I first began reading portions of Pascal (1623-1662) in his luminous Pensées on off class-hours at seminary with Joel in an abandoned classroom. (Those were the days…) It seems that nearly every sentence was a delight. Truly you should work your way–very slowly–through Pascal. You will be the better for it.
He portrays the folly of the agnostic and infidel vividly:
One needs no great sublimity of soul to realize that in this life there is no true or solid satisfaction, that all our pleasures are mere vanity, that our afflictions are infinite, and finally that death which threatens us at every moment must in a few years infallibly face us with the inescapable and appalling alternative of being annihilated or wretched throughout eternity.
Nothing could be more real, or more dreadful than that.
Let us put on as bold a face as we like: that is the end awaiting the world’s most illustrious life.
Let us ponder these things, and then say whether it is not beyond doubt that the only good thing in this life is the hope of another life, that we become happy only as we come nearer to it, and that, just as no more unhappiness awaits those who have been quite certain of eternity, so there is no happiness for those who have no inkling of it.*
Truly, the pleasures of this life are vanity. We search in vain in the external world for satisfaction, only to fill our broken cisterns.
As Tozer said, “Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and ‘things’ were allowed to enter. . . . Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer.”**
*Trans. A. J. Krailsheimer. (New York: Penguin, 1966), 157.
**The Pursuit of God, somewhere early in chapter 2.