Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/355

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333
STILL LIFE.

gods became men, allowing themselves to be confined by the limits and powers of human existence, in order to raise themselves freely from it, and raise others with them, even though it should be by a death of torture. You too must offer yourself as a sacrifice by following the call of the truth given to you. You will not take me for the dying thief on the cross, and I will only echo the words which the world may say of your life and thoughts: if you possess knowledge of the truth—they will say—and if you are its open and unreserved confessor, come forth from your quiet solitude, come forth into active life, declare, and suffer for it."

With his hands folded on his breast Spinoza answered:

"To die for a recognized truth is blessedness that knows no pain. What is a long life to that ecstasy which existence itself and the devotion of it to the witness of truth gives could it but convince others? But a martyr's death proves nothing to others. Men have gone joyfully to death for the most opposite convictions. I myself once knew what is called a believing Jew, who, in the midst of the flames, when men believed him already dead, chanted the Psalm 'Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,' and breathed out his soul in song. What could a life of every day returning duties, refinements and pleasures prevail against the one all-inclusive act of devotion? But if external pres-