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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,[211]
Ruth,[212] 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 had 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?


578

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.


579

Nature has some perfections to show that she is the image of God, and
some defects to show that she is only His image.


580

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.


581

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, namely, falsehood.

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.


582

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.


583

The world exists for the exercise of mercy and judgment, 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.


584

_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._


585

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.


586

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.


587

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_. 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.


SECTION IX

PERPETUITY


588

_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.


589

Men must be sincere in all religions; true heathens, true Jews, true
Christians.


590

J. C.
Heathens __|__ Mahomet
\ /
Ignorance
of God.


591

_The falseness of other religions._ - They have no witnesses. Jews have.
God defies other religions to produce such signs: Isaiah xliii, 9; xliv,
8.


592

_History of China._[213]-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.


593

_Against the history of China._ The historians of Mexico, the five
suns,[214] 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.


594

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?


595

The Psalms are chanted throughout the whole world.

Who renders testimony to Mahomet? Himself. Jesus Christ[215] desires His
own testimony to be as nothing.

The quality of witnesses necessitates their existence always and
everywhere; and he, miserable creature, is alone.


596

_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.[216] Therefore Mahomet
was a false prophet for calling honest men wicked, or for not agreeing
with what they have said of Jesus Christ.


597

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.


598

_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.


599

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.


600

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 meddled with?]

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,[217]
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.


601

_Order._ - To see what is clear and indisputable in the whole state of
the Jews.


602

The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its
perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.


603

The only science contrary to common sense and human nature is that alone
which has always existed among men.


604

The only religion contrary to nature, to common sense, and to our
pleasure, is that alone which has always existed.


605

No religion but our own has taught that man is born in sin. No sect of
philosophers has said this. Therefore none have declared the truth.

No sect or religion has always existed on earth, but the Christian
religion.


606

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,[218] 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.


607

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.


608

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.


609

_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._ viii, 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_ lvi, 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_ lxiii, 16; "Doubtless thou art our Father, though
Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not. Thou art our
Father and our Redeemer."

Moses himself told them that God would not accept persons. _Deut._ x,
17: "God," said he, "regardeth neither persons nor sacrifices."

The Sabbath was only a sign, _Exod._ xxxi, 13; and in memory of the
escape from Egypt, _Deut._ v, 19. Therefore it is no longer necessary,
since Egypt must be forgotten.

Circumcision was only a sign, _Gen._ xvii, 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._ x, 16;
_Jeremiah_ iv, 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._ xxx, 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_ ix, 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_ ii, 13:
_Scindite corda vestra_, etc.; _Isaiah_ lviii, 3, 4, etc.

The love of God is enjoined in the whole of Deuteronomy. _Deut._ xxx,
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_ i, 10; _Deut._
xxxii, 20. "I will hide myself from them in view of their latter sins,
for they are a froward generation without faith. They 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 an ignorant and foolish
nation." _Isaiah_ lxv, 1.

That temporal goods are false, and that the true good is to be united to
God. _Psalm_ cxliii, 15.

That their feasts are displeasing to God. _Amos_ v, 21.

That the sacrifices of the Jews displeased God. _Isaiah_ lxvi. 1-3; i,
II; _Jer._ vi, 20; David, _Miserere._ - Even on the part of the good,
_Expectavi_. _Psalm_ xlix, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

That He has established them only for their hardness. _Micah_,
admirably, vi; 1 _Kings_ xv, 22; _Hosea_ vi, 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_ i,
II.

That God will make a new covenant with the Messiah, and the old will be
annulled. _Jer._ xxxi, 31. _Mandata non bona. Ezek._

That the old things will be forgotten. _Isaiah_ xliii, 18, 19; lxv 17,
10.

That the Ark will no longer be remembered. _Jer._ iii, 15, 16.

That the temple should be rejected. _Jer._ vii, 12, 13, 14.

That the sacrifices should be rejected, and other pure sacrifices
established. _Malachi_ i, II.

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. _Ps. Dixit
Dominus._

That the name of the Jews should be rejected, and a new name given.
_Isaiah_ lxv, 15.

That this last name should be more excellent than that of the Jews, and
eternal. _Isaiah_ lvi, 5.

That the Jews should be without prophets (Amos), without a king, without
princes, without sacrifice, without an idol.

That the Jews should nevertheless always remain a people. _Jer._ xxxi,
36.


610

_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. 1 _Chron._ xix, 13.


611

_Gen._ xvii, 7. _Statuam pactum meum inter me et te fœdere sempiterno
... ut sim Deus tuus...._

_Et tu ergo custodies pactum meum._


612

_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.[219] 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 taum expectabo, Domine._"[220] 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 Judæa 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.)


613

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.


614

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.


615

_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.


616

_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 a 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.


617

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 sects 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.


618

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.


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