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love, spend the loveliest season of their life in unpro devised more studiously hostile to human happiness ductive efforts to appear otherwise than they are, for than marriage. the sake of the feelings of their partner, or the welfare I conceive that, from the abolition of marriage, the of their mutual offspring : those of less generosity and fit and natural arrangement of sexual connexion would refinement openly avow their disappointment, and result. I by no means assert that the intercourse would linger out the remnant of that union, which only death be promiscuous : on the contrary, it appears, from the can dissolve, in a state of incurable bickering and relation of parent to child, that this union is generally hostility. The early education of the children takes of long duration, and marked above all others with its colour from the squabbles of the parents; they are generosity and self-devotion. But this is a subject nursed in a systematic school of ill humour, violence, which it is perhaps premature to discuss. That which and falschood. Had they been suffered to part at will result from the abolition of marriage, will be the moment when indifference rendered their union natural and right, because choice and change will be irksome, they would have been spared many years of exempted from restraint. misery; they would have connected themselves more In fact, religion and morality, as they now stand, suitably, and would have found tbat happiness in the
compose a practical code of misery and servitude: the society of more congenial partners which is for ever
genius of human happiness must tear every leaf from denied them by the despotism of marriage. They the accursed book of God, cre man can read the inwould have been separately useful and happy members
scription on his heart. How would morality, dressed of society, who, whilst united, were miserable, and
up in stiff stays and finery, start from her own dis. rendered misanthropical by misery. The conviction
gusting image, should she look in the mirror of nature ! that wedlock is indissoluble, holds out the strongest of all temptations to the perverse : they indulge without restraint in acrimony, and all the little tyrannies
P. 12, col. 1, 1. 5. of domestic life, when they know that their victim is
To the red and baleful sun without appeal. If this connection were put on a
That faintly twinkles there. rational basis, each would be assured that habitual ill
The north polar star, to which the axis of the earth, temper would terminate in separation, and would check this vicious and dangerous propensity.
in its present state of obliquity, points. It is exceedProstitution is the legitimate offspring of marriage obliquity will gradually diminish, until the equator
ingly probable, from many considerations, that this and its accompanying errors. Women, for no other
coincides with the ecliptic: the nights and days will crime than having followed the dictates of a natural
then become equal on the earth throughout the year, appetite, are driven with fury from the comforts and
There is no great sympathies of society. It is
and probably the seasons also.
progress of the and the punishment which is inflicted on her who
perpendicularity of the poles may be as rapid as the destroys her child to escape reproach, is lighter than the life of agony and disease to which the prostitute is
progress of intellect; or that there should be a perfect
identity between the moral and physical improvement irrecoverably doomed. Has a woman obeyed the
of the human species. It is certain that wisdom is not impulse of unerring pature?—society declares war
compatible with discase, and that, in the present state against her, pitiless and eternal war : she must be the
of the climates of the earth, health, in the true and tame slave, she must make no reprisals ; theirs is the
comprehensive sense of the word, is out of the reach right of persecution, hers the duty of endurance. She
of civilised man. Astronomy teaches us that the earth lives a life of infamy: the loud and bitter laugh of
is now in its progress, and that the poles are every year scorn scares her from all return. She dies of long and
becoming more and more perpendicular to the ecliptic. lingering disease; yet she is in fault, she is the criminal, she the froward and untameable child, --and society, logy and geological researches, that some event of this
The strong evidence afforded by the bistory of mythoforsooth, the pure and virtuous matron who casts her as an abortion from her undefiled bosom! Society sumption that this progress is not merely an oscillation,
nature has taken place already, affords a strong preavenges herself on the criminals of her own creation; she
as has been surmised by some late astronomers is employed in anathematising the vice to-day, which
Bones of animals peculiar to the torrid zone have been yesterday she was the most zealous to teach. Thus is
found in the north of Siberia, and on the banks of the formed one-tenth of the population of London : mean
river Ohio. Plants have been found in the fossil state while the evil is twofold. Young men, excluded by
in the interior of Germany, which demand the present the fanatical idea of chastity from the society of modest
climate of Hindostan for their production t. Tho' and accomplished women, associate with these vicious
researches of M. Bailly f establish the existence of a and miserable beings,—destroying thereby all those
people who inhabited a tract in Tartary 49° north exquisite and delicate sensibilities wbose existence
latitude, of greater antiquity than either the Indians, cold-hearted worldlings have denied ; annihilating all
the Chinese, or the Chaldeans, from whom these nations genuine passion, and debasing that to a selfish feeling
derived their sciences and theology. We find, from which is the excess of generosity and devotedness.
the testimony of ancient writers, that Britain. GerTheir body and mind alike crumble into a hideous
and France, were much colder than at present, wreck of humanity ; idiotcy and disease become per
and that their great rivers were annually frozen over. petuated in their miserable offspring, and distant gene
Astronomy teaches us also, that since this period the rations suffer for the bigoted morality of their forefathers. Chastity is a monkish and evangelical super
obliquity of the earth's position has been considerably
diminished. stition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality; it strikes at the root of all Laplace, Système du Monde. domestic happiness, and consigns more than half the Cabanis, Rapports du Physique et du Moral de l'Homme, human race to misery, that some few may monopolise
vol. ii. page 406. according to law. A system could not well have been 1 Lettres sur les Sciences, à Voltaire.-Bailly.
any certainty that we might not meet as an enemy to. P. 12, col. 2. I. 63.
morrow him from whom we have parted in friendship No atom of this turbulence fulfils
to-night; the most probable inducements and the A vague and unnecessitated task,
clearest reasonings would lose the invariable influence Or acts but as it must and ought to act. they possess. The contrary of this is demonstrably Deux exemples serviront à nous rendre plus sensible
the fact. Similar circumstances produce invariably le principe qui vient d'être posé; nous emprunterons
similar effects. The precise character and motives of l'un du physique et l'autre du moral. Dans un tour any man on any occasion being given, the moral phibillon de poussière qu'éleve un vent impétueux, quelque losopher could predict his actions with as much cerconfus qu'il paroisse à nos yeux ; dans la plus affreuse
tainty, as the natural philosopher could predict theeffects tempête excité par des vents opposés qui soulèvent les
of the mixture of any particular chemical substances. flots, il n'y a pas une seule molécule de poussière ou
Why is the aged husbandman more experienced than d'eau qui soit placé au hasard, qui n'ait sa cause
the young beginner ? Because there is a uniform, suffisante pour occuper le lieu où elle se trouve, et qui
undeniable necessity in the operations of the material n'agisse rigoureusement de la manière dont elle doit universe. Why is the old statesman more skilful than agir. Un géomètre qui connoitroit exactement les
the raw politician? Because, relying on the necessary différentes forces qui agissent dans ces deux cas, et les conjunction of motive and action, he proceeds to produce propriétés des molécules qui sont mues, démontreroit
moral effects, by the applicatiou of those moral causes que d'après des causes données, chaque molécule agit
which experience has shown to be effectual. Some actions précisément comme elle doit agir, et ne peut agir autre
may be found to which we can attach po motives, but these ment qu'elle ne fait.
are the effects of causes with which we are unacquainted. Dans les convulsions terribles qui agitent quelquefois
Hence the relation which motive bears to voluntary les societés politiques, et qui produisent souvent le action, is that of cause to effect; nor, placed in this renversement d'un empire, il n'y a pas une seule action, point of view, is it, or ever has it been, the subject of une seule parole, une seule pensée, une seule volonté, popular or philosophical dispute. None but the few une seule passion dans les agens qui concourent à la
fanatics who are engaged in the herculean task of rerévolution comme destructeurs ou comme victimes,
conciling the justice of their God with the misery of qui ne soit nécessaire, qui n'agisse comme elle doit agir,
man, will longer outrage common sense by the suppoqui n'opère infailliblement les effets qu'elle doit opérer
sition of an event without a cause, a voluntary action suivant la place qu’occupent ces agens dans ce tour
without a motive. History, politics, morals, criticism, billon moral. Cela paroîtroit évident pour une intel
all grounds of reasoning, all principles of science, ligence qui sera en état de saisir et d'apprécier toutes
alike assume the truth of the doctrine of Necessity. les actions et réactions des esprits et des corps de ceux
No farmer carrying his corn to market doubts the sale qui contribuent à cette révolution.-Système de la
of it at the market price. The master of a manufacNature, vol. i. page 44.
tory no more doubts that he can purchase the human labour necessary for his purposes, than that his ma
chines will act as they have been accustomed to act. P. 13, col. 1. 1. 23.
But, whilst none have scrupled to admit necessity as Necessity, thou mother of the world!
influencing matter, many have disputed its dominion He who asserts the doctrine of Necessity, means over mind.
Independent of its militating with the that, contemplating the events which compose the moral received ideas of the justice of God, it is by no means and material universe, he beholds only an immense obvious to a superficial inquiry. When the mind and uninterrupted chain of causes and effects, no one observes its own operations, it feels no connection of of which could occupy any other place than it does motive and action : but as we know “nothing more of occhipy, or act in any other place than it does act. causation than the constant conjunction of objects and The idea of necessity is obtained by our experience of the consequent inference of one from the other, as we the connection between objects, the uniformity of the
find that these two circumstances are universally operations of nature, the constant conjunction of simi- | allowed to have place in voluntary action, we may be lar events, and the consequent inference of one from easily led to own that they are subjected to the necesthe other. Mankind are therefore agreed in the ad- | sity common to all causes.” The actions of the will mission of necessity, if they admit that these two cir have a regular conjunction with circumstances and cumstances take place in voluntary action. Motive is, characters; motive is, to voluntary action, what cause to voluntary action in the human mind, what cause is is to effect. But the only idea that we can form of to effect in the material universe. The word liberty, causation is a constant conjunction of similar objects, as applied to mind, is analogous to the word chance as and the consequent inference of one from the other : applied to matter : they spring from an ignorance of wherever this is the case, necessity is clearly estathe certainty of the conjunction of antecedents and blished. consequents.
The idea of liberty, applied metaphorically to the Every human being is irresistibly impelled to act will, bas sprung from a misconception of the meaning precisely as he does act: in the eternity which pre of the word power. What is power?-id quod potest, ceded his birth a chain of causes was generated, which, that which can produce any given effect.
To deny operating under the name of motives, make it impos. power, is to say that nothing can or has the power to sible that any thought of his mind, or any action of be or act. In the only true sense of the word power, his life, should be otherwise than it is. Were the it applies with equal force to the loadstono as to the doctrine of Necessity false, the human mind would no human will. Do you think these motives, which I longer be a legitimate object of science; from like shall present, are powerful enough to rouse him ? is a causes it would be in vain that we should expect like i question just as common as, Do you think this lever cffects; the strongest motive would no longer be, has the power of raising this weight? The advocates paramount over the conduct; all knowledge would be of free-will assert, that the will has the power of revaguo aud undeterminate; we could not predict with fusing to be determined by the strongest motive : but
the strongest motive is that which, overcoming all But the doctrine of Necessity teaches us, that in no others, ultimately prevails; this assertion therefore case could any event have bappened otherwise than it amounts to a denial of the will being ultimately deter did happen; and that, if God is the author of good, he is mined by that motive which does determine it, which also the author of evil; that, if he is entitled to our is absurd. But it is equally certain that a man cannot gratitude for the one, he is entitled to our batred for resist the strongest motive, as that he cannot overcome the other; tbat admitting the existence of this hypoa physical impossibility.
thetic being, he is also subjected to the dominion of an The doctrine of Necessity tends to introduce a great immutable necessity. It is plain that the same arguchange into the established notions of morality, and ments which prove that God is the author of food, light, utterly to destroy religion. Reward and punishment and life, prove him also to be the author of poison, must be considered, by the Necessarian, merely as darkness and death. The wide-wasting earthquake, motives which he would employ in order to procure the storm, the battle, and the tyranny, are attributable the adoption or abandonment of any given line of con to this hypothetic being, in the same degree as the duct. Desert, in the present sense of the word, would fairest forms of nature, sunshine, liberty, and peace. no longer have any meaning; and he, who should in But we are taught, by the doctrine of Necessity, flict pain upon another for no better reason than that he that there is neither good nor evil in the universe, deserved it, would only gratify his revenge under pre otherwise than as the events to which we apply these tence of satisfying justice. It is not enough, says the epithets have relation to our own peculiar mode of advocate of free-will, that a criminal should be pre being. Still less than with the hypothesis of a God, will vented from a repetition of his crime; he should feel the doctrine of Necessity accord with the belief of a pain; and his torments, when justly inflicted, ought future state of punishment. God made man such as precisely to be proportioned to his fault. But utility he is, and then damned him for being so: for to say is morality; that which is incapable of producing hap that God was the author of all good, and man the piness is useless ; and though the crime of Damiens author of all evil, is to say that one man made a straight must be condemned, yet the frightful torments which line and a crooked one, and another man inade the in. revenge, under the name of justice, inflicted on this congruity. unhappy man, cannot be supposed to have augmented, A Mahometan story, much to the present purpose, even at the long-run, the stock of pleasurable sensation is recorded, wherein Adam and Moses are introduced in the world. At the same time, the doctrine of Ne disputing before God in the following manner. “Thou," cessity does not in the least diminish our disappro. says Moses, “ art Adam, whom God created, and anibation of vice. The conviction which all feel, that mated with the breath of life, and caused to be wora viper is a poisonous animal, and that a tiger is con shipped by the angels, and placed in Paradise, from strained, by the inevitable condition of his existence, whence mankind have been expelled for thy fault.” to devour men, does not induce us to avoid them less Whereto Adam answered, " Thou art Moses, whom sedulously, or, even more, to hesitate in destroying God chose for his apostle, and entrusted with his them : but he would surely be of a hard heart, who word, by giving thee the tables of the law, and whom meeting with a serpent on a desert island, or in a situa he voucbsafed to admit to discourse with himself. tion where it was incapable of injury, should wantonly How many years dost thou find the law was written deprive it of existence. A Necessarian is inconse. before I
was created ?"
Says Moses, “ Forty." quent to his own principles, if he indulges in hatred or “ And dost thou not find," replied Adam, “these contempt; the compassion which he feels for the cri words therein, and Adain rebelled against his Lord minal is unmixed with a desire of injuring bim : he and transgressed ?"" Which Moses confessing, “ Dost looks with an elevated and dreadless compostire upon thou therefore blame me,"continued be, “for doing that the links of the universal chain as they pass before his which God wrote of me that I should do, forty years eyes; whilst cowardice, curiosity and inconsistency, before I was created; nay, for what was decreed cononly assail him in proportion to the feebleness and in- cerning me fifty thousand years before the creation of distinctness with which he has perceived and rejected heaven and earth ? "_Sale's Prelim. Disc. to the the delusions of free-will.
Koran, page 164. Religion is the perception of the relation in which we stand to the principle of the universe. But if the
P. 13, col. 2, 1. 14. principle of the universe be not an organic being, the
There is no God! model and prototype of man, the relation between it This negation must be understood solely to affect a and buman beings is absolutely none. Without creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading Spirit, some insight into its will respecting our actions, religion coeternal with the universe, remains unshaken. is nugatory and vain. But will is only a mode of A close examination of the validity of the proofs animal mind; moral qualities also are such as only a adduced to support any proposition, is the only secure human being can possess; to attribute them to the way of attaining truth, on the advantages of which it is principle of the universe, is to annex to it properties unnecessary to descant : our knowledge of the existincompatible with any possible definition of its nature. ence of a Deity is a subject of such importance, that it It is probable that the word God was originally only an cannot be too minutely investigated ; in consequence expression denoting the unknown cause of the known of this conviction we proceed briefly and impartially to events which men perceived in the universe. By the examine the proofs which have been adduced. It is vulgar mistake of a metaphor for a real being, of a necessary first to consider the nature of belief. word for a thing, it became a man, endowed with human When a proposition is offered to the mind, it perqualities and governing the universe, as an earthly ceives the agreement or disagreement of the ideas of monarch governs his kingdom. Their addresses to this which it is composed. A perception of their agreeimaginary being, indeed, are much in the same style ment is termed belief. Many obstacles frequently as those of subjects to a king. They acknowledge liis prevent this perception from being immediate; these benevolence, deprecato his anger and supplicate his the mind attempts to remove, in order that the percep
tion may be distinct. The mind is active in the inves
tigation, in order to perfect the state of perception of demonstration ; we admit that the generative power is the relation which the component ideas of the proposi- | incomprehensible; but to suppose that the same effect tion bear to each, which is passive; the investigation, is produced by an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, being confused with the perception, has induced many being, leaves the cause in the same obscurity, but renfalsely to imagine that the mind is active in belief, ders it more incomprehensible. that belief is an act of volition,-in consequence of 3d. Testimony. It is required that testimony shonld which it may be regulated by the mind. Pursuing, not be contrary to reason. The testimony that the continuing this mistake, they have attached a degree of Deity convinces the senses of men of his existence can criminality to disbelief; of which, in its nature, it is only be admitted by us, if our mind considers it less incapable : it is equally incapable of merit.
probable that these men should have been deceived, Belief, then, is a passion, the strength of which, like than that the Deity should have appeared to them. every other passion, is in precise proportion to the Our reason can never admit the testimony of men, wbo degrees of excitement.
not only declare that they were eye-witnesses of The degrees of excitement are three.
miracles, but that the Deity was irrational ; for he The senses are the sources of all knowledge to the commanded that he should be believed, he proposed mind; consequently their evidence claims the strongest the highest rewards for faith, eternal punishments for assent.
disbelief. We can only command voluntary actions ; The decision of the mind, founded upon our own belief is not an act of volition ; the mind is even pas experience, derived from these sources, claims the next sive, or involuntarily active: from this it is evident degree.
that we have no sufficient testimony, or rather that The experience of others, which addresses itself to testimony is insufficient, to prove the being of a God. the former one, occupies the lowest degree.
It has been before shown that it cannot be deduced from (A graduated scale, on which should be marked reason. They alone, then, who have been convinced the capabilities of propositions to approach the test of by the evidence of the senses, can believe it. the senses, would be a just barometer of the belief Hence it is evident that, having no proofs from any which ought to be attached to them.)
of the three sources of conviction, the mind cannot Consequently, no testimony can be admitted which is believe the existence of a creative God: it is also evi. contrary to reason ; reason is founded on the evidence dent that, as belief is a passion of the mind, no degree of of our senses.
criminality is attachable to disbelief; and that they only Every proof may be referred to one of these three are reprehensible who neglect to remove the false medivisions : it is to be considered what arguments we dium through which their mind views any subject of receive from each of them, which should convince us discussion. Every reflecting mind must acknowledge, of the existence of a Deity.
that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity. Ist. The evidence of the senses. If the Deity should God is an hypothesis, and as such, stands in need of appear to us, if he should convince our senses of his proof; the onus probandi rests on the theist. Sir Isaac existence, this revelation would necessarily command
Hypotheses non fingo, quicquid enim belief. Those to whom the Deity has thus appeared ex phenomenis pon deducitur hypothesis vocanda est, have the strongest possible conviction of his existence. et hypothesis vel meta physicæ, vel physicæ, vel quali. But the God of theologians is incapable of local visi tatum occultarum, seu mechanicæ, in philosophiâ locum bility.
To all proofs of the existence of a cre2d. Reason. It is urged that man knows that what ative God apply this valuable rule. We see a variety ever is, must either have had a beginning, or have of bodies possessing a variety of powers ; we merely cxisted from all eternity: he also knows, that whatever know their effects; we are in a state of ignorance with is not eternal must have bad a canse. When this rea respect to their essences and causes. These Newton soning is applied to the universe, it is necessary to calls the phenomena of things ; but the pride of philoprove that it was created : until that is clearly demon- sophy is unwilling to admit its ignorance of their causes. strated, we may reasonably suppose that it has endured From the phenomena, which are the objects of our from all eternity. We must prove design before we can senses, we attempt to infer a cause, which we call God, infer a designer. The only idea which we can form of and gratuitously endow it with all negative and contracausation is derivable from the constant conjunction of dictory qualities. From this hypothesis we invent this objects, and the consequent inference of one from the general name, to conceal our ignorance of causes and other. In a case where two propositions are diametri.
The being called God by no means answers cally opposite, the mind believes that which is least with the conditions prescribed by Newton ; it bears incomprehensible ;—it is easier to suppose that the every mark of a veil woven by philosophical conceit, universe bas existed fronı all eternity, than to conceive to hide the ignorance of philosophers even from tbema being beyond its limits capable of creating it: if the selves. They borrow the threads of its texture from mind sinks beneath the weight of one, is it an allevia the anthropomorphism of the vulgar. Words have tion to increase the intolerability of the burthen ? been used by sophists for the same purposes, from the
The other argument, which is founded on a man's occult qualities of the Peripatetics to the effluvium of knowledge of his own existence, stands thus.
Boyle and the crinities or nebulæ of Herschel. God knows not only that he now is, but that once he was is represented as infinite, eternal, incomprehensible ; not ; consequently there must have been a cause. But he is contained under every pradicate in non that the our idea of causation is alone derivable from the con logic of ignorance could fabricate. Even his worshippers stant conjunction of objects and the consequent infer allow that it is impossible to form any idea of him ; ence of one from the other; and, reasoning experimen- | they exclaim with the French poet, tally, we can only infer from effects, causes exactly Pour dire ce qu'il est, il faut être lui-même. adequate to those effects. But there certainly is a generative power which is effected by certain instru Lord Bacon says, that “atheism leaves to man reason, ments: we cannot prove that it is inherent in these philosophy, natural piety, laws, reputation, and every instruments; nor is the contrary hypothesis capable of | thing that can serve to conduct him to virtue; but
superstition destroys all these, and erects itself into a ils dit, “ des dieux que vous ne pouvez comprendre ; tyranny over the understandings of men : hence atheista rapportez-vous-en à notre sagesse profonde ; nous en never disturbs the government, but renders man more savons plus que vous sur la Divinité." Mais pourquoi clear-sighted, since he sees nothing beyond the bounda m'en rapporterois-je à vous ? C'est que Dieu le veut ries of the present life."—Bacon's Moral Essays. ainsi, c'est que Dieu vous punira si vous osez résister.
Mais ce Dieu n'est-il donc pas la chose en question ? La première théologie de l'homme lui fit d'abord Cependant les hommes se sont toujours payés de ce craindie et adorer les éléments même, des objets maté cercle vicieux ; la paresse de leur esprit leur fit trouver riels et grossiers ; il rendit ensuite ses hommages à des plus court de s'en rapporter au jugement des autres. agents présidents aix éléments, à des génies inférieurs, Toutes les notions religieuses sont fondées uniquement à des héros, ou à des hommes doués de grandes qua sur l'autorité; toutes les religions du monde défendent lités. A force de réfléchir, il crut simplifier les choses l'examen, et ne veulent pas que l'on raisonne; c'est en soumettant la nature entière à un seul agent, à un l'autorité qui veut qu'on croie en Dieu; ce Dieu n'est esprit, à une ame universelle, qui mettoit cette nature et lui-même fondé que sur l'autorité de quelques hommes ses parties en mouvement. En remontant de causes en qui prétendent le connoître, et venir de sa part pour causes, les mortels ont fini par ne rien voir; et c'est dans l'annoncer à la terre. Un Dieu fait par les bommes, cette obscurité qu'ils ont placé leur Dieu ; c'est dans cet a sans doute besoin des hommes pour se faire connoître abîme ténébreux que leur imagination inquiète travaille aux hommes. toujours à se fabriquer des chimères, qui les affligeront Ne seroit-ce donc que pour des prêtres, des inspirés, jusqu'à ce que la connoissance de la nature les dé des métaphysiciens, que seroit réservée la conviction de trompe des fantômes qu'ils ont toujours si vainement l'existence d'un Dieu, que l'on dit néanmoins si nécesadorés.
saire à tout le genre humain ? Mais trouvons-nous de Si nous voulons nous rendre compte de nos idées sur l'harmonie entre les opinions théologiques des différens la Divinité, nous serons obligés de convenir que, par le inspirés, on des penseurs répandus sur la terre? Ceux mot Dieu, les hommes n'ont jamais pu désigner que même qui font profession d'adorer le même Dieu, la cause la plus cachée, la plus éloignée, la plus incon sont-ils d'accord sur son compte ? Sont-ils contents nue des effets qu'ils voyoient: ils ne font usage de ce des preuves que leurs collègues apportent de son exismot, que lorsque le jeu des causes naturelles et con tence ? Souscrivent-ils unanimement aux idées qu'ils nues cesse d'être visible pour eux ; dès qu'ils perdent le présentent sur sa nature, sur sa conduite, sur la façon fil de ces causes, ou dès que leur esprit ne peut plus en d'entendre ses prétendus oracles ? Est-il une contrée suivre la chaîne, ils tranchent leur difficulté, et ter sur la terre, où la science de Dieu se soit réellement minent leurs recherches en appellant Dieu la dernière perfectionnée ? A-t-elle pris quelque part la consisdes causes, c'est-à-dire celle qui est au-delà de toutes tance et l'uniformité que nous voyons prendre aux les causes qu'ils connoissent; ainsi ils ne font qu'assigner connoissances humaines, aux arts les plus futiles, aux une dénomination vague à une cause ignorée, à laquelle métiers les plus méprisés ? Des mots d'esprit, d'im. leur paresse ou les bornes de leurs connoissances les matérialité, de création, de prédestination, de grace; forcent de s'arrêter. Toutes les fois qu'on nous dit que cette foule de distinctions subtiles dont la théologie Dieu est l'auteur de quelque phénomène, cela signifie s'est partout remplie dans quelques pays, ces inventions qu’on ignore comment un tel phénomène a pu s'opérer si ingénieuses, imaginées par des penseurs qui se sont par le secours des forces ou des causes que nous con succédés depuis tant de siécles, n'ont fait, hélas ! noissons dans la nature. C'est ainsi que le commun qu’embrouiller les choses, et jamais la science la des hommes, dont l'ignorance est le partage, attribue à plus nécessaire aux hommes n'a jusqu'ici pu acquérir la Divinité non seulement les effets inusités qui les la moindre fixité. Depuis des milliers d'années, ces frappent, mais encore les événemens les plus simples, réveurs oisifs se sont perpétuellement relayés pour dont les causes sont les plus faciles à connoître pour méditer la Divinité, pour deviner ses voies cachées, quiconque a pu les méditer. En un mot, l'homme a pour inventer des hypothèses propres à développer toujours respecté les causes inconnues des effets surpre cette énigme importante. Leur peu de succès n'a nans, que son ignorance l'empêchoit de démêler. Ce point découragé la vanité théologique ; toujours on a fut sur les débris de la nature que les hommes éle- parlé de Dieu : on s'est égorgé pour lui, et cet être vèrent le colosse imaginaire de la Divinité.
sublime demeure toujours le plus ignoré et le plus Si l'ignorance de la nature donna la naissance aux discuté. dieux, la connoissance de la nature est faite pour les Les hommes auroient été trop heureux, si, se bornant détruire. A mesure que l'homme s'instruit, ses forces aux objets visibles qui les intéressent, ils eussent emet ses ressources augmentent avec ses lumières ; les ployé, à perfectionner leurs sciences réelles, leurs lois, sciences, les arts conservateurs, l'industrie, lui four leur morale, leur éducation, la moitié des efforts qu'ils nissent des secours ; l'expérience le rassure ou lui ont mis dans leurs recherches sur la Divinité. Ils procure des moyens de résister aux efforts de bien des auroient été bien plus sages encore, et plus fortunés, causes qui cessent de l'alarıner dès qu'il les a connues. s'ils eussent pu consentir à laisser leurs guides désæuvrés En un mot, ses terreurs se dissipent dans la même se quereller entre eux, et sonder des profondeurs capaproportion que son esprit s'éclaire. L'homme instruit bles de les étourdir, sans se mêler de leurs disputes cesse d'être superstitieux.
insensées. Mais il est de l'essence de l'ignorance Ce n'est jainais que sur parole que des peuples d'attacher de l'importance à ce qu'elle ne comprend entiers adorent le Dieu de leurs pères et de leurs pas. La vanité humaine fait que l'esprit se roidit prêtres : l'autorité, la confiance, la soumission, et contre les difficultés. Plus un objet se dérobe à nos l'habitude, leur tiennent lieu de conviction et de yeux, plus nous faisons d'efforts pour le saisir, parceque preuves; ils se prosternent et prient, parce qne leurs dès lors il aiguillonne notre orgueil, il excite noire pères leur ont appris à se prosterner et prier : mais curiosité, il vous paroît intéressant. En combattant pourquoi ceux-ci se sont-ils mis à genoux ? C'est que pour son Dieu chacun ne combattit en effet que pour dans les temps éloignés leurs législateurs et leurs guides les intérêts de sa propre vanité, qui de toutes les pasleur en ont fait un devoir. “ Adorez et croyez,” ont sions produites par la mal-organisation de la société, est