Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak:  Reflections on Moral Prejudice. Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile (also could be translated as The Dawn).

Written and published in 1881.

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In the realm of morality Christianity knows of nothing but the miracle: the sudden change in all evaluations the sudden renouncement of all habits the sudden and irresistible predilection for new things and persons.  Christianity looks upon this phenomenon as the work of God and calls it the act of regeneration thus giving it a unique and incomparable value.  Everything else which is called morality and which bears no relation to this miracle becomes in consequence a matter of indifference to the Christian and indeed in so far it also has a feeling of well—being and pride an object of fear.  The canon of virtue of the fulfilled law is established in the New Testament but in such a way as to be the canon of impossible virtue: men who still aspire to moral perfection must come to understand in the face of this canon that they are further and further away from achieving their aim; they must despair of virtue and end by throwing themselves at the feet of the Merciful One.  It is only in reaching a conclusion like this that the moral efforts of the Christian can still be regarded as possessing any value: the condition that these efforts shall always remain fruitless painful and melancholy is therefore indispensable; and in this way these efforts serve to bring about that moment of ecstasy when man experiences the "breakthrough of grace "and the moral miracle.  This struggle for morality is however not necessary; for it is by no means uncommon for this miracle to happen to the sinner at the very moment when he is so to speak wallowing in the mire of sin: indeed the leap from the deepest and most abandoned sinfulness into its contrary state seems easier and as a clear proof of the miracle even to be desirable.  What for the rest may be the meaning of such a sudden unreasonable and irresistible revolution such a change from the depths of misery into the heights of happiness?  (Might it be a disguised form of epilepsy?)  This should at all events be considered by psychiatrists who have frequent opportunities of observing similar "miracles"—for example the mania of murder or suicide.  The relatively "more pleasant consequences" in the case of the Christian make no important difference.  

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