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ALTHOCH the facts of PASCAL's life cannot but | light which guided him onward in mathematical be very extensively known, it seems scarcely cor- study. It became the subject of continued thought. rect to send forth a fresh translation of his Thorights In his play hours, he would shut himself up in an to the world, without a brief memoir of that exira- empty room, and draw with chalk on the floor, triordinary genius.
angles, parallelograms, and circles, without knowBLAISE PASCAL was born at Clermont in Auvergne, ing their scientific names.
He would compare 19th June, 1623. His father, Stephen Pascal, was these several figures, and would examine the relafirst president of the Court of Aids, and had, by his tions that their several lines bore to each other; vite, Antoinette Begon, three other children, a son and in this way, he gradually arrived at the proof who died in infancy, and two daughters : Gilberte, of the fact, that the sum of all the angles of a trimarried to M. Perier, and Jacqueline, who took angle is equal to two right angles, which is the the veil, in the convent of Port Royal in the Fields, thirty-second proposition of the first book of Euclid. and died there of grief, arising from the perse- The young geometer had just attained this point, cutions under which that community suffered. when his father surprised him, deeply occupied in
Stephen Pascal was a superior and well educated the probibited study. But he was himself no less man, and possessed an extensive knowledge of the astonished than his son, when, on examining into law, of mathematics, and natural philosophy; to the nature of his occupation, he ascertained the which he added the advantages of noble birth, and conclusion to which he had come; and on inquiring of manners peculiarly simple. Till the year 1626, how he arrived at it, the child pointed out several be shared with an amiable wife, during the inter- other principles which he had previously ascervals of public occupation, the duties of educating tained, and at length stated the first principles his family; but in that year she died, and he then which he had gathered for himself in the way of devoted himself exclusively to this object. For this axioms and definitions. purpose he retired from office; and having conti- To control, after this, such evident manifestations ined a few years in the country, in the year 1631, of superior mathematical genius, was quite out of brought his family to Paris, to complete their edu- the question. Every advantage was afforded to cation.
him, of which he eagerly availed himself. The attention of Stephen Pascal was, of course, twelve years of age, he read through the Elements chiefly occupied with his son, who gave promise, of Euclid, without feeling the need of any explanaat a very early age, of superior genius, and readily tion from teachers; and at sixteen, he composed a • received the elementary principles of language, treatise on Conic Sections, which was considered and of the sciences in general; but one of the ear- to possess very extraordinary merit. He attained liest features of those talents which were subse- rapidly to a very high degree of knowledge and of quently developed, was the eagerness, and the nice celebrity as a mathematician; and before the age and accurate discernment with which, on all sub- of nineteen, he invented the famous arithmetical jeets, he sought for truth, and which would not al- machine which bears his name, and by which, low him to feel satisfied till he had found it. through the instrumentality of a mechanical move
The circle of his father's acquaintance was of a ment, somewhat similar to a watch, any numerical superior order. He numbered among his friends, calculation might be performed. The main diffiMersenne, Roberval, Carcavi, Le Pailleur, &c. culty in arithmetic lies in finding the mode of arAt their occasional meetings, for the discussion of riving at the desired result. This must ever be a scientific subjects, Blaise Pascal was sometimes al- purely mental operation; but the object of this inlowed to be present, at which times he listened with strument was, that in all those numerical operations great attention what passed, and thus gradually where the course to be pursued was fixed and cerformed the habit of scientific research. To trace tain, a mechanical process might relieve the mind effects up to their causes, was one of his chief plea- from the monotonous and wearisome labor of the sures; and it is stated, that at eleven years of age, mere detail of calculation. Pascal's invention sucbaving heard a plate give forth, on its being struck, ceeded'; but it was found too cumbrous for general a musical vibration, which ceased on its being use. touched again, he applied his mind to the subject About this time, Stephen Pascal was appointed which it presented to him, and at length produced the Intendant of Rouen, to which place he removed a short treatise upon the nature of sounds. his family. He remained there seven years; and
His father, however, fearful that this evidently during that period, his son diligently pursued his strong predilection for scientific pursuits would de studies, although it was quite evident that his selay his progress in the attainment of classical learn- vere application had already affected his health, and ing, agreed with his friends that they should refrain marked him with the symptoms of decline. from speaking on such topics in his presence; and Here his ardent mind, which had been turned this opposition to his evidently ruling tendency was, during his retirement to the study of Physics, occuon principle, carried so far, that on his making an pied itself with one of the most striking phenoineną application to his father to be permitted to learn of the natural world, and did not rest till hc had mathematics, the permission was positively with elicited a satisfactory explanation of it. This pheheld, till he should have mastered the Greek and nomenon was that in a pump, in which the piston Latin languages. in the mean time, he obtained played at a distance of more than thirty-two feet no other information on the subject, but that geo- above the reservoir that supplied it, the water rose metry was a science which related to the extension to the height of thirty-two feet, and no farther. On of bodies that it taught the mode of forming accu- this question, Galileo had been consulted; and the rate figures, and pointed out the relations which ex- explanation of this fact which was offered by him isted between them. But beyond this general in- was, that the water rose to a certain height in the formation, he was forbidden to inquire ; and all pipe because nature ab*orred a vacuum; but that books on the subject were positively forbidden to the force by which she resisted a vacuum was limithim.
ed, and that beyond a height of thirty-two feet, it This vague definition, however, was the ray of ceased to ach This answer, however, was not even
then satisfactory; and within a short period of that its high requirements. He saw that it enjoined up time, Torriceili, the disciple of Galileo, ascertained, on men the necessity of living for God, and of mak by a series of experiments, that the cause of this ing Him the supreme object of their attention and ascent of the water in fountains and pumps, was love; and so strong was his conviction of this, that the pressure of the weight of the atmosphere upon he determined about that time to renounce the stuthe surface of the reservoir. At this juncture, how- dies to which, up to that period, be had so eagerly ever, Torricelli died; but Pascal, to whom the re- applied himself, and thenceforth, to devote the powsult of his experiments had been communicated by ers of his mind, to that subject of supreme interest, Mr. Mersenne, through Mr. Petit, the Intendant of which Jesus Christ has declared to be the one thing Fortifications at Rouen, having repeated the expe- needful. riments of Torricelli, verified their results, and It is evident that the resolution then formed, did completely refuted the popular notion of the abhor- materially influence M. Pascal's whole character rence of a vacuum. And in the year 1617, in a and habits, and that gradually he gave an increased small tract dedicated to his father, he published the attention to the subject of religion. Still there is account of these experiments.
reason to suppose, that the state
of his inind underIt does not however appear, that, at this time, he went some material variations in this respect, and had arrived at a satisfactory solution of the phe- that, for several years, he was not altogether so ennomenon in question-he had done little more ihan tirely devoted to religious topics, nor so cordially ascertained, that it could not arise from the cause separated from irreligious society, as he afterwards to which it had been attributed, according to the considered to be necessary. His residence at Paris, popular doctrine of the day, and that the notion of and his entrance into its society, with a view to renature's abhorrence of a vacuum, had no foundation creation, tended, for a time, to dissipate in a degree in fact. Pascal therefore followed out his inquiries his religious impressions, and to awaken a desire to most perseveringly; and in the year 1653, he wrote return to the ways of that world, which he had protwo pamplets, one on the equilibrium of fluids, and fessed to renounce, and to those pursuits and pleaanother on the weight of the atmosphere; in which, sures, the vanity and fruitlessness of which he had by a series of satisfactory experiments, he com- already confessed. pletely established that doctrine on the subject, It does not follow necessarily, that a man conwhich is now universally received. The most im- vinced of the truth, and feeling, in some degree, portant and original of these experiments were the power of religion, does at once, from the time ihuse which showed that the rise of the water, or of that conviction, give himself unreservedly and the mercury in the tube, varied in proportion to the entirely to the duties and the pleasures of a religious height above the level of the sea, of the place where life. Experience shows that there is a wide differ. the experiment was tried. Many attempts have ence between the most satisfactory conviction of the been made to rob Pascal of the merit of ihese dis- understanding in favor of such a course, and the coveries, but they have altogether failed. It was, effectual and habitual control of the strong passions however, to be regretted, that the two latter tracts of the heart, so as to accomplish it; and too frewere not printed till 1663, the year following his quently it is found, that even after an individual death.
has really seen and loved the religion of the Bible, At the time, however, when M. Pascal issued his and made the path which it points out the object of first tract on this subject, his health had manifestly his decided preference—the temptation to recur to given way before the severity of his studies; and the thoughtless and irreligious, but fascinating and at the close of the year 1647, he had an attack of seductive habits of the majority, again acquires fresh paralysis, which deprived him, in a great measure, force; and though he may not be led aside suffi. of the use of his limbs. He returned to Paris, and ciently to allow his religious inconsistency to be resided there with his father and sister, and, for seen, and reproved by less devoted men, yet he desome time, relaxed from study, and took several clines so far, as to exhibit to himself in a stronger journeys by way of recreation. But in the year light his own weakness, and to induce him to seek, 1651, he lost his father; and in 1653, his sister Jac. when convinced of the need of recovery, for greatqueline, in the fulfilment of a wish which she had er assurance, and more palpable assistance in the long cherished, joined the sisterhood of Port Royal; grace of the gospel of Christ. and being thus left alone at Paris, for his other sis- This appears to have been the case with Pascal, ter and M. Perier then resided at Clermont, he re- during his residence in Paris. His sister, Jacqueline, turned without restraint to those habits of severe witnessed with regret, on his occasional visits to and excessive study which must, in a short time, her, at Port Royal, the deteriorating effect of the had they not been interrupted, have brought him to promiscuous society with which he associated; and the grave. But his friends interfered, and their she remonstrated faithfully and earnestly with him advice, seconded by the severity of his bodily afflic on the necessity of greater decision, and the need tions, constrained him for a time to lay aside his of a more real and marked separation from those studies, and to mingle more than he had done with who lived only for this present world. general society. Here he gradually regained his The mind of Pascal, however, notwithstanding spirits, acquired a fresh relish for the fascinations these minor aberrations, had taken a decidedly reof life, and began even to think of marriage. But ligious turn; and the power of Scriptural truth an event which occurred about this time, and which gradually gained a permanent influence over his we shall have occasion afterwards to mention, heart, and gave a color to all his pursuits. His atdissipated all these thoughts, and gave an entirely tention was drawn off from matters of merely sublunew color to his whole life, and tended especially nary importance, and fixed on the phenomena of to induce him to consecrate his splendid talents to the moral world, and the principles of that book the noblest of all employments-the service of which unveils to us the glories, and imparts the God.
hope of an eternal existence; and this change graThere is reason to suppose, that the paralytic at- dually exhibited itself with greater distinctness. tack that Pascal experienced in the year 1647, first The first public incident of his life which indiled him to the serious consideration of the subject cated this change, was of a controversial and schoof religion. He read, at that time, some few devo-lastic nature. During his residence at Rouen, he tional books, and the effect which they produced attended a series of lectures on philosophy, in which upon his mind, was a clear conviction of the truth the lecturer took occasion to advance some posiof the Christian religion, and of the propriety of tions which tended to call in question the decisions of the church, and which led him to infer that the general visiting, and retiring altogether from merebody of Jesus Christ was not formed of the blood ly scientific society, retained only the connection of the Virgin Mary. M. Pascal addressed himself which he had formed with a few religious friends, boldly to the suppression of this heresy. He first of superior intellectual attainments and devotional Temonstrated with the lecturer. but finding this habits. In order to accomplish this the more effectuseless, he denounced him to the Bishop of Rouen; ually, he changed his residence, and lived for some and being foiled there by an equívocal confession, time in the country. he carried the matter before the Archbishop, by He was now about thirty years of age; and it was whom the philosopher was compelled publicly to at this time that he established that mode of life in renounce the dangerous notions which he had ad- which he persevered to the last. He gave up all vanced; and the whole of this process was con- search for earthly pleasure, and the use of all inducted with so much temper, that the defeated phi- dulgences and superfuities. He dispensed as far losopher never retained the least acrimonious feel as possible with the service of domestics. He made ing against his youthful antagonist. That Pascal his own bed, and carried his own dinner to his should apply his extraordinary powers to combat apartment. Some persons may be disposed to conand to give importance to such subtleties, is to be at- sider this as a needless and ascetic peculiarity. Nor tributed to the genius of the times. In those days is it attempted here to justify the stress which he the grand and simple truths of revelation were laid upon these minor and comparatively unimpor. much lost sight of, and theological knowiedge and tant matters; but be that as it may, every one must religious zeal, were shown in those metaphysical admire the elevated piety with which these peculiar speculations, and those ready powers of logical dis- notions were associated, and the principle on which cussion, which may gratify the pride of the under these acts of self-denial were performed. Prayer, standing, but do not mend the heart.
and the study of the Scriptures became the business Pascal was not, however, to be kept down by the of his life, in which he found inexpressible delight. trammels of the schools, and the semi-barbarous He used to say, that the Holy Scriptures were no* theology of the day. He read and thought for him a science of the understanding, so much as of the self. It was impossible for a mind like his to do heart; and that they were a science, intelligible otherwise; and such was the practical influence of only to bim whose heart was in a right moral state, his religious studies on his character, that it was whilst to all others they were veiled in obscurity. felt and acknowledged by all around him. Even To this sacred study, therefore, Pascal gave himhis father, previously to his death, did not hesitate self, with the ardor of entire devotion; and his sucto learn at the feet of his son, and gradually reform- cess in this line of study, was as eminent as it had ed his own manner of life, and became more devot- been in matters of general science. His knowledge ed to the subject of religion ; and abounding in his of the Scriptures, and his facility in quoting them, later days in Christian viriues, at length died a became very great. It was quite remarkable in that truly Christian death.
day. His increasing love for the truth of religion, The circumstance, however, which seemed in the led him also to exercise readily all the powers of providence of God most effectually to influence M. his mind, both by his pen, and by his very great Pascal's mind in favor of religion—to dissipate all conversational powers, in recommending religion remaining attachment to this world, and to give the to others, and in demolishing whatever appeared especial character to his remaining years, was an likely to oppose its progress, or to veil and lo deaccident which happened to him in October, 1654. form its truth. An opportunity of the very first imHe was taking his usual drive in a coach and four, portance shortly afterwards occurred, which called when, as they passed the bridge of Neuilly, the forth the exercise of his splendid talents and extenleaders became unmanageable at a point of the sive knowledge in that way which he most espebridge where there was no parapet, and they were cially desired. precipitated into the Seine. Happily the traces The sincere religion of M. Pascal, together with broke suddenly by the weight of the horses, and the the connection of his family with the religious recarriage remained safely at the very verge of the cluses of the Monastery of Port Royal, had gatherbridge. Pascal's valuable life was preserved; but cd round him as his friends, many of the illustrious the shock which his frail and languishing frame scholars and Christians who were associated 10sustained was very great. He fainted, and remain- gether in that retirement About the time when ed for a long time in a state of insensibility; and Pascal's mind had been led to the formation of his the permanent nervous impression which this alarm religious principles, and to the more serious adop produced was so strong, that frequently afterwards, tion of his religious habits, the Monastery of Port in moments of peculiar weakness, or during a Royal had risen into importance and notoriety, sleepless night, he fancied that there was a preci- which were increased by the difficulties with which pice close to the side of his bed, into which he fear- it had to contend. Under the superintendence of ed that he should fall.
Angelique Arnauld, sister of M. Arnauld, the celeIt was after this event that Pascal's religious im- brated doctor of the Sorbonne, the society of female pressions regained that strength, which they had in recluses there, had undergone a very extensive and à degree lost. His natural amiability of temper- thorough reform; and many young persons of subis ready flow of wit—the fascinations of the best perior rank and exalted piety had gathered round circles of Parisian society, and the insidious influ- this renowned leader, and risen under her instrucence of well applied fattery, had, previously to this tions, and the pastoral guidance of a few excellent accident, succeeded in cooling, in some measure, men of similar sentiments, the male recluses of the the ardor of his piety, and had given him some- same society, to still loftier attainments in the love what more of the air of a man, whose hopes and of God, and in conformity to his revealed will. whose treasures were to be found within the limits At the same time also, many men of the first ta. of this transitory and imperfect existence. But lents and acquirements, disgusted with the world, this providential deliverance from sudden death, with the fruitlessness of its service, and the false. led to a very decided and permanent change of cha-hood of its promises, and sick of the heartless and racter. He regarded it as a message from heaven, dissipated state of society around them, came to which called on him to renounce all secular occu- dwell together in a retired mansion in the same pations, and to devote the remainder of his life ex- neighborhood, and to seek in the solitude of the clusively to God. From that time, he bade adieu wilderness, that peace which the world cannot give to the world. He entirely gave up his habits of | Among these were two brothers of the Mere An
gelique, her nephews Le Maitre and De Sacy, Ni- | at that time, was almost uncontrolled, should be. cole, Lancclot, Hermant, and others. Here they hold, with bitter malice, the growing influence and devoted themselves to the instruction of youth, both success of a few retired pietists, who now threatenin literature and science, and in religion, and theired to invade their chartered rights, and by the simseminaries soon rose into importance. From this ple principles of Scriptura' truth, to divide, if not little society of recluses, issued forth many element. io annihilate their power. ary works of learning and science, which became But while the prejudices and hostilities of the the standard works of the day; and such was their Jesuits were thus roused against the Port Royalists, progress and the celebrity of the Port Royal schools, it would not have been a consisten: Jesuitical and the Port Royal grammars, and other treatises, ground of complaint against them, to say loat:hoy that they seriously threatened the Jesuits with ejec- endangered their craft. It was needful to seek an tion from that high station which they had long objection against them in the things concerning almost exclusively held as the instructors and spi- their God. And they soon found ample food tu ritual guides and governors of all the young people nourish and to embitter their venom, and in lay the of condition throughout France.
basis of a plot for their ruin, in the sound doctrinal The true principle of the Romish apostacy from sentiments, and practical piety of these separatists the simplicity of the Christian faith, has ever been from the corrupt manners of the time. And though a despoiic dominion over the consciences of men. probably the sentiments of these gentlemen might That fallen and false church has, in all the varying have been left unnoticed, but for their interference pbases of its condition, ever held this point steadily with the secular interests of the disciples of Loyola, in view; and if a few words may delineate the es- yet when once these artful men had found real sential feature of her enormous and unchristian ground of hostility in the success of the Port Royalpretensions, it is the substitution in the stead of true ists in education, they were thankful indeed to find religion, of a system of terror and power, founded a still more plausible ground of assault against upon unwarranted and unscriptural assumptions, them, in the peculiarity of their religious senti. altogether contrary to the spirit of the gospel of ments. They rejoiced at the opportunity afforded Christ, which is the rational dominion of Divine to them of covering that envy, which originated in influence over the heart, through the medium of the the success of their opponents in a course of honordoctrinal truths of Scripture. To veil, in some de- able rivalry on the field of science, by the more gree, this presumption, and to render it palatable to specious pretext of zeal for the purity of the faith, men in general, Rome has gathered round her, in and the integrity of the pontifical power. On this the style of her buildings, the formularies of her ostensible ground, therefore, a series of persecutions worship, the splendor of her attire, and the fascina- was commenced, which terminated only by the entions of her choral music, every thing that is im- tire destruction of the brightest ornaments that ever posing and calculated to seduce the affections graced the church of France. ihrough the medium of the sen But as know- In the year 1640, the celebrated work of Janseledge spread among the nations, and the art of nius,* bishop of Ypres, entitled, Augustinus, was printing providentially rendered the suppression of published. It was published about two years after knowledge more difficult, it became necessary to the death of the author, and is a very clear and luadopt a more efficient system of police to guard all minous exposition of the doctrine of Scripture on the avenues of this widely extended dominion of the subject of the fall and redemption of man. It priestcraft over ignorance. The court of Rome, exhibits very prominently the opinions of St. AuTherefore, eagerly availed itself of the plan of Lov- gustine, and as distinctly condemns the Pelagian ola, and the order of the Jesuits was established errors. for the defence of the Roman Catholic church; and The recluses of Port Royal, who were diligent never was any system more admirably organized students of the Scriptures, and had derived their for such a purpose.
opinions from that source only, were led to adopt Framed from infancy to intrigue, and hardened views precisely similar to those of Augustine and to all the evils of the morality of expediency, these Jansenius; and the more deeply they searched the emissaries of the Roman power formed a complete Scriptures by the mutual aid of superior intellect system of police spread over the whole extent of and sound erudition, the more abundantly were they Papal Christendom; and thoroughly informed. by confirmed in these opinions, and in rooted aversion means of auricular confession, of the secret history to the whole system of false and ruinous theology of courts, families, and individuals, and bound to then prevalent in the schools of the Jesuits. These each other in the most solemn manner by the cove- opinions they did not hesitate to avow; and the Jenant of their order, they were prepared to adopt suits beheld with dread, the progress of a doctrine and to vindicate any measnres, however infamous, so fitted for the enlightening and comforting of the that might advance the cause of the church with human heart, and the consequent decline of their which they were identified. History furnishes an popularity and their dominion, before the simple, abundance of well-authenticated facts of the darkest but powerful statements of Scriptural truth. dye, to show the boldness with which, al all risks, It is a well established fact, that however plainly they rushed on to their object, and the dangerous the Scriptures speak on these subjects, the careless errors with which they endeavored to justify their multitude who have not religion at heart, and especrimes. There is in the upsanctified heart a fiend- cially those ecclesiastics, whose chief object in the like delight in power. Union is power: and for the sacred profession has been its emoluments, will not sake of feeling that they have that power, men are receive the truths which those Scriptures teach; content to become even subordinate agents, accord- and hence the prevailing opinion, even among the ing to their capacities, in a great scheme, that they teachers of the Christian church, has always been may thereby realize, by combination, an influence hostile to the gospel declarations of human corrupextensive, irresistible, and terrific, which no one tion, and Divine mercy. So that in those days of could have obtained alone. This is most probably ignorance and irreligion, although the doctrine of the secret of the efficiency of that system of eccle- St. Augustin had been formally sanctioned as the siastical espionage; and it certainly was carried to doctrine of the church of Rome, the authorities of such an awful degree of success, that the thrones of Europe, and even the Papal tiara itself, trembled * His real name was Otto; but at Louvain he was before it. 'It was not therefore to be wondered at, called first Jansen, or the son of John, and this in the that this powerful body, whose reign over France, Latinized form became Jansenius,
that church were fully prepared by the corrupt that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, ano bias of the irreligious mind, to act in direct opposi- that the reward of the true servants of Gud is retion to dogmas which the church itself had recog- served for another. nized. To those who have not looked closely into The contest of M. Pascal with the Jesuits conecclesiastical history, this may seem extraordinary. tinued for about three years, during which time, he But the fact is not uncommon. And the present was very much occupied. To expose their errors state of religion, both in the English and Scottish required a very diligent study of their voluminous Establishments, exhibits a case of a similar kind; and useless writings; and though, in this respect, the larger portion of the clergy in both churches Pascal was much indebted to the labors of Arnauld holding doctrines decidedly opposed to the dogma and Nicole, yet much application on his own part tical statements of their standard documents, and was absolutely necessary. He says, “ I have been in the strength of their majority, denouncing, as asked if I had read all the books which I have heretical, those members of the church whose opi- quoted? I answer, No. To do this, I must have nions precisely and literally accord with their Ar- spent a large portion of my life in reading very bad ticles and Confessions.
books. But I have twice read the works of Escobar The Jesuits, therefore, relying on the preferences through; the others, my friends read for me. But and strong prejudices of the great body of the priest- I have never made use of a single passage, without hood, boldly assailed the writings of Jansenius, and having read it in the book from which Í quoted, the opinions of the Port Royalists; and a long and and without having studied the ground on which it tedious controversy arose, in which M. Arnauld was brought forward, and examined the context and several other members of the society of Port both before and after, that I might not run the risk Royal abundantly distinguished themselves; but of citing that as an averment, which was brought wbich did not appear at all likely to draw to a forward as an objection." close, except as it threatened the Port Royalists with Application so close, could not but materially afruin, when Pascal was induced to take up his pen fect a constitution already seriously enfeebled by in defence of his persecuted friends, and of those disease; and the evils which were gathering, werc scriptural truths to which he was sincerely attached. doubtless aggravated by the severe mode of life to
In the year 1656, M. Pascal published the first of which he rigidly adhered. His food was of the his twenty celebrated letters, on the subject of the plainest kind. His apartment cleared of every morality of the Jesuits, and which have been impro- thing like luxury, or even comfort; and in order perly called “The Provincial Letters.” They were to check the risings of vanity, or any other evil sug. published first under the title,“ Letters written by gestion, he wore beneath his clothes a girdle of iron, Louis de Montalte to a Provincial, and to the Reve- with sharp points affixed to it, the inconvenience of rend the Fathers of the Jesuits, on their moral and which must have been at all times great; but whenpolitical principles;" and from this they acquired ever he found his mind wandering from the one the erroneous title by which they are universally great subject, or taking delight in the things around known. Of the merit of these letiers, nothing need him, he struck this girdle with his elbow, and forced be said here. They are known to every one. Even the sharp points of the iron more deeply into his Voltaire has said of them, that "Moliere's best side. This fact cannot be recorded with approba. comedies are not so pungent in their wit as the tion. It is one of the strong evidences of ihe evil earlier letters; and that Bossuet has nothing more occasioned by the false doctrines of the Church of sublime than the latter.” They are now regarded Rome, that even a genius so elevated and liberal as as the first book which purified and fixed the French that of Pascal, could not altogether free itself from language. The effect of them was wonderful. The the errors of education. What a far more effectual whole edifice of the reputation of the society fell be- principle of reform is the love of Christ! All the fore the power of Pascal's genius. The boldest bodily suffering which we can inflict upon ourselves, casuists fled from the two edged sword of his manly will not be sufficient alone to inspire one holy, or and honest sarcasm. An universal clamor rose restrain one un holy thought; but a faithful, affecagainst them. They were on every side regarded as tionate lifting up of the soul to the God of all grace, the corrupters of morals; and after having, in one is blessed by Divine appointment as the means of or two pamphlets, most unwisely and vainly en-victory over temptation; and they who have sindeavored to justify the system of casuistry which cerely tried this "more excellent way," have realizPascal had exposed, they were compelled for a time ed ils srccess. They know what is the liberty to shrink before the scourge with which he had wherewith Christ has made them free. chastised them, and to bear in silence the general But though Christians, in a day of clearer ligh indignation of the more virtuous portion of society, and richer privilege can discern the error into which which he had effectually roused against their er- Pascal had been led, and can mourn over the bondrors.*
age in which he was still retained, yet they who Enmity, however, such as theirs did not languish, I know the difficulty of a sincere and uncompromising because for a time, it was repressed. Though the service of God, will look with reverence at these multitude had now seen and abhorred the immoral evidences of a serious devotion to the cause of holiprinciples of the Jesuits, they had not the means to ness, and admire the resolute self-denial which dicoverthrow their power. These were men who could lated and endured such extraordinary sufferings. resolutely and pertinaciously maintain their position It is surely not becoming in the careless, sensual after their character was gone. Their channels to professor of the Christian faith, who in any degree influence over men of power, were too effectually makes bis liberty a cloak for iicentiousness, 10 look occupied for any one to shake their dominion over with contempt on these striking proofs, that Pascal the court and the government; and in the mysterious hated vain thoughts, more than he loved his own providence of God, a few years gave to this intrigu- fesh. It has been well said, that " a poor mistaken ing society a complete and bitter revenge. The Papist, wounded by a girdle, or bleeding under a history of the persecution, dispersion, and ruin of scourge, with a broken and a contrite heart, is nearer the saints of Port Royal, is perhaps one of the most to the kingdom of God, than proud, insolent, ininteresting points in the annals of the Christian tolerant professor of religion, who, with a less exchurch. It does most powerfully establish the truth, ceptionable creed, is lamentably deficient in the
graces of humility, self-denial, and charity.” Hap No serious attempt was made to answer the Pro-py will that man be, who, if he is working upon vincial Letters for forty years.
sound principles, and has renounced the notion of