Early Christianity on Abortion & Exposure of Children

What we must admit is that there are no clearly stated prohibitions against abortion in the New Testament. However, early Christianity—having itself consisted of Jewish adherents to the Way in the first decade after Christ’s ascension— continued to adopt their moral understanding of various issues from Judaism. We, first, look the Jewish historian, Josephus (c. 37–100 CE) and what he wrote about the Jewish prohibition against abortion. It was a prohibition according to Jewish law.

The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind: if anyone, therefore, proceeds to such fornication or murder, he cannot be clean.

(Against Apion 2.202)

The Ten Commandments were used by early Christians just as they were by Jews—as teachings that pertained to moral living. Notably, the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” was given a greater exposition in Christian thinking and applied specifically to the termination of a pregnancy. When in the late first, early second century, a document known as Didache was written, attention turned to the sixth commandment and stated, “You shall not murder … you shall not engage in sorcery; you shall not abort a child or commit infanticide” (2.2). This document understood the sixth commandment as extending to the unborn. The reason I included “sorcery” as a part of this understanding is that the Greek term translated “sorcery” is the word from which we get “pharmacy.” Therefore, “sorcery” here likely included taking abortifacients—drugs that induced miscarriage. Our modern understanding of the sixth commandment was clearly understood as extending to the life of the unborn.

Also in keeping with the Mosaic Law, the paths of life and death (Deuteronomy 27–28) are recast as darkness and light in another early Christian writing.

But the path of darkness is crooked and full of cursing, for it is the path of eternal death and punishment, in which way are the things that destroy the soul …  Here are they who are persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of lies; they who know not the reward of righteousness, who cleave not to what is good nor unto just judgment … murderers of children.

(Epistle of Barnabas 20.1–2)

Christian writers believed that life in the womb was no different than life outside it. Clement of Alexandria (c. 160–215 CE) inferred from Luke 1:41 when John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb that very belief (Instructor 2.10.96). Athenagoras, in the late-second-century, pointed to Christianity’s rejection of abortion as proof that Christians were moral when he wrote that the Christians “say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion” (Leg. 35).

Later church councils forbade abortion and actually levied punishments against any who murdered their unborn. The Council of Elvira (c. 4th century) reflects such beliefs.

If a woman conceives in adultery and then has an abortion, she may not commune again, even as death approaches, because she has sinned twice. (Canon 63)

A catechumen who conceives in adultery and then suffocates the child may be baptized only when death approaches. (Canon 68)

Even some of the most notable early church theologians supported this stance. Both Augustine (c. 354–430) and John Chrysostom (c. 347–407) viewed abortion as murder, and exposure—abortion’s ugly cousin—was no less an evil.

Moses’ Law encouraged caring for orphans (Exodus 22:22–24; Deuteronomy 14:29).[1] God administered justice for orphans, so Israel was not to pervert justice towards them (Deuteronomy 10:18; cf. 24:17; 27:19). The Essenes—a Jewish sect that lived around the Dead Sea in the first century CE—were known for taking them in and caring for them. Their community resembled a modern idea of a monastery in that everything was common property. Josephus records that they would take in children not their own because they did not wed, and they would care for those children and teach them their ways (Wars 2.8.2).

I don’t wish to enter into a discussion about the legitimacy of orphanages or children’s homes, but the order of widows cared for orphans as a part of their ecclesial duties.[2] Theologically, caring for orphans is missional in its practice. Even Jesus was adopted by Joseph, and Christ identified Himself with the “least of these my brothers” (Matthew 25:40). To care for orphans is to see Christ in the orphan as one of the least of those in society. As Christians, we have been adopted into God’s family. We are orphans made children by adoption through Christ (Romans 8:15, 23).[3]

A testimony of early church history also demonstrates that such were cared for by Christians. The late first-century bishop, Clement of Rome wrote, “Let the [elders] be compassionate and merciful to everyone—bringing back those who wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor.” The second-century Greek apologist, Aristides, wrote that Christians “do not turn away their care from widows, and they deliver the orphan from anyone who treats him harshly.” The second-century Christian work, Shepherd of Hermas, noted, “Therefore, instead of lands, buy afflicted souls, according as each one is able. And visit widows and orphans.”[4]

Christianity’s stances on exposure led to a shift in Roman law in later years.[5] By 374 CE, one could incur a penalty for exposing a child. Obviously, by this time, Constantine had reigned and obliterated the persecution of Christians with Christianity later becoming the state religion in the Roman Empire. This elevation of the faith was good in some respects but bad in others. The good that came from the legalization of Christianity and its adoption as the state religion was that Christian theology began to have a say in legal matters.

The Cappadocian Fathers of the fourth century, as well as Latin theologians, helped shape the thinking of the Empire with some of them even having strong connections in government, For example, the Cappadocian Father, Basil the Great was familiar with Julian the Apostate since the two had been educated together. These two figures began competing, Basil through Christianity and Julian through the pagan rites, to win the hearts of people to their respective faiths. By this time, however, paganism had little influence but Christianity flourished.

With abortion as with exposure, while a rather defined orthodoxy was to not abort or expose children, not all Christians were blameless in these areas. Christians both participated in aborting unborn and exposing newly born infants.[6] One may wonder why these unique features taught in Christianity were violated by adherents to the faith. After all, wouldn’t that make these unique features unworthy of the world? Would it not nullify the faith of Christ itself and might we be justified in labeling those who did such “hypocrites?” The frustration is inevitable. However, there is no excuse for why Christians did such things.

I might remind the reader that many of the writings that comprise the New Testament were written as reactionary letters to communities of faith who were skating perilously close to an edge of heresy or infidelity to God. Christians are no different from any other person or group of people. We have our trials and temptations. We try rather hard to weather the storms, but despite our profession of faith, we still sin. It may be with a purpose that Christians sin, and sometimes it may be accidental. We still sin. However, the lives we are supposed to live are to be mirrored after that of Christ Himself. Yet, we often fall short. The early Christians did, and we still do today. If we can but recapture the uniqueness of our faith once again, perhaps we’ll be able to make the kind of changes that those believers did in their own time


[1] The Hebrew term often translated as “fatherless child” in the NKJV is elsewhere translated as “orphan” (cf. Lamentations 5:3; Malachi 3:5), so when I mention orphan and you reference the passage to find the translation as “fatherless child,” I’ve referenced from the Hebrew and not the English. Interestingly enough, many passages where “orphan” appears also has “widow” in the same verse or immediate context. At other places, “stranger” appears alongside them both. The point being that God cares for those most vulnerable to abuse in society. It must be mentioned that the Thebans outlawed exposure, but allowed the sale of children. This is the only recorded government, alongside the practice of Jews and Christians, to have taken a rather different approach for the newborn when compared to the rest of the ancient world.

[2] See Michael J. Gorman, Abortion and the Early Church: Christian, Jewish and Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1982).

[3] Russell D. Moore, “Abba Changes Everything: Why Every Christian Is Called to Rescue Orphans,” Christianity Today 54, no. 7 (July 2010): 18–22.

[4] David W. Bercot, ed., A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, s.v. “Orphans and Widows,” 1998.

[5] See Joshua C. Tate, “Christianity and the Legal Status of Abandoned Children in the Later Roman Empire,” Journal of Law and Religion 24, no. 1 (2008/09): 123–41.

[6] Everett Ferguson, Thinking-Living-Dying: Early Apologists Speak to the 21st Century (Vienna: Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 2011), 27, 29.

Abortion in Greco-Roman Society

The intention of this post is to record history, and not opine so much on why and how things were done. In the next post, historical sources from early Christianity will be provided on the same matter to show how Christianity, in this regard, distinguished itself from Greco-Roman society at-large.

Hippocrates (c. 460–375 BCE) was a pioneer of medical theory as well as the oath that all physicians swore by upon beginning their practice of medicine, and still do today from my understanding. A part of the Hippocratic Oath states, “I will not give to a woman [an abortifacient].” Abortion was rather common in antiquity, but Greco-Roman society wasn’t entirely careless regarding the unborn. In some cases, abortion appears as wrong as some believe it to be today. For example, in Athens, if a man died while his wife was pregnant and she aborted the pregnancy upon his death, she was charged to have committed a crime against her husband. The legal theory was that her abortion was criminal since the unborn child could have claimed the late father’s estate, so it was more a matter of property rights than a moral statute. Fast-forwarding closer to the advent of Christ, we see that not much had changed in this regard.

Ovid’s work Amores was first published in 16 BCE. In this work of poetry, Ovid mentions abortion in the early Roman Empire and the unborn child as a “burden” (Am. 2.13). However, in the next elegy, he refers to the fetus as “tender” and the destruction of it as by a “warlike method.” This particular elegy is against abortion because it robs society of her Caesars and other heroes. Furthermore, were this a common practice, Ovid suggests, there would be no humanity. He asked why women would “thrust and pierce with the instrument and give dire poisons” to unborn children, which explains how abortions were performed then (Am. 2.14). The methods of abortion were sometimes as risky for the mother as they were for the unborn baby and many women died from having attempted to terminate their pregnancy.

The Roman statesman, Cicero mentions a disdain for abortion similar to the Athenian law mentioned above. A mother had been bribed by alternative heirs to terminate her pregnancy, which she did. The mother, in turn, was condemned to death because she cheated the father of his posterity and the Republic of a potential citizen (In Defense of Cluentius 32). The philosophical school of Stoicism held that life began once a child was born. The breathing of a person outside the womb was the moment life began. This thinking allowed abortion to be acceptable, and Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BCE–65 CE), a Roman statesman and philosopher, was able to use this belief in the legal system. Seneca wrote that “unnatural progeny” were destroyed, which was likely a reference to an incestuous conception. He also wrote about drowning children that were born abnormal and weak (On Anger 1.15.2–3). The Stoic idea that unborn babies were not humans came to influence Roman law and only further justified the practice of abortion.[1]

Not all Stoics, however, consented to abortion being a good thing. Musonius Rufus (c. 30?–102 CE) saw abortion as inhuman. He saw its purpose as solely of enhancing the firstborn’s inheritance more than anything, which amounted to greedy motives. The lawgivers, he contended, functioned to discern what was lawful and good for the state, as well as what was bad and detrimental to it. The lawgivers, he recalled, urged the increase of the homes as something fortunate. So fortunate was the increase of the homes “that they forbade women to suffer abortions and imposed a penalty upon those who disobeyed” (Discourse 15). His discourse on this matter is likely a referendum against the common practice of abortions in the first century.[2]

Juvenal wrote that wealthy women would not endure labor, but would dull the pain with drugs or obtain an abortion (Satire 6.593–96). He also wrote how Emperor Domitian (c. 81–96 CE) impregnated his niece and then gave her abortive drugs. The niece in question, Julia, died in 91 CE as a result of the abortion (Satire 2.20–24). Here we see another example of why abortions were performed (incest). Wealthy people may not have just wanted to deal with it, so they terminated the pregnancy. However, there was another reason for terminating a pregnancy. Slave women might terminate a pregnancy to avoid bringing up a child in slavery.[3] The slave women would have had to have done this in secrecy because a slave’s child was the property of her master and not her own.   

In the second century, the Greek gynecologist, obstetrician, and pediatrician, Soranus of Ephesus, wrote his work Gynecology which explains how medical knowledge at the time treated various related matters. In this work, he distinguished between an involuntary abortion—what we’d call “miscarriage”—and the willful termination of pregnancy. He also distinguished between a contraceptive and abortive. The former was to prevent conception from taking place while the latter was intended to expel the unborn from the woman’s body (Gyn. 1.59–60). In discussing when an abortive was given, he noted that some would not give an abortive if a woman wanted to terminate the pregnancy due to adultery or because she wanted to preserve her youthful beauty—again, two reasons why abortions took place then. An abortive would be given if it were discovered that the woman’s body, according to the science then, were determined to be unable of birthing a child and thus risk the mother’s wellbeing. However, Soranus preferred contraceptives to an abortive as a preventative risk, because “it is safer to prevent conception from taking place than to destroy the fetus” (Gyn. 1.60). He then went on to list various concoctions that could be used as a contraceptive or abortifacient, but if used to terminate a pregnancy, serious side effects followed that posed significant risks (Gyn. 1.61–63). Yet, this didn’t prevent him from explicitly naming how one might terminate a pregnancy (Gyn. 1.64–65).

While more citations could be supplied to the ends of showing how common abortion was, we also noted a couple of pagans who were against it, but not for the same moral reasons early Christians stood opposed to the practice. Additionally, there were others who opposed abortion in antiquity, but Christians gave a clearer understanding of why it was wrong that distinguished them from others. In the next post, I’ll list early Christian sources on the matter itself.


[1] Cf. Justinian, Digest 35.2.9.1.

[2] Caesar Augustus issued edicts in 18 BCE and 9 CE promoting childbearing, but he did not explicitly outlaw abortion (Gorman, Abortion and the Early Church, 27).

[3] Dio Chrysostom (c. 40/50–110/120 CE), Discourses 15.8.

A Christian’s Dual Citizenship

“For our citizenship is in heaven,” so Paul wrote to the Philippians (3:20). The ancient city of Philippi was a Roman colony, and her citizens were automatically citizens of Rome with all the perks and privileges that carried—among which were certain tax exemptions. Some of them may have never been to Rome itself but could appreciate and understand the pride of having citizenship despite having never been there. For Christians, this is our reality: we have not yet been to heaven, but that’s where our citizenship is and with it, all the blessings that accompany being members of the Kingdom of God. Why is it, then, that we place such a high value on earthly politics when our heavenly citizenship should be the premier marker of our identity? No one truly knows, but several passages may help us determine how we, as Christians, should relate to the earthly government. 

We read that the world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19); we read that Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). Because of this truth, injustices, hatred, bigotry, and evil will always be present, and this shouldn’t shock us. Nevertheless, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we must and can undoubtedly lend to justice, truth, and equity on earth as demonstrative of our heavenly citizenship. Some Christians believe the principal means by which this is achieved is through earthly government, but I would, respectfully, disagree. Satan offered the kingdoms of the world to Christ if He would only fall down and worship him, but Jesus refused (Matt. 4:8–10). Had Jesus wanted to affect change through earthly government, He had His chance in this scene. Perhaps one might retort that the price wasn’t worth paying. Fair enough. In John’s account of the gospel, after Jesus fed several thousand people, they wanted to make Him king by force, but Christ didn’t want that. He retreated to be by Himself, avoiding the crowd’s aim of making Him King by force (John 6:15). 

It wasn’t God’s will that change and good would come directly through the government, and our Savior Himself didn’t rely upon government to achieve His ends. How was it achieved, instead? The will of God was completed by the employment of government: the arrest in the garden, the sham of a trial during the dark of the night, and ultimately, by the Roman procurator, Pilate, who then ordered an innocent Man to be executed. The very apparatus that Christians place their hopes in every election season is the one shown to itself be imperfect and full of corruptions, such that even our God was subject to and under which He suffered. Tell me again why such a premier is placed on fallible, earthly authorities when our citizenship is in heaven?

What’s most astounding is when a Christian finds no home in either of the major parties because of their belief. They are often accused of pulling for the other side in whom they also disdain. The Republicans and Democrats are akin to the Pharisees and Herodians, trying to catch the follower of Jesus. In that particular episode, the Pharisees were Jewish nationalists who disdained the Roman occupation of Judea while the Herodians were Jews friendly to the Romans. They had a common enemy: Jesus. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as the saying goes, so they bound together to try to entrap Christ to either accuse Him of lacking Jewish patriotism or opposing the Emperor. The stage is set. They ask Him about paying taxes. His reply, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and the God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). God isn’t anti-government. However, as our citizenship is in heaven, we should relate to the government by giving it what’s due so long as it doesn’t contradict the will of the Father (cf. Acts 4:19; 5:29). 

When we sincerely follow Jesus, we’ll often find ourselves at odds with the government and the parties that vie for control. Nevertheless, we can participate in government in good conscience and that to the glory of the Lord. Joseph was second in command to Pharaoh; Daniel was a high-ranking official in the Babylonian King’s court; Nehemiah was the cupbearer of the Persian King. These each served God and the master who was over them, and they did so with integrity and dignity. Cornelius was a Roman centurion who became a follower of Jesus, and he was never commanded to resign his post to follow Christ, so it’s entirely possible to be in an environment and realm, to serve God, and faithfully discharge one’s duty. 

When Christianity began to go awry, in my opinion, was when it started mixing with the government. The Magna Carta of our faith is the Sermon on the Mount, and there are tensions with acts of government and Christian living, but they each exist for their own purposes. Even Constantine himself delayed baptism until on his death bed because he may have well understood the difficulty of being a Christian and an Emperor. The mistake is made when we try to intermingle them in a way they aren’t meant to be mixed. Ravi Zacharias once said, “Anytime religion is politicized, it’s in danger of extinction.” Why is that? Because it can only ever been enacted with the fear of punishment if one doesn’t adhere to it. In colonial America, citizens had to pay taxes to support that state church, and one could even face fines or imprisonment if they didn’t attend church. How is that Christianity? That’s a compulsion, and God doesn’t force anyone to love Him, but He gives them the option. I love how the nineteenth-century novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky, put it:

If anything protects society even in our time, and even reforms the criminal himself and transforms him into a different person, again it is Christ’s law alone, which manifests itself in the acknowledgment of one’s own conscience. Only if he acknowledges his guilt before society itself—that is, of the Church—will he acknowledge his guilt before society itself—that is, before the Church ….  And what would become of the criminal, oh, Lord, if Christian society, too, punished him with excommunication each time immediately after the law of the state has punished him? Surely there could be no greater despair….  But the Church, like a mother, tender and loving, withholds from active punishment, for even without her punishment, the wrongdoer is already too painfully punished by the state court, and at least someone should pity him.

The state exists for the purposes of justice (Rom. 13:2–4), but the church for mercy and reconciliation to God (2 Cor. 5:18–19). When Christians place all of their hopes in government, they forget that it is in the Lord that we’re to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4), not in the state. It’s the peace of God that will guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7), not the legislation of Congress. 

Is this to say that we should have NO dealings with the government at all? No, but it is to say that we must guard our mind and heart and make sure our faith is foremost in the God of creation and salvation, and not the government ran by fallible, imperfect humans who are as prone to mistakes as we all are. The Lord told Israel to seek the peace of the city in which they were to live as captives and to pray for it because, in its peace, they would have peace (Jer. 29:7). Prayer is the primary act a Christian can undertake for their home. In the worship of the church, we’re actually commanded to pray for the welfare of authority figures (1 Tim. 2:1–4; cf. 3:15), but because we often ignore this command, prayers for governing leaders are seen as partisan endorsements rather than holy supplication. Withholding vitriolic rhetoric is a second way we may participate in a godly manner (Acts 23:5). If we pray for our leaders as we should, we should naturally withhold the spewing of hateful jargon. A third way we may participate is to render to Caesar’s what’s his by being the absolute best citizens because our citizenship is in heaven. Among the ways we can do this is by obeying laws, paying our taxes, and casting votes to participate in the experiment that is America. We may also serve in capacities and even work for the government in capacities as if we were working for God Himself. Government is His ordinance and servant (Rom. 13:2, 4), so serving in such roles is to effectually serve God Himself in a manner of speaking. We must also recall that the author of Romans 13 was himself executed for not submitting to their authority out of his faithfulness to Jesus, so while he calls for submission to governmental authorities, there is a line in the sand that a Christian can’t and mustn’t cross. Even Christ Himself was subject to the governing authorities, resulting in His death. Self-sacrificial love is how God achieves His purpose in Christ, not through the political system of the day. 

The overconsumption of news can be replaced with an immersion of Scripture, devotions, or sermons that help build the Christian up. The mindless social media debates should be replaced with pleasant conversations about the glory of the Lord. The animosity one feels towards an opposing view should be replaced by the kindness and love of one’s neighbor. Glorying in the bloodshed of rioters or police officers because one views them as inherently evil should be replaced with awe at the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He, for the salvation of the world, willingly sacrificed Himself to protect us from the wrath of God to which we’ve set ourselves. Be different. Be authentically Christian. 

Reasons to Look Forward to Heaven

I have never been to Disney World or Disney Land myself. I know many people who frequent these places with their families, and some are even married couples without children who contend that December is the best time to go because there’s fewer in attendance. I’ve just never been one for theme parks. I’d go farther to confess that I’ve never even been on a rollercoaster, I’m not ashamed to admit. It’s not my thing though I know many have a taste for such excitement, and that’s fine. Walt Disney conceived an excellent notion with his films and animations and would bring it to life in his theme park despite not living to see it come to fruition. On its opening day in 1955, Disney said,

To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…. and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America … with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

 As marvelous and wonderful as I hear Disney is, the sad thing is that it doesn’t last long enough for those who desire to be there. You can always go back, but you’ll find yourself leaving again. It’s a vacation spot. It’s not where you live. It may seem to some as heaven on earth, but it’s not heaven at all, because of the time restrictions and a few missing elements. It may be the happiest or most magical place on earth, but it only pales in comparison to the ideals to which it aspires. Heaven is that place, and it’s where we get to spend, not a week only to leave, but an eternity.

Reasons Examined 

There’s certainly a lot of material that could be studied in Revelation 21–22, such as renewed creation. Still, I’d instead look at reasons we Christians look forward to heaven regardless of how one may understand it. It’s fantastic when you consider the value of missing. For example, any team that played against the Chicago Bulls loved with Michael Jordan missed a basket. It wasn’t right for Jordan, but it was for the other team. A deer can always be pleased when a hunter misses that shot, and it has the chance to run away. Obviously, for one, missing is disappointing, while for another missing is sweet. Note what’s missing from heaven: sea (i.e., chaos; cf. Gen. 1:1–3), death, sorrow, crying, and pain (Rev. 21:1, 4; cf. v. 8).

Furthermore, the curse no longer exists—neither the night (Rev. 22:3, 5). These are absent for one particular reason, and that’s because of God’s presence. Joy displaces sorrow and suffering—something comforting to persecuted believers in the first century, and even all those who live now with sadness. Those who persecute use such things to oppress and injure others, but the faithful of God will relish the absence of them in heaven. These are often the first things we might think about when we envision heaven. This is what is obviously most appealing to us, especially in times of hardship and heartache, but it’s not all that there is.

What next appears is the reality and eschatological expectation that God dwells with men and men with Him (Rev. 21:3). Heaven is the “tabernacle” of God—skene in Greek; mishkan in Hebrew; skin in English. The same three-letter root appears for each; skn. Initially, the term noted a large tent often made of skins, which is what the tabernacle was in the wilderness. As a metaphor, this indicates the divine presence of God (cf. Rev. 7:15; John 1:14). This tabernacle, New Jerusalem, is actually the Holy of Holies itself (Rev. 21:16), and the entirety of the city is the tabernacle (Rev. 21:22). I’ve mentioned in preaching before that when God created the heavens and the earth that He did so as a temple. Our sins alienated us from Him and corrupted the world which resulted in His wonderful creation being unclean. Through the tabernacle, temple, and church, He has set holy precincts back in the earth so that He could live among humanity. However, since the planet still contains sin, the new heavens and new earth will be the totality of His original design. This demonstrates a beautiful cohesiveness to the entirety of Scripture and the heart of God.

Finally, there’s the quenching of one’s thirst (Rev. 21:7). Throughout Scripture, a person who thirsts is one who has a need. Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matt. 5:6). As an invitation to an abundant life, Israelites were encouraged to come to God if they thirsted (Is. 55:1), and the psalmist depicted their longing for God as a thirst (Ps. 63:1–2). Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth-century philosopher, among other things. He wrote a work entitled Pensées (pron. pawn-say; “Thoughts”) in which he wrote

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.[1]

Centuries before Pascal would pen his words, Augustine would write, “Restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee” (Conf. 1.1.1), so God’s angel would show John the pure river of water of life (Rev. 22:1). Our thirst is quenched. Our desires are satisfied.

There’s a lovely poem entitled, “A Letter from Heaven,” that reads:

When tomorrow starts without me;

And I’m not here to see,

If the sun should rise and find your

Eyes, filled with tears for me.

 I wish so much that you wouldn’t cry,

The way you did today,

While thinking of the man things,

We didn’t get to say.

 I know how much you love me,

As much as I love you,

And each time you think of me,

I know you’ll miss me too.

 When tomorrow starts without me,

Don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me,

I’m right there in your heart.

 “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears says, ‘Come!’ and let him who thirsts comes. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).


[1] Blaise Pascal, Pensées (New York: Penguin Books, 1966), 75.

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