among such various opinions. Now mark all the movements of greatness and glory which the trials of so many miseries are unable to stifle, and see if the cause of them must not be in another nature


For Port Royal to-morrow. Prosopopœa."It is in vain, O men, that you seek from yourselves the remedy for your miseries. All your light can only enable you to know that not in yourselves will you find truth or good. The Philosophers promised you these, but gave them not. They neither apprehend what is your true good nor what is

"How could they then apply remedies to your diseases, since they did not even know them? Your chief maladies are pride, which alienates you from God, and lust, which binds you down to earth; and they do nought else but nourish one or the other of these disorders. If they presented God as your end it was only done to gratify your pride; by making you think that you are by nature like him and conformed to him. Those who saw the extravagance of such an assertion did but set you on an opposite precipice, by tempting you to believe that your nature was of a piece with that of the beasts, and by inclining you to seek your good in the lusts which are shared by brutes. This is not the way to cure you of your unrighteousness, which these sages never knew. I alone can teach you who you are



If you are united to God it is by grace, not by nature. If you are abased it is by penitence, not by nature. So this twofold capacity



You are not in the state wherein you were created. "These two states being presented to you, you cannot but recognise them.


Follow your own movements, observe yourselves, and see if you do not trace the lively characters of these two



Could so many contradictions be found in a subject that was simple?"

I do not mean that you should submit your belief to me without reason, neither do I aim at your subjection by

tyranny. I do not aim at giving you a reason for everything. And to reconcile these contradictions, I wish to make you see by convincing proofs, those divine tokens in me, which will assure you who I am, and will verify my authority by wonders and proofs which you cannot reject; so that you may then have a reasonable belief in what I teach you, when you find no other ground for refusing it, but that you cannot know of yourselves whether it is true

or not.

The true nature of man, his true good, true virtue and true religion are things of which the knowledge is inseparable.

After having understood the whole nature of man.—That a religion may be true, it must show knowledge of our nature. It must know its greatness and meanness, and the cause of both. What religion but the Christian has shown this knowledge?

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 despising of self; to love and to hate.


The note of true religion must be that it obliges man to love his God. This is very right, and yet no other religion than ours has thus commanded; ours has done so. must also be cognizant of man's lust and weakness; ours It must have applied remedies for these defects; one is prayer. No other religion has asked of God the power to love and obey him.

is so.

If there be one only origin of all things, there must be one only end of all things; all by him, all for him. The true religion then must teach us to adore him only, and to love him only. But since we find ourselves unable to adore what we know not, or to love aught but ourselves,

the same 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 has been repaired.

We are born so contrary to this love of God, and it is so necessary that we must be born sinful, or God would be unjust.

Every religion is false which as to its faith does not adore one God as origin of all things, and as to its morals does not love one sole God as the object of all things.

In every religion we must be sincere, true heathens, true Jews, true Christians.




HEN I see the blindness and the misery of man, when I survey the whole dumb Universe, and man without light, left to himself, and lost, as it were, in this corner of the Universe, not knowing who has placed him here, what he has come to do, what will become of him when he dies, and incapable of any knowledge whatever, I fall into terror like that of a man who, having been carried in his sleep to an island desert and terrible, should awake ignorant of his whereabouts and with no means of escape; and thereupon I wonder how those in so miserable a state do not fall into despair. I see other persons around me, of like nature, I ask them if they are better informed than I am, and they say they are not; and thereupon these miserable wanderers, having looked around them, and seen some objects pleasing to them, have given and attached themselves to these. As for me, I cannot attach myself to them, and considering how strongly appearances show that there is something else than what is visible to me, I have sought to discover whether this God have not left some impress of himself.

I see many contrary religions, and consequently all false but one. Each wishes to be believed on its own authority, and menaces the unbeliever, but I do not therefore believe them. Every one can say the same, and every one can call himself a prophet. But I see the Christian religion fulfilling prophecy, and that is what every one can not do.

Without this divine knowledge what could men do but either uplift themselves by that inward conviction of their past greatness still remaining to them, or be cast down in view of their present infirmity? For, not seeing the whole truth, they could not attain to perfect virtue. Some considering nature as incorrupt, others as incurable, they could not escape either pride or idleness, the two sources of all vice; since they cannot but either abandon themselves to it by cowardice, or escape it by pride. For if they were aware of the excellency of man, they were ignorant of his corruption, so that they very easily avoided idleness, but only to fall into pride. And if they recognized the infirmity of nature, they knew not its dignity, so that though they might easily avoid presumption, it was only to plunge into despair.

Thence come the various sects of the Stoics and Epicureans, the Dogmatists, Academicians, etc. The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these two distempers, not so as to drive out the one by the other according to the wisdom of the world, but so as to expel them both by the simplicity of the Gospel. For it teaches the righteous that it lifts them even to a participation of the divine nature; that in this exalted state they still bear within them the fountain of all corruption, which renders them during their whole life subject to error and misery, to death and sin; and at the same time it proclaims to the most wicked that they can receive the grace of their Redeemer. Thus making those tremble whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, religion so justly tempers fear with hope by means of that double capacity of grace and of sin which is common to all, that it abases infinitely more than reason alone, yet without despair; and exalts infinitely higher than natural pride, yet without puffing up: hereby proving that alone being exempt from error and vice, it alone has the office of instructing and of reforming men.

Who then can withhold credence and adoration to so divine a light? For it is clearer than day that we feel within ourselves indelible characters of goodness; and it is equally true that we experience every hour the effects

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »