand that here is no true and solid satisfaction, that all our pleasures are but vanity, our evils infinite, and lastly that death, which threatens us every moment, must infallibly and within a few years place us in the dread alternative of being for ever either annihilated or wretched.
Nothing is more real than this, nothing more terrible. Brave it out as we may, that is yet the end which awaits the fairest life in the world. Let us reflect on this, and then say if it be not certain that there is no good in this life save in the hope of another, that we are happy only in proportion as we approach it, and that as there is no more sorrow for those who have an entire assurance of eternity, so there is no happiness for those who have not a ray of its light.
Assuredly then it is a great evil thus to be in doubt, but it is at least an indispensable duty to seek when we are in such doubt; he therefore who doubts and yet seeks not is at once thoroughly unhappy and thoroughly unfair. And if at the same time he be easy and content, profess to be so, and in fact pride himself thereon; if even it be this very condition of doubt which forms the subject of his joy and boasting, I have no terms in which to describe a creature so extravagant.
Whence come such feelings? What delight can we find in the expectation of nothing but unavailing misery? What cause of boasting that we are in impenetrable darkness? How can such an argument as the following occur to a reasoning man?
“I know not who has sent me into the world, nor what the world is, nor what I myself am; I am terribly ignorant of every thing; I know not what my body is, nor my senses, nor my soul, nor even that part of me which thinks what I say, which reflects on all and on itself, yet is as ignorant of itself as of all beside. I see those dreadful spaces of the universe which close me in, and I find myself fixed in one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am set in this place rather than elsewhere, nor why this moment of time given me for life is assigned to this point rather than another of the whole Eternity which was before me or which shall be after me. I see nothing but infinities on every side, which close me round as an atom, and as a shadow which endures but for an instant and returns no more. I know only that I must shortly die, but what I know the least is this very death which I cannot avoid.
“As I know not whence I come, so I know not whither I go; only this I know, that on departing this world, I shall either fall for ever into nothingness, or into the hands of an offended God, without knowing which of these two conditions shall eternally be my lot. Such is my state, full of weakness and uncertainty; from all which I conclude that I ought to pass all the days of my life without thought of searching for what must happen to me. Perhaps I might find some ray of light in my doubts, but I will not take the trouble, nor stir a foot to seek it; and after treating with scorn those who are troubled with this care, I will go without foresight and without fear to make trial of the grand event, and allow myself to be led softly on to death, uncertain of the eternity of my future condition.”
Who would wish to have for his friend a man who should thus speak; who would choose him rather than another for advice in business; who would turn to him in sorrow? And indeed to what use in life could we put him?
In truth, it is the glory of Religion to have for enemies men so unreasoning, whose opposition is so little dangerous to her, that it the rather serves to establish her truths. For the Christian faith goes mainly to the establishment of these two points, the corruption of nature, and the Redemption by Jesus Christ. Now I maintain that if these men serve not to demonstrate the truth of Redemption by the holiness of their morals, they at least serve admirably to show the corruption of nature by sentiments so unnatural.
Nothing is so important to man as his condition, nothing so formidable to him as eternity; and thus it is not natural there should be men indifferent to the loss of their being, and to the peril of an endless woe. They are quite other men in regard to all else; they fear the veriest trifles, they foresee them, they feel them; and the very man who spends so many days and nights in rage and despair for the loss of office or for some imaginary insult to his honour, is the same who, without disquiet and without emotion, knows that he must lose all by death. It is a monstrous thing to see in one and the same heart and at the same time this sensibility to the meanest, and this strange insensibility to the greatest matters. It is an incomprehensible spell, a supernatural drowsiness, which denotes as its cause an all powerful force.
There must be a strange revolution in the nature of man, before he can glory at being in a state to which it seems incredible that any should attain. Experience however has shown me a large number of such men, a surprising fact did we not know that the greater part of those who meddle with the matter are not as a fact what they declare themselves. They are people who have been told that the manners of good society consist in such daring. This they call shaking off the yoke, this they try to imitate. Yet it would not be difficult to convince them how much they deceive themselves in thus seeking esteem. Not so is it acquired, even among those men of the world who judge wisely, and who know that the only way of worldly success is to show ourselves honourable, faithful, of sound judgment, and capable of useful service to a friend; because by nature men love only what may prove useful to them. Now in what way does it advantage us to hear a man say he has at last shaken off the yoke, that he does not believe there is a God who watches his actions, that he considers himself the sole master of his conduct and accountable for it only to himself. Does he think that thus he has brought us to have henceforward confidence in him, and to look to him for comfort, counsel and succour in every need of life? Do they think to delight us when they declare that they hold our soul to be but a little wind or smoke, nay, when they tell us so in a tone of proud content? Is this a thing to assert gaily, and not rather to say sadly as the saddest thing in all the world?
Did they think on it seriously, they would see that this is so great a mistake, so contrary to good sense, so opposed to honourable conduct, so remote in every respect from that good breeding at which they aim, that they would choose rather to restore than to corrupt those who might have any inclination to follow them. And indeed if they are obliged to give an account of their opinions, and of the reasons they have for doubts about Religion, they will say things so weak and base, as rather to persuade the contrary. It was once happily said to such an one, “If you continue to talk thus you will really make me a Christian.” And the speaker was right, for who would not be horrified at entertaining opinions in which he would have such despicable persons as his associates!
Thus those who only feign these opinions would be very unhappy were they to put force on their natural disposition in order to make themselves the most inconsequent of men. If, in their inmost hearts, they are troubled at their lack of light, let them not dissemble: the avowal will bring no shame; the only shame is to be shameless. Nothing betrays so much weakness of mind as not to apprehend the misfortune of a man without God, nothing is so sure a token of an evil disposition of heart as not to desire the truth of eternal promises, nothing is more cowardly than to fight against God. Let them therefore leave these impieties to persons who are so ill-bred as to be really capable of them, let them at least be men of honour if they cannot be Christians, and lastly, let them recognise that there are but two classes of men who can be called reasonable; those who serve God with their whole heart because they know him, or those who seek him with their whole heart because they know him not.
But as for those who live without knowing him and without seeking him, they judge themselves to deserve their own care so little, that they are not worthy the care of others, and it needs all the charity of the Religion they despise, not to despise them so utterly as to abandon them to their madness. But since this Religion obliges us to look on them, while they are in this life, as always capable of illuminating grace, and to believe that in a short while they may be more full of faith than ourselves, while we on the other hand may fall into the blindness which now is theirs, we ought to do for them what we would they should do for us were we in their place, and to entreat them to take pity on themselves and advance at least a few steps, if perchance they may find the light. Let them give to reading these words a few of the hours which otherwise they spend so unprofitably: with whatever aversion they set about it they may perhaps gain something; at least they cannot be great losers. But if any bring to the task perfect sincerity and a true desire to meet with truth, I despair not of their satisfaction, nor of their being convinced of so divine a Religion by the proofs which I have here gathered up, and have set forth in somewhat the following order . . .
Before entering upon the proofs of the Christian Religion, I find it necessary to set forth the unfairness of men who live indifferent to the search for truth in a matter which is so important to them, and which touches them so nearly.
Among all their errors this doubtless is the one which most proves them to be fools and blind, and in which it is most easy to confound them by the first gleam of common sense, and by our natural feelings.
For it is not to be doubted that this life endures but for an instant, that the state of death is eternal, whatever may be its nature, and that thus all our actions and all our thoughts must take such different courses according to the state of that eternity, as to render it impossible to take a single step with sense and judgment, save in view of that point which ought to be our end and aim.
Nothing is more clear than this, and therefore by all principles of reason the conduct of men is most unreasonable if they do not alter their course. Hence we may judge concerning those who live without thinking of the ultimate goal of life, who allow themselves to be guided by their inclinations and their pleasures without thought or disquiet, and, as if they could annihilate eternity by turning their minds from it, consider only how they may make themselves happy for the moment.
Yet this eternity exists; and death the gate of eternity, which threatens them every hour, must in a short while infallibly reduce them to the dread necessity of being through eternity either nothing or miserable, without knowing which of these eternities is for ever prepared for them.
This is a doubt which has terrible consequences. They are in danger of an eternity of misery, and thereupon, as if the matter were not worth the trouble, they care not to examine whether this is one of those opinions which men in general receive with a too credulous facility, or among those which, themselves obscure, have yet a solid though concealed foundation. Thus they know not whether the matter be true or false, nor if the proofs be strong or weak. They have them before their eyes, they refuse to look at them, and in that ignorance they choose to do all that will bring them into this misfortune if it exist, to wait for death to verify it, and to be in the meantime thoroughly satisfied with their state, openly avowing and even making boast of it. Can we think seriously on the importance of this matter without being revolted at conduct so extravagant?
Such rest in ignorance is a monstrous thing, and they who live in it ought to be made aware of its extravagance and stupidity, by having it revealed to them, that they may be confounded by the sight of their own folly. For this is how men reason when they choose to live ignorant of what they are and do not seek to be enlightened. “I know not,” say they.
TO doubt is then a misfortune, but to seek when in doubt is an indispensable duty. So he who doubts and seeks not is at once unfortunate and unfair. If at the same time he is gay and presumptuous, I have no terms in which to describe a creature so extravagant.
A fine subject of rejoicing and boasting, with the head uplifted in such a fashion . . . Therefore let us rejoice; I see not the conclusion, since it is uncertain, and we shall then see what will become of us.
Is it courage in a dying man that he dare, in his weakness and agony, face an almighty and eternal God?
Were I in that state I should be glad if any one would pity my folly, and would have the goodness to deliver me in despite of myself!
Yet it is certain that man has so fallen from nature that there is in his heart a seed of joy in that very fact.
A man in a dungeon, who knows not whether his doom is fixed, who has but one hour to learn it, and this hour enough, should he know that it is fixed, to obtain its repeal, would act against nature did he employ that hour, not in hearing his sentence, but in playing piquet.
So it is against nature that man, etc. It is to weight the hand of God.
Thus not the zeal alone of those who seek him proves God, but the blindness of those who seek him not.
We run carelessly to the precipice after having veiled our eyes to hinder us from seeing it.
Between us and hell or heaven, there is nought but life, the frailest thing in all the world.
If it be a supernatural blindness to live without seeking to know what we are, it is a terrible blindness to live ill while believing in God.
The sensibility of man to trifles, and his insensibility to great things, is the mark of a strange inversion.
This shows that there is nothing to say to them, not that we despise them, but because they have no common sense: God must touch them.
We must pity both parties, but for the one we must feel the pity born of tenderness, and for the other the pity born of contempt.
We must indeed be of that religion which man despises that we may not despise men.
People of that kind are academicians and scholars, and that is the worst kind of men that I know.
I do not gather that by system, but by the way in which the heart of man is made.
To reproach , that he is not troubled when God will reproach him.
Is this a thing to say with joy? It is a thing we ought then to say with sadness.
Nothing is so important as this, yet we neglect this only.
This is all that a man could do were he assured of the falsehood of that news, and even then he ought not to be joyful, but downcast.
. . Suppose an heir finds the title-deeds of his house. Will he say, “Perhaps they are forgeries?” and neglect to examine them?
We must not say that this is a mark of reason.
To be so insensible as to despise interesting things, and to become insensible to the point which most interests us.
What then shall we conclude of all these obscurities, if not our own unworthiness?
TO speak of those who have treated of the knowledge of self, of the divisions of , which sadden and weary us, of the confusion of Montaigne; that he was aware he had no definite system, and tried to evade the difficulty by leaping from subject to subject; that he sought to be fashionable.
His foolish project of self-description, and this not casually and against his maxims, since everybody may make mistakes, but by his maxims themselves, and by his main and principal design. For to say foolish things by chance and weakness is an ordinary evil, but to say them designedly is unbearable, and to say such as that . . .
Montaigne.— are great. Lewd expressions. This is bad, whatever Mademoiselle de Gournay may say. He is credulous, ignorant, His opinions He suggests a carelessness about salvation, Since his book was not written with a religious intent, it was not his duty to speak of religion; but it is always a duty not to turn men from it. We may excuse his somewhat lax and licentious opinions on some relations of life, but not his thoroughly pagan opinions on death, for a man must give over piety altogether, if he does not at least wish to die like a Christian. Now through the whole of his book he looks forward to nothing but a soft and indolent death.
What good there is in Montaigne can only have been acquired with difficulty. What is evil in him, I mean apart from his morality, could have been corrected in a moment, if any one had told him he was too prolix and too egoistical.
Not in Montaigne, but in myself, I find all that I see in him.
Let no one say I have said nothing new, the disposition of my matter is new. In playing tennis, two men play with the same ball, but one places it better.
It might as truly be said that my words have been used before. And if the same thoughts in a different arrangement do not form a different discourse, so neither do the same words in a different arrangement form different thoughts.
THIS is where our intuitive knowledge leads us. If it be not true, there is no truth in man; and if it be, he finds therein a great reason for humiliation, because he must abase himself in one way or another. And since he cannot exist without such knowledge, I wish that before entering on deeper researches into nature he would consider her seriously and at leisure, that he would examine himself also, and knowing what proportion there is . . . Let man then contemplate the whole realm of nature in her full and exalted majesty, and turn his eyes from the low objects which hem him round; let him observe that brilliant light set like an eternal lamp to illumine the universe, let the earth appear to him a point in comparison with the vast circle described by the sun, and let him see with amazement that even this vast circle is itself but a fine point in regard to that described by the stars revolving in the firmament. If our view be arrested there, let imagination pass beyond, and it will sooner exhaust the power of thinking than nature that of giving scope for thought. The whole visible world is but an imperceptible speck in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. We may swell our conceptions beyond all imaginable space, yet bring forth only atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, It is, in short, the greatest sensible mark of the almighty power of God, that imagination loses itself in that thought.
Then, returning to himself, let man consider his own being compared with all that is; let him regard himself as wandering in this remote province of nature; and from the little dungeon in which he finds himself lodged, I mean the universe, let him learn to set a true value on the earth, on its kingdoms, its cities, and on himself.
What is a man in the infinite? But to show him another prodigy no less astonishing, let him examine the most delicate things he knows. Let him take a mite which in its minute body presents him with parts incomparably more minute; limbs with their joints, veins in the limbs, blood in the veins, humours in the blood, drops in the humours, vapours in the drops; let him, again dividing these last, exhaust his power of thought; let the last point at which he arrives be that of which we speak, and he will perhaps think that here is the extremest diminutive in nature. Then I will open before him therein a new abyss. I will paint for him not only the the visible universe, but all that he can conceive of nature’s immensity in the enclosure of this diminished atom. Let him therein see an infinity of universes of which each has its firmament, its planets, its earth, in the same proportion as in the visible world; in each earth animals, and at the last the mites, in which he will come upon all that was in the first, and still find in these others the same without end and without cessation; let him lose himself in wonders as astonishing in their minuteness as the others in their immensity; for who will not be amazed at seeing that our body, which before was imperceptible in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is now a colossus, a world, a whole, in regard to the nothingness to which we cannot attain.
Whoso takes this survey of himself will be terrified at the thought that he is upheld in the material being, given him by nature, between these two abysses of the infinite and nothing, he will tremble at the sight of these marvels; and I think that as his curiosity changes into wonder, he will be more disposed to contemplate them in silence than to search into them with presumption.
For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in regard to the infinite, a whole in regard to nothing, a mean between nothing and the whole; infinitely removed from understanding either extreme. The end of things and their beginnings are invincibly hidden from him in impenetrable secrecy, he is equally incapable of seeing the nothing whence he was taken, and the infinite in which he is engulfed.
What shall he do then, but discern somewhat of the middle of things in an eternal despair of knowing either their beginning or their end? All things arise from nothing, and tend towards the infinite. Who can follow their marvellous course? The author of these wonders can understand them, and none but he.
Of these two infinites in nature, the infinitely great and the infinitely little, man can more easily conceive the great.
Because they have not considered these infinities, men have rashly plunged into the research of nature, as though they bore some proportion to her.
It is strange that they have wished to understand the origin of all that is, and thence to attain to the knowledge of the whole, with a presumption as infinite as their object. For there is no doubt that such a design cannot be formed without presumption or without a capacity as infinite as nature.
If we are well informed, we understand that nature having graven her own image and that of her author on all things, they are almost all partakers of her double infinity. Thus we see that all the sciences are infinite in the extent of their researches, for none can doubt that geometry, for instance, has an infinite infinity of problems to propose. They are also infinite in the number and in the nicety of their premisses, for it is evident that those which are finally proposed are not self-supporting, but are based on others, which again having others as their support have no finality.
But we make some apparently final to the reason, just as in regard to material things we call that an indivisible point beyond which our senses can no longer perceive any thing, though by its nature this also is infinitely divisible.
Of these two scientific infinities, that of greatness is the most obvious to the senses, and therefore a few persons have made pretensions to universal knowledge. “ ” said Democritus.
But beyond the fact that it is a small thing to speak of it simply, without proving and knowing, it is nevertheless impossible to do so, the infinite multitude of things being so hidden, that all we can express by word or thought is but an invisible trace of them. Hence it is plain how foolish, vain, and ignorant is that title of some books:
But the infinitely little is far less evident. Philosophers have much more frequently asserted they have attained it, yet in that very point they have all stumbled. This has given occasion to such common titles as The Origin of Creation, and the like, as presumptuous in fact, though not in appearance as that dazzling one, De omni scibili.
We naturally think that we can more easily reach the centre of things than embrace their circumference. The visible bulk of the world visibly exceeds us, but as we exceed little things, we think ourselves more capable of possessing them. Yet we need no less capacity to attain the nothing than the whole. Infinite capacity is needed for both, and it seems to me that whoever shall have understood the ultimate principles of existence might also attain to the knowledge of the infinite. The one depends on the other, and one leads to the other. Extremes meet and reunite by virtue of their distance, to find each other in God, and in God alone.
Let us then know our limits; we are something, but we are not all. What existence we have conceals from us the knowledge of first principles which spring from the nothing, while the pettiness of that existence hides from us the sight of the infinite.
In the order of intelligible things our intelligence holds the same position as our body holds in the vast extent of nature.
Restricted in every way, this middle state between two extremes is common to all our weaknesses.
Our senses can perceive no extreme. Too much noise deafens us, excess of light blinds us, too great distance or nearness equally interfere with our vision, prolixity or brevity equally obscure a discourse, too much truth overwhelms us. I know even those who cannot understand that if four be taken from nothing nothing remains. First principles are too plain for us, superfluous pleasure troubles us. Too many concords are unpleasing in music, and too many benefits annoy, we wish to have wherewithal to overpay our debt. dum videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antevenere pro gratia odium redditur.
We feel neither extreme heat nor extreme cold. Qualities in excess are inimical to us and not apparent to the senses, we do not feel but are passive under them. The weakness of youth and age equally hinder the mind, as also too much and too little teaching. . .
In a word, all extremes are for us as though they were not; and we are not, in regard to them: they escape us, or we them.
This is our true state; this is what renders us incapable both of certain knowledge and of absolute ignorance. We sail on a vast expanse, ever uncertain, ever drifting, hurried from one to the other goal. If we think to attach ourselves firmly to any point, it totters and fails us; if we follow, it eludes our grasp, and flies us, vanishing for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, yet always the most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find a steadfast place and an ultimate fixed basis whereon we may build a tower to reach the infinite. But our whole foundation breaks up, and earth opens to the abysses.
We may not then look for certainty or stability. Our reason is always deceived by changing shows, nothing can fix the finite between the two infinites, which at once enclose and fly from it.
If this be once well understood I think that we shall rest, each in the state wherein nature has placed him. This element which falls to us as our lot being always distant from either extreme, it matters not that a man should have a trifle more knowledge of the universe. If he has it, he but begins a little higher. He is always infinitely distant from the end, and the duration of our life is infinitely removed from eternity, even if it last ten years longer.
In regard to these infinites all finites are equal, and I see not why we should fix our imagination on one more than on another. The only comparison which we can make of ourselves to the finite troubles us.
Were man to begin with the study of himself, he would see how incapable he is of proceeding further. How can a part know the whole? But he may perhaps aspire to know at least the parts with which he has proportionate relation. But the parts of the world are so linked and related, that I think it impossible to know one without another, or without the whole.
Man, for instance, is related to all that he knows. He needs place wherein to abide, time through which to exist, motion in order to live; he needs constituent elements, warmth and food to nourish him, air to breathe. He sees light, he feels bodies, he contracts an alliance with all that is.
To know man then it is necessary to understand how it comes that he needs air to breathe, and to know the air we must understand how it has relation to the life of man, etc.
Flame cannot exist without air, therefore to know one, we must know the other.
All that exists then is both cause and effect, dependent and supporting, mediate and immediate, and all is held together by a natural though imperceptible bond, which unites things most distant and most different. I hold it impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole, or to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail.
I hold it impossible to know one alone without all the others, that is to say impossible purely and absolutely.
The eternity of things in themselves or in God must also confound our brief duration. The fixed and constant immobility of Nature in comparison with the continual changes which take place in us must have the same effect.
to know things is that they are in their essence simple, whereas we are composed of two opposite natures differing in kind, soul and body. For it is impossible that our reasoning part should be other than spiritual; and should any allege that we are simply material, this would far more exclude us from the knowledge of things, since it is an inconceivable paradox to affirm that matter can know itself, and it is not possible for us to know how it should know itself.
So, were we simply material, we could know nothing whatever, and if we are composed of spirit and matter we cannot perfectly know what is simple, whether it be spiritual or material. For how should we know matter distinctly, since our being, which acts on this knowledge, is partly spiritual, and how should we know spiritual substances clearly since we have a body which weights us, and drags us down to earth.
Moreover what completes our inability is the simplicity of things compared with our double and complex nature. To dispute this point were an invincible absurdity, for it is as absurd as impious to deny that man is composed of two parts, differing in their nature, soul and body. This renders us unable to know all things; for if this complexity be denied, and it be asserted that we are entirely material, it is plain that matter is incapable of knowing matter. Nothing is more impossible than this.
Let us conceive then that this mixture of spirit and clay throws us out of proportion. . .
Hence it comes that almost all philosophers have confounded different ideas, and speak of material things in spiritual phrase, and of spiritual things in material phrase. For they say boldly that bodies have a tendency to fall, that they seek after their centre, that they fly from destruction, that they fear a void, that they have inclinations, sympathies, antipathies; and all of these are spiritual qualities. Again, in speaking of spirits, they conceive of them as in a given spot, or as moving from place to place; qualities which belong to matter alone.
Instead of receiving the ideas of these things simply, we colour them with our own qualities, and stamp with our complex being all the simple things which we contemplate.
Who would not think, when we declare that all that is consists of mind and matter, that we really understood this combination? Yet it is the one thing we least understand. Man is to himself the most marvellous object in Nature, for he cannot conceive what matter is, still less what is mind, and less than all how a material body should be united to a mind. This is the crown of all his difficulties, yet it is his very being: comprehendi ab homine non potest et hoc tamen homo est.
These are some of the causes which render man so totally unable to know nature. For nature has a twofold infinity, he is finite and limited. Nature is permanent, and continues in one stay; he is fleeting and mortal. All things fail and change each instant, he sees them only as they pass, they have their beginning and end, he conceives neither the one nor the other. They are simple, he is composed of two different natures. And to complete the proof of our weakness, I will finish by this reflection on our natural condition. In a word, to complete the proof of our weakness, I will end with these two considerations. . .
The nature of man may be considered in two ways, one according to its end, and then it is great and incomparable; the other according to popular opinion, as we judge of the nature of a horse or a dog, by popular opinion which discerns in it the power of speed, et animum arcendi; and then man is abject and vile. These are the two ways which make us judge of it so differently and which cause such disputes among philosophers.
For one denies the supposition of the other; one says, He was not born for such an end, for all his actions are repugnant to it; the other says, He cannot gain his end when he commits base deeds.
Two things instruct man about his whole nature, instinct and experience.
Inconstancy.—We think we are playing on ordinary organs when we play upon man: Men are organs indeed, but fantastic, changeable, and various, with pipes not arranged in due succession. Those who understand only how to play upon ordinary organs make no harmonies on these. We should know where are the . . .
Nature.—Nature has placed us so truly in the centre, that if we alter one side of the balance we alter also the other. This makes me believe that there is a mechanism in our brain, so adjusted, that who touches one touches also the contrary spring.
—The weather and my moods have little in common. I have my foggy and my fine days within me, whether my affairs go well or ill has little to do with the matter. I sometimes strive against my luck, the glory of subduing it makes me subdue it gaily, whereas I am sometimes wearied in the midst of my good luck.
It is difficult to submit anything to the judgment of a second person without prejudicing him by the way in which we submit it. If we say, “I think it beautiful, I think it obscure,” or the like, we either draw the imagination to that opinion, or irritate it to form the contrary. It is better to say nothing, so that the other may judge according to what really is, that is to say, as it then is, and according as the other circumstances which are not of our making have placed it. We at least shall have added nothing of our own, except that silence produces an effect, according to the turn and the interpretation which the other is inclined to give it, or as he may conjecture it, from gestures or countenance, or from the tone of voice, if he be a physiognomist; so difficult is it not to oust the judgment from its natural seat, or rather so rarely is it firm and stable!
The spirit of this sovereign judge of the world is not so independent but that it is liable to be troubled by the first disturbance about him. The noise of a cannon is not needed to break his train of thought, it need only be the creaking of a weathercock or a pulley. Do not be astonished if at this moment he argues incoherently, about his ears, and that is enough to render him incapable of sound judgment. Would you have him arrive at truth, drive away that creature which holds his reason in check, and troubles that powerful intellect which gives laws to towns and kingdoms. Here is a droll kind of god! O ridicolosissimo eroe!
The power of hinder our soul from action, devour our body.
When we are too young our judgment is at fault, so also when we are too old.
If we take not thought enough, or too much, on any matter, we are obstinate and infatuated.
He that considers his work so soon as it leaves his hands, is prejudiced in its favour, he that delays his survey too long, cannot regain the spirit of it.
So with pictures seen from too near or too far; there is but one precise point from which to look at them, all others are too near or too far, too high or too low. Perspective determines that precise point in the art of painting. But who shall determine it in truth or morals?
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the small space which I fill, or even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me, I am terrified, and wonder that I am here rather than there, for there is no reason why here rather than there, or now rather than then. Who has set me here? By whose order and design have this place and time been destined for me?—
It is not well to be too much at liberty. It is not well to have all we want
How many kingdoms know nothing of us!
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces alarms me.
Nothing more astonishes me than to see that men are not astonished at their own weakness. They act seriously, and every one follows his own mode of life, not because it is, as a fact, good to follow, being the custom, but as if each man knew certainly where are reason and justice. They find themselves constantly deceived, and by an amusing humility always imagine that the fault is in themselves, and not in the art which all profess to understand. But it is well there are so many of this kind of people in the world, who are not sceptics for the glory of scepticism, to show that man is thoroughly capable of the most extravagant opinions, because he is capable of believing that his weakness is not natural and inevitable, but that, on the contrary, his wisdom comes by nature.
Nothing fortifies scepticism more than that there are some who are not sceptics. If all were so, they would be wrong.
Two infinites, a mean. If we read too quickly or too slowly, we understand nothing.
Too much and too little wine. Give a man none, he cannot find truth, give him too much, the same.
Chance gives thoughts, and chance takes them away; there is no art for keeping or gaining them.
A thought has escaped me. I would write it down. I write instead, that it has escaped me.
In writing down my thought it now and then escapes me, but this reminds me of my weakness, which I constantly forget. This teaches me as much as my forgotten thought, for my whole study is to know my nothingness.
Are men so strong, as to be insensible to all which affects them? Let us try them in the loss of goods or honour. Ah! the charm is worked.
To fear death out of danger, and not in danger, for we must be men.
Sudden death is the only thing to fear, therefore confessors live in the houses of the great.
We know ourselves so little, that many think themselves near death when they are perfectly well, and many think themselves well when they are near death, since they do not feel the fever at hand, or the abscess about to form.
Why is my knowledge so restricted, or my height, or my life to a hundred years rather than to a thousand? What was nature’s reason for giving me such length of days, and for choosing this number rather than another, in that infinity where there is no reason to choose one more than another, since none is preferable to another?
The nature of man is not always to go forward, it has its advances and retreats.
Fever has its hot and cold fits, and the cold proves as well as the hot how great is the force of the fever.
The inventions of men from age to age follow the same plan. It is the same with the goodness and the wickedness of the world in general.
The strength of a man’s virtue must not be measured by his occasional efforts, but by his ordinary life.
Those great spiritual efforts to which the soul sometimes attains are things on which it takes no permanent hold. It leaps to them, not as to a throne, for ever, but only for an instant.
I do not admire the excess of a virtue as of valour, unless I see at the same time the excess of the opposite virtue, as in who had exceeding valour and exceeding humanity, for otherwise we do not rise, but fall. Grandeur is not shown by being at one extremity, but in touching both at once, and filling the whole space between. But perhaps this is only a sudden motion of the soul from one to the other extreme, and in fact it is always at one point only, as when a firebrand is whirled. Be it so, but at least this marks the agility if not the magnitude of the soul.
We do not remain virtuous by our own power, but by the counterpoise of two opposite vices, we remain standing as between two contrary winds; take away one of these vices, we fall into the other.
When we would pursue the virtues to their extremes on either side, vices present themselves, which insinuate themselves insensibly there, in their insensible course towards the infinitely great, so that we lose ourselves in vices, and no longer see virtues.
It is not shameful to man to yield to pain, and it is shameful to yield to pleasure. This is not because pain comes from without us, while we seek pleasure, for we may seek pain, and yield to it willingly without this kind of baseness. How comes it then that reason finds it glorious in us to yield under the assaults of pain, and shameful to yield under the assaults of pleasure? It is because pain does not tempt and attract us. We ourselves choose it voluntarily, and will that it have dominion over us. We are thus masters of the situation, and so far man yields to himself, but in pleasure man yields to pleasure. Now only mastery and empire bring glory, and only slavery causes shame.
All things may prove fatal to us, even those made to serve us, as in nature walls may kill us and stairs may kill us, if we walk not aright.
The slightest movement affects all nature, the whole sea changes because of a rock. Thus in grace, the most trifling action has effect on everything by its consequences; therefore everything is important.
Provided we know each man’s ruling passion we are sure of pleasing him; yet each man has his fancies, contrary to his real good, even in the very idea he forms of good; a strange fact which puts all out of tune.
When our passions lead us to any act we forget our duty. If we like a book we read it, when we should be doing something else. But as a reminder we ought to propose to ourselves to do something distasteful; we then excuse ourselves that we have something else to do, and thus remember our duty.
of the soul, as do certain bodily functions, but we do not draw therefrom the same conclusions against the greatness of man, because it is against his will. And if we make ourselves sneeze we do so against our will. It is not in view of the act itself, but for another end, and so it is not a mark of the weakness of man, and of his slavery to that act.
who thinks of one thing only.
who speaks for a quarter of an hour after he has said all he has to say, so full is he of the desire of talking.
The parrot’s beak, which he dries though it is clean already.
The sense of falseness in present pleasures, and our ignorance of the vanity of absent pleasures, are the causes of inconstancy.
He no longer loves the person he loved ten years ago. I can well believe it. She is no longer the same, nor is he. He was young, and so was she; she is quite different. He would perhaps love her still were she what she then was.
Reasons, seen from afar, appear to restrict our view, but not when we reach them; we begin to see beyond.
. . . We look at things not only from other sides, but with other eyes, and care not to find them alike.
Diversity is ample, as all tones of the voice, all modes of walking, coughing, blowing the nose, sneezing. We distinguish different kinds of vine by their fruit, and name them and this stock. But is this all? Has a vine ever produced two bunches exactly alike, and has a bunch ever two grapes alike? etc.
I never can judge of the same thing exactly in the same way. I cannot judge of my work while engaged on it. I must do as the painters, stand at a distance, but not too far. How far, then? Guess.
Diversity.—Theology is a science; but at the same time how many sciences! Man is a whole, but if we dissect him, will man be the head, the heart, the stomach, the veins, each vein, each portion of a vein, the blood, each humour of the blood?
A town, a champaign, is from afar a town and a champaign; but as we approach there are houses, trees, tiles, leaves, grass, emmets, limbs of emmets, in infinite series. All this is comprised under the word champaign.
We like to see the error, because she is not aware of it. She would be displeasing if she were not deceived.
What a confusion of judgment is that, by which every one puts himself above all the rest of the world, and loves his own advantage and the duration of his happiness or his life above those of all others.
DIVERSION.—When I have set myself now and then to consider the various distractions of men, the toils and dangers to which they expose themselves in the court or the camp, whence arise so many quarrels and passions, such daring and often such evil exploits, etc., I have discovered that all the misfortunes of men arise from one thing only, that they are unable to stay quietly in their own chamber. A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to dwell with pleasure in his own home, would not leave it for sea-faring or to besiege a city. An office in the army would not be bought so dearly but that it seems insupportable not to stir from the town, and people only seek conversation and amusing games because they cannot remain with pleasure in their own homes.
But upon stricter examination, when, having found the cause of all our ills, I have sought to discover the reason of it, I have found one which is paramount, the natural evil of our weak and mortal condition, so miserable that nothing can console us when we think of it attentively.
Whatever condition we represent to ourselves, if we bring to our minds all the advantages it is possible to possess, Royalty is the finest position in the world. Yet, when we imagine a king surrounded with all the conditions which he can desire, if he be without diversion, and be allowed to consider and examine what he is, this feeble happiness will never sustain him; he will necessarily fall into a foreboding of maladies which threaten him, of revolutions which may arise, and lastly, of death and inevitable diseases; so that if he be without what is called diversion he is unhappy, and more unhappy than the humblest of his subjects who plays and diverts himself.
Hence it comes that play and the society of women, war, and offices of state, are so sought after. Not that there is in these any real happiness, or that any imagine true bliss to consist in the money won at play, or in the hare which is hunted; we would not have these as gifts. We do not seek an easy and peaceful lot which leaves us free to think of our unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the troubles of statecraft, but seek rather the distraction which amuses us, and diverts our mind from these thoughts.
Hence it comes that men so love noise and movement, hence it comes that a prison is so horrible a punishment, hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing incomprehensible. And it is the great subject of happiness in the condition of kings, that all about them try incessantly to divert them, and to procure for them all manner of pleasures.
The king is surrounded by persons who think only how to divert the king, and to prevent his thinking of self. For he is unhappy, king though he be, if he think of self.
That is all that human ingenuity can do for human happiness. And those who philosophise on the matter, and think men unreasonable that they pass a whole day in hunting a hare which they would not have bought, scarce know our nature. The hare itself would not free us from the view of death and our miseries, but the chase of the hare does free us. Thus, when we make it a reproach that what they seek with such eagerness cannot satisfy them, if they answered as on mature judgment they should do, that they sought in it only violent and impetuous occupation to turn their thoughts from self, and that therefore they made choice of an attractive object which charms and ardently attracts them, they would leave their adversaries without a reply. But they do not so answer because they do not know themselves; they do not know they seek the chase and not the quarry.
They fancy that were they to gain such and such an office they would then rest with pleasure, and are unaware of the insatiable nature of their desire. They believe they are honestly seeking repose, but they are only seeking agitation.
They have a secret instinct prompting them to look for diversion and occupation from without, which arises from the sense of their continual pain. They have another secret instinct, a relic of the greatness of our primitive nature, teaching them that happiness indeed consists in rest, and not in turmoil. And of these two contrary instincts a confused project is formed within them, concealing itself from their sight in the depths of their soul, leading them to aim at rest through agitation, and always to imagine that they will gain the satisfaction which as yet they have not, if by surmounting certain difficulties which now confront them, they may thereby open the door to rest.
Thus rolls all our life away. We seek repose by resistance to obstacles, and so soon as these are surmounted, repose becomes intolerable. For we think either on the miseries we feel or on those we fear. And even when we seem sheltered on all sides, weariness, of its own accord, will spring from the depths of the heart wherein are its natural roots, and fill the soul with its poison.
to take the rest of which he was going in search through so many labours, was full of difficulties.
A gentleman sincerely believes that the chase is a great, and even a royal sport, but his whipper-in does not share his opinion.
Dancing.—We must think where to place our feet.
But can you say what object he has in all this? The pleasure of boasting to-morrow among his friends that he has played better than another. Thus others sweat in their closets to prove to the learned world that they have solved an algebraical problem hitherto insoluble, while many more expose themselves to the greatest perils, in my judgment as foolishly, for the glory of taking a town. Again, others kill themselves, by their very application to all these studies, not indeed that they may grow wiser, but simply to prove that they know them; these are the most foolish of the band, because they are so wittingly, whereas it is reasonable to suppose of the others, that were they but aware of it, they would give over their folly.
A man passes his life without weariness in playing every day for a small stake. Give him each morning, on condition he does not play, the money he might possibly win, and you make him miserable. It will be said, perhaps, that he seeks the amusement of play, and not the winnings. Make him then play for nothing, he will not be excited over it, and will soon be wearied. Mere diversion then is not his pursuit, a languid and passionless amusement will weary him. He must grow warm in it, and cheat himself by thinking that he is made happy by gaining what he would despise if it were given him not to play; and must frame for himself a subject of passion and excitement to employ his desire, his wrath, his fear, themselves have daubed.
Whence comes it that a man who within a few months has lost his only son, or who this morning was overwhelmed with law suits and wrangling, now thinks of them no more? Be not surprised; he is altogether taken up with looking out for the boar which his hounds have been hunting so hotly for the last six hours. He needs no more. However full of sadness a man may be, he is happy for the time, if you can only get him to enter into some diversion. And however happy a man may be, he will soon become dispirited and miserable if he be not diverted and occupied by some passion or pursuit which hinders his being overcome by weariness. Without diversion no joy, with diversion no sadness. And this forms the happiness of persons in high position, that they have a number of people to divert them, and that they have the power to keep themselves in this state.
Take heed to this. What is it to be chancellor, but to be in a condition wherein from early morning a vast number of persons flock in from every side, so as not to leave them an hour in the day in which they can think of themselves? And if they are in disgrace and though they want neither wealth nor retinue at need, they yet are miserable and desolate because no one hinders them from thinking of themselves.
Thus man is so unhappy that he wearies himself without cause of weariness by the peculiar state of his temperament, and he is so frivolous that, being full of a thousand essential causes of weariness, the least thing, such as a cue and a ball to strike with it, is enough to divert him.
Diversions.—Men are charged from infancy with the care of their honour, their fortunes, and their friends, and more, with the care of the fortunes and honour of their friends. They are overwhelmed with business, with the study of languages and bodily exercises; they are given to understand that they cannot be happy unless their health, their honour, their fortune and that of their friends be in good condition, and that a single point wanting will render them unhappy. Thus we give them business and occupations which harass them incessantly from the very dawn of day. A strange mode, you will say, of making them happy. What more could be done to make them miserable? What could be done? We need only release them from all these cares, for then they would see themselves; they would think on what they are, whence they come, and whither they go, and therefore it is impossible to occupy and distract them too much. This is why, after having provided them with constant business, if there be any time to spare we urge them to employ it in diversion and in play, so as to be always fully occupied.
How comes it that this man, distressed at the death of his wife and his only son, or who has some great and embarrassing law suit, is not at this moment sad, and that he appears so free from all painful and distressing thoughts? We need not be astonished, for a ball has just been served to him, and he must return it to his opponent. His whole thoughts are fixed on taking it as it falls from the penthouse, to win a chase; and you cannot ask that he should think on his business, having this other affair in hand. Here is a care worthy of occupying this great soul, and taking away from him every other thought of the mind. This man, born to know the Universe, to judge of all things, to rule a State, is altogether occupied and filled with the business of catching a hare. And if he will not abase himself to this, and wishes always to be highly strung, he will only be more foolish still, because he wishes to raise himself above humanity; yet when all is said and done he is only a man, that is to say capable of little and of much, of all and of nothing. He is neither angel nor brute, but man.
One thought alone occupies us, we cannot think of two things at once; a good thing for us, from a worldly point of view, but not as regards God.
Diversion.—Death is easier to bear without the thought of it, than is the thought of death without danger.
Diversion.—Men, unable to remedy death, sorrow, and ignorance, determine, in order to make themselves happy, not to think on these things.
Notwithstanding these miseries, man wishes to be happy, and wishes for happiness only; unable to wish otherwise, he knows not how to gain happiness. For this he must needs make himself immortal; but unable to effect this, he sets himself to avoid the thought of death.
The miseries of human life are the cause of all this; having a perception of them men take to diversion.
Diversion.—If man were happy he would be the more so the less he was diverted, like the Saints and God.
Yes: but is not the power of being pleased with diversion in itself a happiness? No; for that comes from elsewhere and from without, so it is dependent, and therefore liable to be troubled by a thousand accidents, which make afflictions inevitable.
Misery.—The one thing which consoles us for our miseries is diversion, yet this itself is the greatest of our miseries. For this it is which mainly hinders us from thinking of ourselves, and which insensibly destroys us. Without this we should be weary, and weariness would drive us to seek a more abiding way out of it. But diversion beguiles us and leads us insensibly onward to death.
This is all they have been able to discover to console them in so many evils. But it is a miserable consolation, since it does not serve for the cure of the evil, but simply for the concealment of it for a short time, and its very concealment prevents the thought of any true cure. Thus by a strange inversion of man’s nature he finds that the weariness which is his most sensible evil, is in some measure his greatest good, because more than any thing else it contributes to make him seek his true healing, and that the diversion which he regards as his greatest good is in fact his greatest evil, because more than any thing else it prevents his seeking the remedy for his evils. Both of these are admirable proofs of man’s misery and corruption, and at the same time of his greatness, since man is only weary of all things, and only seeks this multitude of occupations because he has the idea of a lost happiness. And not finding this in himself, he seeks it vainly in external things, without being able to content himself, because it is neither in us, nor in the creature, but in God alone.
Were our condition truly happy we need not turn our minds from it in order to become happy.
A little matter consoles us, because a little matter afflicts us.
Strife alone pleases us and not the victory. We like to see beasts fighting, not the victor furious over the vanquished. We wish only to see the victorious end, and as soon as it comes, we are surfeited. It is the same in play, and in the search for truth. In all disputes we like to see the clash of opinions, but care not at all to contemplate truth when found. If we are to see truth with pleasure, we must see it arise out of conflict.
So in the passions, there is pleasure in seeing the shock of two contraries, but as soon as one gains the mastery it becomes mere brutality. We never seek things in themselves, but only the search for things. So on the stage, quiet scenes which raise no emotion are worthless, so is extreme and hopeless misery, so are brutal lust and excessive cruelty.
Continuous eloquence wearies.
Princes and kings sometimes unbend. They are not for ever on their thrones, where they grow weary. Grandeur to be felt must be abandoned, continuity in anything is displeasing. Cold is pleasant, that we may seek warmth.
Weariness.—Nothing is so insupportable to man as to be completely at rest, without passion, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his loneliness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness.
At once, from the depth of his soul, gloom, sadness, vexation, disappointment, despair.
Agitation.—When a soldier complains of his work, or a ploughman, etc., force them to be idle.
Diversion.—Is not the royal dignity itself so truly great as to make its possessor happy by the mere contemplation of what he is? Must he be diverted from this thought like ordinary people? I see well enough that a man may be made happy by diverting him from the thought of his domestic sorrows so that he apply all his care to excel in dancing. But will it be the same with a king, and will he be happier if he devote himself to these idle amusements rather than to the contemplation of his greatness? And what more satisfactory object can he offer to his mind? Might it not be to lessen his content that he occupy his soul in thinking how to suit his steps to the cadence of an air, or how to throw a bar skilfully, rather than allow it to enjoy peacefully the contemplation of the majesty which wraps him round? Let us make the experiment, let us leave a king all alone, without any gratifications of sense, or any occupation for the mind, without companions, reflecting on himself at leisure, and it will be seen that a king without diversion is a man full of miseries. This is therefore carefully avoided, and there are always about the persons of kings a great number of people who watch to see that diversion succeeds to business, and look after their every hour of leisure to furnish them with pleasures and games, so that no vacancy may be left in life; that is, they are surrounded with persons who take wonderful pains that the king is never alone and able to think of self, knowing well that he will be miserable, king though he is, if he think of self.
In all this I am not speaking of Christian kings as Christians, but simply as kings.
Men busy themselves in pursuing a ball or a hare, and this is the pleasure even of kings.
to set about amusing himself with the conquest of the world. Such a pastime was good for Augustus or Alexander, who were still young men, and these are difficult to restrain, but Cæsar should have been more mature.
The weariness we experience in leaving occupations to which we are attached. A man lives with pleasure in his home, but if he sees a woman who charms him, or if he take pleasure in play for five or six days, he is miserable if he return to his former mode of life. Nothing is more common than that.
Frivolity.—It is plain that the frivolity of the world is so little known, that it is a strange and surprising thing to say it is foolish to seek for greatness, and this is great cause for wonder.
Whoso does not see the frivolity of the world is himself most frivolous. And indeed all see it save young people, who are engaged in turmoil, diversion, and the thought of the future. But take away their diversion and you will see them consumed with weariness; then they feel their nothingness without knowing it. For it is indeed to be unhappy to be intolerably sad as soon as we are reduced to the thought of self, without any diversion.
GREATNESS, Littleness.—The more light we have, the more greatness and the more baseness we discover in man.
Ordinary men . . .
The more cultivated . . .
They astonish ordinary men.
Christians. They astonish Philosophers.
Who then will be surprised to see that Religion only makes us know deeply what we already known in proportion to our light.
Greatness and Littleness.
Littleness being correlative to greatness, and greatness to littleness, some have inferred man’s littleness all the more because they have taken his greatness as a proof of it, and others have inferred his greatness with all the more force, because they have inferred it from his littleness; all that the one party was able to say for his greatness having served only as an argument of his littleness to others, because we are low in proportion to the height from which we have fallen, and the contrary is equally true. So that the one party returns on the other in an endless circle, for it is certain that in measure as men possess light the more they discern both the greatness and the littleness of man. In a word, man knows he is little. He is then little because he is so; but he is truly great because he knows it.
Man knows not in what rank to place himself. He has evidently gone astray and fallen from his true place, unable to find it again. Disquieted and unsuccessful he seeks it everywhere in impenetrable darkness.
Though we see all the miseries which close upon us and take us by the throat, we have an irrepressible instinct which raises us.
The Greatness of Man.—We have so great an idea of the human soul that we cannot bear to be despised, or to he under the disesteem of any soul, and all the happiness of men consists in that esteem.
The search after glory is the greatest vileness of man. Yet it is also the greatest mark of his excellence, for whatever riches he may have on earth, whatever health and advantage, he is not satisfied if he have not the esteem of men. He rates human reason so highly that whatever privileges he may have on earth, he is not content unless he stand well in the judgment of men. This is the finest position in the world, nothing can turn him from this desire, which is the most indelible quality of the human heart.
And those who most despise men, and place them on the level of the brutes, still wish to be admired and believed by men, and are in contradiction with themselves through their own feelings; their nature, which is stronger than all else, convincing them of the greatness of man more powerfully than reason convinces them of their vileness.
The vileness of man in that he submits himself to the brutes, and even worships them.
Instinct and reason, marks of two natures.
Description of man. Dependence, desire of independence, bodily needs.
Contradiction. To despise existence, to die for nothing, to hate our existence.
and the misfortune is that whoever would play the angel plays the brute.
If man is not made for God, why is he happy only in God?
If man is made for God, why is he so contrary to God?
Contraries. Man is naturally credulous and incredulous, timid and rash.
A corrupt nature.—Man does not act by reason, which constitutes his essence.
The nature of man is his whole nature, omne animal.
There is nothing we cannot make natural, nothing natural we cannot lose.
The true nature being lost, all becomes natural. As the true good being lost, all becomes truly good.
Misery.—Solomon and Job best knew, and have best spoken of human misery; the former the most fortunate, the latter the most unfortunate of men; the one knowing by experience the vanity of pleasure, the other the reality of evil.
It is dangerous to prove to man too plainly how nearly he is on a level with the brutes without showing him his greatness; it is also dangerous to show him his greatness too clearly apart from his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both. But it is of great advantage to show him both.
How comes it that we have so much patience with those who are maimed in body, and so little with those who are defective in mind? Because a cripple recognises that we have the true use of our legs, but the fool maintains that we are they whose understanding halts; were it not so we should feel pity and not anger.
Epictetus puts it yet more strongly: “How comes it that we are not angry if a man says we have an headache, but are angry if told we use a weak argument or make a wrong choice?” The reason of this is that we are quite certain we have no headache, or are not lame, but we are not equally sure that our judgment is correct. So having no assurance but that we see with our whole powers of sight, we are startled and confounded when another with equal powers sees the exact opposite, especially when a thousand others laugh at our decision; for then we must prefer our light to that of so many others, a daring and difficult matter. There is never this contradiction in feeling as to a cripple.
Man is so framed that by dint of telling him he is a fool he believes it, and by dint of telling it to himself he makes himself believe it. For man holds a secret communing with himself, which it behoves him well to regulate: We must keep silent as much as possible, and converse with ourselves only of God, whom we know to be true, and thus we persuade ourselves of truth.
I will not suffer him to rest on himself, nor on another, so that being without a resting place or repose . . .
If he exalt himself I humble him, if he humble himself I exalt him, and ever contradict him, till he comprehend that he is an incomprehensible monster.
The greatness of man consists in thought.
A thinking reed.—Not from space must I seek my dignity, but from the ruling of my thought. I should have no more if I possessed whole worlds. By space the Universe encompasses and swallows me as an atom, by thought I encompass it.
Man is but a reed, weakest in nature, but a reed which thinks. It needs not that the whole Universe should arm to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But were the Universe to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which has slain him, because he knows that he dies, and that the Universe has the better of him. The Universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity therefore consists in thought. By this must we raise ourselves, not by space or duration, which we cannot fill. Then let us make it our study to think well, for this is the starting-point of morals.
The greatness of man is great in that he knows he is miserable. A tree does not know that it is miserable.
It is therefore little to know ourselves little, and it is great to know ourselves little.
Thus his very infirmities prove man’s greatness. They are the infirmities of a great lord, of a discrowned king.
The greatness of man is so evident that it is even proved by his littleness. For what in animals is nature we call in man littleness, whereby we recognise that his nature being now like that of animals he is fallen from a better nature which once was his.
For what man ever was unhappy at not being a king, save a discrowned king? Was unhappy at being no longer consul? On the contrary, all men thought him happy in having filled that office, because it was involved in it that it should be but temporary. But Perseus was thought so unhappy in being no longer king, because the condition of royalty involved his being always king, that it was thought strange he could bear to live. No man thinks himself unhappy in having but one mouth, but any man is unhappy if he have but one eye. No man was ever grieved at not having three eyes, but any man is inconsolable if he have none.
Perseus, King of Macedon.—Paulus Emilius reproached Perseus for not killing himself.
There is no misery apart from sensation. A ruined house is not miserable. Man only is miserable.
It is then thought which makes man’s being, and without this we cannot conceive him. What is it in us which feels pleasure? The hand? The arm? The flesh? The blood? We see that it must be something immaterial.
I can easily conceive a man without hands, feet, head, for it is only experience which teaches us that the head is more necessary than the feet. But I cannot conceive a man without thought; he would be a stone or a brute.
Man is evidently made for thought, this is his whole dignity and his whole merit; his whole duty is to think as he ought. Now the order of thought is to begin with self, and with its author and its end.
Now of what thinks the world? Never of these things, but of dancing, playing the lute, singing, making verses, tilting at the ring, etc., of fighting, making ourselves kings, without thinking what it is to be a king, or what to be a man.
Thought.—The whole dignity of man lies in thought. But what is this thought? how foolish it is!
Thought is then in its nature admirable and incomparable. It must have strange defects to be despicable, but it has these, and so nothing is more ridiculous.
How great it is in essence, how vile in defects!
Contraries. After having shown the vileness and the greatness of man.—Let man now estimate his value. Let him love himself, because he has a nature capable of good, but let him not therefore love the vileness which exists in that nature. Let him despise himself, because this capacity is void, but let him not therefore despise his natural capacity. Let him hate himself, let him love himself: he has in himself the power of knowing the truth and being happy, and yet has found no truth either permanent or satisfactory.
I would then lead man to the desire of finding it; to be free from passions and ready to follow it where he may find it, knowing how his knowledge is obscured by the passions. I would that he should hate in himself the desires which bias his judgment, that they may neither blind him in making his choice, nor obstruct him when he has chosen.
I blame equally those who take on themselves to praise man, those who take on themselves to blame him, and those who merely amuse themselves; I can approve those only who seek with tears.
The stoics say, “Retire within yourselves, there will you find your rest;” which is not true. Others say, “Go out of yourselves, seek your happiness in diversion;” nor is that true, for sickness may come.
Happiness is neither without us nor within us; it is in God, both without us and within us.
OF the deceptive powers.—Man is only a subject full of natural error, which is indelible without grace. Nothing shows him the truth, everything deceives him. These two principles of truth, reason and the senses, in addition to the fact that they are both wanting in sincerity, reciprocally deceive each other. The senses trick the reason by false appearances, and gain from reason in their turn the same deception with which they deceive; reason avenges herself. The passions of the soul trouble the senses, and make on them false impressions. They lie and deceive, outvieing one another.
But beyond those errors which come by accident, and by a lack of intelligence, with these heterogeneous faculties . . . To begin thus the chapter on the deceptive powers.
—This is that deceitful part of man, the mistress of error and falsity, the more knavish that she is not always so, for she would be an infallible rule of truth, if she were an infallible rule of lying. But being for the most part false, she gives no mark of her character, stamping the true and the false with the same die.
I speak not of fools, but of the wisest men, and it is among them that imagination has the great gift of persuasion. Reason protests in vain, for she can make no true estimate.
This proud potentate, who loves to rule and domineer over her enemy, reason, has established in man a second nature in order to show her wide-spread influence. She makes men happy and miserable, sound and sick, rich and poor; she obliges reason to believe, doubt, and deny; she dulls the senses, or sharpens them; she has her fools and wise; and nothing vexes us more than to see that she fills her votaries with a satisfaction far more full and entire than does reason. Those whose imagination is active feel greater complacency than the truly wise can reasonably allow themselves to feel. They look down on other men as from the height of empire, they argue with assurance and confidence, others with diffidence and fear, and this gaiety of countenance often gives the former an advantage in the minds of their hearers; such favour do the imaginary wise find from judges like-minded. Imagination cannot make fools wise, but it makes them content, and so triumphs over reason, which can only make its friends miserable; the one covers them with glory, the other with shame.
What but this faculty of imagination dispenses reputation, assigns respect and veneration to persons, works, laws, and the great? How valueless are all the treasures of earth without her consent!
You would say that this magistrate whose reverend age commands the respect of a whole people is swayed by pure and lofty reason, that he judges all causes according to their true nature, unmoved by those mere accidents which only affect the imagination of the weak. See him go to sermon with devout zeal, strengthening his firm and impartial reason by the ardour of his divine love. He is ready to listen with exemplary respect. The preacher appears; but if nature have given him a hoarse voice or a comic face, if his barber have shaven him ill, or if his clothes be splashed more than is wont, then however great the truths he announces, I wager that our statesman lose his gravity.
Set the greatest philosopher in the world on a plank really wider than he needs, but hanging over a precipice, and though reason convince him of his security, imagination will prevail. Many will scarce bear the thought without a cold sweat.
I will not name all its effects. Every one knows that the sight of cats, and rats, or the crushing of a coal, etc., may quite unhinge the reason. The tone of voice will affect the wisest and change the whole force of a speech or a poem.
Love or hate will change the aspect of justice, and an advocate retained with a large fee has an increased confidence in the right of the cause he pleads, while the assurance of his demeanour commends it to the judges, duped in their turn by appearances. How ridiculous is reason, swayed by a breath in every direction!
I should have to enumerate almost every action of men who seldom stagger but under her shocks. For reason has been forced to yield, and the wisest reason accepts as her own those principles which the imagination of men has everywhere casually introduced.
Our magistrates are well aware of this mystery. Their scarlet robes, the ermine in which they wrap themselves like the halls in which they administer justice, the fleurs-de-lis, and all their august apparatus are most necessary; if the doctors had not their cassocks and their mules, if the lawyers had not their square caps, and their robes four times too wide, they would never have duped the world, which cannot resist so authoritative an appearance. Soldiers alone are not disguised after this fashion, because indeed their part is the more essential, they establish themselves by force, the others by fraud.
So our kings seek out no disguises. They do not mask themselves in strange garments to appear such, but they are accompanied by guards and halberdiers. Those armed puppets who have hands and power for them alone, those trumpets and drums which go before them, and those legions round about them, make the firmest tremble. They have not dress only, but power; we need an highly refined reason to regard as an ordinary man the Grand Turk, in his superb seraglio, surrounded with forty thousand janissaries.
We cannot even see an advocate in his long robe and with his cap on his head, without an enhanced opinion of his ability.
If magistrates had true justice, and if doctors had the true art of healing, they would have no need of square caps, the majesty of these sciences were of itself venerable enough. But having only imaginary knowledge, they must take these instruments, idle, but striking to the imagination with which they have to deal, and by that in fact they gain respect.
Imagination is the disposer of all things, it creates beauty, justice and happiness, and these are the world’s all. I should much like to see an Italian work, of which I know the title only, but such a title is worth many books: Regina del mondo. I accept the book without knowing it, save the evil in it, if there be any.
These are for the most part the effects of that deceptive faculty, which seems to have been given us expressly to lead us into necessary error. Of error however we have many other sources.
Not only are old impressions capable of deceiving us, the charms of novelty have the same power. Hence arise all the disputes of men, who charge each other either with following the false impressions of childhood or of running rashly after new. Who rightly keeps a middle way? Let him appear and make good his pretensions. There is no principle, however natural to us even from childhood, which may not be made to pass for a false impression either of education or of sense.
“Because,” say some, “you have believed from childhood that a box was empty when you saw nothing in it, you have therefore believed the possibility of a vacuum. This is an illusion of your senses, strengthened by custom, which science must correct.” “Because,” say others, “you were taught at school that there is no such thing as a vacuum, your common sense, which clearly comprehended the matter before, is corrupted, and you must correct this false impression by returning to your primitive nature.” Which has deceived you, your senses or your education?
They impair our judgment and our senses, and if the more violent produce a sensible change, I do not doubt that slighter ailments produce each its proportionate impression.
Our own interest is again a wonderful instrument for putting out our eyes in a pleasant way. The man of greatest probity can not be judge in his own cause; I know some who that they may not fall into this self love are, out of opposition, thoroughly unjust. The certain way of ruining a just cause has been to get it recommended to these men by their near relatives.
Justice and truth are two such subtle points, that our instruments are too blunt to touch them accurately. If they attain the point they cover it so completely that they rest more often on the wrong than the right.
There is internecine war in man between the reason and the passions.
If he had only reason without passions . . .
If he had only passions without reason . . .
But having both he must have continual strife, since he cannot be at peace with one unless he be at war with the other. Hence he is always divided against and contrary to himself.
The habit of seeing kings accompanied by guards, drums, officers and all those things which mechanically incline man to respect and terror, causes their countenance, when now and then seen alone, and without these accompaniments, to impress respect and terror on their subjects, because our thought cannot separate their personality from those surroundings with which it is ordinarily joined. And the world which does not know that the effect arises from habit, believes that it arises from natural force, and hence come such expressions as: “The character of Divinity is imprinted on his countenance,” etc.
The power of kings is based both on the reason and the folly of the people, and mainly on their folly. The greatest and most important matter in the world has weakness for its foundation, and this foundation is admirably sure, for there is nothing more sure than this, that the people will be weak. What is founded on sound reason is very ill founded, as the value of wisdom.
The chancellor is grave, and clothed with ornaments, for his position is unreal. Not so the king, he has power and nothing to do with imagination. Judges, doctors, etc., depend solely on imagination.
Empire founded on opinion and imagination lasts some time, the rule is gentle and willingly accepted; that founded on power lasts for ever. Thus opinion is, as it were, queen of the world, but power is its tyrant.
Power is the queen of the world, not opinion, but opinion makes use of power.
Power creates opinion. Gentleness is beautiful, as we think. Why? Because he who goes to extremes will be alone, and I will make a stronger cabal of people who will say it is inexpedient.
The cords attached by the respect of man for man, are for the most part, cords of necessity, for there must be different degrees, all men wishing to rule, but not all being able to do so, though some are able.
Let us suppose then we see men beginning to form a society. They will no doubt fight till the stronger party gets the better of the weaker, and a dominant party is constituted. But so soon as this is once settled, the masters not wishing that the strife should continue, declare that the power in their hands shall be transmitted as they please, some placing it in the choice of the people, others in the succession of birth, etc.
And here imagination begins to play her part. Till now power has constrained facts, now power is upheld by imagination in a certain party, in France that of the nobles, etc.
The cords therefore which bind the respect of men to any given man are the cords of imagination.
Our imagination so enlarges the present by dint of continually reflecting on it, and so contracts eternity, by never reflecting on it, that we make a nothing of eternity and an eternity of nothing; and all this has such living roots in us, that all our reason cannot suppress them, and that . . .
The imagination enlarges little objects so as to fill our soul with its fantastic estimate, and by a rash insolence belittles the great to its own measure, as when it speaks of God.
Things which have the greatest hold on us, as the concealing our small possessions, are often a mere nothing. It is a nothing which our imagination magnifies into a mountain, another turn of imagination would make us discover its nothingness without difficulty.
Two faces which resemble each other, neither of which alone causes our laughter, make us laugh, when together, by their resemblance.
Children who are frightened at the face they have daubed are mere children, but how shall one who is so weak when a child grow truly strong as he grows old? We only change our fancies.
All that is brought to perfection by progress perishes also by progress. All that has been weak can never be absolutely strong. It is in vain to say, “He has grown, he has changed.” He is also the same.
My fancy makes me hate a man who breathes hard when he is eating. Fancy has great weight. Will you profit by yielding to this weight because it is natural? No; but by resisting it.
Prejudice leading into error.—It is a deplorable thing to see all men deliberating on means alone, and not on the end. Every man thinks how he may acquit himself in his condition, but as for the choice of condition or of country, chance gives them to us.
It is a pitiable thing, to see so many Turks, heretics and infidels, follow the way of their fathers for the simple reason that each has been told it is the best. And that fixes for each man his condition, locksmith, soldier, etc.
nullam esse vitam sine armis rati. They love death rather than peace, other men love death rather than war.
Every opinion may be held in preference to life, of which the love seems so strong and so natural.
Thoughts.—All is one, all is diverse. How many natures in that of man, how many vocations! And by what a chance does each man take ordinarily what he has heard praised. A well turned heel.
The heel of a slipper.—How well this is turned, here is a clever workman, how brave is this soldier! Such is the source of our inclinations and of the choice of conditions. How much this man drinks, how little that man! That is what makes men sober or drunken, soldiers, cowards, etc.
Glory.—Admiration spoils everything from infancy. How well said, how well done, how clever he is! etc.
The children of Port Royal, who are not urged with this spur of envy and glory, become careless.
Glory.—The brutes have no admiration for each other. A horse does not admire his companion. Not but that they have their rivalries in a race, but that entails no consequences, for once in the stable the heaviest and most ill-formed does not yield his oats to another, as men would expect from others in their own case. Their virtue is satisfied with itself.
First degree: to be blamed for doing evil, and praised for doing good. Second degree: to be neither praised nor blamed.
are most estimable when hidden. When I see some of these in history they please me much. But after all they have not been wholly hidden, since they have become known. And though all has been done to hide them that could be done, the little whereby they have appeared has spoiled all, for what was finest in them was the desire to hide them.
We are not content with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being, we wish to live an imaginary life in the idea of others, and to this end we strive to make a show. We labour incessantly to embellish and preserve this imaginary being, and we neglect the true. And if we have either calmness, generosity, or fidelity, we hasten to let it be known, that we may attach these virtues to that imaginary being; we would even part with them for this end, and gladly become cowards for the reputation of valour. It is a great mark of the nothingness of our own being that we are not satisfied with the one without the other, and that we often renounce one for the other. For he would be infamous who would not die to preserve his honour.
Vocations.—The sweetness of glory is so great that join it to what we will, even to death, we love it.
Evil is easy, and its forms are infinite; good is almost unique. But a certain kind of evil is as difficult to find as what is called good; and often on this account this particular kind of evil gets passed off as good. There is even needed an extraordinary greatness of soul to attain to it as well as to good.
We are so presumptuous that we would fain be known by the whole world, even by those who shall come after, when we are no more. And we are such triflers that the esteem of five or six persons about us diverts and contents us.
Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that a soldier, a camp-follower, a cook, a porter makes his boasts, and is for having his admirers; even philosophers wish for them. Those who write against it, yet desire the glory of having written well, those who read, desire the glory of having read; I who write this have, may be, this desire, and perhaps those who will read it. . . .
In towns through which we pass we care not whether men esteem us, but we do care if we have to live there any time. How long is needed? A time in proportion to our vain and fleeting life.
The condition of man; inconstancy, weariness, unrest.
Whoever will know fully the vanity of man has but to consider the causes and the effects of love. The cause is an unknown quantity, and the effects are terrible. This unknown quantity, so small a matter that we cannot recognise it, moves a whole country, princes, armies, and all the world.
Cleopatra’s nose: had it been shorter, the face of the world had been changed.
Nothing better shows the frivolity of man than to consider what are the causes and what the effects of love, for all the universe is changed by them. Cleopatra’s nose.
Frivolity.—The cause and the effects of love. Cleopatra.
Pride is a counterpoise, and turns the scale against all woes. Here is a strange monster, a very visible aberration. Behold him fallen from his place, and anxiously seeking it. That is what all men do. Let us see who has found it.
Contradiction.—Pride is a counterpoise to all miseries. Man either conceals them, or if he display them, glories in the knowledge of them.
Of the desire of being esteemed by those with whom we are.—Pride has a natural possession of us in the midst of our miseries, errors, etc. We can even lose our life with joy, if men will but talk of it.
Vanity, play, hunting, visiting, false pretences, a lasting name.
Pride.—Curiosity is mere frivolity. For the most part we want to know only for the sake of talking. People would not make voyages if they were never to speak of them, for the sole pleasure of seeing, without hope of ever communicating their impressions.
ON what shall man found the economy of the world which he would fain govern? If on the caprice of each man, all is confusion. If on justice, man is ignorant of it.
Certainly had he known it, he would not have established the maxim, most general of all current among men, that every one must conform to the manners of his own country; the splendour of true equity would have brought all nations into subjection, and legislators would not have taken as their model the fancies and caprice of Persians and Germans instead of stable justice. We should have seen it established in all the States of the world, in all times, whereas now we see neither justice nor injustice which does not change its quality upon changing its climate. Three degrees of latitude reverse all jurisprudence, a meridian decides what is truth, fundamental laws change after a few years of possession, right has its epochs, the entrance of Saturn into the Lion marks for us the origin of such and such a crime. That is droll justice which is bounded by a stream! Truth on this side of the Pyrenees, error on that.
It is admitted that justice is not in these customs, but that it resides in natural laws common to every country. This would no doubt be maintained with obstinacy if the rash chance which has disseminated human laws had lighted upon even one that is universal, but the singularity of the matter is that owing to the vagaries of human caprice there is not one.
Theft, incest, infanticide, parricide, all have found a place among virtuous actions. Can there be any thing more absurd than that a man should have the right to kill me because he lives across the water, and because his prince has a quarrel with mine, although I have none with him? There are no doubt natural laws, but fair reason once corrupted has corrupted all. nostrum est; quod nostrum dicimus, artis est. Ex senatus consultis, et plebiscitis crimina exercentur. Ut olim vitiis, sic nunc legibus laboramus.
From this confusion it results that one declares the essence of justice to be the authority of the legislator, another, the convenience of the sovereign, another, existing custom, and this is the most sure; nothing which follows reason alone is just in itself, all shifts and changes with time; custom creates equity, by the simple reason that this is received. It is the mystical foundation of its authority, whoever carries it back to first principles annihilates it. Nothing is so faulty as those laws which correct faults. Whoever obeys them because they are just, obeys an imaginary justice, not law in its essence; it is altogether self-contained, it is law and nothing more. Whoever will examine its motive will find it so feeble and so slight that if he be not used to contemplate the marvels of human imagination, he will wonder that a single century has gained for it so much pomp and reverence. It is the art of disturbance and of revolution to shake established customs, sounding them to their source, to mark their want of authority and justice. We must, it is said, return to the primitive and fundamental laws of the State, abolished by unjust custom. It is a game wherein we are sure to lose all; in this balance nothing would be true, yet the people easily lends an ear to such talk as this. They shake off the yoke as soon as they recognise it, and the great profit by its ruin, and by the ruin of those who have too curiously examined recognised customs. This is why said that it was often necessary to cheat men for their good, and another, a good politician, qua liberetur ignoret, expedit quod fallatur. We ought not to feel the truth that law is but usurpation; it was once introduced without reason, and has become reasonable; it is necessary to cause it to be regarded as eternal and authoritative, and to conceal the beginning if we do not wish it should soon come to an end.
I have passed much of my life believing that justice existed, and in this I did not deceive myself, for there is justice according as God has willed to reveal it to us. But I did not take it so, and in that I deceived myself, for I believed that our justice was essentially just, and that I had that whereby I was able to know and judge of it. But I so often find that my right judgment was at fault, that at last I have begun to distrust myself, and then others. I saw in all countries that men change, and thus after many changes of judgment concerning true justice, I recognised that our nature was a continual change, and I have not changed since; were I to change I should but strengthen my opinion. The sceptic became a dogmatist.
The most unreasonable things in the world become most reasonable, because of the unruly lives of men. What is less reasonable than to choose the eldest son of a queen to guide a state? for we do not choose as steersman of a ship that one of the passengers who is of the best family. Such a law would be ridiculous and unjust; but since they are so themselves, and ever will be, it becomes reasonable and just. For would they choose the most virtuous and able, we at once fall to blows, since each asserts that he is the most virtuous and able. Let us then affix this quality to something which cannot be disputed. This man is the king’s eldest son. That is clear, and there is no dispute. Reason can do no better, for civil war is the worst of evils.
Men of unruly lives assert that they alone follow nature, while those who are orderly stray from her paths; as passengers in a ship think that those move who stand upon the shore. Both sides say the same thing. There must be a fixed point to enable us to judge. The harbour decides the question for those who are in the vessel, but where can we find the harbour in morals?
When all moves equally, nothing seems to move, as in a ship. When all tend to vice, none appears to do so. Whoever stops draws attention to the onward movement of others, as does a fixed point.
Justice is what is established, and thus all our established laws are necessarily held to be just without being examined, because they are established.
Justice.—As fashion makes what is agreeable, so it makes what is just.
Our natural principles are but principles of custom. In children natural principles are those which they have received from the habits of their fathers, as hunting in animals.
A different custom will produce different natural principles. This experience testifies, and if there are some natural principles ineradicable by custom, so are there some customs opposed to nature ineradicable by nature, or by a second custom. This depends on constitution.
Fathers fear that the natural love of their children may be effaced. Now what sort of thing is that nature which is liable to be effaced. Custom is a second nature which destroys the former. But what is nature, for is not custom natural? I am greatly afraid that nature itself may be only our first custom, as custom is second nature.
was wrong: custom should only be followed because it is custom, and not because it is reasonable or just; but most men follow it for the simple reason that they think it just. Otherwise they would not follow it though it were the custom, for our only wish is to be subjected to reason or to justice. Without this, custom would pass for tyranny, but the empire of reason and justice is no more tyrannical than that of desire. These are principles natural to man.
It is then good to obey laws and customs because they are laws, but we ought to know that there is neither truth nor justice to introduce into them, that we know nothing about these, and can therefore only follow what is recognised, and thus we should never transgress them. But most men cannot receive this doctrine, and since they believe that truth can be found, and that it resides in law and custom, they believe these laws, and take their antiquity as a proof of their truth, and not merely of their authority apart from truth. Thus they obey the laws, but are liable to revolt when these are shown to be of no value; and this may be proved of all of them, looked at from a certain point of view.
Injustice.—The authority of the judge is not given him for his sake, but for that of the judged. It is dangerous to say this to the people, but the people have too much faith in you; that will not harm them, and may serve you. You must then say it openly. not tuas. You owe me pasturage.
Injustice.—It is dangerous to say to the people that the laws are not just, for men obey them only because they think them just. Therefore it is necessary to say at the same time that they must be obeyed because they are laws, as superiors must be obeyed, not because they are just, but because they are superiors. All sedition is averted, if this principle be established and it be understood what is rightly the definition of justice.
If God gave us masters direct from himself, how heartily ought we to obey them! Circumstances and necessity are infalliable masters.
Custom is our nature. Whoever is accustomed to the faith believes in it, can no longer even fear hell, and believes in nothing else. Whoever accustoms himself to believe that the king is terrible . . . etc. Who doubts then that our soul, being accustomed to see number, space, and motion, believes that and nothing else?
Veri juris; we have it no longer; had we it, we should not take the manners of our country as our rule of justice.
Here, not finding justice, we fall back on force, etc.
It is a ridiculous thing to consider that there are people in the world who, having renounced all the laws of God and nature, have yet made laws for themselves which they exactly obey, as, for instance, etc., and thus logicians . . .
It seems as though their licence must be without limit or barrier, since they have broken down so many that are just and holy.
Weakness.—The whole employment of men is to gain wealth; yet they have no title to show that they justly possess it but human caprice, nor have they power to hold it securely. It is the same with knowledge, of which disease deprives us. We are incapable both of truth and of goodness.
are offended if they are called noble, and bring proof of their plebian race that they may be judged worthy of office.
When the question is of judging whether we ought to make war and kill so many men, there is only one man who is the judge, and he an interested party; there ought to be a third, and he disinterested.
“Why do you kill me?—What! Do not you live on the other side of the stream, my friend? If you lived on this side I should be an assassin, and it were unjust to kill you in this fashion, but since you live on the other side, I am a brave soldier, and it is just.”
Justice, Power.—It is just that what is just should be obeyed, it is of necessity that what is strongest should be obeyed.
Justice without power is unavailing, power without justice is tyrannical. Justice without power is gainsaid, because the wicked always exist, power without justice is condemned. We must therefore combine justice and power, making what is just strong, and what is strong just.
Justice is subject to dispute, power is easily recognised and cannot be disputed. Thus we cannot give power to justice, because power has arraigned justice, saying that justice is unjust, and she herself truly just; so since we are unable to bring about that what is just should be strong, we have made the strong just.
The sole universal rules are the laws of the country in ordinary affairs, and the law of the majority in others. And this comes from the power which is in them.
Thus it comes that kings, whose power is of another kind, do not follow the majority of their ministers.
No doubt equality of goods is just, but since they are unable to bring about that power should obey justice, people have judged it right to obey power; not being able to add power to justice they have justified power, so that justice and power should coalesce, and peace, the sovereign good, result.
Do we follow the majority because they have more reason? No; but because they have more power.
Do we follow ancient laws and opinions because they are more sound? No; but because they stand alone and take from us the root of diversity.
The way of the majority is the best way, because it is plain, and has power to make itself obeyed; yet it is the opinion of the least able.
If men could have done so, they would have placed power in the hands of justice, since we cannot deal with power as we please, because it is a tangible quality, while justice is a spiritual quality of which we dispose as we please, they have placed justice in the hands of power, and thus that is called just which we are forced to obey.
Thence arises the right of the sword, for the sword gives a true right.
Otherwise we should see violence on one side and justice on the other.
Thence the injustice of which raises its socalled justice against power.
It is not the same in the Church, for there is true justice and no violence.
Injustice.—That presumption should be joined to insignificance is extreme injustice.
Tyranny consists in the desire of universal rule outside its sphere.
There are different societies, in which are the strong, the fair, the judicious, the devout, in which each man rules at home, not elsewhere. Sometimes they meet, and the strong and the fair contend for the mastery, foolishly, for their mastery is each in a different kind. They do not agree, and their fault is that each aims at universal dominion. None can obtain this, not even power, which is of no avail in the realm of the wise; she is only mistress of our external actions.
Tyranny.—Thus the following expressions are false and tyrannical: “I am beautiful, therefore I should be feared; I am strong, therefore I should be loved. I am . . .”
Tyranny is the wishing to have in one way what can only be had in another. Divers duties are owing to divers merits, the duty of love to the pleasant, of fear to the strong, of belief to the wise.
These duties should be paid, it is unjust to refuse them, unjust also to require others. In the same way it is false and tyrannous to say, “He is not strong, therefore I will not esteem him; he is not clever, therefore I will not fear him.”
It is necessary that men should be unequal. True; but that being granted, the door is open, not only to the greatest domination, but to the greatest tyranny.
It is necessary to relax the mind a little, but that opens the door to extreme dissipation.
We must mark the limits.—There are no fixed boundaries in these matters, law wishes to impose them, but the mind will not bear them.
Mine, Thine.—“This is my dog,” said those poor children, “that is my place in the sunshine.” Here is the beginning and the image of the usurpation of the whole earth.
Good birth is a great advantage, for it gives a man a chance at the age of eighteen, making him known and respected as an ordinary man is on his merits at fifty. Here are thirty years gained at a stroke.
It is the result of power and not of custom. For those who are able to originate are few, the greater number will only follow, and refuse glory to those inventors who seek it by their inventions. And if they persist in wishing to gain glory, and in despising those who do not originate, the others will give them ridicule and would fain give them blows. Let no one then pride himself on this subtle capacity, or else let him keep his content to himself.
The reason of effects.—It is strange that men would not have me honour a man clothed in brocade, and followed by seven or eight footmen! Yet he will have them if I do not salute him. This custom is a power. It is the same with a horse in fine trappings compared with another. does not see what difference there is, wonders that we find any, and asks the reason. “Indeed,” he says, “how comes it,” etc. . . .
when a mere soldier takes the square cap of a first president, and flings it out of the window.
Injustice.—Men have found no means to gratify their sensuality without wrong to others.
The greatness of man even in his sensuality, to have known how to extract from it an admirable code, and to have drawn from it a picture of love to others.
Greatness.—The reason of effects mark the greatness of man, in having formed so fair an order out of sensuality.
The reason of effects.—Sensuality and power are the source of all our actions; sensuality causes those which are voluntary, power the involuntary.
From sensuality men have found and drawn excellent rules of policy, of morals, and of justice.
But after all, this evil root of man, this is only hidden, it is not removed.
All men by nature hate each other. They have used sensuality as best they could to make it serve the public weal, but this is only a feint, and a false image of charity, for at bottom it is but hate.
To pity the unfortunate is not contrary to sensuality, rather is it easy to render this evidence of friendship, and to gain the reputation of a tender heart, without giving.
The people have very sound opinions, for instance:
1. In having preferred diversion and hunting to poetry. The half educated deride this, and are triumphant over the folly of the world, but the people are right by a reason which the others do not understand.
2. In distinguishing men by outward marks, as birth or wealth. The world is again triumphant in showing how unreasonable this is, yet it is thoroughly reasonable.
3. In taking offence at a blow, or in desiring glory so strongly.
But it is very desirable, on account of the other essential goods which are joined to it, and a man who has received a blow without resenting it is overwhelmed with abuse and indignity.
4. In working for an uncertainty, in going on a sea voyage, in walking over a plank.
Sound opinions of the people.—Civil wars are the greatest of all evils. They are certain, if we try to reward desert, for all will say they deserve. The evil to fear from a fool who succeeds by right of birth, is neither so great nor so certain.
Sound opinions of the people.—To be well dressed is not altogether foolish, for it proves that a great number of people work for us. It shows by our hair, that we have a valet, a perfumer etc. by our band, our thread, our trimming, etc. Now it is not merely superficial nor simply outward show to have many arms at our disposal.
The more arms we have the stronger we are. To be well dressed is to show our power.
The reason of effects.—Continual alternation of pro and con.
We have then shown that man is frivolous, by the estimation he has of non-essentials. And all these opinions are destroyed. We have next shown that all these opinions were perfectly sound, and that thus all these frivolities being well founded, the people is not so frivolous as is said. And thus we have destroyed the opinion which destroyed that of the people.
But we must now destroy this last proposition, and show that it remains always true that the people is frivolous, though its opinions are sound, because it does not feel the truth where it is, and placing it where it is not, its opinions are always very false and very unsound.
The reason of effects.—It is, then, true to say that all men are under an illusion, for even though the opinions of the people be sound, they are not so as they hold them, for they think that truth is where it is not. Truth is indeed in their opinions, but not at the point where they imagine it.
Thus, it is true that we should honour men of birth, but not because good birth is in itself an advantage, etc.
The reason of effects.—Gradation. The people honours persons of high birth. The half-educated despise them, saying that birth is not a personal, but a chance advantage. The educated honour them, not from the motives of the people, but from another motive. Devout persons of more zeal than knowledge despise them, in spite of that consideration which makes them honoured by the educated, because they judge by a new light arising from their piety. But true Christians honour them by a still higher light. So there is a succession of opinions for and against, according to the measure of our light.
How rightly do men distinguish by exterior rather than by interior qualities! Which of us twain shall take the lead? Who will give place to the other? The least able? But I am as able as he is. We should have to fight about that. He has four footmen, and I have but one; that is something which can be seen; there is nothing to do but to count; it is my place to yield, and I am a fool if I contest it. So by this means we remain at peace, the greatest of all blessings.
Deference is shown by submitting to personal inconvenience. This is apparently foolish but really just, for it is to say, “I would certainly put myself to inconvenience did you need it, since I do so when it can be of no service to you.” Respect, moreover, is for the purpose of marking distinctions of rank. Now if it showed respect to be seated in an arm-chair, we should pay respect to every body, and thus no distinction would be made, but being put to inconvenience we distinguish very well.
The reason of effects.—We should keep our own secret thoughts, and judge of all by those, while speaking like every one else.
King and Tyrant.—I too will have my secret thoughts. I will take care on every journey.
The reason of effects.— Those who say “You have a headache,” this is not the same thing. We are assured of health, and not of justice, and indeed his own was folly.
Yet he believed it demonstrable when he said, “it is either in our power or it is not.”
But he did not see that it is not in our power to regulate the heart, and he was wrong to draw this conclusion from the fact that some were Christians.
The reason of effects.—It is owing to the weakness of man that so many things are esteemed beautiful, as to be well skilled in playing the lute.
It is only an evil because of our weakness.
THE Misery of Man.—We care nothing for the present. as too slow in coming, as if we could make it move faster; or we call back the past, to stop its rapid flight. So imprudent are we that we wander through the times in which we have no part, unthinking of that which alone is ours; so frivolous are we that we dream of the days which are not, and pass by without reflection those which alone exist. For the present generally gives us pain; we conceal it from our sight because it afflicts us, and if it be pleasant we regret to see it vanish away. We endeavour to sustain the present by the future, and think of arranging things not in our power, for a time at which we have no certainty of arriving.
If we examine our thoughts, we shall find them always occupied with the past or the future. We scarcely think of the present, and if we do so, it is only that we may borrow light from it to direct the future. The present is never our end; the past and the present are our means, the future alone is our end. Thus we never live, but hope to live, and while we always lay ourselves out to be happy, it is inevitable that we can never be so.
We are so unhappy that we cannot take pleasure in a thing save on condition of being troubled if it turn out ill, as a thousand things may do, and do every hour. He who should find the secret of rejoicing in good without being troubled at its contrary evil, would have hit the mark. It is perpetual motion.
Our nature exists by motion; prefect rest is death.
When we are well we wonder how we should get on if we were sick, but when sickness comes we take our medicine cheerfully, into that the evil resolves itself. We have no longer those passions and that desire for amusement and gadding abroad, which were ours in health, but are now incompatible with the necessities of our disease. So then nature gives us passions and desires in accordance with the immediate situation. Nothing troubles us but fears, which we, and not nature, make for ourselves, because fear adds to the condition in which we are the passions of the condition in which we are not.
Since nature makes us always unhappy in every condition, our desires paint for us a happy condition, joining to that in which we are, the pleasures of the condition in which we are not, and were we to gain these pleasures we should not therefore be happy, because we should have other desires conformable to this new estate.
We must particularize this general proposition. . .
What difference in point of obedience is there between a soldier and a Carthusian? For both are alike under rule and dependent, both engaged in equally irksome labours. But the soldier always hopes to bear rule, and though he never does so, for even captains and princes are always slaves and dependents, he ever hopes and ever works to attain mastery, whereas the Carthusian makes a vow never to be aught else than dependent. Thus they do not differ in their perpetual servitude, which is the same always for both, but in the hope which one always has, the other never.
The example of has not made so many continent as that of his drunkenness has made intemperate. It is not shameful to be less virtuous than he, and it seems excusable to be no more vicious. We do not think ourselves wholly partakers in the vices of ordinary men, when we see that we share those of the great, not considering that in such matters the great are but ordinary men. We hold on to them by the same end by which they hold on to the people, for at whatsoever height they be, they are yet united at some point to the lowest of mankind. They are not suspended in the air, abstracted from our society. No, doubly no; if they are greater than we, it is because their heads are higher; but their feet are as low as ours. There all are on the same level, resting on the same earth, and by the lower extremity are as low as we are, as the meanest men, as children, and the brutes.
Great men and little have the same accidents, the same tempers, the same passions, but one is on the felloe of the wheel, the other near the axle, and so less agitated by the same revolutions.
Would he who had enjoyed the friendship of the King of Poland, and the Queen of Sweden have thought he should come to want, and need a retreat or shelter in the world?
Man is full of wants, and cares only for those who can satisfy them all. “Such an one is a good mathematician,” it is said. But I have nothing to do with mathematics, he would take me for a proposition. “This other is a good soldier.” He would treat me as a besieged city. I need then an honourable man who can lend himself generally to all my wants.
Men say that eclipses presage misfortune, because misfortunes are common, so that as evil often happens they often divine it; whereas to say that they presage happiness would often prove false. They attribute happiness only to rare planetary conjunctions, and thus they seldom fail in their divination.
We are fools if we rest content with the society of those like ourselves; miserable as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us, We ought therefore to act as though we were alone, and should we in that case build superb mansions, etc.? We should search for truth unhesitatingly, and if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.
The last act is tragic, how pleasantly soever the play may have run through the others. At the end a little earth is flung on our head, and all is over for ever.
I feel that I might not have been, for the ‘I’ consists in my thought; therefore I, who think, had not been had my mother been killed before I had life. So I am not a necessary being. Neither am I eternal nor infinite, but I see plainly there is in nature a necessary being, eternal and infinite.
As duchies, kingships, and magistracies are real and necessary, because power rules all, these exist every where and always. But since it is only caprice which makes one or another duke or king, the rule is not constant, and may vary, etc.
was about to ravage the whole of Christendom, the royal family had been brought to nought, and his own dynasty for ever established, but for a little grain of sand in his bladder. Rome herself began to tremble under him, but this scrap of gravel having got there, he dies, his family falls from power, peace is established, and the king restored.
Scepticism.—Excessive or deficient mental powers are alike accused of madness. Nothing is good but mediocrity. The majority has settled that, and assails whoever escapes it, no matter by which extreme. I make no objection, would willingly consent to be in the mean, and I refuse to be placed at the lower end, not because it is low, but because it is an extreme, for I would equally refuse to be placed at the top. To leave the mean is to leave humanity. The greatness of the human soul consists in knowing how to keep the mean. So little is it the case that greatness consists in leaving it, that it lies in not leaving it.
Discourses on humility give occasion for pride to the boastful, and for humility to the humble. Those on scepticism give occasion for believers to affirm. Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, few of scepticism doubtingly. We are but falsehood, duplicity and contradiction, using even to ourselves concealment and guile.
There are vices which only take hold of us by means of others, and these, like branches, fall with the removal of the trunk.
For we must not mistake ourselves, we have as much that is automatic in us as intellectual, and hence it comes that the instrument by which persuasion is brought about is not demonstration alone. How few things are demonstrated! Proofs can only convince the mind; custom makes our strongest proofs and those which we hold most firmly, it sways which draws the unconscious intellect after it. Who has demonstrated that there will be a to-morrow, or that we shall die; yet what is more universally believed? It is then custom that convinces us of it, custom that makes so many men Christians, custom that makes them Turks, heathen, artisans, soldiers, etc. Lastly, we must resort to custom when once the mind has seen where truth is, in order to slake our thirst, and steep ourselves in that belief, which escapes us at every hour, for to have proofs always at hand were too onerous. We must acquire a more easy belief, that of custom, which without violence, without art, without argument, causes our assent and inclines all our powers to this belief, so that our soul naturally falls into it. It is not enough to believe only by force of conviction if the automaton is inclined to believe the contrary. Both parts of us then must be obliged to believe, the intellect by arguments which it is enough to have admitted once in our lives, the automaton by custom, and by not allowing it to incline in the contrary direction.
The intellect believes naturally, and the will loves naturally, so that for lack of true objects, they must needs attach themselves to the false.
scientes bonum et malum.—Every one plays the god in judging whether anything be good or bad, and in being too much afflicted or rejoiced at circumstances.
Even if people have no interest in what they say, it must not therefore be certainly concluded they are not lying, for there are are those who lie simply for lying’s sake.
Men are of necessity so mad, that not to be mad were madness in another form.
We cannot think of Plato and Aristotle, save in pro fessorial robes. They were honest men like others, laughing with their friends, and when they amused themselves with writing the Laws or the Politics, they did it as a pastime. That part of their life was the least philosophic and the least serious; the most philosophic was to live simply and quietly. If they wrote on politics it was as though they were laying down rules for a madhouse, and if they made as though they were speaking of a great matter, it was because they knew that the madmen to whom they spoke fancied themselves kings and emperors. They entered into their views in order to make their folly as little harmful as possible.
The most important affair in life is the choice of a trade, yet chance decides it. Custom makes men masons, soldiers, tilers. “He is a good tiler,” says one, “and soldiers are fools.” But others: “There is nothing great but war, all but soldiers are rogues.” We choose our professions according as we hear this or that praised or despised in our childhood, for we naturally love truth and hate folly. These words move us, the only fault is in their application. So great is the force of custom that out of those who by nature are only men, are made all conditions of men. For some countries are full of masons, others of soldiers, etc. Nature is certainly not so uniform. Custom then produces this effect and gains ascendency over nature, yet sometimes nature gets the upper hand, and obliges man to act by instinct in spite of all custom, whether good or bad.
Men by nature are tilers and of all callings, except in their own closets.
We never teach men to be gentlemen, but we teach them everything else, and they never pique themselves so much on all the rest as on knowing how to be gentlemen. They pique themselves only on knowing the one thing they have not learnt.
People should not be able to say of a man, he is a mathematician, or a preacher, or eloquent, but he is a gentleman; that universal quality alone pleases me.—When you think of a man’s book as soon as you see himself, it is a bad sign. I would rather that none of his qualities should be recognised till you meet them, or have occasion to avail yourself of them. Ne quid nimis, for fear some one quality gain the mastery and stamp the man. Let not people think of him as an orator, unless oratory be in question, then let them think of it.
No man passes in the world as an expert in verse unless he hang out the sign of a poet, a mathematician, etc. But people who are generally accomplished need no sign and scarce recognise any difference between the trade of a poet and that of an embroiderer.
People of general accomplishment are not called poets or geometricians, etc., though they are so, and judges of all these. You do not guess what they are. When they enter a society they join in the general conversation. They do not exhibit one quality rather than another, except when they have to make use of it. Then we remember it, for it is natural to such characters that we do not say of them that they are fine speakers when it is not a question of oratory, and that we give them the praise of eloquence if occasion call for it.
It is false praise then to say of a man as soon as he enters a society that he is a clever poet, and it is a bad sign when a man is never called on to give his opinion on such a subject as verse.
Inconstancy.—Things have different qualities, and the soul different inclinations; for nothing is simple which presents itself to the soul, and the soul never presents itself simply to any subject. Hence it comes that
Greatness of establishment, respect for establishment.
The pleasure of the great is to be able to make people happy.
The property of riches is to be given liberally.
The property of each thing should be sought out. The property of power is to protect.
Saint Augustine saw that we labour for an uncertainty, at sea, in a battle, etc.; he did not see the doctrine of chances, which demonstrates that we must do so. Montaigne saw that we are disgusted at a distorted mind, and that custom can do all things, but he did not see the reason of that effect.
All these men saw the effects, but did not see the causes; in relation to those who have discovered the causes they are as those who have only eyes are in regard to those who who have intellect. For the effects are as it were sensible, and the causes are visible only to the intellect. And though these effects too are apprehended through reason, yet is it in relation to the reason which apprehends causes, as the bodily senses are to the intellect.
Suppose a man puts himself at a window to see the passers by. If I pass I cannot say that he stood there to see me, for he does not think of me in particular. Nor does any one who loves another on account of beauty really love that person, for the small-pox, which kills beauty without killing the person, will cause the loss of love. Nor does one who loves me for my judgment, my memory, love me, myself, for I may lose those qualities without losing my identity. Where then is this ‘I’ if it reside not in the body nor in the soul, and how love the body or the soul, except for the qualities which do not make ‘me,’ since they are perishable? For it is not possible and it would be unjust to love the soul of a person in the abstract, and whatever qualities might be therein. So then we do not love a person, but only qualities. We should not then sneer at those who are honoured on account of rank and office, for we love no one save for borrowed qualities.
Time heals all pain and misunderstanding, because we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves. It is like a nation which we have angered and meet again after two generations. They are Frenchmen still, but not the same.
Inconstancy and singularity.—To live only by labour, and to reign over the most powerful state in the world, are very opposite things. They are united in the person of of the Turks.
It pleases us to say ‘Prince’ to a king, because it lessens his quality.
Epigrams of Martial.—Men like malice, but not against one-eyed men, nor against the unfortunate, but against the fortunate and proud. Those who think otherwise make a mistake.
For sensuality is the source of all our movements, and humanity, etc.
We must please those whose feelings are humane and tender.
is valueless, for it brings them no consolation, and only gives a point to the author’s glory. All that is merely for the sake of the author is valueless.
I put it down as a fact that if all men knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world. This is evident from the quarrels which arise from indiscreet reports made from time to time.
Those who are always hopeful in adversity, and rejoice in good luck, are suspected of being glad of failure should they not be correspondingly depressed under bad luck; they are delighted to find pretexts for hoping, in order to show that they are interested, and to hide by the joy they pretend to feel that which they really feel at the ill success of the affair.
Malignity when it has reason on its side becomes proud and displays reason in all its splendour.
If austerity or a rigid choice have not found the true good, and we must needs return to follow nature, it becomes proud by reason of this return.
A maker of epigrams,—a bad man.
Do you wish men to believe good of you? Then say none.
We ought to be much obliged to those who tell us of our faults, for they mortify us, they teach us we have been despised, they do not prevent our being so in the future, for we have many other faults which are despicable. They prepare for us the exercise of correction, and freedom from a fault.
If we would reprove with success, and show another his mistake, we must see from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is generally true, and admitting that truth, show him the side on which it is false. He will be satisfied, for he will see that he was not mistaken, only that he did not see all sides. Now, no one is vexed at not seeing every thing. But we do not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man by nature cannot see everything, and that by nature he cannot be mistaken in the side he looks at, since what we apprehend by our senses is always true.
I passed a long time in the study of the abstract sciences, and was much discouraged at finding how few were my fellow-students. When I began the study of man I saw that these abstract sciences were not fit for him, and that I was wandering more from my true state in investigating them, than others in ignoring them. I forgave their scanty knowledge. But I thought at least to find many fellow-students in the study of man, and that this was the real study which befits us. I was deceived, for there are still fewer than those who study mathematics. It is only for want of knowing how to pursue this study that we seek others. But is it not that even here is not the knowledge that man should have, and that it is better for him to be ignorant of himself in order to be happy?
The Vanity of Knowledge.—The knowledge of external things will not console me for my ignorance of ethics in time of affliction, but the science of morals will always console me for my ignorance of external knowledge.
There are plants on the earth, we see them, but they could not be seen from the moon. On these plants are hairs, and in these hairs tiny animals, but beyond that, nothing more. O, presumption! Compound bodies are made up of elements, but not the elementary bodies themselves. O presumption! Here is a fine distinction. We must not assert the existence of what we cannot see, we must then say what others say, but not think with them.
The world’s judgment is right, for it is in that condition of natural ignorance which is man’s best wisdom. The sciences have two extremes which meet. The first is that pure natural ignorance in which every man is born. The other extreme is that reached by great minds, who, having run through all that men can know, find that they know nothing, and again come round to the same ignorance from which they started; but this is a learned ignorance, conscious of itself. Those between the two, who have left their natural ignorance and not been able to reach the other, have some tincture of this vain knowledge, and assume to be wise. These trouble the world, and judge all things falsely. The people and the wise make up the world; these despise it, and are despised; they judge ill of all things and the world rightly judges of them.
Nature has made all her truths self-contained. Our art encloses them one within another, but that is not according to nature. Each holds its own place.
—When we see the same effect invariably recur we conclude there is in it a natural necessity, as that there will be a to-morrow, etc. But nature often gives us the lie, and will not subject herself to her own rules.
Nature always begins the same things again, years, days, and hours, and in like manner spaces and numbers follow each other, end without end. So is made a sort of infinity and eternity, not that any thing of these is infinite and eternal, but these finite entities are infinitely multiplied.
Thus as it seems to me the number which multiplies them alone is infinite.
Nature imitates herself. A seed sown in good ground brings forth fruit. A principle cast into a good mind brings forth fruit.
Numbers imitate space, which is of an wholly different nature.
All is made and guided by one and the same master, root, branch and fruits; principles and consequences.
Nature works by progress, itus et reditus. It goes and returns, then it goes further, then twice as much backwards, then more forward than ever, etc.
So it is with the tide of the sea, and so apparently with the course of the sun.
Every one is all in all to himself, for he being dead, all is dead to him. Hence it comes that each man believes that he is all to all. We ought not to judge of nature by ourselves, but by it.
Self is hateful. You Miton, conceal self, but do not thereby destroy it, therefore you are still hateful.
—Not so, for in acting as we do, to oblige every body, we give no reason for hating us.—True, if we only hated in self the vexation which it causes us.
But if I hate it because it is unjust, and because it makes itself the centre of all, I shall always hate it.
In one word Self has two qualities, it is unjust in its essence because it makes itself the centre of all, it is inconvenient to others, in that it would bring them into subjection, for each ‘I’ is the enemy, and would fain be the tyrant of all others. You take away the inconvenience, but not the injustice, and thus you do not render it loveable to those who hate injustice; you render it loveable only to the unjust, who find in it an enemy no longer. Thus you remain unjust and can please none but the unjust.
Of Self-love.—The nature of self-love and of this human ‘I’ is to love self only, and consider self only. But what can it do? It cannot prevent the object it loves from being full of faults and miseries; man would fain be great and sees that he is little, would fain be happy, and sees that he is miserable, would fain be perfect, and sees that he is full of imperfections, would fain be the object of the love and esteem of men, and sees that his faults merit only their aversion and contempt. The embarrassment wherein he finds himself produces in him the most unjust and criminal passion imaginable, for he conceives a mortal hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults. Desiring to annihilate it, yet unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as much as he can in his own knowledge, and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his care to the concealment of his faults, both from others and from himself, and he can neither bear that others should show them to him, nor that they should see them.
It is no doubt an evil to be full of faults, but it is a greater evil to be full of them, yet unwilling to recognise them, because that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion. We do not like others to deceive us, we do not think it just in them to require more esteem from us than they deserve; it is therefore unjust that we should deceive them, desiring more esteem from them than we deserve.
Thus if they discover no more imperfections and vices in us than we really have, it is plain they do us no wrong, since it is not they who cause them; but rather they do us a service, since they help us to deliver ourselves from an evil, the ignorance of these imperfections. We ought not to be troubled that they know our faults and despise us, since it is but just they should know us as we are, and despise us if we are despicable.
Such are the sentiments which would arise in a heart full of equity and justice. What should we say then of our own heart, finding in it an wholly contrary disposition? For is it not true that we hate truth, and those who tell it us, and that we would wish them to have an erroneously favourable opinion of us, and to esteem us other than indeed we are?
One proof of this fills me with dismay. The Catholic religion does not oblige us to tell out our sins indiscriminately to all, it allows us to remain hidden from men in general, but she excepts one alone, to whom she commands us to open the very depths of our heart, and to show ourselves to him as we are. There is but this one man in the world whom she orders us to undeceive; she binds him to an inviolable secrecy, so that this knowledge is to him as though it were not. We can imagine nothing more charitable and more tender. Yet such is the corruption of man, that he finds even this law harsh, and it is one of the main reasons which has set a large portion of Europe in revolt against the Church.
How unjust and unreasonable is the human heart which finds it hard to be obliged to do in regard to one man what in some degree it were just to do to all men. For is it just that we should deceive them?
There are different degrees in this dislike to the truth, but it may be said that all have it in some degree, for it is inseparable from self-love. This false delicacy causes those who must needs reprove others to choose so many windings and modifications in order to avoid shocking them. They must needs lessen our faults, seem to excuse them, mix praises with their blame, give evidences of affection and esteem. Yet this medicine is always bitter to self-love, which takes as little as it can, always with disgust, often with a secret anger against those who administer it.
Hence it happens, that if any desire our love, they avoid doing us a service which they know to be disagreeable; they treat us as we would wish to be treated: we hate the truth, and they hide it from us; we wish to be flattered, they flatter us; we love to be deceived, they deceive us.
Thus each degree of good fortune which raises us in the world removes us further from truth, because we fear most to wound those whose affection is most useful, and whose dislike is most dangerous. A prince may be the by-word of all Europe, yet he alone know nothing of it. I am not surprised; to speak the truth is useful to whom it is spoken, but disadvantageous to those who speak it, since it makes them hated. Now those who live with princes love their own interests more than that of the prince they serve, and thus they take care not to benefit him so as to do themselves a disservice.
This misfortune is, no doubt, greater and more common in the higher classes, but lesser men are not exempt from it, since there is always an interest in making men love us. Thus human life is but a perpetual illusion, an interchange of deceit and flattery. No one speaks of us in our presence as in our absence. The society of men is founded on this universal deceit: few friendships would last if every man knew what his friend said of him behind his back, though he then spoke in sincerity and without passion.
Man is then only disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in himself and with regard to others. He will not be told the truth, he avoids telling it to others, and all these tendencies, so far removed from justice and reason, have their natural roots in his heart.
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. Patrem, 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: Deus 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.
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.
SECOND Part. That men without faith cannot know the true good, nor justice.
All men seek happiness. To this there is no exception, what different means soever they employ, all tend to this goal. The reason that some men go to the wars and others avoid them is but the same desire attended in each with different views. Our will makes no steps but towards this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of him who hangs himself.
And yet after so many years, no one without faith has arrived at the point to which all eyes are turned. All complain, princes and subjects, nobles and commons, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, sound and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions.
A trial so long, so constant and so uniform, should surely convince us of our inability to arrive at good by our own strength, but example teaches us but little. No resemblance is so exact but that there is some slight difference, and hence we expect that our endeavour will not be foiled on this occasion as before. Thus while the present never satisfies, experience deceives us, and from misfortune to misfortune leads us on to death, eternal crown of sorrows.
This desire, and this weakness cry aloud to us that there was once in man a true happiness, of which there now remains to him but the mark and the empty trace, which he vainly tries to fill from all that surrounds him, seeking from things absent the succour he finds not in things present; and these are all inadequate, because this infinite void can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God himself.
He only is our true good, and since we have left him, it is strange that there is nothing in nature which has not served to take his place; nor heaven, earth, the elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, pestilence, war, famine, vices, adultery, incest. And since he has lost the true good, all things can equally appear good to him, even his own destruction, though so contrary to God, to reason, and to the whole course of nature.
Some seek good in authority, others in research and knowledge, others in pleasure. Others, who indeed are nearer the truth, have considered it necessary that the universal good which all men desire should not consist in any of those particular matters which can only be possessed by one, and which if once shared, afflict their possessor more by the want of what he has not, than they gladden him by the joy of what he has. They have apprehended that the true good should be such as all may possess at once, without diminution, and without envy, and that which none can lose against his will. And their reason is that this desire being natural to man, since it exists necessarily in all, and that all must have it, they conclude from it . . .
Infinite, nothing.—The soul of man is cast into the body, in which it finds number, time, dimension; it reasons thereon, and calls this nature or necessity, and cannot believe aught else.
Unity joined to infinity increases it not, any more than a foot measure added to infinite space. The finite is annihilated in presence of the infinite and becomes simply nought. Thus our intellect before God, thus our justice before the divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion between our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.
The justice of God must be as vast as his mercy, but justice towards the reprobate is less vast, and should be less amazing than mercy towards the elect.
We know that there is an infinite, but are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it must therefore be true that there is an infinity in number, but what this is we know not. It can neither be odd nor even, for the addition of an unit can make no change in the nature of number; yet it is a number, and every number is either odd or even, at least this is understood of every finite number.
Thus we may well know that there is a God, without knowing what he is.
We know then the existence and the nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have dimension.
We know the existence of the infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, because it has dimension like us, but not limits like us. But we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because he has neither dimension nor limits.
But by faith we know his existence, by glory we shall know his nature. Now I have already shown that we can know well the existence of a thing without knowing its nature.
Let us now speak according to the light of nature.
If there be a God, he is infinitely incomprehensible, since having neither parts nor limits he has no relation to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what he is or if he is. This being so, who will dare to undertake the solution of the question? Not we, who have no relation to him.
Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give a reason for their faith; those who profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason? They declare in putting it forth to the world that it is a foolishness, and then you complain that they do not prove it. Were they to prove it they would not keep their word, it is in lacking proof that they are not lacking in sense.—Yes, but although this excuses those who offer it as such, and takes away from them the blame of putting it forth without reason, it does not excuse those who receive it.—Let us then examine this point, and say, “God is, or he is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can determine nothing about it. There is an infinite gulf fixed between us. A game is playing at the extremity of this infinite distance in which heads or tails may turn up. What will you wager? There is no reason for backing either one or the other, you cannot reasonably argue in favour of either.
Do not then accuse of error those who have already chosen, for you know nothing about it.—No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice, for again both the man who calls ‘heads’ and his adversary are equally to blame, they are both in the wrong; the true course is not to wager at all.—
Yes, but you must wager; this depends not on your will, you are embarked in the affair. Which will you choose? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which least interests you. You have two things to lose, truth and good, and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to avoid, error and misery. Since you must needs choose, your reason is no more wounded in choosing one than the other. Here is one point cleared up, but what of your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in choosing heads that God is. Let us weigh the two cases: if you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then unhesitatingly that he is.—You are right. Yes, I must wager, but I may stake too much.—Let us see. Since there is an equal chance of gain and loss, if you had only to gain two lives for one, you might still wager. But were there three of them to gain, you would have to play, since needs must that you play, and you would be imprudent, since you must play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where the chances of loss or gain are even. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And that being so, were there an infinity of chances of which one only would be for you, you would still be right to stake one to win two, and you would act foolishly, being obliged to play, did you refuse to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there be one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to win. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to win, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite; that is decided. Wherever the infinite exists and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no room for hesitation, you must risk the whole. Thus when a man is forced to play he must renounce reason to keep life, rather than hazard it for infinite gain, which is as likely to happen as the loss of nothingness.
For it is of no avail to say it is uncertain that we gain, and certain that we risk, and that the infinite distance between the certainty of that which is staked and the uncertainty of what we shall gain, equals the finite good which is certainly staked against an uncetain infinite. This is not so. Every gambler stakes a certainty to gain an uncertainty, and yet he stakes a finite certainty against a finite uncertainty without acting unreasonably. It is false to say there is infinite distance between the certain stake and the uncertain gain. There is in truth an infinity between the certainty of gain and the certainty of loss. But the uncertainty of gain is proportioned to the certainty of the stake, according to the proportion of chances of gain and loss, and if therefore there are as many chances on one side as on the other, the game is even. And thus the certainty of the venture is equal to the uncertainty of the winnings, so far is it from the truth that there is infinite distance between them. So that our argument is of infinite force, if we stake the finite in a game where there are equal chances of gain and loss, and the infinite is the winnings. This is demonstrable, and if men are capable of any truths, this is one.
I confess and admit it. Yet is there no means of seeing the hands at the game?—Yes, the Scripture and the rest, etc.
—Well, but my hands are tied and my mouth is gagged: I am forced to wager and am not free, none can release me, but I am so made that I cannot believe. What then would you have me do?
True. But understand at least your incapacity to believe, since your reason leads you to belief and yet you cannot believe. Labour then to convince yourself, not by increase of the proofs of God, but by the diminution of your passions. You would fam arrive at faith, but know not the way; you would heal yourself of unbelief, and you ask remedies for it. Learn of those who have been bound as you are, but who now stake all that they possess; these are they who know the way you would follow, who are cured of a disease of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began, by making believe that they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Thus you will naturally be brought to believe, and will lose your acuteness.—But that is just what I fear.—Why? what have you to lose?
But to show you that this is the right way, this it is that will lessen the passions, which are your great obstacles, etc.—
What you say comforts and delights me, etc.—If my words please you, and seem to you cogent, know that they are those of one who has thrown himself on his knees before and after to pray that Being, infinite, and without parts, to whom he submits all his own being, that you also would submit to him all yours, for your own good and for his glory, and that this strength may be in accord with this weakness.
The end of this argument.—Now what evil will happen to you in taking this side? You will be trustworthy, honourable, humble, grateful, generous, friendly, sincere, and true. In truth you will no longer have those poisoned pleasures, glory and luxury, but you will have other pleasures. I tell you that you will gain in this life, at each step you make in this path you will see so much certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you stake, that you will know at last that you have wagered on a certainty, an infinity, for which you have risked nothing.
Objection.—Those who hope for salvation are so far happy, but they have as a counterpoise the fear of hell.
Answer.—Who has most reason to fear hell, the man who is in ignorance if there be a hell, and who is certain of damnation if there be; or he who is certainly convinced that there is a hell, and has a hope of being saved if there be?
“I would soon have given up pleasure,” say they, “had I but faith.” But I say to you, “you would soon have faith did you leave off your pleasures. Now it is for you to begin. If I could, I would give you faith. I cannot do this, nor discover therefore if what you say is true. But you can easily give up pleasure, and discover if what I say is true.”
Probabilities.—We must live differently in the world, according to these different suppositions:
1. That we could always remain in it. 2. That it is certain we cannot remain here long, and uncertain if we shall remain here an hour. This last supposition is the case with us.
Instability.—It is horrible to feel all that we possess slipping away from us.
By the law of probabilities you are bound to take pains to seek the truth; for if you die without adoring the true source of all things you are lost. “But,” say you, “had he willed that I should adore him, he would have left me tokens of his will.” He has done so, but you neglect them. Seek them then, it is well worth your while.
Dungeon.—I admit that it is not necessary to fathom but this:
It is all our life is worth to know if the soul be mortal or immortal.
—In order that passion may do no hurt, we should act as though we had but a week to live.
If we ought to give a week we ought to give our whole life.
In short, what is it you promise me if not ten years of self-love spent in trying hard to please without success, besides the troubles which are certain? For ten years is the probability.
Let us imagine a number of men in chains, all condemned to death, of whom some are strangled every day in the sight of the others, while those who remain see their own condition in that of their fellows, and wait their turn looking at each other sorrowfully and without hope. This is an image of the lot of man.
We must know ourselves, and if that does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves to regulate our lives, and there is nothing more just.
There are but three classes of persons: those who having found God, serve him; those who not having found him, diligently seek him; those who not having found him, live without seeking him. The first are happy and wise, the last are unhappy and fools, those between are unhappy, but they are wise.
It is certain that there is no good without the knowledge of God, that only as we approach him are we happy, and that the ultimate good is to know him certainly; that we are unhappy in proportion as we are removed from him, and that the greatest evil would be certainty of the opposite.
The ordinary world has the power of not thinking about what it does not choose to think about. “Do not reflect on those passages about the Messiah,” said the Jew to his son. Thus false religions are preserved, and the true also, as regards many people.
But there are those who have not thus the power of preventing thought, and who think the more the more we forbid them. These get rid of false religions, and of the true also, if they do not find solid reasons.
If we ought to do nothing save on a certainty, we ought to do nothing for Religion, for this is not certain. But how much we do on an uncertainty, as sea voyages, battles! I say then if this be the case we ought to do nothing at all, for nothing is certain, and that there is more certainty in Religion than that we shall see another day, for it is not certain that we shall see to-morrow, but it is certainly possible that we shall not see it. We cannot say so much about Religion. It is not certain that it is, but who will dare to say that it is certainly possible that it is not? But when we work for to-morrow, therefore for the uncertain, we act reasonably.
For we should work for the uncertain by the doctrine of chances already laid down.
We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart, and it is from this last that we know first principles; and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to combat them. The sceptics who desire truth alone labour in vain. We know that we do not dream, although it is impossible to prove it by reason, and this inability shows only the weakness of our reason, and not, as they declare, the general uncertainty of our knowledge. For our knowledge of first principles, as space, time, motion, number, is as distinct as any principle derived from reason. And reason must lean necessarily on this instinctive knowledge of the heart, and must found on it every process. We know instinctively that there are three dimensions in space, and that numbers are infinite, and reason then shows that there are no two square numbers one of which is double of the other. We feel principles, we infer propositions, both with certainty, though by different ways. It is as useless and absurd for reason to demand from the heart proofs of first principles before it will admit them, as it would be for the heart to ask from reason a feeling of all the propositions demonstrated before accepting them.
This inability should serve then only to humiliate reason, which would fain judge of all things, but not to shake our certainty, as if only reason were able to instruct us. Would to God, on the contrary, that we never needed reason, and that we knew every thing by instinct and feeling! But nature has denied us this advantage, and has on the contrary given us but little knowledge of this kind, all the rest can be acquired by reason only.
Therefore those to whom God has given Religion by an instinctive feeling, are very blessed, and justly convinced. But to those who have it not we can give it only by reasoning, waiting for the time when God shall impress it on their hearts, without which faith is human only, and useless for salvation.
Those to whom God has given Religion by an instinctive feeling are very blessed, and quite convinced. But as for those who have it not, we can give it them only by reasoning, waiting for the time when God himself shall impress it on their heart, without which faith is useless for salvation.
Is then the soul too noble a subject for the feeble light of man? Let us then abase the soul to matter, and see if she knows whereof is made the very body which she animates, and those others which she contemplates and moves at her will. On this subject what have those great dogmatists known who are ignorant of nothing?
This would no doubt suffice if reason were reasonable. She is reasonable enough to admit that she has never found anything stable, but she does not yet despair of reaching it; on the contrary, she is as ardent as ever in the search, and is sure that she has in herself all the necessary powers for this conquest.
We must therefore make an end, and after having examined these powers in their effects, recognise what they are in themselves, and see if reason has power and grasp capable of seizing the truth.
that man without God is wholly ignorant, and subject to inevitable misery. For to will and to be powerless is to be miserable. Now he wills to be happy, and to be assured of some truth, yet he can neither know, nor not desire to know. He cannot even doubt.
This is what I see and what troubles me. I look on all sides, and see nothing but obscurity, nature offers me nothing but matter for doubt and disquiet. Did I see nothing there which marked a Divinity I should decide not to believe in him. Did I see every where the marks of a Creator, I should rest peacefully in faith. But seeing too much to deny, and too little to affirm, my state is pitiful, and I have a hundred times wished that if God upheld nature, he would mark the fact unequivocally, but that if the signs which she gives of a God are fallacious, she would wholly suppress them, that she would either say all or say nothing, that I might see what part I should take. While in my present state, ignorant of what I am, and of what I ought to do, I know neither my condition nor my duty, my heart is wholly bent to know where is the true good in order to follow it, nothing would seem to me too costly for eternity.
THE principal arguments of the sceptics—to omit those of less importance—are that we have no certainty of the truth of these principles apart from faith and revelation, save so far as we naturally perceive them in ourselves. Now this natural perception is no convincing evidence of their truth, since, having no certainty apart from faith, whether man was created by a good God, by an evil demon, or by chance, it may be doubted whether these principles within us are true or false or uncertain according to our origin.
And more than this: That no one has any certainty, apart from faith, whether he wake or sleep, seeing that in sleep we firmly believe we are awake, we believe that we see space, figure, and motion, we are aware of the lapse and measure of time; in a word we act as though we were awake. So that half of our life being passed in sleep, we have by our own avowal, no idea of truth, whatever we may suppose. Since then all our sentiments are illusions, who can tell but that the other half of life wherein we fancy ourselves awake be not another sleep somewhat different from the former, from which we wake when we fancy ourselves asleep?
And who doubts that if we dreamt in company, and if by chance men’s dreams agreed, which is common enough, and if we were always alone when awake, we should believe that the conditions were reversed? In a word, as we often dream that we dream, and heap vision upon vision, it may well be that this life itself is but a dream, on which the others are grafted, from which we wake at death; having in our lifetime as few principles of what is good and true, as during natural sleep, the different thoughts which agitate us being perhaps only illusions like those of the flight of time and the vain fantasies of our dreams. . . .
These are the principal arguments on one side and the other, setting aside those of less importance, such as the talk of the sceptics against the impressions of custom, education, manners, climate, and the like; and these though they influence the majority of ordinary men, who dogmatise only on vague foundations, are upset by the least breath of the sceptics. We have only to see their books if we are not convinced on this point, and we shall soon become assured of it, perhaps only too much.
I pause at the only strong point of the dogmatists, namely, that speaking sincerely and in good faith we cannot doubt of natural principles.
Against this the sceptics set in one word the uncertainty of our origin, which includes that of our nature. Which the dogmatists have been trying to answer ever since the world began.
So then war is opened among men, in which each must take a side, ranging himself either for dogmatism or for scepticism, since neutrality, which is the part of the wise, is the oldest dogma of the sceptical sect. Whoever thinks to remain neutral is before all things a sceptic. This neutrality is the essence of the sect; who is not against them is pre-eminently for them. They are not for themselves, they are neutral, indifferent, in suspense as to all things, themselves included.
What then shall man do in such a state? Shall he doubt of all, doubt whether he wake, whether you pinch him, or burn him, doubt whether he doubts, doubt whether he is? We cannot go so far as that, and I therefore state as a fact that there never has been a perfect finished sceptic; nature upholds the weakness of reason, and prevents its wandering to such a point.
Shall he say on the contrary that he is in sure possession of truth, when if we press him never so little, he can produce no title, and is obliged to quit his hold?
What a chimæra then is man! how strange and monstrous! a chaos, a contradiction, a prodigy. Judge of all things, yet a weak earth-worm; depositary of truth, yet a cesspool of uncertainty and error; the glory and offscouring of the Universe.
Who will unravel such a tangle? This is certainly beyond the power of dogmatism and scepticism, and all human philosophy. Man is incomprehensible by man. We grant to the sceptics what they have so loudly asserted, that truth is not within our reach nor to our taste, that her home is not on earth but in heaven, that she dwells within the breast of God, and that we can only know her so far as it pleases him to reveal her. Let us then learn our true nature from truth uncreate and incarnate.
Nature confounds the sceptics, and reason the dogmatists. What then will become of you, O men! who by your natural reason search out your true condition? You can neither avoid both these sects nor live in either.
Know then, proud man, how great a paradox thou art to thyself. Bow down thyself, weak reason; be silent, thou foolish nature; learn that man is altogether incomprehensible by man, and learn from your master your true condition which you ignore. Hear God.
For in a word, had man never been corrupt he would innocently and securely enjoy truth and happiness. And had man never been other than corrupt he would have no idea of virtue or blessedness. But wretched as we are, and even more than if there were no greatness in our condition, we have an idea of happiness and cannot attain it, we feel an image of truth and possess a lie only, alike incapable of absolute ignorance and of certain knowledge, so manifest is it that we once were in a degree of perfection from which we have unhappily fallen!
Yet it is an astonishing thing that the mystery most removed from our knowledge, that of the transmission of sin, should be a thing without which we can have no knowledge of ourselves. For it is certain that nothing more shocks our reason than to say that the sin of the first man rendered those culpable, who, being so distant from the source, seem incapable of participation in it. This transfusion does not only seem to us impossible, but even most unjust, for there is nothing so repugnant to the rules of our miserable justice as to damn eternally an infant incapable of will, for a sin in which he seems to have so scanty a share, that it was committed six thousand years before he was in being. Certainly nothing shocks us more rudely than this doctrine, and yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves. The tangle of our condition takes its plies and folds in this abyss, so that man is more inconceivable without the mystery than the mystery is inconceivable to man.
Whence it appears that God, willing to render the difficulty of our being unintelligible to us, has concealed the knot so high, or rather so low, that we cannot reach it; so that it is not by the arrogant exertion of our reason, but by the simple submission of reason, that we can truly know ourselves.
These foundations solidly established on the inviolable authority of Religion make us understand that there are two truths of faith equally constant—the one, that man in his state at creation or in that of grace is elevated above the whole of nature, made like unto God and sharer of his divinity—the other, that in the state of corruption and sin he has fallen from his former state and is made like unto the brutes. These two propositions are equally fixed and certain. The Scripture declares this plainly to us when it says in some places: esse cum filiis hominum.meum super omnem carnem.etc.; and in other places, jumentis insipientibus et similis factus est illis.de filiis hominum . . . Eccles. iii.
By which it clearly appears that man by grace is made like unto God, and a sharer in his divinity, and that without grace he is like the brute beasts, etc.
Scepticism—I shall here write my thoughts without order, yet not perhaps in undesigned confusion, that is true order, which will always denote by object by its very disorder.
I should do too much honour to my subject if I treated it with order, because I wish to show that it is incapable of it.
Scepticism.—All things here are true in part, and false in part. Essential truth is not thus, it is altogether pure and true. This mixture dishonours and annihilates it. Nothing is purely true, and therefore nothing is true, understanding by that pure truth. You will say it is true that homicide is an evil, yes, for we know well what is evil and false. But what can be named as good? Chastity? I say no, for then the world would come to an end. Marriage? No, a celibate life is better. Not to kill? No, for lawlessness would be horrible, and the wicked would kill all the good. To kill then? No, for that destroys nature. Goodness and truth are therefore only partial, and mixed with what is evil and false.
Were we to dream the same thing every night, this would affect us as much as the objects we see every day, and were an artisan sure to dream every night, for twelve hours at a stretch, that he was a king. I think he would be almost as happy as a king who should dream every night for twelve hours at a stretch that he was an artisan.
Should we dream every night that we were pursued by enemies, and harassed by these painful phantoms, or that we were passing all our days in various occupations, as in travelling, we should suffer almost as much as if the dream were real, and should fear to sleep, as now we fear to wake when we expect in truth to enter on such misfortunes. And, in fact, it would bring about nearly the same troubles as the reality.
But since dreams are all different, and each single dream is diversified, what we see in them affects us much less than what we see when awake, because that is continuous, not indeed so continuous and level as never to change, but the change is less abrupt, except occasionally, as when we travel, and then we say, “I think I am dreaming,” for life is but a little less inconstant dream.
Instinct, reason.—We have an incapacity of proof which no dogmatism can overcome. We have an idea of truth, which no scepticism can overcome.
Nothing more strengthens scepticism than that some are not sceptics; were they all so, they would be in the wrong.
This sect draw their strength from their enemies more than from their friends, for the weakness of man appears much more in those who are not, than in those who are conscious of it.
Against scepticism.—We suppose that we all conceive of things in the same way, but it is a gratuitous supposition, of which we have no proof. I see indeed that the same words are applied on the same occasions, and that every time two men see a body change its place, they both express their view of the same object by the same word, both saying that it has moved, and from this sameness of application we have a strong conviction of a sameness of idea; but this, though it may be enough to justify us in wagering the affirmative, is not finally or completely convincing, since we know that we often draw the same conclusions from different premisses.
This is enough, at any rate, to confuse the matter, not that it wholly extinguishes the natural light which assures us of these things; the academicians would have won, but this obscures it, and troubles the dogmatists to the glory of the sceptical cabal, which consists in this ambiguous ambiguity, and in a certain doubtful haze, from which our doubts cannot take away all the light, nor our natural light banish all the darkness.
Good sense.—They are obliged to say, “You do not act in good faith; we are not asleep,” etc. How I like to see this proud reason humiliated and suppliant. For this is not the language of a man whose right is disputed, and who defends it with the mailed power of his hand. He does not trifle by saying that men are not acting in good faith, but he punishes this bad faith with might.
It may be that there are true demonstrations, but it is not certain. Thus this proves nothing but that it is not certain that all is uncertain, to the glory of scepticism.
plebiscitis scelera exercentur.
dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum. Quibusdam destinatis sententiis consecrati quæ non probant coguntur defendere.
sic litterarum quoque intemperantiâ laboramus.
quemque decet quod est cujusque suum maxime.
Paucis opus est litteris ad bonam mentem.
Si quando turpe non sit, tamen non est non turpe quum id a multitudine laudetur.
tibi ut opus est facto, fac.
The falsity of those philosophers who do not discuss the immortality of the soul. The
It is beyond doubt that the mortality or immortality of the soul must make an entire difference in morals; yet philosophers have treated morality independently of the question. They discuss to pass the time.
Plato, to dispose towards Christianity.
The soul is immaterial. Philosophers have subdued their passions. What matter could do that?
Atheists should say things which are perfectly clear, but it is not perfectly clear that the soul is material.
Atheism is a mark of strength of mind, but only to a certain degree.
Against those philosophers who believe in God without Jesus Christ.—They believe that God alone is worthy to be loved and admired, and they have desired to be loved and admired of men, and know not their own corruption. If they feel themselves full of feelings of love and adoration, and if they find therein their chief joy, let them think themselves good, and welcome! But if they find themselves averse from him, if they have no inclination but the wish to establish themselves in the esteem of men, and if their whole perfection consists not in constraining, but yet in causing men to find their happiness in loving them, I say that such a perfection is horrible. What! they have known God, and have not desired solely that men should love him, but that men should stop short at loving them. They have wished to be the object of the voluntary joy of men.
All the principles of sceptics, stoics, atheists, etc., are true; but their conclusions are false, because the opposite principles are also true.
But perhaps the subject goes beyond the reach of reason. We will therefore examine what she has to say on questions within her powers. If there be anything to which her own interest must have made her apply herself most seriously, it is the search after her sovereign good. Let us see then in what these strong and clearsighted souls have placed it, and whether they agree.
One says that the sovereign good consists in virtue, another in pleasure, another in the knowledge of nature, another in truth: rerum cognoscere causas, another in total ignorance, another in indolence, others in neglect of appearances, another in the lack of wonder, prope res una quæ possit facere et servare beatum, the true sceptics in their indifference, doubt and perpetual suspense, and others, more wise, think they can find a better way. And this is all we get from them!
We must needs see if this fine philosophy have gained nothing certain from a research so lengthy and wide, at least perhaps the soul has learned to know herself. We will hear the rulers of the world on this matter. What have they thought of her substance?
Have they been more happy in fixing her seat?
What have they discovered about her origin, duration and departure?
Search for the true good.—Ordinary men place their good in fortune and external goods, or at least in amusement. Philosophers have shown the vanity of all this, and have placed it where best they could.
Philosophers reckon two hundred and eighty-eight sovereign goods.
The sovereign good. Dispute about the sovereign good.—Ut sis contentus temetipso et ex te nascentibus bonis. There is a contradiction, for finally they advise suicide. Ah! happy life indeed, from which we are to free ourselves as from the plague.
It is well to be weary and harassed by the useless search after the true good, that we may stretch our arms to the Redeemer.
Conversation.—Great words: Religion. I deny it.
Conversation.—Scepticism aids Religion.
Philosophers.—We are full of matters which take us out of ourselves.
Our instinct suggests that we must seek our happiness outside ourselves; our passions hurry us abroad, even when there are no objects to excite them. The objects outside us tempt and call us, even when we do not think of them. And thus it is in vain for philosophers to say, “Enter into yourselves, and you will find your good there;” we believe them not, and those who believe them are the most empty and the most foolish.
This civil war between reason and passion divides those who desire peace into the one, of those who would renounce their passions and become gods, the other, of those who would renounce their reason and become brute beasts.— —But neither has succeeded, and reason still exists, to condemn the baseness and injustice of the passions, and to trouble the repose of those who give themselves over to their sway, and the passions are still vigorous in those who desire to renounce them.
The Stoics.—They conclude that what has been done once may be done always, and that because the desire of glory gives some degree of power to those possessed by it, others can easily do the same.
These are the movements of fever, which health cannot imitate.
that since there are consistent Christians all men can easily be so.
The three kinds of lust have made and philosophers have done no other thing than follow one of the three lusts.
What the Stoics propose is so difficult and so idle.
The Stoics lay down that all who are not at the highest degree of wisdom are equally frivolous and vicious, as those who are in . . .
Philosophers.—A fine thing to cry to a man who does not know himself, that of himself he should come to God. And a fine thing also to say to a man who knows himself.
THE foundation of our faith.—The heathen religion has no foundation at the present day. We are told that it once had such a foundation by the voice of the oracles, but what are the books which certify this? Are they worthy of credence on account of the virtue of their writers, have they been kept with such care that we may feel certain none have tampered with them?
The Mahomedan religion has for its foundation the Koran and Mahomet. But was this prophet, who was to be the last hope of the world, foretold? What mark has he that every other man has not who chooses to call himself prophet? What miracles does he himself tell us that he wrought? What mystery has he taught? Even according to his own tradition, what was the morality, what the happiness he offered?
The Jewish religion must be differently regarded in the tradition of the sacred books and in the tradition of the people. Its morality and happiness are ridiculous in the tradition of the people, but admirable in that of their saints. The foundation is admirable, it is the most ancient book in the world, and the most authentic, and whereas Mahomet, in order to ensure the lasting existence of his book men to read it, Moses with the same object commanded everyone to read his. And it is the same with all religions, for the Christianity of the sacred books is quite different to that of the casuists.
Our religion is so divine that another divine religion is only the foundation of it.
The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.—Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold.
Mahomet that he slew; Jesus Christ that he caused his own to be slain.
Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered it.
In fact the two systems are so contrary that if Mahomet took the way, humanly speaking, to succeed, Jesus Christ took, humanly speaking, the way to perish. And instead of concluding from Mahomet’s success that Jesus Christ might well have succeeded, we should rather say that since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ ought to have perished.
The Psalms are chanted throughout all the world.
Who renders testimony to Mahomet? Himself.
The quality of witnesses demands that they should exist always and everywhere, and the wretch stands alone.
The falsity of other religions.—Mahomet had no authority. His reasons ought to be most cogent, having nothing but their own force.
What does he say then in order to make us believe him?
Any man can do what Mahomet did, for he wrought no miracles, he was confirmed by no prophecies. No man can do what Jesus Christ did.
Against Mahomet.—The Koran is not more of Mahomet than the Gospel is of Saint Matthew, for it is cited by many authors from age to age. Even its very enemies, Celsus and Porphyry, never disavowed it.
was an honest man. Therefore Mahomet was a false prophet for calling honest men wicked, or for not admitting what they have said of Jesus Christ.
It is not by the obscurities in Mahomet which may be interpreted in a mysterious sense, that I would have him judged, but in what he speaks clearly, as of his paradise, and the rest, he is ridiculous. And because what is clear is so absurd, it is not just to take his obscurities for mysteries.
It is not the same with the Scripture. It may be admitted that in it are obscurities as strange as those of Mahomet, but much is admirably clear, and prophecies are manifestly fulfilled. The cases are not the same. We must not confound and compare things which only resemble each other in their obscurity, and not in that clearness, which should induce us to reverence the obscurities.
Suppose two persons tell foolish stories, one whose words have a two-fold sense, understood only by his own followers, the other which has only the one sense, a stranger not being in the secret, who hears them both speak in this manner, would pass on them a like judgment. But if afterwards in the rest of their conversation one speak with the tongue of angels, and the other mere wearisome common-places, he will judge that the one spoke in mysteries and not the other; the one having sufficiently shown that he was incapable of absurdity, and capable of being mysterious, the other that he is incapable of mystery, and capable of absurdity.
The Old Testament is a cipher.
History of China.—I believe those histories only,
It is not a question of seeing this in bulk. I say there is in it a something to blind and something to enlighten.
In this one word I destroy all your reasoning. “But China obscures,” you say, and I answer, “China obscures, but there is light to be found; seek it.”
Thus all that you say makes for one of these designs, and not at all against the other. So this serves, and does no harm.
We must then look at this in detail, the papers must be laid on the table.
Against the history of China, the historians of Mexico. of which the last is but eight hundred years old.
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. after Jesus Christ.
THE Premiss.—Moses was a man of genius. If then he ruled himself by his reason, he should say nothing clearly which was directly against reason.
So all the apparent weaknesses are strength. Example: the two genealogies in Saint Matthew and Saint Luke. What can be more clear than that this was not concerted?
Proof of Moses.—Why should Moses make the lives of men so long, and their generations so few?
Because it is not the length of years, but the number of generations which renders matters obscure.
For truth is impaired only by the change of men. And yet Moses places two things, the most memorable that can be imagined, that is to say the creation and the deluge, so near that we can reach from one to the other.
Another proof.—The longevity of the patriarchs, instead of causing the loss of past history, was the rather serviceable for its preservation. For if we are not always well instructed in the history of our ancestors, it is because we have never lived much with them, and because they are often dead before we have ourselves attained the age of reason. But when men lived so long, children lived long with their parents, and long conversed with them. Now, their conversation could only be of the history of their ancestors, since to that all history was reduced, and men did not study science or art, which now take up so much of our daily discourse. We see also that at that time men took special care to preserve their genealogies.
Shem, who saw Lamech, who saw Adam, saw also Jacob, who saw those who saw Moses; therefore the deluge and the creation are true. This is conclusive among certain people who clearly understand it.
When the creation of the people began to stand at a distance, God provided a single contemporary historian, and appointed a whole people as the guardians of this book, in order that the history might be the most authentic in all the world, that all men might learn a thing so necessary to know, yet so impossible to be known in any other way.
then it must be believed that Scripture is Holy Scripture. For this story is founded only on the authority of those who allege that of the Seventy, which shows that the Scripture is holy.
Therefore if the tale be true, we find our proof therein, if not we have it elsewhere. Thus those who would ruin the truth of our Religion, founded on Moses, establish it by the same authority by which they attack it. Thus by this providence it still exists.
On Esdras.—The story that the books were burnt with the temple shown to be false by The Book of Maccabees.
The story that he recited the whole by heart. Josephus and Esdras note that he read the book. Baronius, Ann. 180. Nullus penitus Hebræorum antiquorum reperitur qui tradiderit libros periisse et per Esdram esse restitutos, nisi in IV. Esdræ.
The story that he changed the letters.
Philo, in Vita Moysis: Illa lingua ac charactere quo antiquitus scripta est lex, sic permansit usque ad LXX.
Josephus says the Law was in Hebrew when it was translated by the Seventy.
Under Antiochus and Vespasian, when they wished to abolish the books, and when there was no prophet, they could not do so. And under the Babylomans when there had been no persecution, and when there were so many prophets, would they have allowed them to be burnt?
Josephus derides the Greeks who would not allow . . .
Tertullian.—Perinde potuit abolefactam eam violentia cataclysmi in spiritu rursus reformare, quemadmodum et Hierosolymis Babylonia expugnatione deletis, omne instrumentum Judaicæ literaturæ per Esdram constat restauratum. Lib. I. De Cultu fœmin. cap. iii.
He says that Noah might as easily have restored by the spirit the book of Enoch, destroyed by the deluge, as Esdras have restored the Scriptures lost during the Captivity.
Θεὸς ὲν τῇ ὲπὶ Ναβουκοδονὸσορ αἰχμαλωσίᾳ τοῦ λαοῦ διαϕθαρεισῶν τῶν γραϕῶν, ἐνέπνευσε Ἐσδρᾷ τῷ ιερεῖ ἐκ τῆς ϕυλῆς Λεοὶ τοῦς τῶν προγεγονότων προϕητῶν πάντας ἀναταξάσται λόγους, καὶ ἀποκαταστῆσαι τῷ λαῷ τὴν δὶά Μωσέως νομοθησίαν. He alleges this to prove that it is not incredible that the Seventy should have explained the holy Scriptures with that uniformity which we admire in them. Euseb. lib. v. Hist. cap. 8. And he took that from Saint Irenæus.
Saint Hilary in his preface to the Psalms says that Esdras arranged the Psalms in order.
The origin of this tradition comes from the Book of Esdras.
Deus glorificatus est, et Scripturæ veræ divinæ creditæ sunt, omnibus eandem et eisdem verbis et eisdem nominibus recitantibus ab initio usque ad finem, uti et præsentes gentes cognoscerent quoniam per inspirationem Dei interpretatæ sunt Scripturæ, et non esset mirabile Deum hoc in eis operatum, quando in ea captivitate populi quæ facta est a Nabuchodonosor corruptis Scripturis et post septuaginta annos Judæis descendentibus in regionem suam, et post deinde temporibusArtaxerxis Persarum regis inspiravit Hesdra sacerdoti tribus Levi præteritorum prophetarum omnes rememorare sermones et restituere populo eam legem quæ data est per Moysen.
Against the Story in Esdras, II. Maccab. 2. Josephus, Antiquities, II. 1.—Cyrus took occasion from the prophecy of Isarah to release the people. The Jews held property in peace under Cyrus in Babylon, therefore they might well have the Law.
Josephus, in the whole history of Esdras, says not a single word of this restoration.—II. Kings, xvii. 37.
Scripture has provided passages of consolation and warning for every condition of life.
Nature seems to have done the same thing by her two infinities, natural and moral, for we shall always have those who are higher and lower, who are more and less able, who are noble and in low estate, in order to abate our pride, and raise our lowliness.
Order, against the objection that the Scripture has no order.—The heart has its own order; the mind too has its own, which is by premisses and demonstrations, that of the heart is wholly different. It were absurd to prove that we are worthy of love by putting forth in order the causes of love.
Jesus Christ and Saint Paul use the order of charity, not of the intellect, for they wish to warm, not to teach; the same with Saint Augustine. This order consists mainly in digressions on each point which may illustrate the main end, and keep it ever in view.
God and the Apostles foreseeing that the seed of pride would cause heresies to spring up, and not wishing to give them occasion to arise by defining them, have placed in the Scripture and the prayers of the Church contrary words and sentences to produce their fruit in time.
So in morals he gives charity to produce fruits contrary to lust.
He who knows the will of his master will be beaten with more stripes, because of the power he has by his knowledge. because of the power which he has by justice. From him who has received most will the greatest account be demanded, because the aid received has given him greater power.
There is an universal and essential difference between the actions of the will and all other actions.
The will is one of the chief organs of belief, not that it forms belief, but that things are true or false according to the side on which we view them. The will which chooses one side rather than the other turns away the mind from considering the qualities of all that it does not like to see, thus the mind, moving in accord with the will, stays to look at the side it chooses, and so judges by what it sees.
All things work together for good to the elect, even the obscurities of Scripture, which they honour because of what is divinely clear. And all things work together for evil to the reprobate, even what is clear, which they blaspheme because of the obscurities they do not understand.
How many stars have telescopes discovered for us which did not exist for the philosophers of old. Men have roundly taken holy Scripture to task in regard to the great multitude of stars, saying: “We know that there are only ”
The meaning changes according to the words which express it. The meaning receives its dignity from words instead of giving it. We must seek examples of this.
Words differently arranged have different meanings, and meanings differently arranged produce different effects.
THE prophecies are the strongest proofs of Jesus Christ. For these therefore God has made the most provision; since the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle existing from the birth of the Church to the end. Therefore God raised up prophets during sixteen hundred years, and during four hundred years afterwards he dispersed all these prophecies with all the Jews, who bore them into all regions of the world. Such was the preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ, whose Gospel exacting belief from every man made it necessary not only that there should be prophecies to inspire this belief, but that these prophecies should be spread throughout the whole world, so that the whole world should embrace it.
Prophecies.—If one man alone had made a book of predictions concerning Jesus Christ, both as to the time and the manner of his coming, and if Jesus Christ had come in agreement with these prophecies, the fact would have had infinite force.
But in this case there is much more. Here is a succession of men for the space of four thousand years, who without interruption or variation, follow one another in foretelling the same event. Here is a whole people announcing it, existing for four thousand years, to testify in a body their certainty, from which they cannot be diverted by all the threatenings and persecutions brought to bear against them; This is in a far greater degree important.
But it was not enough that the prophecies existed, they needed also distribution through all places, and preservation through all time. And in order that this agreement might not be taken as an effect of chance, it was necessary it should be foretold.
It is much more glorious for the Messiah that they should be spectators and even instruments of his glory, beyond the fact that God had preserved him.
Proof.—Prophecy with accomplishment.
That which preceded, and that which followed Jesus Christ.
The prophecies concerning the Messiah are mingled with some concerning other matters, so that neither the prophecies of the Messiah should be without proof, nor the special prophecies without fruit.
Therefore Jesus Christ was the Messiah, because they had no longer any king but a stranger, and because they would have no other.
The eternal kingdom of the race of David, II. Chron., by all the prophecies, and with an oath. And it was not temporally accomplished. Jer. xxxiii. 20.
Zeph. iii. 9.—“I will give my words to the Gentiles, that all may serve me with one consent.”
Ezekiel xxxvii. 25.—“My servant David shall be their prince for ever.”
Exodus iv. 22.—“Israel is my first born.”
We might easily think that when the prophets foretold that the sceptre would not depart from Judah until the advent of the eternal king, they spoke to flatter the people, and that their prophecy was proved false by Herod. But to show that this was not their meaning, and that on the contrary they well knew that the temporal kingdom should cease, they said they would be without a king, and without a prince, and for a long time. Hosea iii. 4.
Prophecies.—That Jesus Christ will sit on the right hand till God has put his enemies under his feet.
Therefore he will not subject them himself.
The time of the first advent was foretold, the time of the second is not so, because the first was to be secret, the second must be glorious, and so manifest that even his enemies will recognise it. But as his first coming was to be obscure, and to be known only of those who searched the Scriptures . . .
The prophecies must be unintelligible to the wicked, Daniel xii. 10, Hosea xiv. 9, but intelligible to those who are well instructed.
The prophecies which represent him poor, represent him master of the nations—Is. lii. 16, etc. liii. Zech. ix. 9.
The prophecies which foretell the time foretell him only as master of the Gentiles and suffering, and not as in the clouds nor as judge. And those which represent him thus as judge and in glory do not specify the time.
Do you think that the prophecies cited in the Gospel were reported to make you believe? No, but to prevent your believing.
Prophecies.—The time was foretold by the state of the Jewish people, by the state of the heathen world, by the state of the temple, by the number of years.
It is daring to predict the same affair in so many ways. It was necessary that the four idolatrous or pagan monarchies, the end of the kingdom of Judah, and the seventy weeks should coincide, and all this before the second temple was destroyed.
Prophecies.—The seventy weeks of Daniel are equivocal in the term of commencement, because of the terms of the prophecy, and in the term of conclusion because of the differences in the chronologists. But all this difference extends only to two hundred years.
We understand the prophecies only when we see the events occur, thus the proofs of retreat, discretion, silence, etc., are evidence only to those who know and believe them.
Joseph so interior in a law so exterior.
Exterior penances dispose to interior, as humiliations to humility. So the . . .
The more I examine them the more I find truths in them, both in those which preceded and those which followed, both the synagogue which was foretold, and the wretches who adhere to it, and who, being our enemies, are admirable witnesses of the truth of these prophecies, wherein their misery and even their blindness is foretold.
I find this sequence, our Religion wholly divine in its authority, in its duration, in its perpetuity, in its morality, in its conduct, its doctrine, and its effects.
The frightful darkness of the Jews foretold. scienti literas, et dicet: Non possum legere.
Hosea i. 9. “Ye shall not be my people and I will not be your God,” when you are multiplied after the dispersion. “In the places where it was said: Ye are not my people, I will call them my people.”
Predictions.—That under the fourth monarchy, before the destruction of the second temple, before the dominion of the Jews was taken away, and in the seventieth week of Daniel, while the second temple was still standing, the Gentiles should be instructed, and brought to the knowledge of the God worshipped by the Jews, that those who loved him should be delivered from their enemies, and filled with his fear and love.
And it came to pass that under the fourth monarchy, before the destruction of the second temple, etc., the Gentiles in crowds worshipped God and lived an angelic life. Maidens dedicated their virginity and their life to God, men gave up their pleasures, what Plato was only able to effect upon a few men, chosen and instructed to that end, a secret force, by the power of a few words, now wrought upon a hundred million ignorant men.
The rich left their wealth, children left the luxurious homes of their parents to go into the austerity of the desert, etc., according to Philo the Jew. All this was foretold long ages ago. For two thousand years no Gentile had worshipped the God of the Jews, and at the time foretold, the crowd of Gentiles worshipped this only God. The temples were destroyed, the very kings bowed themselves under the cross. All this was of the Spirit of God spread abroad upon the earth.
Holiness.— —All nations had been in unbelief and lust; the whole world was now ablaze with love. Princes quitted their state, maidens suffered martyrdom. This power sprang from the advent of Messiah, this was the effect and these the tokens of his coming.
Predictions.—It was foretold that in the time of Messiah he would come and establish a new covenant, such as should make them forget the coming out from Egypt, Jer. xxiii. 5, Is. xliii, 16, that he would put his law not in externals, but in the heart, that Jesus Christ would put his fear, which had been only from without in the midst of the heart. Who does not see the Christian law in all this?
Prophecies.—That the Jews would reject Jesus Christ, and would themselves be rejected of God because the choice vine brought forth only wild grapes; that the chosen people should be disloyal, ungrateful, incredulous, et contradicentem; that God would strike them with blindness, and that in full mid-day they would grope like blind men; that his messenger should go before him.
“. . . . Then shall a man no more teach his neighbour, saying, There is the Lord, for God will make himself felt by all, your sons shall prophesy. I will put my spirit and my fear in your heart.”
All that is the same thing. To prophesy is to speak of God, not by outward proofs, but by a feeling interior and direct.
Prophecies.—Transfixerunt, Zech. xii. 10.
That there should come a deliverer to crush the demon’s head, and to free his people from their sins, That there should be a new and eternal covenant, and a new and eternal priesthood after the order of Melchisedek, that the Christ should be glorious, powerful, mighty, and yet so miserable that he would not be recognised, nor taken for what he is, but be rejected and slain, that his people which denied him should be no moro his people, that the idolaters would receive him and trust in him, that he would quit Zion to reign in the centre of idolatry, that the Jews should exist for ever, that he would spring from Judah, and at a time when there should be no longer a king.
That Jesus Christ would be small in his beginnings, and afterwards would increase. of Daniel.
That he would teach men the perfect way,
And never has there come before him nor after him any man who has taught anything divine approaching this.
That then idolatry would be overthrown, that the Messiah would cast down all idols, and would bring men into the worship of the true God.
That the idol temples would be overthrown, and that among all nations and in all places of the world men would offer to God a pure sacrifice, not of beasts.
That he would be king of the Jews and Gentiles. And we see this king of Jews and Gentiles oppressed by both, both equally conspiring his death, we see him bear rule over both, destroying the worship established by Moses in Jerusalem its centre, where he placed his earliest Church, as well as the worship of idols in Rome its centre, where he placed his chief Church.
No Gentile from Moses to Jesus Christ according to the Rabbis themselves. The crowd of the Gentiles after Jesus Christ believed in the books of Moses and observed their essence and spirit, casting away only what was useless.
et Jerosolomitæ universi et baptisa-bantur.—Because of all the conditions of men who came there.
the children of Abraham.
Is. i. 21. Change of good into evil and the vengeance of God.
Is. x. 1. Væ qui condunt leges iniquas.
Is xxvi. 20. Vade populus meus, intra in cubicula tua, claude ostia tua super te, abscondere modicum ad momentum, donec pertranseat indignatio.
Is. xxviii. 1. Væ coronæ superbiæ.
Miracles.—Is. xxxiii. 9. Luxit, et elanguit terra: confusus est Libanus, et obsorduit, etc.
Nunc consurgam, dicit Dominus: nunc exaltabor, nunc sublevabor.
Is. xl. 17. Omnes gentes quasi non sint.
Is. xli. 26. Quis annunciavit ab exordio ut sciamus: et a principio ut dicamus: Justus es?
Is. xliii. 13. Operabor, et quis avertet illud?
Jer. xi. 21. Non prophetabis in nomine Domini, et non morieris in manibus nostris.
Propterea hæc dicit Dominus.
Jer. xv. 2. Quod si dixerint ad te: Quo egrediemur? dices ad eos: Hæc dicit Dominus: Qui ad mortem, ad mortem: et qui ad gladium, ad gladium: et qui ad famem, ad famem: et qui ad captivitatem, ad captivitatem.
Jer. xvii. 9. Pravum est cor omnium, et inscrutabile: quis cognoscet illud? that is to say, who can know all its evil, for it is already known to be wicked. Ego Dominus scrutans cor, et probans renes.
Et dixerunt: Venite et cogitemus contra Jeremiam cogitationes, non enim peribit lex a sacerdote, neque sermo a propheta.
Jer. xvii. 17. Non sis tu mihi formidini, spes mea tu in die afflictionis.
Trust in exterior sacrifices.
Jer. vii. 14. Faciam domui huic, in qua invocatum est nomen meum, et in qua vos habetis fiduciam: et loco, quem dedi robis et patribus vestris, sicut feci Silo.
Exterior sacrifice is not the essential point.
Tu ergo noli orare pro populo hoc.
Jer. vii. 22. Quia non sum locutus cum patribus vestris, et non præcepi eis in die, qua eduxi eos de Terra Ægypti, de verbo holocautomatum, et victimarum.
Sed hoc verbum præcepi eis, dicens: Audite vocem meam, et ero vobis Deus, et vos eritis mihi populus: et ambulate in omni via, quam mandavi vobis, ut bene sit vobis. Et non audierunt.
Exterior sacrifice is not the essential point.
Jer. xi. 13. Secundum numerum enim civitatum tuarum erant dii tui Juda: et secundum numerum viarum Jerusalem posuisti aras confusionis. Tu ergo noli orare pro populo hoc.
A multitude of doctrines.
Is. xliv. 20. Neque dicet: Forte mendacium est in dextera mea.
Is. xliv. 21, etc. Memento horum Jacob, et Israel, quoniam servus meus es tu. Formavi te, servus meus es tu Israel, ne obliviscaris mei.
Delevi ut nubem iniquitates tuas, et quasi nebulam peccata tua: revertere ad me, quoniam redemi te.
xliv. 23, 24. Laudate cœli, quoniam misericordiam fecit Dominus: . . . , quoniam redemit Dominus Jacob et Israel gloriabitur. Hæc dicit Dominus redemptor tuus, et formator tuus ex utero: Ego sum Dominus, faciens omnia, extendens cœlos solus, stabiliens terram, et nullus mecum.
Is. liv. 8. In momento indignationis abscondi faciem meam parumper a te, et in misericordia sempiterna misertus sum tui: dixit redemptor tuus Dominus.
Is. lxiii. 12. Qui eduxit ad dexteram Moysen brachio majestatis suæ, qui scidit aquas ante eos, ut faceret sibi nomen sempiternum.
14. Sic adduxisti populum tuum ut faceres tibi nomen gloriæ.
Is. lxiii. 16. Tu enim pater noster, et Abraham nescivit nos, et Israel ignoravit nos.
Is. lxiii. 17. Quare . . . indurasti cor nostrum ne timeremus te?
Is. lxvi. 17. Qui sanctificabantur, et mundos se putabant . . . simul consumentur, dicit Dominus.
Jer. ii. 35. Et dixisti: Absque peccato et innocens ego sum: et propterea avertatur furor tuus a me.
Ecce ego judicio contendam tecum, eo quod dixeris: Non peccavi.
Jer. iv. 22. Sapientes sunt ut faciant mala, bene autem facere nescierunt.
Jer. iv. 23, 24. Aspexi terram, ec ecce vacua erat, et nihili: et cœlos, et non erat lux in eis.
Vidi montes, et ecce movebantur: et omnes colles conturbati sunt.
Intuitus sum, et non erat homo: et omne volatile cœli recessit. Aspexi, et ecce Carmelus desertus: et omnes urbes ejus destructæ sunt a facie Domini, et a facie iræ furoris ejus.
Hæc enim dicit Dominus: Deserta erit omnis terra, sed tamen consummationem non faciam.
Jer. v. 4. Ego autem dixi: Forsitan pauperes sunt et stulti, ignorantes viam Domini, judicium Dei sui.
Ibo ad optimates, et loquar eis: ipsi enim cognoverunt viam Domini: et ecce magis hi simul confregerunt jugum, ruperunt vincula. Idcirco percussit eos leo de silva, pardus vigilans super civitates eorum.
Jer. v. 29. Numquid super his non visitabo, dicit Dominus? aut super gentem hujuscemodi non ulciscetur anima mea?
Jer. v. 30. Stupor et mirabilia facta sunt in terra.
Jer. v. 31. Prophetæ prophetabant mendacium, et sacerdotes applaudebant manibus suis; et populus meus dilexit talia: quid igitur fiet in novissimo ejus?
Jer. vi. 16. Hæc dicit Dominus: State super vias, et videte, et interrogate de semitis antiquis, quæ sit via bona, et ambulate in ea: invenietis refrigerium animabus vestris. Et dixerunt: Non ambulabimus.
Et constituti super vos speculatores. Audite vocem tubæ Et dixerunt: Non audiemus.
Ideo audite Gentes, quanta ego faciam eis. Audi terra: Ecce ego adducam mala, etc.
Jer. xxiii. 15. A prophetis enim Hierusalem egressa est pollutio super omnem terram.
Jer. xxiii. 17. Dicunt his, qui blasphemant me: Locutusest Dominus, Pax erit vobis, et omni qui ambulat in pravitate cordis sui, dixerunt: Non veniet super vos malum.
The Jews witnesses for God. Is xliii. 9, xliv. 8.
Prophecies accomplished.—Malachi i. ii. The sacrifice of the Jews rejected, and the sacrifice of the Gentiles, even out of Jerusalem, and in all places.
— Moses before his death foretold the calling of the Gentiles, Deut. xxxii. 21, and the reprobation of the Jews.
Moses foretold what would happen to each tribe.
Prophecy—Amos and Zechariah. They sold the just one, and therefore were not recalled.
— Jesus Christ betrayed.
They shall no more remember Egypt. See Is. xliii. 16-19, Jerem. xxiii. 7.
The Jews shall be scattered abroad. Is. xxvii. 6. A new law. Jer. xxxi 31.
Malachi. —The second temple glorious. Jesus Christ will come to it. Haggai ii. 7-10 . . . The calling of the Gentiles. Joel ii. 28. Hos. ii. 24. Deut. xxxii. 21. Mal. i. 11.
Moses first taught the Trinity, original sin, the Messiah.
David was a great witness.
A king, good, merciful, a fair soul, a fine mind, powerful. He prophesied, and his wonders came to pass. This is infinite.
He had only to say that he was the Messiah, had he been vain enough, for the prophecies are clearer about him than about Jesus Christ. The same with Saint John.
Special predictions.—They were strangers in Egypt without any private possessions, in that country or in any other, when Jacob dying and blessing his twelve children declared to them that they should possess a great land, and foretold in particular to the family of Judah that the kings who would one day govern them should be of his race, and that all his brethren should be subject to him.
This same Jacob disposing of the future land as though he were its master, gave a portion to Joseph more than to the others. “I give thee,” said he, “a portion more than to thy brethren.” And blessing his two children, Ephraim and Manasseh, whom Joseph had presented to him, the elder, Manasseh, on his right, and the young Ephraim on his left, he put his arms cross-wise, and placing his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and the left on Manasseh, he blessed them thus. And when Joseph represented to him that he was preferring the younger he answered him with admirable decision, “I know it well, my son, I know it, but Ephraim shall increase in a way quite other than Manasseh.” This has been in fact so true in the result that, being alone almost as abundant as the two entire lines which compose a whole kingdom, they have been usually called by the name of Ephraim alone.
This same Joseph when dying commanded his children to bear his bones with them into that land to which they did not come for two hundred years afterwards.
Moses, who wrote all these things so long before they happened, himself made for each family the partition of the land before they entered it, as though he had been master of it.
He gave them judges to divide it, he prescribed the entire political form of government which they should observe, the cities of refuge which they should build, and . . .
Daniel ii. “All thy sooth-sayers and wise men cannot show unto thee the secret which thou hast demanded.
“But there is a God in heaven, who can do so, and he has revealed in thy dream the things which shall be in the latter days.” This dream must have caused him great uneasiness.
“And it is not by my own wisdom that I have knowledge of this secret, but by the revelation of this same God who has discovered it to me, to make it manifest in thy presence.
“Thy dream was of this kind. Thou sawest a great image, high and terrible, which stood before thee. His head was of gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
“Thus thou sawest till a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay and brake them to pieces.
“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and the wind carried them away, but this stone which smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream, and now I will give thee the interpretation.
“Thou who art the greatest of kings, and to whom God has given a power so extended that thou art renowned among all people, art the golden head of the image which thou hast seen.
“But after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
“But the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, and even as iron breaketh in pieces, and subdueth all things, so this empire shall break in pieces and bruise.
“And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; and it shall be partly strong and partly broken.
“But as iron cannot be firmly mixed with clay, so they who are represented by the iron and by the clay, cannot cleave one to another though united by marriage.
“Now in the days of these kings will God raise up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, nor ever be delivered up to another people.
“It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever, according as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it fell from the mountain, and brake in pieces the iron, the clay, the silver and the gold. This is what God has revealed to thee of the things which must come in the fulness of time. This dream is true and the interpretation thereof is faithful. Then Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face towards the earth, etc.”
Daniel viii. “Daniel having seen the combat of the ram and of the he-goat, who vanquished him and ruled over the earth, whereof the principal horn being broken four others came up towards the four winds of heaven, and out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great toward the South and toward the East, and toward the land of Israel, and it waxed great, even to the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the stars, and stamped upon them, and at last overthrew the prince, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
“This is what Daniel saw. He asked the explanation and a voice cried in this manner, ‘Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.’ And Gabriel said,
“The ram which thou sawest is and the he-goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king of this monarchy.
“Now being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not with his strength.
“Now in the latter time of their kingdom when iniquities shall be grown up, there shall arise a king insolent and strong, but his power shall be not his own. To him all things shall succeed after his will, and he shall destroy the holy people, and through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand, and he shall destroy many. He shall also stand up against the Prince of Princes, but he shall perish miserably, and nevertheless by a violent hand.”
Daniel ix. 20.
“As I was praying God with all my heart, and confessing my sin and the sin of all my people, and prostrating myself before God, even Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, came to me and touched me about the time of the evening oblation, and he informed me and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to teach thee that thou mightest understand. At the beginning of thy prayer I came to show thee that which thou didst desire, for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to abolish iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness; to accomplish the vision and the prophecies, and to anoint the Most Holy.
“After which this people shall be no more thy people, nor this city the holy city. The times of wrath are passed and the years of grace shall come for ever.
“Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
The Hebrews were accustomed to divide numbers, and to place the smaller first, so that seven and sixty-two make sixty-nine. Of this seventy there will then rest the seventieth: that is to say the seven last years of which he will speak next, and after these sixty-two weeks which have followed the seven first, the Christ should be killed and a people would come with its prince, who should destroy the city, and the sanctuary, and overwhelm all, and the end of that war will accomplish the desolation. Christ shall be killed after the sixty-nine weeks, that is to say, in the last week.
“Now one week, which is the seventieth, which remains, shall confirm the covenant with many, and in the midst of the week, that is to say the last three years and a half, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Daniel xi. The Angel said to Daniel:
“There shall stand up yet,”—after Cyrus, under whom all this still is,—“three kings in Persia,”—Cambyses, Smyrdis, Darius;—“and the fourth,”—Xerxes, who shall then come,—“shall be far richer than they all, and far stronger, and shall stir up all his people against the Greeks, and a mighty king shall stand up,”—Alexander,—“that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided in four parts toward the four winds of heaven,”—see also vii. 6, viii. 8—“but not to his posterity, and his successors shall not equal his power, for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside these,”—his four principal successors.
“And the king—Ptolemy son of Lagos,—of the south,”—Egypt,—“shall be strong,—but one of his princes shall be strong above him,”—Seleucus king of Syria,—“and his dominion shall be a great dominion,” Appian says that he was the most powerful of Alexander’s successors.
“ they shall join themselves together, and the king’s daughter of the South,”—Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, son of the other Ptolemy—“shall come to the king of the North to make peace between these princes”—to Antiochus Deus, king of Syria and of Asia, son of Seleucus Lagidas.
“But neither she nor her seed shall have a long authority, for she and they that sent her and they that brought her, and her children and her friends, shall be delivered to death.”—Berenice and her son were killed by Seleucus Callinicus.
“But out of a branch of her roots”—Ptolemy Euergetes was the son of the same father as Berenice—“shall one stand up in his estate, who shall come with an army into the land of the king of the north, and shall put all under subjection, and carry captives into Egypt their gods, their princes, their gold, their silver, and all their precious spoils, and shall continue many years when the king of the North can do nought against him.”—If he had not been called into Egypt by domestic reasons, says Justin, he would have entirely ruined Seleucus.
“And thus he shall return into his kingdom, but his sons shall be stirred up and shall prepare an exceeding great multitude”—Seleucus Ceraunus, Antiochus the Great.
“And their army shall come and overthrow all, whereat the king of the South being moved with choler, shall come forth and fight with him and conquer,”—Ptolemy Philopator against Antiochus the Great at —“and his troops shall become insolent, and his heart shall be lifted up,”—this Ptolemy desecrated the temple—Josephus—“and he shall cast down many ten thousands, but he shall not be strengthened by it.
“For the king of the North”—Antiochus the Great—“shall return with a greater multitude than before,”—in the reign of the young Ptolemy Epiphanes—“and then a great number of enemies shall stand up against the king of the South, also the apostates and robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall perish”—those who abandon their religion to please when he will send his troops to Scopas. For Antiochus will again take Scopas and conquer them.
“And the king of the North shall destroy the fenced cities and the armies of the south shall not withstand, and all shall yield to his will. He shall stand in the land of Israel and it shall yield to him.
“And thus he will think to render himself master of all the empire of Egypt,”—despising the youth of Epiphanes, says Justin.
“And for that he will make alliance with him and give kis daughter,”—Cleopatra, in order that she may betray her husband. On which Appian says that doubtful of being able to make himself master of Egypt by force, because of the protection of the Romans, he wished to attempt it by craft. “He would fain corrupt her, but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him. After this shall he turn his face unto the isles,”—that is to say, the sea-ports,—“and shall take many,” as Appian relates.
“But a prince shall oppose his conquests and cause the reproach offered by him to cease,”—Scipio Africanus, who stopped the progress of Antiochus the Great because he offended the Romans in the person of their allies.—“He will return into his kingdom and perish and be no more.”—He was killed by his soldiers.
“And he who stands in his place shall be a tyrant, a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom,” that is the people, Seleucus Philopator or Soter, the son of Antiochus the Great—“but within a few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle;
“And in his place shall stand up a vile person unworthy of the honour of the kingdom, but he shall come in by skilful flatteries.
“All armies shall bend before him, he will conquer them, and even the prince with whom he has made a league. For having renewed the league with him, he will deceive him, and come in with a few tribes into his province, calm and without fear. He will take the best places, and shall do that which his fathers have not done, and ravage on all sides. He will forecast devices, during his time.”
The zeal of the Jews for their law and their temple. Josephus and Philo the Jew ad Caium.
What other people has so great a zeal, but for them it was a necessity.
Jesus Christ foretold as to the time and the state of the world. and the fourth monarchy.
How fortunate we are to have such light amid such darkness.
How grand it is to see by the eye of faith, Darius and Cyrus, Alexander, the Romans, Pompey and Herod working, though unconsciously, for the glory of the Gospel!
How grand to see by the eye of faith the histories of Herod, of Cæsar . . .
The reprobation of the Jews and conversion of the Gentiles.—Isaiah lxv. “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that did not call upon my name.
“I have spread out my hands all the day unto an unbelieving people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth to idols, etc.
“These shall be scattered like smoke in the day of my wrath, etc.
“Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers will I gather, and will requite you according to your works.
“Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it.
“So will I take a seed of Jacob and Judah to possess my mountains, and mine elect and my servants shall inherit it, and my fertile and abundant plains, but I will destroy all others, because you have forgotten your God to follow strange gods. I have called you and you have not answered, I have spoken and you have not heard, and you have chosen the things which I forbade.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed; my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry and howl for vexation of spirit.
“And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name, that he who blesseth himself in theearth shall bless himself in God, etc.; because the former troubles are forgotten.
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
“But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying . . .
“Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor kill in all my holy mountain.”
Is. lvi. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
“Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that keepeth my salvation and holdeth his hand from doing any evil.
“Neither let the strangers, that have joined themselves to the Lord, say, God will separate me from his people. For thus saith the Lord: Whoso will keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off . . .
“Therefore is judgment far from us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind; we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
“We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
Isaiah lxvi. 18. “But I know their works and their thoughts: I come that I may gather all nations and tongues, and they shall see my glory.
“And I will set a sign among them, and I will send of them that shall be saved unto the nations, to Africa, to Lydia, to Italy, to Greece, and to the people that have not heard my name, neither have seen my glory. And they shall bring your brethren.”
Jer. vii. Reprobation of the Temple.
“But go ye to Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, I will do unto this house, in which my name is called upon, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to your priests, as I have done to Shiloh.” For I have rejected it and made myself a temple elsewhere.
“And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim.” Rejected absolutely.
“Therefore pray not thou for this people.”
Jer. vii. 21. What avails it you to add sacrifice to sacrifice? For I spake not unto your fathers, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” For it was only after they had sacrificed to golden calves that I gave myself sacrifices to turn into good an evil custom. Jer. vii. 4. “Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these.”
Proofs by the Jews.—Captivity of the Jews without restoration. Jeremiah xi. 11. “I will bring evil on Judah which they shall not be able to escape.”
Types.—Isaiah v. “The Lord had a vineyard from which he looked for grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. I will therefore uproot and destroy it, the earth shall produce nothing but thorns, and I will forbid the heaven . . .
“The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant. I looked that they should do justice, and they bring forth only iniquities.”
Isaiah viii. “Sanctify the Lord with fear and trembling, and let him be your fear; but he shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble against that stone, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken, and perish. Hide my words and cover my law for my disciples.
“And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob.”
Isaiah xxix. “Be astonished, and wonder, O people of Israel; waver and stagger: be drunken, but not with wine; stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath mingled for you the spirit of deep sleep. He will shut up your eyes: he will cover your prophets and princes that see visions.” Daniel xii. “The wicked shall not understand, but the wise shall understand.” Hosea, the last chapter, the last verse, after many temporal blessings says: “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things,” etc.
“And the visions of all the prophets are become unto you as a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, and who can read: and he saith, I cannot read it; for it is sealed: And when the book is delivered to him that is not learned, he saith, I am not learned.
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me,”—there is the reason and the cause, for they adore God in their heart, and understand the prophecies,—“and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.
“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do among this people a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding . . .
Prophecies. Proof of divinity. Isaiah xli.
“Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: and we will incline our heart unto your words. Teach us the things that have been from the beginning and prophesy those that are to come.
“By this we shall know that ye are gods. Yea, do good, or do evil, if you can. Come now and let us reason together.
“Behold ye are of nothing, and an abomination, etc. Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth the future.”
Is. xliii. “I am the Lord: and my glory will I not give to another. I have foretold the former things which have come to pass, and declare those which are to come. Sing a new song to God in all the earth.”
“Bring forth the blind people that have eyes and see not, and the deaf that have ears and hear not. Let all the nations be gathered together. Who among them and their Gods can declare this, and shew us former things, and things to come? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he.
“I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed wonders in your eyes: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.
“For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles. I am the Lord, your sanctifier and creator.
“I have made a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; I am he that destroyed for ever the powerful enemies who have resisted you.
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
“This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise etc.
“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me.” Is. xliv. “I am the first and the last, saith the Lord. Whoso will equal himself to me, let him declare the order of things since I formed the first peoples, and the things which are to come. Fear ye not, have I not declared all these things, ye are my witnesses.”
Prophecy of Cyrus—“Because of Jacob whom I have chosen I have called the by thy name,” “Come and let us reason together. Who has declared this from ancient time, and foretold things to come? have not I, the Lord.”
Is. xlvi. “Remember the former things of old, and know that there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
Is. xlii. 9. “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Is. xlviii. 3. “I have declared the former things from the beginning; and I shewed them; and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, that thy spirit is rebellious, and thy brow brass; I have even before it came to pass shewed it thee: lest thou shouldst say, that it was the work of thy gods and the effect of their commands.
“Thou hast seen all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.”
—Prophecies. In Egypt.— 659. Talmud.
It is a tradition among us that when the Messiah shall come, the house of God, destined for the dispensation of his word, shall be full of filth and impurity, that the wisdom of the scribes shall be corrupt and rotten; that those who fear to sin shall be reproved by the people, and treated as fools and madmen.
“Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken ye people from far: The Lord hath called me by my name even from the womb of my mother; he hath hid me in the shadow of his hand, he hath made my words like a sharp sword, and said: Thou art my servant, in whom I will be glorified. And I said, Lord, have I laboured in vain? have I spent my strength for nought? yet is my judgment with thee, O Lord, and my work before thee. When the Lord, who has formed me from from the womb of my mother to be wholly for himself, in order to bring Jacob and Israel again to him, said unto me: Thou shalt be glorious in my sight, and I will be thy strength. It is a light thing that thou shouldst convert the tribes of Jacob; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth. These are the things which the Lord hath said to him that humbleth his soul to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers. Princes and kings shall worship thee because the Lord is faithful that hath chosen thee.
“Again the Lord said unto me: I have heard thee in the days of salvation and of mercy, and I have established thee for a covenant of the people, and to cause thee to inherit the desolate nations, that thou mayest say to those who are in chains: Go forth, and to those that are in darkness: Come into the light, and possess these abundant and fertile lands. They shall no more labour, nor hunger, nor thirst, neither shall the sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of waters shall he guide them, and make the mountains plain before them. Behold, the peoples shall come from all parts, from the east and from the West, from the North and from the South. Let the heaven give glory to God, let the earth rejoice, for it hath pleased the Lord to comfort his people, and he will have mercy on the poor who hope in him.
“Yet Sion hath dared to say: The Lord hath forsaken and hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb, but if she forget, yet will I not forget thee, O Sion. I will bear thee always between my hands, and thy walls shall be ever before me. Thy builders are come, thy destroyers shall go forth of thee. Lift up thy eyes round about, and see all these are gathered together, to come to thee: as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt be clothed with all these as with an ornament, thy deserts, and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction shall now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and the children of thy barrenness shall still say in thy ears: The place is too strait for me, make me room to dwell in. And thou shalt say in thy heart: Who hath begotten these? I was barren and brought not forth, led away, and captive: and who hath brought up these? I was destitute and alone: and these, where were they? And the Lord shall say: Behold, I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, and will set up my standard to the people. And they shall bring thy children in their arms, and in their bosoms. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers: they shall worship thee with their face toward the earth, and they shall lick up the dust of thy feet. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be confounded that wait for him. Shall the prey be taken from the strong and mighty? But even if the captivity be taken away from the strong: nothing can hinder me to judge those that have judged thee, and thy children I will save. And all flesh shall know, that I am the Lord thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer the mighty One of Jacob.
“Thus saith the Lord: What is this divorcement, wherewith I have put away the synagogue, and why have I delivered it into the hands of your enemies; is it not for your iniquities and your transgressions that I have put it away?
“For I came, and no man would receive me, I called and none would hear. Is my arm shortened that I cannot save?
“Therefore will I show the tokens of my anger, I will clothe the heavens with darkness, and will make sackcloth their covering.
“The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned that I should know how to uphold by word him that is weary. He hath wakened my ear, and I have heard him as a master.
“The lord hath revealed his will and I was not rebellious.
“I gave my body to the smiters, and my cheeks to outrage, I hid not my face from shame and spitting, but the Lord has helped me, therefore I was not confounded.
“He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me, and accuse me of sin, since God himself is my protector?
“All men shall pass and be consumed by time, let those that fear the Lord hearken to the words of his servant, let him that languisheth in darkness put his trust in the Lord. But as for you, you do but set alight upon you the wrath of God, you walk upon the coals and among the flames you have kindled. This ye have of my hand, ye shall perish in sorrow.
“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him when he was alone, and childless, and increased him. For the Lord has comforted Zion: and has heaped on her blessings and consolations.
“Hearken unto me my people; and give ear unto me, for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the Gentiles.”
Amos viii. The prophet having enumerated the sins of Israel, said that God had sworn to take vengeance on them.
He saith also: “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that the sun shall go down at mid-day, and I will make the earth dark in the day of light: And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation.
“You shall have sorrow and suffering, and I will make the sorrow as the mourning of an only son, and the latter end thereof as a bitter day. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall move from sea to sea, and from the North to the East: they shall go about seeking the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.
“In that day their fair virgins, and their young men shall faint for thirst. They that have followed the idols of Samaria, and sworn by the god of Dan; who have followed the worship of Beersheba; they shall fall, and shall rise no more.”
Amos iii. 2. “Of all nations of the earth, I have chosen you only to be my people.”
Daniel xii. 7. Daniel having described all the extent of Messiah’s reign, says, “All these things shall be done when the dispersion of my people shall be accomplished.”
Haggai ii. 3. “You who compare this second house with the glory of the first and despise it. Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord, and take courage, O Jesus the high priest, and take courage, all ye people of the land, and cease not to work. The word that I covenanted with you when you came out of the land of Egypt stands yet: and my spirit shall be in the midst of you: Lose not hope. For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land,”—a mode of speech to denote a great and extraordinary change. “And I will move all nations: and the desired of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory: saith the Lord.
“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord,”—that is to say, it is not by that that I will be honoured, as it is said in another place. All the beasts of the field are mine, what good is it to me that they are offered me in sacrifice?—Greater shall be the glory of this latter house than that of the first, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place I will establish my house, saith the Lord.”
“According to all that you desired of the Lord God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let us not hear again the voice of the Lord, neither let us see this fire any more, that we die not. And the Lord said unto me, Their prayer is just. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”
Genesis xlix. “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise, and thou shalt vanquish thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah, lion’s whelp, thou art gone up to the prey, O my son, and and art couched as a lion, and as a lioness awakened.
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
PROOF of the two Testaments at once.—To prove both the Testaments at one stroke we need only see if the prophecies in one are accomplished in the other.
To examine the prophecies we must understand them.
For if we believe they have only one sense it is certain that Messiah has not come; but if they have two senses, it is certain that he has come in Jesus Christ.
The whole question then is to know if they have two senses . . .
That the Scripture has two senses, which Jesus Christ and his Apostles have given, the following are the proofs:
1. Proof by Scripture itself.
2. Proofs by the Rabbis. Moses Maimonides says that it has two faces, and that the prophets have prophesied Jesus Christ only.
3. Proofs by the Cabala.
4. Proofs by the mystical interpretation which the Rabbis themselves have given to the Scripture.
5. Proofs by the principles laid down by the Rabbis that there are two senses, that there are two advents of the Messiah; one in glory, and one in humiliation, according to their deserts; that the prophets have prophesied of Messiah only. The Law is not eternal, but must change when Messiah comes; that then they shall no more remember the Red Sea; that the Jews and the Gentiles shall be mingled.
It is as those among whom there is a certain secret language.
Those who do not understand it can see in it only a foolish sense.
Typical.—The figures of a sword, a shield.
To change the type, because of our weakness.
Types.—The prophets prophesied by figures of a girdle, a beard and burnt hair, etc.
Two errors: 1, to take all literally; 2, to take all spiritually.
The veil which is upon these books for the Jews is there also for bad Christians, and for all who do not hate themselves.
But those who truly hate themselves are in a disposition to understand the Scriptures and to know Jesus Christ.
Types.—To show that the Old Testament is only figurative, and that by temporal possessions the prophets understood others, this is the proof: 1, that this were unworthy of God; 2, that their discourses express very clearly the promise of temporal possessions, and that they say nevertheless that their discourses are obscure, and that their sense will not be understood. Whence it appears that this secret sense is not that which they openly expressed, and that consequently they meant to speak of other sacrifices, of another deliverer, etc. They say that they will be understood only in the fulness of time. Jer. xxxiii.
The third proof is that their discourses are contradictory and destroy each other, so that if we think they did not mean by the words law and sacrifice aught else than those of Moses, there is a gross and obvious contradiction. Therefore they meant something else, occasionally contradicting themselves in the same chapter.
Now to understand the sense of an author . . .
A type brings with it absence and presence, pleasure and pain.
A cipher with a double sense, one clear, and in which it is said that the sense is hidden . . .
A portrait brings with it absence and presence, pleasure and pain. The reality excludes absence and pain.
Types.—To know if the law and the sacrifices are real or figurative, we must see if the prophets in speaking of these things limited their view and their thoughts to them, so that they saw only the old covenant; or if they saw in them somewhat else of which they were the semblance, for in a portrait we see the thing figured. For this we need only examine what they say.
When they speak of it as eternal, do they mean that same covenant which they elsewhere say will be changed; so of the sacrifices, etc.?
A cipher has two senses. If we intercept an important letter in which we see an obvious meaning, wherein it is nevertheless declared that the sense is veiled and obscure, that it is concealed, so that the letter might be read without discovering it, and understood without understanding, we can but think that here is a cipher with a double sense, and all the more if we find manifest contradictions in the literal sense. How greatly we ought to value those who interpret the cipher, and explain to us the hidden sense, especially if the principles they extract are wholly natural and clear. This is what Jesus Christ did, and the Apostles. They broke the seal, he rent the veil, and revealed the spirit. They have thereby taught us that man’s enemies are his passions; that the Redeemer is to be spiritual and his reign spiritual; that there are to be two advents, one in lowliness to abase the proud, the other in glory to exalt the humble; that Jesus Christ is God and man.
The prophets said clearly that Israel would be always the beloved of God, that the law would be eternal, they have said also that their meaning would not be understood, and that it was veiled.
Types.—When the word of God, which cannot lie, is false literally, it is true spiritually. Sede a dextris meis, is false literally, therefore it is true spiritually.
In these expressions God is spoken of after the manner of men, and this means only that the intention which men have in giving a seat at their right hand, God will also have. It is then a mark of the intention of God, not of his mode of carrying it out.
Thus when it is said “God has received the odour of your incense and will in return give you a fat land,” this means that the same intention which a man will have, who, pleased with your perfumes, will give you a fat land, God will have towards you, because you have had towards him the same intention as a man has for him to whom he offers a sweet savour. So iratus est, a jealous God, etc., for the things of God being inexpressible, they cannot be said otherwise. And the Church uses them still: Quia confortavit seras, etc.
Difference between dinner and supper.
In God the word differs not from the intention, for he is true, nor the word from the effect, for he is powerful, nor the means from the effect, for he is wise. Bern. ult. sermo in Missam.
Aug., de Civit. v. 10. This rule is general. God can do all, except those things which if he could do he would not be almighty, as dying, being deceived, lying, etc.
Many evangelists for the confirmation of the truth. Their differences are useful.
The Eucharist after the Lord’s Supper. Truth after the type.
The ruin of Jerusalem, a type of the ruin of the world, forty years after the death of Jesus.
“I know not” as a man or as an ambassador. Matt. xxiv. 36.
Jesus condemned by the Jews and the Gentiles.
The Jews and the Gentiles figured by the two sons.
Aug. de Civit. xx. 29.
The figures of the Gospel for the state of the sick soul are sick bodies, but because one body cannot be sufficiently sick to express it well, several are needed. Thus there are the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the paralytic, the dead Lazarus, the possessed; all this together is in the sick soul.
Isaiah, li. The Red Sea an image of the Redemption.
“habet potestatem remittendi peccata, tibi dico: Surge.”
God, willing to show that he was able to form a people holy with an invisible holiness, and to fill them with an eternal glory, made visible things. As nature is an image of grace, he has done in the excellences of nature what he would accomplish in those of grace, in order that men might judge that he could make the invisible since he made the visible so well.
Thus he saved this people from the deluge, he has raised them up from Abraham, redeemed them from their enemies, and caused them to enter into rest.
The object of God was not to save them from the deluge, and raise up a whole people to Abraham, only in order to bring them into a fat land.
And so grace itself is but the figure of glory, for it is not the ultimate end. It was symbolised by the law, and itself symbolises grace, but it is the figure of it, and the origin or cause.
The ordinary life of man is like that of the saints. They all seek their satisfaction, and differ only in the object wherein they place it: they call those their enemies who hinder them, etc. God then has shown the power which he has to give invisible possessions, by the power which he has shown over things visible.
And yet this covenant, made to blind some and enlighten others, marked in those very men whom it blinded the truth which should be recognised by others. For the visible possessions which they received from God were so great and so divine that it certainly appeared he was able to give them those which are invisible, as well as a Messiah.
For nature is an image of grace, and visible miracles are the image of the invisible. Ut sciatis, tibi dico: Surge.
Isaiah, li., says that Redemption will be as the passage of the Red Sea.
God then has shown by the deliverance from Egypt, and from the sea, by the defeat of the kings, by the manna, by the whole genealogy of Abraham, that he was able to save, to send down bread from heaven, etc., so that the people at enmity with him is the type and the representation of the very Messiah whom they know not, etc.
He has then shown us at last that all these things were only types, and what is true freedom, a true Israelite, true circumcision, true bread from heaven, etc.
In these promises each man finds what he chiefly desires, temporal possessions or spiritual, God or the creatures; but with this difference, that those who therein seek the creatures find them, but attended by many contradictions, with a prohibition against loving them, with the injunction to worship God only, and to love him only, which is the same thing, and finally that the Messiah came not for them; whilst on the contrary those who therein seek God find him, without any contradiction, with the injunction to love him only, and that the Messiah came in the time foretold, to give them the possessions which they ask.
Thus the Jews had miracles and prophecies, of which they saw the accomplishment, and the teaching of their law was that they should love and worship God alone; it was also perpetual. Thus it had all the marks of the true religion, as indeed it was, but we must distinguish between the teaching of the Jews, and the teaching of the Jewish law. Now the teaching of the Jews was not true, although it had miracles and prophecy and perpetuity, because it had not this further point, the worship and love of God only.
The reason of types.
They had to deal with a carnal people, and to render them the depositary of a spiritual covenant.
To give faith in the Messiah it was necessary there should have been antecedent prophecies, in the charge of persons above suspicion, diligent, faithful, singularly zealous, and known to all the world.
That all this might be accomplished, God chose this carnal people, to whom he entrusted the prophecies which foretell the Messiah as a deliverer, and as a dispenser of those carnal possessions which the people loved. And thus they have had an extraordinary zeal for their prophets, and, in sight of the whole world, have had charge of these books which foretell their Messiah, assuring all the nations that he should come, and in the manner foretold in their books, which they held open to all the world. But this people deceived by the poor and ignominious advent of the Messiah have been his most cruel enemies. So that they, who were of all nations in the world the least open to the suspicion of favouring us, the most scrupulous and most zealous that can be named for their law and their prophets, have kept the records incorrupt.
Therefore the prophecies have a hidden and spiritual sense, which this people hated, under the carnal sense which they loved. Had the spiritual sense been disclosed, it being such as they were unable to love, or even to bear, they would not have been zealous to preserve their books and their ceremonies; and if they had loved these spiritual promises, and had preserved them incorrupt till Messiah came, their witness would have had no force, because they had been his friends. Therefore it was well that the spiritual sense should be concealed; but on the other hand, had the sense been so hidden as not to be at all apparent, it could not have served as a proof of the Messiah. What then was done? In a crowd of passages the spiritual was concealed under the temporal sense, and has been clearly revealed in a few; again, the time and the state of the world were so clearly foretold that the sun is not so evident. And in some passages this spiritual sense is so clearly expressed that no less a blindness than that which the flesh imposes on the spirit when enslaved, can keep us from discerning it.
See then what God has done. This sense is concealed under another in an infinite number of passages, in some, though rarely, it is revealed, yet so that the passages in which it is concealed are equivocal, and can suit both senses, while those in which it is disclosed are unequivocal, and can agree with the spiritual sense alone.
So that this cannot lead us into error, and could only be misunderstood by so carnal a people.
For when possessions are promised in abundance, what could hinder them from understanding the true possessions, save their covetousness, which limited the sense to the good things of this world? But those whose only good was in God referred the sense to him alone. For there are two qualities which divide the will of man, covetousness and charity. Not that covetousness cannot coexist with faith in God, nor charity with worldly possessions, but covetousness uses God, and enjoys the world, while the opposite is the case with charity.
Now the end we pursue gives names to things. All which hinders the attainment of this end, is said to be at enmity with us. Thus the creatures, however good, are the enemies of the just, when they turn them aside from God, and God himself is the enemy of those whose greed he opposes.
Hence the word enemy being interpreted according to the end proposed, the just understood by it their passions, and the carnal understood the Babylonians, so that the term is obscure only for the unrighteous. And this is what Isaiah says: and that Jesus Christ shall be a stone of stumbling. But, “Blessed are they who shall not be offended in him!” Hosea, xiv. 9, says excellently: “Where is the wise, and he shall understand these things. The just shall know them, for the ways of God are right, but the transgressors shall fall therein.”
So that those who rejected and crucified Jesus Christ, being offended at him, are the same people who bear the books which witness of him, and which say that he will be rejected and a stumbling stone, so that their refusal has given an additional mark that it is he, and he has been proved both by the just Jews who received him, and the unjust Jews who rejected him, both of whom were foretold.
One of the main reasons why the prophets put a veil on the spiritual possessions which they promised under the figure of temporal possessions is, that they had to do with a carnal people whom they must make the keepers of the spiritual covenant.
Jesus Christ, prefigured by Joseph, the beloved of his father, sent by his father to visit his brethren, etc., innocent, sold by his brethren for twenty pieces of silver, and thereby becoming their lord, their saviour, the saviour of strangers, and the saviour of the world; all which had not been brought about but for the plot for his destruction, their sale and rejection of him.
In prison Joseph innocent between two criminals; Jesus Christ on the cross between two thieves. Joseph foretold deliverance to the one, and death to the other, from the same omens. Jesus Christ saves the elect, and condemns the reprobate after the same crimes. Joseph foretold only, Jesus Christ acts. Joseph asked of him who is saved to be mindful of him when he has come into his glory, and he whom Jesus Christ saved asked that he would remember him when he came into his Kingdom.
Types.—Saviour, father, sacrificer, sacrifice, food, king, wise, lawgiver, afflicted, poor, having to create a people, which he must lead and nourish, and bring into the land.
.— . .
The Eucharist.— . Panem nostrum.
—The sinners lick the dust, that is to say, love earthly pleasures.
The Old Testament contained the types of future joy, and the New contains the means of attaining it.
The types were of joy, the means of penitence, and nevertheless the Paschal Lamb was eaten with bitter herbs,
donec transeam. Jesus Christ before his death was almost the only martyr.
To speak against too greatly figurative expressions.
There are some types clear and demonstrative, but others which seem far-fetched, and which bring proof only to those already persuaded. These may seem like the sayings of the Apocalyptics. But the difference is that these have none which are not doubtful, so that nothing is so unjust as to pretend that theirs are as well founded as some of ours, for they have none so demonstrative as some of ours. There is no comparison possible. to compare and confound things because they agree in one point, while they are so different in another. What is clear in things divine forces us to revere what is obscure.
I do not say that the mem is a mystery.
We may not attribute to the Scripture the sense which it has not revealed to us that it contains. Thus, to say that the closed mem of Isaiah means six hundred, has not been revealed. It might be said that the final tsadé and the he deficientes signify mysteries. But we are not allowed to say so, and still less to say this is . But we say that the literal sense is not the true sense, because the prophets said so themselves.
Extravagances of the , , , etc.—Whoever would found extravagant opinions on the Scripture will for instance found them on the fact that:
It is said that “This generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled.” On that I will say that after that generation will come another generation, and so in constant succession.
The Second Book of Chronicles speaks of Solomon and the King as if they were two different persons. I say that they were two.
Against those who misuse passages of Scripture, and who are puffed up when they find one which seems to favour their error.
The chapter for Vespers, on Passion Sunday, the prayer for the King.
Explanation of these words: “He that is not with me is against me.” And these others: “He that is not against you is with you.” A person who says: I am neither for nor against; we ought to answer him . . . One of the Antiphons for Vespers at Christmas: rectis corde.
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.
ab 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 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. , 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.
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, 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.
quod 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.
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. that the Jews shadowed forth heavenly things.
Typical.—The key of the cipher. . 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.
FOR Port Royal. The beginning, after having explained the incomprehensibility.—Since the greatness and the vileness of man are so evident, it is necessary that the true religion should declare both that there is in man some great principle of greatness, and a great principle of vileness.
It must therefore explain these astonishing contradictions.
In order to make man happy, it must show him that there is a God; that we ought to love him; that our true happiness is to be in him, our sole evil to be separated from him; it must recognise that we are full of darkness which hinders us from knowing and loving him; and that thus, as our duties oblige us to love God, and our lusts turn us from him, we are full of injustice. It must explain to us our opposition to God and to our own good; it must teach us the remedies for these infirmities, and the means of obtaining them. We must therefore examine all the religions of the world from this point of view, and see if there be any other than the Christian which is sufficient for this end.
Shall it be that of the philosophers, who proposed as the only good the good which is in ourselves? Is this the true good? Have they found a remedy for our evils? Is the pride of man cured by equalling him with God? Have those who would level us to the brutes, or the Mahomedans who present us with pleasures of the world as the sole good, even in eternity, found any remedy for our lusts? What religion then will teach us to cure our pride and our lust? What religion will teach us our good, our duty, the infirmity which turns us from it, the cause of this infirmity, the remedies which can cure it, and the means of obtaining those remedies? All other religions have failed, let us see what the wisdom of God can do.
“Look neither for truth,” she says, “nor consolation from men. I am she who framed you, and who alone can teach you what you are. But you are not now in the state in which I framed you. I created man holy, innocent, perfect; I filled him with light and intelligence; I communicated to him my glory and my wondrous acts. The eye of man beheld then the majesty of God; he was not then in the darkness which blinds him, nor subject to death and the miseries which afflict him. But he could not bear so great a glory without falling into pride. He would make himself his own centre, and independent of my aid. He withdrew himself from my rule; and when he made himself equal to me by the desire of finding his happiness in himself, I gave him over to self. Then setting in revolt the creatures that were subject to him, I made them his enemies; so that man is now become like the beasts, and removed from me until there scarce remains to him a confused ray of his Creator, so far has all his knowledge become extinguished or disturbed. His senses, never the servants, and often the masters of reason, have carried him astray in pursuit of pleasure. All creatures either torment or tempt him; and have dominion over him, either as they subdue him by their strength, or as they melt him by their charms, a tyranny more terrible and more imperious.
“Such is the present state of man. There remains to him some feeble instinct of the happiness of his primitive nature, and he is plunged in the misery of his blindness and his lusts, which have become his second nature.
“From this principle which I have here laid open to you, you may discern the cause of those contradictions which, while they astonish all men, have divided them among such various opinions. Now mark all the movements of greatness and glory which the trials of so many miseries are unable to stifle, and see if the cause of them must not be in another nature . . .
For Port Royal to-morrow. Prosopopæa.—“It is in vain, O men, that you seek from yourselves the remedy for your miseries. All your light can only enable you to know that not in yourselves will you find truth or good. The Philosophers promised you these, but gave them not. They neither apprehend what is your true good nor what is . . .
“How could they then apply remedies to your diseases, since they did not even know them? Your chief maladies are pride, which alienates you from God, and lust, which binds you down to earth; and they do nought else but nourish one or the other of these disorders. If they presented God as your end it was only done to gratify your pride; by making you think that you are by nature like him and conformed to him. Those who saw the extravagance of such an assertion did but set you on an opposite precipice, by tempting you to believe that your nature was of a piece with that of the beasts, and by inclining you to seek your good in the lusts which are shared by brutes. This is not the way to cure you of your unrighteousness, which these sages never knew. I alone can teach you who you are . . .
“If you are united to God it is by grace, not by nature.
“If you are abased it is by penitence, not by nature. So this twofold capacity . . .
“You are not in the state wherein you were created.
“These two states being presented to you, you cannot but recognise them.
“Follow your own movements, observe yourselves, and see if you do not trace the lively characters of these two natures.
“Could so many contradictions be found in a subject that was simple?”
I do not mean that you should submit your belief to me without reason, neither do I aim at your subjection by tyranny. I do not aim at giving you a reason for everything. And to reconcile these contradictions, I wish to make you see by convincing proofs, those divine tokens in me, which will assure you who I am, and will verify my authority by wonders and proofs which you cannot reject; so that you may then have a reasonable belief in what I teach you, when you find no other ground for refusing it, but that you cannot know of yourselves whether it is true or not.
The true nature of man, his true good, true virtue and true religion are things of which the knowledge is inseparable.
After having understood the whole nature of man.—That a religion may be true, it must show knowledge of our nature. It must know its greatness and meanness, and the cause of both. What religion but the Christian has shown this knowledge?
The true religion teaches our duties; our weaknesses, pride, and lust; and the remedies, humility and mortification.
The true religion must teach greatness and misery; must lead to the esteem and despising of self; to love and to hate.
The note of true religion must be that it obliges man to love his God. This is very right, and yet no other religion than ours has thus commanded; ours has done so. It must also be cognizant of man’s lust and weakness; ours is so. It must have applied remedies for these defects; one is prayer. No other religion has asked of God the power to love and obey him.
If there be one only origin of all things, there must be one only end of all things; all by him, all for him. The true religion then must teach us to adore him only, and to love him only. But since we find ourselves unable to adore what we know not, or to love aught but ourselves, the same religion which instructs us in these duties must instruct us also of this inability, and teach us also the remedies for it. It teaches us that by one man all was lost, and the bond broken between God and us, and that by one man the bond has been repaired.
We are born so contrary to this love of God, and it is so necessary that we must be born sinful, or God would be unjust.
Every religion is false which as to its faith does not adore one God as origin of all things, and as to its morals does not love one sole God as the object of all things.
In every religion we must be sincere, true heathens, true Jews, true Christians.
WHEN I see the blindness and the misery of man, when I survey the whole dumb Universe, and man without light, left to himself, and lost, as it were, in this corner of the Universe, not knowing who has placed him here, what he has come to do, what will become of him when he dies, and incapable of any knowledge whatever, I fall into terror like that of a man who, having been carried in his sleep to an island desert and terrible, should awake ignorant of his whereabouts and with no means of escape; and thereupon I wonder how those in so miserable a state do not fall into despair. I see other persons around me, of like nature, I ask them if they are better informed than I am, and they say they are not; and thereupon these miserable wanderers, having looked around them, and seen some objects pleasing to them, have given and attached themselves to these. As for me, I cannot attach myself to them, and considering how strongly appearances show that there is something else than what is visible to me, I have sought to discover whether this God have not left some impress of himself.
I see many contrary religions, and consequently all false but one. Each wishes to be believed on its own authority, and menaces the unbeliever, but I do not therefore believe them. Every one can say the same, and every one can call himself a prophet. But I see the Christian religion fulfilling prophecy, and that is what every one can not do.
Without this divine knowledge what could men do but either uplift themselves by that inward conviction of their past greatness still remaining to them, or be cast down in view of their present infirmity? For, not seeing the whole truth, they could not attain to perfect virtue. Some considering nature as incorrupt, others as incurable, they could not escape either pride or idleness, the two sources of all vice; since they cannot but either abandon themselves to it by cowardice, or escape it by pride. For if they were aware of the excellency of man, they were ignorant of his corruption, so that they very easily avoided idleness, but only to fall into pride. And if they recognized the infirmity of nature, they knew not its dignity, so that though they might easily avoid presumption, it was only to plunge into despair.
Thence come the various sects of the Stoics and Epicureans, the Dogmatists, Academicians, etc. The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these two distempers, not so as to drive out the one by the other according to the wisdom of the world, but so as to expel them both by the simplicity of the Gospel. For it teaches the righteous that it lifts them even to a participation of the divine nature; that in this exalted state they still bear within them the fountain of all corruption, which renders them during their whole life subject to error and misery, to death and sin; and at the same time it proclaims to the most wicked that they can receive the grace of their Redeemer. Thus making those tremble whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, religion so justly tempers fear with hope by means of that double capacity of grace and of sin which is common to all, that it abases infinitely more than reason alone, yet without despair; and exalts infinitely higher than natural pride, yet without puffing up: hereby proving that alone being exempt from error and vice, it alone has the office of instructing and of reforming men.
Who then can withhold credence and adoration to so divine a light? For it is clearer than day that we feel within ourselves indelible characters of goodness; and it is equally true that we experience every hour the effects of our deplorable condition. This chaos then, this monstrous confusion, does but proclaim the truth of these two states, with a voice so powerful that it cannot be resisted.
The Philosophers never prescribed feelings proper to these two states.
They inspired motions of simple greatness, and that is not the state of man.
They inspired motions of simple vileness, and that is not the state of man.
There must be motions of abasement, yet not from nature, but from penitence, not to rest in them, but to go onward to greatness. There must be motions of greatness, not from merit, but from grace, and after having passed through abasement.
This double nature of man is so evident that there are those who have imagined us to have two souls.
One single subject seemed to them incapable of so great and sudden variations from unmeasured pride to an horrible dejection of spirit.
All these contradictions which seemed to have taken me further from the knowledge of religion, are what most rapidly led me into truth.
Did we not know ourselves full of pride, ambition, lust, weakness, misery and injustice, we were indeed blind. And if knowing this we did not desire deliverance, what could be said of a man . . . What then can we feel but esteem for that Religion which is so well acquainted with the defects of man, and desire for the truth of a religion which promises remedies so precious.
The corruption of reason is shown by the number of differing and extravagant customs; it was necessary that truth should come in order that man should no longer live in himself.
Incomprehensible.—Not all that is incomprehensible is therefore non existent. Infinite number. An infinite space equal to a finite.
It is incredible that God should unite himself to us.—This consideration is drawn only from the view of our vileness. But if it be sincere, follow it as far as I have done, and recognise that we are in fact so vile as to make us by ourselves incapable of knowing whether his mercy may not render us capable of him. For I would know how this animal, who is aware of his weakness, has the right to measure the mercy of God and set to it bounds suggested by his fancy. He knows so little what God is that he does not even know what himself is, and troubled with the view of his own state, boldly declares that God cannot render man capable of communion with him.
But I would ask if God demands aught else from him than to know him and to love him, and why, since man is by nature capable of love and knowledge, he believes that God cannot make himself known and loved by him. He certainly knows at least that he is, and that he loves something. Therefore if he see anything in his darkness, and if among the things of earth he find any subject of his love, why, if God impart to him some ray of his essence, should he not be capable of knowing and of loving him in the manner in which it shall please him to communicate himself to us? There must be then an intolerable arrogance in these sort of arguments, though they seem founded on apparent humility, which is neither sincere nor reasonable, unless it makes us confess that not knowing of ourselves what we are, we can learn it from God alone.
For myself, I declare that so soon as the Christian religion reveals the principle that human nature is corrupt and fallen from God, my eyes are opened to see everywhere the characters of this truth: for nature is such that she everywhere indicates, both within man and without him, a God whom he has lost and a corrupt nature.
Whatever may be said, it must be conceded that the Christian religion has something astonishing in it. Perhaps someone will say: “This is because you were born in it.” It may be: then I stiffen myself against it by this very reason, for fear this prejudice should bias me; but although I am born in it I cannot but find it so.
The whole course of things must have for its object the establishment and the grandeur of Religion: that there should be implanted in men sentiments conformable to its precepts, and in a word, that it should be so completely the aim and the centre to which all things tend, that whoever understands its principles can give an explanation as of human nature in particular, so in general of the whole order of the world.
Our religion is wise and foolish. Wise, because it is the most learned, and the most founded on miracles, prophecies, etc. Foolish, because it is not all this which causes us to belong to it; this makes us indeed condemn those who are not of it, but is not the cause of belief in those who are. It is the cross that makes them believe, And thus Saint Paul, who came with wisdom and signs, , for he came to convert. But those who come only to convince may say that they come with wisdom and with signs.
That religion, great as she is in miracles, with holy and blameless Fathers, learned and great witnesses, with martyrs and kings, as David, and Isaiah, a prince of the blood; great as she is in science, after having displayed all her miracles and all her wisdom, rejects it all, and says she has neither wisdom nor signs, but only the cross and foolishness.
For those, who by these signs and that wisdom have deserved your belief, and who have proved to you their character, declare to you that nothing of all this can change you, and render you capable of knowing and loving God, but the power of the foolishness of the cross without wisdom and signs, and not the signs without this power. Thus our Religion is foolish when we consider the effective cause, wise when we consider the wisdom which has prepared it.
How strange is Christianity! It enjoins man to acknowledge himself vile, even abominable, and enjoins him to aspire to be like God. Without such a counterpoise, this elevation would make him horribly vain, or that vileness would make him terribly abject.
Misery counsels despair, pride counsels presumption.
The incarnation shows man the greatness of his misery by the greatness of the remedy of which he stood in need.
Not a vileness such as renders us incapable of good, nor a holiness exempt from evil.
No doctrine is more suited to man than this; for it teaches him his double capacity of receiving and losing grace, because of the double peril to which he is always exposed, of despair and of pride.
No other religion has enjoined hate of self. No other religion then can be pleasing to those who hate themselves, and who seek a Being wholly to be loved. And these, if they had never heard of the religion of an humiliated God, would embrace it at once.
No other has recognised that man is of all creatures the most excellent. Some, having apprehended the reality of his excellence, have blamed as mean and ungrateful the low opinion which men naturally have of themselves, and others, well aware how real is this vileness, have treated with haughty ridicule those sentiments of greatness which are no less natural to man.
“Lift your eyes to God,” say these, “see him in whose image you are, who has made you to worship him. You can make yourselves like unto him; wisdom will equal you to him if you will follow it.” But others say: “Bend your eyes to the earth, poor worm that you are, and look upon the brutes your comrades.” What then will man become? Will he equal God or the brutes? What an awful gulf! What then shall we be? Who does not see from all this that man has gone astray, that he has fallen from his place, that he seeks it with disquiet, that he cannot regain it? And who shall direct him, since the greatest men have not availed?
What men could scarcely know by their greatest light, this Religion has taught to babes.
Other religions, as those of heathendom, are more popular since they consist only in externals, but they have no effect on the educated. A purely intellectual religion would be more adapted to the educated, but it would be of no use to the people. The Christian religion alone is fitted for all, being composed of externals and internals. It elevates the people to interior acts, it abases the proud to external rites, and it is not complete without both, for the people must understand the spirit which is in the letter, and the educated must submit their spirit to the letter.
Philosophers have consecrated vices in attributing them to God himself, Christians have consecrated virtues.
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: , 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.
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, 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?— —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 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.
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. , 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, 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.
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.
PROOFS of Religion.
Proof.—1. The Christian religion having established itself so strongly, yet so quietly, whilst contrary to nature.—2. The sanctity, the dignity, and the humility of a Christian soul.—3. The wonders of holy Scripture.—4. Jesus Christ in particular.—5. The apostles in particular.—6. Moses and the prophets in particular.—7. The Jewish people.—8. The prophecies.—9. Perpetuity. No religion has perpetuity.—10. The doctrine which explains all.—11. The sanctity of this law.—12. By the course of the world.
It is beyond doubt that after considering what is life and what is religion we cannot refuse to act on the inclination to follow it, if it comes into our heart, and it is certain there is no ground for jeering at those who follow it.
The general conduct of the world towards the Church.—God willing both to blind and enlighten.—The event having proved that these prophecies were divine, the remainder ought to be believed, and hence we see that the order of the world is on this manner.
The miracles of the creation and the deluge being forgotten, God sent the law and the miracles of Moses, the prophets who prophesied particular things, and to prepare an abiding miracle he prepares prophecies and their fulfilment. But as the prophecies might be suspected he wishes to make them beyond suspicion, etc.
. . . But even those who seem most opposed to the glory of religion are not in that respect useless for others. We draw from them the first argument, that here is something supernatural, for a blindness of that kind is not natural, and if their folly renders them so opposed to their own good, it will serve to guarantee others against it, by the horror of an example so deplorable, and a folly so worthy of compassion.
. . . Men revile what they do not understand. The Christian religion consists in two points. It is of equal moment to men to know them both, and equally dangerous to ignore either. And it is equally of God’s mercy that he has given marks of both.
Yet they take occasion to conclude that one of these points does not exist from that which is intended to make them certain of the other. Those sages who have said there is a God have been persecuted, the Jews were hated, and still more the Christians. They saw by the light of nature, that if there be a true religion on earth, the course of all things must tend to it as to a centre. And on this ground they venture to revile the Christian religion because they misunderstand it. They imagine that it consists simply in the adoration of a God conceived as great, powerful and eternal; which is in fact deism, almost as far removed from the Christian religion as atheism, its exact opposite. And hence they infer the falsehood of our religion, because they do not see that all things concur to the establishment of this point, that God does not manifest himself to man with all the evidence which is possible.
But let them conclude what they will against deism, they can conclude nothing on that account against the Christian religion, which properly consists in the mystery of the Redeemer, who, uniting in himself the two natures human and divine, has withdrawn men from the corruption of sin that he might in his divine person reconcile them to God.
True religion then teaches these two truths to men, that there is a God whom they are capable of knowing, and that there is such corruption in their nature as to render them unworthy of him. It is of equal importance to men that they should apprehend the one and the other of these points, and it is alike dangerous for man to know God without the knowledge of his own worthlessness, and to know his own worthlessness without the knowledge of the Redeemer who may deliver him from it. To apprehend the one without the other begets either the pride of philosophers, who knew God, but not their own wretchedness; or the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer. And as it is alike necessary for man to know these two points, so it is alike of the mercy of God to have given us the knowledge. The Christian religion does this; it is in this that it consists. Let us herein examine the order of the world, and see if all things do not tend to establish these two main points of our Religion.
It is a remarkable fact that no canonical writer has ever employed nature to prove God. All tend to make him be believed. David, Solomon and others have never said: “There is no vacuum, therefore there is a God.” They must have been cleverer than the cleverest in after days who have all used this argument.
This is well worth considering.
If it be a mark of weakness to prove God by nature, despise not the Scripture for not doing so: if it be a mark of power to know these contradictions, value the Scriptures on that account.
What! Do you not say yourself that the sky and the birds prove God?—No.—And does not your religion say so?—No. For however it may be true in a sense for some souls to whom God has given this light, it is nevertheless false in regard to the majority.
Think you it is impossible that God is infinite, without parts?—Yes—I will then make you see something which is infinite and indivisible. A point moving everywhere with infinite swiftness, for it is in all places, and is whole and entire in each situation.
Perhaps this effect of nature, which seems to you impossible beforehand, may teach you to know that there may be others also which you know not as yet. Do not then draw this conclusion from your apprenticeship, that nothing remains for you to know, but rather that an infinity remains for you to know.
It is incomprehensible that there should be a God, and incomprehensible that there should not be; that there should be a soul in the body, and that we should have no soul; that the world should have been created, and that it should not, etc.; that original sin should be, and that it should not be.
If we choose to say that man is too little to merit communion with God, we must be indeed great to form a judgment on the subject.
The eternal is for ever, if he is at all.
But it impossible that God should ever be the end, if he is not the beginning. We look above, but lean upon the sand, and the earth will melt, and we shall fall whilst looking towards heaven.
Objection. The Scripture is plainly full of matters which were not dictated by the Holy Spirit.
Answer. Then they do no harm to faith.
Objection. But the Church has decided that all is of the Holy Spirit.
Answer. I answer two things: 1. That the Church has never so decided: 2. That if she should so decide it might be maintained.
My God! what trash is all this talk: “Has God made the world but to condemn it? will he ask so much of creatures so weak?” etc. Scepticism is the remedy for this evil, and will lower this vanity.
God has willed to redeem mankind and to open salvation to those who seek him. But men render themselves so unworthy of it, that it is just that God should refuse to some because of their hardness of heart what he grants to others out of a mercy not their due. Had it been his will to overcome the stubbornness of the most hardened, he could have rendered them unable to doubt the truth of his essence, in revealing himself manifestly to them as he will appear at the last day, amid thunderings and lightnings, and so great a convulsion of nature, that the dead will rise again, and the blindest shall see him.
Not thus willed he to appear in his gentle advent, because since so many men make themselves unworthy of his mercy, he willed to leave them deprived of the good which they refuse. It had not then been just that he should appear in a manner plainly divine, and wholly capable of convincing all men, but neither had it been just that he should come in so hidden a manner as not to be recognized by those who sincerely sought him. He has willed to reveal himself wholly to these, and thus willing to appear openly to those who seek him with their whole heart, and to hide himself from those who fly him with all their heart, he has so tempered the knowledge of himself as to give signs of himself visible to those who seek him, and obscure to those who seek him not.
There is enough light for those who wish earnestly to see, and enough obscurity for those of a contrary mind.
Therefore let men recognise the truth of religion in the very obscurity of religion, in the little light we have of it, and in our indifference to the knowledge of it.
The prophecies, the very miracles and proofs of our Religion, are not of such a nature that we can say they are absolutely convincing. But they are also of such a kind, that none can say that it is unreasonable to believe in them. Thus there is both evidence and obscurity to enlighten some and blind others: but the evidence is such that it surpasses or at least equals the evidence to the centrary, so that it is not reason which can determine us not to follow it, and therefore it can only be lust and malice of heart. And by this means there is evidence enough to condemn, and not enough to convince; so it appears in those who follow it, that it is grace and not reason which causes them to follow it; and in those who fly it, it is lust, not reason, which causes them to fly it.
Who can help admiring and embracing a religion which thoroughly knows that which we recognise more and more in proportion to our light?
That God has willed to hide himself.—If there were only one Religion, God would certainly be manifest, so also if there were no martyrs but in our own Religion.
God being thus hidden, every religion which does not say that God is hidden is not the true religion, and every religion which does not show the reason of it is unedifying. Our religion does all this: Vere tu es Deus absconditus.
Religion is so great a thing that it is right that those who will not take the trouble to seek if it be obscure should be deprived of it. Why then should any complain, if it be such as to be found by seeking?
The obscurity would be too great, if truth had not visible signs. This is a marvellous one, that it has always been preserved in a Church and a visible assembly. The clearness would be too great if there were only one opinion in this Church, but to recognise what is true is only to see what has always existed, for it is certain that truth has always existed, and that nothing false has been always in existence.
Recognise then the truth of religion even in the obscurity of religion, in the little light we have of it, and in the indifference we have to its knowledge.
God chooses rather to sway the will than the intellect. Perfect clearness would be useful to the intellect, but would harm the will. To humble pride.
Were there no obscurity man would not be sensible of his corruption; were there no light man would despair of remedy. Thus it is not only just, but useful for us, that God should be partly hidden and partly revealed, because it is equally dangerous for man to know God without the knowledge of his misery, and to know his misery without the knowledge of God.
If the mercy of God is so great that his teaching is salutary even when he hides himself, what great light may we not expect when he reveals himself?
We shall understand nothing of the works of God if we do not take it as a principle that he has willed to blind some and enlighten others.
What say the prophets of Jesus Christ? That he will be manifestly God? No: but that he is a God truly hidden, that he will be misunderstood; that none would think it was he; that he would be a stone of stumbling on which many would fall, etc. Let us no longer then be reproached with want of clearness, since we make profession of it.
But, it is said, there are obscurities.—And without that, no one would have stumbled at Jesus Christ, which is one of the formal announcements of the prophets: . . .
Instead of complaining that God is hidden, you will give him thanks for having revealed so much of himself; and you will give him thanks again for not having revealed himself to the proudly wise, who are unworthy to know so holy a God.
Two sorts of persons know: those whose heart is humble, and who love lowliness, whatever their order of intellect, whether high or low, and those who have understanding enough to see the truth, whatever opposition they may feel to it.
I may well love total darkness, but if God keep me in a state of semi-obscurity, this partial darkness is unpleasant to me, and because I do not see in it the advantages of total darkness it pleases me not. This is a fault, and a proof that I am making an idol of darkness apart from God’s order. Now his order alone is to be worshipped.
Did the world exist to instruct man concerning God, his divinity would shine out incontestably from every part of it, but as it exists only by Jesus Christ, and for Jesus Christ, and to instruct men concerning their corruption and their redemption, proofs of these two truths start up everywhere.
What is seen does not denote either the total exclusion or the manifest presence of divinity, but the presence of a God who hides himself. All bears this character.
Had nought of God ever appeared, this eternal deprivation would have been equivocal, and might as well be interpreted of the total absence of divinity, as of man’s unworthiness to know him; but by occasional and not continual appearances he has taken away all ambiguity. If he have appeared once, he is for ever, and thus it must be concluded both that there is a God, and that men are unworthy of him.
God, that he may reserve to himself alone the right to instruct us and that he may render the difficulty of our being unintelligible to us, has hidden the knot so high, or rather so low, that we cannot reach it. So that it is not by the efforts of our reason, but by the simple submission of our reason, that we can truly know ourselves.
Wisdom sends us to childhood: sicut parvuli.
“A miracle,” says one, “would strengthen my faith.” He says so when he does not see one. Reasons seen from afar seem to limit our view, but as we reach them we begin to see beyond. Nothing stops the activity of our spirit. There is no rule, we say, which has not its exception, no truth so general, but that there is a side on which it is lacking. If it be not absolutely universal, we have a pretext for applying the exception to the matter in hand, and for saying: This is not always true, hence there are cases in which it is not so. It only remains to show that this is one of them. And we must be very awkward or unlucky if we do not find one some day.
Infinite wisdom and wisdom of Religion.
Contradiction is a bad mark of truth.
Much that is certain is contradicted.
Much that is false passes without contradiction.
Contradiction is not a mark of falsehood, nor the want of contradiction a mark of truth.
There is a pleasure in being in a vessel beaten about by a storm, provided we are certain it will not founder. The persecutions which try the Church are of this kind.
The history of the Church should rightly be called the history of truth.
Those who find difficulties of belief seek an excuse in the unbelief of the Jews. “If it was so clear,” say they, “why did not the Jews believe?” And they almost wish the Jews had believed, that they might not be deterred by the example of their refusal. But their very unbelief is the foundation of our faith. We should be much less disposed to believe if they were on our side. We should then have a far more ample pretext. This is the wonderful point, to have made the Jews great lovers of the things foretold, and great enemies of their accomplishment.
What could the Jews, his enemies, do? Receiving him they give proof of him by that reception, for then the Messiah is acknowledged by those to whom was committed the expectation of his coming; rejecting him they prove his truth by that rejection.
On the fact that the Christian Religion does not stand alone.—This is so far from being a reason against believing it the true one that, on the contrary, it proves it to be so.
Those who love not the truth take as a pretext that it is contested, and that a multitude deny it; and thus their error comes from this alone, that they love neither truth nor charity. So they are without excuse.
The wicked who profess to follow reason, ought to be extremely strong in reason.
What then do they say?
Do we not see, say they, beasts live and die like men, and Turks like Christians? They have their ceremonies, their prophets, their doctors, their saints, their religious, as well as we, etc. But how is this contrary to the Scripture? Does it not say all this?
If you care but little to know the truth, here is enough for your peace, but if you desire to know it with your whole heart, this is not enough, look to the details. This would suffice for a question in philosophy, but not here, where your all is concerned. And yet, after a slight meditation of this kind, we shall go off to amuse ourselves, etc. We should acquaint ourselves with this religion; even if it does not disclose the reason for such obscurity, it will perhaps teach it to us.
If God had permitted one only Religion, it would have been too easily recognised. But when we look at it near we can easily see the true through the confusion.
PERPETUITY.—Let it be considered that from the beginning of the world the expectation or the worship of the Messiah has subsisted without a break; that there have been men who said that God had revealed to them the future birth of a Redeemer who should save his people; that afterwards came Abraham saying he had had a revelation that the Messiah was to spring from him by a son who should be born; that Jacob declared that of his twelve sons the Messiah would spring from Judah; that Moses and the prophets then came to declare the time and the manner of his advent; that they said their law was only provisional till that of the Messiah, that it should last till then but the other should endure eternally; that thus either their law or that of the Messiah, of which it was the promise, would be always upon earth; that in fact it has always endured; that at last Jesus Christ has come with all the circumstances foretold. How wonderful is this!
The two most ancient books in the world are those of Moses and Job, the one a Jew, the other a gentile, both of whom regard Jesus Christ as their common centre and object: Moses in reporting the promises of God to Abraham, Jacob, etc., and his prophecies. And Job, etc. Scio enim quod redemptor meus vivit, etc.
I believe that Joshua was the first of God’s people who had this name, as Jesus Christ was the last of God’s people.
What man had ever so great renown? The whole Jewish people foretold him before his coming. The Gentile world worships him after his coming. The two worlds, Gentile and Jewish, regard him as their centre.
Yet what man ever had less enjoyment of his renown? Of thirty-three years he passed thirty in retirement. For three years he passed as an impostor, the priests and rulers rejected him, his friends and kinsmen despised him. At the end he died, betrayed by one of his own disciples, denied by another, abandoned by all.
What part then had he in all this renown? Never man had more glory, never man more ignominy. All this renown was for our sakes, to enable us to recognise him, he took none of it for himself.
Office of Jesus Christ.—He alone was to produce a great people, elect, holy, and chosen, to lead it, to nourish it, to bring it into a place of rest and holiness, to make it holy to God, to make it the temple of God, to reconcile it to God, to save it from the wrath of God, to deliver it from the slavery of sin, which visibly reigns in man, to give laws to this people, to engrave these laws on their heart, to offer himself to God for them, to sacrifice himself for them, to be a victim without spot, himself the priest, needing to offer himself, his body and his blood, and yet to offer bread and wine to God . . .
After many persons had come before, at last came Jesus Christ, to say: “Here am I and this is the hour, that which the prophets had said was to come in the fulness of time. I tell you what my apostles will do. The Jews shall be cast out, Jerusalem shall be soon destroyed, and the Gentiles shall enter into the knowledge of God. My apostles shall do this after you have slain the heir of the vineyard.”
Then the Apostles said to the Jews, “You shall be accursed,” and to the Gentiles, “You shall enter into the knowledge of God;” and that came to pass. Celsus laughed at it.
Then Jesus Christ came to tell men that they had no enemies but themselves, that their passions cut them off from God, that he came to destroy these, and give them his grace to unite them all in an holy Church, that he came to call into this Church Gentiles and Jews, that he came to destroy the idols of the former and the superstition of the latter. To this all men are opposed, not only by the natural opposition of lust; but above all, the kings of the earth, as had been foretold, gathered together to destroy this religion in its infancy. . Reges terræ adversus Christum.
All that was great on earth was united together, the learned, the wise, the kings. The first wrote, the second condemned, the last slew. Yet notwithstanding all these oppositions, these men, so simple and so weak, resisted all these forces, subduing even the mighty the learned and the wise, and removed idolatry from all the earth. And all this was done by the power which had foretold it.
And prediction crowns all this, so that none may say that chance has done it all.
Whosoever having only a week to live, does not perceive that belief is the right side to take, and that all this is not a stroke of chance . . .
Now were we not slaves to passion, a week and a hundred years would seem one and the same thing.
The prophets foretold, and were not foretold. The saints were foretold, but were not foretellers. Jesus Christ was foretold and foreteller.
If I had never heard anything of the Messiah, yet after the admirable predictions of the course of the world which I see accomplished, I see that it is divine. And if I knew that these same books foretold a Messiah, I should be certain that he would come. And seeing that they place his time before the destruction of the second temple, I should say that he had come.
That which preceded, that which followed. All the Jews still exist, and are wanderers.
Why did not Jesus Christ come in a visible manner, instead of drawing proof from the prophecies which went before him?
And why did he cause himself to be foretold in figures?
God, to enable the Messiah to be recognised by the good and unrecognised by the wicked, caused him to be so foretold. If the manner of the Messiah had been clearly foretold, there had been no obscurity, even for the wicked. If the time had been obscurely foretold, there had been obscurity even for the good, for their goodness of heart would not have made them understand, for instance, that the closed mem means six hundred years. But the time has been foretold clearly and the manner in figures only.
By this means the wicked, mistaking the promised for material blessings, have gone astray, in spite of clear indications of the time, and the good have not gone astray; for the interpretation of the promised blessings depends on the heart, wont to call that good which it loves, but the interpretation of the promised time does not depend on the heart. Thus the clear prediction of the time, and the obscure intimation of the blessings, deceives only the wicked.
If Jesus Christ had come only for sanctification, the whole of Scripture and all things would tend to this end and it would be easy to convince unbelievers. If Jesus Christ had come only to blind, all his conduct would be confused, and we should have no means of convincing unbelievers. But as he came as says Isaiah, we cannot convince unbelievers, and they cannot convince us; but by that very fact we overcome them because we say that there is nothing in his conduct conclusive on one side or the other.
Jesus Christ has come to blind those who saw clearly, and to give sight to the blind; to heal the sick and let the sound perish; to call sinners to repentance and justification and leave the just in their sins; to fill the hungry with good things and to send the rich empty away.
We can have nothing but veneration for a man who clearly foretells events which take place, and who declares his design both to blind and to enlighten, and who mixes obscurities among the clear things which happen.
During the life of the Messiah.— —Ezek. xvii.—His forerunner. Malachi ii.
He will be born an infant. Is. ix. 6.
He will be born at Bethlehem. Micah v. He will appear chiefly in Jerusalem, and will spring from the family of Judah and of David.
He will blind the learned and the wise, Is. vi. 8, 29, and preach the Gospel to the poor and the lowly, will open the eyes of the blind, restore health to the sick, and bring light to those who languish in darkness. Is. lxi.
He must show the perfect way, and be the teacher of the Gentiles. Is. lv.
The prophecies must be unintelligible to the wicked, Dan. xii., Hos. xiv. 10, but intelligible to those who are well instructed.
He must be the precious corner stone. Is. xxviii. 16.
He must be the stone of stumbling and offence. Is. viii.
Jerusalem must dash against this stone.
The builders must reject this stone. Ps. cxvii. 22.
God will make of this stone the head of the corner.
And this stone will grow into a mountain, and fill the whole earth. Dan. ii.
Thus he must be rejected, disowned, betrayed, sold, Zach. xi. 12, spit upon, buffeted, mocked, afflicted in a thousand ways, be given gall to drink, Ps. lxviii., pierced, Zach. xii., his feet and his hands pierced, killed, and lots cast upon his vesture.
He must rise again, Ps. xv., the third day. Hos. vi. 3.
He must ascend to heaven to sit on the right hand. Ps. cx.
The kings will arm themselves against him. Ps. ii.
Being on the right hand of the Father, he will have victory over all his enemies.
The kings of the earth and all nations shall worship him. Is. lx.
The Jews will remain as a nation. Jeremiah.
They will be dispersed, without kings, etc., Hos. iii.; without prophets. Amos;
Waiting for salvation and finding it not. Isaiah.
The calling of the Gentiles by Jesus Christ. Is. lii., Ps. lxxi.
The Jews in slaying him that they might not receive the Messiah, stamped him with the final proof of his Messiahship.
And by continuance in denial, they made themselves unimpeachable witnesses; and in slaying him, and continuing to reject him, they have fulfilled the prophecies.
The word Galilee, which the Jewish rabble pronounced as if by chance, in their accusation of Jesus Christ before Pilate, gave Pilate a reason for sending Jesus Christ to Herod, so that the mystery was accomplished, that he should be judged by Jews and Gentiles. Chance was apparently the cause that the mystery was accomplished.
The conversion of the Gentiles was only reserved for the grace of the Messiah. The Jews so long opposed them without success; all that Solomon and the prophets had said was useless. Wise men like Plato and Socrates could not persuade them.
If this was so clearly foretold to the Jews, why did they not believe it, or why were they not exterminated for resisting what was so clear?
I answer first: it was foretold both that they would not believe what was so clear, and that they would not be exterminated. And nothing is more glorious to the Messiah, for it is not enough that there should be prophets, they must be kept above suspicion. Now, etc.
Had the Jews been all converted by Jesus Christ, we should have none but doubtful witnesses, and had they been entirely destroyed we should have had no witnesses at all.
The Jews rejected him, but not all. The saints receive him, but not carnal men. Yet this is far from being against his glory, it is the last stroke which perfects it. The argument on their side, the only one which is found in the Talmud and the rabbinical writings, is that Jesus Christ has not subdued the nations sword in hand, potentissime. Is this all they can allege? Jesus Christ has been slain, they say, he was subdued, he has not had dominion over the heathen by his power, he has not distributed the spoil among us, he does not give riches. Is this all they have to allege? This is the very point wherein he seems to me so lovable. I would none of such an one as they represent. It is plain that his life only hinders them from receiving him, by their refusal they become irreproachable witnesses, and what is more, they thereby fulfil the prophecies.
There are those who see clearly that man has no other enemy than lust, which turns him from God, and not God, and that there is no other good but God, not a fat land. Let those who believe that the good of man is in the flesh, and evil that which turns him away from sensual pleasures, besot themselves with him and die in them. But those who seek God with their whole heart, whose only ill is not to see him, whose only desire is to possess him, whose only enemies are those who would turn them from him, who are afflicted when they are surrounded and overwhelmed by such enemies, may take comfort, for I declare to them this joyful news: there is for them a Redeemer, whom I will show them; I will show them that there is for them a God, and I will not show him to others. I will show them that a Messiah has been promised, who will deliver them from their enemies, and that one has come to deliver them from their iniquities, not from their enemies.
It is a wonderful thing, and worthy of all attention, to see the Jewish nation existing so many years in constant misery, it being necessary as a proof of Jesus Christ, both that they should exist to be his witnesses, and should be miserable because they crucified him, and though to be miserable and to exist, are contradictory, this nation still exists in spite of its misery.
When Nebuchadnezzar carried away the people, for fear they should believe that the sceptre had departed from Judah, they were assured beforehand that they would be but a short time in captivity, and would be restored.
They were never without the comfort of their prophets, or the presence of their kings. But the second destruction is without promise of restoration, without prophets, without kings, without comfort, without hope, for the sceptre is taken away for ever.
Proofs of Jesus Christ.—To have been captive with the assurance of deliverance in seventy years was no true captivity. But now they are captives without hope.
God has promised them that even though he should disperse them to the ends of the earth, nevertheless if they were faithful to the law he would gather them together. They are now very faithful to it, yet remain oppressed.
Blindness of Scripture.—The Scripture, say the Jews, says that we know not whence Christ should come.
John vii. 27 and xii. 34.
The Scripture says that Christ abideth for ever, and he said that he should die. Therefore, says Saint John, they believed him not, though he had done so many miracles, that the word of Isaiah might be fulfilled: , etc.
Contradictions.—The sceptre until Messiah come. Without king or prince.
The eternal law, changed.
The eternal covenant, a new covenant.
The good law, evil precepts, Ezekiel xx.
Apparent discord of the Evangelists.
Proofs of Jesus Christ.
Why the book of Ruth was preserved.
Why the story of Tamar.
The genealogy of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is intermixed with so many that are useless, that it cannot be distinguished. If Moses had kept only the register of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, that had been too plain. If he had not marked that of Jesus Christ, it had not been plain enough. But after all, whoso looks closely sees that of Jesus Christ distinctly traced through Tamar, Ruth, etc.
Jesus Christ in an obscurity—as the world calls obscurity—so great, that the historians who wrote only the important matters of States hardly perceived him.
On the fact that neither Josephus, nor Tacitus, nor other historians, have spoken of Jesus Christ.—So far from this being any argument against, it is rather one for us. For it is certain that Jesus Christ has existed, that his religion has made a great noise, and that these people were not ignorant of it; thus it is plain that they designedly concealed it, or perhaps that they did speak of it, and what they said has been suppressed or altered.
When Augustus learnt that Herod’s own son was among the children under the age of two years whom he had commanded to be slain, he said that it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son. Macrob. Saturn. Lib. ii., c. 4.
Macrobius, on the Innocents slain by Herod.
Herod believed to be the Messiah. He had taken away the sceptre of Judah, but he was not of Judah. This was held by a considerable sect.
Both and another received by the Jews. And the rumour which was everywhere in those times. Suetomus, Tacitus, Josephus.
In what sort should Messiah come, seeing that by him the sceptre should be eternally in Judah, and at his coming the sceptre should depart from Judah?
To the end that seeing they should not see, and understanding they should not understand, nothing could be better done.
against those who count periods of time.
Proofs of Jesus Christ.—Jesus Christ said great things so simply that he seems not to have considered them, and yet so tersely that it is clear he had considered them. This clearness joined with simplicity is wonderful.
Who taught the evangelists the qualities of an entirely heroic soul, that they should paint it so perfectly in Jesus Christ? Why did they describe him weak in his agony? Did they not know how to paint a steadfast death? No doubt they did, for the same Saint Luke paints the death of Saint Stephen as braver than that of Jesus Christ.
They describe him therefore as capable of fear before the need of dying came, and then wholly strong.
But when they represent him as so afflicted, it is when he afflicts himself, and when men afflict him, then is he wholly strong.
The style of the Gospel is wonderful in many ways, and in this among others, that it contains no invectives against the executioners and enemies of Jesus Christ. The historians do not rail against Judas, Pilate, nor any of the Jews.
If this modesty of the evangelical writers had been simulated, as well as many other traits of a beautiful character, and they had only simulated it to attract observation, even if they had not dared to draw attention to it themselves, they would not have failed to procure friends, who would have remarked on it to their advantage. But as they acted thus without dissimulation, and from perfectly disinterested motives, they pointed it out to no one, and I believe that many points of this kind have never been noticed till now, which is an evidence of how dispassionately all was done.
The apostles were either deceived or deceivers. Both hypotheses are difficult; for it is not possible to mistake a man raised from the dead . . .
While Jesus Christ was with them, his presence might sustain them, but after that, what gave them force to act if he did not appear to them?
Proof of Jesus Christ.—The supposition that the apostles were deceivers is thoroughly absurd. Suppose we follow it out, and imagine these twelve men assembled after the death of Jesus Christ, making a plot to say that he was risen again. By this they attack all earthly powers. The heart of man is strangely inclined to fickleness and change, swayed by promises and by wealth. Had one of these men contradicted themselves under these temptations, nay more, had they done so in prison, in torture and in death, they were lost. Let that be followed out.
Atheists.—What reason have they to say it is not possible to rise again? Which is the more difficult, to be born or to rise again; that that which has never been should be, or that what has been should be again? Is it more difficult to come into being than to return to it? Habit causes the one to seem easy to us, the want of habit causes the other to seem impossible. The popular way of judging.
Why should not a virgin bear a child? does not a hen lay eggs without a cock? What distinguishes these outwardly from others? and who has told us that the hen may not form the germ as well as the cock?
What have they to say against the resurrection, or against the child-bearing of the Virgin? which is the more difficult; to produce a man or an animal, or to reproduce it? And if they had never seen any species of animal, could they guess that they were not produced without connection with each other?
How I hate these follies of not believing in the Eucharist, etc. . . . If the Gospel be true, if Jesus Christ be God, what difficulty is there?
It is impiety not to believe in the Eucharist on the ground that we do not see it.
WE know God only by Jesus Christ. Without this mediator all communion with God is taken away, by Jesus Christ we know God. All who have thought to know God, and to prove him without Jesus Christ, have had but feeble proofs. But for proof of Jesus Christ we have the prophecies, which are solid and palpable proofs. And these prophecies, accomplished and proved true by the event, mark the certainty of these truths, and consequently the divinity of Jesus Christ. In him then, and by him, we know God; apart from him, and without the Scripture, without original sin, without a necessary mediator, foretold and come, we could not absolutely prove God, nor teach sound doctrine and sound morality. But by Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ we prove God and teach morality and doctrine. Jesus Christ is then the true God of men.
But we know at the same time our misery, for this God is none other than he who repairs our misery. Thus we can only know God well by knowing our sins. Therefore those who have known God without knowing their misery, have not glorified him, but have glorified themselves. per sapientiam, placuit Deo per stultitiam prædicationis salvos facere.
Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know ourselves by Jesus Christ alone. We know life and death by Jesus Christ alone. Apart from Jesus Christ we know not what is our life, nor our death, nor God, nor ourselves.
Thus without the Scripture, which has Jesus Christ alone for its object, we know nothing, and see only obscurity and confusion in the nature of God, and in our own nature.
Without Jesus Christ man must be plunged in vice and misery; with Jesus Christ man is free from vice and misery, in him is all our virtue and all our happiness. Apart from him is nought but vice and misery, error and darkness, death and despair.
Without Jesus Christ the world would not exist, for it could only be either destroyed, or a very hell.
It is not only impossible but useless to know God without Jesus Christ. They have not withdrawn from him, but drawn near; they have not abased themselves, but . . .
Quo quisque optimus est, pessimus, si hoc ipsum, quod sit optimus, ascribat sibi.
The Gospel only speaks of the virginity of the Virgin up to the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. All with reference to Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ, whom the two Testaments regard, the Old as its end, the New as its model, both as their centre.
Scepticism is the truth. For, after all, men before Jesus Christ did not know either where they were or if they were great or little. And those who said one or the other knew nothing about it, and guessed without reason and by chance, yet they always erred in excluding one or the other.
, Religio annuntiat vobis.
If Epictetus had seen the way with certainty he would have said to men: “You follow a false road”; he shows that there is another, but he does not lead there; it is the way of willing what God wills; Jesus Christ alone leads thither,
Jesus Christ did nothing but teach men that they were lovers of themselves, that they were slaves, blind, sick, miserable, and sinners, that he would deliver them, enlighten, bless, and heal them, that this would be brought about by hatred of self, and by following him through poverty and the death of the cross.
An artizan who speaks of riches, a lawyer who speaks of war, or of kingship, etc., but the rich man rightly speaks of riches, a king speaks slightingly of a great gift he has just made, and God rightly speaks of God.
Isaiah xlii., xlviii., liv., lx., lxi. The last verse. I have foretold it long since, that they might know that it is I.
Man is not worthy of God, but he is not incapable of being rendered worthy.
It is unworthy of God to unite himself to miserable man, but it is not unworthy of God to raise him from his misery.
The infinite distance between body and mind is a figure of the infinitely more infinite distance between mind and charity, for this is supernatural.
All the splendour of greatness has no lustre for those who seek understanding.
The greatness of men of understanding is invisible to kings, to the rich, to conquerors, and to all the great according to the flesh.
The greatness of wisdom, which has no existence save in God, is invisible to the carnal and to men of understanding. These are three orders differing in kind.
Men of great genius have their empire, their glory, their grandeur, their victory, their lustre, and do not need worldly greatness, with which they have nothing to do. They are seen, not by the eye, but by the mind; and that is enough.
The saints have their empire, their glory, their victory, their lustre, and want no glory of the flesh or of the mind, with which they have nothing to do, for these add nothing to them, neither do they take away. They are seen of God and the angels, and not by the bodily eye, nor by the curious spirit; God suffices them.
Archimedes without worldly pomp would have had the same reverence. He fought no battles for the eye to gaze on, but he left his discoveries to all minds. O! how brilliant was he to the mind.
Jesus Christ, without riches, and without any exterior manifestation of science, is in his own order of holiness. He gave forth no scientific inventions to the world, he never reigned; but he was humble, patient, holy; holy before God, terrible to devils, without spot of sin. O! in what great pomp, and with what transcendent magnificence did he come to the eyes of the heart, which discern wisdom.
It would have been needless for , to have played the prince in his books on geometry.
It would have been needless to our Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of shining in his kingdom of holiness, to come as kings come; but he did come in the glory proper to his order.
It is most unreasonable to be offended at the lowliness of Jesus Christ, as if this lowliness were in the same order as was the greatness which he came to display. Let us consider this greatness in his life, in his passion, in his obscurity, in his death, in the choice of his disciples, in their desertion of him, in the secrecy of his resurrection, and the rest, and it will seem so vast as to give no room for offence at a lowliness in another order.
But there are those who can only admire carnal as though there were no mental greatness, and others who only admire mental greatness, as though there were not infinitely greater heights in wisdom.
All bodies, the firmament, the stars, the earth and the kingdoms thereof, are not comparable to the lowest mind, for mind knows all these, and itself; the body nothing.
All bodies together and all minds together, and all they can effect, are not worth the least motion of charity. This is of an order infinitely more exalted.
From all bodies together, we cannot extract one little thought: this is impossible and in another order. From all bodies and minds it is impossible to produce a single motion of true charity, it is impossible, it is in another and a supernatural order.
The Jews, in testing if he were God, have shown that he was man.
The Church has had as much difficulty in showing that Jesus Christ was man, against those who denied it, as in showing that he was God. And the evidences were equally great.
Jesus Christ is a God to whom we draw near without pride, and before whom we abase ourselves without despair.
Jesus Christ for all, Moses for a people.
The Jews were blessed in Abraham. “ .” But all nations are blessed in his seed.
Lumen ad revelationem gentium.
omni nationi, said David in speaking of the Law. But in speaking of Jesus Christ it must be said: Fecit taliter omni nationi.
So it is the property of Jesus Christ to be universal; even the Church offers the sacrifice only for the faithful. Jesus Christ offered that of the cross for all.
The victory over death. What advantageth it a man that he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? He that will save his soul shall lose it.
I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil. Lambs took not away the sins of the world, but I am the lamb who take away sins. Moses gave you not that bread from heaven. Moses has not led you out of captivity, and made you truly free.
Types.—Jesus Christ opened their mind to understand the Scriptures.
There are two great revelations.
1. All things happened to them in figures. vere Israelitæ, vere liberi, true bread from heaven.
2. A God humbled to the cross. It was necessary that Christ should suffer and enter into glory, that he should conquer death by death. Two advents.
The types of the completeness of redemption, as that the sun gives light to all, denote only completeness, but they figuratively imply exclusions, as the Jews elected to the exclusion of the Gentiles denote exclusion.
.—Yes, for he has offered, like a man who has ransomed all who willed to come to him. It is the misfortune of those who die on the way, but as far as he is concerned, he offers them redemption.—That holds good in the example, where he who ransoms and he who hinders from dying are two, but not in Jesus Christ, who does both one and the other.—No, for Jesus Christ in his quality of Redeemer, is not perhaps master of all, and thus so far as in him lies, he is the Redeemer of all.
Jesus Christ would not be slain without the forms of justice, for it is much more ignominious to die by justice than by an unjust sedition.
The elect will be ignorant of their virtues and the reprobate of the greatness of their crimes, “ or athirst?” etc.
Jesus Christ would none of the testimony of devils, nor of those who were not called, but of God and John the Baptist.
Jesus Christ says not that he is not of Nazareth, to leave the wicked in their blindness; nor that he is not the son of Joseph.
JESUS suffered in his passion the torments which men inflicted on him, but in his agony he suffered torments which he inflicted on himself; This is a suffering from no human, but an almighty hand, and he who bears it must also be almighty.
Jesus sought some comfort at least in his three dearest friends, and they were asleep. He prayed them to watch with him awhile, and they left him with utter carelessness, having so little compassion that it could not hinder their sleeping even for a moment. And thus Jesus was left alone to the wrath of God.
Jesus was without one on the earth not merely to feel and share his suffering, but even to know of it; he and heaven were alone in that knowledge,
Jesus was in a garden, not of delight as the first Adam, in which he destroyed himself and the whole human race; but in one of agony, in which he saved himself and the whole human race.
He suffered this sorrow and this desertion in the horror of night.
I believe that Jesus never complained but on this single occasion, but then he complained as if he could no longer restrain his extreme sorrow. “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death.”
Jesus sought companionship and consolation from men. This was the only time in his life, as it seems to me; but he received it not, for his disciples were asleep.
Jesus will be in agony even to the end of the world. We must not sleep during that time.
Jesus in the midst of this universal desertion, even that of his own friends chosen to watch with him, finding them asleep, was vexed because of the danger to which they exposed, not him, but themselves; he warned them of their own safety and of their good, with a heartfelt tenderness for them during their ingratitude, and warned them that the spirit is willing and the flesh weak.
Jesus, finding them still sleeping, unrestrained by any consideration for themselves or for him, had the tenderness not to wake them but to let them sleep on.
Jesus prayed, uncertain of the will of his Father, and feared death; but so soon as he knew it he went forward to offer himself to death: John.
Jesus asked of men, and was not heard.
Jesus, while his disciples slept, wrought their salvation. He has wrought that of each of the just while they slept both in their nothingness before their birth, and in their sins after their birth.
He prayed only once that the cup should pass away, and then with submission; but twice that it should come if need were.
Jesus was weary.
Jesus, seeing all his friends asleep and all his enemies wakeful, gave himself over entirely to his Father.
Jesus did not regard in Judas his enmity, but God’s order, which he loves and admits, since he calls him friend.
Jesus tore himself away from his disciples to enter into his agony; we must tear ourselves from our nearest and dearest to imitate him.
Jesus being in agony and in the greatest sorrow, let us pray longer . . .
Console thyself, thou wouldst not seek me hadst thou not found me.
I thought of thee in mine agony, such drops of blood I shed for thee.
It is tempting me rather than proving thyself, to think if thou wouldest act well in a case which has not occurred, I will act in thee if it occur.
Let my rules guide thy conduct; see how I have led the Virgin and the saints who have let me act in them.
The Father loves all that I do.
Must I ever shed the blood of my humanity and thou give no tears?
Thy conversion is my affair; fear not and pray with confidence as for me.
I am present with thee by my word in the Scriptures, by my Spirit in the Church and by inspiration, by my power in the priest, by my prayer in the faithful.
Physicians will not heal thee, for thou wilt die at last. But it is I who heal thee and make the body immortal.
Suffer chains and bodily servitude, I deliver thee now only from what is spiritual.
I am to thee more a friend than such or such an one, for I have done for thee more than they; they have not borne what I have borne from thee, they have not died for thee as I have done in the time of thine infidelities and thy cruelties, and as I am ready to do and do in my elect and at the Holy Sacrament.
If thou knewest thy sins thou wouldest lose heart.—I shall lose it then O Lord, for on thy word I believe their malice.—No, for I by whom thou learnest it can heal thee of them, and what I tell thee is a sign that I will heal thee. As thou dost expiate them, thou wilt know them, and it will be said to thee: “Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee!”
Repent then for thy secret sins, and for the hidden malice of those which thou knowest.
Lord, I give thee all.—
I love thee more ardently than thou hast loved thine uncleannesses,
To me be the glory, not to thee, thou worm of earth.
Ask thy director, when my own words are to thee occasion of evil, or vanity, or curiosity.
I see the depths which are in me of pride, curiosity and lust. There is no relation between me and God, nor Jesus Christ the Just One. But he has been made sin for me, all thy scourges are fallen upon him. He is more abominable than I, and far from abhorring me he holds himself honoured that I go to him and succour him.
But he has healed himself, and still more will he heal me.
I must add my wounds to his, and join me to him, and he will save me in saving himself.
But this must not be put off to a future day.
Do little things as though they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ who does them in us, and who lives our life; do great things as though they were small and easy, because of his omnipotence.
The Sepulchre of Jesus Christ.—Jesus Christ was dead, but seen on the Cross. He was dead, and hidden in the sepulchre.
Jesus Christ was buried by the saints alone.
Jesus Christ worked no miracles at the sepulchre.
Only the saints entered it.
There, not on the Cross, Jesus Christ took a new life.
It is the last mystery of the passion and the redemption.
Jesus Christ had no where to rest on earth but in the sepulchre.
His enemies only ceased to persecute him at the sepulchre.
I consider Jesus Christ in all persons and in ourselves. Jesus Christ as a father in his father, Jesus Christ as a brother in his brethren, Jesus Christ as poor in the poor, Jesus Christ as rich in the rich, Jesus Christ as doctor and priest in priests, Jesus Christ as sovereign in princes, etc. For by his glory he is all that is great, since he is God; and he is by his mortal life all that is miserable and abject. Therefore he has taken this wretched state, to enable him to be in all persons, and the model of all conditions.
The false justice of Pilate only caused the suffering of Jesus Christ; for he caused him to be scourged by his false justice, and then slew him. It would have been better that he had slain him at first. Thus is it with those who are falsely just. They do good works or evil to please the world, and show that they are not altogether of Jesus Christ, for they are ashamed of him. Then at last in great temptations and on great occasions, they slay him.
It seems to me that Jesus Christ after his resurrection allowed his wounds only to be touched. We must unite ourselves to his sufferings only.
At the Last Supper he gave himself in communion as one about to die; to the disciples at Emmaus as one risen from the dead; to the whole Church as one ascended into heaven.
Compare not thyself with others, but with me. If thou findest me not in those with whom thou comparest thyself, thou comparest thyself with him that is abominable. If thou findest me there compare thyself to me. But who is it that thou dost compare? Thyself, or me in thee? If it be thyself it is one that is abominable; if it be me thou comparest me to myself. Now I am God in all.
I speak and often counsel thee because thy Guardian can not speak to thee, for I will not that thou shouldest lack a guide.
And perhaps I do so at his prayers, and thus he leads thee without thy seeing it.
Thou wouldest not seek me unless thou didst possess me.
Therefore be not troubled.
Be comforted; it is not from yourself that you must expect it; but on the contrary, expecting nothing from yourself, you must await it.
Pray that ye enter not into temptation. It is dangerous to be tempted, and those alone are tempted who do not pray.
confirma fratres tuos. But before, conversus Jesus respexit Petrum.
Saint Peter asked permission to strike Malchus, and struck before having the answer; Jesus Christ answered afterwards.
I love poverty because he loved it. I love wealth because it gives the power of helping the miserable. I keep my troth to everyone; rendering not evil to those who do me wrong; but I wish them a lot like mine, in which I receive neither good nor evil from men. I try to be just, true, sincere, and faithful to all men; I have a tender heart for those to whom God has more closely bound me; and whether I am alone or seen of men I place all my actions in the sight of God, who shall judge them, and to whom I have consecrated them all.
Such are my opinions, and each day of my life I bless my Redeemer who has implanted them in me, who has transformed me, a man full of weakness, misery, and lust, of pride and ambition, into a man exempt from these evils, by the power of his grace, to which all the glory is due; since of myself I have only misery and sin.
MEMBERS. To begin with that.—To regulate the love which we owe to ourselves, we must imagine a body full of thinking members, for we are members of the whole, and see how each member should love itself, etc. . . .
If the feet and the hands had each a separate will they could only be in their order in submitting this separate will to the primary will which governs the whole body. Apart from that they are in disorder and misfortune, but in willing only the good of the body they find their own good.
Morality.—God having made the heavens and the earth, which cannot feel the happiness of their being, he has been pleased to make beings who should know it, and who should compose a body of thinking members. For our members do not feel the happiness of their union, of their admirable intelligence, of the care which nature has taken to infuse into them a mind, and to make them grow and endure. How happy would they be if they could see and feel it. But in order to this they must needs have intelligence to know it, and good will to consent to that of the universal soul. For if, having received intelligence, they used it to retain nourishment for themselves without allowing it to pass to the other members, they would be not only unjust but also miserable, and would hate rather than love themselves, their blessedness as well as their duty consisting in their consent to the guidance of the general soul to which they belong, who loves them better than they love themselves.
To be a member, is to have neither life, being, nor movement save by the spirit of the body, and for the body; the separate member, seeing no longer the body to which it belongs, has only a waning and dying existence. Yet it believes it is a whole, and seeing not the body on which it depends, it believes it depends only on self and wills to constitute itself both centre and body. But not having in itself a principle of life, it only goes astray, and is astonished in the uncertainty of its being; fully aware that it is not a body, yet not seeing that it is a member of a body. Then when at last it arrives at the knowledge of self, it has returned as it were to its own home, and loves itself only for the body’s sake, bewailing that in the past it has gone astray.
It cannot by its nature love ought else, if not for itself and to subject it to self, since each thing loves itself above all. But in loving the body it loves itself, because it has no being but in it, by it, and for it. unus spiritus est.
The body loves the hand, and the hand, if it had a will, should love itself in the same proportion as that in which it is loved by the soul. All love beyond this is unjust.
Adhærens Deo unus spiritus est. We love ourselves because we are members of Jesus Christ. We love Jesus Christ because he is the body of which we are members. All is one, one is in the other, like the Three Persons.
The examples of the noble deaths of the Lacedæmonians and others scarce touch us, for what good do they to us? But the example of the death of the martyrs touches us, for they are our members. We have a common tie with them, their resolution can form ours, not only by example, but . There is nothing of this in the examples of the heathen; there is no bond between us. As we do not become rich by seeing a rich stranger, but by seeing a father or a husband who is so.
We must love God only, and hate self only.
If the foot had always been ignorant that it belonged to the body, and that there was a body on which it depended, if it had only had the knowledge and the love of self, and if it came to know that it belonged to a body on which it depended, what regret, what confusion for the past life, for having been useless to the body from which its whole life was derived, which would have reduced it to nothing if it had rejected it and separated it from itself, as it held itself apart from the body. What prayers for its preservation in the body, with what submission would it allow itself to be governed according to the will which rules the body, even to consent, if need be, that it should be cut off, or it would lose its character of member. For each member must be content to perish for the body, for which alone the whole exists.
To ensure the happiness of the members, they must have one will, and submit it to the body.
It is false that we are worthy of the love of others, it is unjust that we should desire it. If we were born reasonable and impartial, knowing ourselves and others, we should not give this bias to our will. But we are born with it; we are therefore born unjust, for all tends to self. This is contrary to all order. We should look to the general advantage, and the inclination to self is the beginning of all disorder, in war, in politics, in economy, and in man’s own body.
The will therefore is depraved. If the members of natural and civil communities tend towards the well-being of the body, the communities themselves should tend to the welfare of another more general body of which they are members. We should therefore look to the whole. We are therefore born unjust and depraved.
He who hates not in himself his self-love, and that instinct which leads him to make himself a God, is indeed blinded. All must see that nothing is so opposed to justice and truth. For it is false that we deserve this, and it is unjust and impossible to attain it, since all demand the same. Manifestly then injustice is innate in us, from which we cannot free ourselves, yet from which we ought to free ourselves.
But no religion has pointed out that this is a sin, or that we are born in it, or that we are bound to resist it, or has thought of offering us a cure.
It is unjust that any should attach themselves to me, even though they do it with pleasure, and voluntarily. I should deceive those in whom I aroused this desire, for I am not the final end of any, nor have I that which can satisfy them. Am I not about to die? And thus the object of their attachment will die. Thus as it would be blameworthy in me to cause a falsehood to be believed, though I should gently insinuate it, though it should be believed with pleasure, and though it should give me pleasure; in like manner it is blameworthy in me if I make myself beloved, and if I draw persons to attach themselves to me. I ought to warn those who are ready to consent to a lie, that they should not believe it, whatever advantage accrues to me from it; and in the same way that they should not attach themselves to me; for they ought to spend their life and their pains in pleasing God, or in seeking him.
Self-will never will be satisfied, though it should have power for all it would; but we are satisfied from the moment we renounce it. Without it we cannot be discontented, with it we cannot be content.
To hate self, and to seek a truly lovable being to love, is therefore the true and only virtue, for we are hateful because of lust. But as we cannot love what is outside us, we must love a being which is in us, yet not ourselves, and that is true of each and all men. Now the universal Being is alone such. The Kingdom of God is within us; the universal good is within us, is our very selves, yet not ourselves.
If there be a god we ought to love him alone, and not the creatures of a day. The reasoning of the wicked in the is only founded on the non-existence of God. “Given that there is no God,” say they, “let us take delight in the creature. It is because there is nothing better.” But were there a God to love they would not have come to this conclusion, but to the contrary. And this is the conclusion of the wise: “There is a God, therefore we ought not to take delight in the creature.”
Therefore all that leads us to attach ourselves to the creature is evil, because it hinders us from serving God if we know him, and from seeking him if we know him not. Now we are full of lust. Therefore we are full of evil, therefore we should hate ourselves and all which urges us to attach ourselves to aught but God only.
That we must love one God only is a thing so plain, that no miracles are needed to prove it.
That is a good state of the Church in which it is upheld by God alone.
Two laws suffice to regulate the whole Christian republic better than all political laws.
Against those who trusting in the mercy of God live carelessly without doing good works.—As the two sources of our sins are pride and indolence, God has revealed to us two of his attributes for their cure, mercy and justice. The property of justice is to abase our pride, however holy may be our works, etc.; and the property of mercy is to combat indolence by exciting to good works, according to that passage: “ leads to repentance,” and that other of the Ninevites: “ to see if peradventure he will pity us.” Thus mercy is so far from authorising slackness, that it is on the contrary the quality which formally assails it, so that instead of saying: “Were there not mercy in God, we must make every effort after virtue,” we should say, on the contrary, that because there is mercy in God we must make every effort.
The world exists for the exercise of mercy and judgment, not as if men were in it as they came from the hands of God, but as the enemies of God, to whom he gives by grace light enough to return, if they will seek him and follow him, and to punish them, if they refuse to seek him and follow him.
We implore the mercy of God, not that he may leave us in peace in our vices, but that he may free us from them.
There are but two kinds of men, the righteous, who believe themselves sinners, and sinners, who believe themselves righteous.
There are two kinds of men in each religion.—Among the heathen, worshippers of beasts, and the worshippers of the one God revealed by natural religion.
Among the Jews, the carnal and the spiritual, who were the Christians of the old law.
Among the Christians, those coarser ones, who are the Jews of the new law.
The carnal Jews looked for a carnal Messiah, and the coarser Christians believe that the Messiah has dispensed them from the love of God. True Jews and true Christians adore a Messiah who makes them love God.
Carnal Jews and the heathen have their miseries, and Christians also. There is no Redeemer for the heathen, for they do not even hope for one. There is no Redeemer for the Jews, who hope for him in vain. There is a Redeemer only for the Christians.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, pride, etc.
There are three orders of things: the flesh, the spirit, and the will.
The carnal are the rich and kings, who have the body as their object.
Enquirers and men of science, who have mind for their object.
The wise, who have right for their object.
God must reign over all, and all men must be referred to him. In things of the flesh lust reigns especially, in men of intellect curiosity especially, in wisdom pride especially.
Not that a man may not boast of wealth or knowledge, but there is no room for pride, for in granting that a man is learned there will be no difficulty in proving to him that he is wrong to be proud. Pride finds its proper place in wisdom, for it cannot be granted to a man that he has made himself wise and that he is wrong to be proud of it. For that is just. Now God alone gives wisdom, and therefore
All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life; libido sciendi, libido dominandi. which these three rivers of flame enkindle rather than moisten. Happy they who are on these rivers, not overwhelmed nor carried away, but immovably fixed upon the floods, not standing but seated, and on a firm and sure base, whence they rise not before the dawn; but where, having rested in peace, they stretch forth their hands to him who will lift them up, and cause them to stand firm and upright in the porches of the heavenly Jerusalem, where pride may no more assail nor cast them down; and who yet weep, not to see all those perishable things crumble which the torrents sweep away, but at the remembrance of their dear country, that heavenly Jerusalem, which they remember without ceasing while the days of their exile are prolonged.
The rivers of Babylon rush and fall and sweep away.
O holy Sion, where all is firm and nothing falls.
We must sit upon the floods, not under them or in them, but on them; not standing but seated, being seated to be humble, and above them in security. But in the porches of Jerusalem we shall stand.
Let us see if our pleasure is stable or transitory, if it pass away, it is a river of Babylon.
There are few true Christians, I say this even in regard to faith. There are many who believe, but from superstition. There are many who believe not, out of reckless living; few are between the two.
I do not include here those whose morality is true holiness, nor those whose belief springs from the heart.
It is not a rare thing to have to blame the world for too much docility, it is a vice as natural as unbelief, and as pernicious. Superstition.
, but only for his servants; so the just man takes for himself nothing of the world, nor of the applause of the world, but only for his passions, which he uses as their master, saying to the one, ‘Go,’ and to another, ‘Come.’ The passions thus subdued are virtues. God himself attributes to himself avarice, jealousy, anger; and these are virtues as well as kindness, pity, constancy, which are also passions. We must treat them as slaves, and leaving to them their food hinder the soul from taking any of it. For when the passions gain the mastery they are vices, then they furnish nutriment to the soul, and the soul feeds on it and is poisoned.
The just man acts by faith in the smallest things; when he blames his servants, he wishes for their conversion by the spirit of God, and prays God to correct them; for he expects as much from God as from his own blame, and he prays God to bless his corrections. And so with all his other actions.
Of all that is in the world he takes part only in what is unpleasant, not in what is pleasant, He loves his neighbours, but his charity does not restrict itself within these bounds, but flows out to his enemies, and then to those of God.
This is common to ordinary life and that of the saints, that all endeavour after happiness, and differ only in the object in which they place it. Both call those their enemies who hinder them from attaining it.
We should judge of what is good or bad by the will of God, who cannot be either unjust or blind; and not by our own will, which is always full of malice and error.
Joh. viii. in eum. Dicebat ergo Jesus: “Si manseritis . . . ., vere mihi discipuli eritis, et veritas liberabit vos.” Responderunt: Semen Abrahae sumus et nemini servimus unquam.
There is a great difference between disciples and true disciples. They are recognised by saying to them that the truth will make them free; for if they answer that they are free, and that it is in their power to come out of slavery to the devil, they are indeed disciples, but not true disciples.
“Might I but see a miracle,” men say, “I would become a Christian.” How can they be sure they would do that of which they are ignorant? Men imagine that conversion consists in making of the worship of God such a transaction and way of life as they picture to themselves. True conversion consists in the annihilation of self before that universal Being whom we have so often provoked, and who might with justice destroy us at any moment; in recognising that we can do nought without him, and have merited nothing from him but his wrath. It consists in knowing that there is unconquerable opposition between us and God, and that without a mediator there could be no communion with him.
Saint Paul. There is the Christian character. je ne vous connais plus. Corneille. That is the inhuman character. The human character is the contrary.
With how little pride a Christian believes himself united to God, with how little abasement does he rank himself with the worms of earth. What a way is this to receive life and death, good and evil.
It is true there is difficulty in entering into a devout life, but this difficulty does not arise from the religion which begins in us, but from the irreligion which is still there. If our senses were not opposed to penitence, and if our corruption were not opposed to the purity of God, there would be nothing in this painful to us. We suffer only in proportion as the vice which is natural to us resists supernatural grace; our heart feels torn asunder by these conflicting efforts, but it would be most unjust to impute this violence to God, who draws us, instead of attributing it to the world, which holds us back. As a child which a mother tears from the robbers’ arms, in the anguish it suffers should love the loving and legitimate violence of her who procures its liberty, and detest only the imperious and tyrannical violence of those who retain it unjustly. The most cruel war which God can make against men in this life is to leave them without that war which he came to bring. “I came to bring war,” he says, and to inform them of this war, “I came to bring fire and the sword.” Before him the world lived in a false peace.
The exterior must be joined to the interior to obtain aught from God, that is to say, we must kneel, pray with the lips, etc., in order that proud man, who would not submit himself to God, should now be subject to the creature. To expect succour from these externals is superstition, to refuse to join them to interior acts is pride.
External works.—There is nothing so perilous as that which is pleasing to God and to man; for those conditions which are pleasing to God and man, have one side which is pleasing to God, and another which is pleasing to man; as the greatness of Saint Theresa. That which was pleasing to God was her profound humility under her revelations, what was pleasing to men was her light. And thus we torment ourselves to imitate her discourses, thus thinking to imitate her condition, and thereby to love what God loves, and to place ourselves in a state which God loves.
It is better not to fast, and be thereby humbled, than to fast and be puffed up therewith.
The Pharisee and the Publican.
What will memory avail me if it be alike hurtful and helpful, since all depends upon the blessing of God, who gives only to things done for him according to his rules and in his ways, the manner being thus as important as the thing, and perhaps more; since God can bring good out of evil, and because without God we bring evil out of good.
The hope which Christians have of possessing an infinite good is mingled with actual enjoyment as well as with fear; for it is not as with those who should hope for a kingdom, of which they being subjects would have nothing; but they hope for holiness, and freedom from injustice, of which they possess somewhat.
None is so happy as a true Christian, none so reasonable, none so virtuous, none so amiable.
We remove ourselves from God only by removing ourselves from love.
Our prayers and our virtues are abomination before God if they are not the prayers and the virtues of Jesus Christ. And our sins will never be the object of the mercy, but of the justice of God, if they are are not those of Jesus Christ.
He has adopted our sins, and has admitted us into covenant with him, for virtues are his own, and sins are strange to him; while virtues are strange to us, and sins are our own.
Let us change the rule which we have hitherto adopted for judging what is good. We have had our own will as our rule in this respect, let us now take the will of God, all that he wills is good and right to us, all that he wills not is evil.
All that God allows not is forbidden; sins are forbidden by the general declaration that God has made, that he allows them not. Other things which he has left without general prohibition, and which for that reason are said to be permitted, are nevertheless not always permitted; for when God removes any one of them from us, and when, by the event, which is a manifestation of the will of God, it appears that God allows not that we should have a thing, that is then forbidden to us as sin, since the will of God is that we should not have one more than the other. There is this sole difference between these two things, that it is certain God will never allow sin, while it is not certain that he will never allow the other. But so long as God allows it not, we must look upon it as sin, so long as the absence of God’s will, which alone is all goodness and all justice, renders it unjust and evil.
True Christians nevertheless submit to folly, not because they respect folly, but the commandment of God, who for the punishment of men has put them in subjection to their follies. Liberabitur. Thus Saint Thomas explains the passage in Saint James on giving place to the rich, that if they do it not in the sight of God the commandment of religion is set at naught.
All great amusements are dangerous to the Christian life, but among all those which the world has invented none is so much to be feared as the theatre. It is so natural and so delicate a representation of the passions that it moves them, and makes them spring up in our heart, above all that of love, principally when it is represented as very chaste and very honourable. For the more innocent it seems to innocent souls, the more are they capable of being touched by it; its violence pleases our self-love, which at once forms the desire of causing the same effects which we see so well represented, and at the same time we make for ourselves a conscience founded on the honour of the feelings which we see there. And this extinguishes the fear of pure souls which imagine there is no harm to purity in loving with a love which seems to them so moderate.
Thus we leave the theatre with our heart so full of all the beauty and tenderness of love, the soul and the mind so persuaded of its innocence, that we are fully prepared to receive its first impressions, or rather to seek occasion to let them be born in the heart of some one, in order that we may receive the same pleasures and the same sacrifices which we have seen so well depicted in the theatre.
The circumstances in which it is easist to live according to the world are those in which it is most difficult to live according to God, and vice versâ. Nothing is so difficult according to the world as the religious life; nothing is more easy according to God. Nothing is easier than to live in great office and great wealth according to the world; nothing is more difficult than to live in them according to God, and not to take part in them and love them.
Those who believe without having read the Old and New Testaments, do so because they have a saintly frame of mind, with which all that they hear of our religion agrees. They feel that a God has made them; their will is to love God only, their will is to hate themselves only. They feel that they have no power of themselves, that they are unable to come to God, and if God come not to them, they can have no communion with him. And they hear our religion declare that men must love God only, and hate self only, but that all being corrupt, and unfit for God, God made himself man to unite himself to us. No more is needed to convince men who have such a disposition and have a knowledge of their duty and of their incompetence.
Those whom we see to be Christians without the knowledge of the prophecies and evidences, are able to judge of their religion as well as those who have that knowledge. They judge of it by the heart, as others by the understanding. God himself inclines them to believe, and thus they are effectually persuaded.
I admit that one of those Christians who believe without proof is not perhaps qualified to convince an infidel who will say the same of himself; but those who know the proofs of religion can prove without difficulty that such a believer is truly inspired by God, though he cannot prove it himself.
For God having said by his prophets, who are beyond a doubt prophets, that in the reign of Jesus Christ he will spread his spirit abroad among all nations, that the young men and maidens and the children of the Church will prophesy, there is no doubt that the spirit of God is upon these, and not upon the others.
Wonder not to see simple souls believe without reasoning. God gives to them the love of him, and the hate of self, he inclines their heart to belief. No man will ever believe with true and saving faith if God incline not the heart, but each will believe as soon as he inclines it. And this is what David knew well: Deus, in testimonia tua.
Romans iii. 27: Boasting is excluded, by what law? Of works no, but by that of faith. Therefore faith is not in our power, like the works of the law, and it is given us in another way.
Faith is a gift of God, do not suppose us to say it is a gift of reason. Other religions do not say this of their faith, they proffered only reason as a means of attaining to it, which after all does not lead to it.
Faith, it is true, says what the senses do not say, but not the contrary of what they perceive. It is above them, not contrary to them.
I am envious of those whom I see professing the true faith, but living and abusing a gift of which it seems to me I should make a very different use.
The law imposed what it did not bestow; grace bestows that which it imposes.
The law has not destroyed Nature, but has instructed it; grace has not destroyed the law, but has called it into action.
Faith received at baptism is the source of the whole life of the Christian and of the converted.
We make an idol of truth itself, for truth apart from charity is not God, it is his image and idol, which we must neither love nor adore; still less must we love and adore its opposite, which is falsehood.
Submission and use of reason, in which consists true Christianity.
The last process of reason is to recognise that there is an infinity of things which transcend it; it is but weak if it does not go so far as to know that.
And if natural things transcend it, what shall we say of the supernatural?
Submission—We must know when to doubt, when to feel certain, when to submit. Who fails in this understands not the force of reason. There are those who offend against these three rules, either by accepting everything as evidence, for want of knowing what evidence is; or by doubting everything, for want of knowing when to submit; or by yielding in everything, for want of knowing when to use their judgment.
There are three means of belief; reason, habit, inspiration. The Christian religion, which only has reason, does not admit as her true children those who believe without inspiration; not that she excludes reason or habit, rather the contrary, but it is necessary to open the mind to proofs, to confirm ourselves by habit, and then to offer ourselves humbly to inspiration, which alone can produce a true and salutary effect.
There are two ways of urging the truths of our religion; one by the force of reason, the other by the authority of the speaker.
We use not the last, but the first. We do not say: “You must believe this, for the Scripture which says so is divine,” but we say: You must believe for such and such a reason, which are weak arguments, since reason bends itself to all.
If we submit all to reason our religion will have nothing in it mysterious or supernatural. If we violate the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous.
Saint Augustine. Reason would never submit if it did not judge that on some occasions submission is a duty.
It is then right that it should submit, when it judges that it ought to submit.
Piety is different from superstition.
To carry piety as far as superstition is to destroy it.
Heretics reproach us with this superstitious submission. This is to do that with which they reproach us.
There is nothing so conformable to reason as the disavowal of reason.
Two excesses: to exclude reason, and to admit reason only.
Superstition and lust. Scruples, evil desires, evil fear.
Fear, not such as arises from a belief in God, but that which springs from doubt whether he is or is not. True fear comes from faith, false fear from doubt. True fear is allied to hope, because it is born of faith, and because men hope in the God in whom they believe; false fear is allied to despair, because they fear the God in whom they do not believe. The one class fears to lose him, the other fears to find him.
A person said to me one day that when he came from confession he felt great joy and confidence. Another said to me that he was still fearful, whereupon I thought that these two together would make one good man, and that each was so far wanting in that he had not the feelings of the other. The same is often true in other matters.
The knowledge of God is very far from the love of him.
We are not wearied of eating and sleeping every day, because hunger and drowsiness are renewed; without that we should be weary of them. Thus without the hunger of spiritual things we grow weary of them. Hunger after righteousness, the eighth beatitude.
The conduct of God, who disposes all things gently, is to put religion into the mind by reason, and into the heart by grace. But to will to put it into the mind and heart by force and menace is not to put religion there, but terror, terrorem potius quam religionem.
FIRST part: Misery of man without without God.
Second part: The happiness of man with God.
Or. First part: That Nature is naturally corrupt.
Second part: That the Scripture shows a Redeemer.
The arrangement by dialogues.—What ought I to do? I see only obscurity everywhere. Shall I believe that I am nothing, shall I believe that I am God?
All things change and succeed each other.—You are mistaken; there is . . .
A letter to lead to the search after God.
And then to cause him to be sought for among the philosophers, sceptics and dogmatists, who trouble all who seek them.
To pity those atheists who seek, for are they not unhappy enough?—To rail against those who make a boast of it.
To begin by pitying unbelievers, they are miserable enough by their condition. We ought not to revile them except where it may be serviceable, but it does them harm.
The arrangement.—A letter of advice to a friend to lead him to seek, and he will answer: What is the good of seeking, since nothing comes to light.—Then to answer him: “Do not despair.”—And he will answer that he would be glad to find some light, but that according to this very Religion, thus to believe, will be of no use to him: and that therefore he would as soon not seek. And to answer to that: The machine.
The arrangement.—After the letter that we ought to seek God, to write the letter on the removal of obstacles; which is the discourse on the machine, on preparing the machine, on seeking by reason.
The letter which shows the use of proofs by the machine. Faith is different from proof; the one is human, the other the gift of God. It is this faith that God himself puts into the heart, of which the proof is often the instrument, but this faith is in the heart, and makes us say not scio, but credo.
In the letter on Injustice may come the absurdity of the rule that the elder takes all. My friend, you were born on this side the mountain, it is therefore just that your elder brother should take all.
The arrangement.—Why should I take on myself to rather than into six? Why should I rather establish virtue in four, in two, in one? Why into rather than into Follow nature, or, Conduct your private affairs without injustice, as Plato, or anything else?
But there, you will say, is everything contained in one word. Yes, but that is useless if not explained, and when we begin to explain it, as soon as the precept is opened which contains all the others, they issue in that first confusion which you wished to avoid. Thus when they are all enclosed in one they are concealed and useless, as in a box, and never appear but in their natural confusion. Nature has established them all without enclosing one in the other.
The arrangement.—Men despise Religion, they hate it, and fear it may be true. To cure this we must begin by showing that Religion is not contrary to reason; then that it is venerable, to give respect for it; then to make it lovable, to make good men hope that it is true; then to show that it is true.
Venerable because it knows man well, lovable because it promises the true good.
The arrangement.—I should be far more afraid of making a mistake myself, and of finding that the Christian religion was true, than of not deceiving myself in believing it true.
The arrangement.—After corruption to say: “It is right that those who are in that state should know it, both those who are contented with it, and those who are discontented; but it is not right that all should see Redemption.”
The arrangement.—To see what is clear and indisputable in the whole state of the Jews.
To the chapter on Fundamentals must be added that on Things figurative touching the reason of types. Why Jesus Christ was foretold at his first coming, why foretold obscurely as to the manner.
A letter, on the folly of human knowledge and philosophy.
This letter before Diversion.
The arrangement.—I might well have taken this discourse in some such order as the following: To show the vanity of every state of life, to show the vanity of ordinary lives, and then the vanity of philosophic lives, sceptics, stoics; but the order would not have been kept. I know a little what it is, and how few people know it. No human science can keep it. Saint Thomas did not keep it. Mathematics keep it, but these are useless by reason of their depth.
Without examining each particular occupation it will be enough to class them under Diversion.
THE beginning.—Miracles are the test of doctrine, and doctrine is the test of miracles.
Of these there are false and true. There must be a mark whereby to know them, or they would be useless.
Now they are not useless, and are on the contrary fundamental. Now it must be that the rule which he gives us be such as shall not impair the proof afforded by true miracles to the truth, which is the principal end of miracles.
Moses has given two; that the prediction does not come to pass, Deut. xviii., and that they do not lead to idolatry, Deut. xiii.; and Jesus Christ one.
If doctrine regulate miracles, miracles are useless for doctrine.
If miracles regulate . . .
Objection to the rule.
Discrimination between times. One rule in Moses’s day, another at present.
Miracle. An effect which exceeds the natural force of the means employed, and non-miracle an effect not exceeding the natural force of the means employed. Thus work no miracle, for that does not exceed the natural power of the devil. But . . .
The combinations of miracles.
A second miracle may suppose a first, but a first cannot suppose a second.
No one has ever suffered martyrdom for the miracles he says he has seen; the folly of men would perhaps go as far as martyrdom, for those which the Turks believe by tradition, but not for those they have seen.
Were there no false miracles there would be certainty.
Were there no rule to test them, miracles would be useless, and there would be no reason for belief.
Now, humanly speaking, there is no human certainty, but reason.
It is said: but it is not said: Believe in Miracles, because the last is natural and not the first. The one had need of a precept, not the other.
Miracles.—How I hate those who make men doubt of miracles. speaks of them as he should in the two passages. In one we see how careful he is, yet in the other he believes, and laughs at unbelievers.
However it may be, the Church has no proofs if they are right.
The reason why men do not believe.
Joh. xii. 37. Cum autem tanta signa fecisset, non credebant in eum, ut sermo Isaye impleretur. Excecavit, etc.
Hæc dixit Isaias, quando vidit gloriam ejus, et locutus est de eo.
—et Græci sapientiam quærunt.
Nos autem Jesum crucifixum.
sed plenum sapientia.
Vos autem Christum non crucifixistis, et religionem sine miraculis et sine sapientia.
The ground of disbelief in true miracles is want of charity. Joh. quia non estis ex ovibus. The ground of belief in false miracles is want of charity.
2 Thess. ii.
The foundation of religion. This is miracle. Does God then speak against miracles, against the foundations of the faith which we have in him?
If there be a God, faith in God must exist on earth. Now the miracles of Jesus Christ are not foretold by Antichrist, but the miracles of Antichrist are foretold by Jesus Christ. Thus if Jesus Christ were not the Messiah he would have certainly led into error, but Antichrist could not certainly lead into error.
When Jesus Christ foretold the miracles of Antichrist, did he think of destroying faith in his own miracles.
Moses foretold Jesus Christ, and commanded to follow him; Jesus Christ foretold Antichrist, and forbade to follow him.
It was impossible that in the time of Moses any should assert their faith in Antichrist, who was unknown to them, but it is easy in the time of Antichrist to believe in Jesus Christ, already known.
There is no reason to believe in Antichrist which there is not to believe in Jesus Christ, but there are reasons for believing in Jesus Christ, which do not exist for the other.
Title: How it happens that men believe so many liars, who say they have seen miracles, and do not believe any of those who say they have secrets to make men immortal or render them young again.—Having considered how it happens that men have believed so many impostors, who pretend they have remedies, often to the length of putting their lives into their hands, it appears to me that the true cause is that there are true remedies. For it would not be possible there should be so many false, to which so much credence is given, were there none true. Were there no remedy for any evil, and were all diseases incurable, it is impossible that men should ever have imagined that they could give remedies, and still more impossible that so many others should have believed those who boasted that they had them. Just as if a man boasted that he could prevent death, no one would believe him because there is no example of this. But as there are a number of remedies which are approved as true, even by the knowledge of the greatest men, the belief of men is thereby inclined; and since the thing was known to be possible, it has been therefore concluded that it was. For the public as a rule reasons thus: A thing is possible, therefore it is; because the thing cannot be denied generally, since there are particular effects which are true, the people, who cannot discriminate which among particular effects are true, believe them all. This is the reason that so many false effects are attributed to the moon, because there are some true, such as the tide.
It is the same with prophecies, miracles, divination by dreams, casting lots, etc. For if in all these matters nothing true had ever taken place, nothing of them had ever been believed; and so instead of concluding that there are no true miracles, because so many are false, we must on the contrary say that there are certainly true miracles because there are false, and that the false only exist because some are true. We must reason in the same way about Religion, for it would not be possible that men should have imagined so many false religions had there not been one that is true. The objection to this is that savages have a religion, but we answer that they have heard speak of the true, as appears by the deluge, circumcision, Saint Andrew’s cross, etc.
Having considered how it comes that there are so many false miracles, false revelations, castings of lots, etc., it has appeared to me that the real cause is that there are true ones, for it would not be possible that there should be so many false miracles unless there were true, nor so many false revelations unless there were true, nor so many false religions unless there were one that is true. For if all this had never been, it is impossible that men should have imagined it, and still more impossible that so many others should have believed it. But as there have been very great things which are true and as they have been believed by great men; this impression has been produced, that almost everybody has been made capable of believing the false also; and thus instead of concluding that there are no true miracles since there are so many false, we must on the contrary say that there are true miracles since there are so many false, and that false miracles only exist for the reason that there are true; so also that there are false religions only because there is one that is true.—The objection to this is that savages have a religion. But this is because they have heard speak of the true, as appears by Saint Andrew’s cross, the deluge, the circumcision, etc.—This comes from the fact that the spirit of man, finding itself inclined to that side by truth, becomes therefore susceptible of all the falsehoods that . . .
I should not be a Christian were it not for the miracles, said
But for the miracles there would have been no sin in not believing in Jesus Christ.
It is not possible to believe reasonably against miracles.
Miracles have so great a force that it was needful that God should warn us not to credit them against him, clear as it may be that there is a God, without this they would have been able to disturb.
And thus so far from these passages, Deut xiii., making against the authority of miracles, nothing more marks their force. The same with Antichrist; “to seduce if it were possible even the very elect.”
Abraham and Gideon are above revelation.
The Jews blinded themselves in judging of miracles by the Scripture. God has never left his true worshippers.
I prefer to follow Jesus Christ than any other, because he has miracle, prophecy, doctrine, perpetuity, etc.
The Donatists. No miracle which obliged them to say it was the devil.
The more we specialise God, Jesus Christ and the Church.
Jesus Christ worked miracles, then the apostles, and the early saints in great number, because the prophecies not being yet fulfilled, but only in the way of fulfilment by them, miracles were their only witness. It was foretold that the Messiah should convert the nations, and this prophecy could not be fulfilled without the conversion of the nations. Nor could the nations be converted to Messiah unless they saw the final effect of the prophecies concerning him. Till therefore he died and rose again, and had converted the nations, all was not fulfilled, wherefore miracles were needed during that time. We now need no more miracles against the Jews, for the fulfilment of prophecy is an enduring miracle.
Prophecy is not called miracle, as Saint John speaks of the first miracle in Cana, then of what Jesus Christ said to the woman of Samaria, revealing to her all her hidden life. Then he healed the centurion’s son, and Saint John calls this the second sign.
Jesus Christ has verified that he was the Messiah, never in verifying his doctrine by Scripture and the prophecies, but always by his miracles.
He proves by a miracle that he remits sins.
Rejoice not that you work miracles, said Jesus Christ, but rather that your names are written in heaven.
If they believe not Moses, neither will they believe one risen from the dead.
Nicodemus recognised by his miracles, that his doctrine was of God. magister, nemo enim potest facere quæ tu facis, nisi Deus fuerit cum eo. He judged not of the miracles by the doctrine, but of the doctrine by the miracles.
Here is no country for truth, she wanders unknown among men. God has covered her with a veil which leaves her unrecognised by those who hear not her voice; the way is open for blasphemy even against those truths which are at the least very apparent. If the truths of the Gospel are published, the contrary is also published, and questions are obscured, so that the people cannot discern, and they ask us, “What have you to make you believed rather than others? what sign do you give? you have words only, so have we, if you have miracles, good.” That doctrine must be supported by miracle is a truth of which they make a pretext to blaspheme against doctrine. And if miracles happen, it is said that miracles are not enough without doctrine, and that is another way of blaspheming against miracles.
Jesus Christ healed the man born blind, and worked many miracles on the sabbath day, and thus he blinded the Pharisees who said that miracles must be tested by doctrine.
“ but as for this man, we know not whence he is.” It is wonderful that you know not whence he is, and yet he works such miracles.
Jesus Christ spoke neither against God nor against Moses.
Antichrist and the false prophets foretold by both Testaments, will speak openly against God, and against Jesus Christ, who is not hidden. Whoever will be a secret enemy, God will not permit that he work miracles openly.
In a public dispute where the two parties declare themselves on the side of God, of Jesus Christ, or the Church, there have never been miracles on the side of the false Christians, while the other party has remained without miracle.
“He hath a devil,” John x. 21. “And others said, Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?”
The proofs which Jesus Christ and the apostles draw from Scripture are not decisive, for they say only that Moses foretold that a prophet would come; but they do not thereby prove that Jesus Christ was that prophet, which is the whole question. These passages, then, serve only to show that we are not contrary to Scripture, and that there is no contradiction, not that there is accord. Now this is enough, there is no contradiction; and there are miracles.
It follows, then, that he judged miracles to be certain proofs of what he taught, and that the Jews were bound to believe him. And as a fact, it was the miracles especially which made the unbelief of the Jews so blameworthy.
There is a reciprocal duty between God and men. We must forgive him this saying: “Accuse me,” said God in Isaiah.
God must accomplish his promises, etc.
Men owe it to God to receive the Religion which he sends them. God owes it to men not to lead them into error. Now they would be led into error, if the workers of miracles should announce a doctrine which did not appear visibly false to the light of common sense, and if a greater worker of miracles had not already given warning not to believe in them.
Thus if there were division in the Church, and the Arians, for example, who no less than Catholics said they were founded on Scripture, had worked miracles, and the Catholics had worked none, men had been led into error.
For, as a man, who announces to us the secret things of God is not worthy to be believed on his private testimony, and on that very ground the wicked doubt him; so when a man as a sign of the communion which he has with God raises the dead, foretells the future, moves the seas, heals the sick, there is none so wicked as not to yield, and the incredulity of Pharaoh and the Pharisees is the effect of a supernatural hardening.
When, therefore, we see miracles and doctrine not open to suspicion both on one side, there is no difficulty. But when we see miracles and suspicious doctrine on the same side we must see which is the clearest. Jesus Christ was suspected.
. The power of God is above that of his enemies.
The Jewish exorcists were beaten by devils, who said, “Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are ye?”
Miracles are for doctrine, and not doctrine for miracles.
But if miracles are true we cannot persuade men of all doctrine, for that will not come to pass: . . .
Rule.—We must judge of doctrine by miracles, we must judge of miracles by doctrine. All this is true, but there is no contradiction.
For we must distinguish the times.
You are glad to know general rules, thinking by that to introduce difficulties, and render all useless. We shall stop you, ; truth is one, and strong.
It is impossible from the duty God owes us, that a man, concealing his evil doctrine, and only allowing the good to appear, pretending that he is in conformity with God and the Church, should work miracles to insinuate insensibly a false and subtle doctrine. This cannot be.
Still less, that God who knows the heart, should work miracles in favour of such an one.
There is much difference between temptation and leading into error. God tempts but he leads not into error. To tempt is to present occasions which impose no necessity; if we love not God we shall do a certain thing. To lead into error, is to place a man in a necessity of forming and following false conclusion.
This is what God cannot do, which nevertheless he would do, if in an obscure question he wrought miracles on the side of falsehood.
In the Old Testament, when they wou’d turn you from God, in the New when they would turn you from Jesus Christ.
Such are the occasions on which we exclude certain miracles from credence. There need be no other exclusions.
But it does not therefore follow that they had the right to exclude all the prophets who came to them. They would have sinned in not excluding those who denied God, and would also have sinned in excluding those who denied him not.
So soon, then, as we see a miracle we should at once either acquiesce or have signal marks against it. We must see if it denies either a God, or Jesus Christ, or the Church.
Miracles avail not for conversion, but for condemnation. I 113, a. 10, ad. 2.
in nomine patris mei, hæc testimomum perhibent de me.
quia non estis ex ovibus meis. Oves mei vocem meam audiunt.
Joh. vi. 30. Quod ergo tu facis signum ut videamus, et credamus tibi? Non dicunt: Quam doctrinam prædicas?
quæ tu facis, nisi Deus fuerit cum illo.
2 Mach. xiv. 15. Deus qui signis evidentibus suam portionem protegit.
Volumus signum videre de cælo tentantes eum. Luc. xi. 16.
signum quærit; sed non dabitur.
Et ingemiscens ait, Quid generatio ista signum quærit. Marc. viii. 12. They asked a sign with a bad intent. Et non poterat facere. And nevertheless he promises them the sign of Jonah, the great and incomparable evidence of his resurrection.
He does not blame them for not believing without there having been miracles, but without their having been themselves witnesses of them.
Antichrist in signis mendacibus, says St. Paul. 2 Thess. ii.
In seductione ii qui pereunt eo quod charitatem veritatis non receperunt ut salvi fierent. Ideo mittet illis Deus operationem erroris ut credant mendacia.
As in the passage of Moses: utrum diligatis eum.
vos ergo videte.
The Church has three kinds of enemies, the Jews, who have never been of her body; the heretics who have withdrawn from it; and bad Christians, who rend her from within.
These three different kinds of enemies generally assail her in different ways, but here they assail her in the same fashion. As they are all without miracles, and as the Church has always had miracles against them, they have all had the same interest in eluding them; and all avail themselves of this pretext, that we must not judge of doctrine by miracles, but of miracles by doctrine. There were two parties among those who heard Jesus Christ, those who followed his doctrine by reason of his miracles; others who said . . . There were two parties in the time of Calvin. There are now the Jesuits, etc.
Miracles are the test in doubtful matters, between Jew and Gentile, Jew and Christian, Catholic and heretic, slanderer and slandered, between the two crosses.
But miracles would be useless to heretics, for the Church, authorised by miracles which have already obtained credence, tells us that they have not the true faith. There is no doubt that they are not in it, because the first miracles of the Church exclude belief in theirs. Thus there is miracle against miracle, and the first and greatest are on the side of the Church.
Controversy. Abel, Cain;—Moses, the Magicians;—Elijah, the false prophets;—Jeremiah, Hananiah;—Micaiah, the false prophets;—Jesus Christ, the Pharisees;—Saint Paul, Barjesus;—the Apostles, the Exorcists;—the Christians and the infidels;—Catholics, heretics;—Elijah, Enoch, Antichrist.
In the trial by miracles truth always prevails. The two crosses.
Miracles are no longer needful, because they have already been. But when we listen no more to tradition, when the pope alone is proposed to us, when he has been taken by surprise, and when the true source of truth, which is tradition, is thus excluded, the pope, who is its guardian, is thus prejudiced, truth is no longer allowed to appear; then, since men speak no longer of truth, truth herself must speak to men. This is what happened in the time of Arius.
Religion is adapted to every kind of intellect. Some consider only its establishment, and this Religion is such that its very establishment is enough to prove its truth. Some trace it as far as the apostles; the more learned go back to the beginning of the world; the angles see it better still, and from earlier time.
1. Objection. An angel from heaven.
We must not judge of truth by miracles, but of miracles by truth.
Therefore miracles are useless.
Now they serve, and cannot be against the truth.
Therefore what says, that God will not allow a miracle to lead into error . . .
When there shall be a dispute in the same Church, miracle will decide.
But Antichrist will work miracles.
The Magicians of Pharaoh did not lead into error. Thus on Antichrist we cannot say to Jesus Christ: You have led me into error. For Antichrist will work them against Jesus Christ, and thus they cannot lead into error. Either God will not permit false miracles, or he will procure greater.
If in the same Church a miracle should occur on the side of those in error, men would be led into error.
A schism is visible, a miracle is visible. But a schism is more a mark of error than a miracle is a mark of truth, therefore a miracle cannot lead into error.
But apart from schism the error is not so visible as the miracle is visible.
Therefore miracle may lead into error.
—Miracles show him and are a light to him.
Joh. vi. 26. Non quia vidisti signum, sed quia saturati estis.
Those who follow Jesus Christ because of his miracles honour his power in all the miracles which it produces. But those who, making profession to follow him because of his miracles, only follow him indeed because he consoles them and satisfies them with worldly goods, disparage his miracles when they are contrary to their own convenience.
Joh. ix: Non est hic homo a Deo, quia sabbatum non custodit. Alii: Quomodo potest homo peccator hæc signa facere?
Which is the most clear?
This house is not of God, for they .
Others: This house is of God, for in it strange miracles are done.
Which is the most clear?
dicis? Dico quia propheta est.—Nisi esset hic a Deo, non poterat facere quidquam.
There is much difference between not being for Jesus Christ, and saying it, and not being for Jesus Christ, yet feigning to be so. The one party can work miracles, not the others, for it is clear that the one party are against the truth, but not that the others are; and thus miracles are the more clear.
“If you believe not in me, believe at least in the miracles.” He puts them forward as the strongest.
He had said to the Jews as well as to the Christians, that they should not always believe the prophets; but nevertheless the Pharisees and Scribes made much of his miracles, and tried much to show that they were false or worked by the devil, since they were bound to be convinced, if they admitted that these were of God.
We are not in these days obliged so to discriminate. Yet it is very easy to do so; those who deny neither God nor Jesus Christ work no miracles which are not quite certain.
in nomine meo, et cito possit de me male loqui.
But we have not to use this discrimination. Here is a sacred relic, here is a thorn from the crown of the Saviour of the world, on whom the prince of this world has no power, which works miracles by the immediate power of the blood that was shed for us. Thus God has himself chosen this house wherein openly to show forth his power.
Here are not men who work miracles by an unknown and doubtful virtue, obliging us to a difficult discrimination; it is God himself, it is the instrument of the passion of his only Son, who being in many places chose this, and made men come from all sides, there to receive miraculous succour in their weaknesses.
If the devil were to favour the doctrine which destroys him, he would be divided against himself, as Jesus Christ said. If God favoured the doctrine which destroys the Church, he would be divided against himself.
For Jesus Christ acted against the devil, and destroyed his empire over the heart, of which exorcism is the figure, to establish the kingdom of God. And so he adds: regnum Dei ad vos.
Either God has confounded the false miracles or he has foretold them, and both by the one and the other he has raised himself above the supernatural in regard to us, and has raised us also.
Jer. xxiii. 32. The miracles of the false prophets. In the Hebrew and they are called trifles.
Miracle does not always mean miracle. 1 Kings xiv. 15. Miracle signifies fear, and is the same in Hebrew.
The same plainly in Job xxxiii. 7.
So in Isaiah xxi. 4. Jeremiah xliv. 12.
Portentum means images, Jer. l. 38. and it is the same in Hebrew and Vatable. Isaiah viii, 18. Jesus Christ says that he and his will be in miracles.
Jesus Christ said that the Scriptures bear witness of him, but he did not show in what respect.
Even the prophecies could not prove Jesus Christ during his life, and thus if miracles had not sufficed without doctrine, men would not have been blameworthy who did not believe in him before his death. Now those who did not believe in him during his life were sinners, as he says himself, and without excuse. Therefore they must have resisted a conclusive proof. Now they had not our proof, but only miracles, therefore miracles are enough when doctrine is not contrary, and they ought to be believed.
John vii. 40. Controversy among the Jews as among Christians of our day. The one party believed in Jesus Christ, the other believed not, because of the prophecies which said he should be born in Bethlehem. They should have enquired more diligently whether he was not. For his miracles being convincing, they ought to have been quite certain of these alleged contradictions of his doctrine to the Scripture, and this obscurity did not excuse, but blinded them. Thus those who refuse to believe miracles in our day on account of an alleged but unreal contradiction, are not excused.
When the people believed on him because of his miracles, the Pharisees said: “This people, which doeth not the law, is accursed, but there is none of the princes or the Pharisees who has believed on him, for we know that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. Nicodemus answered, Doth our law judge any man before it heareth him?”
Judges xiii, 23. “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have shewed us all these things.”
Jeremiah, Hananiah, the false prophet, died in seven months.
2 Macc. iii. The temple, ready for pillage, miraculously succoured.—2 Macc. xv.
1 Kings xvii. The widow to Elijah, who had restored her son. “By this I know that thy words are true.”
1 Kings xviii. Elijah, with the prophets of Baal.
Never in a contention concerning the true God or of the truth of Religion has any miracle happened on the side of error and not of truth.
Miracle.—The people believe this of themselves, but if the reason must be given you . . .
It is troublesome to be an exception to the rule. We ought strictly to hold the rule and oppose the exception, yet as it is certain there are exceptions to every rule, we ought with this strictness to be just.
Is it not enough that miracles are done in one place, and that God’s providence is shown on one people?
Good breeding goes so far as to have no politeness, and true piety to have politeness for others.
This is not well bred.
The incredulous are the most credulous. They believe the in order that they may not believe those of Moses.
On the Miracle.—As God has made no family more happy, he should also find none more grateful.
THE Church has always been assailed by contrary errors, but perhaps never at the same time, as now; and if she suffer more because of the multiplicity of errors, she receives this advantage from it, that they destroy each other.
She complains of both, but much the most of the Calvinists, because of the schism.
It is certain that many of the two opposite parties are deceived; they must be disabused.
Faith embraces many truths which seem contradictory. and a time to weep, etc. Responde, ne respondeas, etc.
The source of this is the union of the two natures in Jesus Christ.
And also the two worlds. The creation of a new heaven and a new earth, a new life, a new death, all things double, and the same names remaining.
And finally the two natures which are in the righteous man, for they are the two worlds, and a member and image of Jesus Christ. And thus all the names suit them, righteous, sinners; dead though living, living though dead, elect, reprobate, etc.
There are then a great number of truths in faith and in morals, which seem contrary to each other, which yet all subsist together in a wonderful order.
The source of all heresies is the exclusion of some of these truths.
And the source of all the objections made by heretics against us is the ignorance of some of these truths.
And for the most part it happens that, unable to conceive the relation of two opposite truths, and believing that admission of one involves the exclusion of the other, they embrace the one and exclude the other, thinking that we on the other hand . . . Now exclusion is the cause of their heresy, and ignorance that we hold the other truth causes their objections.
1st example: Jesus Christ is God and man. The Arians, unable to reconcile these things which they believe incompatible, say that he is man, and so far they are Catholics. But they deny that he is God, and so far they are heretics. They assert that we deny his humanity, and so far they are ignorant.
2nd example, on the subject of the Holy Sacrament. We believe that the substance of bread being changed, and consubstantially that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ is therein really present. That is one truth. Another is that this sacrament is also a figure of that of the cross and of glory, and a commemoration of the two. That is the Catholic faith, which comprehends these two truths which seem opposed.
The heresy of our day, not conceiving that this sacrament contains at one and the same time both the presence of Jesus Christ and a figure of his presence, that it is a sacrifice and a commemoration of a sacrifice, believes that neither of these truths can be admitted without, by this very reason, the exclusion of the other.
They adhere to this only point, that this sacrament is figurative, and so far they are not heretics. They think that we exclude this truth, hence it comes that they found so many objections on those passages of the Fathers which assert it. Lastly they deny the presence, and so far they are heretics.
3rd example. Indulgences.
Therefore the shortest way to hinder heresies is to teach all truths, and the surest means of refuting them is to declare them all. For what will the heretics say?
If the ancient Church was in error, the Church is fallen; if she is so now it is not the same thing, for she has always the superior maxim of tradition from the hand of the ancient Church; and thus this submission and conformity to the ancient Church prevails and corrects all. But the ancient Church did not postulate the future Church, and did not regard her, as we postulate and regard the ancient.
All err the more dangerously because they follow each a truth, their fault is not that they follow an error, but that they do not follow another truth.
That which hinders us in comparing what formerly took place in the Church with what we now see, is that we are wont to regard Saint Athanasius or Saint Theresa and others as crowned with glory, and acting in regard to us as gods. Now that time has cleared our vision we see that they are so. But when this great saint was persecuted he was a man called Athanasius, and Saint Theresa was a nun. “ and subject to the same passions as ourselves,” says Saint Peter, to disabuse Christians of that false notion that we must reject the examples of the saints as disproportioned to our state. They were saints, say we, they are not like us. What was the case then? Saint Athanasius was a man called Athanasius, , condemned by such and such a council for such and such a crime. All the bishops assented to it, and at last the pope. What did they say to those who resisted his condemnation? That they were disturbing the peace, that they were creating a schism, etc.
Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowledge, knowledge without zeal, neither knowledge nor zeal, zeal and knowledge. The first three condemned him, the last absolved him, were excommunicated by the Church and yet saved the Church.
The three notes of Religion: perpetuity, a good life, miracles.
They destroy perpetuity by probability, good life by their morality, miracles in destroying either their truth or their consequence.
If we believe them, the Church has nothing to do with perpetuity, a holy life, or miracles.
Heretics deny them or deny the consequences; they do the same. But those must be devoid of sincerity who deny them, or again have lost their senses if they deny the consequences.
Perpetuity.—Is your character founded on ?
Perhaps you have reasons for not condemning them; it is enough that you approve of those I address to you on the subject.
Would the pope be dishonoured by gaining his light from God and tradition; and does it not dishonour him to to separate him from this sacred union and . . .
Tertullian: Nunquam Ecclesia reformabitur.
Heretics have always assailed these three notes which they have not.
Those wretches, who have obliged me to speak on the foundations of Religion.
Sinners purified without penitence, just men sanctified without charity, all Christians without the grace of Jesus Christ, God without power over the will of men, a predestination without mystery, a redemption without certainty.
Sinners without penitence, just men without charity, a God without power over the wills of men, a predestination without mystery.
Those who love the Church complain that they see morals corrupted, but laws at least exist. But these corrupt the laws. The model is spoiled.
There is a contradiction; for on the one side they say tradition must be followed, and would not dare disavow it, and on the other they will say whatever pleases them. The former will always be believed in, and indeed it would be going against them not to believe it.
Politics.—We have found two obstacles to the design of comforting men. The one the interior laws of the Gospel, the other the exterior laws of the State and of Religion.
We are masters of the one set of laws, the others we have dealt with in this wise: Amplienda, restringenda, a majori ad minus.
Generals.—It is not enough for them to introduce such morals into our churches, templis inducere mores. Not only do they wish to be tolerated in the Church, but as though they had become the stronger, they would expel those who are not of them.
He who is astonished at this is no theologian.
Who would have told your generals that the time was so near when they would give laws to the Church universal, and would call the refusal of such disorders war, tot et tanta mala pacem.
They cannot have perpetuity, and they seek universality; therefore they make the whole Church corrupt, that they may be saints.
You abuse the credence which the people has in the Church, and make them believe untruth.
I suppose that men believe the miracles:
You corrupt Religion either in favour of your friends, or against your enemies. You dispose of all at your will.
So that if it be true on the one hand that some lax religious, and some corrupt casuists, who are not members of the hierarchy, are steeped in these corruptions, it is on the other hand certain that the true pastors of the Church, who are the true depositories of the divine word, have preserved it unchangeably against the efforts of those who have striven to ruin it.
And thus the faithful have no pretext to follow that laxity which is only offered them by the stranger hands of these casuists, instead of the sound doctrine which is presented to them by the fatherly hands of their own pastors. And the wicked and heretics have no reason to put forward these abuses as marks of the defective providence of God over his Church, since the Church having her true existence in the body of the hierarchy, it is so far from the present condition of things being a proof that God has abandoned her to corruption, that it has never so plainly appeared as at the present day that God visibly defends her from corruption.
For if some of these men, who by an extraordinary vocation have made profession of retirement from the world, and have adopted the religious dress, that they might live in a more perfect state than ordinary Christians, have fallen into disorders which horrify ordinary Christians, and have become among us what the false prophets were among the Jews; this is a private and personal matter, which we must indeed deplore, but from which we can conclude nothing against the care which God takes for his Church; since all these things are so clearly foretold, and it has been long since announced that temptations would arise on account of such persons, so that when we are well instructed we see therein rather the notes of the guidance of God than his forgetfulness in regard to us.
You are ignorant of the prophecies if you do not know that all this must needs happen, princes, prophets, pope, and even the priests. And yet the Church must abide. By the grace of God we are not so far gone. Woe to these priests. But we hope that God will of his mercy grant us that we be not among them.
2 Saint Peter ii. False prophets in the past the image of the future.
Is received in faith as well as in miracles, and is it inseparable in the others? . . .
When Saint Xavier works miracles . . .
Saint Hilary.—These wretches who have obliged us to speak of miracles.
Unjust judges, make not your laws on the moment, judge by those which are established, and by yourselves.
To weaken your adversaries you disarni the whole Church.
If they say that our safety depends on God, they are heretics.
If they say they are under obedience to the pope, that is hypocrisy.
If they are ready to assent to all the articles, that is not enough.
If they say that no man should be killed for an apple, they assail the morality of Catholics.
If miracles are wrought among them, it is no mark of holiness, but rather a suspicion of heresy.
The hardness of the Jesuits therefore surpasses that of the Jews, since those refused to believe Jesus Christ innocent only because they doubted if his miracles were of God. But on the contrary, though the Jesuits cannot doubt that the Port Royal miracles were of God, they still continue to doubt the innocency of that house.
Men never commit evil so fully and so gaily as when they do so for conscience sake.
Experience shows us a vast difference between devoutness and goodness.
The two contrary reasons. We must begin with that; without that we understand nothing and all is heretical; in the same way we must even add at the close of each truth that the opposite truth is to be remembered.
If there was ever a time in which it were necessary to make profession of two contraries, it is when we are reproached for omitting one. Therefore the Jesuits and the Jansenists are wrong in concealing them, but the Jansenists most, for the Jesuits have better made profession of the two.
There is, he says, no comparison between the union of the saints and that of the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ says the opposite.
That we have treated them as kindly as is possible while keeping ourselves in the mean, between the love of truth and the duty of charity.
That piety does not consist in never opposing our brethren, it would be very easy, etc.
It is false piety to keep peace to the prejudice of the truth. It is also false zeal to keep truth and wound charity.
Neither have they complained.
Their maxims have their time and place.
He will be condemed indeed who is so by Escobar.
Their vanity tends to grow out of their errors.
Conformed to the fathers by their faults, and to the martyrs by their sufferings.
Moreover they do not disavow any of . . .
They had only to take the passage, and disavow it.
M. Bourseys. At least they cannot disavow that they are opposed to the condemnation.
I have re-read them since, for I had not known them . . .
The world must be blind indeed if it believe you.
If men knew themselves, God would heal and pardon. et sanem eos, et dimittantur eis peccata. Isaiah. Matt. xiii.
Truth is so obscure in these days, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth we shall be unable to know it.
As Jesus Christ remained unknown among men, so his truth remains among ordinary opinions without external difference. Thus the Eucharist among ordinary bread. All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam, and all morals in lust and in grace.
“I have reserved me seven thousand.” I love the worshippers unknown to the world and even to the prophets.
To trust in forms is superstition, but to refuse to submit to forms is pride.
As peace in States has for its sole object the safe preservation of the property of the people, so the peace of the Church has for its sole object the safe preservation of truth, her property and the treasure where her heart is. And as to allow the enemy to enter into a State, and pillage without opposition, for fear of troubling repose, would be to work against the good of peace, because peace, being only just and useful for the security of property, it becomes unjust and harmful when it suffers property to be destroyed, while war in the defence of property becomes just and necessary. So in the Church, when truth is assailed by the enemies of faith, when men would tear it from the heart of the faithful, and cause error to reign there, to remain in peace is rather to betray than to serve the Church, to ruin rather than defend. And as it is plainly a crime to trouble peace where truth reigns, so is it also a crime to rest in peace when truth is destroyed. There is then a time when peace is just, and another when it is unjust. And it is written that there is a time for peace and a time for war, and it is the interest of truth to discern them. But there is not a time for truth and a time for error, and it is written, on the contrary, that the truth of God abideth for ever; and this is why Jesus Christ, who said that he came to bring peace, said also that he came to bring war. But he did not say that he came to bring both truth and falsehood. Truth is then the first rule and the ultimate end of things.
As the two principal interests of the Church are the preservation of the piety of the faithful and the conversion of heretics, we are overwhelmed with grief at the sight of factions now arising, to introduce those errors which more than any others may close for ever against heretics the entrance into our communion, and fatally corrupt those pious and catholic persons who remain to us. This enterprise, made at the present day so openly against those truths of Religion most important for salvation, fills us not only with displeasure, but also with fear and even terror, because, besides the feeling which every Christian must have of these disorders, we have further an obligation to remedy them, and to employ the authority which God has given, to cause that the peoples which he has committed to us, etc.
We must let heretics know, who gain advantage from the doctrine of the Jesuits, that it is not that of the Church . . . the doctrine of the Church, and that our divisions separate us not from the altar.
They hide themselves in the crowd, and call numbers to their aid.
In corrupting the bishops and the Sorbonne, if they have not had the advantage of making their judgment just, they have had that of making their judges unjust. And thus, when in future they are condemned, they will say ad hominem that they are unjust, and thus will refute their judgment. But that does no good. For as they cannot conclude that the Jansenists are rightly condemned because they are condemned, so they cannot conclude then that they themselves will be wrongly condemned because they will be so by corruptible judges. For their condemnation will be just, not because it will be given by judges always just, but by judges just in that particular, which will be shown by other proofs.
These are the effects of the sins of the peoples and of the Jesuits, great men have wished to be flattered, the Jesuits have wished to be loved by the great. They have all been worthy to be given up to the spirit of lying, the one party to deceive, the others to be deceived. They have been greedy, ambitious, pleasure loving:
The Jesuits have wished to unite God and the world, and have gained only the scorn of God and the world. For, on the side of conscience this is plain, and on the side of the world they are not good partisans. They have power, as I have often said, but that is in regard to other religious. They will have interest enough to get a chapel built, and to have a jubilee station, and government offices. The position of a monk in the world is a most foolish one, and that they hold by their own declaration.— the Benedictines.—Yet . . . you yield to those more powerful than yourselves, and oppress with all your little credit those who have less power for intrigue in the world than you.
—What advantage will you draw from it, except the princes’ need of it, and the horror the nations have had of it. If these had asked you and, in order to obtain it, had implored the assistance of all Christian princes, you might have boasted of this importunity. But not that during fifty years all the princes have exerted themselves for it in vain, and that it required such a pressing need to obtain it.
If by differing we condemned, you would be right. Uniformity without diversity is useless to others, diversity without uniformity is ruinous for us. The one injures us without; the other within.
We ought to hear both parties, and on this point I have been careful.
When we have heard only one party we are always on that side, but the adverse party makes us change, whereas in this case the Jesuit confirms us.
Not what they do, but what they say.
They cry out against me only. I am content. I know whom to blame for it.
Jesus Christ was a stone of stumbling.
Jesus Christ never condemned without a hearing. To Judas: To him who had not on the wedding garment, the same.
Unless they give up their good maxims are as little holy as the bad. For they are founded on human authority, and thus if they are more just they will be more reasonable, but not more holy, they take after the wild stock on which they are graffed.
If what I say serves not to enlighten you, it will aid the people.—If these hold their peace, the stones will cry out.
Silence is the greatest persecution; the saints never held their peace. It is true that a vocation is needed, it is not from the decrees of the Council that we must learn whether we are called, but from the compulsion to speak. Now after Rome has spoken, and we think that she has condemned the truth, and they have written it, and the books which have said the contrary are censured; we must cry so much the louder the more unjustly we are censured, and the more violently they try to stifle speech, until there come a pope who listens to both sides, and who consults antiquity to do justice.
So good popes will find the Church still in an uproar.
The Inquisition and the Society are the two scourges of the truth.
Why do you not accuse them of Arianism? For if they have said that Jesus Christ is God, perhaps it is not with a natural meaning, but as it is said:
what I condemn in them is condemned in heaven.
Ad tuum, Domine Jesu, tribunal appello.
You are yourselves corruptible.
I feared that I had written ill when I saw myself condemned, but the example of so many pious writings makes me believe the contrary. Good writing is no longer permitted, so corrupt or ignorant is the Inquisition.
It is better to obey God than men.
I have neither fear nor hope. Not so the bishops. Port Royal fears, and it is a bad policy to dissolve the commuity, for they will fear no longer and will inspire greater fear.
I fear not even your censures, . . . if they be not founded on those of tradition.
Do you censure all? What, even my respect?—No.—Say then, what it is, or you will do nothing, since you do not point out the evil, and why it is evil. And this is what they will have some trouble to do.
Unjust persecutors of those whom God visibly protects.
If they reproach you with your excesses they speak as do the heretics.
If they say that the grace of Jesus Christ separates us, they are heretics.
If miracles are wrought, it is the mark of their heresy.
They say, these are the people of God who thus speak.
My reverend father, all this was done in figures. Other religions perish, this one perishes not.
Miracles are more important than you think, they have served for the foundation, and will serve for the continuance of the Church till the coming of Antichrist, till the end.
The two witnesses.
In the Old Testament and the New, miracles are wrought in connection with types. Salvation or an useless thing, if not to show that we must submit to the creature.—Figure of the sacraments.
The synagogue was a figure and so it perished not, and it was only the figure and so it has perished. It was a figure which contained the truth, and so it subsisted till it contained the truth no longer.
The exaggerated notion which you have of the importance of your society has made you establish these horrible ways. It is very plain that it has made you follow the way of slander, since you blame in me as horrible the same impostures which you excuse in yourselves, because you regard me as a private person, and yourselves as
It plainly appears that your praises are follies, by those which are crazy, as the privilege of the uncondemned.
Is this giving courage to your children to condemn them when they serve the Church?
It is an artifice of the devil to turn in another direction the arms with which these people used to combat heresies.
You are bad politicians.
The history of the man born blind.
What says Saint Paul? Does he constantly speak of the bearing of prophecies? No, but of his miracles.
What says Jesus Christ? Does he expound the bearing of the prophecies? No, his death had not fulfilled them; but he says, believe the works.
Si non fecissem quæ alius non fecit.
These wretches who have obliged us to speak of miracles!
Abraham and Gideon confirmed faith by miracles.
There are two supernatural foundations of our wholly supernatural Religion, the one visible, the other invisible.
Miracles with grace, miracles without grace.
The synagogue, which has been treated with love as a figure of the Church, and with hatred because it was only the figure, has been restored, being about to fall when it was well with God, and thus a figure.
The miracles prove the power which God has over hearts by that which he exercises over the body.
The Church has never approved a miracle among heretics.
Miracles are a support of religion. They have been the test of Jews, of Christians, of saints, of innocents, and of true believers.
A miracle among schismatics is not much to be feared, for schism which is more evident than miracle, evidently marks their error; but when there is no schism, and error is in question, miracle is the test.
Judith. God speaks at length in their extreme oppression.
If because charity has grown cold the Church is left almost without true worshippers, miracles will raise them up.
This is one of the last effects of grace.
If only a miracle were wrought among the Jesuits!
When a miracle deceives the expectation of those in whose presence it occurs, and when there is a disproportion between the state of their faith and the instrument of the miracle it must lead them to change; but with you it is the opposite. There would be as much reason in saying that if the Eucharist raised a dead man one ought to turn Calvinist rather than remain a Catholic. But when he crowns the expectation, and those who have hoped that God would bless the remedies see themselves cured without remedies . . .
The wicked.—No sign was ever given on the part of the devil without a stronger sign on the part of God, at least unless it were foretold that this would be so.
amazed at what is said, that they are in the way of perdition, that their confessors are leading them to Geneva and teach them Jesus Christ is not in the Eucharist, nor on the right hand of the Father, know all this to be false, and offer then themselves to God in that state. What happens thereupon? The place, which is said to be the temple of the devil, God makes his own temple. It is said that the children must be taken away, God heals them there. It is said to be hell’s arsenal, God makes of it the sanctuary of his graces. Lastly, they are threatened with all the furies and all the vengeance of heaven, and God loads them with favours. Those must have lost their senses, who therefore believe them in the way of perdition.—We have, without doubt, the same tokens as Saint Athanasius.—
The five propositions were equivocal;
With so many other signs of piety they have that of persecution also, which is the best mark of piety.
By showing the truth we gain belief for it, but by showing the injustice of ministers, we do not correct it. Conscience is made secure by a demonstration of falsehood; our purse is not made secure by the demonstration of injustice.
Miracles and truth are both needful, as we have to convince the whole man, body and soul alike.
It is good that their deeds should be unjust, for fear it should not appear that the Molinists have acted justly. Thus there is no need to spare them, they are worthy to commit them.
The Church, the Pope.—Unity, plurality. Considering the Church as unity, the pope its head, is as the whole; considered as plurality, the pope is only a part of it. The Fathers have considered the Church now in this way, now in that, and thus they have spoken in divers ways of the pope.
Saint Cyprian, sacerdos Dei.
But in establishing one of these two truths, they have not excluded the other.
Plurality which cannot be reduced to unity is confusion. Unity which depends not on plurality is tyranny.
There is scarce any where left but France in which it is allowable to say that a council is below the pope.
We may not judge of what the pope is by some words of the Fathers—as the Greeks said in a council, important rules—but by the acts of the Church and the Fathers, and by the canons.
Unity and plurality: Duo aut tres in unum. It is an error to exclude one of the two, as the papists do who exclude plurality, or the Huguenots who exclude unity.
The pope is chief, who else is known of all, who else is recognised by all? Having power to insinuate himself into all the body, because he holds the leading shoot, which extends itself everywhere.
How easy to cause this to degenerate into tyranny? This is why Jesus Christ has laid down for them this precept:
God works not miracles in the ordinary conduct of his Church. It would be a strange miracle, did infallibility reside in one, but that it should dwell in a multitude appears so natural that the ways of God are concealed under nature, as all his other works.
Men desire certainty, they like the pope to be infallible in faith, grave doctors to be infallible in morals, in order to have certainty.
The pope hates and fears men of science, who are not at once submissive to him.
Kings are masters of their own power, not so the popes,
Whenever the Jesuits take the pope unawares, they will make all Christendom perjured.
It is very easy to take the pope unawares, because of his occupations, and the trust which he has in the Jesuits, and the Jesuits are very capable of taking him unawares by means of calumny.
The five propositions condemned, yet no miracle, for truth was not attacked, but the Sorbonne and the bull.
It is impossible that those who love God with all their heart, should misunderstand the Church, which is so evident.
It is impossible that those who love not God should be convinced of the Church.
Let us look to the discourses on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th of the Jansenist. They are lofty and grave.
We would not make a friend of either.
The ear only is consulted because the heart is wanting.
Beauty of omission, of judgment.
The rule is that of honourable conduct.
Poet and not honourable man.
Canonical.—The heretical books in the early age of the Church serve to prove the canonical.
Heretics.—Ezekiel. All the heathens spake evil of Israel, and the Prophet did the same, yet the Israelites were so far from having the right to say to him, “You speak as the heathen,” that he made it his strongest point that the heathens said the same as he.
Those are feeble souls who know the truth, and uphold it only so far as their interest is concerned, but beyond that abandon it.
He makes the disciple without ignorance, and the master without presumption.
There is such great disproportion between the merit which he thinks he has and his stupidity, that it is hard to believe he mistakes himself so completely.
And will this one scorn the other?
Who should scorn? Yet he scorns not the other, but pities him.
Port Royal is surely as good as Voltigerod.
So far as your proceeding is just according to this bias, so far is it unjust on the side of Christian piety.
—Lax opinions are so pleasing to men, that it is strange that theirs displease. It is because they have exceeded all bounds; and more, there many persons who see the truth, yet cannot attain to it; but there are few who do not know that the purity of religion is contrary to our corruptions. It is absurd to say that eternal reward is offered to the morals of Escobar.
But is it probable that probability gives certainty?—Difference between rest and security of conscience. Nothing but truth gives certainty. Nothing gives rest but a sincere search after truth.
Probability. They have oddly explained certainty, for after having established that all their ways are sure, they no longer call that sure which leads to heaven without danger of not arriving thereby, but that which leads there without danger of going out of the road.
Now probability is necessary for the other maxims, as for that of the friend and the slanderer.
judge of their faith by their morals.
Probability is little without corrupt means, and means are nothing without probability.
There is pleasure in being able to do good, and in knowing how to do good, scire et posse. Grace and probability give this pleasure, for we can render our account to God in reliance upon their authors.
Everyone can impose it, none can take it away.
Probable.—If as bad reasons as these are probable, all would be so.
1. Reason. Dominus actuum conjugalium. Molina.
2. Reason. Non potest compensari.
To oppose not with holy, but with abominable maxims.
They reason as those who prove that it is night at midday.
the burner of barns.
. . . The Council of Trent for priests in mortal sin: . . .
Probable.—Let us see if we seek God sincerely, by the comparison of things we love.
It is probable that this meat will not poison me.
It is probable that I shall not lose my lawsuit if I do not bring it.
If it were true that grave authors and reasons would suffice, I say that they are neither grave nor reasonable. What! a husband may make profit of his wife according to Molina. Is the reason he gives reasonable, and the contrary one of Lessius reasonable also?
Would you dare thus to trifle with the edicts of the King, as by saying that to go for a walk in a field and wait for a man is not to fight a duel?
That the Church has indeed forbidden duelling, but not taking a walk?
And usury too, but not . . .
And simony, but not . . .
And vengeance, but not . . .
And unnatural crime, but not . . .
And quam primum, but not . . .
Take away probability, and you can no longer please the world, give probability, and you can no longer displease it.
Universal.—Morals and language are special but universal sciences.
Probability.—The zeal of the saints to seek the truth, was useless if the probable is certain.
The fear of the saints who have always followed the surest way.
Saint Theresa having always followed her confessor.
Probability.—They have some true principles, but they abuse them. Now the abuse of truth should be as much punished as the introduction of falsehood.
As if there were two hells, one for sins against charity, the other for sins against justice.
Men who do not keep their word, without faith, without honour, without truth, double hearted, double tongued, like the reproach once flung at that amphibious creature in the fable, who kept itself in a doubtful position between the fish and the birds.
It is of importance to kings and princes to be supposed pious, and therefore they must take you for their confessors.
et interrogate de semitis antiquis, et ambulate in eis. Et dixerunt: Non ambulabimus, sed post cogitationem nostram ibimus. They have said to the nations: Come to us, we will follow the opinions of the new authors, reason shall be our guide, we will be as the other nations who follow each their natural light. Philosophers have . . .
All religions and sects in the world have had natural reason for a guide. Christians alone have been obliged to take their rules from without themselves, and to acquaint themselves with those which Jesus Christ left to men of old time to be transmitted to the faithful. This constraint is wearisome to these good fathers. They desire like the rest of the world to have liberty to follow their imaginations. In vain we cry to them, as the prophets to the Jews of old: “Enter into the Church, enquire of the ways which men of old have left to her, and follow those paths.” They have answered, as did the Jews, “We will not walk in them, but we will follow the thoughts of our hearts;” and they have said, “We will be as the nations round about us.”
Can it be any thing but the desire to please the world which makes you find things probable? Will you make us believe that it is truth, and that if duelling were not the fashion, you would find it probable they might fight, looking at the matter in itself?
The whole society of their casuists cannot give assurance to a conscience in error, and therefore it is important to choose safe guides.
Thus they will be doubly guilty, both in having followed ways which they should not follow, and in having hearkened to teachers to whom they should not hearken.
Casuists submit the decision to corrupt reason, and the choice of decisions to corrupt will, so that all that is corrupt in the nature of man may help to rule his conduct.
They allow lust free play, and restrict scruples, whereas they should do the exact contrary.
Must we slay in order that the wicked may cease to be? This is to make two wicked instead of one. Saint Augustine.
The servant does not know what the master does, for the master tells him only the act and not the purpose; this is why he is so often slavishly obedient and often sins against the purpose. But Jesus Christ tells us the purpose.
And you destroy this purpose.
Art thou less a slave because thy master loves and caresses thee? Thou art indeed well off, slave. Thy master caresses thee, he will presently beat thee.
Those who wrote thus in Latin speak in French.
The evil having been done of putting these things in French, we ought to do the good of condemning them.
There is one only heresy, which is differently explained in the schools and in the world.
On confessions and absolutions without signs of regret. God looks at the heart alone, the Church looks at outward actions; God absolves as soon as he sees penitence in the heart, the Church when she sees it in works. God will make a Church pure within, which puts to confusion by its interior and perfect spiritual holiness the interior impiety of proud philosophers and Pharisees, and the Church will make an assembly of men whose external morals are so pure that they put to confusion heathen morals. If some are hypocrites, but so well disguised that she does not recognise their venom, she bears with them, for though they are not accepted of God, whom they cannot deceive, they are of men, whom they deceive. And thus she is not dishoured by their conduct which appears holy. But you will have it that the Church should judge neither of the heart, for that belongs to God alone, nor of works, because God looks at the heart alone; and so taking away from her all choice of men, you retain in the Church the most debauched and those who so greatly dishonour her, that the synagogues of the Jews and the sects of the philosophers would have cast them out as unworthy, and have abhorred them as impious.
God has not willed to absolve without the Church. As she has part in the offence he wills that she should have part in the pardon. He associates her with this power as kings their parliaments; but if she binds or looses without God, she is no more the Church, as in the case of parliament. For even if the king have pardoned a man, it is necessary that it should be ratified; but if the parliament ratifies without the king, or refuses to ratify on the order of the king, it is no more the parliament of the king, but a revolutionary body.
The Church teaches and God inspires, both infallibly. The operation of the Church serves only to prepare for grace or for condemnation. What it does suffices for condemnation, not for inspiration.
The Church has in vain established these words, anathema, heresies. They are used against herself.
It is not absolution only which remits sins by the Sacrament of Penance, but contrition, which is not a true contrition if it does not frequent the sacrament.
Thus, again, it is not the nuptial benediction which hinders sin in generation, but the desire of begetting children for God, which is no true desire except in marriage.
And as a contrite man without the sacrament is more disposed for absolution than an impenitent man with the sacrament, so the daughters of Lot, for instance, who had only the desire for children, were more pure without marriage than married persons without desire for children.
Casuists.—Much almsgiving, reasonable penance; even when we cannot assign what is just, we see plainly what is not. It is strange that casuists believe they can interpret this as they do.
People who accustom themselves to speak ill and to think ill.
Their great number, far from marking their perfection, marks the contrary.
The humility of one makes the pride of many.
They make a rule of the exception. If the ancient fathers gave absolution before penance; do this only as an exception. But of the exception you make a rule without exception, so that you will not even have it that the rule is exceptional.
Priest still who will, as under Jeroboam.
It is a horrible thing that they submit to us the discipline of the Church in our days as so excellent that it is made a crime to wish to change it. Formerly it was infallibly good, and it was found it might be changed without sin, and now, such as it is, we ought not to wish it changed!
It has indeed been allowed to change the custom of not making priests save with such great circumspection, that there were scarcely any who were worthy, yet we are not allowed to complain of the custom which makes so many who are unworthy.
Two sorts of people place things on the same level, as feasts and working days, Christians and priests, all sins among themselves, etc. Therefore the one set conclude that what is bad for priests is so for Christians, and the other that what is not bad for Christians is permissible for priests.
The Jansenists are like the heretics in the reformation of their morals, but you are like them in evil.
Superstition to believe propositions, etc.
If Saint Augustine came at this day, and was as little authorised as his defenders, he would do nothing. God governs his Church well, in that he sent him before with authority.
Grace is needed to make a man into a saint, and if any man doubt this he knows not what is a saint, nor what is a man.
The motions of grace, hardness of heart, external circumstances.
Grace will ever be in the world, and nature also, so that grace is in some sort natural. Thus there will be always Pelagians, always Catholics, always strife.
Because the first birth constitutes the one, and the grace of regeneration the other.
It will be one of the confusions of the damned to see themselves condemned by their own reason, by which they have thought to condemn the Christian religion.
When it is said that Jesus Christ died not for all, you take advantage of a defect inherent in men who immediately apply this exception to themselves, which is to favour despair instead of turning men from it to favour hope. For so we accustom ourselves to interior virtues by exterior customs.
There is heresy in always explaining omnes by ‘all,’ and heresy in not explaining it sometimes by ‘all.’ the Huguenots are heretics in explaining it by ‘all.’ the Huguenots are heretics in excepting the children of the faithful. We must then follow the fathers and tradition to know when to do so, since there is heresy to be feared on one side or the other.
A point of form.—When Saint Peter and the apostles consulted about the abolition of circumcision, when it was a question of acting in contradiction to the law of God, they did not consult the prophets, but considered simply the reception of the Holy Spirit in the persons uncircumcised. They judged it more certain that God approved those whom he filled with his Spirit, than it was that the law must be observed.
They knew that the end of the Law was none other than the Holy Spirit, and thus as men certainly had this without circumcision, circumcision was not needful.
But to preserve pre-eminence to himself he gives prayer to whom he pleases.
Why God has established prayer.
1. To communicate to his creatures the dignity of causality.
2. To teach us from whom our virtue comes.
3. To make us deserve other virtues by work.
Objection. But we believe that prayer comes from ourselves.
This is absurd, for since before we have faith, we cannot have virtues, how should we have faith? Is there a greater distance between infidelity and faith than between faith and virtue?
Merit. This word is ambiguous.
Meruit habere Redemptorem.
Meruit tam sacra membra tangere.
Digna tam sacra membra tangere.
Non sum dignus, qui manducat indignus.
Dignus est accipere.
God is only bound according to his promises.
He has promised to do justice to prayer, he has never promised prayer only to the children of promise.
Si does not mark indifference. Malachi, Isaiah.
Isaiah. Si volumus, etc.
In quacumque die.
Timore et tremore.—Quid ergo? Ne timeas, modo timeas.
Fear not, provided you fear, but if you fear not, then fear.
non me recipit, sed eum qui me misit.
Saint John was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and Jesus Christ was to sow division. In this there is no contradiction.
The effects in communi and in particulari. The semi-Pelagians err in saying of in communi what is true only in particulari, and the Calvinists in saying in particulari what is true in communi. So it seems to me.
Saint Augustine has said expressly that power would be taken away from the righteous. But it is by chance that he said it, for it might have been that the chance of saying it did not occur. But his principles make us see that when the occasion for it presented itself, it was impossible he should not say so, or that he should say anything to the contrary. It is then rather that he was forced to say it, when the occasion offered itself, than that he said it, the occasion having offered itself, the one being of necessity, the other of chance. But the two are all that we could ask.
The end. Are we certain? Is this principle certain? Let us examine.
The testimony of a man’s self is naught. Saint Thomas.
The image alone of all these mysteries has been openly showed to the Jews and by Saint John the forerunner, and then the other mysteries, to mark that in each man as in the world at large this order must be observed.
It is, in technical language, wholly the body of Jesus Christ, but it cannot be said to be the whole body of Jesus Christ.
The union of two things without change cannot enable us to say that one becomes the other.
Thus the soul is united to the body, the fire to the fuel, without change.
But change is necessary to make the form of the one become the form of the other.
Thus the union of the Word to man.
Because my body without my soul would not make the body of a man, then my soul united to any matter whatsoever would make my body.
It distinguishes for me the necessary condition with a sufficient condition, the union is necessary, but not sufficient.
The left arm is not the right.
Impenetrability is a property of matter.
Identity of number in regard to the same time requires the identity of matter.
Thus if God united my soul to a body in China, the same body, idem numero would be in China.
The same river which runs there is idem numero as that which runs at the same time in China.
ELOQUENCE is an art of saying things in such a manner, 1, that those to whom we speak can hear them without pain, and with pleasure; 2, that they feel themselves interested, so that self-love leads them more willingly to reflect upon what is said. It consists therefore in a correspondence which we endeavour to establish between the mind and the heart of those to whom we speak on the one hand, and, on the other, the thoughts and the expressions employed; this supposes that we have thoroughly studied the heart of man so as to know all its springs, and to find at last the true proportions of the discourse we wish to suit to it. We should put ourselves in the place of those who are to listen to us, and make experiment on our own heart of the turn we give to our discourse, to see whether one is made for the other, and whether we can be sure that our auditor will be as it were forced to yield. So far as possible we must confine ourselves to what is natural and simple, not aggrandise that which is little, or belittle that which is great. It is not enough that a phrase be beautiful, it must be fitted to the subject, and not have in it excess or defect.
Eloquence is painted thought, and thus those who, after having painted it, add somewhat more, make a picture, not a portrait.
Eloquence.—We need both what is pleasing and what is real, but that which pleases must itself be drawn from the true.
Eloquence, which persuades by gentleness, not by empire, as a tyrant, not as a king.
There is a certain pattern of charm and beauty which consists in a certain relation between our nature, such as it is, whether weak or strong, and the thing which pleases us.
Whatever is formed on this pattern delights us, whether house, song, discourse, verse, prose, woman, birds, rivers, trees, rooms, dresses, etc.
Whatever is not made on this pattern displeases those who have good taste.
And as there is a perfect relation between a song and a house which are made on a good pattern, because they are like this unique pattern, though each after its kind, there is also a perfect relation between things made on a bad pattern. Not that the bad is unique, for there are many; but every bad sonnet, for instance, on whatever false pattern it is constructed, is exactly like a woman dressed on that pattern.
Nothing makes us understand better the absurdity of a false sonnet than to consider nature and the pattern, and then to imagine a woman or a house constructed on that pattern.
When a natural discourse paints a passion or an effect, we feel in our mind the truth of what we read, which was there before, though we did not know it, and we are inclined to love him who makes us feel it. For he has not made a display of his own riches, but of ours, and thus this benefit renders him pleasant to us, besides that such a community of intellect necessarily inclines the heart to love.
All the false beauties which we blame in Cicero have their admirers and in great number.
The last thing we decide on in writing a book is what shall be the first we put in it.
Language.—We ought not to turn the mind from one thing to another save for relaxation, at suitable times, and no other, for he that diverts out of season wearies, and he who wearies us out of season repels us, and we simply turn away. So much it pleases our wayward lust to do the exact contrary of what those seek to obtain from us who give us no pleasure, the coin for which we will do whatever we are asked.
When we meet with a natural style, we are charmed and astonished, for we looked for an author, and we found a man. But those who have good taste, and who seeing a book expect to find a man, are altogether surprised to find an author: Those pay great honour to nature, who show her that she is able to discourse on all things, even on theology.
Languages are ciphers, where letters are not changed into letters, but words into words, so that an unknown language can be deciphered.
When in a discourse we find words repeated, and in trying to correct them find we cannot change them for others without manifest disadvantage, we must let them stand, for this is the true test; our criticism came of envy which is blind, and does not see that repetition is not in this place a fault, for there is no general rule.
Miscellaneous Language.—Those who force words for the sake of antitheses are like those who make false windows for symmetry.
Their rule is not to speak accurately, but in accurate form.
To put a mask on nature and disguise her. No more King, pope, bishop, but sacred majesty, no more Paris, but the capital of the Kingdom.
There are places in which we should call Paris, Paris, and others in which we ought to call it the capital of the Kingdom.
There are those who speak well and write ill. Because the place and the audience warm them, and draw from their minds more than would have been produced without that warmth.
Miscellaneous.—A figure of speech, “I should have wished to apply myself to that.”
The aperitive virtue of a key, the attractive virtue of a crook.
To guess. The Cardinal did not choose to be guessed.
My mind is disquieted within me. I am disquieted is better.
To extinguish the torch of sedition, too luxuriant.
The restlessness of his genius. Two striking words too much.
A coach upset or overturned, according to the meaning.
Spread abroad, or upset, according to the meaning.
The argument by force of over the friar.
Is what we see at one glance.
Founded on the fact that there is no reason for any difference.
And founded also on the face of man.
Whence it comes that symmetry is only wanted in breadth, not in heighth or depth.
Sceptic, for obstinate.
Descartes useless and uncertain.
No one calls another a courtier but he who is not one himself, a pedant save a pedant, a provincial but a provincial, and I would wager it was the printer who put it on the title of Letters to a Provincial.
The chief talent, that which rules all others.
If the lightning were to strike low-lying places, etc., poets, and those whose only reasonings are on things of that nature would lack proofs.
Poetical beauty.—As we talk of poetical beauty, so ought we to talk of mathematical beauty and medical beauty; yet we do not use those terms, because we know perfectly the object of mathematics, that it consists in proofs, and the object of medicine, that it consists in healing, but we do not understand wherein consists charm which is the object of poetry. We do not know what is the natural model to be imitated, and for want of that knowledge we invent a set of extravagant terms, “the golden age, the wonder of our times, fatal,” etc., and call this jargon poetic beauty.
But if we imagine a woman on that pattern, which consists in saying little things in great words, we shall see a pretty girl bedecked with mirrors and chains absurd to our taste, because we know better wherein consists the charm of woman than the charm of verse. But those who do not know, would admire her in such trimmings, and in many villages she would be taken for the queen, wherefore sonnets made on such a pattern have been called The Village Queens.
Those who judge of a work without rule are in regard to others as those who possess a watch are in regard to others. One says, “it was two hours ago,” another, “it is only three-quarters of an hour.” I look at my watch and say to the one, “you are weary of us,” and to the other, “time flies fast with you, for it is only an hour and a half.” And I laugh at those who say that time goes slowly with me, and that I judge by fancy. They do not know that
MATHEMATICS, Tact.—True eloquence makes light of eloquence, true morality makes light of morality, that is to say, the morality of the judgment makes light of the morality of the intellect, which has no rules.
For perception belongs to judgment, as science belongs to the intellect. Tact is the part of judgment, mathematics of the intellect.
To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher.
The nourishment of the body is little by little, too much nourishment gives little substance.
There is an universal and essential difference between the actions of the will and all others.
The will is one of the principal organs of belief, not that it forms belief, but because things are true or false according to the side from which we regard them. The will, pleased with one rather than the other, turns the mind from the consideration of that which has the qualities it cares not to see, and thus the intellect, moving with the will, stays to regard the side it loves, and thus judges by what it sees.
The heart has its reasons, which reason knows not, as we feel in a thousand instances. I say that the heart loves the universal Being naturally, and itself naturally, according as it gives itself to each, and it hardens itself against one or the other at its own will. You have rejected one and kept the other, does reason cause your love?
It is the heart which is conscious of God, not the reason. This then is faith; God sensible to the heart, not to the reason.
Reason acts slowly and with so many views, on so many principles, which it ought always to keep before it, that it constantly slumbers and goes astray, from not having its principles at hand. The heart does not act thus, it acts in a moment, and is always ready to act. We must then place our faith in the heart, or it will be always vacillating
Men often mistake their imagination for their heart, and they believe they are converted as soon as they think of being converted.
Those who are accustomed to judge by the heart do not understand the process of reasoning, for they wish to understand at a glance, and are not accustomed to seek for principles. And others on the contrary, who are accustomed to reason by principles, do not at all understand the things of the heart, seeking principles and not being able to see at a glance.
If we wished to prove those examples by which we prove other things, we should have to take those other things to be examples. For as we always believe the difficulty is in the matter we wish to prove, we find the examples clearer and aids to demonstration.
Thus when we wish to demonstrate a general proposition, we must give the rule special to a case, but if we wish to demonstrate a particular case, we must begin with the particular rule. For we always find the thing obscure which we wish to prove, and that clear which we employ as proof; for when a matter is proposed for proof we first fill ourselves with the imagination that it is therefore obscure, and on the contrary that what is to prove it is clear, and so we understand with ease.
Far from believing a thing because you have heard it, you ought to believe nothing without having put yourself in the same position as if you had never heard it.
What should make you believe is your own assent to yourself, and the constant voice of your reason, not that of others.
Belief is so important!
A hundred contradictions might be true.
If antiquity were the rule of faith then the men of old time had no rule. If general consent, if men had perished . . .
False humility is pride.
Lift the curtain.
You may try as you please. You must either believe, or deny, or doubt.
Have we then no rule?
We judge that animals do well what they do. Is there no rule whereby to judge men?
To deny, to believe, and to doubt well are to a man what paces are to a horse.
Memory is necessary for every operation of the reason.
Memory and joy are feelings, and even mathematical propositions become so, for reason makes what is felt natural, and natural feelings are effaced by reason.
All our reasoning is reduced to yielding to feeling.
But fancy is like yet contrary to feeling, so that we cannot distinguish between these contraries. One man says that my feeling is fancy, another that his fancy is feeling. We must have a rule. Reason offers herself, but she is pliable in all directions, and so there is no rule.
Reason commands us much more imperiously than a master, for in disobeying the one we are unhappy, and in disobeying the other we are fools.
When we are accustomed to use bad reasons for proving natural effects, we do not wish to receive good reasons even when they are discovered. the circulation of the blood, to give a reason why the vein swells below the ligature.
We are usually better persuaded by reasons which we have ourselves discovered, than by those which have come into the mind of others.
said: “Reasons come afterwards, but at first a thing pleases or shocks me, without my knowing the reason, and yet it displeased me for the reason which I only discover later.” But I believe, not that he was displeased for those reasons which he afterwards discovered, but that those reasons were only discovered because the thing was displeasing.
The difference between the mathematical mind and the practical mind.—In the one the premisses are palpable, but removed from ordinary use, so that from want of habit it is difficult to look in that direction, but if we take the trouble to look, the premisses are fully visible, and we must have a totally incorrect mind if we draw wrong inferences from premisses so plain that it is scarce possible they should escape our notice.
But in the practical mind the premisses are taken from use and wont, and are before the eyes of every body. We have only to look that way, there is no difficulty in seeing them; it is only a question of good eyesight, but it must be good, for the premisses are so numerous and so subtle, that it is scarce possible but that some escape us. Now the omission of one premiss leads to error, thus we must have very clear sight to see all the premisses, and then an accurate mind not to draw false conclusions from known premisses.
All mathematicians would then be practical if they were clear-sighted, for they do not reason incorrectly on premisses known to them. And practical men would be mathematicians if they could turn their eyes to the premisses of mathematics to which they are unaccustomed.
The reason therefore that some practical men are not mathematical is that they cannot at all turn their attention to mathematical premisses. But the reason that mathematicians are not practical is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the precise and distinct statements of mathematics and not reasoning till they have well examined and arranged their premisses, they are lost in practical life wherein the premisses do not admit of such arrangement, being scarcely seen, indeed they are felt rather than seen, and there is great difficulty in causing them to be felt by those who do not of themselves perceive them. They are so nice and so numerous, that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to apprehend them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are apprehended, without as a rule being able to demonstrate them in an orderly way as in mathematics; because the premisses are not before us in the same way, and because it would be an infinite matter to undertake. We must see them at once, at one glance, and not by a process of reasoning, at least up to a certain degree. And thus it is rare that mathematicians are practical, or that practical men are mathematicians, because mathematicians wish to treat practical life mathematically; and they make themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin by definitions and premisses, a proceeding which this way of reasoning will not bear. The mind does indeed the same thing, but tacitly, naturally and without art, in a way which none can express, and only a few can feel.
Practical minds on the contrary, being thus accustomed to judge at a glance, are amazed when propositions are presented to them of which they understand nothing and the way to which is through sterile definitions and premisses, which they are not accustomed to see thus in detail, and therefore are repelled and disheartened.
But inaccurate minds are never either practical or mathematical. Mathematicians who are only mathematicians have exact minds, provided all things are clearly set before them in definitions and premisses, otherwise they are inaccurate and intolerable, for they are only accurate when the premisses are perfectly clear.
And practical men, who are only practical, cannot have the patience to condescend to first principles of things speculative and abstract, which they have never seen in the world, and to which they are wholly unaccustomed.
There are various kinds of good sense, there are some who judge correctly in a certain order of things, and are lost in others.
Some are able to draw conclusions well from a few premisses, and this shows a penetrative intellect.
Others draw conclusions well where there are many premisses.
For instance, the first easily understand the laws of hydrostatics, where the premisses are few, but the conclusions so nice, that only the greatest penetration can reach them. And these persons would perhaps not necessarily be great mathematicians, because mathematics embrace a great number of premisses, and perhaps a mind may be so formed that it searches with ease a few premisses to the bottom, yet cannot at all comprehend those matters in which there are many premisses.
There are two kinds of mind, the one able to penetrate vigorously and deeply into the conclusions of certain premisses, and these are minds true and just. The other able to comprehend a great number of premisses without confusion, and these are the minds for mathematics. The one kind has force and exactness, the other capacity. Now the one quality can exist without the other, a mind may be vigorous and narrow, or it may have great range and no strength.
When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is not amiss that there should be a common error to fix the mind of men, as for instance the moon, to which is attributed the change of seasons, the progress of diseases, etc. For the principal malady of man is that restless curiosity about matters which he can not understand, and it is not so bad for him to be mistaken, as to be so idly curious.
The way in which Epictetus, Montaigne, and Solomon de Tultie wrote, is the most usual, the most insinuating, the most easily remembered, and the most often quoted; because it is wholly composed of thoughts which arise out of the ordinary conversations of life. As when a man speaks of the vulgar error that the moon is the cause of all, we never fail to say that says, that when we know not the truth of a matter, it is well there should be a common error, etc.; which is the thought above.
To write against those who plunged too deep into science. Descartes.
We must say in general: “This is made by figure and motion for it is true.” But to say what these are, and to compose the machine, is ridiculous. For it is useless, uncertain, and painful. And if it were true we do not think that all philosophy is worth one hour of pain.
I cannot forgive Descartes.
If an animal did by mind what it does by instinct, and if it spoke by mind what it speaks by instinct, in hunting, and warning its companions that the quarry is found or lost, it would certainly also speak in regard to those things which affect it more strongly, as for instance, “Gnaw me this cord which hurts me, and which I cannot reach.”
of Liancourt. They do it always and never otherwise, nor any other thing of mind.
The calculating machine works results which approach nearer to thought than anything done by animals, but it does nothing which enables us to say it has any will, as animals have.
When it is said that heat is only the motion of certain molecules, and light the which we feel, we are surprised. And shall we think that pleasure is but the buoyancy of our spirits? We have conceived so different an idea of it, and these sensations seem so removed from those others which we say are the same as those with which we compare them. The feeling of fire, the warmth which affects us in a manner wholly different from touch, the reception of sound and light, all this seems to us mysterious, and yet it is as material as the blow of a stone. It is true that the minuteness of the spirits which enter into the pores touch different nerves, yet nerves are always touched.
What is more absurd than to say that inanimate bodies have passion, fear, horror, that insensible bodies, without life, and even incapable of life, have passions, which presuppose at least a sensitive soul to feel them, nay more, that the object of their terror is a vacuum? What is there in a vacuum which should make them afraid? What can be more base and more ridiculous? Nor is this all; it is said they have in themselves a principle of motion to avoid a vacuum. Have they arms, legs, muscles, nerves?
How foolish is painting, which draws admiration by the resemblance of things of which we do not admire the originals.
In the same way that we injure the understanding we injure the feelings also.
The feelings and the understanding are formed by society, and are perverted by society. Thus good or bad society forms or perverts them. It is then of the first importance to know how to choose in order to form and not to pervert them, and we cannot make this choice if they be not already formed and not perverted. Thus a circle is formed, and happy are those who escape it.
Have you never seen persons, who, in order to complain of the little you make of them, bring before you the example of people in high position who esteem them? To such I answer, “Show me the merit by which you have charmed these persons, and I will esteem you too.”
The world is full of good maxims. All that is needed is their right application. For instance, no one doubts that we ought to risk our lives for the common weal, and many do so. But for Religion, none.
Nature diversifies and imitates, art imitates and diversifies.
The more intellect we have ourselves, the more originality do we discover in others. Ordinary people find no difference between men.
Since we cannot be universal, and know all that is to be known of everything, we should know a little of everything. For it is far better to know something of all than to know the whole of one thing, this universality is the best. If we can have both, still better, but if we must choose, let us choose the first. The world feels and acts on this, and the world is often a good judge.
Certain authors speaking of their works, say: “My book, my commentary, my history, etc.” They are like the middle-class people who have a small house of their own, and have “my house” always on the tongue. They would do better to say: “Our book, our commentary, our history, etc.”; because there is in them generally more of other people’s than their own.
A true friend is so great an advantage, even for the greatest lord, in order that he may speak well of them, and uphold them in their absence, that they ought to do all that is possible to have one. But they should choose well, for spite of all they may do for fools, whatever good these say of them would be useless, and they would not even speak well of them if they found themselves in the minority, for they are without authority. And thus they would abuse them in company.
“You are ungraceful, excuse me, I beg.” Without that excuse I had not known there was aught amiss. “With reverence be it spoken . . . ” The only evil is the excuse.
I always dislike such compliments as these: I have given you a great deal of trouble. I fear I am tiring you. I fear this is too long. For we either have our audience with us, or we provoke them.
Rivers are roads which move and carry us whither we wish to go.
In every action we must look beyond the action at our past, present and future state, and at others whom it affects, and see the relations of all these things. And then we shall be very careful.
In every dialogue and discourse we ought to be able to say to those who are offended, “Of what do you complain?”
There are many people who listen to the sermon as they listen to vespers.
keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.
chiswick press:—c. whittingham and co., tooks court,