Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

97. Naturally men hate each other. Much use has been made of human corruption, to make it subserve the public good. But then, all this is but deception; a false semblance of charity ; really it is only hatred after all. This vile resource of human nature, this figmentum malum is only covered. It is not removed.

98. They, who say that man is too insignificant to be admitted to communion with God, had need be more than ordinarily great to know it assuredly.

99. It is unworthy of God to join himself to man in his miserable degradation; but it is not so to bring him forth from that misery.

100. Who ever heard such absurdities? sinners purified without penitence; just men made perfect without the grace of Christ; God without a controlling power over the human will; predestination without mystery; and a Redeemer without the certainty of salvation.

103. That Christianity is not the only religion, is no real objection to its being true. On the contrary, this is one of the means of proof that it is true.

104. In a state established as a republic, like Venice, it were a great sin to try to force a king upon them, and to rob the people of that liberty which God had given them. But in a state where monarchical power has been admitted, we cannot violate the respect due to the king, without a degree of sacrilege; for as the power that God has conferred on him, is not only a representation, but a participation of the power of God, we may not oppose it without resisting manifestly the ordinance of God. Moreover, as civil war, which is the consequence of such resistance, is one of the greatest evils that we can commit in violation of the love of our neighbour, we can never sufficiently magnify the greatness of the crime. The primitive Christians did not teach us revolt, but patience, when kings trampled upon their rights.

I am as far removed from the probability of this sin, as from assassination and robbery on the highway. There is nothing more contrary to my natural disposition, and to which I am less tempted.

105. Eloquence is the art of saying things in such a manner, that in the first place, those to whom we speak, may hear them without pain, and with pleasure; and, in the second, that they may feel interested in them, and be led by their own self-love, to a more willing reflection on them. It consists in the endeavour to establish a correspondence between the understanding and heart of those to whom we speak, on the one hand, and the thoughts and expressions of which, we make use on the other; an idea which supposes, at the outset, that we have well studied the human heart, to know all its recesses, and rightly to arrange the proportions of a discourse, calculated to meet it. We ought to put ourselves in the place of those to whom we speak, and try upon our own heart, the turn of thought which we give to a discourse, and thus ascertain if the one is adapted to the other, and if we can in this way acquire the conviction, that the hearer will be compelled to surrender to it. Our strength should be, in being simple and natural, neither inflating that which is little, nor lowering that which is really grand. It is not enough that the statement be beautiful. It should suit the subject, having nothing exuberant, nothing defective.

Eloquence is a pictural representation of thought; and hence, those who, after having painted it, make additions to it, give us a fancy picture, but not a por

trait. *

106. The Holy Scripture is not a science of the understanding, but of the heart. It is intelligible only to those who have an honest and good heart. The veil that is upon the Scriptures, in the case of the Jews, is there also in the case of Christians. Charity is not only the end of the Holy Scriptures, but the entrance to them.

107. If we are to do nothing, but where we have

* These views are worthy of the serious consideration of every public speaker. A. E.

*

the advantage of certainty, then we should do nothing in religion ; for religion is not a matter of certainty. But how many things we do uncertainly, as sea-voyages, battles, &c. I say then, that we should do nothing at all, for nothing is certain. There is more of certainty in religion, than in the hope that we shall see the morrow; for it is not certain that we shall see the morrow. But it is possible, that we may not see tomorrow. And this cannot be affirmed of religion.It is not certain that religion is ; but who will dare to say, that it is certainly possible that it is not. Now when we labor for to-morrow, and upon an uncertainty, reason justifies us.f

108. Tlie inventions of men progressively improve from age to age. The goodness and the wickedness. of men in general remains the same.

109. A man must acquire a habit of more philosophic speculation and thought on what he sees, and form his judgment of things by that, while he speaks generally to others in more popular language.

111. | Casual circumstances give rise to thoughts, and take them away again; there is no art of creating or preserving them.

112. You think that the church should not judge of the inward man, because this belongs only to God; nor of the outward man, because God judges of the heart; and thus, destroying all power of discriminating human character, you retain within the church the most dissolute of men, and men who so manifestly disgrace it, that even the synagogues of the Jews, and the sects of philosophers would have rejected them as worthless, and consigned them to abhorrence.

* That is, we know of possible events by which this might be the case.

+ The term certainty, as often used by Pascal, seems to have reference to mathematical demonstration. A. E.

# The thought 110, is not found in the MSS. but only in the edition of Condorcet, an authority certainly not to be followed.

113. Whoever will, may now be made a priest, as in the days of Jeroboam.

114. The multitude which is not brought to act as unity, is confusion. That unity which has not its origin in the multitude, is tyranny.

115. Men consult only the ear, for want of the heart.

116. We should be able to say in every dialogue or discourse, to those who are offended at it, “Of what can you complain ???

117. Children are alarmed at the face which they have themselves disguised; but how is it, that he who is so weak, as an infant, is so bold in maturer years ? Alas, his weakness has only changed its subject !

118. It is alike incomprehensible that God is, and that he is not; that the soul is in the body, and that we have no soul; that the world is, or is not created; that there is, or is not such a thing as original sin.

119. The statements of Atheists ought to be perfectly clear of doubt. Now it is not perfectly clear, that the soul is material. 120. Unbelievers the most credulous !

They believe the miracles of Vespasian, that they may not believe the miracles of Moses.

On the Philosophy of Descartes.* We'may say generally, the world is made by figure and motion, for that is true; to say what figure and motion, and to specify the composition of the machine, is perfectly ridiculous; for it is useless, questionable, and laborious. But, if it be all true, the whole of the philosophy is not worth an hour's thought.

* A French philosopher, who died in 1650. His « doctrine of vortices,” by which he explained many of the phenomena of the heavenly bodies, was completely exploded by Newton.

A. E.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXII.

THOUGHTS ON DEATH, EXTRACTED FROM A LETTER OF M.

PASCAL, ON THE OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER.

When we are in affliction, owing to the death of some friend whom we loved, or some other misfortune that has happened to us, we ought not to seek for consolation in ourselves, nor in our fellow-creatures, nor in any created thing ; we should seek it in God only. And the reason is, that creatures are not the primary cause 'of those occurrences which we call evils. But that the providence of God being the true and sole cause of them, the ar biter and the sovereign, we ought, undoubtedly, to have recourse directly to their source, and ascend even to their origin, to obtain satisfactory alleviation. For, if we follow this precept, and consider this afflicting bereavement, not as the result of chance, nor as a fatal necessity of our nature, nor as the sport of those elements and atoms of which man is formed (for God has not abandoned his elect to the risk of caprice or chance) but as the indispensable, inevitable, just, and holy result of a decree of the providence of God, to be executed in the fulness of time ; and, in fact, that all which happens has been eternally present and pre-ordained in God; if, I say, by the teachings of grace we consider this casualty, not in itself, and independently of God, but viewed independently of self, and as in the will of God, and in the justice of his decree, and the order of his Providence; which is, in fact, the true cause, without which it could not have happened, by which alone it has happened, and happened in the precise manner in which it has; we should adore in humble silence the inaccessible elevation of His secrecy; we should venerate the holiness of His decrees; we should bless the course of His providence; and, uniting our will to

« PoprzedniaDalej »