All fine and delicate thought in which the soul truly takes part recalls us to God and to piety. The soul cannot stir, awaken, open its eyes without feeling God. God is felt by the soul as air is felt by the body.

Earth is only comprehensible to those who have known heaven. Without the world of religion, the world of sense offers nothing but a desolating enigma.

Would God have made human life merely to contemplate the flow of it, merely to watch the tossing, and tumbling, the play, and the variety—or merely to have the sight of ever-moving hands passing a torch from one to another? No; God does nothing but for eternity.

For a translation of the Bible you want largeness of phrase; constructions where the joins are not too close, nor the surface too polished; and in the words and expressions a touch of the archaic.

We need all the leisure of idleness, some spare time, and some study, to enjoy the beauties of Homer, and to understand him we must dream over him. We need but a moment, I will not say of attention, but of listening, to understand and receive into our being the beauties of the Bible, beauties that proportion themselves to the different disposition and capacity of different minds; so that they can enter into the smallest, or entirely fill the greatest, and are available in all their fulness for the intelligence of any man, according as he is more or less well disposed, and as soon as he is ready to admit them.

The Old Testament teaches good and evil; the Gospel on the contrary seems written for the elect; it is the book of innocence. The first is made for earth, the other seems made for Heaven. According as the one or the other of these books is the more familiar to a nation, different religious tempers come into being.

Are we permitted to speak to God of our own wishes, and our own affairs? It may be said that both are right—those who do so in trustful simplicity, and those who in reverence refrain.

To think of God is an act.

Our immortality is revealed to us by an inner message breathed at birth into the soul. God Himself when He created us implanted this word, engraved this truth, of which the tones and tokens are indestructible. But, in doing this, God whispers to us and enlightens us secretly. To catch His accents, we must have an inner silence; to see His light, the senses must be closed, and we must look within.

God loves the soul, and as there is a force that draws the soul to God, so is there also, if I dare say so, one that draws God to the soul. He makes the soul his delight.


Excerpts from the Notes of Joseph Joubert, translated by K. Lyttelton