Blaise Pascal.

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The shortest way, therefore, to prevent heresies is to instruct in all
truths; and the surest way to refute them is to declare them all. For
what will the heretics say?

In order to know whether an opinion is a Father's ...


All err the more dangerously, as they each follow a truth. Their fault
is not in following a falsehood, but in not following another truth.


Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that
unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.


If there is ever a time in which we must make profession of two opposite
truths, it is when we are reproached for omitting one. Therefore the
Jesuits and Jansenists are wrong in concealing them, but the Jansenists
more so, for the Jesuits have better made profession of the two.


Two kinds of people make things equal to one another, as feasts to
working days, Christians to priests, all things among them, etc. And
hence the one party conclude that what is then bad for priests is also
so for Christians, and the other that what is not bad for Christians is
lawful for priests.


If the ancient Church was in error, the Church is fallen. If she should
be in error to-day, it is not the same thing; for she has always the
superior maxim of tradition from the hand of the ancient Church; and so
this submission and this conformity to the ancient Church prevail and
correct all. But the ancient Church did not assume the future Church,
and did not consider her, as we assume and consider the ancient.


That which hinders us in comparing what formerly occurred in the Church
with what we see there now, is that we generally look upon Saint
Athanasius,[362] Saint Theresa, and the rest, as crowned with glory, and
acting towards us as gods. Now that time has cleared up things, it does
so appear. But at the time when he was persecuted, this great saint was
a man called Athanasius; and Saint Theresa was a nun. "Elias was a man
subject to like passions as we are," says Saint James, to disabuse
Christians of that false idea which makes us reject the example of the
saints, as disproportioned to our state. "They were saints," say we,
"they are not like us." What then actually happened? Saint Athanasius
was a man called Athanasius, accused of many crimes, condemned by such
and such a council for such and such a crime. All the bishops assented
to it, and finally the Pope. What said they to those who opposed this?
That they disturbed the peace, that they created schism, etc.

Zeal, light. Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowledge; knowledge
without zeal; neither knowledge nor zeal; both zeal and knowledge. The
first three condemned him. The last acquitted him, were excommunicated
by the Church, and yet saved the Church.


If Saint Augustine came at the present time, and was as little
authorised as his defenders, he would accomplish nothing. God directs
His Church well, by having sent him before with authority.


God has not wanted to absolve without the Church. As she has part in the
offence, He desires her to have part in the pardon. He associates her
with this power, as kings their parliaments. But if she absolves or
binds without God, she is no longer the Church. For, as in the case of
parliament, even if the king have pardoned a man, it must be ratified;
but if parliament ratifies without the king, or refuses to ratify on the
order of the king, it is no longer the parliament of the king, but a
rebellious assembly.


_The Church, the Pope. Unity, plurality._ - Considering the Church as a
unity, the Pope, who is its head, is as the whole. Considering it as a
plurality, the Pope is only a part of it. The Fathers have considered
the Church now in the one way, now in the other. And thus they have
spoken differently of the Pope. (Saint Cyprian: _Sacerdos Dei._) But in
establishing one of these truths, they have not excluded the other.
Plurality which is not reduced to unity is confusion; unity which does
not depend on plurality is tyranny. There is scarcely any other country
than France in which it is permissible to say that the Council is above
the Pope.


The Pope is head. Who else is known of all? Who else is recognised by
all, having power to insinuate himself into all the body, because he
holds the principal shoot, which insinuates itself everywhere? How easy
it was to make this degenerate into tyranny! That is why Christ has laid
down for them this precept: _Vos autem non sic._[363]


The Pope hates and fears the learned, who do not submit to him at will.


We must not judge of what the Pope is by some words of the Fathers - as
the Greeks said in a council, important rules - but by the acts of the
Church and the Fathers, and by the canons.

_Duo aut tres in unum._[364] Unity and plurality. It is an error to
exclude one of the two, as the papists do who exclude plurality, or the
Huguenots who exclude unity.


Would the Pope be dishonoured by having his knowledge from God and
tradition; and is it not dishonouring him to separate him from this holy


God does not perform miracles in the ordinary conduct of His Church. It
would be a strange miracle if infallibility existed in one man. But it
appears so natural for it to reside in a multitude, since the conduct
of God is hidden under nature, as in all His other works.


Kings dispose of their own power; but the Popes cannot dispose of


_Summum jus, summa injuria._

The majority is the best way, because it is visible, and has strength to
make itself obeyed. Yet it is the opinion of the least able.

If men could have done it, they would have placed might in the hands of
justice. But as might does not allow itself to be managed as men want,
because it is a palpable quality, whereas justice is a spiritual quality
of which men dispose as they please, they have placed justice in the
hands of might. And thus that is called just which men are forced to

Hence comes the right of the sword, for the sword gives a true right.
Otherwise we should see violence on one side and justice on the other
(end of the twelfth _Provincial_). Hence comes the injustice of the
Fronde,[365] which raises its alleged justice against power. It is not
the same in the Church, for there is a true justice and no violence.


_Injustice._ - Jurisdiction is not given for the sake of the judge, but
for that of the litigant. It is dangerous to tell this to the people.
But the people have too much faith in you; it will not harm them, and
may serve you. It should therefore be made known. _Pasce oves
meas_,[366] non _tuas_. You owe me pasturage.


Men like certainty. They like the Pope to be infallible in faith, and
grave doctors to be infallible in morals, so as to have certainty.


The Church teaches, and God inspires, both infallibly. The work of the
Church is of use only as a preparation for grace or condemnation. What
it does is enough for condemnation, not for inspiration.


Every time the Jesuits may impose upon the Pope, they will make all
Christendom perjured.

The Pope is very easily imposed upon, because of his occupations, and
the confidence which he has in the Jesuits; and the Jesuits are very
capable of imposing upon him by means of calumny.


The wretches who have obliged me to speak of the basis of religion.


Sinners purified without penitence; the righteous justified without
love; all Christians without the grace of Jesus Christ; God without
power over the will of men; a predestination without mystery; a
redemption without certitude!


Any one is made a priest, who wants to be so, as under Jeroboam.[367]

It is a horrible thing that they propound to us the discipline of the
Church of to-day as so good, that it is made a crime to desire to change
it. Formerly it was infallibly good, and it was thought that it could be
changed without sin; and now, such as it is, we cannot wish it changed!
It has indeed been permitted to change the custom of not making priests
without such great circumspection, that there were hardly any who were
worthy; and it is not allowed to complain of the custom which makes so
many who are unworthy!


_Heretics._ - Ezekiel. All the heathen, and also the Prophet, spoke evil
of Israel. But the Israelites were so far from having the right to say
to him, "You speak like the heathen," that he is most forcible upon
this, that the heathen say the same as he.


The Jansenists are like the heretics in the reformation of morality; but
you are like them in evil.


You are ignorant of the prophecies, if you do not know that all this
must happen; princes, prophets, Pope, and even the priests. And yet the
Church is to abide. By the grace of God we have not come to that. Woe to
these priests! But we hope that God will bestow His mercy upon us that
we shall not be of them.

Saint Peter, ii: false prophets in the past, the image of future ones.


... So that if it is true, on the one hand, that some lax monks, and
some corrupt casuists, who are not members of the hierarchy, are steeped
in these corruptions, it is, on the other hand, certain that the true
pastors of the Church, who are the true guardians of the Divine Word,
have preserved it unchangeably against the efforts of those who have
attempted to destroy it.

And thus true believers have no pretext to follow that laxity, which is
only offered to them by the strange hands of these casuists, instead of
the sound doctrine which is presented to them by the fatherly hands of
their own pastors. And the ungodly and heretics have no ground for
publishing these abuses as evidence of imperfection in the providence of
God over His Church; since, the Church consisting properly in the body
of the hierarchy, we are so far from being able to conclude from the
present state of matters that God has abandoned her to corruption, that
it has never been more apparent than at the present time that God
visibly protects her from corruption.

For if some of these men, who, by an extraordinary vocation, have made
profession of withdrawing from the world and adopting the monks' dress,
in order to live in a more perfect state than ordinary Christians, have
fallen into excesses which horrify ordinary Christians, and have become
to us what the false prophets were among the Jews; this is a private and
personal misfortune, which must indeed be deplored, but from which
nothing can be inferred against the care which God takes of His Church;
since all these things are so clearly foretold, and it has been so long
since announced that these temptations would arise from people of this
kind; so that when we are well instructed, we see in this rather
evidence of the care of God than of His forgetfulness in regard to us.


Tertullian: _Nunquam Ecclesia reformabitur._


Heretics, who take advantage of the doctrine of the Jesuits, must be
made to know that it is not that of the Church [_the doctrine of the
Church_], and that our divisions do not separate us from the altar.


If in differing we condemned, you would be right. Uniformity without
diversity is useless to others; diversity without uniformity is ruinous
for us. The one is harmful outwardly; the other inwardly.


By showing the truth, we cause it to be believed; but by showing the
injustice of ministers, we do not correct it. Our mind is assured by a
proof of falsehood; our purse is not made secure by proof of injustice.


Those who love the Church lament to see the corruption of morals; but
laws at least exist. But these corrupt the laws. The model is damaged.


Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from
religious conviction.


It is in vain that the Church has established these words, anathemas,
heresies, etc. They are used against her.


The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, for the master tells him
only the act and not the intention.[368] And this is why he often obeys
slavishly, and defeats the intention. But Jesus Christ has told us the
object. And you defeat that object.


They cannot have perpetuity, and they seek universality; and therefore
they make the whole Church corrupt, that they may be saints.


_Against those who misuse passages of Scripture, and who pride
themselves in finding one which seems to favour their error._ - The
chapter for Vespers, Passion Sunday, the prayer for the king.

Explanation of these words: "He that is not with me is against me."[369]
And of these others: "He that is not against you is for you."[370] A
person who says: "I am neither for nor against", we ought to reply to
him ...


He who will give the meaning of Scripture, and does not take it from
Scripture, is an enemy of Scripture. (Aug., _De Doct. Christ._)


_Humilibus dat gratiam; an ideo non dedit humilitatem?[371]

Sui eum non receperunt; quotquot autem non receperunt an non erant


"It must indeed be," says Feuillant, "that this is not so certain; for
controversy indicates uncertainty, (Saint Athanasius, Saint Chrysostom,
morals, unbelievers)."

The Jesuits have not made the truth uncertain, but they have made their
own ungodliness certain.

Contradiction has always been permitted, in order to blind the wicked;
for all that offends truth or love is evil. This is the true principle.


All religions and sects in the world have had natural reason for a
guide. Christians alone have been constrained to take their rules from
without themselves, and to acquaint themselves with those which Jesus
Christ bequeathed to men of old to be handed down to true believers.
This constraint wearies these good Fathers. They desire, like other
people, to have liberty to follow their own imaginations. It is in vain
that we cry to them, as the prophets said to the Jews of old: "Enter
into the Church; acquaint yourselves with the precepts which the men of
old left to her, and follow those paths." They have answered like the
Jews: "We will not walk in them; but we will follow the thoughts of our
hearts"; and they have said, "We will be as the other nations."[373]


They make a rule of exception.

Have the men of old given absolution before penance? Do this as
exceptional. But of the exception you make a rule without exception, so
that you do not even want the rule to be exceptional.


_On confessions and absolutions without signs of regret._

God regards only the inward; the Church judges only by the outward. God
absolves as soon as He sees penitence in the heart; the Church when she
sees it in works. God will make a Church pure within, which confounds,
by its inward and entirely spiritual holiness, the inward impiety of
proud sages and Pharisees; and the Church will make an assembly of men
whose external manners are so pure as to confound the manners of the
heathen. If there are hypocrites among them, but so well disguised that
she does not discover their venom, she tolerates them; for, though they
are not accepted of God, whom they cannot deceive, they are of men, whom
they do deceive. And thus she is not dishonoured by their conduct, which
appears holy. But you want the Church to judge neither of the inward,
because that belongs to God alone, nor of the outward, because God
dwells only upon the inward; and thus, taking away from her all choice
of men, you retain in the Church the most dissolute, and those who
dishonour her so greatly, that the synagogues of the Jews and sects of
philosophers would have banished them as unworthy, and have abhorred
them as impious.


The easiest conditions to live in according to the world are the most
difficult to live in according to God, and vice versa. Nothing is so
difficult according to the world as the religious life; nothing is
easier than to live it according to God. Nothing is easier, according to
the world, than to live in high office and great wealth; nothing is more
difficult than to live in them according to God, and without acquiring
an interest in them and a liking for them.


The casuists submit the decision to the corrupt reason, and the choice
of decisions to the corrupt will, in order that all that is corrupt in
the nature of man may contribute to his conduct.


But is it _probable_ that _probability_ gives assurance?

Difference between rest and security of conscience. Nothing gives
certainty but truth; nothing gives rest but the sincere search for


The whole society itself of their casuists cannot give assurance to a
conscience in error, and that is why it is important to choose good

Thus they will be doubly culpable, both in having followed ways which
they should not have followed, and in having listened to teachers to
whom they should not have listened.


Can it be anything but compliance with the world which makes you find
things probable? Will you make us believe that it is truth, and that if
duelling were not the fashion, you would find it probable that they
might fight, considering the matter in itself?


Must we kill to prevent there being any wicked? This is to make both
parties wicked instead of one. _Vince in bono malum._[374] (Saint


_Universal._ - Ethics and language are special, but universal sciences.


_Probability._ - Each one can employ it; no one can take it away.


They allow lust to act, and check scruples; whereas they should do the


_Montalte._[375] - Lax opinions please men so much, that it is strange
that theirs displease. It is because they have exceeded all bounds.
Again, there are many people who see the truth, and who cannot attain to
it; but there are few who do not know that the purity of religion is
opposed to our corruptions. It is absurd to say that an eternal
recompense is offered to the morality of Escobar.


_Probability._ - They have some true principles; but they misuse them.
Now, the abuse of truth ought to be as much punished as the introduction
of falsehood.

As if there were two hells, one for sins against love, the other for
those against justice!


_Probability._[376] - The earnestness of the saints in seeking the truth
was useless, if the probable is trustworthy. The fear of the saints who
have always followed the surest way (Saint Theresa having always
followed her confessor).


Take away _probability_, and you can no longer please the world; give
_probability_, and you can no longer displease it.


These are the effects of the sins of the peoples and of the Jesuits. The
great have wished to be flattered. The Jesuits have wished to be loved
by the great. They have all been worthy to be abandoned to the spirit of
lying, the one party to deceive, the others to be deceived. They have
been avaricious, ambitious, voluptuous. _Coacervabunt tibi
magistros._[377] Worthy disciples of such masters, they have sought
flatterers, and have found them.


If they do not renounce their doctrine of probability, their good maxims
are as little holy as the bad, for they are founded on human authority;
and thus, if they are more just, they will be more reasonable, but not
more holy. They take after the wild stem on which they are grafted.

If what I say does not serve to enlighten you, it will be of use to the

If these[378] are silent, the stones will speak.

Silence is the greatest persecution; the saints were never silent. It is
true that a call is necessary; but it is not from the decrees of the
Council that we must learn whether we are called, it is from the
necessity of speaking. Now, after Rome has spoken, and we think that she
has condemned the truth, and that they have written it, and after the
books which have said the contrary are censured; we must cry out so much
the louder, the more unjustly we are censured, and the more violently
they would stifle speech, until there come a Pope who hears both
parties, and who consults antiquity to do justice. So the good Popes
will find the Church still in outcry.

The Inquisition and the Society[379] are the two scourges of the truth.

Why do you not accuse them of Arianism? For, though they have said that
Jesus Christ is God, perhaps they mean by it not the natural
interpretation, but as it is said, _Dii estis_.

If my Letters are condemned at Rome, that which I condemn in them is
condemned in heaven. _Ad tuum, Domine Jesu, tribunal appello._

You yourselves are corruptible.

I feared that I had written ill, seeing myself condemned; but the
example of so many pious writings makes me believe the contrary. It is
no longer allowable to write well, so corrupt or ignorant is the

"It is better to obey God than men."

I fear nothing; I hope for nothing. It is not so with the bishops.
Port-Royal fears, and it is bad policy to disperse them; for they will
fear no longer and will cause greater fear. I do not even fear your like
censures, if they are not founded on those of tradition. Do you censure
all? What! even my respect? No. Say then what, or you will do nothing,
if you do not point out the evil, and why it is evil. And this is what
they will have great difficulty in doing.

_Probability._ - They have given a ridiculous explanation of certitude;
for, after having established that all their ways are sure, they have no
longer called that sure which leads to heaven without danger of not
arriving there by it, but that which leads there without danger of going
out of that road.


... The saints indulge in subtleties in order to think themselves
criminals, and impeach their better actions. And these indulge in
subtleties in order to excuse the most wicked.

The heathen sages erected a structure equally fine outside, but upon a
bad foundation; and the devil deceived men by this apparent resemblance
based upon the most different foundation.

Man never had so good a cause as I; and others have never furnished so
good a capture as you....

The more they point out weakness in my person, the more they authorise
my cause.

You say that I am a heretic. Is that lawful? And if you do not fear that
men do justice, do you not fear that God does justice?

You will feel the force of the truth, and you will yield to it ...

There is something supernatural in such a blindness. _Digna
necessitas.[380] Mentiris impudentissime_ ...

_Doctrina sua noscitur vir_ ...

False piety, a double sin.

I am alone against thirty thousand. No. Protect, you, the court;
protect, you, deception; let me protect the truth. It is all my
strength. If I lose it, I am undone. I shall not lack accusations, and
persecutions. But I possess the truth, and we shall see who will take it

I do not need to defend religion, but you do not need to defend error
and injustice. Let God, out of His compassion, having no regard to the
evil which is in me, and having regard to the good which is in you,
grant us all grace that truth may not be overcome in my hands, and that
falsehood ...


_Probable._ - Let us see if we seek God sincerely, by comparison of the
things which we love. It is _probable_ that this food will not poison
me. It is _probable_ that I shall not lose my action by not prosecuting
it ...


It is not absolution only which remits sins by the sacrament of penance,
but contrition, which is not real if it does not seek the sacrament.


People who do not keep their word, without faith, without honour,
without truth, deceitful in heart, deceitful in speech; for which that
amphibious animal in fable was once reproached, which held itself in a
doubtful position between the fish and the birds ...

It is important to kings and princes to be considered pious; and
therefore they must confess themselves to you.


The following brief notes are mainly based on those of M. Brunschvicg.
But those of MM. Faugère, Molinier, and Havet have also been consulted.
The biblical references are to the Authorised English Version. Those in
the text are to the Vulgate, except where it has seemed advisable to
alter the reference to the English Version.

[1] P. 1, l. 1. _The difference between the mathematical and the
intuitive mind._ - Pascal is here distinguishing the logical or
discursive type of mind, a good example of which is found in
mathematical reasoning, and what we should call the intuitive type
of mind, which sees everything at a glance. A practical man of sound

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