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to society. Few are the places in which it is calculated to form good citizens. Princes, to whom a great part of the earth is at present unhappily subjected, are commonly the victims of a superstitious education, and remain all their lives in the profoundest ignorance of their own duties, and the truest interests of the states which they govern. Religion seems to have been invented only to render both kings and people equally the slaves of the priesthood. The latter is continually busied in raising obstacles to the felicity of nations. Wherever this reigns, other governments have but a precarious power; and citizens become indolent, ignorant, destitute of greatness of soul, and, in short, of every quality necessary to the happiness of society.

If, in a state where the Christian religion is professed, we find some activity, some science, and an approach to social manners; it is, because nature, whenever it is in her power, restores mankind to reason, and obliges them to labour for their own felicity. Were all Christian nations exactly conformed to their principles, they must be plunged into the most profound inactivity. Our countries would be inhabited by a small number of pious savages, who would meet only to destroy each other. For why should a man mingle with the affairs of a world, which his religion informs him is only a place of passage? What can be the industry of that people, who believe themselves commanded by their God to live in continual tear, to pray, to groan, and afflict themselves incessantly? How can a society exist which is composed of men who are convinced that, in their zeal for religion, they ought to hate and destroy all whose opinions differ from their own? How can we expect to find humanity, justice, or any virtue, amongst a horde of fanatics, who copy in their conduct a cruel, dissenıbling, and dishonest God? A God who delights in the tears of his unhappy creatures, who sets for them the ambush, and then punishes them for having fallen into it?. A


God who himself ordains robbery, persecution, and carnage ?

Such, however, are the traits with which the Christian religion represents the God which it has inherited from the Jews. This God was a sultan, a despot, a tyrant, to whom all things were lawful. Yet he is held up to us as a model of perfection. Crimes, at which human nature revolts, have been committed in his name ; and the greatest villanies have been justified by the pretence of their being committed, either by his command, or to merit his favour. Thus the Christian religion, which boasts of being the only true support of morality, and of furnishing mankind with the strongest motives for the practice of virtue, has proved to them a source of divisions, oppressions, and the blackest crimes. Under the pretext of bringing peace on earth, it has overwhelmed it with hate, discord, and

It furnishes the human race with a thousand ingenious means of tormenting themselves, and scatters amongst them scourges unknown before. The Christian, possessed of common sense, must bitterly regret the tranquil ignorance of his idolatrous ancestors.

If the manners of nations have gained nothing by the Christian religion, governments, of which it has pretended to be the support, have drawn from it advantages equally small. It establishes to itself in every state a separate power, and becomes the tyrant or the enemy of every other power. Kings were always the slaves of priests ; or if they refused to bow the knee, they were proscribed, stripped of their privileges, and exterminated either by subjects whom religion had excited to revolt, or assassins whose hands she had armed with her sacred poignard. Before the introduction of the Christian religion, those who governed the state, commonly governed the priesthood ; since that period, sovereigns have dwindled into the first slaves of the priesthood, the mere executors of its vengeance and its decrees.

Let us then conclude, that the Christian religion


has no right to boast of procuring advantages either by policy or morality. Let us tear aside the veil with which it envelopes itself. Let us penetrate back to its

Let us pursue it in its course, we shall find that, founded on imposture, ignorance, and credulity, it can never be useful but to men who wish to deceive their fellow-creatures. We shall find, that it will never cease to generate the greatest evils among mankind, and that instead of producing the felicity it promises, it is formed to cover the earth with outrages, and deluge it in blood ; that it will plunge the human race in delirium and vice, and blind their eyes to their truest interests and their plainest duties.




In a small country, almost unknown to others, lived a nation, the founders of which having too long been slaves among the Egyptians, were delivered from their servitude by a priest of Heliopolis, who, by means of his superior genius and knowledge, gained the ascendancy over them. This man, known by the name of

Maneton and Cheremon, Egyptian historians, respecting whom testimonies have been transmitted to us by Joseph the Jew, inform us that a multitude of lepers were drawn out of Egypt by kins Amenophis; and that these exiles elected for their leader a priest of Heliopolis whose name was Moses, and who formed for them a religion and a code of laws. Joseph contre Appion, liv. i. chap. ix. ll, 12.

Diodorus Siculus also relates the history of Moses. -Vide trauslation of Abbe Terrasson.

Be this as it may, Moses, by the confession of the Bible itself, began his career by assassinating an Egyptian, who was quarrelling with an Hebrew; after which he fled into Arabia, and married the daughter of an idolatrous priest, by whom he was often reproached for his cruelty. Thence he returned into Egypt, and placed himself at the head of his nation, which was dissatisfied with king

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Moses, being educated in the mysteries of a religion, which was fertile in prodigies, and the mother of superstitions, placed himself at the head of a band of fugitives, whom be persuaded that he was an interpreter of the will of their God, whose immediate commands he pretended to receive. He proved his mission, it is said, by works which appeared supernatural to meni ignorant of the operations of nature, and the resources of art.

The first command that he gave them on the part of his God was to rob their masters, whom they were about to desert. When he had thus enriched them with the spoils of Egypt, being sure of their confidence, he conducted them into a desert, where, during forty years, he accustomed them to the blindest obedience. He taught them the will of heaven, the inarvellous fables of their forefathers, and the ridiculous ceremonies to which he pretended the Most High attached his favours. He was particularly careful to inspire them with the most envenomed hatred against the gods of other nations, and the most refined cruelty to those who adored them. By means of carnage and severity, he rendered them a nation of slaves, obsequious to his will, ready to second his passions, and sacrifice themselves to gratify his ambitious views. In one word, he made the Hebrew's monsters of phrenzy and ferocity. After having thus aviinated them with the spirit of destruction, he showed them the lands and possessions of their neighbours, as an inheritance assigned them by God limselt.

Proud of the protection of Jehovah, the Hebrews narched forth to victory. Heaven authorised in them knavery and cruelty. Religion, united to avidity, rendered them deal to the cries of nature; and, under the conduct of inhuman chiefs, they destroyed the

Pharaoh. Moses reigned very tyrannically; the examples of Korah, D. than, and Abiram, prove to wisat kind of people lie had an version. He at last (lisappeared like Romulus, no one being ablu lo find his body, or the place of bis sepulture.

Canaanitish nations with a barbarity, at which every man must revolt, whose reason is not wholly annihilated by superstition. Their fury destroyed every thing, even infants at the breast, in those cities whi. ther these monsters carried their victorious arms. By the commands of their God, or his prophets, good taith was violated, justice outraged, and cruelty exercised.

This nation of robbers, usurpers, and murderers, at length established themselves in a country, not indeed very fertile, but which they found delicious in comparison with the desert in which they had so long wandered. Here, under the authority of the visible priests of their hidden God, they founded a state, detestable to its neighbours, and at all times the object of their contempt or their hatred. The priesthood, under the title of a theocracy, for a long time governed this blind and ferocious people. They were persuaded that in obeying their priests they obeyed God himself.

Notwithstanding their superstition, the Hebrews at length, forced by circumstances, or perhaps weary of the yoke of priesthood, determined to have a king, according to the example of other nations. But in the choice of the r monarch they thought then selves obliged to have recourse to a prophet. Thus began the monarchy of the Hebrews. Their princes, however, were always crossed in their enterprises by inspired pric-sts and ambitious prophets, who continually laid obstacles in the way of every sovereign whom they did not find sufficiently submissive to their own wills. The history of the Jews at all times shews us nothing but kings blindly obedient to the priesthood, or at war with it, and perishing under its blows.

The ferocious and ridiculous superstitions of the Jews rendered them at once the natural enemies of mankind, and the object of their contempt. They were always treated with great severity by those who made inroads upon their territory. Successively enslaved by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the

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