Blaise Pascal.

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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 adhæret Deo unus spiritus est._[180]

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.

_Adhærens Deo unus spiritus est._ We love ourselves, because we are
members of Jesus Christ. We love Jesus Christ, because He is the body of
which we are members. All is one, one is in the other, like the Three


Two laws[181] suffice to rule the whole Christian Republic better than
all the laws of statecraft.


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;[182]
the universal good is within us, is ourselves - and not ourselves.


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.


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.


... 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.


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.


Men, not being accustomed to form merit, but only to recompense it where
they find it formed, judge of God by themselves.


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.


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.


The true religion teaches our duties; our weaknesses, pride, and lust;
and the remedies, humility and mortification.


The true religion must teach greatness and misery; must lead to the
esteem and contempt of self, to love and to hate.


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


Experience makes us see an enormous difference between piety and


_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 in judicium_,[183] 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,"[184] and that other of the Ninevites: "Let us do penance to
see if peradventure He will pity us."[185] 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.


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,"[186] He says, "and to teach them
of this war. I came to bring fire and the sword."[187] Before Him the
world lived in this false peace.


_External works._ - There is 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 thereby humbled, than to fast and be
self-satisfied therewith. The Pharisee and the Publican.[188]

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 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?


The meaning of the words, good and evil.


First step: to be blamed for doing evil, and praised for doing good.

Second step: to be neither praised, nor blamed.


Abraham[189] took nothing for himself, but only for his servants. So the
righteous man takes for himself nothing of the world, nor 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._[190] 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.


Philosophers have consecrated the vices by placing them in God Himself.
Christians have consecrated the virtues.


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.


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

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.


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!


The spirit of grace; the hardness of the heart; external circumstances.


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.


_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!


Man is not worthy of God, but he is not incapable of being made worthy.

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.


If we would say that man is too insignificant to deserve communion with
God, we must indeed be very great to judge of it.


It is, in peculiar phraseology, wholly the body of Jesus Christ, but it
cannot be said to be the whole body of Jesus Christ.[191] 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 numers_ in regard to the same time requires the identity of

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.


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.

Meruit tam sacra membra tangere.

Digno tam sacra membra tangere.

Non sum dignus.[192]

Qui manducat indignus[193]

Dignus est accipere.[194]

Dignare me._

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

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.


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?"


Romans iii, 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.


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.


Every condition, and even the martyrs, have to fear, according to

The greatest pain of purgatory is the uncertainty of the judgment. _Deus


John viii. _Multi crediderunt in eum. Dicebat ergo Jesus: "Si
manseritis_ ... VERE _mei discipuli eritis, et_ VERITAS LIBERABIT VOS."
_Responderunt: "Semen Abrahæ sumus, et nemini servimus unquam."_

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


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.


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.


The law imposed what it did not give. Grace gives what is imposes.


All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam, and all morality in lust
and in grace.


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.


The philosophers did not prescribe feelings suitable to the two states.

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.


Misery induces despair, pride induces presumption. The Incarnation shows
man the greatness of his misery by the greatness of the remedy which he


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.


Jesus Christ is a God whom we approach without pride, and before whom we
humble ourselves without despair.


... Not a degradation which renders us incapable of good, nor a holiness
exempt from evil.


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.


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_,[197] 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.


Scripture has provided passages of consolation and of warning for all

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.


_Comminutum cor_ (Saint Paul). This is the Christian character. _Alba
has named you, I know you no more_ (Corneille).[198] That is the inhuman
character. The human character is the opposite.


There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe themselves
sinners; the rest, sinners, who believe themselves righteous.


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.


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_.[199] 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


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.


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!


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


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.


None is so happy as a true Christian, nor so reasonable, virtuous, or


The Christian religion alone makes man altogether _lovable and happy_.
In honesty, we cannot perhaps be altogether lovable and happy.


_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._[200]

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.


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.


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.


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,


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

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 prædicationis salvos facere._[201]


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.


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._


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 all.

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.


_Dignior plagis quam osculis non timeo quia amo._


_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.


_The Mystery of Jesus._ - Jesus suffers in His passions the torments

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Online LibraryBlaise PascalPascal's Pensées → online text (page 13 of 26)