Thoughts on religion and other subjects - Blaise Pascal - PDF ebook

Thoughts on religion and other subjects 

Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal


Giving an account of the manner in which these Thoughts were collected; of the causes that retarded the impression j of the Au thorns design in this work and how he spent the latter part of his life. Monsieur Pascal having taken an early leave of the mathematics, of natural philosophy, and of other human studies, in which he had made so great a progress that there are, undoubtedly, but very few persons who have seen deeper into those subjects which he chose to handle, began when he was about thirty years of age to apply himself to things of a more serious and more elevated character and to turn his whole thoughts, so far as his health would permit, on the Scriptures, the Fathers, and the discourses of practical Christianity. 

But though his excellence in these latter studies, no less _than in the former, has been already testified by such works as are acknowledged to be exact and accomplished in their kind, we may affirm, that if it had pleased God to have granted him a longer space for the carrying on his general design of the truth of religion, in which he had resolved to employ the residue of his life, this performance would have been far superior to and that we have received from the same hand; because his views, in this respect, infinitely exceeded those which he had attained of all things beside. 

I believe this is no more than what anyone will readily admit, upon the sight of these few papers, with all their imperfections; especially when he shall be made ' acquainted with the methods by which the author prosecuted his undertaking, and with the entire history of our drawing out this specimen for the use of the public; of all which take the following account. 

M. Pascal had laid the scheme of this work many years before his death; and yet we ought not to wonder that he began so late to commit any part of it to write, for he had always accustomed himself to think very maturely of things, and to range and dispose of them in his mind ere he suffered them to venture farther, carefully weighing and examining which ought to be placed first and which last, and what order of the whole might seem most conducible to the desired effect. 

And then being master of an ' excellent, or, as we may truly say, a prodigious memory, so as to have often declared that he never forgot anything which he had once imprinted in it, he was under no apprehension of letting those thoughts which he had at any time formed afterwards escape him; so that it was usual with him to tarry very long before he set them down in paper; either for want of leisure or because the state of his health, which was scarce ever better than crazy and uncertain, could not support a more laborious application.

 This was the reason that, at his death, we lost the greatest part of what he had conceived in pursuance of his design. For there was scarce anything left in writing, either as to the principal arguments which he proposed to insist on, or as to the grounds and foundations of the whole work, or as to the method and disposition, which could not but be very considerable. 

All these were so habitually fixed in his mind, that having neglected to write them while, per- haps, he was able, he at length found himself incapable of going through with the task when he would gladly have entered upon it. Yet there once happened an occasion, some ten or twelve years since, that obliged him, not indeed to write, but to deliver himself in conversation on this subject, which he did in the presence and at the request of many great persons, his friends. 

To this company he opened in few words the plan of his whole undertaking; he represented the subject matter; he gave an abstract of the reasons and principles, and pointed out the intended order and sequel of things. 

And these gentlemen, who are indisputably qualified to be judges in the case, do aver that they never heard anything which discovered more beauty or more strength, which was fitter to move or to convince : they declare themselves to have been charmed with the discourse, and say that the idea which they were able to form of the main design from a narrative of two or three hours, delivered thus offhand and without being laboured or premeditated, give them the pleasure of considering with themselves what the work might one day prove, if fully executed and carried to its last perfection by an author whose force and capacity they had so often experienced ; one who had used himself to be so indefatigably laborious in all his compositions ; who was scarce ever satisfied with his first thoughts, how happy soever they might seem to others ; and who had been known, on many occasions, to new-model no less than eight or ten times such pieces as any person but himself must have pronounced admirable after a single trial. 

Having first observed to them what sort of proofs those are which make the greatest impression upon men's minds, and what are the most proper means of persuasion, he applied himself to demonstrate that the Christian religion had no fewer marks of certainty and evidence than anything which is received in the world for the most undoubted truth. He began the design by giving the picture of a man, under which he omitted nothing that might distinguish or illustrate him, either without or within, to the most secret motions of his heart. In the next place he supposed a person who had lived hitherto under a general ignorance, and utterly indifferent with regard to all things, to himself especially, to come and view himself in this picture, and by it to examine what he is. 
the book details :
  • Author: Blaise Pascal
  • Publication date:1893
  • Company:London: G. Routledge

  • Download Thoughts on religion and other subjects - 5.7 MB

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