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and if they find therein their chief joy, let them think themselves good, and welcome! But if they find themselves averse from him, if they have no inclination but the wish to establish themselves in the esteem of men, and if their whole perfection consists not in constraining, but yet in causing men to find their happiness in loving them, I say that such a perfection is horrible. What! they have known God, and have not desired solely that men should love him, but that men should stop short at loving them. They have wished to be the object of the voluntary joy of
All the principles of sceptics, stoics, atheists, etc., are true; but their conclusions are false, because the opposite principles are also true.
But perhaps the subject goes beyond the reach of reason. We will therefore examine what she has to say on questions within her powers. If there be anything to which her own interest must have made her apply herself most seriously, it is the search after her sovereign good. Let us see then in what these strong and clearsighted souls have placed it, and whether they agree.
One says that the sovereign good consists in virtue, another in pleasure, another in the knowledge of nature, another in truth: Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas, another in total ignorance, another in indolence, others in neglect of appearances, another in the lack of wonder, nihil mirari prope res una quæ possit facere et servare beatum, the true sceptics in their indifference, doubt and perpetual suspense, and others, more wise, think they can find a better way. And this is all we get from them!
We must needs see if this fine philosophy have gained nothing certain from a research so lengthy and wide, at least perhaps the soul has learned to know herself. We will hear the rulers of the world on this matter. What have they thought of her substance?
Have they been more happy in fixing her seat?
What have they discovered about her origin, duration and departure ?
Search for the true good.-Ordinary men place their good in fortune and external goods, or at least in amusement. Philosophers have shown the vanity of all this, and have placed it where best they could.
Philosophers reckon two hundred and eighty-eight sovereign goods.
The sovereign good. Dispute about the sovereign good.Ut sis contentus temetipso et ex te nascentibus bonis. There is a contradiction, for finally they advise suicide. Ah! happy life indeed, from which we are to free ourselves as from the plague.
It is well to be weary and harassed by the useless search after the true good, that we may stretch our arms to the Redeemer.
Conversation.-Great words: Religion. I deny it.
Philosophers. We are full of matters which take us out of ourselves.
Our instinct suggests that we must seek our happiness outside ourselves; our passions hurry us abroad, even when there are no objects to excite them. The objects outside us tempt and call us, even when we do not think of them. And thus it is in vain for philosophers to say, "Enter into yourselves, and you will find your good there; them not, and those who believe them are the most empty we believe
and the most foolish.
This civil war between reason and passion divides those I who desire peace into two sects, the one, of those who would renounce their passions and become gods, the other, brute beasts.-Des Barreaux.—But neither has succeeded, of those who would renounce their reason and become and reason still exists, to condemn the baseness and injustice of the passions, and to trouble the repose those who give themselves over to their sway, and the
passions are still vigorous in those who desire to renounce them.
The Stoics.-They conclude that what has been done once may be done always, and that because the desire of glory gives some degree of power to those possessed by it, others can easily do the same.
These are the movements of fever, which health cannot imitate.
Epictetus concludes that since there are consistent Christians all men can easily be so.
The three kinds of lust have made three sects, and philosophers have done no other thing than follow one of the three lusts.
What the Stoics propose is so difficult and so idle.
The Stoics lay down that all who are not at the highest degree of wisdom are equally frivolous and vicious, as those who are in two inches under water . .
Philosophers.-A fine thing to cry to a man who does not know himself, that of himself he should come to God. And a fine thing also to say to a man who knows himself.
HE foundation of our faith.-The heathen religion has no foundation at the present day. We are told that it once had such a foundation by the voice of the oracles, but what are the books which certify this? Are they worthy of credence on account of the virtue of their writers, have they been kept with such care that we may feel certain none have tampered with them ?
The Mahomedan religion has for its foundation the Koran and Mahomet. But was this prophet, who was to be the last hope of the world, foretold? What mark has he that every other man has not who chooses to call himself prophet? What miracles does he himself tell us that he wrought? What mystery has he taught? Even according to his own tradition, what was the morality, what the happiness he offered?
The Jewish religion must be differently regarded in the tradition of the sacred books and in the tradition of the people. Its morality and happiness are ridiculous in the tradition of the people, but admirable in that of their saints. The foundation is admirable, it is the most ancient book in the world, and the most authentic, and whereas Mahomet, in order to ensure the lasting existence of his book forbade
men to read it, Moses with the same object commanded everyone to read his. And it is the same with all religions, for the Christianity of the sacred books is quite different to that of the casuists.
Our religion is so divine that another divine religion is only the foundation of it.
The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold.
Mahomet that he slew; Jesus Christ that he caused his own to be slain.
Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered it.
In fact the two systems are so contrary that if Mahomet took the way, humanly speaking, to succeed, Jesus Christ took, humanly speaking, the way to perish. And instead of concluding from Mahomet's success that Jesus Christ might well have succeeded, we should rather say that since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ ought to have perished.
The Psalms are chanted throughout all the world.
Who renders testimony to Mahomet? Himself. Jesus Christ wills that his testimony to himself should be of no avail.
The quality of witnesses demands that they should exist always and everywhere, and the wretch stands alone.
The falsity of other religions.-Mahomet had no authority. His reasons ought to be most cogent, having nothing but their own force.
What does he say then in order to make us believe him?
Any man can do what Mahomet did, for he wrought no miracles, he was confirmed by no prophecies. No man can do what Jesus Christ did.
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 disavowed it.