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other, since you cannot but choose one. Here then is one point settled. But now of your happiness ? Bal. ance the gain and the loss there. Upon taking the risk that God is, if you win, you win everything:it you lose, you lose nothing. Believe then if you can.
A. Well, I see I must wager; but I may risk too much. B. Let us see.
Where there is equal risk of loss or gain, if you have but two lives to gain, and but one to lose, you may venture safely. If again there were ten lives to gain, and the chances equal, then it were actually imprudent not to risk your one life to gain the ten. But in this case where you have with equal chance of gain or loss, an infinity of lives, infinitely happy, to gain ;
where the stake which you play, is a thing so trifling and transient, to hesitate from a false preference to it, is absolute folly.
For it answers no purpose to allege the uncertainty of winning, and the certainty of the risk; or to say that the infinite distance between the certainty of that which we hazard, and the uncertainty of that which we may gain, raises the value of the finite good which we stake, to an equality with the infinite good which is uncertain: for this is notthe case. He who plays, must risk a certainty for an uncertainty ; and though he risks a finite certainty for a finite uncertainty, it can be shewn he does not act foolishly. It is false that there is an infinite distance between the certainty we hazard, and the uncertainty of winning. Though it is true that there is an infinite distance between the certainty of gaining and the certainty of losing. But the uncertainty of winning is in proportion to the certainty which is hazarded, according to the proportion of the chances of gain or loss. And hence it follows, that if the risks be equal on both sides, then the match to be played is equal against equal; and then the certainty of that which is hazarded, is equal to the uncertainty of winning; so far is it from being infinitely distant. And thus our proposition is of infinite force, since we have but that which is finite to haz
ard, and that which is infinite to gain, in a play where the chances of gain or loss are equal. This is demonstration, and if men can discern truth at all, they should perceive this.
A. I admit this : but is there no mode of getting at the principles of the game?
B. Yes, by the Scriptures, and by the other innumerable proofs of religion.
A. They, you will say, who hope for salvation, are happy in that hope. But is it not counterbalanced by the fear of hell ?
B. But who has most reason to fear that hell? He who is ignorant that there is a hell, and is certain ot' damnation if there is; or he who is convinced of its existence, and lives in the hope of escaping it? He who had but eight days to live, and should conceive that the wisest course for him is, to believe that all this is a matter of mere chance, must be totally demented. Now, if we were not enslaved by our passions, eight days, or a hundred years are precisely the same thing
And what harm will arise from taking this side ? You would become faithful, pure, humble, grateful, beneficent, sincere and true. I grant that you would not be given up to polluting pleasures, to false glory, or false joys. But then, have you not other pleasures? I affirm that you would be a gainer, even in this life ; and that every step you go forward, you will see so much of the certainty of what you will gain, and so much of the utter insignificance of what you risk, that you will in the end discover, that you ventured for a good, both infinite and certain, and that to get it, you have given nothing.
A. But I am so constituted that I cannot believe. What then shall I do?
B. Learn, at least, your inaptitude to believe, seeing that reason suggests belief, as your wisdom, and yet you remain unbelieving. Aim, then, to obtain conviction, not by any increase of proof of the existence of God, but by the discipline and control of your
own passions. You wish to obtain faith, but you know not the way to it. You wish to be cured of intidelity, and you ask for the remedy. Learn it, then, from those who have been, what you are, and who now have no doubt. They he way for which you are seeking, and they are healed of a disease for which you seek a cure.
Follow their course, then, from its beginning. Imitate, at least, their outward actions, and if you cannot yet realize their internal feelings, quit, at all events, those vain pursuits, in which you have been hitherto entirely engrossed.
Ah, say you, I could soon renounce these pleasures, if I had faith; and I answer you would soon have faith, if you would renounce those pleasures. It is for you to begin. If I could, I would give you' faith, but I cannot; and consequently, I cannot prove the sincerity of your assertion; but you can abandon your pleasures, and thus make experiment of the truth of mine.
A. This argument delights me.
B. If so, if this argument pleases you, and appears weighty, know also that it comes from a man, who, both before and afterwards, went on his kness before Him who is infinite, and without parts, and to whom he has himself entirely submitted, with prayer, that he would also subject you to himself for your good, and his glory; and that thus Omnipotence might bless his weakness. *
We ought not to misconceive our own nature. We are body as well as spirit; and hence demonstration is not the only channel of persuasion. How few things are capable of demonstration! Such proof, too, only convinces the understanding : custom gives the most conclusive proof, for it influences the senses, and by
• In the translation by Mr. Craig, no part of this Chapter appears in the form of a dialogue. But there is a very obvi ous interlocution between Pascal and an unbeliever. I have therefore seen fit to publish this Chapter according to the plan of a late Paris edition.
them, the judgment is carried along without being aware of it. Who has proved the coming of the morrow, or the fact of our own death; And yet what is more universally believed? It is then custom which persuades
Custom makes so many Turks and Pagans. Custom makes artisans and soldiers, &c. True, we must not begin here to search for truth, but we may have recourse to it when we have found out where the truth lies, in order to endue ourselves more thoroughly with that belief, which otherwise would fade. For to have the series of proofs incessantly before the mind, is more than we are equal to. We must acquire a more easy method of belief; that of habit, which, without violence, without art, and without argument, inclines all our powers to this belief, so that the mind glides into it naturally. It is not enough to believe only by the strength of rational conviction, while the senses incline us to believe the contrary. Our two powers must go forth together; the understanding, led by those reasonings which it suffices to have examined thoroughly once: the affections, by habit, which keeps them perpetually from wandering.
MARKS OF THE TRUE RELIGION.
TRUE religion should be marked by the obligation to love God.
This is essentially right; and yet no religion but the Christian has ever enjoined it.
True religion ought also to recognize the depraved appetite of man, and his utter inability to become virtuous by his own endeavors. It should have pointed out the proper remedies for this evil, of which prayer is the principal. Our religion has done all this; and no other has ever taught to ask of God the power to love and serve him.
2. Another feature of true religion, would be the
knowledge of our nature. For the true knowledge of our nature, of its true happiness, of true virtue, and true religion, are things essentially united. It should also recognize both the greatness and the meanness. of man; together with their respective causes. What religion, but the Christian, has ever exhibited knowledge such as this?
3. Other religions, as the pagan idolatries, are more popular; their main force lies in external 'forms: but then they are ill suited to sensible men; whilst a religion, purely intellectual, would be more adapted to
sense, but it would not do for the multitude. Christianity alone adapts itself to all. It wisely blends outward forms, and inward feelings. It raises the common people to abstract thought; and at the same time, abases the pride of the most intellectual,, to the performance of outward duties; and is never complete, but in the union of these two results. For it is necessary that the people understand the spirit of the letter, and that the learned submit their spirit to the letter, in the compliance with external forms.
4. Even reason teaches us that we deserve to be hated; yet no religion, but the Christian, requires us to hate ourselves. No other religion, therefore, can be received by those who know themselves to be worthy of nothing but hatred.
No other religion but the Christian, has admitted that man is the most excellent of all visible creatures, and, at the same time, the most miserable.
Some religions which have rightly estimated man's real worth, have•censured, as mean and ungrateful, the low opinion which men naturally entertain of their own condition. Others, well knowing the depth of his degradation, have exposed, as ridiculously vain, those notions of grandeur which are natural to men.
No other religion but ours has taught that man is born in sin: no sect of philosophers ever taught this ; therefore no sect has ever spoken the truth.
5. God is evidently withdrawn from us, and every religion, therefore, which does not teach this, is