« ZurückWeiter »
to be thus taken when just getting out of bed, or in the necessary embarrassment of an early hour. But much more so it is, to be compelled to lay before the public the dots and strokes of a work just beginning to be formed, and which, when completed, is intended for that public which now is made a forestaller. From this concealed laboratory has come forth, or is to come forth, a composition smooth, sustained, flowing, such as befits a man in whom thoughts and expression spring up together, as the water of a fountain at one jet. The public cannot enter into the idea of what this deep-seated labour costs; it is completely ignorant of the process; it sees, or knows, or perhaps even conjectures, nothing. Here, then, this very public is bursting into the author's laboratory, counting and handling his tools, finding out all the combinations of his apparatus, and the dexterous manipulation whose effect he had fondly imagined would appear an inspiration. If the public like this, it is very well on its part; but, for the author, how does he feel? Can he like it? Oh, but Pascal was far above the puerilities of (mauvaise honte) false shame. Very true; I grant it: but there is another thing, more serious still. In these unsewed tatters which you are handing to us, Pascal is not a writing man, but a THINKING man; rather may we say, a man seeking for his thoughts. Beware of a serious mistake. Many of his affirmations are interrogations disguised. Instead of saying, Is the matter so? he often says, It is. He lays down, in absolute terms, what, in his view, is true in only a relative sense. Sometimes even the person that addresses you is not he, but a third, perhaps his adversary. A man must be utterly devoid of experience in literary composition, not to admit at once and before hand all this. THINKING is by turns affirming and doubting, questioning and answering. We scarcely think without the help of words, which serve as chemical agents, decomposing and recomposing thought. Undoubtedly, a man need not pronounce those words, nor write them; but it is better to use those helps. Many persons cannot meditate without a pen in hand; they think not, except they write. That was not the case with Pascal; but it is the fact that a great part of this collection of his Thoughts spread open before us, not the result of his thinking, which a book would do, but the very inward working itself of that thinking; I might almost say, the brewing of his mind. In many passages, the idea is not more definite than the form of its expression. Now, if our great thinker and writer could see that he was thus surrendered to the public gaze, would he mot look upon himself as betrayed 2 And, would he not really be so, up to a certain point? Let the grave and judicious o: of the Thoughts pardon me for this expression; the meaning of which, however, he cannot mistake. His work is strictly accordant to the laws of honour, so far as they could be extended. After what I have said of the involuntary impression which (on the supposition) would certainly have been made upon the author of the Thoughts, I do maintain that he, when he duly considered the case, and took into his account the time and the circumstances, even he would acknowledge that Mr. Faugère had done HIM a service as well as us. “It will never be said again, that the first editors left the true Pascal, that is, as some have said, the sceptical and hopeless, lurking at the bottom of the original text. That text we now have in its integrity. Mr. Faugère has carried his scrupulosity farther, if it be possible, than they did their liberties. He has given us even insulated words, which yield no meaning to any one: and when even a single word was illegible, he has marked the place. Now, better than ever, you can judge whether Pascal had within him good reasons for being a Christian; yes, now better than ever, you will be convinced that he wAs a Christian. Indeed, he does not become a Christian as the generality of men do. He, if not the first, yet the first in a clear and explicit manmer, has summoned, to sit in judgment upon the great question of the truth of Christianity, the moral faculties, which had too generally been deposed, out of compliment to the intellectual. He has brought the decision of the great question to the entire man. From the depths of our nature, he has called up witnesses who had never before been brought to the bar. He has made good his assertion, that their testimony, neglected as it had been, is completely sufficient for every man's personal conviction; and that, for a definitive conclusion, there is no true knowledge, no thorough and effectual conviction, for those who listen not to these internal witnesses. By their evidence, he has reduced to their proper value, not only the objections of the adversaries to his faith, but not a few prejudices, not a few beggings of the question which religion may perhaps, after other proof, erect into certainty, but which cannot await to give certainty to religion. All this was shewn in the first and subsequent editions of the Thoughts, though, we must acknowledge, much disfigured: but the present publication brings out many new sides on which to contemplate the character of Pascal as a defender of revelation. And, indeed, this is all. It is not another Pascal; not a new creation, not even a modification; and be it especially observed that, of his religious character, it gives no different idea from that which we before had, except that here he appears surrounded with a purer and brighter light. ‘Yet this circumstance, and the very great number of entirely new materials which Mr. Faugère has brought to light, are not,
if we penetrate to the bottom of the subject, the only advantages of this FAITHFUL edition. Whoever reads the new Pascal will be struck with the strongly marked individuality which belonged to the religion of that great man. A publication prepared by himself, and of course in concert with his friendswhat one might call the official edition, the authorized bookwould have greatly attenuated that character, and thus have lessened the peculiar excellence of the work. After all, Pascal's first editors respected him dead, to much better effect than they could have managed him living. They would have required of him more sacrifices than they allowed themselves to make of alterations. Death has been the seal and guardian of the author's religious individuality. That he is a Roman catholic and a Jansenist every one knows: but he is both the one and the other in his own way; and he is not either, at all times, up to the point which his friends would probably have desired. At one time he makes use of technical terms, and then he throws them aside. His system of divinity is his own, even when it is conceived in the utmost precision of terms. It is not a doctor in divinity that speaks : it is a man who breathes the free air of the world; and, better still, it is a man. A long time it had been, as I think, that religion had possessed no [apologistes] defenders by direct authorship, besides titled doctors*. An apologist of this new kind was wanting; for it is hardly to be expected that a doctor be turned entirely back again into a man. Pascal, in the old editions, but above all in the new, is such; the individual and independent man, more than he was himself aware of, more than he would have desired. And perhaps it would not be very difficult to distinguish the portions in which he is the Christian of his church and party, and those in which he is his own kind of Christian.
The method employed by Pascal in the Thoughts, has a bearing which himself, clear-sighted and far-seeing as he was, did not perhaps perceive. We will try to make ourselves understood by moving back a few steps.
'In religion, upon all systems, a place must be found some. where for the principle of examination. At the least and lowest, a man must examine, to know whether he may believe without examining. The Roman catholic examines, as well as the protestant: he examines the grounds of the authority to which his church lays claim. Till he arrives at a full conviction of that authority, he proceeds as a protestant-he is a protestant. The examination which he has to make, embraces a large number of very great questions. It would be difficult to say what questions are not here implied. The whole space that lies between the _ * Had Mr. Vinet forgotten, when he wrote this, the noble Mornay du Plessis ?
philosophy of mind and the history of man, with all that those terms comprehend, becomes, in successive portions, the field of investigation. The questions arising are of such a nature and such difficulty that an authority, if there were one, would not be too much for their resolution. But there is not an authority: we are only in search of it: authority cannot be founded upon authority. There is the scripture. Very true: but to send us all alone to the tribunal of the scripture, to give up the question to be settled between the scripture and ourselves, involves the admission that we have the right of determining for ourselves the sense of scripture, without appeal to any authority over us. This would be precisely to grant that which, in the system of authority, is peremptorily denied us. Try you, then, to understand how that could be granted to us for one time, which is to be refused us forever afterwards; and how to escape the consequence that the entire system of protestantism is included in this your temporary concession. “But may we not have recourse to the Holy SPIRIT * Be it so. We must admit, then, that there is a Holy Spirit; that there is an action of the Spirit of God upon the spirit of man. Observe; it must be the individual man; for, in our supposed case, it is an individual who is seeking and examining. You admit, then, that the Spirit of God condescends to hold immediate communion with an individual of mankind. But, if that be possible once, it is always possible. Henceforth, then, authority is useless: the Holy Spirit takes the place of the church. This, however, is what cannot be granted us by those who maintain the principle of authority. It follows, by the strictest necessity of reasoning, that they must put the Holy Spirit under arrest for the benefit of the church. “Then they send us, as inquirers, to natural reason; and to science, one of the acquisitions and instruments of reason. Upon reason is thus thrown the answering of a great number of questions, as I have above said, of such a nature and such difficulty, that it is quite inconceivable why authority has not, at the very first, applied itself to the solution of those questions. This is an enormous imperfection; an incomprehensible chasm in the system. If a man be capable of arriving by himself at a solution of those difficulties, surely he is capable by himself of arriving at the true sense of scripture. Suppose that natural reason renders some men capable of resolving the questions, the number of such men is extremely small. There is an immense multitude of minds to whom such an achievement would be quite impossible; yet they need to be convinced of the church's authority, for the church is ‘the pillar and ground of the truth,” by its determining, always and in every case, the meaning of the divine oracles. The scriptures, and the
Holy Spirit, but certain iciple can
Holy Spirit, being discarded as to all men; reason also, as to all probably, but certainly as to the vast majority; what remains ? Upon what principle can we proceed to confide in authority? The whole of the most important interest in the world is thrown upon chance; the accident of birth and the impressions of childhood. Set aside this absolute incompetency; and there is nothing but protestantism-protestantism to the end. We are irrevocably protestants; not as a thing of result, the effect of a process of examination, but by the very fact of examination itself. Here, then, is the alternative, and it cannot be eluded; we must never examine ; no, not for one moment; or we must always examine.
Pascal lays it down as certain, or rather he establishes, that, by examining ourselves and by comparing the contents of the New Testament with our own consciences, we shall surely attain to faith, through the mighty grace of the Holy Spirit. In his view, believing is inseparable from understanding; to believe is to understand with the heart, with the new heart which the Holy Spirit gives. The Holy SPIRIT, not the church; there lies Pascal's authority. Read attentively the Thoughts, and be pleased to answer this one question: In his system, is not church-authority entirely nullified, put absolutely out of the field? The trouble would be well recompensed of once studying under this point of view the INESTIMABLE FRAGMENTS which are now restored to us in their integrity.'
We doubt not but that our readers will warmly thank us for this long extract from the first of Professor Vinet's three articles of Review. The succeeding two numbers refer to details, and are not requisite for us. A few passages we shall introduce in their places.
The awakening of attention, produced by Victor Cousin's two publications, seems to have been the determining cause of Mr. Faugère's resolving upon a thorough investigation of the matter and presenting the results to the world. This he has done in a manner which reflects the highest honour upon his care, judgment, and fidelity. He collated all the important editions; he obtained from descendants of collateral branches of the Pascal family and their intimate friends,-a Transcript, which bears proof of being the first copy taken from the scraps of autograph found strung upon cords or otherwise dispersed, reduced into an imperfect order :-a copy, evidently of the preceding :-a collection of transcripts from Pascal's original fragments, made by Father Guerrier, an intimate friend of the family and a priest of the Oratory, (a Society honourably celebrated for their many learned labours, and among whom Were Lamy, Le Long, and others :) and a voluminous collection of Guerrier's transcripts of the Pascalian papers, consisting