It is clericalism that made the clergy. Today we are all clerics, for we all know how to read; it can no longer be that there are only two Orders, and each must return to their own. We are all clergy. If it is not as clerics, as the literate, then, if the ecclesiastics pretend to be an Order apart, a first Order, it is not as ministers of religion. Religion wishes, on the contrary, that they have the lowest rank. The tender of the city of Etain, after citing a variety of texts: That their reign is not of this world; that if they want to be first in the other, they must be the last in this one, etc.., they made this dilemma admirable: "If you believe in your gospel, then put yourself in the last place he assigns you; be, at the very least, our equals. Or, if you do not believe a word of what you say, then you are hypocrites and scoundrels, and we give you, very reverend father in God, the Archbishop of Paris, six hundred thousand francs for you to mock us: Quidquid dixeris, argumentabor. "
The priests, who, seeing the contradiction between their manners and their morals, refuse to open their eyes and, at ease, deceive people everywhere, taking their money, have had to say: With what fools we are surrounded! Certainly we are the first Order. It is natural that the Order of Dupes is secondary.
By what other reasoning is an Abbe Maury, in the pulpit, a Christian, in the armchair, an atheist. Could he persuade himself that the Order of his kind is the first? I defy anyone to show me anything in society more contemptible than what we call an abbé. Who is it, amongst them, who did not take the cassock, this livery of a master who mocks it completely, and proceed to live luxuriously and do nothing? Is there anything more vile than the profession of religion, the profession of continence, a business of constant lies and quackery? What difference is there between our clergy and that of Cybele, those so despised Galles, who mutilated themselves to live? At least there was, for the priests of the Syrian goddess, strong evidence that they do not play with the credulity of the people. Certainly, a great sacrifice proved their faith.
A strange thing! a priest is eunuch in law, yet if he is one in fact, he is deemed irregular and unfit for priesthood. One of them was asked of this reason, which seemed difficult to give. He made a response applauded forever by the entire Church: "It's the smallest thing that those who can make a God can make a child." But this is not my subject.
Since I spoke of its ministers, I will say a word of religion itself.
Atheism is treated as a species of delirium, and with reason. Yes, there is a God, we see it plainly as we cast our eyes around the universe ; but we see it like those unfortunate children who, having been exposed and deserted by their parents, perceive that they have a father ; the course of nature ordains that they must have had one ; but it is in vain that they call upon this father ; he does not reveal himself.
It is vain that I seek what cult pleases him most ; he does not manifest himself by any sign, and his thunderbolt strikes alike on our churches and mosques. It is not God who has need of religion, it is mankind. God does not require incense, processions and prayers, but we have need of hope, of consolation, and of one who will reward us. In the face of the indifference of all religions in his eyes, can we not give ourselves a national religion?
Instead of a joyous religion, the friend of pleasures, of women, of the population and of liberty; a religion in which dancing, shows, and festivals are a part of worship, like that of the Greeks and Romans, we have a religion which is sad, austere, the friend of the Inquisition, kings, monks and the cilice: a religion that desires us to be poor, not only in goods, but also in spirit, the enemy of riches and of the gentlest desires of nature; which condemns joy; which wishes that we walk on our heels in reverse, like the Carmelites; that we live as true owls, like Anthony, Paul, Hilarion; that only promises its rewards to poverty and to pain; that, in short, is only good for hospitals. Can we suffer its unpatriotic maxim? "Obey the tyrants." Subditi estote tantum bonuses and non rnodestis, sed etiam dyscolis. Paganism had everything in its favor except for reason, but reason is scarcely more content with our theology; and, folly from folly, I prefer Hercules killing the boar of Erymanthus, to Jesus of Nazareth drowning two thousand swine.
It should be noted that the devotees were generally the worst of our kings. We shall see in a moment that, since Francis I, we have not had a single one, save Henry IV, whose religion was not one of the crimes of his reign, as debauchery was in Henry III’s. The cruelty of Louis XI was covered with scapulars and relics. Tiberius of France was very devout, a great maker of pilgrimages and novenas, and gravely performed the law of the Angelus, well and duly recorded. What use have we for such a religion and clergy? At least the voice of the hierophant shook Nero, and repulsed the mysteries of the initiates when he dared to attend. He respected the voice of the crier who said these words: "Far from here the killings, the villains, the wicked, the epicureans!” Give a courageous and good religion to the state, if you wish its ministers to be in the first Order!