291. In the letter On Injustice can come the ridiculousness of the law that the elder gets all. "My friend, you were born on this side of
the mountain, it is therefore just that your elder brother gets
"Why do you kill me"?
292. He lives on the other side of the water.
293. "Why do you kill me? What! do you not live on the other side of the water? If you lived on this side, my friend, I should be an assassin, and it would be unjust to slay you in this manner. But since you live on the other side, I am a hero, and it is just."
294. On what shall man found the order of the world which he would
govern? Shall it be on the caprice of each individual? What confusion!
Shall it be on justice? Man is ignorant of it.
Certainly, had he known it, he would not have established this maxim, the most general of all that obtain among men, that each should follow the custom of his own country. The glory of true equity would have brought all nations under subjection, and legislators would not have taken as their model the fancies and caprice of Persians and Germans instead of this unchanging justice. We would have seen it set up in all the States on earth and in all times; whereas we see neither justice nor injustice which does not change its nature with change in climate. Three degrees of latitude reverse all jurisprudence; a meridian decides the truth. Fundamental laws change after a few years of possession; right has its epochs; the entry of Saturn into the Lion marks to us the origin of such and such a crime. A strange justice that is bounded by a river! Truth on this side of the Pyrenees, error on the other side.
Men admit that justice does not consist in these customs, but that it resides in natural laws, common to every country. They would certainly maintain it obstinately, if reckless chance which has distributed human laws had encountered even one which was universal; but the farce is that the caprice of men has so many vagaries that there is no such law.
Theft, incest, infanticide, parricide, have all had a place among virtuous actions. Can anything be more ridiculous than that a man should have the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of the water, and because his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have none with him?
Doubtless there are natural laws; but good reason once corrupted has corrupted all. Nihil amplius nostrum est; quod nostrum dicimus, artis est. [Cicero, De finibus, V. 21. "There is no longer anything which is ours; what I call ours is conventional."] Ex senatus- consultis et plebiscitis crimina exercentur. [Seneca, Epistles, xcv. "It is by virtue of senatus-consultes and plebiscites that one commits crimes."] Ut olim vitiis, sic nunc legibus laboramus. [Tacitus, Annals, iii. 25. "Once we suffered from our vices; today we suffer from our laws."]
The result of this confusion is that one affirms the essence of justice to be the authority of the legislator; another, the interest of the sovereign; another, present custom, and this is the most sure. Nothing, according to reason alone, is just itself; all changes with time. Custom creates the whole of equity, for the simple reason that it is accepted. It is the mystical foundation of its authority; whoever carries it back to first principles destroys it. Nothing is so faulty as those laws which correct faults. He who obeys them because they are just obeys a justice which is imaginary and not the essence of law; it is quite self-contained, it is law and nothing more. He who will examine its motive will find it so feeble and so trifling that, if he be not accustomed to contemplate the wonders of human imagination, he will marvel that one century has gained for it so much pomp and reverence. The art of opposition and of revolution is to unsettle established customs, sounding them even to their source, to point out their want of authority and justice. We must, it is said, get back to the natural and fundamental laws of the State, which an unjust custom has abolished. It is a game certain to result in the loss of all; nothing will be just on the balance. Yet people readily lend their ear to such arguments. They shake off the yoke as soon as they recognise it; and the great profit by their ruin and by that of these curious investigators of accepted customs. But from a contrary mistake men sometimes think they can justly do everything which is not without an example. That is why the wisest of legislators said that it was necessary to deceive men for their own good; and another, a good politician, Cum veritatem qua liberetur ignoret, expedit quod fallatur. [Saint Augustine, City of God, iv. 27. "As he has ignored the truth which frees, it is right he is mistaken."] We must not see the fact of usurpation; law was once introduced without reason, and has become reasonable. We must make it regarded as authoritative, eternal, and conceal its origin, if we do not wish that it should soon come to an end.
295. Mine, thine. -- "This dog is mine," said those poor children; "that is my place in the sun." Here is the beginning and the image of the usurpation of all the earth.
296. When the question for consideration is whether we ought to make war and kill so many men- condemn so many Spaniards to death- only one man is judge, and he is an interested party. There should be a third, who is disinterested.
297. Veri juris. [Cicero, De officiis, iii, 17. "Concerning true law."] -- We have it no more; if we had it, we should take conformity to the customs of a country as the rule of justice. It is here that, not finding justice, we have found force, etc.
298. Justice, might. -- It is right that what is just should be
obeyed; it is necessary that what is strongest should be obeyed.
Justice without might is helpless; might without justice is
tyrannical. Justice without might is gainsaid, because there are
always offenders; might without justice is condemned. We must then
combine justice and might and, for this end, make what is just strong,
or what is strong just.
Justice is subject to dispute; might is easily recognised and is not disputed. So we cannot give might to justice, because might has gainsaid justice and has declared that it is she herself who is just. And thus, being unable to make what is just strong, we have made what is strong just.
299. The only universal rules are the laws of the country in
ordinary affairs and of the majority in others. Whence comes this?
From the might which is in them. Hence it comes that kings, who have
power of a different kind, do not follow the majority of their
No doubt equality of goods is just; but, being unable to cause might to obey justice, men have made it just to obey might. Unable to strengthen justice, they have justified might; so that the just and the strong should unite, and there should be peace, which is the sovereign good.
300. "When a strong man armed keepeth his goods, his goods are in peace."
301. Why do we follow the majority? Is it because they have more
reason? No, because they have more power.
Why do we follow the ancient laws and opinions? Is it because they are more sound? No, but because they are unique and remove from us the root of difference.
302. ... It is the effect of might, not of custom. For those who are capable of originality are few; the greater number will only follow and refuse glory to those inventors who seek it by their inventions. And if these are obstinate in their wish to obtain glory and despise those who do not invent, the latter will call them ridiculous names and will beat them with a stick. Let no one, then, boast of his subtlety, or let him keep his complacency to himself.
303. Might is the sovereign of the world, and not opinion. But opinion makes use of might. It is might that makes opinion. Gentleness is beautiful in our opinion. Why? Because he who will dance on a rope will be alone, and I win gather a stronger mob of people who will say that it is unbecoming.
304. The cords which bind the respect of men to each other are
in general cords of necessity; for there must be different degrees,
all men wishing to rule, and not all being able to do so, but some
Let us, then, imagine we see society in the process of formation. Men will doubtless fight till the stronger party overcomes the weaker, and a dominant party is established. But when this is once determined, the masters, who do not desire the continuation of strife, then decree that the power which is in their hands shall be transmitted as they please. Some place it in election by the people, others in hereditary succession, etc.
And this is the point where imagination begins to play its part. Till now power makes fact; now power is sustained by imagination in a certain party, in France in the nobility, in Switzerland in the burgesses, etc.
These cords which bind the respect of men to such and such an individual are therefore the cords of imagination.
305. The Swiss are offended by being called gentlemen, and prove themselves true plebeians in order to be thought worthy of great office.
306. As duchies, kingships, and magistracies are real and necessary, because might rules all, they exist everywhere and always. But since only caprice makes such and such a one a ruler, the principle is not constant, but subject to variation, etc.
307. The chancellor is grave and clothed with ornaments, for his position is unreal. Not so the king; he has power and has nothing to do with the imagination. Judges, physicians, etc., appeal only to the imagination.
308. The habit of seeing kings accompanied by guards, drums, officers, and all the paraphernalia which mechanically inspire respect and awe, makes their countenance, when sometimes seen alone without these accompaniments, impress respect and awe on their subjects; because we cannot separate in thought their persons from the surroundings with which we see them usually joined. And the world, which knows not that this effect is the result of habit, believes that it arises by a natural force, whence come these words, "The character of Divinity is stamped on his countenance," etc.
309. Justice. -- As custom determines what is agreeable, so also does it determine justice.
310. King and tyrant. -- I, too, will keep my thoughts secret.
I will take care on every journey.
Greatness of establishment, respect for establishment.
The pleasure of the great is the power to make people happy.
The property of riches is to be given liberally.
The property of each thing must be sought. The property of power is to protect.
When force attacks humbug, when a private soldier takes the square cap off a first president, and throws it out of the window.
311. The government founded on opinion and imagination reigns for some time, and this government is pleasant and voluntary; that founded on might lasts for ever. Thus opinion is the queen of the world, but might is its tyrant.
312. Justice is what is established; and thus all our established laws will necessarily be regarded as just without examination, since they are established.
313. Sound opinions of the people. -- Civil wars are the greatest of evils. They are inevitable, if we wish to reward desert; for all will say they are deserving. The evil we have to fear from a fool who succeeds by right of birth, is neither so great nor so sure.
314. God has created all for Himself. He has bestowed upon Himself
the power of pain and pleasure.
You can apply it to God, or to yourself. If to God, the Gospel is the rule. If to yourself, you will take the place of God. As God is surrounded by persons full of charity, who ask of Him the blessings of charity that are in His power, so... recognise, then, and learn that you are only a king of lust, and take the ways of lust.
315. The reason of effects. -- It is wonderful that men would not have me honour a man clothed in brocade and followed by seven or eight lackeys! Why! He will have me thrashed, if I do not salute him. This custom is a farce. It is the same with a horse in fine trappings in comparison with another! Montaigne is a fool not to see what difference there is, to wonder at our finding any, and to ask the reason. "Indeed," says he, "how comes it," etc....
316. Sound opinions of the people. -- To be spruce is not altogether foolish, for it proves that a great number of people work for one. It shows by one's hair, that one has a valet, a perfumer, etc., by one's band, thread, lace,... etc. Now it is not merely superficial nor merely outward show to have many arms at command. The more arms one has, the more powerful one is. To be spruce is to show one's power.
317. Deference means, "Put yourself to inconvenience." This is apparently silly, but is quite right. For it is to say, "I would indeed put myself to inconvenience if you required it, since indeed I do so when it is of no service to you." Deference further serves to distinguish the great. Now if deference was displayed by sitting in an arm-chair, we should show deference to everybody, and so no distinction would be made; but, being put to inconvenience, we distinguish very well.
318. He has four lackeys.
319. How rightly do we distinguish men by external appearances rather than by internal qualities! Which of us two shall have precedence? Who will give place to the other? The least clever. But I am as clever as he. We should have to fight over this. He has four lackeys, and I have only one. This can be seen; we have only to count. It falls to me to yield, and I am a fool if I contest the matter. By this means we are at peace, which is the greatest of boons.
320. The most unreasonable things in the world become most
reasonable, because of the unruliness of men. What is less
reasonable than to choose the eldest son of a queen to rule a State?
We do not choose as captain of a ship the passenger who is of the best
This law would be absurd and unjust; but, because men are so themselves and always will be so, it becomes reasonable and just. For whom will men choose, as the most virtuous and able? We at once come to blows, as each claims to be the most virtuous and able. Let us then attach this quality to something indisputable. This is the king's eldest son. That is clear, and there is no dispute. Reason can do no better, for civil war is the greatest of evils.
321. Children are astonished to see their comrades respected.
322. To be of noble birth is a great advantage. In eighteen years it places a man within the select circle, known and respected, as another have merited in fifty years. It is a gain of thirty years without trouble.
323. What is the Ego?
Suppose a man puts himself at a window to see those who pass by. If I pass by, can I say that he placed himself there to see me? No; for he does not think of me in particular. But does he who loves someone on account of beauty really love that person? No; for the small-pox, which will kill beauty without killing the person, will cause him to love her no more.
And if one loves me for my judgement, memory, he does not love me, for I can lose these qualities without losing myself. Where, then, is this Ego, if it be neither in the body nor in the soul? And how love the body or the soul, except for these qualities which do not constitute me, since they are perishable? For it is impossible and would be unjust to love the soul of a person in the abstract and whatever qualities might be therein. We never, then, love a person, but only qualities.
Let us, then, jeer no more at those who are honoured on account of rank and office; for we love a person only on account of borrowed qualities.
324. The people have very sound opinions, for example:
1. In having preferred diversion and hunting to poetry. The half-learned laugh at it, and glory in being above the folly of the world; but the people are right for a reason which these do not fathom.
2. In having distinguished men by external marks, as birth or wealth. The world again exults in showing how unreasonable this is; but it is very reasonable. Savages laugh at an infant king.
3. In being offended at a blow, or in desiring glory so much. 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 taunts and indignities.
4. In working for the uncertain; in sailing on the sea; in walking over a plank.
325. Montaigne is wrong. Custom should be followed only because it
is custom, and not because it is reasonable or just. But people follow
it for this sole reason, that they think it just. Otherwise they would
follow it no longer, although it were the custom; for they will only
submit to reason or justice. Custom without this would pass for
tyranny; but the sovereignty of reason and justice is no more
tyrannical than that of desire. They are principles natural to man.
It would, therefore, be right to obey laws and customs, because they are laws; but we should know that there is neither truth nor justice to introduce into them, that we know nothing of these, and so must follow what is accepted. By this means we would never depart from them. But people cannot accept this doctrine; and, as they believe that truth can be found, and that it exists in law and custom, they believe them and take their antiquity as a proof of their truth, and not simply of their authority apart from truth. Thus they obey laws, but they are liable to revolt when these are proved to be valueless; and this can be shown of all, looked at from a certain aspect.
326. Injustice. -- It is dangerous to tell the people that the laws are unjust; for they obey them only because they think them just. Therefore it is necessary to tell them at the same time that they must obey them because they are laws, just as they must obey superiors, not because they are just, but because they are superiors. In this way all sedition is prevented, if this can be made intelligible and it be understood what is the proper definition of justice.
327. The world is a good judge of things, for it is in natural ignorance, which is man's true state. The sciences have two extremes which meet. The first is the pure natural ignorance in which all men find themselves at birth. The other extreme is that reached by great intellects, who, having run through all that men can know, find they know nothing, and come back again to that same ignorance from which they set out; but this is a learned ignorance which is conscious of itself. Those between the two, who have departed from natural ignorance and not been able to reach the other, have some smattering of this vain knowledge and pretend to be wise. These trouble the world and are bad judges of everything. The people and the wise constitute the world; these despise it, and are despised. They judge badly of everything, and the world judges rightly of them.
328. The reason of effects. -- Continual
alternation of pro and con.
We have, then, shown that man is foolish, by the estimation he makes of things which are not essential; and all these opinions are destroyed. We have next shown that all these opinions are very sound and that thus, since all these vanities are well founded, the people are not so foolish as is said. And so 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 are foolish, though their opinions are sound because they do not perceive the truth where it is, and, as they place it where it is not, their opinions are always very false and very unsound.
329. The reason of effects. -- The weakness of man is the reason why so many things are considered fine, as to be good at playing the lute. It is only an evil because of our weakness.
330. The power of kings is founded on the reason and on the folly of the people, and specially on their folly. The greatest and most important thing in the world has weakness for its foundation, and this foundation is wonderfully sure; for there is nothing more sure than this, that the people will be weak. What is based on sound reason is very ill-founded as the estimate of wisdom.
331. We can only think of Plato and Aristotle in grand academic robes. They were honest men, like others, laughing with their friends, and, when they diverted themselves with writing their Laws and the Politics, they did it as an amusement. 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 if laying down rules for a lunatic asylum; and if they presented the appearance of speaking of a great matter, it was because they knew that the madmen, to whom they spoke, thought they were kings and emperors. They entered into their principles in order to make their madness as little harmful as possible.
332. Tyranny consists in the desire of universal power beyond
There are different assemblies of the strong, the fair, the sensible, the pious, in which each man rules at home, not elsewhere. And sometimes they meet, and the strong and the fair foolishly fight as to who shall be master, for their mastery is of different kinds. They do not understand one another, and their fault is the desire to rule everywhere. Nothing can effect this, not even might, which is of no use in the kingdom of the wise, and is only mistress of external actions.
Tyranny --... So these expressions are false and tyrannical: "I am fair, therefore I must be feared. I am strong, therefore I must be loved. I am...
Tyranny is the wish to have in one way what can only be had in another. We render different duties to different merits; the duty of love to the pleasant; the duty of fear to the strong; duty of belief to the learned.
We must render these duties; it is unjust to refuse them, and unjust to ask others. And so it is false and tyrannical to say, "He is not strong, therefore I will not esteem him; he is not able, therefore I will not fear him."
333. Have you never seen people who, in order to complain of the little fuss you make about them, parade before you the example of great men who esteem them? In answer I reply to them, "Show me the merit whereby you have charmed these persons, and I also will esteem you."
334. The reason of effects. -- Lust and force are the source of all our actions; lust causes voluntary actions, force involuntary ones.
335. The reason of effects. -- It is, then, true to say that all the world is under a delusion; for, although the opinions of the people are sound, they are not so as conceived by them, since they think the truth to be 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 must honour noblemen, but not because noble birth is real superiority, etc.
336. The reason of effects. -- We must keep our thought secret, and judge everything by it, while talking like the people.
337. The reason of effects. -- Degrees. The people honour persons of high birth. The semi-learned despise them, saying that birth is not a personal, but a chance superiority. The learned honour them, not for popular reasons, but for secret reasons. Devout persons, who have more zeal than knowledge, despise them, in spite of that consideration which makes them honoured by the learned, because they judge them by a new light which piety gives them. But perfect Christians honour them by another and higher light. So arise a succession of opinions for and against, according to the light one has.
338. True Christians, nevertheless, comply with folly, not because they respect folly, but the command of God, who for the punishment of men has made them subject to these follies. Omnis creatura subjecta est vanitati. [Eccles. 3. 19. "for all is vanity."] Liberabitur. [Rom. 8. 20-21. "It shall be delivered."] 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, they depart from the command of religion.
339. I can well conceive a man without hands, feet, head (for it is only experience which teaches us that the head is more necessary than feet). But I cannot conceive man without thought; he would be a stone or a brute.
340. The arithmetical machine produces effects which approach nearer to thought than all the actions of animals. But it does nothing which would enable us to attribute will to it, as to the animals.
341. The account of the pike and frog of Liancourt. They do it always, and never otherwise, nor any other thing showing mind.
342. 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 in warning its mates that the prey is found or lost, it would indeed also speak in regard to those things which affect it closer, as example, "Gnaw me this cord which is wounding me, and which I cannot reach."
343. The beak of the parrot, which it wipes, although it is clean.
344. Instinct and reason, marks of two natures.
345. Reason commands us far more imperiously than a master; for in disobeying the one we are unfortunate, and in disobeying the other we are fools.
346. Thought constitutes the greatness of man.
347. Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is
a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him.
A vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe
were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which
killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which
the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavour, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.
348. A thinking reed. -- It is not from space that I must seek my dignity, but from the government of my thought. I shall have no more if I possess worlds. By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like an atom; by thought I comprehend the world.
349. Immateriality of the soul. -- Philosophers who have mastered their passions. What matter could do that?
350. The Stoics. -- They conclude that what has been done once can be done always, and that, since the desire of glory imparts some power
to those whom it possesses, others can do likewise. There are feverish
movements which health cannot imitate.
Epictetus concludes that, since there are consistent Christians, every man can easily be so.
351. Those great spiritual efforts, which the soul sometimes assays, are things on which it does not lay hold. It only leaps to them, not as upon a throne, for ever, but merely for an instant.
352. The strength of a man's virtue must not be measured by his efforts, but by his ordinary life.
353. I do not admire the excess of a virtue as of valour, except I see at the same time the excess of the opposite virtue, as in Epaminondas, who had the greatest valour and the greatest kindness. For otherwise it is not to rise, it is to fall. We do not display greatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once, and filling all the intervening space. But perhaps this is only a sudden movement of the soul from one to the other extreme, and in fact it is ever at one point only, as in the case of a firebrand. Be it so, but at least this indicates agility if not expanse of soul.
354. Man's nature is not always to advance; it has its advances
Fever has its cold and hot fits; and the cold proves as well as the hot the greatness of the fire of fever.
The discoveries of men from age to age turn out the same. The kindness and the malice of the world in general are the same. Plerumque gratae principibus vices. [Horace, Odes, III. xxix. 13. "Changes nearly always please the great."]
355. Continuous eloquence wearies.
Princes and kings sometimes play. They are not always on their thrones. They weary there. Grandeur must be abandoned to be appreciated. Continuity in everything is unpleasant. Cold is agreeable, that we may get warm.
Nature acts by progress, itus et reditus. It goes and returns, then advances further, then twice as much backwards, then more forward than ever, etc.
The tide of the sea behaves in the same manner; and so, apparently, does the sun in its course.
356. The nourishment of the body is little by little. Fullness of nourishment and smallness of substance.
357. When we would pursue virtues to their extremes on either side, vices present themselves, which insinuate themselves insensibly there, in their insensible journey towards the infinitely little; and vices present themselves in a crowd towards the infinitely great, so that we lose ourselves in them and no longer see virtues. We find fault with perfection itself.
358. Man is neither angel nor brute, and the unfortunate thing is that he who would act the angel acts the brute.
359. We do not sustain ourselves in virtue by our own strength, but by the balancing of two opposed vices, just as we remain upright amidst two contrary gales. Remove one of the vices, and we fall into the other.
360. What the Stoics propose is so difficult and foolish!
The Stoics lay down that all those who are not at the high degree of wisdom are equally foolish and vicious, as those who are two inches under water.
361. The sovereign good. Dispute about the sovereign good. -- Ut sis contentus temetipso et ex te nascentibus bonis. [Seneca, Epistles, xx. 8. "In order that you are satisfied with yourself and the good that is born from you."] There is a contradiction, for in the end they advise suicide. Oh! What a happy life, from which we are to free ourselves as from the plague!
362. Ex senatus-consultis et plebiscitis...
To ask like passages.
363. Ex senatus-consultis et plebiscitis scelera exercentur.
Seneca. 588. [Montaigne, Essays, ii. 12.]
Nihil tam absurde dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum. [Cicero, De Divinatione, ii. 58. "There is nothing so absurd that it has not been said by some philosopher."]
Quibusdam destinatis sententiis consecrati quae non probant coguntur defendere. [Cicero, Disputationes Tusculanae, ii. 2. "Devoted to certain fixed opinions, they are forced to defend what they hardly approve."]
Ut omnium rerum sic litterarum quoque intemperantia laboramus. [Seneca, Epistles, cvi. "We suffer from an excess of literature as from an excess of anything."]
Id maxime quemque decet, quod est cujusque suum maxime. [Cicero, De officiis, i. 31. "What suits each one best is what is to him the most natural."]
Hos natura modos primum dedit. [Virgil, The Georgics, ii. "Nature gave them first these limits."]
Paucis opus est litteris ad bonam mentem. [Seneca, Epistles, cvi. "Wisdom does not demand much teaching."]
Si quando turpe non sit, tamen non est non turpe quum id a multitudine laudetur. [Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum. "What is not shameful begins to become so when it is approved by the multitude."]
Mihi sic usus est, tibi ut opus est facto, fac.[Terence, Heauton Timorumenos, I. i. 21. "That is how I use it; you must do as you wish."]
364. Rarum est enim ut satis se quisque vereatur. [Quintillian, x. 7. "It is rare that one sufficiently respects one's self."]
Tot circa unum caput tumultuantes deos. [Seneca the Elder, Suasoriae, i. 4. "So many gods are busy around a single head."]
Nihil turpius quam cognitioni assertionem praecurrere. [Cicero, Academica, i. 45. "Nothing is more shameful than to affirm before knowing."]
Nec me pudet, ut istos, fateri nescire quid nesciam. [Cicero, Disputationes Tusculanae, i. 25. "I have not shame, as they do, to admit that I know not what I do not know."]
Melius non incipient.[Seneca, Epistles, lxxii. "It is easier not to begin....]
365. Thought. -- All the dignity of man consists in thought. Thought is, therefore, by its nature a wonderful and incomparable thing. It
must have strange defects to be contemptible. But it has such, so that
nothing is more ridiculous. How great it is in its nature! How vile it
is in its defects!
But what is this thought? How foolish it is!
366. The mind of this sovereign judge of the world is not so independent that it is not liable to be disturbed by the first din about it. The noise of a cannon is not necessary to hinder its thoughts; it needs only the creaking of a weathercock or pulley. Do not wonder if at present it does not reason well; a fly is buzzing in its ears; that is enough to render it incapable of good judgement. If you wish it to be able to reach the truth, chase away that animal which holds its reason in check and disturbs that powerful intellect which rules towns and kingdoms. Here is a comical god! O ridicolosissimo eroe!
367. The power of flies; they win battles, hinder our soul from acting, eat our body.
368. When it is said that heat is only the motions of certain molecules, and light the conatus recedendi which we feel, it astonishes us. What! Is pleasure only the ballet 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 sensation from the fire, that warmth which affects us in a manner wholly different from touch, the reception of sound and light, all this appears to us mysterious, and yet it is material like the blow of a stone. It is true that the smallness of the spirits which enter into the pores touches other nerves, but there are always some nerves touched.
369. Memory is necessary for all the operations of reason.
370. Chance gives rise to thoughts, and chance removes them; no
art can keep or acquire them.
A thought has escaped me. I wanted to write it down. I write instead that it has escaped me.
371. When I was small, I hugged my book; and because it sometimes happened to me to... in believing I hugged it, I doubted....
372. In writing down my thought, it sometimes escapes me; but this makes me remember my weakness, that I constantly forget. This is as instructive to me as my forgotten thought; for I strive only to know my nothingness.
373. Scepticism. -- I shall here write my thoughts without order, and not perhaps in unintentional confusion; that is true order, which will always indicate my object by its very disorder. I should do too much honour to my subject, if I treated it with order, since I want to show that it is incapable of it.
374. What astonishes me most is to see that all the world is not
astonished at its own weakness. Men act seriously, and each follows
his own mode of life, not because it is in fact good to follow since
it is the custom, but as if each man knew certainly where reason and
justice are. They find themselves continually deceived, and, by a
comical humility, think it is their own fault and not that of the
art which they claim always to possess. But it is well there are so
many such people in the world, who are not sceptics for the glory of
scepticism, in order to show that man is quite capable of the most
extravagant opinions, since he is capable of believing that he is
not in a state of natural and inevitable weakness, but, on the
contrary, of natural wisdom.
Nothing fortifies scepticism more than that there are some who are not sceptics; if all were so, they would be wrong.
375. I have passed a great part of my life believing that there
was justice, and in this I was not mistaken; for there is justice
according as God has willed to reveal it to us. But I did not take
it so, and this is where I made a mistake; for I believed that our
justice was essentially just, and that I had that whereby to know
and judge of it. But I have so often found my right judgement at
fault, that at last I have come to distrust myself and then others.
I have seen changes in all nations and men, and thus, after many
changes of judgement regarding true justice, I have recognised that
our nature was but in continual change, and I have not changed
since; and if I changed, I would confirm my opinion.
The sceptic Arcesilaus, who became a dogmatist.
376. This sect derives more strength from its enemies than from its friends; for the weakness of man is far more evident in those who know it not than in those who know it.
377. Discourses on humility are a source of pride in the vain and of humility in the humble. So those on scepticism cause believers to affirm. Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, few doubtingly of scepticism. We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.
378. Scepticism. -- Excess, like defect of intellect, is accused of madness. Nothing is good but mediocrity. The majority has settled that and finds fault with him who escapes it at whichever end. I will not oppose it. I quite consent to put there, and refuse to be at the lower end, not because it is low, but because it is an end; for I would likewise refuse to be placed at the top. To leave the mean is to abandon humanity. The greatness of the human soul consists in knowing how to preserve the mean. So far from greatness consisting in leaving it, it consists in not leaving it.
379. It is not good to have too much liberty. It is not good to have all one wants.
380. All good maxims are in the world. We only need to apply them.
For instance, we do not doubt that we ought to risk our lives in
defence of the public good; but for religion, no.
It is true there must be inequality among men; but if this be conceded, the door is opened not only to the highest power, but to the highest tyranny.
We must relax our minds a little; but this opens the door to the greatest debauchery. Let us mark the limits. There are no limits in things. laws would put them there, and the mind cannot suffer it.
381. When we are too young, we do not judge well; so, also, when we are too old. If we do not think enough, or if we think too much on any matter, we get obstinate and infatuated with it. If one considers one's work immediately after having done it, one is entirely prepossessed in its favour; by delaying too long, one can no longer enter into the spirit of it. So with pictures seen from too far or too near; there is but one exact point which is the true place wherefrom to look at them: the rest are too near, too far, too high or too low. Perspective determines that point in the art of painting. But who shall determine it in truth and morality?
382. When all is equally agitated, nothing appears to be agitated, as in a ship. When all tend to debauchery, none appears to do so. He who stops draws attention to the excess of others, like a fixed point.
383. The licentious tell men of orderly lives that they stray from nature's path, while they themselves follow it; as people in a ship think those move who are on the shore. On all sides the language is similar. We must have a fixed point in order to judge. The harbour decides for those who are in a ship; but where shall we find a harbour in morality?
384. Contradiction is a bad sign of truth; several things which are certain are contradicted; several things which are false pass without contradiction. Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the want of contradiction a sign of truth.
385. Scepticism. -- Each thing here is partly true and partly false. Essential truth is not so; it is altogether pure and altogether true. This mixture dishonours and annihilates it. Nothing is purely true, and thus nothing is true, meaning by that pure truth. You will say it is true that homicide is wrong. Yes; for we know well the wrong and the false. But what will you say is good? Chastity? I say no; for the world would come to an end. Marriage? No; continence is better. Not to kill? No; for lawlessness would be horrible, and the wicked would kill all the good. To kill? No; for that destroys nature. We possess truth and goodness only in part, and mingled with falsehood and evil.
386. If we dreamt the same thing every night, it would affect us
as much as the objects we see every day. And if an artisan were sure
to dream every night for twelve hours' duration that he was a king,
I believe he would be almost as happy as a king, who should dream
every night for twelve hours on end that he was an artisan.
If we were to dream every night that we were pursued by enemies and harassed by these painful phantoms, or that we passed every day in different occupations, as in making a voyage, we should suffer almost as much as if it were real, and should fear to sleep, as we fear to wake when we dread in fact to enter on such mishaps. And, indeed, it would cause pretty nearly the same discomforts as the reality.
But since dreams are all different, and each single one is diversified, what is seen in them affects us much less than what we see when awake, because of its continuity, which is not, however, so continuous and level as not to change too; but it changes less abruptly, except rarely, as when we travel, and then we say, "It seems to me I am dreaming." For life is a dream a little less inconstant.
387. It may be that there are true demonstrations; but this is not certain. Thus, this proves nothing else but that it is not certain that all is uncertain, to the glory of scepticism.
388. Good sense. -- They are compelled to say, "You are not acting in good faith; we are not asleep," etc. How I love 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 power of armed hands. He is not foolish enough to declare that men are not acting in good faith, but he punishes this bad faith with force.
389. Ecclesiastes shows that man without God is in total ignorance and inevitable misery. For it is wretched to have the wish, but not the power. Now he would be happy and assured of some truth, and yet he can neither know, nor desire not to know. He cannot even doubt.
390. My God! How foolish this talk is! "Would God have made the world to damn it? Would He ask so much from persons so weak"? etc. Scepticism is the cure for this evil, and will take down this vanity.
391. Conversation. -- Great words: Religion, I deny it.
Conversation. -- Scepticism helps religion.
392. Against Scepticism. -- ... It is, then, a strange
fact that we cannot define these things without obscuring them, while we speak
of them with all assurance. We assume that all conceive of them in the
same way; but we assume it quite gratuitously, for we have no proof of
it. I see, in truth, 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 this same fact by the same word,
both saying that it has moved; and from this conformity of application
we derive a strong conviction of a conformity of ideas. But this is
not absolutely or finally convincing though there is enough to support
a bet on the affirmative, since we know that we often draw the same
conclusions from different premises.
This is enough, at least, to obscure the matter; not that it completely extinguishes the natural light which assures us of these things. The academicians would have won. But this dulls it and troubles the dogmatists to the glory of the sceptical crowd, which consists in this doubtful ambiguity and in a certain doubtful dimness from which our doubts cannot take away all the clearness, nor our own natural lights chase away all the darkness.
393. It is a singular thing to consider that there are people in the world who, having renounced all the laws of God and nature, have made laws for themselves which they strictly obey, as, for instance, the soldiers of Mahomet, robbers, heretics, etc. It is the same with logicians. It seems that their license must be without any limits or barriers, since they have broken through so many that are so just and sacred.
394. All the principles of sceptics, stoics, atheists, etc., are true. But their conclusions are false, because the opposite principles are also true.
395. Instinct, reason. -- We have an incapacity of proof, insurmountable by all dogmatism. We have an idea of truth, invincible to all scepticism.
396. Two things instruct man about his whole nature; instinct and experience.
397. The greatness of man is great in that he knows himself to be miserable. A tree does not know itself to be miserable. It is then being miserable to know oneself to be miserable; but it is also being great to know that one is miserable.
398. All these same miseries prove man's greatness. They are the miseries of a great lord, of a deposed king.
399. We are not miserable without feeling it. A ruined house is not miserable. Man only is miserable. Ego vir videns.[Lam. 3. 1. "I am the man that hath seen."]
400. The greatness of man. -- We have so great an idea of the soul of man that we cannot endure being despised, or not being esteemed by any soul; and all the happiness of men consists in this esteem.
402. The greatness of man even in his lust, to have known how to extract from it a wonderful code, and to have drawn from it a picture of benevolence.
403. Greatness.- The reasons of effects indicate the greatness of man, in having extracted so fair an order from lust.
404. The greatest baseness of man is the pursuit of glory. But
is the greatest mark of his excellence; for whatever possessions he
may have on earth, whatever health and essential comfort, he is not
satisfied if he has not the esteem of men. He values human reason so
highly that, whatever advantages he may have on earth, he is not
content if he is not also ranked highly in the judgement of man.
This is the finest position in the world. Nothing can turn him from
that desire, which is the most indelible quality of man's heart.
And those who must despise men, and put them on a level with the brutes, yet wish to be admired and believed by men, and contradict themselves by their own feelings; their nature, which is stronger than all, convincing them of the greatness of man more forcibly than reason convinces them of their baseness.
405. Contradiction. -- Pride counterbalancing all miseries. Man either hides his miseries, or, if he disclose them, glories in knowing them.
406. Pride counterbalances and takes away all miseries. Here is a strange monster and a very plain aberration. He is fallen from his place and is anxiously seeking it. This is what all men do. Let us see who will have found it.
407. When malice has reason on its side, it becomes proud and parades reason in all its splendour. When austerity or stern choice has not arrived at the true good and must needs return to follow nature, it becomes proud by reason of this return.
408. Evil is easy, and has infinite forms; good is almost unique. But a certain kind of evil is as difficult to find as what we call good; and often on this account such particular evil gets passed off as good. An extraordinary greatness of soul is needed in order to attain to it as well as to good.
409. The greatness of man. -- The greatness of man is so evident that it is even proved by his wretchedness. For what in animals is
nature, we call in man wretchedness, by which we recognise that, his
nature being now like that of animals, he has fallen from a better
nature which once was his.
For who is unhappy at not being a king, except a deposed king? Was Paulus Aemilius unhappy at being no longer consul? On the contrary, everybody thought him happy in having been consul, because the office could only be held for a time. But men thought Perseus so unhappy in being no longer king, because the condition of kingship implied his being always king, that they thought it strange that he endured life. Who is unhappy at only having one mouth? And who is not unhappy at having only one eye? Probably no man ever ventured to mourn at not having three eyes. But any one is inconsolable at having none.
410. Perseus, King of Macedon. -- Paulus Aemilius reproached Perseus for not killing himself.
411. Notwithstanding the sight of all our miseries, which press upon us and take us by the throat, we have an instinct which we cannot repress and which lifts us up.
412. There is internal war in man between reason and the passions.
If he had only reason without passions... If he had only passions without reason... But having both, he cannot be without strife, being unable to be at peace with the one without being at war with the other. Thus he is always divided against and opposed to himself.
413. This internal war of reason against the passions has made a division of those who would have peace into two sects. The first would renounce their passions and become gods; the others would renounce reason and become brute beasts. (Des Barreaux.) But neither can do so, and reason still remains, to condemn the vileness and injustice of the passions and to trouble the repose of those who abandon themselves to them; and the passions keep always alive in those who would renounce them.
414. Men are so necessarily mad that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness.
415. The nature of man may be viewed in two ways: the one according to its end, and then he is great and incomparable; the other according to the multitude, just as we judge of the nature of the horse and the dog, popularly, by seeing its fleetness, et animum arcendi; and then man is abject and vile. These are the two ways which make us judge of him differently and which occasion such disputes among philosophers. For one denies the assumption of the other. One says, "He is not born for this end, for all his actions are repugnant to it." The other says, "He forsakes his end, when he does these base actions."
416. For Port-Royal. Greatness and wretchedness. -- Wretchedness being deduced from greatness, and greatness from wretchedness, some have inferred man's wretchedness 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 very wretchedness. All that the one party has been able to say in proof of his greatness has only served as an argument of his wretchedness to the others, because the greater our fall, the more wretched we are, and vice versa. The one party is brought back to the other in an endless circle, it being certain that, in proportion as men possess light, they discover both the greatness and the wretchedness of man. In a word, man knows that he is wretched. He is therefore wretched, because be is so; but he is really great because he knows it.
417. This twofold nature of man is so evident that some have thought that we had two souls. A single subject seemed to them incapable of such sudden variations from unmeasured presumption to a dreadful dejection of heart.
418. It is dangerous to make man see too clearly his equality with the brutes without showing him his greatness. It is also dangerous to make his see his greatness too clearly, apart from his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both. But it is very advantageous to show him both. Man must not think that he is on a level either with the brutes or with the angels, nor must he be ignorant of both sides of his nature; but he must know both.
419. I will not allow man to depend upon himself, or upon another, to the end that, being without a resting-place and without repose.
420. If he exalt himself, I humble him; if he humble himself, I exalt him; and I always contradict him, till he understands that he is an incomprehensible monster.
421. I blame equally those who choose to praise man, those who choose to blame him, and those who choose to amuse themselves; and I can only approve of those who seek with lamentation.
422. It is good to be tired and wearied by the vain search after the true good, that we may stretch out our arms to the Redeemer.
423. Contraries. After having shown the vileness and the greatness of man. -- Let man now know his value. Let him love himself, for there
is in him a nature capable of good; but let him not for this reason
love the vileness which is in him. Let him despise himself, for this
capacity is barren; but let him not therefore despise this natural
capacity. Let him hate himself, let him love himself; he has within
him the capacity of knowing the truth and of being happy, but he
possesses no truth, either constant or satisfactory.
I would then lead man to the desire of finding truth; to be free from passions, and ready to follow it where he may find it, knowing how much his knowledge is obscured by the passions. I would, indeed, that he should hate in himself the lust which determined his will by itself so that it may not blind him in making his choice, and may not hinder him when he has chosen.
424. All these contradictions, which seem most to keep me from theknowledge of religion, have led me most quickly to the true one.
425. Second part. -- That man without faith cannot know the true good, nor justice.
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
And yet, after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions.
A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts. But example teaches us little. No resemblance is ever so perfect that there is not some slight difference; and hence we expect that our hope will not be deceived on this occasion as before. And thus, while the present never satisfies us, experience dupes us and, from misfortune to misfortune, leads us to death, their eternal crown.
What is it, then, that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss 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 forsaken him, it is a strange thing that there is nothing in nature which has not been serviceable in taking His place; the stars, the heavens, earth, the elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, pestilence, war, famine, vices, adultery, incest. And since man has lost the true good, everything can appear equally good to him, even his own destruction, though so opposed to God, to reason, and to the whole course of nature.
Some seek good in authority, others in scientific research, others in pleasure. Others, who are in fact nearer the truth, have considered it necessary that the universal good, which all men desire, should not consist in any of the particular things which can only be possessed by one man, and which, when shared, afflict their possessors more by the want of the part he has not than they please him by the possession of what he has. They have learned that the true good should be such as all can possess at once, without diminution and without envy, and which no one can lose against his will. And their reason is that this desire, being natural to man, since it is necessarily in all, and that it is impossible not to have it, they infer from it...
426. True nature being lost, everything becomes its own nature; as the true good being lost, everything becomes its own true good.
427. Man does not know in what rank to place himself. He has plainly gone astray and fallen from his true place without being able to find it again. He seeks it anxiously and unsuccessfully everywhere in impenetrable darkness.
428. If it is a sign of weakness to prove God by nature, do not despise Scripture; if it is a sign of strength to have known these contradictions, esteem Scripture.
429. The vileness of man in submitting himself to the brutes and in even worshipping them.
430. For Port-Royal. The beginning, after having explained the
incomprehensibility. -- The greatness and the wretchedness of man are so
evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us both that
there is in man some great source of greatness and a great source of
wretchedness. It must then give us a reason for these astonishing
In order to make man happy, it must prove to him that there is a God; that we ought to love Him; that our true happiness is to be in Him, and 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 compel us to love God, and our lusts turn us away from Him, we are full of unrighteousness. It must give us an explanation of our opposition to God and to our own good. It must teach us the remedies for these infirmities and the means of obtaining these remedies. Let us, therefore, examine all the religions of the world and see if there be any other than the Christian which is sufficient for this purpose.
Shall it be that of the philosophers, who put forward, as the chief good, the good which is in ourselves? Is this the true good? Have they found the remedy for our ills? Is man's pride cured by placing him on an equality with God? Have those who have made us equal to the brutes, or the Mohammedans who have offered us earthly pleasures as the chief good even in eternity, produced the remedy for our lusts? What religion, then, will teach us to cure pride and lust? What religion will, in fact, teach us our good, our duties, the weakness which turns us from them, the cause of this weakness, the remedies which can cure it, and the means of obtaining these remedies?
All other religions have not been able to do so. Let us see what the wisdom of God will do.
"Expect neither truth," she says, "nor consolation from men. I am she who formed you, and who alone can teach you what you are. But you are now no longer in the state in which I formed you. I created man holy, innocent, perfect. I filled him with light and intelligence. I communicated to him my glory and my wonders. The eye of man saw then the majesty of God. He was not then in the darkness which blinds him, nor subject to mortality and the woes which afflict him. But he has not been able to sustain so great glory without falling into pride. He wanted to make himself his own centre and independent of my help. He withdrew himself from my rule; and, on his making himself equal to me by the desire of finding his happiness in himself, I abandoned him to himself. And setting in revolt the creatures that were subject to him, I made them his enemies; so that man is now become like the brutes and so estranged from me that there scarce remains to him a dim vision of his Author. So far has all his knowledge been extinguished or disturbed! The senses, independent of reason, and often the masters of reason, have led him into pursuit of pleasure. All creatures either torment or tempt him, and domineer over him, either subduing him by their strength, or fascinating him by their charms, a tyranny more awful and more imperious.
"Such is the state in which men now are. There remains to them some feeble instinct of the happiness of their former state; and they are plunged in the evils of their blindness and their lust, which have become their second nature.
"From this principle which I disclose to you, you can recognize the cause of those contradictions which have astonished all men and have divided them into parties holding so different views. Observe, now, all the feelings of greatness and glory which the experience of so many woes cannot stifle, and see if the cause of them must not be in another nature.
For Port-Royal to-morrow (Prosopopaea). -- "It is in vain, O men, that you seek within yourselves the remedy for your ills. All your light can only reach the knowledge that not in yourselves will you find truth or good. The philosophers have promised you that, and you have been unable to do it. They neither know what is your true good, nor what is your true state. How could they have given remedies for your ills, when they did not even know them? Your chief maladies are pride, which takes you away from God, and lust, which binds you to earth; and they have done nothing else but cherish one or other of these diseases. If they gave you God as an end, it was only to administer to your pride; they made you think that you are by nature like Him and conformed to Him. And those who saw the absurdity of this claim put you on another precipice, by making you understand that your nature was like that of the brutes, and led you to seek your good in the lusts which are shared by the animals. This is not the way to cure you of your unrighteousness, which these wise men never knew. I alone can make you understand who you are...."
Adam, Jesus Christ.
If you are united to God, it is by grace, not by nature. If you are humbled, it is by penitence, not by nature.
Thus this double capacity...
You are not in the state of your creation.
As these two states are open, it is impossible for you not to recognise them. Follow your own feelings, observe yourselves, and see if you do not find the lively characteristics of these two natures. Could so many contradictions be found in a simple subject?
Incomprehensible. Not all that is incomprehensible ceases to exist. Infinite number. An infinite space equal to a finite.
Incredible that God should unite Himself to us. This consideration is drawn only from the sight of our vileness. But if you are quite sincere over it, follow it as far as I have done and recognise that we are indeed so vile that we are incapable in ourselves of knowing if His mercy cannot make us capable of Him. For I would know how this animal, who knows himself to be so weak, has the right to measure the mercy of God and set limits to it, suggested by his own fancy. He has so little knowledge of what God is that he does not know what he himself is, and, completely disturbed at the sight of his own state, dares to say that God cannot make him capable of communion with Him.
But I would ask him if God demands anything else from him than the knowledge and love of Him, and why, since his nature is capable of love and knowledge, he believes that God cannot make Himself known and loved by him. Doubtless he knows at least that he exists, and that he loves something. Therefore, if he sees anything in the darkness wherein he is, and if he finds some object of his love among the things on earth, why, if God impart to him some ray of His essence, will 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, then, be certainly an intolerable presumption in arguments of this sort, although they seem founded on an apparent humility, which is neither sincere nor reasonable, if it does not make us admit that, not knowing of ourselves what we are, we can only learn it from God.
"I do not mean that you should submit your belief to me without reason, and I do not aspire to overcome you by tyranny. In fact, I do not claim to give you a reason for everything. And to reconcile these contradictions, I intend to make you see clearly, by convincing proofs, those divine signs in me, which may convince you of what I am, and may gain authority for me by wonders and proofs which you cannot reject; so that you may then believe without... the things which I teach you, since you will find no other ground for rejecting them, except that you cannot know of yourselves if they are true or not.
"God has willed to redeem men and to open salvation to those who seek it. But men render themselves so unworthy of it that it is right that God should refuse to some, because of their obduracy, what He grants others from a compassion which is not due to them. If He had willed to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, He could have done so by revealing Himself so manifestly to them that they could not have doubted of the truth of His essence; as it will appear at the last day, with such thunders and such a convulsion of nature that the dead will rise again, and the blindest will see Him.
"It is not in this manner that He has willed to appear in His advent of mercy, because, as so many make themselves unworthy of His mercy, He has willed to leave them in the loss of the good which they do not want. It was not, then, right that He should appear in a manner manifestly divine, and completely capable of convincing all men; but it was also not right that He should come in so hidden a manner that He could not be known by those who should sincerely seek Him. He has willed to make himself quite recognisable by those; and thus, willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from Him with all their heart, He so regulates the knowledge of Himself that He has given signs of Himself, visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition."
431. No other religion has recognised that man is the most
excellent creature. Some, which have quite recognised the reality of
his excellence, have considered as mean and ungrateful the low
opinions which men naturally have of themselves; and others, which
have thoroughly recognised how real is this vileness, have treated
with proud ridicule those feelings of greatness, which are equally
natural to man.
"Lift your eyes to God," say the first; "see Him whom you resemble and who has created you to worship Him. You can make yourselves like unto Him; wisdom will make you equal to Him, if you will follow it." "Raise your heads, free men," says Epictetus. And others say, "Bend your eyes to the earth, wretched worm that you are, and consider the brutes whose companion you are."
What, then, will man become? Will he be equal to God or the brutes? What a frightful difference! 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 anxiously seeks it, that he cannot find it again? And who shall then direct him to it? The greatest men have failed. 432. Scepticism is true; for, after all, men before Jesus Christ did not know where they were, nor whether they were great or small. And those who have said the one or the other knew nothing about it and guessed without reason and by chance. They also erred always in excluding the one or the other.
Quod ergo ignorantes, quaeritis, religio annuntiat vobis.["What you seek without knowing, religion will announce to you." Pascal misquotes Acts 17. 23. "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."]
433. After having understood the whole nature of man. -- That a religion may be true, it must have knowledge of our nature. It ought to know its greatness and littleness, and the reason of both. What religion but the Christian has known this?
434. The chief arguments of the sceptics- I pass over the lesser
ones- are that we have no certainty of the truth of these principles
apart from faith and revelation, except in so far as we naturally
perceive them in ourselves. Now this natural intuition is not a
convincing proof of their truth; since, having no certainty, apart
from faith, whether man was created by a good God, or by a wicked
demon, or by chance, it is doubtful whether these principles given
to us are true, or false, or uncertain, according to our origin.
Again, no person is certain, apart from faith, whether he is awake
or sleeps, seeing that during sleep we believe that we are awake as
firmly as we do when we are awake; we believe that we see space,
figure, and motion; we are aware of the passage of time, we measure
it; and in fact we act as if we were awake. So that half of our life
being passed in sleep, we have on our own admission no idea of
truth, whatever we may imagine. As all our intuitions are, then,
illusions, who knows whether the other half of our life, in which we
think we are awake, is not another sleep a little different from the
former, from which we awake when we suppose ourselves asleep?
And who doubts that, if we dreamt in company, and the dreams chanced to agree, which is common enough, and if we were always alone when awake, we should believe that matters were reversed? In short, as we often dream that we dream, heaping dream upon dream, may it not be that this half of our life, wherein we think ourselves awake, is itself only a dream on which the others are grafted, from which we wake at death, during which we have as few principles of truth and good as during natural sleep, these different thoughts which disturb us being perhaps only illusions like the flight of time and the vain fancies of our dreams?
These are the chief arguments on one side and the other.
I omit minor ones, such as the sceptical talk against the impressions of custom, education, manners, country and the like. Though these influence the majority of common folk, who dogmatise only on shallow foundations, they are upset by the least breath of the sceptics. We have only to see their books if we are not sufficiently convinced of this, and we shall very quickly become so, perhaps too much.
I notice the only strong point of the dogmatists, namely, that, speaking in good faith and sincerely, we cannot doubt natural principles. Against this the sceptics set up in one word the uncertainty of our origin, which includes that of our nature. The dogmatists have been trying to answer this objection ever since the world began.
So there is open war among men, in which each must take a part and side either with dogmatism or scepticism. For he who thinks to remain neutral is above all a sceptic. This neutrality is the essence of the sect; he who is not against them is essentially for them. In this appears their advantage. They are not for themselves; they are neutral, indifferent, in suspense as to all things, even themselves being no exception.
What, then, shall man do in this state? Shall he doubt everything? Shall he doubt whether he is awake, whether he is being pinched, or whether he is being burned? Shall he doubt whether he doubts? Shall he doubt whether he exists? We cannot go so far as that; and I lay it down as a fact that there never has been a real complete sceptic. Nature sustains our feeble reason and prevents it raving to this extent.
Shall he, then, say, on the contrary, that he certainly possesses truth-- he who, when pressed ever so little, can show no title to it and is forced to let go his hold?
What a chimera, then, is man! What a novelty! What a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth; depositary of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the pride and refuse of the universe!
Who will unravel this tangle? Nature confutes the sceptics, and reason confutes the dogmatists. What, then, will you become, O men! who try to find out by your natural reason what is your true condition? You cannot avoid one of these sects, nor adhere to one of them.
Know then, proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself. Humble yourself, weak reason; be silent, foolish nature; learn that man infinitely transcends man, and learn from your Master your true condition, of which you are ignorant. Hear God.
For in fact, if man had never been corrupt, he would enjoy in his innocence both truth and happiness with assurance; and if man had always been corrupt, he would have no idea of truth or bliss. But, wretched as we are, and more so than if there were no greatness in our condition, we have an idea of happiness and can not reach it. We perceive an image of truth and possess only a lie. Incapable of absolute ignorance and of certain knowledge, we have thus been manifestly in a degree of perfection from which we have unhappily fallen.
It is, however, an astonishing thing that the mystery furthest removed from our knowledge, namely, that of the transmission of sin, should be a fact without which we can have no knowledge of ourselves. For it is beyond doubt that there is nothing which more shocks our reason than to say that the sin of the first man has rendered guilty those who, being so removed from this source, seem incapable of participation in it. This transmission does not only seem to us impossible, it seems also very unjust. For what is more contrary to the rules of our miserable justice than to damn eternally an infant incapable of will, for a sin wherein he seems to have so little a share that it was committed six thousand years before he was in existence? Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine; and yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves. The knot of our condition takes its twists and turns in this abyss, so that man is more inconceivable without this mystery than this mystery is inconceivable to man.
Whence it seems that God, willing to render the difficulty of our existence unintelligible to ourselves, has concealed the knot so high, or, better speaking, so low, that we are quite incapable of reaching it; so that it is not by the proud exertions of our reason, but by the simple submissions of reason, that we can truly know ourselves.
These foundations, solidly established on the inviolable authority of religion, make us know that there are two truths of faith equally certain: the one, that man, in the state of creation, or in that of grace, is raised above all nature, made like unto God and sharing in His divinity; the other, that in the state of corruption and sin, he is fallen from this state and made like unto the beasts.
These two propositions are equally sound and certain. Scripture manifestly declares this to us, when it says in some places: Deliciae meae esse cum filiis hominum. [Prov. 8. 31. "And my delights were with the sons of men."] Effundam spiritum meum super omnem carnem. [Joel 2. 28. "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh."] Dii estis, [Ps. 82 .6. "Ye are gods."] etc.; and in other places, Omnis caro faenum. [Is. 40. 6. "All flesh is grass."] Homo assimilatus est jumentis insipientibus, et similis factus est illis. [Ps. 49. 12,13. "He is like the beasts that perish; this their way is their folly."] Dixi in corde meo de filiis hominum. [Eccles. 3. 18. "I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men."]
Whence it clearly seems that man by grace is made like unto God, and a partaker in His divinity, and that without grace he is like unto the brute beasts.
435. Without this divine knowledge what could men do but either
become elated by the inner feeling of their past greatness which still
remains to them, or become despondent at the sight of their present
weakness? 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 sloth, the two
sources of all vice; since they cannot but either abandon themselves
to it through cowardice, or escape it by pride. For if they knew the
excellence of man, they were ignorant of his corruption; so that
they easily avoided sloth, but fell into pride. And if they recognized
the infirmity of nature, they were ignorant of its dignity; so that
they could easily avoid vanity, but it was to fall into despair.
Thence arise the different schools of the Stoics and Epicureans, the
Dogmatists, Academicians, etc.
The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these two vices, not by expelling the one through means of the other according to the wisdom of the world, but by expelling both according to the simplicity of the Gospel. For it teaches the righteous that it raises them even to a participation in divinity itself; that in this lofty state they still carry the source of all corruption, which renders them during all their life subject to error, misery, death, and sin; and it proclaims to the most ungodly that they are capable of the grace of their Redeemer. So making those tremble whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, religion so justly tempers fear with hope through that double capacity of grace and of sin, common to all, that it humbles infinitely more than reason alone can do, but without despair; and it exalts infinitely more than natural pride, but without inflating; thus making it evident that alone being exempt from error and vice, it alone fulfils the duty of instructing and correcting men.
Who, then, can refuse to believe and adore this heavenly light? For is it not clearer than day that we perceive within ourselves ineffaceable marks of excellence? And is it not equally true that we experience every hour the results of our deplorable condition? What does this chaos and monstrous confusion proclaim to us but the truth of these two states, with a voice so powerful that it is impossible to resist it?
436. Weakness. -- Every pursuit of men is to get wealth; and they cannot have a title to show that they possess it justly, for they have only that of human caprice; nor have they strength to hold it securely. It is the same with knowledge, for disease takes it away. We are incapable both of truth and goodness.
437. We desire truth, and find within ourselves only uncertainty.
We seek happiness, and find only misery and death.
We cannot but desire truth and happiness, and are incapable of certainty or happiness. This desire is left to us, partly to punish us, partly to make us perceive wherefrom we are fallen.
438. If man is not made for God, why is he only happy in God? If man is made for God, why is he so opposed to God?
439. Nature corrupted.- Man does not act by reason, which constitutes his being.
440. The corruption of reason is shown by the existence of so many different and extravagant customs. It was necessary that truth should come, in order that man should no longer dwell within himself.
441. For myself, I confess that, so soon as the Christian religion reveals the principle that human nature is corrupt and fallen from God, that opens my eyes to see everywhere the mark of this truth: for nature is such that she testifies everywhere, both within man and without him, to a lost God and a corrupt nature.
442. Man's true nature, his true good, true virtue, and true religion, are things of which the knowledge is inseparable.
443. Greatness, wretchedness. -- The more light we have, the more greatness and the more baseness we discover in man. Ordinary men-
those who are more educated: philosophers, they astonish ordinary men-
Christians, they astonish philosophers.
Who will then be surprised to see that religion only makes us know profoundly what we already know in proportion to our light?
444. This religion taught to her children what men have only been able to discover by their greatest knowledge.
445. Original sin is foolishness to men, but it is admitted to be such. You must not, then, reproach me for the want of reason in this doctrine, since I admit it to be without reason. But this foolishness is wiser than all the wisdom of men, sapientius est hominibus. [I Cor. 1. 25 "The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."] For without this, what can we say that 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, is averse to it when it is presented to her?
446. Of original sin. Ample tradition of original sin according to
On the saying in Genesis 8. 21: "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."
R. Moses Haddarschan: This evil leaven is placed in man from the time that he is formed.
Massechet Succa: This evil leaven has seven names in Scripture. It is called evil, the foreskin, uncleanness, an enemy, a scandal, a heart of stone, the north wind; all this signifies the malignity which is concealed and impressed in the heart of man.
Midrasch Tillim says the same thing and that God will deliver the good nature of man from the evil.
This malignity is renewed every day against man, as it is written, Psalm xxxvii. 32: "The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay 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.
Midrasch Tillim on Psalm 4. 4: "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 Psalm 36. 1: "The wicked has said within his own 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.
Midrasch el Kohelet: "Better is a poor and 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 human heart 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 Midrasch Tillim.
Bereschist Rabba on Psalm 35. 10: "Lord, all my bones shall bless Thee, which deliverest the poor from the tyrant." And is there a greater tyrant than the evil leaven? And on Proverbs 25. 21: "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat." That is to say, if the evil leaven hunger, give him the bread of wisdom of which it is spoken in Proverbs 9, and if he be thirsty, give him the water of which it is spoken in Isaiah 55.
Midrasch Tillim says the same thing, and that Scripture in that passage, speaking of the enemy, means the evil leaven; and that, in giving him that bread and that water, we heap coals of fire on his head.
Midrasch el Kohelet on Ecclesiastes 9. 14: "A great king besieged a little city." This great king is the evil leaven; the great bulwarks built against it are temptations; and there has been found a poor wise man who has delivered it- that is to say, virtue.
And on Psalm 41. 1: "Blessed is he that considereth the poor."
And on Psalm 78. 39: "The spirit passeth away, and cometh not again"; whence some have erroneously argued against 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 Psalm 103 the same thing.
And on Psalm 16.
Principles of Rabbinism: two Messiahs.
447. Will it be said that, as men have declared that righteousness has departed the earth, they therefore knew of original sin?-- Nemo ante obitum beatus est [Ovid, Metamorphoses, iii. "No one is happy before death."] -- that is to say, they knew death to be the beginning of eternal and essential happiness?
448. Milton sees well that nature is corrupt and that men are averse to virtue; he does not know why they cannot fly higher.
449. Order. -- After Corruption to say: "It is right that all those who are in that state should know it, both those who are content with it, and those who are not content with it; but it is not right that all should see Redemption."
450. If we do not know ourselves to be full of pride, ambition,
lust, weakness, misery, and injustice, we are indeed blind. And if,
knowing this, we do not desire deliverance, what can we say of a
What then, can we have but esteem for a religion which knows so well the defects of man, and desire for the truth of a religion which promises remedies so desirable?
451. All men naturally hate one another. They employ lust as far as possible in the service of the public weal. But this is only a pretnece and a false image of love; for at bottom it is only hate.
452. To pity the unfortunate is not contrary to lust. On the contrary, we can quite well give such evidence of friendship, and acquire the reputation of kindly feeling, without giving anything.
453. From lust men have found and extracted excellent rules of policy, morality, and justice; but in reality this vile root of man, this figmentum malum, is only covered, it is not taken away.
454. Injustice. -- They have not found any other means of satisfying lust without doing injury to others.
455. Self is hateful. You, Milton, conceal it; you do not for that reason destroy it; you are, then, always hateful.
No; for in acting as we do to oblige everybody, we give no more
occasion for hatred of us. That is true, if we only hated in Self
the vexation which comes to us from it. But if I hate it because it is
unjust and because it makes itself the centre of everything, I shall
always hate it.
In a word, the Self has two qualities: it is unjust in itself since it makes itself the centre of everything; it is inconvenient to others since it would enslave them; for each Self is the enemy, and would like to be the tyrant of all others. You take away its inconvenience, but not its injustice, and so you do not render it lovable to those who hate injustice; you render it lovable only to the unjust, who do not any longer find in it an enemy. And thus you remain unjust and can please only the unjust.
456. It is a perverted judgement that makes every one place himself above the rest of the world, and prefer his own good, and the continuance of his own good fortune and life, to that of the rest of the world!
457. Each one is all in all to himself; for he being dead, all is dead to him. Hence it comes that each believes himself to be all in all to everybody. We must not judge of nature by ourselves, but by it.
458. "All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life; libido sentiendi, libido sciendi, libido dominandi." [I John 2. 16.] Wretched is the cursed land which these three rivers of fire enflame rather than water! Happy they who, on these rivers, are not overwhelmed nor carried away, but are immovably fixed, not standing but seated on a low and secure base, whence they do not rise before the light, but, having rested in peace, stretch out their hands to Him, who must lift them up, and make them stand upright and firm in the porches of the holy Jerusalem! There pride can no longer assail them nor cast them down; and yet they weep, not to see all those perishable things swept away by the torrents, but at the remembrance of their loved country, the heavenly Jerusalem, which they remember without ceasing during their prolonged exile.
459. The rivers of Babylon rush and fall and sweep away.
O holy Zion, where all is firm and nothing falls!
We must sit upon the waters, not under them or in them, but on them; and not standing but seated; being seated to be humble, and being above them to be secure. But we shall stand in the porches of Jerusalem.
Let us see if this pleasure is stable or transitory; if it pass away, it is a river of Babylon.
460. 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; they have the body as their object.
Inquirers and scientists; they have the mind as their object. The
wise; they have righteousness as their object.
God must reign over all, and all men must be brought back to Him. In things of the flesh lust reigns specially; in intellectual matters, inquiry specially; in wisdom, pride specially. Not that a man cannot boast of wealth or knowledge, but it is not the place for pride; for in granting to a man that he is learned, it is easy to convince him that he is wrong to be proud. The proper place for pride is in wisdom, for it cannot be granted to a man that he has made himself wise, and that he is wrong to be proud; for that is right. Now God alone gives wisdom, and that is why Qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur. [Cor. 1. 31. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."]
461. The three lusts have made three sects; and the philosophers have done no other thing than follow one of the three lusts.
462. Search for the true good. -- Ordinary men place the good in fortune and external goods, or at least in amusement. Philosophers have shown the vanity of all this and have placed it where they could.
463. Philosophers. -- They believe that God alone is worthy to be loved and admired; and they have desired to be loved and admired of men and do not know their own corruption. If they feel full of feelings of love and admiration and find therein their chief delight, very well, let them think themselves good. But if they find themselves averse to Him, if they have no inclination but the desire to establish themselves in the esteem of men, and if their whole perfection consists only in making men- but without constraint- find their happiness in loving them, I declare that this 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 them! They have wanted to be the object of the voluntary delight of men.
464. Philosophers. -- We are full of things which take us out of ourselves.
Our instinct makes us feel that we must seek our happiness outside ourselves. Our passions impel us outside, even when no objects present themselves to excite them. External objects tempt us of themselves, and call to us, even when we are not thinking of them. And thus philosophers have said in vain: "Retire within yourselves, you will find your good there." We do not believe them, and those who believe them are the most empty and the most foolish.
465. The Stoics say, "Retire within yourselves; it is there you
will find your rest."
And that is not true.
467. The reason of effects. -- Epictetus. Those who say, "You have a headache"; this is not the same thing. We are assured of health, and
not of justice; and in fact his own was nonsense.
And yet he believed it demonstrable, when he said, "It is either in our power or it is not." But he did not perceive that it is not in our power to regulate the heart, and he was wrong to infer from this the fact that there were some Christians.
468. No other religion has proposed to men to hate themselves. No other religion, then, can please those who hate themselves, and who seek a Being truly lovable. And these, if they had never heard of the religion of a God humiliated, would embrace it at once.
469. I feel that I might not have been; for the Ego consists in my thoughts. Therefore I, who think, would not have been, if my mother had been killed before I had life. I am not, then, a necessary being. In the same way I am not eternal or infinite; but I see plainly that there exists in nature a necessary Being, eternal and infinite.
470. "Had I seen a miracle," say men, "I should become converted." How can they be sure they would do a thing of the nature of which they are ignorant? They imagine that this conversion consists in a worship of God which is like commerce, and in a communion such as they picture to themselves. True religion consists in annihilating self before that Universal Being, whom we have so often provoked, and who can justly destroy us at any time; in recognising that we can do nothing without Him, and have deserved nothing from Him but His displeasure. It consists in knowing that there is an unconquerable opposition between us and God, and that without a mediator there can be no communion with Him.
471. It is unjust that men should attach themselves to me, even though they do it with pleasure and voluntarily. I should deceive those in whom I had created this desire; for I am not the end of any, and I have not the wherewithal to satisfy them. Am I not about to die? And thus the object of their attachment will die. Therefore, as I would be blamable in causing a falsehood to be believed, though I should employ gentle persuasion, though it should be believed with pleasure, and though it should give me pleasure; even so I am blamable in making myself loved and if I attract persons to attach themselves to me. I ought to warn those who are ready to consent to a lie that they ought not to believe it, whatever advantage comes to me from it; and likewise that they ought not to attach themselves to me; for they ought to spend their life and their care in pleasing God, or in seeking Him.
472. Self-will will never be satisfied, though it should have command of 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.
473. Let us imagine a body full of thinking members.
474. Members. To commence 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 must see how each member should love itself, etc....
475. If the feet and the hands had a will of their own, they could only be in their order in submitting this particular will to the primary will which governs the whole body. Apart from that, they are in disorder and mischief; but in willing only the good of the body, they accomplish their own good.
476. 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 shame for its past life, for having been useless to the body which inspired its life, which would have annihilated it if it had rejected it and separated it from itself, as it kept itself apart from the body! What prayers for its preservation in it! And with what submission would it allow itself to be governed by the will which rules the body, even to consenting, if necessary, to be cut off, or it would lose its character as member! For every member must be quite willing to perish for the body, for which alone the whole is.
477. It is false that we are worthy of the love of others; it is
unfair 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. However, we are born with it; therefore born unjust,
for all tends to self. This is contrary to all order. We must consider
the general good; and the propensity to self is the beginning of all
disorder, in war, in politics, in economy, and in the particular
body of man. The will is therefore depraved.
If the members of natural and civil communities tend towards the weal of the body, the communities themselves ought to look to another more general body of which they are members. We ought, therefore, to look to the whole. We are, therefore, born unjust and depraved.
478. When we want to think of God, is there nothing which turns us away, and tempts us to think of something else? All this is bad, and is born in us.
479. If there is a God, we must love Him only and not the
creatures of a day. The reasoning of the ungodly in the Book of Wisdom
is only based upon the nonexistence of God. "On that supposition," say
they, "let us take delight in the creatures." That is the worst that
can happen. But if there were a God to love, they would not have
come to this conclusion, but to quite the contrary. And this is the
conclusion of the wise: "There is a God; let us therefore not take
delight in the creatures."
Therefore all that incites us to attach ourselves to the creatures is bad; since it prevents us from serving God if we know Him, or from seeking Him if we know Him not. Now we are full of lust. Therefore we are full of evil; therefore we ought to hate ourselves and all that excited us to attach ourselves to any other object than God only.
480. To make the members happy, they must have one will and submit it to the body.
481. The examples of the noble deaths of the Lacedaemonians and others scarce touch us. For what good is it 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 because it has perhaps deserved ours. There is nothing of this in the examples of the heathen. We have no tie with them; as we do not become rich by seeing a stranger who is so, but in fact by seeing a father or a husband who is so.
482. Morality. -- God having made the heavens and the earth, which do not feel the happiness of their being, He has willed 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 wonderful intelligence, of the care which has been taken to infuse into them minds, and to make them grow and endure. How happy they would be if they saw and felt it! But for this they would need to have intelligence to know it, and good-will to consent to that of the universal soul. But if, having received intelligence, they employed 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 whole soul to which they belong, which loves them better than they love themselves.
483. To be a member is to have neither life, being, nor
movement, except through the spirit of the body, and for the body.
The separate member, seeing no longer the body to which it belongs, has only a perishing 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 desires to make 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; perceiving in fact that it is not a body, and still not seeing that it is a member of a body. In short, when it comes to know itself, it has returned, as it were, to its own home, and loves itself only for the body. It deplores its past wanderings.
It cannot by its nature love any other thing, except for itself and to subject it to self, because each thing loves itself more than all. But, in loving the body, it loves itself, because it only exists in it, by it, and for it. Qui adhaeret Deo unus spiritus est.[I Cor. 6. 17. "But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit."]
The body loves the hand; and the hand, if it had a will, should love itself in the same way as it is loved by the soul. All love which goes beyond this is unfair.
Adhaerens 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.
484. Two laws suffice to rule the whole Christian Republic better than all the laws of statecraft.
485. The true and only virtue, then, is to hate self (for we are hateful on account of lust) and to seek a truly lovable being to love. But as we cannot love what is outside ourselves, we must love a being who is in us and is not ourselves; and that is true of each and all men. Now, only the Universal Being is such. The kingdom of God is within us; the universal good is within us, is ourselves- and not ourselves.
486. The dignity of man in his innocence consisted in using and having dominion over the creatures, but now in separating himself from them and subjecting himself to them.
487. Every religion is false which, as to its faith, does not worship one God as the origin of everything and which, as to its morality, does not love one only God as the object of everything.
488.... But it is impossible that God should ever be the end, if He is not the beginning. We lift our eyes on high, but lean upon the sand; and the earth will dissolve, and we shall fall whilst looking at the heavens.
489. If there is one sole source of everything, there is one
sole end of everything; everything through Him, everything for Him.
The true religion, then, must teach us to worship Him only, and to
love Him only. But as we find ourselves unable to worship what we know
not, and to love any other object but ourselves, the 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 is renewed.
We are born so averse to this love of God, and it is so necessary, that we must be born guilty, or God would be unjust.
490. Men, not being accustomed to form merit, but only to recompense it where they find it formed, judge of God by themselves.
491. The true religion must have as a characteristic the obligation to love God. This is very just, and yet no other religion has commanded this; ours has done so. It must also be aware of human lust and weakness; ours is so. It must have adduced remedies for this; one is prayer. No other religion has asked of God to love and follow Him.
492. He who hates not in himself his self-love, and that
instinct which leads him to make himself God, is indeed blinded. Who
does not see that there is nothing so opposed to justice and truth?
For it is false that we deserve this, and it is unfair and
impossible to attain it, since all demand the same thing. It is, then,
a manifest injustice which is innate in us, of which we cannot get
rid, and of which we must get rid.
Yet no religion has indicated that this was a sin; or that we were born in it; or that we were obliged to resist it; or has thought of giving us remedies for it.
493. The true religion teaches our duties; our weaknesses, pride, and lust; and the remedies, humility and mortification.
494. The true religion must teach greatness and misery; must lead to the esteem and contempt of self, to love and to hate.
495. If it is an extraordinary blindness to live without investigating what we are, it is a terrible one to live an evil life, while believing in God.
496. Experience makes us see an enormous difference between piety and goodness.
497. Against those who, trusting to the mercy of God, live heedlessly, without doing good works. -- As the two sources of our sins are pride and sloth, God has revealed to us two of His attributes to cure them, mercy and justice. The property of justice is to humble pride, however holy may be our works, et non intres injudicium, etc.; and the property of mercy is to combat sloth by exhorting to good works, according to that passage: "The goodness of God leadeth to repentance, and that other of the Ninevites: "Let us do penance to see if peradventure He will pity us." And thus mercy is so far from authorising slackness that it is on the contrary the quality which formally attacks it; so that instead of saying, "If there were no mercy in God we should have to make every kind of effort after virtue," we must say, on the contrary, that it is because there is mercy in God that we must make every kind of effort.
498. It is true there is difficulty in entering into godliness. 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 between these opposed efforts. But it would be very unfair to impute this violence to God, who is drawing us on, instead of to the world, which is holding us back. It is as a child, which a mother tears from the arms of robbers, in the pain it suffers, should love the loving and legitimate violence of her who procures its liberty, and detest only the impetuous and tyrannical violence of those who detain it unjustly. The most cruel war which God can make with men in this life is to leave them without that war which He came to bring. "I came to send war," He says, "and to teach them of this war. I came to bring fire and the sword." Before Him the world lived in this false peace.
499. External works. -- There nothing so
perilous as what pleases God and man. For those states, which please God
and man, have one property which pleases God, and another which pleases men;
as the greatness of Saint Teresa. What pleased God was her deep humility in
the midst of her revelations; what pleased men was her light. And so
we torment ourselves to imitate her discourses, thinking to imitate
her conditions, and not so much to love what God loves and to put
ourselves in the state which God loves.
It is better not to fast, and be thereby humbled, than to fast and be self-satisfied therewith. The Pharisee and the Publican.
What use will memory be to me, if it can alike hurt and help me, and 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 forth good out of evil, and without God we bring forth evil out of good?
500. The meaning of the words, good and evil.
501. First step: to be blamed for doing evil, and praised for
Second step: to be neither praised nor blamed.
502. Abraham took nothing for himself, but only for his servants. So the righteous 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." Sub te erit appetitus tuus. [Gen. 4. 7. "Unto thee shall be his desire."] The passions thus subdued are virtues. Even God attributes to Himself avarice, jealousy, anger; and these are virtues as well as kindness, pity, constancy, which are also passions. We must employ them as slaves, and, leaving to them their food, prevent the soul from taking any of it, For, when the passions become masters, they are vices; and they give their nutriment to the soul, and the soul nourishes itself upon it and is poisoned.
503. Philosophers have consecrated the vices by placing them in God Himself. Christians have consecrated the virtues.
504. The just man acts by faith in the least things; when he reproves his servants, he desires their conversion by the Spirit of God, and prays God to correct them; and he expects as much from God as from his own reproofs, and prays God to bless his corrections. And so in all his other actions he proceeds with the Spirit of God; and his actions deceive us by reason of the... or suspension of the Spirit of God in him; and he repents in his affliction.
505. All things can be deadly to us, even the things made to serve
us; as in nature walls can kill us, and stairs can kill us, if we do
not walk circumspectly.
The least movement affects all nature; the entire sea changes because of a rock. Thus, in grace, the least action affects everything by its consequences; therefore everything is important.
In each 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 those things. And then we shall be very cautious.
506. Let God not impute to us our sins, that is to say, all the consequences and results of our sins, which are dreadful, even those of the smallest faults, if we wish to follow them out mercilessly!
507. The spirit of grace; the hardness of the heart; external circumstances.
508. Grace is indeed needed to turn a man into a saint; and he who doubts it does not know what a saint or a man is.
509. Philosophers. -- A fine thing to cry to a man who does not know himself, that he should come of himself to God! And a fine thing to say so to a man who does know himself!
510. Man is not worthy of God, but he is not incapable of being
It is unworthy of God to unite Himself to wretched man; but it is not unworthy of God to pull him out of his misery.
511. If we would say that man is too insignificant to deserve communion with God, we must indeed be very great to judge of it.
512. It is, in peculiar phraseology, 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 does not enable us to say
that one becomes the other; the soul thus being united to the body,
the fire to the timber, 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; therefore my soul united to any matter
whatsoever will make my body. It does not distinguish the necessary
condition from the sufficient condition; the union is necessary, but
not sufficient. The left arm is not the right.
Impenetrability is a property of matter.
Identity de numero 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.
513. 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.
(But to keep His own pre-eminence, He grants prayer to whom He pleases.)
Objection: But we believe that we hold prayer of ourselves.
This is absurd; for since, though having 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. [Office for Holy Saturday. "Which won for us a Saviour."]
Meruit tam sacra membra tangere. [Office for Good Friday. "Which won for us God's hallowed members to embrace."]
Digno tam sacra membra tangere. [Hymn Vexilla regis. "Worthy God's hallowed members to embrace."]
Non sum dignus. [Luke 7. 6 "I am not worthy."]
Qui manducat indignus.[I Cor. 11. 29. "Who eateth unworthily."] Dignus est accipere. [Rev. 4. 11. "Thou art worthy to receive."]
Dignare me.[Office of the Holy Virgin. "Make me worthy."]
God is only bound according to His promises. He has promised to grant justice to prayers; He has never promised prayer only to the children of promise.
Saint Augustine has distinctly said that strength would be taken away from the righteous. But it is by chance that he said it; for it might have happened that the occasion of saying it did not present itself. But his principles make us see that, when the occasion for it presented itself, it was impossible that he should not say it, or that he should say anything to the contrary. It is then rather that he was forced to say it, when the occasion presented itself, than that he said it, when the occasion presented itself, the one being of necessity, the other of chance. But the two are all that we can ask.
514. "Work out your own salvation with fear."
Proofs of prayer. Petenti dabitur.[Matthew, 7. 7, "Ask and it shall be given you."]
Therefore it is in our power to ask. On the other hand, there is God. So it is not in our power, since the obtaining of (the grace) to pray to Him is not in our power. For since salvation is not in us, and the obtaining of such grace is from Him, prayer is not in our power.
The righteous man should then hope no more in God, for he ought not to hope, but to strive to obtain what he wants.
Let us conclude then that, since man is now unrighteous since the first sin, and God is unwilling that he should thereby not be estranged from Him, it is only by a first effect that he is not estranged.
Therefore, those who depart from God have not this first effect without which they are not estranged from God, and those who do not depart from God have this first effect. Therefore, those whom we have seen possessed for some time of grace by this first effect, cease to pray, for want of this first effect.
Then God abandons the first in this sense.
515. The elect will be ignorant of their virtues, and the outcast of the greatness of their sins: "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, thirsty"? etc.
516. Romans 3. 27. Boasting is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by faith. Then faith is not within our power like the deeds of the law, and it is given to us in another way.
517. Comfort yourselves. It is not from yourselves that you should expect grace; but, on the contrary, it is in expecting nothing from yourselves that you must hope for it.
518. Every condition, and even the martyrs, have to fear, according to Scripture. The greatest pain of purgatory is the uncertainty of the judgement. Deus absconditus.[Is. 45. 15.]
519. John 8.Multi crediderunt in eum. Dicebat ergo Jesus: "Si
manseritis...VERE mei discipuli eritis, et VERITAS LIBERABIT VOS."Responderunt: "Semen Abrahae sumus, et nemini servimus unquam."
[John 8. 30-33. "Many believed on him. Then Jesus said: 'If ye
continue... then ye are my disciples indeed, and the truth shall
make you free.' They answered him: 'We be Abraham's seed, and were
never in bondage to any man.'"]
There is a great difference between disciples and true disciples. We recognise them by telling 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.
520. The law has not destroyed nature, but has instructed it; grace has not destroyed the law, but has made it act. Faith received at baptism is the source of the whole life of Christians and of the converted.
521. Grace will always be in the world, and nature also; so that the former is in some sort natural. And thus there will always be Pelagians, and always Catholics, and always strife; because the first birth makes the one, and the grace of the second birth the other.
522. The law imposed what it did not give. Grace gives what it imposes.
523. All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam, and all morality in lust and in grace.
524. There is no doctrine more appropriate to man than this, which teaches him his double capacity of receiving and of losing grace, because of the double peril to which he is exposed, of despair or of pride.
525. The philosophers did not prescribe feelings suitable to the
They inspired feelings of pure greatness, and that is not man's state.
They inspired feelings of pure littleness, and that is not man's state.
There must be feelings of humility, not from nature, but from penitence, not to rest in them, but to go on to greatness. There must be feelings of greatness, not from merit, but from grace, and after having passed through humiliation.
526. Misery induces despair, pride induces presumption. The Incarnation shows man the greatness of his misery by the greatness of the remedy which he required.
527. The knowledge of God without that of man's misery causes pride. The knowledge of man's misery without that of God causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ constitutes the middle course, because in Him we find both God and our misery.
528. Jesus Christ is a God whom we approach without pride and before whom we humble ourselves without despair.
529.... Not a degradation which renders us incapable of good, nor a holiness exempt from evil.
530. A person told me one day that on coming from confession he felt great joy and confidence. Another told me that he remained in fear. Whereupon I thought that these two together would make one good man, and that each was wanting in that he had not the feeling of the other. The same often happens in other things.
531. He who knows the will of his master will be beaten with more blows, because of the power he has by his knowledge. Qui justus est, justificetur adhuc, [Rev. 22. 11. "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still."] because of the power he has by justice. From him who has received most, will the greatest reckoning be demanded, because of the power he has by this help.
532. Scripture has provided passages of consolation and of warning
for all conditions.
Nature seems to have done the same thing by her two infinities, natural and moral; for we shall always have the higher and the lower, the more clever and the less clever, the most exalted and the meanest, in order to humble our pride and exalt our humility.
533. Comminutum cor (Saint Paul) This is the Christian character. Alba has named you, I know you no more (Corneille). That is the inhuman character. The human character is the opposite.
534. There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe themselves sinners; the rest, sinners, who believe themselves righteous.
535. We owe a great debt to those who point out faults. For they mortify us. They teach us that we have been despised. They do not prevent our being so in the future; for we have many other faults for which we may be despised. They prepare for us the exercise of correction and freedom from fault.
536. Man is so made that by continually telling him he is a fool he believes it, and by continually telling it to himself he makes himself believe it. For man holds an inward talk with his self alone, which it behoves him to regulate well: Corrumpunt bonos mores colloquia prava. [I Cor. 15. 33. "Evil communications corrupt good manners."] We must keep silent as much as possible and talk with ourselves only of God, whom we know to be true; and thus we convince ourselves of the truth.
537. Christianity is strange. It bids man recognise that he is vile, even abominable, and bids him desire to be like God. Without such a counterpoise, this dignity would make him horribly vain, or this humiliation would make him terribly abject.
538. With how little pride does a Christian believe himself united
to God! With how little humiliation does he place himself on a level
with the worms of earth!
A glorious manner to welcome life and death, good and evil!
539. What difference in point of obedience is there between a soldier and a Carthusian monk? For both are equally under obedience and dependent, both engaged in equally painful exercises. But the soldier always hopes to command and never attains this, for even captains and princes are ever slaves and dependants; still he ever hopes and ever works to attain this. Whereas the Carthusian monk makes a vow to be always dependent. So they do not differ in their perpetual thraldom, in which both of them always exist, but in the hope, which one always has, and the other never.
540. The hope which Christians have of possessing an infinite good is mingled with real 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, for freedom from injustice, and they have something of this.
541. None is so happy as a true Christian, nor so reasonable, virtuous, or amiable.
542. The Christian religion alone makes man altogether lovable and happy. In honesty, we cannot perhaps be altogether lovable and happy.
543. Preface. -- The metaphysical proofs of God are so remote from the reasoning of men, and so complicated, that they make little
impression; and if they should be of service to some, it would be only
during the moment that they see such demonstration; but an hour
afterwards they fear they have been mistaken.
Quod curiositate cognoverunt superbia amiserunt.["What they have found by their curiosity, they have lost by their pride." Quod curiositate invenerunt, superbia perdiderunt. St. Augustine, Sermon cxli.]
This is the result of the knowledge of God obtained without Jesus Christ; it is communion without a mediator with the God whom they have known without a mediator. Whereas those who have known God by a mediator know their own wretchedness.
544. The God of the Christians is a God who makes the soul feel that He is her only good, that her only rest is in Him, that her only delight is in loving Him; and who makes her at the same time abhor the obstacles which keep her back and prevent her from loving God with all her strength. Self-love and lust, which hinder us, are unbearable to her. Thus God makes her feel that she has this root of self-love which destroys her, and which He alone can cure.
545. Jesus Christ did nothing but teach men that they loved themselves, that they were slaves, blind, sick, wretched, and sinners; that He must deliver them, enlighten, bless, and heal them; that this would be effected by hating self, and by following Him through suffering and the death on the cross.
546. Without Jesus Christ man must be 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 there is but vice, misery, darkness, death, despair.
547. We know God only by Jesus Christ. Without this mediator,
all communion with God is taken away; through Jesus Christ we know
God. All those who have claimed to know God, and to prove Him
without Jesus Christ, have had only weak proofs. But in proof of Jesus
Christ we have the prophecies, which are solid and palpable proofs.
And these prophecies, being accomplished and proved true by the event,
mark the certainty of these truths and, therefore, the divinity of
Christ. In Him, then, and through Him, we know God. Apart from Him,
and without the Scripture, without original sin, without a necessary
mediator promised and come, we cannot absolutely prove God, nor
teach right doctrine and right morality. But through 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 wretchedness; for this God is none other than the Saviour of our wretchedness. So we can only know God well by knowing our iniquities. Therefore those who have known God, without knowing their wretchedness, have not glorified Him, but have glorified themselves. Quia... non cognovit per sapientiam... placuit Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere.[I Cor. 1. 21. "Which... by wisdom knew not... it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."]
548. Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know
ourselves only by Jesus Christ. We know life and death only through
Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know 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 darkness and confusion in the nature of God and in our own nature.
549. It is not only impossible but useless to know God without
Jesus Christ. They have not departed from Him, but approached; they
have not humbled themselves, but...
Quo quisque optimus est, pessimus, si hoc ipsum, quod optimus est, adscribat sibi.[St. Bernard, Sermones in Cantica Canticorum, lxxxiv. "The better one is, the worse one becomes, if one attributes the cause of this goodness to one's self."]
550. I love poverty because He loved it. I love riches because
they afford me the means of helping the very poor. I keep faith with
everybody; I do not render evil to those who wrong me, but I wish them
a lot like mine, in which I receive neither evil nor good 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 united me; and
whether I am alone, or seen of men, I do all my actions in the sight
of God, who must judge of them, and to whom I have consecrated them
These are my sentiments; and every day of my life I bless my Redeemer, who has implanted them in me, and who, of a man full of weakness, of miseries, of lust, of pride, and of ambition, has made a man free from all these evils by the power of His grace, to which all the glory of it is due, as of myself I have only misery and error.
551. Dignior plagis quam osculis non timeo quia amo. [Ibid. "Meriting blows more than kisses, I fear not, because I love."]
552. 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 wrought no miracle at the Sepulchre.
Only the saints entered it.
It is there, not on the Cross, that Jesus Christ takes a new life.
It is the last mystery of the Passion and the Redemption.
Jesus Christ had nowhere to rest on earth but in the Sepulchre. His enemies only ceased to persecute Him at the Sepulchre.
553. The Mystery of Jesus. -- Jesus suffers in His passions the torments which men inflict upon Him; but in His agony He suffers the
torments which He inflicts on himself; turbare semetipsum.[John 11. 33. Et turbarit seipsum. "And he troubled himself."] This is
a suffering from no human, but an almighty hand, for He must be
almighty to bear it.
Jesus seeks some comfort at least in His three dearest friends, and they are asleep. He prays them to bear with Him for a little, and they leave Him with entire indifference, having so little compassion that it could not prevent their sleeping even for a moment. And thus Jesus was left alone to the wrath of God.
Jesus is alone on the earth, without any one not only to feel and share His suffering, but even to know of it; He and Heaven were alone in that knowledge.
Jesus is in a garden, not of delight as the first Adam, where he lost himself and the whole human race, but in one of agony, where He saved himself and the whole human race.
He suffers this affliction 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 bear His extreme suffering. "My soul is sorrowful, even unto death."
Jesus seeks companionship and comfort from men. This is the sole occasion in all His life, as it seems to me. But He receives it not, for His disciples are 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, including that of His own friends chosen to watch with Him, finding them asleep, is vexed because of the danger to which they expose, not Him, but themselves; He cautions them for their own safety and their own good, with a sincere tenderness for them during their ingratitude, and warns them that the spirit is willing and the flesh weak.
Jesus, finding them still asleep, without being restrained by any consideration for themselves or for Him, has the kindness not to waken them and leaves them in repose.
Jesus prays, uncertain of the will of His Father, and fears death; but, when He knows it, He goes forward to offer Himself to death. Eamus. [Matt. 26. 46. "Let us be going."] Processit (John).[18.2. "Jesus went forth."]
Jesus asked of men and was not heard.
Jesus, while His disciples slept, wrought their salvation. He has wrought that of each of the righteous while they slept, both in their nothingness before their birth, and in their sins after their birth.
He prays only once that the cup pass away, and then with submission; and twice that it come if necessary.
Jesus is weary.
Jesus, seeing all His friends asleep and all His enemies wakeful, commits Himself entirely to His Father.
Jesus does not regard in Judas his enmity, but the order of God, which He loves and admits, since He calls him friend.
Jesus tears Himself away from His disciples to enter into His agony; we must tear ourselves away from our nearest and dearest to imitate Him.
Jesus being in agony and in the greatest affliction, let us pray longer.
We implore the mercy of God, not that He may leave us at peace in our vices, that He may deliver us from them.
If God gave us masters by His own hand, oh! how necessary for us to obey them with a good heart! Necessity and events follow infallibly.
"Console thyself, thou wouldst not seek Me, if thou hadst not found Me.
"I thought of thee in Mine agony, I have sweated such drops of blood for thee.
"It is tempting Me rather than proving thyself, to think if thou wouldst do such and such a thing on an occasion which has not happened; I shall act in thee if it occur.
"Let thyself be guided by My rules; see how well I have led the Virgin and the saints who have let Me act in them.
"The Father loves all that I do.
"Dost thou wish that it always cost Me the blood of My humanity, without thy shedding tears?
"Thy conversion is My affair; fear not, and pray with confidence as for Me.
"I am present with thee by My Word in Scripture, by My Spirit in the Church and by inspiration, by My power in the priests, 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 bodily chains and servitude, I deliver thee at present only from spiritual servitude.
"I am more a friend to thee than such and such an one, for I have done for thee more then they; they would not have suffered what I have suffered from thee, and they would not have died for thee as I have done in the time of thine infidelities and cruelties, and as I am ready to do, and do, among My elect and at the Holy Sacrament."
"If thou knewest thy sins, thou wouldst lose heart."
I shall lose it then, Lord, for on Thy assurance I believe their malice.
"No, for I, by whom thou learnest, can heal thee of them, and what I say to thee is a sign that I will heal thee. In proportion to thy expiation of them, thou wilt know them, and it will be said to thee: 'Behold thy sins are forgiven thee.' Repent, then, for thy hidden sins, and for the secret malice of those which thou knowest."
Lord, I give Thee all.
"I love thee more ardently than thou hast loved thine abominations, ut immundus pro luto.
"To Me be the glory, not to thee, worm of the earth.
"Ask thy confessor, when My own words are to thee occasion of evil, vanity, or curiosity."
I see in me depths of pride, curiosity, and lust. There is no relation between me and God, nor Jesus Christ the Righteous. 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 so will He heal me.
I must add my wounds to His, and join myself to Him; and He will save me in saving Himself. But this must not be postponed to the future.
Eritis sicut dii scientes bonum et malum. [Gen. 3. 5. "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."] Each one creates his god, when judging, "This is good or bad"; and men mourn or rejoice too much at events.
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; and do the greatest things as though they were little and easy, because of His omnipotence.
554. It seems to me that Jesus Christ only allowed His wounds to
be touched after His resurrection: Noli me tangere. [John 20. 17. "Touch me not."] We must unite ourselves only to His sufferings.
At the Last Supper He gave Himself in communion as about to die; to the disciples at Emmaus as risen from the dead; to the whole Church as ascended into heaven.
555. "Compare not thyself with others, but with Me. If thou dost
not find Me in those with whom thou comparest thyself, thou
comparest thyself to one who is abominable. If thou findest Me in
them, compare thyself to Me. But whom wilt thou compare? Thyself, or
Me in thee? If it is thyself, it is one who is abominable. If it is I,
thou comparest Me to Myself. Now I am God in all.
"I speak to thee, and often counsel thee, because thy director cannot speak to thee, for I do not want thee to lack a guide.
"And perhaps I do so at his prayers, and thus he leads thee without thy seeing it. Thou wouldst not seek Me, if thou didst not possess Me.
"Be not therefore troubled."
556.... Men blaspheme what they do not know. The Christian
religion consists in two points. It is of equal concern to men to know
them, and it is equally dangerous to be ignorant of them. And it is
equally of God's mercy that He has given indications of both.
And yet they take occasion to conclude that one of these points does not exist, from that which should have caused them to infer the other. The sages who have said there is only one God have been persecuted, the Jews were hated, and still more the Christians. They have seen 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.
The whole course of things must have for its object the establishment and the greatness of religion. Men must have within them feelings suited to what religion teaches us. And, finally, religion must so be the object and the centre to which all things tend that whoever knows the principles of religion can give an explanation both of the whole nature of man in particular and of the whole course of the world in general.
And on this ground they take occasion to revile the Christian religion, because they misunderstand it. They imagine that it consists simply in the worship of a God considered as great, powerful, and eternal; which is strictly deism, almost as far removed from the Christian religion as atheism, which is its exact opposite. And thence they conclude that this religion is not true, because they do not see that all things concur to the establishment of this point, that God does not manifest Himself to men with all the evidence which He could show.
But let them conclude what they will against deism, they will conclude nothing against the Christian religion, which properly consists in the mystery of the Redeemer, who, uniting in Himself the two natures, human and divine, has redeemed men from the corruption of sin in order to reconcile them in His divine person to God.
The Christian religion, then, teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer.
Those who fall into error err only through failure to see one of these two things. We can, then, have an excellent knowledge of God without that of our own wretchedness and of our own wretchedness without that of God. But we cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing at the same time both God and our own wretchedness.
Therefore I shall not undertake here to prove by natural reasons either the existence of God, or the Trinity, or the immortality of the soul, or anything of that nature; not only because I should not feel myself sufficiently able to find in nature arguments to convince hardened atheists, but also because such knowledge without Jesus Christ is useless and barren. Though a man should be convinced that numerical proportions are immaterial truths, eternal and dependent on a first truth, in which they subsist and which is called God, I should not think him far advanced towards his own salvation.
The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements; that is the view of heathens and Epicureans. He is not merely a God who exercises His providence over the life and fortunes of men, to bestow on those who worship Him a long and happy life. That 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 of comfort, a God who fills the soul and heart of those whom He possesses, a God who makes them conscious of their inward wretchedness, and His infinite mercy, who unites Himself to their inmost soul, who fills it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, who renders them incapable of any other end than Himself.
All who seek God without Jesus Christ, and who rest in nature, either find no light to satisfy them, or come to form for themselves a means of knowing God and serving Him without a mediator. Thereby they fall either into atheism, or into deism, two things which the Christian religion abhors almost equally.
Without Jesus Christ the world would not exist; for it should needs be either that it would be destroyed or be a hell.
If the world existed to instruct man of God, His divinity would shine through every part in it in an indisputable manner; but as it exists only by Jesus Christ, and for Jesus Christ, and to teach men both their corruption and their redemption, all displays the proofs of these two truths.
All appearance indicates neither a total exclusion nor a manifest presence of divinity, but the presence of a God who hides himself. Everything bears this character.
... Shall he alone who knows his nature know it only to be miserable? Shall he alone who knows it be alone unhappy?
... He must not see nothing at all, nor must he see sufficient for him to believe he possesses it; but he must see enough to know that he has lost it. For to know of his loss, he must see and not see; and that is exactly the state in which he naturally is.
... Whatever part he takes, I shall not leave him at rest.
557.... It is, then, true that everything teaches man his condition, but he must understand this well. For it is not true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all conceals God. But it is at the same time true 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.
558. What shall we conclude from all our darkness, but our unworthiness?
559. If there never had been any appearance of God, this eternal deprivation would have been equivocal, and might have as well corresponded with the absence of all divinity, as with the unworthiness of men to know Him; but His occasional, though not continual, appearances remove the ambiguity. If He appeared once, He exists always; and thus we cannot but conclude both that there is a God and that men are unworthy of Him.
560. We do not understand the glorious state of Adam, nor the
nature of his sin, nor the transmission of it to us. These are matters
which took place under conditions of a nature altogether different
from our own and which transcend our present understanding.
The knowledge of all this is useless to us as a means of escape from it; and all that we are concerned to know is that we are miserable, corrupt, separated from God, but ransomed by Jesus Christ, whereof we have wonderful proofs on earth.
So the two proofs of corruption and redemption are drawn from the ungodly, who live in indifference to religion, and from the Jews who are irreconcilable enemies.
561. There are two ways of proving the truths of our religion; one
by the power of reason, the other by the authority of him who speaks.
We do not make use of the latter, but of the former. We do not say, "This must be believed, for Scripture, which says it, is divine." But we say that it must be believed for such and such a reason, which are feeble arguments, as reason may be bent to everything.
562. There is nothing on earth that does not show either the wretchedness of man, or the mercy of God; either the weakness of man without God, or the strength of man with God.
563. It will be one of the confusions of the damned to see that they are condemned by their own reason, by which they claimed to condemn the Christian religion.
564. The prophecies, the very miracles and proofs of our religion, are not of such a nature that they can be said to be absolutely convincing. But they are also of such a kind that it cannot be said that it is unreasonable to believe them. Thus there is both evidence and obscurity to enlighten some and confuse others. But the evidence is such that it surpasses, or at least equals, the evidence to the contrary; so that it is not reason which can determine men not to follow it, and thus it can only be lust or malice of heart. And by this means there is sufficient evidence to condemn, and insufficient to convince; so that it appears in those who follow it that it is grace, and not reason, which makes them follow it; and in those who shun it, that it is lust, not reason, which makes them shun it. Vere discipuli, vere Israelita, vere liberi, vere cibus. [Allusion to John 6. 56; 1. 47; 8. 36; 6. 32. "True disciple; an Israelite indeed; free indeed; true bread."]
565. Recognise, then, the truth of religion in the very obscurity of religion, in the little light we have of it, and in the indifference which we have to knowing it.
566. We understand nothing of the works of God, if we do not take as a principle that He has willed to blind some and enlighten others.
567. The two contrary reasons. We must begin with that; without that we understand nothing, and all is heretical; and we must even add at the end of each truth that the opposite truth is to be remembered.
568. Objection. The Scripture is plainly full of matters not
dictated by the Holy Spirit. Answer. Then they do not harm faith.
Objection. But the Church has decided that all is of the Holy
Spirit. Answer. I answer two things: first, the Church has not so
decided; secondly, if she should so decide, it could be maintained.
Do you think that the prophecies cited in the Gospel are related to make you believe? No, it is to keep you from believing.
569. Canonical.- The heretical books in the beginning of the Church serve to prove the canonical.
570. To the chapter on the Fundamentals must be added that on Typology touching the reason of types: why Jesus Christ was prophesied as to His first coming; why prophesied obscurely as to the manner.
571. The reason why. Types.- They had to deal with a carnal people
and to render them the depositary of the spiritual covenant. To give
faith to the Messiah, it was necessary there should have been
precedent prophesies, and that these should be conveyed by persons
above suspicion, diligent, faithful, unusually zealous, and known to
all the world.
To accomplish all this, 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 goods which this people loved. And thus they have had an extraordinary passion for their prophets and, in sight of the whole world, have had charge of these books which foretell their Messiah, assuring all nations that He should come and in the way foretold in the books, which they held open to the whole world. Yet this people, deceived by the poor and ignominious advent of the Messiah, have been His most cruel enemies. So that they, the people least open to suspicion in the world of favouring us, the most strict and most zealous that can be named for their law and their prophets, have kept the books incorrupt. Hence those who have rejected and crucified Jesus Christ, who has been to them an offence, are those who have charge of the books which testify of Him, and state that He will be an offence and rejected. Therefore they have shown it was He by rejecting Him, and He has been alike proved both by the righteous Jews who received Him and by the unrighteous who rejected Him, both facts having been foretold.
Wherefore the prophecies have a hidden and spiritual meaning to which this people were hostile, under the carnal meaning which they loved. If the spiritual meaning had been revealed, they would not have loved it, and, unable to bear it, they would not have been zealous of the preservation of their books and their ceremonies; and if they had loved these spiritual promises, and had preserved them incorrupt till the time of the Messiah, their testimony would have had no force, because they had been his friends.
Therefore it was well that the spiritual meaning should be concealed; but, on the other hand, if this meaning had been so hidden as not to appear at all, it could not have served as a proof of the Messiah. What then was done? In a crowd of passages it has been hidden under the temporal meaning, and in a few been clearly revealed; besides that, the time and the state of the world have been so clearly foretold that it is clearer than the sun. And in some places this spiritual meaning is so clearly expressed that it would require a blindness, like that which the flesh imposes on the spirit when it is subdued by it, not to recognise it.
See, then, what has been the prudence of God. This meaning is concealed under another in an infinite number of passages, and in some, though rarely, it is revealed; but yet so that the passages in which it is concealed are equivocal and can suit both meanings; whereas the passages where it is disclosed are unequivocal and can only suit the spiritual meaning.
So that this cannot lead us into error and could only be misunderstood by so carnal a people.
For when blessings are promised in abundance, what was to prevent them from understanding the true blessings, but their covetousness, which limited the meaning to worldly goods? But those whose only good was in God referred them to God alone. For there are two principles, which divide the wills of men, covetousness and charity. Not that covetousness cannot exist along with faith in God, nor charity with worldly riches; but covetousness uses God and enjoys the world, and charity is the opposite.
Now the ultimate end gives names to things. All which prevents us from attaining it is called an enemy to us. Thus the creatures, however good, are the enemies of the righteous, when they turn them away from God, and God Himself is the enemy of those whose covetousness He confounds.
Thus as the significance of the word enemy is dependent on the ultimate end, the righteous understood by it their passions, and the carnal the Babylonians; and so these terms were obscure only for the unrighteous. And this is what Isaiah says: Signa legem in electis meis, [In discipulis meis. Isaiah 8. 16. "Seal the law among my disciples."] and that Jesus Christ shall be a stone of stumbling. But, "Blessed are they who shall not be offended in him." Hosea, 14. 9, says excellently, "Where is the wise? and he shall understand what I say. The righteous shall know them, for the ways of God are right; but the transgressors shall fall therein."
572. Hypothesis that the apostles were impostors. The time clearly, the manner obscurely. Five typical proofs.
573. Blindness of Scripture.- "The Scripture," said the Jews, "says that we shall not know whence Christ will come (John 7. 27, and 12. 34)- The Scripture says that Christ abideth for ever, and He said that He should die." Therefore, says Saint John, they believed not, though He had done so many miracles, that the word of Isaiah might be fulfilled: "He hath blinded them," etc.
574. Greatness.- Religion is so great a thing that it is right that those who will not take the trouble to seek it, if it be obscure, should be deprived of it. Why, then, do any complain, if it be such as can be found by seeking?
575. All things work together for good to the elect, even the obscurities of Scripture; for they honour them because of what is divinely clear. And all things work together for evil to the rest of the world, even what is clear; for they revile such, because of the obscurities which they do not understand.
576. The general conduct of the world towards the Church: God willing to blind and to enlighten.- The event having proved the divinity of these prophecies, the rest ought to be believed. And thereby we see the order of the world to be of this kind. The miracles of the Creation and the Deluge being forgotten, God sends the law and the miracles of Moses, the prophets who prophesied particular things; and to prepare a lasting miracle, He prepares prophecies and their fulfilment; but, as the prophecies could be suspected, He desires to make them above suspicion, etc.
577. God has made the blindness of this people subservient to the good of the elect.
578. There is sufficient clearness to enlighten the elect, and
sufficient obscurity to humble them. There is sufficient obscurity
to blind the reprobate, and sufficient clearness to condemn them and
make them inexcusable. Saint Augustine, Montaigne, Sebond.
The genealogy of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is intermingled with so many others that are useless that it cannot be distinguished. If Moses had kept only the record of the ancestors of Christ, that might have been too plain. If he had not noted that of Jesus Christ, it might not have been sufficiently plain. But, after all, whoever looks closely sees that of Jesus Christ expressly traced through Tamar, Ruth, etc.
Those who ordained these sacrifices knew their uselessness; those who have declared their uselessness, have not ceased to practise them.
If God had permitted only one religion, it has been too easily known; but when we look at it closely, we clearly discern the truth amidst this confusion.
The premiss.- Moses was a clever man. If, then, he ruled himself by his reason, he would say nothing clearly which was directly against reason.
Thus all the very apparent weaknesses are strength. Example; the two genealogies in Saint Matthew and Saint Luke. What can be clearer than that this was not concerted?
579. God (and the Apostles), foreseeing that the seeds of pride
would make heresies spring up, and being unwilling to give them
occasion to arise from correct expressions, has put in Scripture and
the prayers of the Church contrary words and sentences to produce
their fruit in time.
So in morals He gives charity, which produces fruits contrary to lust.
580. Nature has some perfections to show that she is the image of God, and some defects to show that she is only His image.
581. God prefers rather to incline the will than the intellect. Perfect clearness would be of use to the intellect and would harm the will. To humble pride.
582. We make an idol of truth itself; for truth apart from charity
is not God, but His image and idol, which we must neither love nor
worship; and still less must we love or worship its opposite,
I can easily love total darkness; but if God keeps me in a state of semi-darkness, such partial darkness displeases me, and, because I do not see therein the advantage of total darkness, it is unpleasant to me. This is a fault and a sign that I make for myself an idol of darkness, apart from the order of God. Now only His order must be worshipped.
583. The feeble-minded are people who know the truth, but only affirm it so far as consistent with their own interest. But, apart from that, they renounce it.
584. The world exists for the exercise of mercy and judgement, not as if men were placed in it out of the hands of God, but as hostile to God; and to them He grants by grace sufficient light, that they may return to Him, if they desire to seek and follow Him; and also that they may be punished, if they refuse to seek or follow Him.
585. That God has willed to hide Himself.- If there were only
one religion, God would indeed be manifest. The same would be the case
if there were no martyrs but in our religion.
God being thus hidden, every religion which does not affirm that God is hidden is not true; and every religion which does not give the reason of it is not instructive. Our religion does all this: Vere tu es Deus absconditus. [Is. 45. 15.]
586. If there were no obscurity, man would not be sensible of his corruption; if there were no light, man would not hope for a remedy. Thus, it is not only fair, but advantageous to us, that God be partly hidden and partly revealed; since it is equally dangerous to man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing God.
587. This religion, so great in miracles, saints, blameless
Fathers, learned and great witnesses, martyrs, established kings as
David, and Isaiah, a prince of the blood, and so great in science,
after having displayed all her miracles and all her wisdom, rejects
all this, and declares that 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 in respect to the effective cause and wise in respect to the wisdom which prepares it.
588. 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 makes us belong to it. This makes us, indeed, condemn those who do not belong to it; but it does not cause belief in those who do belong to it. It is the cross that makes them believe, ne evacuata sit crux. [I Cor. 1. 17. "Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."]And so Saint Paul, who came with wisdom and signs, says that he has come neither with wisdom nor with signs; for he came to convert. But those who come only to convince can say that they come with wisdom and with signs.
589. On the fact that the Christian religion is not the only religion.- So far is this from being a reason for believing that it is not the true one that, on the contrary, it makes us see that it is so.
590. Men must be sincere in all religions; true heathens, true Jews, true Christians.
592. The falseness of other religions.- They have no witnesses. Jews have. God defies other religions to produce such signs: Isaiah 43. 9; 44. 8.
593. History of China.- I believe only the histories, whose
witnesses got themselves killed.
Which is the more credible of the two, Moses or China?
It is not a question of seeing this summarily. I tell you there is in it something to blind, and something to enlighten.
By this one word I destroy all your reasoning. "But China obscures," say you; and I answer, "China obscures, but there is clearness to be found; seek it."
Thus all that you say makes for one of the views and not at all against the other.
So this serves, and does no harm.
We must, then, see this in detail; we must put the papers on the table.
594. Against the history of China.- The historians of Mexico,
the five suns, of which the last is only eight hundred years old.
The difference between a book accepted by a nation and one which makes a nation.
595. Mahomet was without authority. His reasons, then, should have been very strong, having only their own force. What does he say, then, that we must believe him?
596. The Psalms are chanted throughout the whole world.
Who renders testimony to Mahomet? Himself. Jesus Christ desires
His own testimony to be as nothing.
The quality of witnesses necessitates their existence always and everywhere; and he, miserable creature, is alone.
597. 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 denied it.
The Koran says Saint Matthew was an honest man. Therefore Mahomet was a false prophet for calling honest men wicked, or for not agreeing with what they have said of Jesus Christ.
598. It is not by that which is obscure in Mahomet, and which
may be interpreted in a mysterious sense, that I would have him
judged, but by what is clear, as his paradise and the rest. In that he
is ridiculous. And since what is clear is ridiculous, it is not
right to take his obscurities for mysteries.
It is not the same with the Scripture. I agree that there are in it obscurities as strange as those of Mahomet; but there are admirably clear passages, and the prophecies are manifestly fulfilled. The cases are, therefore, not on a par. We must not confound and put on one level things which only resemble each other in their obscurity, and not in the clearness, which requires us to reverence the obscurities.
599. The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.- Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold.
Mahomet slew; Jesus Christ caused His own to be slain.
Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered reading.
In fact, the two are so opposed that, if Mahomet took the way to succeed from a worldly point of view, Jesus Christ, from the same point of view, took the way to perish. And instead of concluding that, since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ might well have succeeded, we ought to say that, since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ should have failed.
600. Any man can do what Mahomet has done; for he performed no miracles, he was not foretold. No man can do what Christ has done.
601. The heathen religion has no foundation at the present day. It
is said once to have had a foundation by the oracles which spoke.
But what are the books which assure us of this? Are they so worthy
of belief on account of the virtue of their authors? Have they been
preserved with such care that we can be sure that they have not been
The Mahometan religion has for a foundation the Koran and Mahomet. But has this prophet, who was to be the last hope of the world, been foretold? What sign has he that every other man has not who chooses to call himself a prophet? What miracles does he himself say that he has done? What mysteries has he taught, even according to his own tradition? What was the morality, what the happiness held out by him?
The Jewish religion must be differently regarded in the tradition of the Holy Bible and in the tradition of the people. Its morality and happiness are absurd in the tradition of the people, but are admirable in that of the Holy Bible. (And all religion is the same; for the Christian religion is very different in the Holy Bible and in the casuists.) The foundation is admirable; it is the most ancient book in the world, and the most authentic; and whereas Mahomet, in order to make his own book continue in existence, forbade men to read it, Moses, for the same reason, ordered every one to read his.
Our religion is so divine that another divine religion has only been the foundation of it.
602. Order.- To see what is clear and indisputable in the whole state of the Jews.
603. The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.
604. The only science contrary to common sense and human nature is that alone which has always existed among men.
605. The only religion contrary to nature, to common sense, and to our pleasure, is that alone which has always existed.
606. No religion but our own has taught that man is born in sin.
No sea of philosophers has said this. Therefore none have declared the
No sect or religion has always existed on earth, but the Christian religion.
607. Whoever judges of the Jewish religion by its coarser forms will misunderstand it. It is to be seen in the Holy Bible, and in the tradition of the prophets, who have made it plain enough that they did not interpret the law according to the letter. So our religion is divine in the Gospel, in the Apostles, and in tradition; but it is absurd in those who tamper with it. The Messiah, according to the carnal Jews, was to be a great 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 do everything without our help. Such is not the Christian religion, nor the Jewish. True Jews and true Christians have always expected a Messiah who should make them love God and by that love triumph over their enemies.
608. The carnal Jews hold a midway place between Christians and
heathens. The heathens know not God, and love the world only. The Jews
know the true God, and love the world only. The Christians know the
true God, and love not the world. Jews and heathens love the same
good. Jews and Christians know the same God.
The Jews were of two kinds; the first had only heathen affections, the other had Christian affections.
609. There are two kinds of men in each religion: among the heathen, worshippers of beasts and the worshippers of the one only God of natural religion; among the Jews, the carnal, and the spiritual, who were the Christians of the old law; among Christians, the coarser-minded, who are the Jews of the new law. The carnal Jews looked for a carnal Messiah; the coarser Christians believe that the Messiah has dispensed them from the love of God; true Jews and true Christians worship a Messiah who makes them love God.
610. To show that the true Jews and the true Christians have but
the same religion.- The religion of the Jews seemed to consist
essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in
sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the temple, in Jerusalem,
and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses.
I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God disregarded all the other things.
That God did not accept the posterity of Abraham.
That the Jews were to be punished like strangers, if they transgressed. Deut. 8. 19: "If thou do 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 the Lord destroyeth before your face."
That strangers, if they loved God, were to be received by Him as the Jews. Isaiah 56. 3: "Let not the stranger say, 'The Lord will not receive me.' The strangers who join themselves unto the Lord to serve Him and love Him, will I bring unto my holy mountain, and accept therein sacrifices, for mine house is a house of prayer."
That the true Jews considered their merit to be from God only, and not from Abraham. Isaiah 63. 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 told them that God would not accept persons. Deut. 10. 17: "God," said he, "regardeth neither persons nor sacrifices."
The Sabbath was only a sign, Exod. 31. 13; and in memory of the escape from Egypt, Deut. 5. 19. Therefore it is no longer necessary, since Egypt must be forgotten.
Circumcision was only a sign, Gen. 17. 11. And thence it came to pass that, being 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 necessary.
That the circumcision of the heart is commanded. Deut. 10. 16; Jeremiah 4. 4: "Be ye circumcised in heart; take away the superfluities of your heart, and harden yourselves not. For your God is a mighty God, strong and terrible, who accepteth not persons."
That God said He would one day do it. Deut. 30. 6: "God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, that thou mayest love Him with all thine heart."
That the uncircumcised in heart shall be judged. Jeremiah 9. 26: For God will judge the uncircumcised peoples, and all the people of Israel, because he is "uncircumcised in heart."
That the external is of no avail apart from the internal. Joel 2. 13: Scindite corda vestra, ["Rend your heart."] etc.; Isaiah 58. 3, 4, etc.
The love of God is enjoined in the whole of Deuteronomy. Deut. 30. 19: "I call heaven and earth to record that I have set before you life and death, that you should choose life, and love God, and obey Him, for God is your life."
That the Jews, for lack of that love, should be rejected for their offences, and the heathen chosen in their stead. Hosea 1. 10; Deut. 32. 20. "I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be, for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God... and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people... and with a foolish nation." Isaiah 65. 1. That temporal goods are false, and that the true good is to be united to God. Psalm 143. 15. That their feasts are displeasing to God. Amos 5. 21. That the sacrifices of the Jews displeased God. Isaiah 66. 1-3; 1. 11; Jer. 6. 20; David, Miserere. [Ps. 9. 14. "Have mercy."] Even on the part of the good, Expectavi. [Ps. 9. 14. "Have mercy."] Psalm 49. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.
Is. 5. 7. "He has looked for."
That He has established them only for their hardness. Micah, admirably, 6; I Kings 15. 22; Hosea 6. 6.
That the sacrifices of the Gentiles will be accepted of God, and that God will take no pleasure in the sacrifices of the Jews. Malachi 1. 11.
That God will make a new covenant with the Messiah, and the old will be annulled. Jer. 31. 31. Mandata non bona. [Ezek. 20. 25. Praecepta non bona. "Statutes that were not good."]
That the old things will be forgotten. Isaiah 43. 18, 19; 65. 17, 10
That the Ark will no longer be remembered. Jer. 3. 15, 16
That the temple should be rejected. Jer 7. 12, 13, 14.
That the sacrifices should be rejected, and other pure sacrifices established. Malachi 1. 11.
That the order of Aaron's priesthood should be rejected, and that of Melchizedek introduced by the Messiah. Ps. Dixit Dominus.
That this priesthood should be eternal. Ibid.
That Jerusalem should be rejected, and Rome admitted, Ibid.
That the name of the Jews should be rejected, and a new name given. Isaiah 65. 15.
That this last name should be more excellent than that of the Jews, and eternal. Isaiah 56. 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. 31. 36
611. Republic.-- The Christian republic -- and even the Jewish -- has
only had God for ruler, as Philo the Jew notices, On Monarchy.
When they fought, it was for God only; their chief hope was in God only; they considered their towns as belonging to God only, and kept them for God. I Chron. 19. 13.
612. Gen. 17. 7. Statuam pactum meum inter me et te foedere
sempiterno... us sim Deus tuus... ["I will establish my covenant
between me and Thee for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto Thee."]
Et tu ergo custodies pactum meum. [Gen. 17. 9. "Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore."]
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 should have come. All things have passed away, and this has endured, for which all things are.
Men have in the first age of the world been carried away into every kind of debauchery, and yet there were saints, as Enoch, Lamech, and others, who waited patiently for the Christ promised from the beginning of the world. Noah saw the wickedness of men at its height; and he was held worthy to save the world in his person, by the hope of the Messiah of whom he was the type. Abraham was surrounded by idolaters, when God made known to him the mystery of the Messiah, whom he welcomed from afar. In the time of Isaac and Jacob, abomination was spread over all the earth; but these saints lived in faith; and Jacob, dying and blessing his children, cried in a transport which made him break off his discourse, "I await, O my God, the Saviour whom Thou hast promised. Salutare tuum expectabo, Domine." [Gen. 49. 18. "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord."] The Egyptians were infected both with idolatry and magic; the very people of God were led astray by their example. Yet Moses and others believed Him whom they saw not, and worshipped Him, looking to the eternal gifts which He was preparing for them.
The Greeks and Latins then set up false deities; the poets made a hundred different theologies, while the philosophers separated into a thousand different sects; and yet in the heart of Judaea there were always chosen men who foretold the coming of this Messiah, which was known to them alone.
He came at length in the fullness of time, and time has since witnessed the birth of so many schisms and heresies, so many political revolutions, so many changes in all things; yet this Church, which worships Him who has always been worshipped, has endured uninterruptedly. It is a wonderful, incomparable, and altogether divine fact that this religion, which has always endured, has always been attacked. It has been a thousand times on the eve of universal destruction, and every time it has been in that state, God has restored it by extraordinary acts of His power. This is astonishing, as also that it has preserved itself without yielding to the will of tyrants. For it is not strange that a State endures, when its laws are sometimes made to give way to necessity, but that... (See the passage indicated in Montaigne.) [Essays, 1. 22.]
614. States would perish if they did not often make their laws give way to necessity. But religion has never suffered this, or practised it. Indeed, there must be these compromises or miracles. It is not strange to be saved by yieldings, and this is not strictly self-preservation; besides, in the end they perish entirely. None has endured a thousand years. But the fact that this religion has always maintained itself, inflexible as it is, proves its divinity.
615. Whatever may be said, it must be admitted that the Christian religion has something astonishing in it. Some will say, "This is because you were born in it." Far from it; I stiffen myself against it for this very reason, for fear this prejudice bias me. But, although I am born in it, I cannot help finding it so.
616. Perpetuity.- The Messiah has always been believed in. The tradition from Adam was fresh in Noah and in Moses. Since then the prophets have foretold him, while at the same time foretelling other things, which, being from time to time fulfilled in the sight of men, showed the truth of their mission, and consequently that of their promises touching the Messiah. Jesus Christ performed miracles, and the Apostles also, who converted all the heathen; and all the prophecies being thereby fulfilled, the Messiah is for ever proved.
617. Perpetuity.- Let us consider that since the beginning of the world the expectation of worship of the Messiah has existed uninterruptedly; that there have been found men who said that God had revealed to them that a Redeemer was to be born, who should save His people; that Abraham came afterwards, saying that he had had revelation that the Messiah was to spring from him by a son, whom he should have; 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 coming; that they said their law was only temporary till that of the Messiah, that it should endure till then, but that the other should last for ever; that thus either their law, or that of the Messiah, of which it was the promise, would be always upon the earth; that, in fact, it has always endured; that at last Jesus Christ came with all the circumstances foretold. This is wonderful.
618. This is positive fact. While all philosophers separate into
different sects, there is found in one corner of the world the most
ancient people in it, declaring that all the world is in error, that
God has revealed to them the truth, that they will always exist on the
earth. In fact, all other seas come to an end, this one still endures,
and has done so for four thousand years.
They declare that they hold from their ancestors that man has fallen from communion with God, and is entirely estranged from God, but that He has promised to redeem them; that this doctrine shall always exist on the earth; that their law has a double signification; 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, because Jesus Christ was to be everywhere announced; that Jesus Christ came in the manner, and at the time foretold; that the Jews have since been scattered abroad under a curse and, nevertheless, still exist.
619. I see the Christian religion founded upon a preceding
religion, and this is what I find as a 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 put in evidence all those foundations of the Christian religion which are beyond doubt and which cannot be called in question by any person whatsoever. It is certain that we see in many places of the world a peculiar people, separated from all other peoples of the world and called the Jewish people.
I see then a crowd of religions in many parts of the world and in all times; but their morality cannot please me, nor can their proofs convince me. Thus I should equally have rejected 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 anything which should necessarily persuade me, reason cannot incline to one rather than the other.
But, in thus considering this changeable and singular variety of morals and beliefs at different times, I find in one corner of the world a peculiar people, separated from all other peoples on earth, the most ancient of all, and whose histories are earlier by many generations than the most ancient which we possess.
I find, then, this great and numerous people, sprung from a single man, who worship one God and guide themselves by a law which they say that they obtained from His own hand. They maintain that they are the only people in the world to whom God has revealed His mysteries; that all men are corrupt and in disgrace with God; that they are all abandoned to their senses and their own imagination, whence come the strange errors and continual changes which happen among them, both of religions and of morals, whereas they themselves remain firm in their conduct; but that God will not leave other nations in this darkness for ever; that there will come a Saviour for all; that they are in the world to announce Him to men; that they are expressly formed to be forerunners and heralds of this great event and to summon all nations to join with them in the expectation of this Saviour.
To meet with this people is astonishing to me, and seems to me worthy of attention. I look at the law which they boast of having obtained from God, and I find it admirable. It is the first law of all and is of such a kind that, even before the term law was in currency among the Greeks, it had, for nearly a thousand years earlier, been uninterruptedly accepted and observed by the Jews. I likewise think it strange that the first law of the world happens to be the most perfect; so that the greatest legislators have borrowed their laws from it, as is apparent from the law of the Twelve Tables at Athens, afterwards taken by the Romans, and as it would be easy to prove, if Josephus and others had not sufficiently dealt with this subject.
620. Advantages of the Jewish people.- In this search the Jewish
people at once attracts my attention by the number of wonderful and
singular facts which appear about them.
I first see 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 wonderfully fruitful, has all sprung from one man alone, and, being thus all one flesh, and members one of another, they constitute a powerful state of one family. This is unique.
This family, or people, is the most ancient within human knowledge, a fact which seems to me to inspire a peculiar veneration for it, especially in view of our present inquiry; since if God had from all time revealed himself to men, it is to these we must turn for knowledge of the tradition.
This people are not eminent solely by their antiquity, but are also singular by their duration, which has always continued from their origin till now. For, whereas the nations of Greece and of Italy, of Lacedaemon, of Athens and of Rome, and others who came long after, have long since perished, these ever remain, and in spite of the endeavours of many powerful kings who have a hundred times tried to destroy them, as their historians testify, and as it is easy to conjecture from the natural order of things during so long a space of years, they have nevertheless been preserved (and this preservation has been foretold); and extending from the earliest times to the latest, their history comprehends in its duration all our histories which it preceded by a long time.
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 always observed without a break in a state. This is what Josephus admirably proves, Against Apion, and also Philo the Jew, in different places, where they point out that it is so ancient that the very name of law was only known by the oldest nation more than a thousand years afterwards; so that Homer, who has written the history of so many states, has never used the term. And it is easy to judge of its perfection by simply reading it; for we see that it has provided for all things with so great wisdom, equity, and judgement, that the most ancient legislators, Greek and Roman, having had some knowledge of it, have borrowed from it their principal laws; this is evident from what are called the Twelve Tables, and from the other proofs which Josephus gives.
But this law is at the same time the severest and strictest of all in respect to their religious worship, imposing on this people, in order to keep them to their duty, a thousand peculiar and painful observances, on pain of death. Whence it is very astonishing that it has been constantly preserved during many centuries by a people, rebellious and impatient as this one was; while all other states have changed their laws from time to time, although these were far more lenient.
The book which contains this law, the first of all, is itself the most ancient book in the world, those of Homer, Hesiod, and others, being six or seven hundred years later.
621. The creation of the deluge being past, and God no longer requiring to destroy the world, nor to create it anew, nor to give such great signs of Himself, He began to establish a people on the earth, purposely formed, who were to last until the coming of the people whom the Messiah should fashion by His spirit.
622. The creation of the world beginning to be distant, God provided a single contemporary historian, and appointed a whole people as guardians of this book, in order that this history might be the most authentic in the world, and that all men might thereby learn a fact so necessary to know, and which could only be known through that means.
623. Japhet begins the genealogy.
Joseph folds his arms, and prefers the younger.
624. 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 multitude of generations, which renders things obscure. For truth is perverted only by the change of men. And yet he puts two things, the most memorable that were ever imagined, namely, the creation and the deluge, so near that we reach from one to the other.
625. 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 understand it rightly.
626. The longevity of the patriarchs, instead of causing the loss of past history, conduced, on the contrary, to its preservation. For the reason why we are sometimes insufficiently instructed in the history of our ancestors is that we have never lived long with them, and that they are often dead before we have attained the age of reason. Now, when men lived so long, children lived long with their parents. They conversed long with them. But what else could be the subject of their talk save the history of their ancestors, since to that all history was reduced, and men did not study science or art, which now form a large part of daily conversation? We see also that in these days tribes took particular care to preserve their genealogies.
627. I believe that Joshua was the first of God's people to have this name, as Jesus Christ was the last of God's people.
628. Antiquity of the Jews.- What a difference there is between
one book and another! I am not astonished that the Greeks made the
Iliad, nor the Egyptians and the Chinese their histories.
We have only to see how this originates. These fabulous historians are not contemporaneous with the facts about which they write. Homer composes a romance, which he gives out as such, and which is received as such; for nobody doubted that Troy and Agamemnon no more existed than did the golden apple. Accordingly, he did not think of making a history, but solely a book to amuse; he is the only writer of his time; the beauty of the work has made it last, every one learns it and talks of it, it is necessary to know it, and each one knows it by heart. Four hundred years afterwards the witnesses of these facts are no longer alive, no one knows of his own knowledge if it be a fable or a history; one has only learnt it from his ancestors, and this can pass for truth.
Every history which is not contemporaneous, as the books of the Sibyls and Trismegistus, and so many others which have been believed by the world, are false, and found to be false in the course of time. It is not so with contemporaneous writers.
There is a great difference between a book which an individual writes and publishes to a nation, and a book which itself creates a nation. We cannot doubt that the book is as old as the people.
629. Josephus hides the shame of his nation.
Moses does not hide his own shame.
Quis mihi det ut omnes prophetent? [Num. 11. 29 Quis tribuat ut omnis populus prophetet. "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets."]
He was weary of the multitude.
630. The sincerity of the Jews.- Maccabees, after they had no more
prophets; the Masorah, since Jesus Christ.
This book will be a testimony for you.
Defective and final letters.
Sincere against their honour, and dying for it; this has no example in the world, and no root in nature.
631. Sincerity of the Jews.- They preserve lovingly and
carefully 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; but that he calls heaven and earth to witness
against them and that he has taught them enough.
He declares that God, being angry with them, shall at last scatter them among all the nations of the earth; that as they have offended Him by worshipping gods who were not their God, so He will provoke them by calling a people who are not His people; that He desires that all His words be preserved for ever, and that His book be placed in the Ark of the Covenant to serve for ever as a witness against them.
Isaiah says the same thing, 30.
632. On Esdras.- The story that the books were burnt with the
temple proved false by Maccabees: "Jeremiah gave them the law."
The story that he recited the whole by heart. Josephus and Esdras point out that he read the book. Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici a Christo Nato ad Annum 1198, 180: Nullus penitus Hebraeorum antiquorum reperitur qui tradiderit libros periisse et per Esdram esse restitutos, nisi in IV Esdrae.
The story that he changed the letters.
Philo, in Vita Mosis: Illa lingua ac character quo antiquitus scripta est lex sic permansit usque ad LXX.
Josephus says that the Law was in Hebrew when it was translated by the Seventy.
Under Antiochus and Vespasian, when they wanted to abolish the books, and when there was no prophet, they could not do so. And under the Babylonians, when no persecution had been made, and when there were so many prophets, would they have let them be burnt? Josephus laughs at the Greeks who would not hear...
Tertullian: Perinde potuit abolefactam eam violentia cataclysmi in spiritu rursus reformare, quemadmodum et Hierosolymis Babylonia expugnatione deletis, omne instrumentum Judaicae literaturae per Esdram constat restauratum. [De cultu feminarum, i-3. "He could equally have renewed it, under the Spirit's inspiration, after it had been destroyed by the violence of the deluge, as, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian storming of it, every document of the Jewish literature is generally agreed to have been restored through Ezra."]
He says that Noah could as easily have restored in spirit the book of Enoch, destroyed by the Deluge, as Esdras could have restored the Scriptures lost during the Captivity.
(Theos) en te epi Nabouchodonosor aichmalosia tou laou, diaphthareison ton Graphon... enepneuse 'Esdra to ierei, ek tes phules Leui tous ton progegonoton propheton pantas anataxasthai logous, kai apokatastesai to lae ten dia Mouseos nomothesian. He alleges this to prove that it is not incredible that the Seventy may have explained the Holy Scriptures with that uniformity which we admire in them. And he took that from Saint Irenaeus.
Saint Hilary, in his preface to the Psalms, says that Esdras arranged the Psalms in order.
The origin of this tradition comes from the 14th chapter of the fourth book of Esdras. Deus glorificatus est, et Scripturae vere divinae creditae sunt, omnibus eandem et eisdem verbis et eisdem nominibus recitantibus ab initio usque ad finem, uti et praesentes gentes cognoscerent quoniam per inspirationem Dei interpretatae sunt Scripturae, et non esset mirabile Deum hoc in eis operatum: quando in ea captivitate populi quae facta est a Nabuchodonosor, corruptis scripturis et post 70 annos Judaeis descendentibus in regionem suam, et post deinde temporibus Artaxerxis Persarum regis, inspiravit Esdrae sacerdoti tribus Levi praeteritorum prophetarum omnes rememorare sermones, et restituere populo eam legem quae data est per Moysen. [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, V. viii. 14. "God was glorified, and the Scriptures were recognized as truly divine, for they all rendered the same things in the same words and the same names, from beginning to end, so that even the heathen who were present knew that the Scriptures had been translated by the inspiration of God. And it is no marvel that God did this, for when the Scriptures had been destroyed in the captivity of the people in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Jews had gone back to their country after seventy years, then in the times of Artaxerxes, the king of the Persians, he inspired Ezra, the priest of the tribe of Levi, to restore all the sayings of the prophets who had gone before, and to restore to the people the law given by Moses." This is Pascal's rendering into Latin of the passage from Eusebius of which the last lines are in Greek, above.]
633. Against the story in Esdras, II Maccab. 2.; Josephus,
Antiquities, II, i.- Cyrus took occasion from the prophecy of Isaiah
to release the people. The Jews held their property in peace under
Cyrus in Babylon; hence they could well have the law.
Josephus, in the whole history of Esdras, does not say one word about this restoration. II Kings 17. 27.
634. If the story in Esdras is credible, then it must be
believed that the Scripture is Holy Scripture; for this story is based
only on the authority of those who assert that of the Seventy, which
shows that the Scripture is holy.
Therefore, if this account be true, we have what we want therein; if not, we have it elsewhere. And thus those who would ruin the truth of our religion, founded on Moses, establish it by the same authority by which they attack it. So by this providence it still exists.
635. Chronology of Rabbinism. (The citations of pages are from the
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.
636. If does not indicate indifference: Malachi, Isaiah.
Isaiah, Si volumus, etc.
In quacumque die. ["Each time that."]
637. Prophecies.- The sceptre was not interrupted by the captivity in Babylon, because the return was promised and foretold.
638. Proofs of Jesus Christ.- Captivity, with the assurance of
deliverance within seventy years, was not real captivity. But now they
are captives without any hope.
God has promised them that, even though He should scatter them to the ends of the earth, nevertheless, if they were faithful to His law, He would assemble them together again. They are very faithful to it and remain oppressed.
639. When Nebuchadnezzar carried away the people, for fear they should believe that the sceptre had departed from Judah, they were told beforehand that they would be there for a short time, and that they would be restored. They were always consoled by the prophets; and their kings continued. But the second destruction is without promise of restoration, without prophets, without kings, without consolation, without hope, because the sceptre is taken away for ever.
640. It is a wonderful thing, and worthy of particular attention, to see this Jewish people existing so many years in perpetual misery, it being necessary as a proof of Jesus Christ both that they should exist to prove Him and that they should be miserable because they crucified Him; and though to be miserable and to exist are contradictory, they nevertheless still exist in spite of their misery.
641. They are visibly a people expressly created to serve as a witness to the Messiah (Isaiah 43. 9; 44. 8). They keep the books, and love them, and do not understand them. And all this was foretold; that God's judgments are entrusted to them, but as a sealed book.