Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

1

ing, gaļlaptry, falsehood, profane. Jaques Rousseau, de Maderoiselle
tiess, envy, malice, hatred, and all de l'Espinasse, de Madame da Def-
uncharitableness, without any pa- fant, &c. 31
tallel.

What å fine receipt for social
"Let 'not this description of the happiness must that be, which is
** petites sociétés" of the Parisian composed of such ingredients!
philosophists, be deemed unjust, We cannot take leave of Pascal's
We have freely allowed the talents argument for human corruption,
that shone forth in that singular so. without adding, that his attachment
ciety ; let us, in our turn, be allow. to this argument seems to have made
ed to deplore their extreme want of him somewhat undervalue other ge-
right feeling and principle. Their neral proofs of the truth of religion.
character now stands recorded by This, indeed, is rather a curious head
themselves. The correspondence of of remark. - In the introduction to
various and very distinguished in that chapter of Pascal which con.
dividuals of the body, or menoirs tains what has been called by some
of their own writings, have been of of his commentators the argument

Jate years much circulated, read, and of the wager, the best editions ex.
streviewed. The world has been ad. hibit the two following para

mitted into the geeen-room, if we may graphs:
so say, of the company; and what · Parlons selon les lumières oatarelles.

is the impression that results ? We S'il y'a on Dieu, il est infiniment in compré.
really doubt not that the opera- hensible, puisque, n'ayant vů" parties ti
corps (in whose proceedings these bornes, il n'a nul - rapport si nous nous
new, these most vew philosophers sommes donc incapables de connoître nice
took so deep an interest), were the qu'il est, ni s'il est. Cela étant ainsi, qui
belter philosophers of the two, though osera entreprendre de résoudre cette quer
not the greater actors.

The sect

tier? Ce n'est pas nous, qui n'apons aucun styled itself, The Holy Philosophical rapport à lui." Church; and the irony turns out to par des raisons naturelles, vu l'existence

Je n'entreprendrai pas ici de prouver have been far more exact than was de Dieu, ou la Trinité, ou l'immortalité de intended'; for they appear to have Pame, ni aucune des choses de cette nature been precisely as philosophical as ' non seulement parce que je ne me sentircis they were holy:

pas assez fort pour trouver dans la nature Should this be considered as a de quoi convaincre des athées endurcis

, prejudiced opinion, let us refer to mais encore parce que cette connoissance

, that of a highly ingenious, culti, sans Jesus-Christ, est inutile et sterile." : vated, "and elegant country woman It will be observed, that, in the of the persons in question. Il est former of these paragraphs, it seems remarquable" (says Madame de Gen. asserted that man is "incapable of Jis) "que toutes les correspondances koowing whether God exists;" and des philosophes modernes, mises au that, in the latter, the author de jour depuis leur mort, soient égale- clares that “he is not competent mert scandaleuses, odieuses, et des to find in nature such argoments honorantes pour eux.' Fausselé, me as shall convince the hardeved chanceté, duplicité, inconsequence, atheist." mauvaises mæurs, ambition et vanité The enemies of Pascal, or of bis démésurées, cabales, haine, basse doctrine, bave daid hold on these envie, animosité, injustice, extrava. expressions with avidiey. A Jesuit Sigance&c., toutes ces choses s'y has not-scrupled to pronounce the

trouvent prouvées et dévoilées de writer himself an Atheist. ." The Aleur propre main. Telles sont la commentators have sense enough correspondance de M. de la Harpe to laugh at this imputation is yet

avec le grand duc de Russiez les they affect to regard their author Jettres de Voltaire, de d'Alembert

, as a strange, inconsistent

, wraca de Madame de Chatelét, de Jean countable being. Voltaire is fini

7*! - PI 20ES! QU*20p : F993 Sb. 10 2018

Kmet'te wat 20 shib to 10

[ocr errors]

nitely surprised that Pascal should and a sceptic. Pascal, indeed, ap not have felt himself competent to pears to have been fond of this prove the existence of a Deity dramatic form of writing. With (“ assez fort pour prouver l'existence this clue, if the reader will re-pede Dieu”), and Condorcet wonders ruse the first of the two paragraphs, that he who could discover original he will find, that, thus far at least, sin by the light of reason, should all is clear and consistent. The not, by the same light, discover the supposed objector begins the diabeing of a God.

logue by challenging bis Christian So it seems that Pascal, after all, antagonist to prove the existence of is not half believer enough to satisfy a Deity; and the second paragraph the modern philosophers! Pascal is the Christian's reply. not a Theist may be a sufficiently But then an objection is made to wonderful sight; but what shall this second paragraph also, which We say to Voltaire teaching Pascal -is confessedly spoken in the person theism? Even Condorcet cannot of Pascal himself. For here occurs help smiling, on this occasion, at the expression to which Voltaire al the spectacle of his " guide, philo- ludes, when he wonders that Pascal 'sopher, and friend” among the pro. should not have found himself able phets. “Il est beau," says he, not to prove the being of a Deity. The perceiving the biting keenness of short answer to Voltaire is, that he the satire which his remark jm would have done better to wonder plied, “ de voir dans cet article M. and mourn over his own powers of de Voltaire prendre contre Pascal misrepresentation or misconception. la defense de l'existence de Dieu." For only compare what Pascal really To do Voltaire justice, however, he says, with what Voltaire makes him shews Pascal in this instance more say. What does Pascal, say: "I civility than usual. He even says, do not feel myself competent, by that his author's assertion of our arguments of a physical nature, to incapacity to know whether there prove the existence of a God, is a God, could only arise from against a hardened atheist." So we

an inadvertence in that great understand « Je pe me sentirois pas man.”

assez fort pour trouver dans la naEven in more candid opinions ture de quoi convaincre des athées than those of Jesuits and philoso- endurcis." And what does Voltaire phers, the expressions of Pascal make him -say? "I do not feel may seem to require some expla-, myself-competent to prove the exnation ; particularly that in the first istence of a God.". The qualifying of the two paragraphs referred to, clauses which confine the proposi. where it is said, “ Man is incapable. tion to a particular class of arguof knowing wbether God exists or ments, and to obstinate, unreasonnot."

able adversaries are left out, and And, bappily, this first paragraph, one of the formest believers, and in each and all of its parts, bas re- deepest thinkers that ever lived, is

ceived a conclusive explanation represented as deliberately declaring i from the editor before us. M. Re- that he cannot prove the existence snouard judges that the whole para- of a God! Is it possible to imagine 1 graph is supposed to proceed from a completer misreading? The reader the mouth of a sceptical objectory will now perceive who was the With whom Pascal meras to repre“ great man" that fell into e sent himself as Arguing. Nothings inadvertence" on this occasion. At

can be more inatural - more en the same time it is some excuse for tirely satisfactory.o: Isywill bedre Voltaire that be might naturally collected that the argument of The construe the expressions in the sea Wages, which the paragraph incond of Pascal's two paragraphs by

question introduces, is altogether a those in the first, which certainly sort of dialogue between the author seem of a sceptical tendency; for

[ocr errors]

be did not observe that the first was nesu; bataota Deity offended by the spoken in the person of a supposed rebellion of his rational creatures sceptical objector.

and propitiated by the death of his But, though safe from his ene- Son. Its use, therefore, consists ra mies, we are not sure that Pascal is ther in awakening and assisting the equally secure, in this place, against meditations of the pious, to whose the milder objections of his friends. mental attention this mysterious It will be observed that he speaks melody of yature comes blended Tather slightingly than otherwise of with the clearer sounds of Revelawbat he calls des raisons naturelles, tion, than in attracting, alarming, or "or arguments drawn from nature. convincing the sceptical. What he meant by arguments This seems to have beea Pascal's drawn from nature may be collect manner of considering the subject; ed, though not with perfect preci. but we cannot entirely accede to sion, from the context, and from it. It is true, and a lamentable another chapter entitled “On ne truth, that the arguments which the connôit Dieu utilement que par Je- believer deduces from the works of sus Christ:" He seems to have one nature are often heard by infidels derstood by the expression all argu. with scorn. So are all his other arments founded on the phenomena guments; but would that be a mea of material or physical nature, as son for using none at all? Da such distinct from the moral or mental a principle, Pascal's "Thoughts nature of man. Even where the would never have existed to excite arguments - themselves were of a the derision of Voltaire and Cansubtle, metaphysical kind, still, if dorcet. It surely cannat be said they concerned physical, not mo- that the particular argument in ral, nature, he called them des rais question fails of effect oftener than sons naturelles. Therefore, he would all the other reasoning employed in have included in his idea, both that favour of truth and right principles. method of demonstration which pro- Is it not, on the contrary, certain ceeds on the marks of design in the that, in all ages, the admirable mecreation, and also such refined and chanism of the creation has imscholastic deductions as that of pressed men with an idea of a Dia the Cartesians : “ There is nu va. vine'agency? Are not the invisible euum, -- therefore there is a God." things of God clearly seen, being

This latter class of proofs might understood by the things that are perhaps be discarded without much made? Or is that an “uncertain loss. They seem to be dialectic sound" which has gone forth into sabrilties, often more remarkable all lands, and its words onto the for their ingenuity than their power ends of the world? So far, again, of producing conviction. Bat we as the argument produces effect, ia would speak very differently of the not that effect of a most desirable argument from the marks of design kind! Has that man wade no projalthe creation ; and it does appear gress towards a belief in Revelation to us that Pascal under-rated its ef- who is deeply convinced of the eterfect and importance. He admitted val power and Godhead of the Most it to be valid, but did not consider High? Is wat he partly iuitiared it as of very gederal application in a very important lesson of ChrisHe kney auri felt that the works of tian practice, whom a prospect of creations declare the glory of God;" she wonders of creation and proribut he was of opinion, that, by the dence, the heavens, the moon, and ears of the obdurate worldling, this the stars, fills with a grateful and a silent utterance can be perceived bút humiliating sense of the goodness faintly, and even if distinctly with lit- of God, and the insignificance and tle profit. It addresses man, but not unworthiness of man? Is not the fallen inan.' It proclaims a Deity $pa transition in some sense gatural, preme ja power, wisdom, and good from a contemplation of that risible

nature wbich proclaims the Divine must proportionably compress what glory, to a reverence for that per we have yet to offer.no, fect law which converts the soul? It would have gratified us 40.com Those who are acquainted with the sider and to vindicate our author's excellent writings of Derham, But- argument, as it has been called, of ler, and Paley, on natural theology, The Wager; or that by which be will surely acquiesce in the implied shews that, according is the estaanswer to these questions; and blished laws of probability. it is irrthink also lhat we have with us the finitely wiser in men to believe than Scriptures of Truth ..

to disbelieve. The objects of belief Our readers, we are convinced, to which, be primarily refers, are will not understand us as meaning the existence of a Providence, and to place natural religion on a level the certainty of a future state of with Revelation, nor within any retribution; but his reasoning in measurable distance of it. · We fact applies to all the essential are would only do our humble endea- Licles of the Christian faith. We vour to correct the inaccurate view have before shewn that the theology taken of this outwork of faith by of Pascal was very little tinctured so eminent a theological reasoner as by his geometrical and physiologi: Pascal. The subject is, however, cal pursuits. The instance before highly curious. Perhaps, the exact us iš rather an exception to that extent of natural theology, and the re. account. He had profoundly slu, lations between natural and revealed died and considerably improved the religion, have never been suficiently doctrine of mathematical chances ; elucidated ;-- not even by Paley, and he bere evidently carries the felicitously just as he is in the con- taste imbibed from his speculations ception, and inimitably interesting on that subject into bis religious and masterly in the developement, reflections. The resolt, however, is of his argument. For ourselves, we most happy; and shews to what feel uuerly ynequal 10 so high a sacred uses the riches of secular theme, even had we space to enter learning may be applied, The on it. There is one living writer, three philosophes, indeed, who haunt a countryman of our own, by our author (like the forma tricor. whose band we should delight to poris umbræ" in Virgil's shades), see it treated ;---no second occurs to are not satisfied with his argument. us, who could bring to the iask an His antagonist, Fontenelle, alleets exactly adequate combination of to confute it at great length; his reasoning, information, philosophy, commentator, Voltaire, pronounces refinement of fancy, eloquence, and it wtally beneath the dignity of piety. Could he who, in one or the subject matter; and his eulogist, two published sermons, has given Condorcet, treats it as absolutely risuch fine and highly touching diculous. Yet, though to these sketches of the moral uses of the learned persons it was foolishness, ism, and of the essential lowness of we doubl, not That a very different the philosophy of expediency, fiod judgment will be passed on it by leisure for some more extended dis, erery candid, reflecting, and wella, cussions on similar subjects, Enge intentioned mind. Jand would no looger have reason

There is, at first sight, one dili, to regret that she was not the native . culty in the argument, even to the country of Pascal.

fair inquirer, And that is, that it We have now been so long des apparently supposes belief or une tained on a particular branch of belief to be in our own power. It. Pascal's reasoning, (a branch, how belief, it may be said, is ine unggucver, of such importance and inte troulable impression of prepondes rest as might have justified asuill, rating arguments on the mind, tol. Hore copious discussion) that we what end these caleulaziosis of the Cubist. Onseny. No, 155. a

5 C.

[ocr errors]

profit or loss on believing? Wby Whatever becomes of this cause or talk of interest to those who are the his wits, be sever loses his couTictims of reason? This question, rage. however, Pascal completely meets, Of Pascal'scommentators it appears by observing (in substance) that, to us that we have now said enough, though belief is not directly in our and we bid them farewell witbout power, attention is so; and by so- any regret. But before we close lemnly asserting his conviction that this article, we would anticipate ia no man will remain an unbeliever, question that may occur to some who pays to the subject of religion readers, and which seems of suffi. that serious, humble, continued, and cient moment to deserve an answer. dispassionate attention which it de- It is, whether the tenets of Pascal serves. After this, no man certainly be not mixed with such partial im. who does not chuse to pay the sub- purities, and his reasoning impaired ject such attention, has any right to by such occasional weakness, as may urge against Pascal the impossibi- justly incur, exception or censure lity of believing. No man can do even from the sincerest disciples of $0% who cannot begin with declare revealed religion. ing," I have strictly and conscien In a measure, we are of opinion tiously followed your directions; I that this is really the case. Pascal have attended to the subject in the carried the scriptural principle of manner you recommended; and I self-denial to excess; and she strong am as great an unbeliever as ever." opinions which he evidently and An opponent who will not say this, indeed professedly holds on the says nothing to the purpose, and is subject, and the painful austerities in effect silenced.

which he is well known to have Yet the philosophers are not si- practised, have afforded but 100 lenced, though they say not this, ready a handle to the unfeeling and por any thing like it. Condorcet stupid ridicule of worldly men. coolly observes, that a man who is Surely, the temperate table, moconvinced that nothing definite can derate habits, and affectionate be known respecting a Deity, may cheerfulness, of a Fenelon, have in very laudably remain in a state of them something far more accordant scepticism. It is lamentable to ob- with the spirit of primitive Christserve such an understanding as that ianity than all this self maceration of Condorcet reposing in such a and voluntary misery, As, in this sophism. Would he not have done instance, our excellent author seemas well to attend to the previous ques. 10 have erred on a point of ethical cion, namely, What right a man economy, so there are others in bas to be convinced of the necessity which his doctrines and his lau. of ignorance, who will not take the guage appear not a little questionproper means of obtaining know- ab.c. He was inclined to mysjedgeThe author of the essay as- ticism; and this tendency somecribed to Fontenelle adopts a some- times leads him to represent faith what-different course, and indeed rather as superseding the use of a course different, as we suspect, reason than as simply occupying a

from all examples on record. This distinct province of which reason philosopher would have us delihe- must trace the boundary. We may rately believe that, even according farther remark, that on the topic of to the most rigid rules of probabi- miracles, Pascal is unsatisfactory, wisdon in rejecting the Christian English reader who has traversed religion altogether. Surely, lan- the same ground of inquiry under guage does not furnish a more ap- such masters as Locke, Buller

, and propriate term for a modern free. Paley. No mind, especially, which thinker than that of an esprit fort i familiar with the accurate and

« PreviousContinue »