“Pensées” by Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) Selections from Parts 9-12

Blaise Pascal’s headshot for “Despicable Me”

VIII. The Fundamentals Of The Christian Religion

556 –

  • Christianity looks to establish a great religion
    • For this, man need it to explain his nature & that of the world around him
  • Many revile it because they don’t understand it
    • God is great, powerful & eternal but removed from Man – Deism
    • Christianity relies on Jesus Christ to atone for man’s sins in order to connect with God
  • 2 truths of Christianity
    • There’s a God that man can know
    • There’s a corruption in man making him unworthy of God
  • Man must know those & that he’s wretched, & that only Jesus can save him from that fact
    • Philosophers seek God or knowledge but not knowledge of man’s place in the universe
    • Jesus is the focal point of everything
  • Atheists ignore evidence, so why bother showing it to them?
    • Man is poor at explaining God without Jesus
  • The Christian God isn’t just the creator of physical things & logic but also of love, comfort, mercy, joy & humility to believers
  • Those who seek God without Jesus fall into Atheism or Deism

564 –

  • The prophecies & miracles of Christianity aren’t of a convincing nature but it’s not unreasonable to believe them
    • They can confuse or enlighten
    • Evidence for either equals or surpasses that against
      • Such that not to believe would be out of lust or malice
    • Those who follow do so out of grace, not reason
    • Those who don’t do so out of lust, not reason

571 – The reason why. Types –

  • To give faith to the Messiah, there had to be prophesies from trustworthy sources
    • God chose the right people to tell them
    • People hearing them were cruel & corrupt, & needed them from the best sources
      • Everyone agreed they’d happen sooner or later
  • The spiritual meaning was partially hidden because if it was too evident, it would’ve been ignored
    • If completely hidden, there’d be no mention of a Messiah to refer to later
    • Concealed passages have double meanings
    • Overt passages serve the concealed not to be misinterpreted
  • Underlines 2 conflicting characteristics of man: covetousness & charity
    • Covetousness uses God & enjoys the world
    • Charity does the opposite
    • Man wishes to name everything – and everything stopping us from our goals is what we call the “enemy”
      • Those who are the “enemy” depend on our goals
      • The carnal see them as the “Babylonians”
      • This word is obscure to the unrighteous
        • This is explained in Hosea & Isaiah

586 –

  • If darkness didn’t exist, man wouldn’t know of his corruption & without light, he’d see no remedy
    • Makes sense that God is partly obscured & partly revealed
      • It’s dangerous to know God without understanding your wretchedness & to know your wretchedness without God

IX. Perpetuity

598 –

  • I don’t judge Mohammed by the obscure things said of him but the plain: his version of paradise & rest
    • This makes him ridiculous & we shouldn’t see his obscurities as mysteries of God
    • The obscurities of the Bible are just as strange but there are clear passages such as prophecies that require us to study the obscurities & draw meaning from them

607 –

  • Judaism doesn’t interpret the law literally
    • Christianity does only in the New Testament & tradition
    • The carnal Jews saw the Messiah as a temporal Prince
    • Carnal Christians saw him as one who’ll do all the work for them
    • True Judaism & Christianity expect a Messiah who makes them love God & triumph over enemies

608 –

  • Carnal Jews are halfway between Christians & heathens
    • Heathens don’t know God & love only the world
    • Jews know God & love the world
    • Christians know God & don’t love the world
      • Jews can be divided into those with heathen or Christian affections

609 –

  • 2 kinds of men in each religion
    • Heathens
      • Worshiping beasts
      • Worshiping only the God of a natural religion
    • Jews
      • Carnal Jews
      • Spiritual – Christians of the Old Law
    • Christians
      • Jews of the New Law
      • Coarse
        • Carnal Jews seek Carnal Messiah
        • Coarse Christians – Messiah’s dispensed from God’s love
        • True Jews & Christians – worship the Messiah who makes them love God

610 – To show that the true Jews & the true Christians have the same religion

  • The religion of Abraham – circumcision, ceremonies, sacrifices, the Ark, the Temple, Jerusalem, the Law & Moses’s covenant
    • Really, only God matters
      • Abraham’s bloodline didn’t amount to much
      • Jews were punished for their transgressions
      • The rest of the Jewish tradition was just signs
    • God says he presents us with heave & earth, life & death, & to choose life is to choose God
    • Temporal gods are false & the only true good is to be united with God
    • Jews aren’t completely joined up with God
    • All the Jewish tradition is secondary to being with God

613 – Perpetuity

  • Christianity’s main belief is that man has fallen from glory & union with God into sadness and distance from God but can be reunited with him through the Messiah
    • Men have always been sinners but there have been saints waiting for the Messiah
      • Noah was the first to see widespread sin. His survival led to the Messiah
      • Jacob & Isaac lived in faith in times of abomination
      • Moses & co. believed in God during the times of the Egyptian idolators
    • Greeks & Romans established false religions, poets & philosophers divided the people into many sects
      • But only a few believed the Messiah would come
  • The Messiah came & caused a lot of religious & political division
    • The religion survives by a renewal of proof from God

619 –

  • Christianity was built on the foundation of Judaism
    • Other religions don’t provide as much evidence & are easy to reject because each other seems as arbitrary as the next
    • Some of the religions grew from separate populations, all seeming to be created out of convenience, but…
      • Jews claim to be the ones God has chose to reveal all truth to & that man has been corrupted & is in disgrace with God & can only rely on senses & reason
      • They believe that God will provide a savior for man
      • They claimed to receive the law from God & that they serve as a model for other societies

620 – Advantages of the Jewish people

  • The Jews are made up of a few families, while other religions aren’t based that way
    • They have a veneration of family & rely on tradition
    • Other nations have risen & fallen but the Jews remain in spite of constant persecution
    • Jewish law remains just, pure & intact
      • It’s strict on its people but remains effective

631 –

  • Jews keep to the book where Moses claims that they’ve been unfaithful to God & will continue to be so after Moses’s death
    • Moses wanted to teach them in order to save them
    • He said God would scatter them for idolatry, deny them & demand they listen to his word

640 –

  • It’s nice to see the Jews survive but in misery as proof that Jesus was brought to save them even though he was to be crucified

X. Typology

644 – Types

  • God wanted to form a holy people separate from others
    • He delivered them from enemies & into rest – all promised by his prophets
    • Adam was a witness & guardian of the coming savior
    • After Adam, God sent Noah to set an example of how to survive God’s wrath
    • God sent Abraham & Moses to do the same

673 – Fac secundum exemplar quod tibi ostensum est in monte.

  • The Jewish religion was formed on a promise of a Messiah
    • The truth to them was only typified: in heaven, the truth is revealed
    • In Church, the truth is hidden but recognized by its resemblance to the type made according to the truth & the truth is made recognized by the type

675 –

  • The covenant is made to blind some & to enlighten others
    • The visible blessings from God are so great they can be given to the invisible & the Messiah
    • Miracles are visible signs of the invisible
    • Isaiah says Redemption will be like the parting of the Red Sea
      • God shows through deliverance, defeat of the sea, defeat of kings, etc. that the Messiah comes for those who don’t expect it
    • All these things are just “types” don’t show “true” things
      • Allows man to find out what’s in his heart
    • Prophecies were given to bring men closer to God
    • Jewish teaching ≠ Jewish law because it wasn’t true because it wasn’t purely obeying & approaching God

684 – Contradiction

  • We can only describe good character by measuring it against the bad
    • To understand an author, we must have contrary passages agree
    • In Scripture, all contrary passages must agree
      • Jesus Christ reconciles all differences unreconciled in Judaism that had something missing
      • Jews can’t reconcile the downfall of royalty & principality
    • The law, sacrifices & kingdom are only types since they can’t be reconciled
      • Christianity puts all the pieces together through Jesus Christ

692 –

  • Some say man’s only enemy is lust keeping him away from God & the only good is God
    • Those who believe that flesh is good will lose it when they die
    • Those who seek God are troubled by not seeing him, want only to reach him & have only enemies in those who want to turn from him – should take comfort
      • There’s a redeemer – a God for them & not others
      • There’s a promised Messiah to relieve & free them
      • David promised this, just as God delivered them from Egyptians – who were not the real enemy – the real enemy was they’re own sin
      • The words “enemy” & “iniquities” are ambiguous
      • Moses, David & Isaiah used the same terms in different circumstances

XI. The Prophecies

693 –

  • When I see the blindness & wretchedness of man, I think of the universe & man without light, lost in not knowing why he’s there, what to do, what will happen, etc.
    • Like wandering across a desert without hope of food, water or direction
    • How do these people not despair?
      • They’re attached to things & not God
    • Religions all seem contradictory & therefore false – except one…
      • Each one wants to be believed & threatens non-believers
      • Anyone can say this & call himself a prophet
      • But only Christian prophecies are the ones fulfilled

XII. Proofs Of Jesus Christ

737 –

  • I reject other religions because Christianity answers all objections
    • God only reveals himself to pure hearts
    • Man has always known he was corrupt but Christianity said that a Redeemer would come – not just one man said this but many – even an entire nation & its culture
    • These people had no idols or kings, & even the wretched would be witnesses to the fulfillment of the prophecies
    • The religion is divine in its authority, perpetuity, morality, conduct, doctrine & effect
    • I hold my arms open to our Redeemer whose presence was foretold, who died for me & lets me rejoice in his presence & example

760 –

  • Some but not all Jews reject Jesus Christ
    • Pure minded saints receive him
    • Jews reject him because he didn’t come with a sword in hand
      • They reject his witnesses & prophecies fulfilled

768 –

  • Jesus Christ typified by Joseph, sent by his father to see his brethren, innocent & sold for 20 pieces of silver, became lord & savior of familiar & strangers of the whole world, many of whom reject him
    • In prison, Joseph innocent between 2 criminals, Jesus was crucified with 2 thieves, Joseph foretells one’s freedom & the other’s death
    • Jesus saves the elect & condemn outcasts for their sins & tells Joseph those he save will remember him

792 –

  • The Jewish people foretold his coming
    • Gentiles worshiped him afterwards
      • Both see him as the center of the religion
    • We know about only 3 of his 33 years on earth
      • Priests rejected him as an impostor
      • Friends & family despised him
      • Disciples betrayed, denied & abandoned him
    • No man was ever so renown yet so hated
      • This only serves us to know him & his glory, none of which he kept for himself

793

  • The distance between body & mind is symbolic of the distance between mind & charity [which is supernatural]
    • Greatness isn’t so lustrous to those who seek understanding
    • The greatness of a clever man is lost on kings, the rich & thieves
    • Wisdom of God is invisible to the carnal-minded clever
  • True genius has no need for worldly greatness
  • Saints don’t need worldly or intellectual greatness
    • Seen by God & angels which are enough
    • Archimedes would’ve been in this camp because he never fought battles & shared his discoveries with all
  • Jesus has his own order – no inventions or worldly reign
    • Sinless, humble, patient & holy
      • No other could compare in genius or rule
      • He was obscure as a man but had the greatness of God
  • Some people can only admire worldly greatness or genius
    • Neither one matters without Jesus Christ

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