My rating: 4 of 5 stars
" Let us then examine this point,
and say, "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide
nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at
the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you
wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according
to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know
nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice;
for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault,
they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all. "Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see.
Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to
lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your
knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and
misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since
you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us
weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances.
If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation
that He is. "That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much."
Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two
lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you
would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be
imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game
where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and
happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only
would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act
stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in
which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an
infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain,
a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite.
It is all divided; where-ever the infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss
against that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all. And thus, when one
is forced to play, he must renounce reason to preserve his life, rather than risk it for
infinite gain, as likely to happen as the loss of nothingness.
.....The end of this discourse.—Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side?
You will be faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you
will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others?
I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this
road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that
you will at last recognise that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for
which you have given nothing.