Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mercy Attacks Slackness

Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal was an influential French mathematician, a physicist and a great religious philosopher.  He has been recognized for his most famous work in philosophy - Pensées - a collection of personal thoughts on human suffering and faith in God.  In it he writes:

"Against those who, trusting to the mercy of God, live heedlessly, without doing good works. As the two sources of our sins are pride and sloth, God has revealed to us two of His attributes to cure them, mercy and justice.

The property of justice is to humble pride, however holy may be our works, et non intres injudicium, etc.; and

the property of mercy is to combat sloth by exhorting to good works, according to that passage: "The goodness of God leadeth to repentance, and that other of the Ninevites: "Let us do penance to see if peradventure He will pity us." 

"And thus mercy is so far from authorising slackness that it is on the contrary the quality which formally attacks it; so that instead of saying, "If there were no mercy in God we should have to make every kind of effort after virtue," we must say, on the contrary, that it is because there is mercy in God that we must make every kind of effort."

[On November 23, 1654, Pascal experienced a "definitive conversion" during a vision of the crucifixion:

"From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past twelve … FIRE … God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and not of the philosophers and savants. Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace."

He recorded the experience (called the "Mémorial") on a piece of parchment, which he carried with him the rest of his life, sewed inside his coat...]

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