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Title: De Tribus Impostoribus, A. D. 1230 - The Three Impostors
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        DE TRIBUS IMPOSTORIBUS,

                              A. D. 1230.

                          THE THREE IMPOSTORS

                       (with Notes and Comments)


                     ALCOFRIBAS NASIER, THE LATER.

                           PRIVATELY PRINTED

                          FOR THE SUBSCRIBERS.



    The man who marks or leaves with pages bent
    The volume that some trusting friend has lent,
    Or keeps it over long, or scruples not
    To let its due returning be forgot;
    The man who guards his books with miser's care,
    And does not joy to lend them, and to share;
    The man whose shelves are dust begrimed and few,
    Who reads when he has nothing else to do;
    The man who raves of classic writers, but
    Is found to keep them with their leaves uncut;
    The man who looks on literature as news,
    And gets his culture from the book reviews;
    Who loves not fair, clean type, and margins wide--
    Or loves these better than the thought inside;
    Who buys his books to decorate the shelf,
    Or gives a book he has not read himself;
    Who reads from priggish motives, or for looks,
    Or any reason save the love of books--
    Great Lord, who judgest sins of all degrees,
    Is there no little private hell for these?

                          Edition 352 copies.

                           12 on large paper.


This pamphlet in its present form is the result of an inquiry into the
characters represented in a historical grade of the Ancient Accepted
Scottish Rite, and the probability of their having existed at the
date mentioned in the said grade. Few appeared to have any very clear
notion of the relation of the characters to the period--Frederick
II. being confounded with his grand-father, Frederick Barbarossa--and
the date of the supposed foundation of the Order of Teutonic Knights,
1190, being placed as the date of the papacy of Oronata, otherwise
Honorius III. Inquiry being made of one in authority as to the facts
in the case--he being supposed to know--elicited the reply that the
matter had been called to his attention some months previous by an
investigator--now deceased--but the matter had been dropped. It was
also surmised by the same authority that an error might have been
made by one of the committee having ritualistic matter in charge--but
he, having also been gathered to his fathers, was not available
for evidence.

It is stated that the action took place when Frederick II. was Emperor
of Germany, and Honorius III. presided over spiritual conditions; but
this Pope, according to Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, reigned 1216-1227,
and the dissertation on the pamphlet names Gregory IX., successor
to Honorius, (1227-1241) as the Pope against whom the treatise was
written. The infamous book mentioned in the representation no one
seemed to have any knowledge of. Inquiry made concerning the treatise
at various libraries supposed to possess it, and of various individuals
who might know something of it, elicited but the information that it
was purely "legendary," that, "it had no existence except by title,"
and that "it was an item of literature entirely lost."

Having been a book collector and a close reader of book catalogs for
over twenty-five years, I had never noted any copy offered for sale,
but a friend with the same mania for books, had seen a copy mentioned
in a German catalog, and being interested in "de tribus Impostoribus"
for reasons herein mentioned, had sent for and procured the same--an
edition of a Latin version compiled from a Ms. 1598, with a foreword
in German. The German was familiar to him, but the Latin was not

About the same time I found in a catalog of a correspondent of
mine at London, a book entitled "Les Trois Imposteurs. De Tribus
Impostoribus et dissertation sur le livre des Trois Imposteurs,
sm. 4to. Saec. XVIII.," and succeeded in purchasing it.

The manuscript is well written, and apparently by two different
hands, which would be probable from the facts set forth in the
"Dissertation." A copy of the translation from the Latin is probably
deposited in the library of Duke Eugene de Subaudio as set forth in
the colophon at end of the manuscript.

The manuscript is written in the French of the period, and is dated in
the colophon as 1716. The discovery of the original Latin document is
mentioned in the "Dissertation" as about 1706. It has been annotated
by another hand, as shown by foot notes, and several inserted sheets
containing notes in still another hand, were written evidently about
1746, as one of the sheets is a portion of a letter postmarked 4e
Aout in latter year.

I append a bibliography from Weller's Latin reprint of 1598 which will
show that the pamphlet has "been done before"; but it will be noted
that English versions are not so plenty as those in other tongues,
and but one is known to have been printed in the United States.

I must acknowledge my indebtedness to Doctissimus vir Harpocrates,
Col. F. Montrose, and Maj. Otto Kay for valued assistance in languages
with which I am not thoroughly familiar, and also to Mr. David
Hutcheson, of the Library of Congress, for favors granted.

Ample apologies will be found for the treatise in the several
introductions quoted from various editions, and those fond of literary
curiosities will certainly be gratified by its appearance in the
twentieth century.

        A. N.


In 1846, Emil Weller published "De Tribus Impostoribus," and also
a later edition in 1876, at Heilbronn, from a Latin copy of one of
the only four known to be in existence and printed in 1598. The copy
from which it was taken, consisting of title and forty-six leaves,
quarto, is at the Royal Library at Dresden, and was purchased for
one hundred gulden.

The other three, according to Ebert in his "Bibliographical Lexicon,"
are as follows: one in the Royal Library at Paris, one in the Crevanna
Library and the other in the library of Renouard.

An edition was published at Rackau, in Germany, in 1598, and Thomas
Campanella (1636), in his "Atheismus Triumphatus," gives the year of
its first publication as 1538.

Florimond Raimond (otherwise Louis Richeome,) claims to have seen a
copy owned by his teacher, Peter Ramus, who died in 1572.

All the talk of theological critics that the booklet was first printed
in the seventeenth century, is made out of whole cloth.

There is nothing modern about the edition of 1598. It may be compared,
for example, with Martin Wittel's print of the last decade of the
sixteenth century, by which it is claimed that it could not have
been printed then, as the paper and printing of that period closely
resembles that of the eighteenth century.

With the exception of the religious myths, few writings of the dark
ages have had as many hypotheses advanced in regard to origin as
there have been regarding this one.

According to John Brand it had been printed at Krakau, according to
others, in Italy or Hungary as a translation of an Arabic original
existing somewhere in France.

William Postel mentions a tract "de Tribus Prophetis," and gives
Michael Servetus, a Spanish doctor, as the author.

The Capuchin Monk Joly, in Vol. III of his "Conference of Mysteries,"
assures us that the Huguenot, Nic. Barnaud, in 1612, on account of
an issue of "de Tribus Impostoribus," was excommunicated as its author.

Johann Mueller, in his "Besiegten Atheismus," (Conquered Atheism),
mentions a certain Nachtigal who published at Hague, in 1614,
"De Trib. Imp.," and was therefore exiled.

Mosheim and Rousset accuse Frederick II as the author with the
assistance of his Chancellor, Petrus de Vineis. Vineis, however,
declares himself opposed even to the fundamental principles of the
book, and in his "Epist. Lib. 1, ch. 31, p. 211," says he never had
any idea of it.

Others place the authorship with Averroes, Peter Arretin and Petrus
Pomponatius. Heinrich Ernst accuses the above mentioned Postel. Postel
attributes it to Servetus, who, in turn, places it at the door of
the Huguenot Barnaud.

The instigator of the treatise, it is claimed, should have been
Julius Cesar Vanini, who was burned at Toulouse in 1619, or Ryswick,
who suffered at the stake in Rome in 1612.

Other persons accused of the authorship are Macchiavelli, Rabelais,
Erasmus, Milton (John, born 1608,) a Mahometan named Merula, Dolet,
and Giordano Bruno.

According to Campanella, to whom the authorship was attributed
occasionally, Muret, or Joh. Franz. Poggio, were responsible. Browne
says it was Bernhard Ochini, and Maresius lays it to Johann Boccaccio.

The "three cheats" are Moses, Jesus and Mahomet, but the tracts of
each of the latter alleged authors treat only of Moses, of whom they
say that his assertions in Genesis will not hold water, and cannot
be proved.

Weller, in his edition of 1876, speaking of the copy of 1598, says
that this issue should never be compared with any of the foregoing.

Many authors have written "de Tribus Impostoribus" because they had
some special object in view; for instance, John Bapt. Morinus, when
he edited, under the name of Vincentius Panurgius, in Paris, 1654,
an argument against Gassendi, Neure, and Bernier.

Joh. Evelyn with a "Historia de tribus hujus seculi
famosis Impostoribus," Padre Ottomano, Mahomed Bei, otherwise
Joh. Mich. Cigala, and Sabbatai Sevi (English 1680, German 1669,)
[1] Christian Kortholt "de Tribus Impostoribus Magnus," (Kiel 1680 and
Hamburg 1701,) against Herbert, Hobbes and Spinosa, Hadrian Beverland,
Perini del Vago, Equitis de Malta, "Epistolium ad Batavum in Brittania
hospitem de tribus Impostoribus," (Latin and English 1709.)

Finally, Michael Alberti, under the name of Andronicus, published
a "Tractatus Medico-historicus de tribus Impostoribus," which
he named the three great Tempters of Humanity: 1. Tea and
Coffee. 2. Laziness. 3. Home apothecaries.

Cosmopoli Bey (Peter Martin Roman), issued at Russworn in Rostock in
1731, and a new edition of same treatise--De Trib. Imp.--1738 and 1756.

For a long time scholars confused the genuine Latin treatise with a
later one. De la Monnoye fabricated a long dissertation in which he
denied the existence of the original Latin edition, but received a
well merited refutation at the hands of P. F. Arpe.

The false book is French--"La vie et l'esprit de Mr. Benoit
Spinoza." [2] The author of the first part was Hofrath Vroes, in
Hague, and the second was written by Dr. Lucas. It made its first
appearance at Hague 1719, and later in 1721, under the title "de
Tribus Impostoribus," des Trois Imposteurs. Frankfort-on-the-Main at
the expense of the Translator (i. e. Rotterdam.)

Richard la Selve prepared a third edition under the original title of
"The Life of Spinoza," by one of his Disciples. Hamburgh (really in
Holland,) 1735.

In 1768 there was printed by M. M. Rey, at Amsterdam, a new edition
called a "Treatise of the Three Impostors;" immediately after another
edition appeared at Yverdoner 1768, another in Holland 1775, and a
later one in Germany 1777.

The contents of "L'esprit de Spinoza" (German) by Spinoza II, or
Subiroth Sopim--Rome, by Widow Bona Spes 5770--(Vieweg in Berlin 1787,)
are briefly Chap. I, Concerning God. Chap. II, Reasons why men have
created an invisible Being which is commonly called God. Chap. III,
What the word Religion signifies, and how and why so many of these
Religions have crept into the world. Chap. IV, Evident truths. Chap. V,
Of the Soul. Chap. VI, Of Ghosts, Demons, etc. Then follows fifteen
chapters which are not in the treatise (? Edition 1598.)

The following became known by reason of peculiarities of their
diction: 1. Ridiculum et imposturae in omni hominum religione,
scriptio paradoxa, quam ex autographo gallico Victoris Amadei
Verimontii ob summam rei dignitatem in latinum sermonem transtulit †††
1746. Which according to Masch consists of from five to six sheets and
follows the general contents, but not in the order of the original
edition. 2. A second. Quaedam deficiunt, s. fragmentum de libro de
tribus impostoribus. Fifty-one pages is a fragment. 3. One mentioned
by Gottsched. De impostoris religionum breve. Compendium descriptum
ab exemplari MSto. quod in Bibliotheca Jo. Fried. Mayeri, Berolini
Ao. 1716, publice distracta deprehensum et a Principe Eugenio de
Sabaudio 80 Imperialibus redemptum fuit. (forty-three pages.) The
greater part of the real book in thirty-one paragraphs, the ending
of which is Communes namque demonstrationes, quae publicantur,
nec certae, nec evidentes, sunt, et res dubias per alias saepe
magias dubias probant, adeo ut exemplo eorum, qui circulum currunt,
ad terminum semper redeant, a quo currere inceperunt. Finis. [3] A
German translation of this is said to be in existence. 4. According to
a newspaper report of 1716, there also should exist an edition which
begins: Quamvis omnium hominem intersit nosse veritatem, rari tamen
boni illi qui eam norunt, etc., [4] and ends, Qui veritatis amantes
sunt, multum solatii inde capient, et hi sunt, quibus placere gestimus,
nil curantes mancipia, quae praejudicia oraculorum--infallibilium
loco venerantur.

5. Straube in Vienna made a reprint of the edition of 1598 in 1753.

6. A new reprint is contained in a pamphlet edited by C. C. E. Schmid
and almost entirely confiscated, entitled: Zwei seltene
antisupernaturalistische manuscripte. Two rare anti-supernaturalistic
manuscripts. (Berlin, Krieger in Giessen, 1792.)

7. There recently appeared through W. F. Genthe an edition, De
impostura religionum compendium s. liber de tribus impostoribus,
Leipsic, 1833.

8. Finally, through Gustav Brunet of Bordeaux an edition founded
upon the text of the 1598 edition was produced with the title, de
Tribus Impostoribus, MDIIC. Latin text collated from the copy of the
Duke de la Valliere, now in the Imperial Library; [5] enlarged with
different readings from several manuscripts, etc., and philologic and
bibliographical notes by Philomneste Junior, Paris, 1861 (?1867). Only
237 copies printed, and is out of print and rare.

9. An Italian translation of the same appeared in 1864 by Daelli in
Milan with title as above.

10. A Spanish edition also exists taken from the same source and
under the same title. London (Burdeos) 1823.

Note. All the preceding Bibliography is from the edition of Emil
Weller, Heilbronn 1876.--A. N.

The only edition known to have been printed in the United States
was entitled "The Three Impostors." Translated (with notes and
illustrations) from the French edition of the work, published at
Amsterdam, 1776. Republished by G. Vale, Beacon Office, 3 Franklin
Square, New York, 1846, 84pp. 12o. A copy is in the Congressional
Library at Washington.

From this I transcribe the following notes:


We publish this valuable work, for the reasons contained in the
following Note, of which we approve:


The following little book I present to the reader without any remarks
on the different opinions relative to its antiquity; as the subject is
amply discussed in the body of the work, and constitutes one of its
most interesting and attractive features. The Edition from which the
present is translated was brought me from Paris by a distinguished
defender of Civil and Religious Liberty: and as my friend had an
anxiety from a thorough conviction of its interest and value, to
see it published in the English Language, I have from like feelings
brought it before the public, and I am convinced that it is eminently
calculated to promote the cause of Freedom, Justice and Morality.

    J. Myles.


The Translator of the following little treatise deems it necessary to
say a few words as to the object of its publication. It is given to
the world, neither with a view to advocate Scepticism, nor to spread
Infidelity, but simply to vindicate the right of private judgment. No
human being is in a position to look into the heart, or to decide
correctly as to the creed or conduct of his fellow mortals; and the
attributes of the Deity are so far beyond the grasp of limited reason,
that man must become a God himself before he can comprehend them. Such
being the case, surely all harsh censure of each other's opinions and
actions ought to be abandoned; and every one should so train himself
as to be enabled to declare with the humane and manly philosopher

    "Homo sum, nihil humani me alienum puto."

Dundee, September 1844.

The Vale production is evidently translated from an edition derived
from the Latin manuscript which is the basis of the translation
given in this volume. The variations in the text of each not being
important, but simply due to the different modes of expression of
the translators--the ideas conveyed being the same.

The Treatise in Vale's edition concludes with the following:

        "Happy the man who, studying Nature's laws,
        Through known effects can trace the secret cause;
        His mind possessing in a quiet state,
        Fearless of Fortune, and resigned to Fate."

                    --Dryden's Virgil. Georgics Book II, l. 700.

There is also in the Library of Congress a volume entitled
"Traité des Trois Imposteurs." En Suisse de l'imprimerie
philosophique--1793. Boards 3 1/2 × 5 3/4 inches, containing the
Treatise proper 112 pp. Sentimens sur le traite des trois imposteurs,
(De la Monnaye) 32 pp. Response a la dissertation de M. de la Monnaye
19 pp. signed J. L. R. L. and dated at Leyden 1 Jan., 1716, to which
this note is appended: "This letter is from Sieur Pierre Frederic
Arpe, of Kiel, in Holstein, author of the apology of Vanini, printed
at Rotterdam in 8o, 1712." The letter contains the account of the
discovery of the original Latin manuscript at Frankfort-on-the-Main,
in substance much the same as the translation given in this edition.

In the copy at the Congressional Library, I find the following
manuscript notes which may be rendered as follows: "Voltaire doubted
the existence of this work, this was in 1767. See his letter to his
Highness Monseigneur The Prince of ----. Letter V, Vol. 48 of his
works, p. 312."

See Barbier Dict. des ouv. anon. Nos. 18250, 19060, 21612.

De Tribus Impostoribus. Anon.

L'esprit de Spinosa trad. du latin par Vroes.

In connection with this latter note, and observing the name written at
end of the colophon of the manuscript from which the present edition
is translated, it is probable that this same Vroese was the author
of another translation.

Another remarkable copy is contained in the Library of Congress,
the title page of which is displayed as follows:

                            TROIS IMPOSTEURS
                          RELIGIONS DOMINANTES
                              ET DU CULTE
                d'apres l'analyse conforme à l'histoire.


   nombre d'observations morales, analogues à celles mises à l'ordre
     du jour, pour l'affermissement de la République, sa gloire, et
              l'édification des peuples de tous les pays.

                        ORNÉ DE TROIS GRAVURES.

                             À PHILADELPHIE
                 sous l'auspices du général WASHINGTHON
                              ET SE TROUVE
 A PARIS chez le citoyen MERCIER, homme de lettres, rue du Cocq Honoré,
                                No. 120,
              LONDON, at M. Miller, libryre, Boon Street,


Note.--This edition has undoubtedly been translated from the original
Latin manuscript.--A. N.

Translation. Treatise of the Three Impostors of the governing Religions
and worship, after an examination conformable to history, containing
a number of moral observations, analogous to those placed in the
order of the day for the support of the republic, its glory, and the
edification of the people of all countries. Ornamented with three
engravings. At Philadelphia under the auspices of General Washington,
and may be found at Paris at the house of Citizen Mercier (Claude
Francois Xavier [6]), man of letters, 120 Cocq Honoré street, and at
London at Mr. Miller's, bookseller, Boon street, Piccadelly, 1796.

On the following page may be found the following:

                               LE PEUPLE
                             L'ÊTRE SUPRÊME
                         L'IMMORTALITÉ DE L'AME
                        ET LA LIBERTÉ DES CULTES
                                 ---- [7]

                        Religions Dominantes [8]

          Chapter      I.  Concerning God,    6   paragraphs.
          Chapter     II.  Reasons, etc.,    11   paragraphs.
          Chapter    III.  Religious,         9   paragraphs.

           "Les prêtres ne sont pas ce qu'un vain peuple pense
            Notre crédulité fait toute leur science."

            Priests are not what vain people think,
            Our credulity makes all their science.

          Chapter     IV.  Moses,             2   paragraphs.
          Chapter      V.  Jesus Christ,     10   paragraphs.

            Paragraph 2. Politics; paragraph 6. Morals.

          Chapter     VI.  Mahomet,           2   paragraphs.
          Chapter    VII.  Evident Truths,    6   paragraphs.
          Chapter   VIII.  The Soul,          7   paragraphs.
          Chapter     IX.  Demons,            7   paragraphs.

Facing page twenty-seven is a medallion copper plate of Moses, around
which are these words (translated): "Moses saw God in the burning
bush," and beneath the following from Voltaire's Pucelle (translated):

    Alone on the summit of the mysterious mount
    As he desired, he closed his fortieth year.
    Then suddenly he appeared upon the plain
    With buck's horns [9] shining on his forehead.
    Which brilliant miracle in the mind of the philosopher
    Created a prompt effect."

In a note to par. II. occur the following lines which translated read:

    "How many changes a revolution makes:
    Heaven has brought us forth in happy time
    To see the world----Here the weak Italian
    Is frightened at the sight of a stole:
    The proud Frenchman astonished at nothing
    Boldly goes to defy the Pope at his capital
    And the grand Turk in turban, like a good Christian,
    Recites the prayers of his faith
    And prays to God for the pagan Arab,
    Having no thought of any kind of expedient
    Nor means to destroy altars and idol worship.
    The Supreme Being his only and sole support,
    Does not exact for offering a single coin
    From any sect, from Jew nor plebeian:
    What need has He of Temple or archbishop?
    The heart of the just and the general good
    Shines like a brilliant sun on the halo of glory."

Then follows a "Bouquet for the Pope":

    "Thou whom flatterers have invested with a vain title,
    Shalt thou at this late day become the arbiter of Europe?
    Charitable pontiff, and friend of humanity,
    Having so many sovereigns as fathers of families,
    The successors of Christ, in the midst of the sanctuary
    Have they not placed unblushingly, incest and adultery?
    Be this the last of imposture and thy last sigh.
    Do thyself more honor, esteem and pleasure,
    Than all the monuments erected to the glory
    Of thy predecessors in the temple of memory.
    Let them read on thy tomb 'he was worthy of love,
    The father of the Church and oracle of the day.'"

On the following page is a copper plate profile portrait of Pius
VI. surrounded by the words "Senatus Populus Que Romanus." At
the side Principis Ecclesiae dotes vis Cernere Magni. (Senate and
People of Rome--Prince of the Church endowed with power and great
wisdom.) Beneath:

    "The talents of the learned and the virtues of the wise,
    A noble and beneficent manner with which all are charmed,
    Depict much better than this image
    The true portrait of Pius VI."

Facing page fifty-one is a copper plate portrait of Mahomet, and
beneath this tribute:

    "Know you not yet, weak and superb man,
    That the humble insect hidden beneath a leaf
    And the imperious eagle who flies to heaven's dome,
    Amount to nothing in the eyes of the Eternal.
    All men are equal: not birth but virtue
    Distinguishes them apart."

Then there are inserted a number of verses, some of the titles reading:

    "Homage to the Supreme Being."
    "Voltaire Admitted to Heaven."
    "Homage to the Eternal Father."
    "Bouquet to the Archbishop of Paris."
    "Infinite Mercy--Consolation for Sinners."
    "Lots of Room in Heaven."
    "The Holy Spirit Absent from Heaven," etc.

Concluding with "A Picture of France at the Time of the Revolution."

    "Nobility without souls, a fanatical clergy.
    Frightful tax gatherers gnawing a plucked people.
    Faith and customs a prey to designing persons.
    A price set upon the head of the Chancellor (Maupeou).
    The skeleton of a perfidious Senate.
    Not daring to punish a parricidal conspiracy.
    O, my country! O, France! Thy miseries
    Have even drawn tears from Rome. [10]
    If you have no Republic, and no pure legislators
    Like exist in America, to deliver you from the oppression
    Of a tyrannous empire of knaves, brigands and robbers;
    Like the British cabinet and the skillful Pitt, chief of
    Who with his magic lantern fascinates even the wise ones.
    This clique will soon be seen to fall, if the French become the
    Of this ancient slavery, and show themselves the proud protectors
    Of their musical Carmagnole.
    In the name of kings and emperors, how much iniquity and horror
    Which are recorded in history, cause the reader to shudder with
    The entrance of friends in Belgium, to the eyes of those who know,
    Is it not an unique epoch?
    And this most flattering tie, sustained by a heroic compact,
    Will be the desire of all hearts."


under the protection of Congress.

Bound in this volume is a pamphlet entitled "La Fable de
Christ devoilée." Paris: Franklin Press. 75 Rue de Clery. 2nd
year of the Republic. Also, "Éloge non-funèbre de Jesus et du
Christianisme. Printed on the débris of the Bastille, and the funeral
pile of the Inquisition. 2nd year of Liberty, and of Christ 1791."

Another closes the volume: "Lettres Philosophique sur St. Paul: sur sa
doctrine, politique, morale, & réligieuse, & sur plusieurs points de
la réligion chrétienne considerées politiquement." (J. P. Brissot de
Warville.) Translated from the English by the philosopher de Ferney
and found in the portfolio of M. V. his ancient secretary. Neuchatel
en Suisse 1783.

Note translated from the edition "En Suisse, de l'imprimerie
philosophique," 1793.

In a response to M. de la Monnoye, who laboriously endeavored to
refute the existence of the treatise entitled "The Three Impostors,"
and which reply in addition to M. de la Monnoye's arguments appear in
connection with some of the translations of the treatise, occurs the
following introduction to the account of the discovery of the original
manuscript: "I have by me a more certain means of overturning this
dissertation of M. de la Monnoye, when I inform him that I have read
this celebrated little work and that I have it in my library. I will
give you and the public an account of the manner in which I discovered
it, and as it is in my possession I will subjoin a short but faithful
description of it."

Here follows a summary of the contents and the Dissertation, in
substance the same as our manuscript; the response concluding as

"Such is the anatomy of this celebrated work. I might have given it in
a manner more extended and more minute; but besides that this letter
is already too long, I think that enough has been said to give insight
into the nature of its contents. A thousand other reasons which you
will well enough understand, have prevented me from entering upon it
to so great length as I could have done; "Est modus in rebus." [11]

"Now although this book were ready to be printed [12] with the preface
in which I have given its history, and its discovery, with some
conjectures as to its origin, and a few remarks which may be placed at
its conclusion, yet I do not believe that it will live to see the day
when men will be compelled all at once to quit their opinions and their
imaginations, as they have quitted their syllogisms, their canons,
and their other antiquated modes. As for me I will not expose myself
to the Theological stylus [13]--which I fear as much as Fra-Poula
feared the Roman stylus--to afford to a few learned men the pleasure of
reading this little treatise; but neither will I be so superstitious,
on my death bed, as to cause it to be thrown into the flames, which
we are informed was done by Salvius, the Swedish ambassador, at the
peace of Munster. Those who come after me may do what seems to them
good--they can not disturb me in the tomb. Before I descend to that,
I remain with much respect, your most obedient servant,

    J. L. R. L.

    "Leyden, 1st January, 1716."

This letter was written by Mr. Pierre Frederick Arpe, of Kiel, in
Holstein; the author of an apology for Vanini, printed in octavo at
Rotterdam, 1712.


More than four hundred years have elapsed since this little treatise
was first mentioned, the title of which has always caused it to be
qualified as impious, profane and worthy of the fire. I am convinced
that none of those who have mentioned it have read it, and after
having examined it carefully, it can only be said that it is written
with as much discretion as the matter would allow to a man persuaded
of the falsehood of the things which he attacked, and protected by
a powerful prince, under whose direction he wrote.

There have been but few scholars whose religious beliefs were dubious,
who have not been credited with the authorship of this treatise.

Averroes, a famous Arabian commentator on Aristotle's works, and
celebrated for his learning, was the first to whom this production was
attributed. He lived about the middle of the twelfth century when the
"three impostors" were first spoken of. He was not a Christian, as he
treated their religion as "the Impossible," nor a Jew, whose law he
called "a Religion for Children," nor a Mahometan, for he denominated
their belief "a Religion for Hogs." He finally died a Philosopher,
that is to say, without having subscribed to the opinions of the
vulgar, and that was sufficient to publish him as the enemy of the
law makers of the three Religions that he had scorned.

Jean Bocala, an Italian scholar of a happy disposition, and
consequently not much imbued with bigotry, flourished in the middle
of the fourteenth century. A fable that he ventured in one of his
works, concerning "Three Rings," has been regarded as evidence of this
execrable book whose author was looked for, and this was considered
sufficient to attribute the authorship to him long after his death.

Michael Servetus, burned at Geneva (1553) by the pitiless persecution
of Mr. John Calvin, he not having subscribed to either the Trinity
or the Redeemer, it became proper to attribute to him the production
of this impious volume.

Etienne Dolit, a printer at Paris, and who ranked among the learned,
was led to the stake--to which he had been condemned as a Calvinist
in 1543--with a courage comparable to that of the first martyrs. He
therefore merited to be treated as an atheist, and was honored as
the author of the pamphlet against the "Three Impostors."

Lucilio Vanini, a Neapolitan, and the most noted atheist of his
time, if his enemies may be believed, fairly proved before his
judges--however he may have been convinced--the truth of a Providence,
and consequently a God. It sufficed however for the persecution of his
enemies, the Parliament of Toulouse, who condemned him to be burned
as an atheist, and also to merit the distinction of having composed,
or at least having revived, the book in question.

I am not sure but what Ochini and Postel, Pomponiac and Poggio the
Florentine, and Campanella, all celebrated for some particular opinion
condemned by the Church of their time, were for that reason accused
as atheists, and also adjudged without trouble, the authors of the
little truth for whom a parent was sought.

All that famous critics have published from time to time of this
book has excited the curiosity of the great and wise to determine
the author, but without avail.

I believe that several treatises printed with the title "de Tribus
Impostoribus," such as that of Kortholt against Spinosa, Hobbes and the
Baron Cherbourg; that of the false Panurge against Messieurs Gastardi,
de Neure and Bernier have furnished many opportunities for an infinity
of half-scholars who only speak from hearsay, and who often judge
a book by the first line of the title. I have, like many others who
have examined this work, done so in a superficial manner. Though I
am a delver in antiquities, and a decipherer of manuscript, chance
having caused the pamphlet to fall into my hands at one time, I avow
that I gave neither thought to the production nor to its author.

Some business affairs having taken me to Frankfort-on-the-Main about
the month of April, (1706), that is about fifteen days after the Fair,
I called on a friend named Frecht, a Lutheran theological student, whom
I had known in Paris. One day I went to his house to ask him to take
me to a bookseller where he could serve me as interpreter. We called
on the way on a Jew who furnished me with money and who accompanied us.

Being engaged in looking over a catalog at the book store, a German
officer entered the shop, and said to the bookseller without any form
of compliment, "If among all the devils I could find one to agree with
you, I would still go and look for another dealer." The bookseller
replied that "500 Rix dollars was an excessive price, and that he
ought to be satisfied with the 450 that he offered." The officer
told him to "go to the Devil," as he would do nothing of the sort,
and was about to leave. Frecht, who recognized him as a friend,
stopped him and having renewed his acquaintance, was curious to
know what bargain he had concluded with the bookseller. The officer
carelessly drew from his pocket a packet of parchment tied by a cord
of yellow silk. "I wanted," said he, "500 Rix dollars to satisfy me
for three manuscripts which are in this package, but Mr. Bookseller
does not wish to give but 450." Frecht asked if he might see the
curiosities. The officer took them from his pocket, and the Jew
and myself who had been merely spectators now became interested,
and approached Frecht, who held the three books.

The first which Frecht opened was an Italian imprint of which the title
was missing, and was supplied by another written by hand which read

"Specchia della Bestia Triomphante." The book did not appear of
ancient date, and had on the title neither year nor name of printer.

We passed to the second, which was a manuscript without title,
the first page of which commenced "OTHONI illustrissimo amico meo
charissimo. F. I. s. d." This embraced but two lines, after which
followed a letter of which the commencement was "Quod de tribus
famosissimis Nationum Deceptoribus in ordinem. Justu. meo digesti
Doctissimus ille vir, que cum Sermonem de illa re in Museo meo
habuisti exscribi curavi atque codicem illum stilo aeque, vero ac
puro scriptum ad te ut primum mitto, etenim ipsius per legendi te
accipio cupidissimum."

The other manuscript was also Latin, and without title like the
other. It commenced with these words--from Cicero if I am not mistaken:
"An. I. liber de Nat. Deor. Qui Deos esse dixerunt tantu sunt in
Varietate et dissentione constituti ut eorum molestum sit dinumerare
sententias. Altidum freri profecto potest ut eorum nulla, alterum
certi non potest ut plus unum vera fit. Summi quos in Republica
obtinnerat honores orator ille Romanus, ea que quam servare famam
Studiote curabat, in causa fuere quod in Concione Deos non ansus sit
negare quamquam in contesta Philosophorum, etc."

We paid but little attention to the Italian production, which only
interested our Jew, who assured us that it was an invective against
Religion. We examined several phrases of the latter by which we
mutually agreed that it was a system of Demonstrated Atheism. The
second, which we have mentioned, attracted our entire attention, and
Frecht having persuaded his friend, whose name was Tausendorff, not
to take less than 500 Rix dollars, we left the bookseller's shop, and
Frecht, who had his own ideas, took us to his inn, where he proposed
to his friend to empty a bottle of good wine together. Never did a
German decline a like proposition, so Frecht immediately ordered the
wine, and asked Tausendorff to tell us how these manuscripts fell
into his possession.

After enjoying his portion of six bottles of old Moselle, he told
us that after the victory at Hochstadt [14] and the flight of the
Elector of Bavaria, he was one of those who entered Munich, and
in the palace of His Highness, he went from room to room until he
reached the library. Here his eyes fell by chance on the package of
parchments with the silk cord, and believing them to be important
papers or curiosities, he could not resist the temptation of putting
them in his pocket. He was not deceived when he opened the package and
convinced himself. This recital was accompanied by many soldier-like
digressions, as the wine had a little disarranged the judgment of
Tausendorff. Frecht, who, during the story, perused the manuscript,
took the chance of a refusal by asking his friend to allow him to
take the book until the next day. Tausendorff, whom the wine had
made generous, consented to the request of Frecht, but he exacted a
terrible oath that he would neither copy it or cause it to be done,
promising to come for it on Sunday and empty some more bottles of wine,
which he found to his taste.

This obliging officer had no sooner left than we commenced to decipher
it. The writing was so small, full of abbreviations, and without
punctuation, that we were nearly two hours in reading the first
page, but as soon as we were accustomed to the method we commenced
to read it more easily. I found it so accurate and written with so
much care, that I proposed to Frecht an equivocal method of making a
copy without violating the oath which he had taken: which method was
to make a translation. The conscience of a theologian did not but
find difficulties in such proposal, but I removed them as I could,
assuming the sin myself, and in the end he consented to work on the
translation which was finished before the time fixed by Tausendorff.

This is the way in which this book came into our hands. Many would
have desired to possess the original but we were not rich enough to
buy it. The bookseller had a commission from a Prince of the House of
Saxony, who knew that it had been taken from the library at Munich,
and he was to spare no effort to secure it, if he found it, by paying
the 500 Rix dollars to Tausendorff who went away several days after,
having regaled us in his turn.

Passing to the origin of the book, and its author, one can hardly
give an account of either only by consulting the book itself in which
but little is found except for the base of conjecture. There is only
a letter at the beginning, and which is written in another character
from the rest of the book, which gives any light. We find it addressed
OTHONI, Illustrissimo. The place where the manuscript was found, and
the name OTHO put together warrants the belief that it was addressed
to the Illustrious Otho, lord of Bavaria. This prince was grandson of
Otho, the Great; Count of Schiren and Witelspach from whom the House
of Bavaria and the Palatine had their origin. The Emperor Frederick
Barbarossa [15] had given him Bavaria for his fidelity, after having
taken it from Henry the Lion to punish him for his inconsistency in
taking the part of his enemies. Louis I. succeeded his father, Otho
the Great, and left Bavaria--in the possession of which he had been
disturbed by Henry the Lion--to his son Otho, surnamed the Illustrious,
who assured his possession by wedding the daughter of Henry. This
happened about the year 1230, when Frederick II., Emperor of Germany,
returned from Jerusalem, where, at the solicitation of Pope Gregory
IX., he had pursued the war against the Saracens, and from whence he
returned irritated to excess against the Holy Father who had incensed
his army against him, as well as the Templars and the Patriarch of
Jerusalem, until the Emperor refused to obey the Pope.

Otho the Illustrious recognizing the obligations that his family were
under to the family of the Emperor, took his part and remained firmly
attached to him, notwithstanding all the vicissitudes of fortune
of Frederick.

Why these historical reminiscences? To sustain the conjecture that
it was to this Otho the Illustrious that this copy of the pamphlet
of the Three Impostors was addressed. By whom? This is why we are led
to believe that the F. I. s. d. which follows L'amico meo carissimo,
and which we interpret FREDERICUS. Imperator salutem Domino. Thus
this would be by The Emperor Frederick II., son of Henry IV. and
grandson of Frederick Barbarossa, who, succeeding to their Empire,
had at the same time inherited the hatred of the Roman Pontiffs. [16]

Those who have read the history of the Church and that of the Empire,
will recall with what pride and arrogance the indolent Alexander
III. placed his foot on the neck of Frederick Barbarossa, who came to
him to sue for peace. Who does not know the evil that the Holy See
did to his son Henry VI., against whom his own wife took up arms at
the persuasion of the Pope? At last Frederick II. uniting in himself
all the resolution which was wanting in his father and grandfather,
saw the purpose of Gregory IX., who seemed to have marshalled on
his side all the hatred of Alexander, Innocent and Honorius against
his Imperial Majesty. One brought the steel of persecution, and the
other the lightning of excommunication, and furiously they vied with
each other in circulating infamous libels. This, it seems to me, is
warrant sufficient to apply these happenings to the belief that this
book was by order of the Emperor, who was incensed against religion
by the vices of its Chief, and written by the Doctissimus vir, who is
mentioned in the letter as having composed this treatise, and which
consequently owes its existence not so much to a search for truth,
as to a spirit of hatred and implacable animosity.

This conjecture may be further confirmed by remarking that this book
was never mentioned only since the régime of that Emperor, and even
during his reign it was attributed him, since Pierre des Vignes, his
secretary, endeavored to cast this false impression on the enemies
of his master, saying that they circulated it to render him odious.

Now to determine the Doctissimus vir who is the author of the book
in question. First, it is certain that the epoch of the book was that
which we have endeavored to prove. Second, that it was encouraged by
those accused of its authorship, possibly excepting Averroes, who
died before the birth of Frederick II. All the others lived a long
time, even entire centuries after the composition of this work. I
admit that it is difficult to determine the author only by marking
the period when the book first made its appearance, and in whatever
direction I turn, I find no one to whom it could more probably be
attributed than Pierre des Vignes whom I have mentioned.

If we had not his tract "De poteste Imperiali," his other epistles
suffice to show with what zeal he entered into the resentment of
Frederick II. (whose Secretary he was) against the Holy See. Those
who have spoken of him, Ligonius, Trithemus and Rainaldi, furnish
such an accurate description of him, his condition and his spirit,
that after considering this I cannot remark but that this evidence
favors my conjecture. Again, as I have remarked, he himself spoke of
this book in his epistles, and he endeavored to accuse the enemies
of his master to lessen the clamor made to encourage the belief that
this Prince was the author. As he had taken the greater part, he
did not greatly exert himself to lessen the injurious noise, so that
if the accusation was strengthened by passing for a long time from
mouth to mouth it would not fall from the Master on his Secretary,
who was probably more capable of the production than a great Emperor,
always occupied with the clamors of war and always in fear of the
thunders of the Vatican. In one word, the Emperor, however valiant
and resolute, had no time to become a scholar like Pierre des Vignes,
who had given all the necessary attention to his studies, and who owed
his position and the affection of his Master entirely to his learning.

I believe that we can conclude from all this, that this little book
Tribus famosissimus Nationum Deceptoribus, for that is its true title,
was composed after the year 1230 by command of the Emperor Frederick
II. in hatred of the Court of Rome: and it is quite apparent that
Pierre des Vignes, Secretary to the Emperor, was the author. [17]

This is all that I deem proper for a preface to this little treatise,
and as it contains many naughty allusions, to prevent that in the
future, it may not be again attributed to those who perhaps never
entertained such ideas.

    Frederick Emperor
        to the very Illustrious Otho
            my very faithful Friend,

I have taken the trouble to have copied the Treatise which was made
concerning the Three Famous Impostors, by the learned man by whom
you were entertained on this subject, in my study, and though you
have not requested it, I send you the manuscript entire, in which
the purity of style equals the truth of the matter, for I know with
what interest you desired to read it, and also I am persuaded that
nothing could please you more.

It is not the first time that I have overcome my cruel enemies, and
placed my foot on the neck of the Roman Hydra whose skin is not more
red than the blood of the millions of men that its fury has sacrificed
to its abominable arrogance.

Be assured that I will neglect nothing to have you understand that I
will either triumph or perish in the attempt; for whatever reverses
may happen to me, I will not, like my predecessors, bend my knee
before them.

I hope that my sword, and the fidelity of the members of the Empire;
your advice and your assistance will contribute not a little. But
nothing would add more if all Germany could be inspired with the
sentiments of the Doctor--the author of this book. This is much to be
desired, but where are those capable of accomplishing such a project? I
recommend to you our common interests, live happy. I shall always be
your friend.

        F. I.



Of God.


However important it may be for all men to know the Truth, very
few, nevertheless, are acquainted with it, because the majority are
incapable of searching it themselves, or perhaps, do not wish the
trouble. Thus we must not be astonished if the world is filled with
vain and ridiculous opinions, and nothing is more capable of making
them current than ignorance, which is the sole source of the false
ideas that exist regarding the Divinity, the soul, and the spirit,
and all the errors depending thereon.

The custom of being satisfied with born prejudice has prevailed, and
by following this custom, mankind agrees in all things with persons
interested in supporting stubbornly the opinions thus received,
and who would speak otherwise did they not fear to destroy themselves.


What renders the evil without remedy, is, that after having established
these silly ideas of God, they teach the people to receive them without
examination. They take great care to impress them with aversion for
philosophers, fearing that the Truth which they teach will alienate
them. The errors in which the partisans of these absurdities have been
plunged, have thrived so well that it is dangerous to combat them. It
is too important for these impostors that the people remain in this
gross and culpable ignorance than to allow them to be disabused. Thus
they are constrained to disguise the truth, or to be sacrificed to
the rage of false prophets and selfish souls.


If the people could comprehend the abyss in which this ignorance
casts them, they would doubtless throw off the yoke of these venal
minds, since it is impossible for Reason to act without immediately
discovering the Truth. It is to prevent the good effects that would
certainly follow, that they depict it as a monster incapable of
inspiring any good sentiment, and however we may censure in general
those who are not reasonable, we must nevertheless be persuaded that
Truth is quite perverted. These enemies of Truth fall also into such
perpetual contradictions that it is difficult to perceive what their
real pretensions are. In the meanwhile it is true that Common Sense
is the only rule that men should follow, and the world should not be
prevented from making use of it.

We may try to persuade, but those who are appointed to instruct,
should endeavor to rectify false reasoning and efface prejudices,
then will the people open their eyes gradually until they become
susceptible of Truth, and learn that God is not all that they imagine.


To accomplish this, wild speculation is not necessary, neither is it
required to deeply penetrate the secrets of Nature. Only a little good
sense is needed to see that God is neither passionate nor jealous,
that justice and mercy are false titles attributed to him, and that
nothing of what the Prophets and Apostles have said constitutes his
nature nor his essence. In effect, to speak without disguise and
to state the case properly, it is certain that these doctors were
neither more clever or better informed than the rest of mankind, but
far from that, what they say is so gross that it must be the people
only who would believe them.

The matter is self-evident, but to make it more clear, let us see if
they are differently constituted than other men.


As to their birth and the ordinary functions of life, it is agreed
that they possessed nothing above the human; that they were born
of man and woman and lived the same as ourselves. But for mind, it
must be that God favored them more than other men, for they claimed
an understanding more brilliant than others. We must admit that
mankind has a leaning toward blindness, because it is said that God
loved the prophets more than the rest of mankind, that he frequently
communicated with them, and he believed them also of good faith. Now
if this condition was sensible, and without considering that all men
resembled each other, and that they each had a principle equal in all,
it was pretended that these prophets were of extraordinary attainments
and were created expressly to utter the oracles of God. But further,
if they had more wit than common, and more perfect understanding, what
do we find in their writings to oblige us to have this opinion of them?

The greater part of their writings is so obscure that it is not
understood, and put together in such a poor manner that we can hardly
believe that they comprehended it themselves, and that they must have
been very ignorant impostors. That which causes this belief of them
is that they boasted of receiving directly from God all that they
announced to the people--an absurd and ridiculous belief--and avowing
that God only spoke to them in dreams. Dreams are quite natural, and
a person must be quite vain or senseless to boast that God speaks to
him at such a time, and when faith is added, he must be quite credulous
since there is no evidence that dreams are oracles. Suppose even that
God manifested himself by dreams, by visions, or in any other way,
are we obliged to believe a man who may deceive himself, and which
is worse, who is inclined to lie?

Now we see that under the ancient law they had for prophets none more
esteemed than at the present day. Then when the people were tired of
their sophistry, which often tended to turn them from obedience to
their legitimate Ruler, they restrained them by various punishments,
just as Jesus was overwhelmed because he had not, like Moses,
[19] an army at his back to sustain his opinions. Added to that,
the Prophets were so in the habit of contradicting each other that
among four hundred not one reliable one was to be found. [20]

It is even certain that the aim of their prophecies, as well as
the laws of the celebrated legislators were to perpetuate their
memories by causing mankind to believe that they had private
conference with God. Most political objects have been projected in
such manner. However, such tricks have not always been successful
for those, who--with the exception of Moses--had not the means of
providing for their safety.


This being determined, let us examine the ideas which the Prophets had
of God, and we will smile at their grossness and contradictions. To
believe them, God is a purely corporeal being. Micah sees him
seated. Daniel clothed in white and in the form of an old man,
and Ezekiel like a fire. So much for the Old Testament, now for the
New. The disciples of J. C. imagined the Holy Spirit in the figure of
a dove; the apostles, in the form of tongues of fire, and St. Paul,
as a light which dazzled the sight unto blindness.

To show their contradictory opinions, Samuel, (I. ch. 15, v. 29),
believed that God never repented of his own resolution. Again,
Jeremiah, (ch. 18, v. 10), says that God repented of a resolve he had
taken. Joel, (ch. 2, v. 13), says that he only repents of the evil
he has done to mankind. Genesis, (ch. 4, v. 7), informs us that man
is prone to evil, but that He has nothing for him but blessings. On
the contrary, St. Paul, (Romans, ch. 9, v. 10), says that men have no
command of concupiscence except by the grace and particular calling
of God. These are the noble sentiments that these good people have of
God, and what they would have us believe. Sentiments, however, entirely
sensible, and quite material as we see, and yet they say that God has
nothing in common with matter, is a sensible and material being, and
that he is something incomprehensible to our understanding. I should
like to be informed how these contradictions may be harmonized,
and how, under such visible and palpable conditions it is proper
to believe them. Again, how can we accept the testimony of a people
so clownish that they, notwithstanding all the artifices of Moses,
should imagine a calf to be their God! But not considering the dreams
of a race raised in servitude, and among the superstitious, we can
agree that ignorance has produced credulity, and credulity falsehood,
from whence arises all the errors which exist today.


Reasons which have caused mankind to Create for themselves an Invisible
Being which has been commonly Called God.


Those who ignore physical causes have a natural fear born of
doubt. Where there exists a power which to them is dark or unseen, from
thence comes a desire to pretend the existence of invisible Beings,
that is to say their own phantoms which they invoke in adversity, whom
they praise in prosperity, and of whom in the end they make Gods. And
as the visions of men go to extremes, must we be astonished if there
are created an innumerable quantity of Divinities? It is the same
perceptible fear of invisible powers which has been the origin of
Religions, that each forms to his fashion. Many individuals to whom
it was important that mankind should possess such fancies, have not
scrupled to encourage mankind in such beliefs, and they have made it
their law until they have prevailed upon the people to blindly obey
them by the fear of the future.


The Gods having thus been invented, it is easy to imagine that they
resembled man, and who, like them, created everything for some purpose,
for they unanimously agree that God has made nothing except for man,
and reciprocally that man is made only for God. [21] This conclusion
being general, we can see why man has so thoroughly accepted it, and
know for that reason that they have taken occasion to create false
ideas of good and evil, merit and sin, praise and blame, order and
confusion, beauty and deformity--and similar qualities.


It should be agreed that all men are born in profound ignorance, and
that the only thing natural to them is a desire to discover what may be
useful and proper, and evade what may be inexpedient to them. Thence
it follows first, that we believe that to be free it suffices to
feel personally that one can wish and desire without being annoyed
by the causes which dispose us to wish and desire, because we do not
know them. Second, it consequently occurs that men are contented
to do nothing but for one object, that is to say, for that object
which is preferable above all, and that is why they have a desire
only to know the final result of their action, imagining that after
discovering this they have no reason to doubt anything. Now as they
find in and about themselves many means of procuring what they desire:
having, for example, ears to hear, eyes to see, animals to nourish,
a sun to give light, they have formed this reasoning, that there is
nothing in nature which was not made for them, and of which they may
dispose and enjoy. Then reflecting that they did not make this world,
they believe it to be a well-founded proposition to imagine a Supreme
Being who has made it for them such as it is, for after satisfying
themselves that they could not have made it, they conclude that it
was the work of one or several Gods who intended it for the use and
pleasure of man alone. On the other hand, the nature of the Gods
whom man has admitted, being unknown, they have concluded in their
own minds that these Gods susceptible of the same passions as men,
have made the earth only for them, and that man to them was extremely
precious. But as each one has different inclinations it became proper
to adore God according to the humor of each, to attract his blessings
and to cause Him to make all Nature subject to his desires.


By this method this precedent becomes Superstition, and it is implanted
so that the grossest natures are believed capable of penetrating
the doctrine of final causes as if they had perfect knowledge. Thus
in place of showing that nature has made nothing in vain, they show
that God and Nature dream as well as men, and that they may not be
accused of doubting things, let us see how they have put forth their
false reasoning on this subject.

Experience causing them to see a myriad of inconveniences marring the
pleasure of life, such as storms, earthquakes, sickness, famine and
thirst, they draw the conclusion that nature has not been made for
them alone. They attribute all these evils to the wrath of the Gods,
who are vexed by the offences of man, and they cannot be disabused
of these ideas by the daily instances which should prove to them that
blessings and evils have been always common to the wicked and the good,
and they will not agree to a proposition so plain and perceptible.

The reason for that is, it is more easy to remain in ignorance than
to abolish a belief established for many centuries and introduce
something more probable.


This precedent has caused another, which is the belief that the
judgments of God were incomprehensible, and that for this reason,
the knowledge of truth is beyond the human mind; and mankind would
still dwell in error were it not that mathematics and several other
sciences had destroyed these prejudices.


By this it may be seen that Nature or God does not propose any end,
and that all final causes are but human fictions. A long lecture is
not necessary since this doctrine takes away from God the perfection
ascribed to him, and this is how it may be proved. If God acted for
a result, either for himself or another, he desires what he has
not, and we must allow that there are times when God has not the
wherewith to act; he has merely desired it and that only creates an
impotent God. To omit nothing that may be applied to this reasoning,
let us oppose it with those of a contrary nature. If, for example,
a stone falls on a person and kills him, it is well known they say,
that the stone fell with the design of killing the man, and that
could only happen by the will of God. If you reply that the wind
caused the stone to drop at the moment the man passed, they will
ask why the man should have passed precisely at the time when the
wind moved the stone. If you say that the wind was so severe that
the sea was also troubled since the day before while there appeared
to be no agitation in the air, and the man having been invited to
dine with a friend, went to keep his appointment. Again they ask,
for the man never got there, why he should be the guest of his friend
at this time more than another, adding questions after questions,
finally avowing that it was but the will of God, (which is a true
"asses bridge") and the cause of this misfortune.

Again when they note the symmetry of the human body, they stand in
admiration and conclude how ignorant they are of the causes of a thing
which to them appears so marvelous, that it is a supernatural work,
in which the causes known to us could have no part.

Thence it comes that those who desire to know the real cause of
supposed miracles and penetrate like true scholars into their natural
causes without amusing themselves with the prejudice of the ignorant,
it happens that the true scholar passes for impious and heretical
by the malice of those whom the vulgar recognize as the expounders
of Nature and of God. These mercenary individuals do not question
the ignorance which holds the people in astonishment, upon whom they
subsist and who preserve their credit.


Mankind being thus of the ridiculous opinion that all they see is
made for themselves, have made it a religious duty to apply it to
their interest, and of judging the price of things by the profit they
gain. Thence proceed the ideas they have formed of good, and evil, of
order and confusion, of heat and cold, of beauty and ugliness, which
serve to explain to them the nature of things, which in the end are not
what they imagine. Because they pride themselves in having free will
they judge themselves capable of deciding between praise and blame, sin
and merit, calling everything good which redounds to their profit and
which concerns divine worship, and to the contrary denominate as evil
that which agrees with neither. Because the ignorant are not capable
of judging what may be a little abstruse, and having no idea of things
only by the aid of imagination which they consider understanding,
these folk who know not what represents Order in the world believe
all that they imagine. Man being inclined in such a manner that
they think things well or ill ordered as they have the facility or
trouble to conclude when good sense would teach differently. Some
are more pleased to be weary of the means of investigation, being
satisfied to remain as they are, preferring order to confusion, as
if order was another thing than a pure effect of the imagination of
man, so that when it is said that God has made everything in order,
it is recognizing that he has that faculty of imagination as well as
man. If it was not so, perhaps to favor human imagination they pretend
that God created this world in the easiest manner imaginable, although
there are an hundred things far above the force of imagination, and
an infinity which may be thrown into disorder by reason of weakness.


For other ideas, they are purely the effect of the same imagination,
which have nothing real, and which are but the different modes
of which this power is capable. For example, if the movement which
objects impress upon the nerves by the means of the eyes is agreeable
to the senses, we say that these objects are beautiful, that odors
are good or bad, that tastes are sweet or bitter, that which we
touch hard or soft, sounds, harsh or agreeable. According as odors,
tastes or sounds strike and penetrate the senses, just so we find
a belief that God is capable of taking pleasure in melody, that the
celestial movements are a harmonious concert, proof evident that each
one believes that things are such as they are imagined, or that the
world is purely imaginary. That is why we should not be surprised if
we rarely found two men of the same opinion, and some who glorify
themselves in doubting everything. For while men have bodies which
resemble each other in many particulars, they differ in some others,
and it should not astonish us that what seems good to one appears bad
to another: what pleases this one displeases the other, from which
we may infer that opinions only differ by fancy, that understanding
passes for little, and to conclude, things which happen every day are
purely the effects of imagination. If one should consult the lights
of understanding of philosophers he would have faith that everybody
would agree to the truth, and that judgments would be more uniform
and reasonable than they are.


It is then evident that all the reasons of which men are accustomed
to avail themselves when they endeavor to explain Nature, are only
methods of imagination which prove nothing less than they pretend,
and because they have given to these reasons names so real that if
they existed otherwise than in imagination I would not call them
reasonable beings, but purely chimerical, seeing nothing more easy
than to respond to arguments founded on these vulgar notions and
which we oppose as follows.

If it was true that the universe was a chance happening, and a
necessary sequel of divine nature, whence come the imperfections and
faults which we remark? For example, corruption which fills the air
with bad odor, many disagreeable objects, so many disorders, so much
evil, so many crimes and other like occurrences. Nothing is more easy
than to refute these objections, for one cannot judge of the perfection
of ancient existence only by knowing its essence and nature, and we
deceive ourselves in thinking that a thing is more or less perfect,
as it pleases or displeases, is useful or useless to human nature;
and to close the mouths of those who ask why God has not created
all men without exception that they might be guided by the light
of reason, it is enough to say that it was because the material was
not sufficient to give each being the degree of perfection that was
most suitable for him, or to speak more proper, because the laws of
nature were so ample and extensive that they could suffice for the
production of all things of which an infinite understanding is capable.


What God Is.


Until now we have fought the popular idea concerning the Divinity,
but we have not yet said what God is, and if we were asked, we should
say that the word represents to us an Infinite Being, of whom one
of his attributes is to be a substance of extent and consequently
eternal and infinite. The extent or the quantity not being finite or
divisible, it may be imagined that the matter was everywhere the same,
our understanding not distinguishing parts. For example, water, as
much as water is imagined, is divisible, and its parts separable from
one another, though as much as a corporeal substance it is neither
separable nor divisible. [22] Thus neither matter or quantity have
anything unworthy of God, for if all is God, and all comes surely
from his essence, it follows quite absolutely that He is all that
he contains, since it is incomprehensible that Beings quite material
should be contained in a Being who is not. That we may not think that
this is a new opinion, Tertullian, one of the foremost men among
the Christians, has pronounced against Apelles, that, "that which
is not matter is nothing," and against Praxias, that "all substance
is matter," without having this doctrine condemned in the four first
Councils of the Christian Church, oecumenical and general. [23]


These sentiments are plain and the only ones that good and sound
judgment can form of God. However, there are but few who are satisfied
with such simplicity. Boorish people, who are accustomed to adulation
of opinion, demand a God who resembles earthly kings. The pomp and
circumstance surrounding them so fascinates, that to take away all
hope of going after death to increase the number of heavenly courtiers
enjoying the same pleasure which attaches to the Court of Kings,
is to take away the consolation and the only things which prevent
them from going to despair over the miseries of life. They want a
just and avenging God, who rewards and punishes after the manner of
kings, a God susceptible of all human passions and weaknesses. They
give him feet, hands, and ears, and yet they do not regard a God
so constituted as material. They say that man is his masterpiece,
and even his own image, but do not allow that the copy is like the
original. In a word, the God of the people of today is subject to as
many forms as Jupiter of the Pagans, and what is still more strange,
these follies contradict each other and shock good sense. The vulgar
reverence them because they firmly believe what the Prophets have
said, although these visionaries among the Hebrews, were the same
as the augurs and the diviners among the pagans. [24] They consult
the Bible as if God or nature was therein expounded to them in a
special manner, however this book is only a rhapsody of fragments,
gathered at various times, selected by several persons, and given
to the people according to the fancy of the Rabbins, who did not
publish them until after approving some, and rejecting others, and
seeing if they were conformable or opposed to the Law of Moses. [25]
Yes, such is the malice and stupidity of men that they prefer to
pass their lives disputing with one another, and worshipping a book
received from ignorant people; a book with little order or method,
which everyone admits as confused and badly conceived, only serving
to foment divisions.

Christians would rather adore this phantom than listen to the law
of Nature which God--that is to say, Nature, which is the active
principle--has written in the heart of man. All other laws are but
human fictions, and pure illusions forged, not by Demons or evil
spirits, which are fanciful ideas, but by the skill of Princes and
Ecclesiastics to give the former more warrant for their authority,
and to enrich the latter by the traffic in an infinity of chimeras
which sell to the ignorant at a good price.

All other laws are not supported save on the authority of the Bible,
in the original of which appear a thousand instances of extraordinary
and impossible things, [26] and which speaks only of recompenses or
punishments for good or bad actions, but which are wisely deferred
for a future life, relying that the trick will not be discovered in
this, no one having returned from the other to tell the news. Thus,
men kept ever wavering between hope and fear, are held to their duty
by the belief they aver that God has created man only to render him
eternally happy or unhappy, and which has given rise to the infinity
of religions which we are about to discuss.


What the word Religion signifies, and how and why such a great number
have been introduced in the world.


Before the word Religion was introduced in the world mankind was only
obliged to follow natural laws and to conform to common sense. This
instinct alone was the tie by which men were united, and so very simple
was this bond of unity, that nothing among them was more rare than
dissensions. But when fear created a suspicion that there were Gods,
and invisible powers, they raised altars to these imaginary beings,
so that in putting off the yoke of Nature and Reason, which are the
sources of true life, they subjected themselves by vain ceremonies
and superstitious worship to frivolous phantoms of the imagination,
and that is whence arose this word Religion which makes so much noise
in the world.

Men having admitted invisible forces which were all-powerful over
them, they worshipped them to appease them, and further imagined
that Nature was a being subordinate to this power, thence they had
the idea that it was a great mace that threatened, or a slave that
acted only by the order that such power gave him. Since this false
idea had broken their will they had only scorn for Nature, and respect
only for those pretended beings that they called their Gods. Thence
came the ignorance in which mankind was plunged, and from which the
well-informed, however deep the abyss, could have rescued them, if
their zeal had not been extinguished by those who led them blindly,
and who lived by imposture. But though there was but little appearance
of success in the enterprise, it was not necessary to abandon the
party of truth, and only in consideration of those who were afflicted
with the symptoms of so great an evil, were generous souls available
to represent matters as they were.


Fear which created Gods, made also Religion, and when men imbibed
the notion that there were invisible agencies which were the cause
of their good and bad fortune, they lost their good sense and reason
substituting for their chimeras so many Divinities who had care of
their conduct.

After having forged these Gods they were curious to know of what
matter they consisted, and finally imagined that they should be of
the same substance as the soul. Then being persuaded that the latter
resembled the shadows which appear in a mirror, or during sleep, they
believed that some Gods were real substances but so thin and subtile
that to distinguish them from bodies they called them Spirits. So
that bodies and spirits were in effect the same thing, and differed
neither more nor less, and to be both corporeal and incorporeal is
a most incomprehensible thing. The reason given is that each spirit
has a proper form, and is included within some limit, that is to say
that it has some boundaries, and consequently must be a body however
thin and subtile it might be. [27]


The ignorant, that is, the greater part of mankind having settled in
this manner the substance of their Gods, tried also to determine by
what methods these invisible powers produced their effects. Not being
able to do this definitely by reason of their ignorance, they put
faith in their conjectures, blindly judging the future by the past,
while seeing neither cohesion nor dependence.

In all that they undertook they saw but the past, and foretold
good or evil for the future according as the same enterprise had at
another time turned out either good or bad. Phormion having defeated
the Lacedaemonians at the battle of Naupacte, the Athenians, after
his death, chose another general of the same name: Hannibal having
succumbed to the arms of Scipio Africanus, the Romans, remembering this
great success, sent another Scipio to the same country against Cesar,
which acts gained nothing for either the Athenians or the Romans. So
after two or three experiences, good or bad fortune is made synonymous
with certain names or places; others make use of certain words called
enchantments, which they believe to be efficacious; some cause trees
to speak, create man from a morsel of bread, and transform anything
that may appear before them. (Hobbes' Leviathan de homine. Cap. 12,
p. 56-57.)


Invisible powers being established in this way, straightway men
revere them only as they do their rulers, that is to say, by tokens
of submission and respect, as witness offerings, prayers, and similar
things, I say at first, for nature has not yet learned to use on
such occasions sacrifices of blood, which have only been instituted
for the benefit of the sacrificers and the ministers called to the
service of these beautiful Gods.


These causes of Religion, that is, Hope and Fear, leaving out the
passions, judgments and various resolutions of mankind, have produced
the great number of extravagant beliefs which have caused so much evil,
and the many revolutions which have convulsed the nations.

The honor and revenue which attaches to the priesthood, and which
has since been accorded to the ministry of the Gods, and those
having ecclesiastical charges, inflame the ambition and the avarice
of cunning individuals who profit by the stupidity of the people,
who readily submit in their weakness, and we know how insensibly is
caused the easy habit of encouraging falsehood and hating truth.


The empire of falsehood being established, and the ambitious ones
encouraged by the advantage of being above their fellows, the
latter endeavor to gain repute by a pretense of being friendly with
the invisible Gods whom the vulgar fear. For better success, each
schemes in his own way, and multiplies deities so that they are met
at every turn.


The formless matter of the world they term the god Chaos, and the same
honor is accorded to heaven, earth, the sea, the wind, and the planets,
and they are made both male and female. Further on we find birds,
reptiles, the crocodile, the calf, the dog, the lamb, the serpent,
the hog, and in fact all kinds of animals and plants constitute
the better part. Each river and fountain bears the name of a God,
each house had its own, each man his genius; in fact all space above
and beneath the earth was occupied by spirits, shades and demons. It
was not sufficient to maintain a Divinity in all imaginable places,
but they feared to offend time, day, night, concord, love, peace,
victory, contention, mildew, honor, virtue, fever, and health, or to
insult these charming divinities whom they always imagined ready to
discharge lightning on the heads of men, provided temples and altars
were not erected to them.

As a sequel, man commenced to fear his own special genius, whom
some invoked under the name of Muses, and others under the name
of Fortune adored their own ignorance. The latter sanctified their
debauches in the name of Cupid, their rage in the name of Furies,
and their natural parts under the name of Priapus, in a word, there
was nothing which did not bear the name of a God or a Demon. (Hobbes'
de homine, Chap. 12, p. 58.)


The founders of Religion having based their impostures on the
ignorance of the people, took great care to maintain them by the
adoration of images which they pretended were inhabited by the Gods,
and this caused a flood of gold and benefactions called holy things,
to pour into the coffers of the priests. These gifts were regarded as
sacred, and designed for the use of these holy ministers, and none
were so audacious as to pretend to their office, or even to touch
them. To allure the people more successfully, these priests made
prophecies and pretended to penetrate the future by the commerce which
they boasted of having with the Gods. There is nothing so natural as
to know destiny. These impostors were too well informed to omit any
circumstance so advantageous for their designs. Some were established
at Delos, others at Delphos and elsewhere, where by ambiguous oracles
they replied to the demands made of them. Women even were engaged in
these impostures, and the Romans in their great Calamities had recourse
to the Sybilline books; fools and lunatics passed for enthusiasts, and
those who pretended to converse with the dead were called necromancers.

Others read the future by the flight of birds, or by the entrails
of beasts. Indeed the eyes, the hands, the face, or an extraordinary
object, all seemed to them to possess a good or bad omen, so it is true
that the ignorant will receive any desired impression when the secret
of their wish is found. (Hobbes' de homine, Chap. 12, pp. 58-59.)


Of Moses.


The ambitious, who have always been grand masters of the art of
trickery, have always followed this method in expounding their laws,
and to oblige the people to submit to them they have persuaded them
that they had received them either from a God or a Goddess.

Although there was a multitude of Divinities, those who worshipped them
called Pagans had no general system of Religion. Each republic, each
state and city, each particular place had its own rites and thought
of the Divinity as fancy dictated. Following this came legislators
more cunning than these first tricksters, and who employed methods
more studied and more certain for the propagation and perpetuity of
their laws, as well as the culture of such ceremonies and fanaticism
as they deemed proper to establish.

Among the great number Arabia and its frontiers has given birth to
three who have been distinguished as much by the kind of laws and
worship which they established, as by the idea they have given of a
Divinity to their followers, and the means they have taken to cause
this idea to be received and their laws to be approved.

Moses is the most ancient; Jesus coming after labored after his
manner in preserving the foundation of his laws while abolishing the
remainder; and Mahomet appearing later on the scene has taken from
one and the other religion to compose his own, and therefore he is
declared the enemy of all the Gods.

Let us see the character of these three Legislators, examine their
conduct, and then judge afterwards who are the best founded: those
who revered them as Holy men and Gods, or those who treated them as
schemers and impostors.


The celebrated Moses, grandson of a great magician, [28] by the
account of Justin Martyr, had all the advantages proper for what
he afterwards became. It is well known that the Hebrews, of whom he
became the Chief, were a nation of shepherds whom King Pharaoh Orus
I. received in his country in consideration of services that he had
received from one of them in the time of a great famine. He gave them
some lands in the east of Egypt in a country fertile in pasturage,
and consequently adapted for their flocks.

During 200 years they rapidly increased, because, being considered
foreigners they were not required to serve in the armies of Pharaoh,
and because of the natural advantages of the lands which Orus had
granted them. Some bands of Arabs came to join them as brothers,
for they were of a similar race, and they increased so astonishingly
that the land of Goshen not being able to contain them they spread all
over Egypt, giving Pharaoh Memnon II. good reason to fear that they
might be capable of some dangerous attempt in case Egypt was attacked
(as happened soon after) by their active enemies, the Ethiopians.

Thus a policy of state compelled this Prince to curtail their
privileges, and to seek means to weaken and enslave them. Pharaoh Orus
II. surnamed Busiris because of his cruelty, and who succeeded Memnon,
followed his plan regarding the Jews. Wishing to perpetuate his memory
by the erection of the Pyramids and building the city of Thebes, he
condemned the Hebrews to labor at making bricks, the material in the
earth of their country being adapted for this purpose. During this
servitude the celebrated Moses was born, in the same year that the
King issued an edict to cast all the male Hebrew children into the
Nile, seeing that he had no surer means of exterminating this rabble
of foreigners.

Moses was exposed to perish in the waters in a basket covered with
pitch, which his mother placed in the rushes on the banks of the
river. It chanced that Thermitis, daughter of Orus, was walking near
the shore and hearing the cries of the child, the natural compassion
of her sex inspired her to save it.

Orus having died, Thermitis succeeded him, and Moses having
been presented to her, she caused him to be educated in a manner
befitting the son of a Queen of the wisest and most polished nation
of the universe. In a word he was tutored in all the science of the
Egyptians, and it is admitted, and they have represented Moses to
us as the greatest politician, the wisest philosopher and the most
famous magician of his time. It followed that he was admitted to the
order of Priesthood, which was in Egypt what the Druids were in Gaul,
that is to say--everything.

Those who are not familiar with what the government of Egypt was, will
be pleased to know that the famous dynasties having come to an end,
the entire country was dependent upon one Sovereign who divided it into
several provinces of no great extent. The governors of these countries
were called monarchs, and they were ordinarily of the powerful order of
Priests, who possessed nearly one-third of Egypt. The king named these
monarchs, and if we can believe the authors who have written of Moses
and compare what they have said with what Moses himself has written,
we may conclude that he was monarch of the land of Goshen, and that
he owed his elevation to Thermitis, who had also saved his life.

We see what Moses was in Egypt, where he had both time and means to
study the manners of the Egyptians, and those of his nation: their
governing passions, their inclinations, and all that would be of
service to him in his effort to excite the revolution of which he
was the promoter.

Thermitis having died, her successor renewed the persecution against
the Hebrews, and Moses having lost his previous favor, and fearing
that he could not justify several homicides that he had committed,
took the precaution to flee.

He retired to Arabia Petrea, on the confines of Egypt, and chance
brought him to the home of a tribal chief of the country. His services,
and the talents that his master remarked in him, merited his good
graces and one of his daughters in marriage. It is here to be noted
that Moses was such a bad Jew, and knew so little of the redoubtable
God whom he invented later, that he wedded an idolatress, and did
not even think of having his children circumcised.

It was in the Arabian deserts, while guarding the flocks of
his father-in-law and brother-in-law, he conceived the design of
avenging the injustice which had been done him by the King of Egypt,
by bringing trouble and sedition in the court of his states; and he
flattered himself that he could easily succeed in this by reason of
his talents, as by the disposition which he knew he would find in
his nation already incensed against the government by reason of the
bad treatment that they had been caused to suffer.

It appears by the history which he has told of this revolution, or at
least by the author of the books attributed to Moses, that Jethro,
his brother-in-law, was in the conspiracy, as well as his brother
Aaron and his sister Mary, who had remained in Egypt, and with whom he
could arrange to hold correspondence. As may be seen by the sequel he
had formed a vast plan in good politics, and he could put in service
against Egypt all the science he had learned there, and the pretended
Magic in which he was more subtle and skillful than all those at the
Court of Pharaoh who possessed the same accomplishments. It was by
these pretended miracles that he gained the confidence of those of
his nation that he caused to rebel. He joined to them thousands of
mutinous Egyptians, Ethiopians and Arabs. Boasting the power of his
Divinity and the frequent interviews he held with Him, and causing
Him to intervene in all the measures he took with the chiefs of
the revolt, he persuaded them so well that they followed him to the
number of 600,000 combatants--besides the women and children--across
the deserts of Arabia, of which he knew all the windings.

After a six days march on a laborious retreat, he commanded his
followers to consecrate the seventh to his God by a public rest,
to make them believe that this God favored him, that he approved his
sway, and that no one could have the audacity to contradict him.

There were never any people more ignorant than the Hebrews, and
consequently none more credulous. To be convinced of this profound
ignorance, it is only necessary to recall the condition of these
people in Egypt when Moses made them revolt. They were hated by the
Egyptians because of their pastoral life, persecuted by the Sovereign
and employed in the vilest labor.

Among such a populace it was not very difficult for Moses to avail
himself of his talents. He made them believe that his God (whom he
sometimes simply called an angel)--the God of their Fathers--appeared
to him, that it was by his order that he took care to lead them, that
he had chosen him for Governor, and that they would be the favored
people of this God, provided they believed what he said on his part.

He added to his exhortations on the part of his God, the adroit use of
his prestige, and the knowledge that he had of nature. He confirmed
what he said to them by what might be called miracles, always easy
to perform, and which made a great impression on an imbecile populace.

It may be remarked above all, that he believed he had found a sure
method for holding this people submissive to his orders, in making
accessory of the statement that God himself was their leader: by night
a column of fire and a cloud by day. But it can be proved that this
was the grossest trick of this impostor, and that it might serve him
for a long time. He had learned during his travels that he had made
in Arabia, a country vast and uninhabited, that it was the custom
of those who traveled in companies to take guides who conducted
them in the night by means of a brazier, the flame of which they
followed, and in the day time by the smoke of the same brazier which
all the members of the caravan could see, and consequently not go
astray. This custom prevailed among the Medes and Assyrians, and it
is quite natural that Moses used it, and made it pass for a miracle,
and a mark of the protection of his God. If I may not be believed
when I say that this was a trick, let Moses himself be believed,
who in Numbers, Chap. x. v. 29-33, asks his brother-in-law, Hobab,
to come with the Israelites, that he may show them the roads, because
he knew the country. This is demonstrative, for if it was God who
marched before Israel night and day in the cloud and the column of
fire could they have a better guide? Meanwhile here is Moses exhorting
his brother-in-law by the most pressing motives of interest to serve
him as Guide. Then the cloud and the column of fire was God only for
the people, and not for Moses, who knew what it was.

These poor unfortunates thus seduced, charmed at being adopted by
the Master of God, as they were told, emerging from a hard and cruel
bondage, applauded Moses and swore to obey him. His authority was
thus confirmed. He sought to perpetuate it, and under pretext of
establishing divine worship, or of a supreme God of whom he said he
was the lieutenant, he made his brother and his children chiefs of
the Royal Palace, that is to say, of the place where miracles were
performed out of the sight and presence of the people.

So he continued these pretended miracles, at which the simple were
amazed and others stupefied, but which caused those who were wise and
who saw through these impostures to pity them. However skillful Moses
was, and how many clever tricks he knew how to do, he would have had
much trouble to secure obedience if he had not a strong army. [29]
Deceit without force has rarely succeeded.

It was in order to have assured means to maintain obedience against
the discerning that he continued to place in his own faction those
of his tribe, giving them all the important charges and exempting
them from the greater part of the labors. He knew how to create
jealousies among the other tribes, some of whom took his part against
the others. Finally assuring adroitly to his interest those who
appeared the most enlightened, by placing them in his confidence,
he secured them by giving them employment of distinction.

After that he found some of these idiots had the courage to reproach
his bad faith; that under his false pretense of justice and equity he
was seizing everything. As the sovereign authority was vested in his
blood in such manner that no one had a right to aspire to it, they
considered finally that he was less their father than their tyrant.

On such occasions Moses by cunning policy confounded these
free-thinkers and spared none who censured his government.

With such precautions, and cloaking his punishments under the name of
Divine vengeance, he continued absolute, and to finish in the same
way he began, that is to say by deceit and imposture, he chose an
extraordinary death. He cast himself in an abyss in a lonely place
where he retired from time to time under pretext of conferring with
God, and which he had long designed for his tomb. His body never
having been found, it was believed that his God had taken him, and
that he had become like Him.

He knew that the memories of the patriarchs who preceded him were
held in great veneration when their sepulchres were found, but that
was not sufficient for an ambition like his. He must be revered as
a God for whom death had no terrors, and to this end all his efforts
were directed since the beginning of his reign when he said that he
was established of God--to be the God of Pharaoh. Elijah [30] gave
his example, also Romulus [31], Empedocles [32] and all those who
from a desire to immortalize their names, have concealed the time
and place of their death so that they would be deemed immortal.


Of Numa Pompilius.

To return to the law-givers, there were none who, having attributed
their laws to Divinity, did not endeavor to encourage the belief that
they themselves were more than human.

Numa, having tasted the delights of solitude, did not wish to leave
it for the throne of Rome, but being forced by public acclamation,
he profited by the devotion of the Romans. He informed them that
he had talked with God, and if they desired him for King they must
observe the Divine laws and institutions which had been dictated to
him by the nymph Egeria. [33]

Alexander wished to be considered a son of Jupiter. Perseus pretended
to be a son of the same God and the virgin Danae; Plato, of Apollo,
and a virgin, which, perhaps, is the cause of the belief among the
Egyptians that the Spirit of God Lne [34] could get a woman with
child as the wind did the Iberian mares. [35]


Of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, who was not unacquainted with the maxims and science
of the Egyptians, among whom he dwelt several years, availed
himself of this knowledge, deeming it proper for the design which he
meditated. Considering that Moses was renowned because he commanded an
ignorant people, he undertook to build on a similar foundation, and his
followers were only some idiots whom he persuaded that the Holy Spirit
was his Father, and his Mother a Virgin. [36] These good people being
accustomed to be satisfied with dreams and fancies, adopted this fable,
believed all that he wished, and even more willingly that a birth out
of the natural order was not so marvelous a circumstance for them to
believe. To be born of a Virgin by the operation of the Holy Spirit
[37] was, in their estimation, as wonderful as what the Romans said
of their founder, Romulus, who owed his birth to a Vestal and a God.

This happened at a time when the Jews were tired of their God, as they
had been of their Judges, [38] and wished to have a visible God like
other nations. As the number of fools is infinite, he found followers
everywhere, but his extreme poverty was an invincible obstacle to
his elevation. The Pharisees, delighted with the boldness of a man of
their sect, [39] while startled at his audacity, elevated or depressed
him according to the fickle humor of the populace, so that when it
became noised about concerning his Divinity, it was impossible--he
being possessed of no power--that his design could succeed. No matter
how many sick he cured, nor how many dead he raised, having no money
and no army, he could not fail to perish, and with that outlook it
appears that he had less chance of success than Moses, Mahomet, and
all those who were ambitious to elevate themselves above others. If
he was more unfortunate, he was no less adroit, and several places in
his history give evidence that the greatest fault in his policy was
not to have sufficiently provided for his own safety. So it may be
seen that he did not manage his affairs any better than those two
other legislators, of whose memory exists but the remains of the
belief that they established among the different nations.


Of the Policy of Jesus Christ.


Is there anything, for example, more dextrous than the manner in which
he treated the subject of the woman taken in adultery? (St. John,
c. viii.) The Jews having asked if they should stone this unfortunate,
instead of replying definitely, yes or no, by which he would fall in
the trap set by his enemies: the negative being directly against the
law, and the affirmative proving him severe and cruel, which would have
alienated the saints. Instead of replying as any ordinary person but
him would have done, he said, "whoever is without sin, let him cast the
first stone," a skillful response, which shows us his presence of mind.


Another time being asked if it was lawful to [40] pay tribute to
Cesar, and seeing the image of the Prince on the coin that they
showed him, he evades the difficulty by replying that they should
"render unto Cesar what belongs to Cesar, and unto God what belongs
to God." The difficulty consisted in that he would be guilty of lèse
majesté if he had said it was not permitted, and by saying that it
was, he would reverse the law of Moses which he always protested he
would not do, because he felt that he was either too weak, or that
he would be worsted in the endeavor. So he made himself more popular,
by acting with impunity after the manner of Princes, who allowed the
privileges of their subjects to be confirmed while their power was
not well established, but who scorned their promises when they were
well enthroned.


He again skillfully avoided a trap that the Pharisees had set for
him. They asked him--having in their minds thoughts which would
only tend to convict him of lying--by what authority he pretended
to instruct and catechise the people. Whether he replied that it was
by human authority because he was not of the sacred body of Levites,
or whether he boasted of preaching by the express command of God, his
doctrine was contrary to the Mosaic law. To relieve this embarrassment,
he availed himself of the questioners themselves by asking them in the
name of whom they thought John baptized? The Pharisees, who for policy
opposed the baptism by John, would be condemned themselves in avowing
that it was of God. If they had not admitted it they would have been
exposed to the rage of the populace, who believed the contrary. To
get out of this dilemma, they replied that they knew nothing of it,
to which Jesus answered that he was neither obliged to tell them why,
nor in the name of whom he preached.


Such were the skillful and witty evasions of the destroyer of the
ancient law and the founder of the new. Such were the origins of the
new religion which was built on the ruins of the old, or to speak
disinterestedly, there was nothing more divine in this than in the
other sects which preceded it. Its founder, who was not quite ignorant,
seeing the extreme corruption of the Jewish republic, judged it as
nearing its end, and believed that another should be revived from its
ashes. The fear of being prevented by one more ambitious than himself,
made him haste to establish it by methods quite opposed to those of
Moses. The latter commenced by making himself formidable to other
nations. Jesus, on the contrary, attracted them to him by the hope
of the advantages of another life, which he said could be obtained
by believing in him, while Moses only promised temporal benefits as a
recompense for the observation of his law. Jesus Christ held out a hope
which never was realized. The laws of one only regarded the exterior,
while those of the other aimed at the inner man, influencing even
the thoughts, and entirely the reverse of the law of Moses. Whence it
follows that Jesus believed with Aristotle that it is with Religion
and States, as with individuals who are begotten and die, and as
nothing is made except subject to dissolution, there is no law which
can follow which is entirely opposed to it. Now as it is difficult to
decide to change from one law to another, and as the great majority
is difficult to move in matters of Religion, Jesus, in imitation of
the other innovators had recourse to miracles, which have always been
the peril of the ignorant, and the sanctuary of the ambitious.


Christianity was founded by this method, and Jesus profiting by the
faults of the Mosaic policy, never succeeded so happily anywhere, as
in the measures which he took to render his law eternal. The Hebrew
prophets thought to do honor to Moses by predicting a successor who
resembled him. That is to say, a Messiah, grand in virtue, powerful in
wealth, and terrible to his enemies; and while their prophecies have
produced the contrary effect, many ambitious ones have taken occasion
to proclaim themselves the promised Messiah, which has caused revolts
that have endured until the entire destruction of their republic.

Jesus Christ, more adroit than the Mosaic prophets, to defeat
the purpose of those who rose up against him predicted (Matthew
xxiv. 4-5-24-25-26. II. Thessalonians ii. 3-10. John ii. 11-18) that
such a man would be a great enemy of God, the delight of the Devil, the
sink of all iniquity and the desolation of the world. After these fine
declarations there was, to my mind, no person who would dare to call
himself Anti-Christ, and I do not think he could have found a better
way to perpetuate his law. There was nothing more fabulous than the
rumors that were spread concerning this pretended Anti-Christ. St. Paul
said (II. Thessalonians xi. 7) of his existence, that "he was already
born," consequently was present on the eve of the coming of Jesus
Christ while more than twelve hundred years have expired since the
prediction of this prophet was uttered, and he has not yet appeared.

I admit that these words have been credited to Cherintus and Ebion,
two great enemies of Jesus Christ, because they denied his pretended
divinity, but it also may be said that if this interpretation conforms
to the view of the apostle, which is not credible; these words for all
time designate an infinity of Anti-Christ, there being no reputable
scholar who would offend by saying that the  [41]history of Jesus
Christ is a fable, and that his law is but a tissue of idle fancies
that ignorance has put in vogue and that interest preserves.


Nevertheless it is pretended that a Religion which rests on such
frail foundations is quite divine and supernatural, as if we did not
know that there were never persons more convenient to give currency
to the most absurd opinions than women and idiots.

It is not strange, then, that Jesus did not choose Philosophers and
Scholars for his Apostles. He knew that his law and good sense were
diametrically opposed. [42] That is the reason why he declaims in so
many places against the wise, and excludes them from his kingdom,
where were to be admitted the poor in spirit, the silly and the
crazy. Again, rational individuals did not think it unfortunate to
have nothing in common with visionaries.


Of the Morals of Jesus Christ.


As for his Morals, we see nothing more divine therein than in the
writings of the ancients, or rather we find only what are only extracts
or imitations. St. Augustin (ch. 9 and v. 20 of the Confessions, Book
7,) even admits that he has found in some of their works nearly all of
the beginning of the Gospel according to St. John. As far as may be
seen, that Apostle is believed, in many places, to have stolen from
other authors, and that it was not difficult to rob the Prophets of
their enigmas and visions to make his Apocalypse. Whence comes the
conformity which we find between the doctrine of the Old Testament
and that of Plato? to say nothing of what the Rabbins have done, and
those who have fabricated the Holy Writings from a mass of fragments
stolen from this Grand Philosopher.

Certainly the birth of the world has a thousand times more probability
in his Timaeus than in Genesis, and it cannot be said that that comes
from what Plato had read in the books of the Jews during his travels
in Egypt, for according to St. Augustin himself, (Confessions, Book 7,
ch. 9, v. 20,) Ptolemy had not yet translated them. The description
of the country of which Socrates speaks to Simias in the Phaedon
(?) has infinitely more grace than the Terrestrial Paradise (of Eden)
and the Androgynus [43] is without comparison, better conceived than
what Genesis says of the extraction of Eve from one of the sides of
Adam. Is there anything that more resembles the two accidents of Sodom
and Gomorrah than that which happened to Phaeton? Is there anything
more alike than the fall of Lucifer and that of Vulcan, or that of the
giants cast down by the lightnings of Jupiter? Anything more similar
than Samson and Hercules, Elijah and Phaeton, Joseph and Hippolitus,
Nebuchadnezzar and Lycaon, Tantalus and the tormented rich man
(Luke xvi, 24), the manna of the Israelites and the ambrosia of the
Gods? St. Augustin--quoted from God, Book 6, chap. 14,--St. Cyrile
and Theophylactus compare Jonah with Hercules, surnamed Trinsitium
(?Trinoctius), because he had dwelt three days and three nights in
the belly of a whale. The river of Daniel, spoken of in the Prophets,
ch. vii, is a visible imitation of Periphlegeton, which is mentioned
by Plato in the Dialogue on the "Immortality of the Soul."

Original sin has been taken from Pandora's box, the sacrifice of Isaac
and Jephthah from the story of Iphigenia, although in the latter
a hind was substituted. What is said of Lot and his wife is quite
like the tale which is told of Baucis and Philemon. In short, it is
unquestionable that the authors of the Scriptures have transcribed
word for word the works of Hesiod and Homer.


But it seems that I have made quite a digression which, however,
may not be unprofitable. Let us return then to Jesus, or rather,
to his Morals.

Celsus proves, by the account of Origen (Book VI, against Celsus),
that he had taken from Plato his finest sentiments, such as that
which says (Luke, c. xviii, v. 25), that a camel might sooner pass
through the eye of a needle than a rich man should enter the Kingdom
of God. It was the sect of Pharisees of which he was, and who believed
in him, which gave birth to this. What is said of the Immortality of
the Soul, of the Resurrection, of Hell, and the greater part of his
Morals, I see nothing more admirable than in the works of Epictetus,
Epicurus and many others. In fact, the latter was cited by St. Jerome
(Book VIII, against Jovian, ch. viii), as a man whose virtue puts
to the blush better Christians, observing that all his works were
filled with but herbs, fruits and abstinence, and whose delights
were so temperate that his finest repasts were but a little cheese,
bread and water. With a life so frugal, this Philosopher, pagan as he
was, said that it was better to be unlucky and rational, than rich
and opulent without having good sense, adding, that it is rare that
fortune and wisdom are found in the same individual, and that one
could have no knowledge of happiness nor live with pleasure unless
felicity was accompanied by prudence, justice and honesty, which are
qualifications of a true and lasting delight.

As for Epictetus I do not believe that any man, not excepting Jesus
himself, was more austere, more firm, more equitable, or more moral. I
say nothing but what is easy to prove, and not to pass my prescribed
limit I will not mention all the exemplary acts of his life, but give
one single example of constancy which puts to shame the weakness and
cowardice of Jesus in the sight of death. Being a slave to a freeman
named Epaphroditus, captain of the guards of Nero, it took the fancy
of this brute to twist the leg of Epictetus. Epictetus perceiving that
it gave him pleasure said to him, smiling, that he was well convinced
that the game would not end until he had broken his leg; in fact, this
crisis happened. "Well," said Epictetus with an even smiling face,
"did I not say that you would break my leg?" Was there ever courage
equal to that? and could it have been said of Jesus Christ had he been
the victim? He who wept and trembled with fear at the least alarm,
and who evinced at his death a lack of spirit that never was witnessed
in the majority of his martyrs.

I doubt not but what it might be said of this action of Epictetus what
the ignorant remark of the virtues of the Philosophers, that vanity was
their principle, and that they were not what they seemed. But I say
also that those who use such language are people who, in the pulpit,
say all that comes into their heads--either good or evil--and they
want the privilege of telling it all. I know also that when these
babblers, sellers of air, wind and smoke, have vented all their
strength against the champions of common sense they think they have
well earned the revenues of their livings: that they have not merited
a call to instruct the people unless they have declared against those
who know what common sense and true virtue is.

So it is true that nothing in the world approaches so little to the
manners of true scholars as the actions of the ignorant who decry them
and who appear to have studied only to procure preferment which gives
them bread; and which preferment they worship and magnify when this
height is attained, as if they had reached a condition of perfection,
which, to those who succeed, is a condition of self-love, ease, pride
and pleasure, following nothing less than the maxims of the religion
which they profess.

But let us leave these people who know not what virtue is, and examine
the divinity of their Master.


Of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.


After having examined his policy and morals we have seen nothing
more Divine than in the writings and conduct of the ancients. Let
us see if the reputation which followed him after his death is an
evidence that he was God. Mankind is so accustomed to false reasoning
that I am astonished that any one can reach a sane conclusion from
their conduct. Experience shows that there is nothing they followed
that is in any wise true, and that nothing has been done or said by
them which gives any evidence of stability. In the meanwhile it is
certain that common opinions are continually surrounded with chimeras
notwithstanding the efforts of the learned, which have always opposed
them. Whatever care has been taken to extirpate follies the people have
never abandoned them only after having been surfeited with them. Moses
was proud to boast himself the Lieutenant of the Lord of Lords,
and to prove his mission by extraordinary signs. If ever so little he
absented himself (which he did from time to time to confer, as he said,
with his God, as Numa and other lawgivers also did) he only found on
his return traces of the worship of the Gods which the Israelites had
seen in Egypt. He successfully held them forty years in the wilderness
that they might lose the idea of those they had abandoned, and not
being yet satisfied they obeyed him who led them, and bore firmly
whatever hardship they were caused to suffer in this regard.

Only the hatred which they had conceived for other nations, by an
arrogance of which most idiots are susceptible, made them insensibly
forget the Gods of Egypt and attach themselves to those of Moses
whom they adored, and sometimes with all the circumstance marked in
the laws. But when they quitted these conditions little by little to
follow those of Jesus Christ, I cannot see what inconstancy caused
them to run after the novelty and change.


The most ignorant Hebrews having given the most vogue to the law
of Moses were the first to run after Jesus, and as their number
was infinite and they encouraged each other, it is not marvellous
that these errors spread so easily. It is not that novelty does not
always beget suffering, but it is the glory that is expected that
one hopes will smooth the difficulties. Thus the Disciples of Jesus,
miserable as they were, reduced at times to nourish themselves with
grains of corn which they gathered from the fields (Luke vi., 1),
and seeing themselves shamefully excluded from places where they
thought to enter to ease their fatigue (Luke ix., 52-53) they began
to be discouraged with living; their Master being without the pale
of the law and unable to give them the benefits, glory and grandeur
which he had promised them.

After his death his disciples, in despair at seeing their hopes
frustrated, and pursued by the Jews who wished to treat them as they
had treated their Master, made a virtue of necessity and scattered
over the country, where by the report of some women (John xx, 18)
they told of his resurrection, his divine affiliation and the rest
of the fables with which the Gospels are filled. [44] The trouble
which they had to make progress among the Jews made them resolve to
pass among the Gentiles, and try to serve themselves better among
them; but as it was necessary to have more learning for that than
they possessed--the Gentiles being philosophers and too much in
love with truth to resort to trifles--they gained over a young man
(Saul or St. Paul) of an active and eager mind and a little better
informed than the simple fishermen or than the greater babblers who
associated with them. A stroke from Heaven made him blind, as is said
(without this the trick would have been useless) and this incident
for a time attracted some weak souls. [45] By the fear of Hell, taken
from some of the fables of the ancient poets, and by the hope of a
glorious Resurrection and a Paradise which is hardly more supportable
than that of Mahomet; all these procured for their Master the honor
of passing for a God, which he himself was unable to obtain while
living. In which this kind of Jesus was no better than Homer: six
cities which had driven the latter out with contempt and scorn during
his life, disputed with each other after his death to determine with
whom remained the honor of having been his birth-place.

By this it may be seen that Christianity depends, like all other
things, on the caprice of men, in whose opinion all passes either
for good or bad, according as the notion strikes them. Further, if
Jesus was God, nothing could resist him, for St. Paul (Romans, v. 19),
is witness that nothing could overcome his will. Yet this passage is
directly opposed to another in Genesis (iv, 7), where it is said that
as the desires and appetites of man belong to him, who is the Master,
so it is agreed to accord free-will to the master of animals, that
is to say, man, for whom it is said God has created the universe.

But without wandering in a maze of errors and positive contradictions,
of which we have discoursed sufficiently, let us say something of
Mahomet, who founded a law upon maxims totally opposed to those of
Jesus Christ.


Of Mahomet.


Hardly had the Disciples of Jesus abandoned the Mosaic law to introduce
the Christian, than mankind, with their usual caprice and ordinary
inconstancy, suddenly changed their sentiments, and all the East was
seen embracing the sentiments of the celebrated Arius, who had the
boldness to oppose the fable of Jesus, and prove that he was no more
a God than any other man. Thus Christianity was almost abolished,
and there appeared a new law-giver, who, in less than ten years time,
formed a considerable sect. This was Mahomet. [46]

To be well acquainted with him, it must be known that the part of
Arabia where he was born, was commonly called "the Happy," by reason
of its fertility, and being inhabited by people who formed several
Republics, each Republic being a family called a "tribe," and having
for its head the chief of the principal family, among those which
composed the "tribe."

That in which Mahomet was born was named the Tribe of Koreish, of which
the principal family was that of Hashem, of which the chief was then
a certain Abdul Motallab, [47] grandfather of Mahomet, whose father,
eldest son of Abdul Motallab, was named Abdallah. [47]

This tribe inhabited the shores of the Red sea, and Abdul Motallab
was High Priest of the Temple of Mecca where were worshipped the
Idols of the country. As Chief of his Tribe he was Prince of this
country in which quality he had sustained the war against the King
of Persia and the Emperor of Ethiopia, which shows that Mahomet was
not of the riff-raff of the people.

His father dying before his grandfather, his tender years caused
him to lose the rights he had to the Sovereignty, which one of his
uncles usurped. It was for this reason, not being able to succeed
to the title of Prince, that he was reduced to the humble condition
of shop-boy in the employ of a wealthy widow for whom he became
afterwards factor. Having found him to her liking she married him and
made him one of the richest citizens of Mecca. He was then about 30
years of age, and seeing at hand the means to enforce his rights,
his ambitions awakened, and he meditated in what manner he could
re-establish himself in the dignity of his grandfather.

The correspondence that he had had with Christians in Egypt and Jews
in Judea, where he had traded a long time for his wife while he was
only her factor, gave him an opportunity of knowing who Moses was
and also Jesus Christ. He also had remarked into how many different
sects their Religion was divided, and which produced such diversity
of opinions, and the zeal of each sect. By this he profited, and he
believed he could better succeed in the interest of establishing a new
Religion. The conditions of the time when he formed this design were
very favorable to him, for nearly all of the Arabs, disgusted with the
worship of their Idols, were fallen into a species of Atheism. Thus
Mahomet began by leading a retired life, being exemplary, seeking
solitude, and passing the greater part of the day in prayers and
meditations. He caused himself to be admired for his modest demeanor,
and commenced to speak of revelations and visions. By such action is
gained the credence of the populace, and by such methods Moses and
Jesus commenced. He called himself a prophet and an envoy of God,
and having as much skill as his predecessors in working miracles, he
soon gained attention, then admiration, and soon after the confidence
of the people. A Jew and a Christian monk who were in his conspiracy
aided him in his dextrous moves, and he soon became powerful enough
to resist a vigorous man named Corais, a learned Arab, who endeavored
to expose his imposture.

During this time his uncle, the governor of Mecca, died, and not
being yet strong enough to assume the authority of sovereign, he was
obliged to yield to one of his kinsmen who, penetrating his designs,
obliged him to flee from Mecca and take refuge at Medina, where one
party in the city who were Arian Christians joined him.

Then he ceased to support his authority by argument, and persuaded
his disciples to plant the Mussulman faith at the point of the
sword. Having strengthened his party by alliances, marrying his
daughters to four of the principal citizens of Medina, he was in
condition to place armies in the field who subjugated the various
tribes, one after the other, and with whom he finally seized
Mecca. He did not die until after he had accomplished his purpose
by his hypocrisy and imposture, which elevated him to the dignity of
sovereign, which he transmitted to his successors, and his faith so
well established that there has been no evidence of its failure for
six hundred years, and yet it may be upon the eve of its destruction.


Thus Mahomet was more fortunate than Jesus Christ. After having
labored during twenty-three years in the establishment of his Law
and Religion, he saw its progress before his death, and having an
assurance which Jesus Christ had not, that it would exist a long
time after his death, since he prudently accommodated the genius and
passions of his followers.

Such was the last of these three impostors. Moses threw himself into
an abyss by an excess of ambition to cause himself to be believed
immortal. Jesus Christ was ignominiously hung up between two thieves,
being covered with shame as a recompense for his imposture, and lastly,
Mahomet died in reality in his own bed, and in the midst of grandeur,
but with his bowels consumed by poison given him by a young Jewess,
to determine if he really was a prophet.

This is all that can be said of these four [48] celebrated
impostors. They were just as we have painted them after nature, and
without giving any false shading to their portraits, that it may be
judged if they merited any confidence, and if it is excusable to
be led by these guides, whom ambition and trickery have elevated,
and whom ignorance has destroyed.



It is not sufficient to have discovered the disease if we do not apply
a remedy. It would be better to leave the sick man in ignorance. Error
can only be cured by Truth, and since Moses, Jesus and Mahomet were
what we have represented them, we should not seek in their writings
for the veritable idea of the Divinity. The apparitions and the divine
conformation of the former and the latter, and the divine filiation
of the second, are sufficient to convince us that all is but imposture.


God is either a natural being or one of infinite extent who resembles
what he contains, that is to say, that he is material without being,
nevertheless, neither just nor merciful, nor jealous, nor a God in any
way as may be imagined, and as a consequence is neither a punisher nor
a remunerator. This idea of punishment and recompense only exists in
the minds of the ignorant who only conceive that simple being called
God, under images which by no means represent him. Those who use
their understanding without confounding its operations with those of
the imagination, and who are powerful enough to abandon the prejudice
of a limited education, are the only ones who have sound, clear and
distinct ideas. They consider him as the source of all beings which
are produced without distinction: one being no more than another in His
regard, and man no more difficult to produce than a worm or a flower.


That is why it is not to be believed that this natural and infinite
being which is commonly called God, esteems man more than an ant, or
a lion more than a stone, or any other being more than a phantasy,
or who has any regard for beauty or ugliness, for good or bad, for
the perfect or imperfect. Or that he desires to be praised, prayed,
sought for or caressed, or that he cares what men are, or say, whether
susceptible of love or hate, or in a word that he thinks more of man
than of any other creatures of whatever nature they be. All these
distinctions are only the invention of a narrow mind, that is to say,
ignorance has created them and interest keeps them alive.


Thus there is no good sensible man who can be convinced of hell,
a soul, spirits or devils, in the manner of which they are commonly
spoken. All these great senseless words have only been contrived to
delude or intimidate the people. Let those then who wish to know the
truth read what follows, with a liberal spirit and an intention to
only give their judgment with deliberation.


The myriads of stars that we see above us are allowed to be so many
solid bodies which move, and among which there is not one designed
as the Court Divine where God is like a King in the midst of his
courtiers; which is the abode of the blest, and where all good souls
fly after leaving this body and world. But without burdening ourselves
with such a rude and ill-conceived opinion, and that it may not be
entertained by any man of good sense, it is certain that what is
called Heaven is nothing but the continuation of our atmosphere,
more subtile and more refined, where the stars move without being
sustained by any solid mass more than the Earth on which we live,
and which like the stars is suspended in the midst of space.


As may be imagined, a Heaven intended for the eternal abode of the
happy and of God, was the same among the Pagans. Gods and goddesses
were also represented in the same way, also a Hell or a subterranean
place where it was pretended that the wicked souls descended to
be tormented. But this word "hell" taken in its proper and natural
signification means nothing but a "lower place," which poets have
invented to oppose the dwelling of the celestial inhabitants, who
are said to be very sublime and exalted. That is what the Latin word
Infernus or inferi signifies, and also the Greek word admc"> [49],
that is to say, an obscure place like the sepulchre, or any other low
and hidden place. All the rest of what has been said is only pure
fiction and the invention of poets whose symbolical discourses are
taken literally by feeble, timid and melancholy minds, as well as by
those who are interested in sustaining this opinion.



The Soul is something more delicate and more difficult to treat of
than either Heaven or Hell. That is why it is proper to satisfy Your
Majesty's curiosity, to speak of it a little more at length. Before
saying what I desire on this subject, I will recall in a few words
what the most celebrated Philosophers have thought of it.


Some have said that the Soul is a spirit or an immaterial substance;
others, a kind of divinity; some, a very subtile air, and others a
harmony of all parts of the body. Again, others have remarked that it
is the most subtile and fine part of the blood, which is separated
from it in the brain and is distributed by the nerves: so that the
source of the Soul is the heart where it is produced, and the place
where it performs its noblest function is the Brain, because there
it is well purified from the grosser parts of the blood. These are
the principal opinions which have been held concerning the Soul, but
to render them more perceptible let us divide them into material and
spiritual, and name the supporters of each theory that we may not err.


Pythagoras and Plato have said that the soul is spiritual, that is
to say, a being capable of existence without the aid of the body,
and can move itself: that all the particular souls of animals are
portions of the universal soul of the world: that these portions are
spiritual and immortal, and of the same nature, as we may conceive
that one hundred little fires are of the same nature as the great
fire at which they have been kindled.


These philosophers believed the animated universe a substance,
spiritual, immortal and invisible, pursuing always that which attracts,
which is the source of all movements, and of all Souls which are
small particles of it. Now, as Souls are very pure, and infinitely
superior to the body, they do not unite immediately, but by means
of a subtile body, such as flame, or that subtile and extensive
air which the vulgar take for heaven. Afterwards they take a body
less subtile, then another a little more impure, and always thus by
degrees, until they can unite with the sensible bodies of animals,
whence (sic) they descend like into dungeons or sepulchres. The death
of the body, they say, is the life of the soul wherein it was buried,
and where it exercises but weakly its most beautiful functions.

Thus at the death of the body the soul comes out of its prison
untrammelled by matter, and reunites with the soul of the universe,
from whence it came. Thus, following this thought, all the Souls of
animals are of the same nature, and the diversity of their functions
comes only from the difference in the bodies that they enter.

Aristotle admits further, a universal understanding common to all
beings, and which acts in regard to particular intelligences as light
does in regard to the eyes; and as light makes objects visible, the
universal understanding makes objects intelligible. This philosopher
defines the Soul as that which makes us live, feel, think and move,
but he does not say what the Being is that is the source and principle
of these noble functions, and consequently we must not look to him
to dispel the doubt which exists concerning the Nature of the Soul.


Dicearchus, Asclesiade (? Esculapius), and in some ways Galen, have
also believed the soul to be incorporeal, but in another manner,
for they have said that it is nothing more than the harmony of all
parts of the body, that is to say, that which results in an exact
blending and disposition of the humors and spirits. Thus, they say,
health is not a part of him who is well, however it be his condition,
so that, however, the soul be in the animal, it is not one of its
parts, but a mutual accord of all of which it is composed. On which it
is remarked that these authors believe the soul to be incorporeal,
on a principle quite opposed to their intent, by saying that it
is not a body, but only something inseparably attached to a body,
that is to say, in good reasoning, that it is quite corporeal, since
corporeality is not only that which is a body, but all which is form
or accident that cannot be separated from matter.

These are the philosophers who have believed the soul incorporeal
or immaterial, who, as you see, are not in accord with themselves,
and consequently do not merit any belief. Let us now consider those
who have avowed it to be a body.


Diogenes believed that it was formed of air, from which he has inferred
the necessity of breathing, and defines it as an air which passes
from the mouth through the lungs to the heart, where it is warmed,
and from whence it is distributed through the entire body.

Leucippus and Democritus have claimed that it was Fire, as that element
is composed of atoms which easily penetrate all parts of the body, and
makes it move. Hippocrates has said that it is a composition of water
and fire. Empedocles says that it includes the four elements. Epicurus
believed like Democritus, that the soul is composed of fire, but he
adds that in that composition there enters some air, a vapor, and
another nameless substance of which is formed a very subtile spirit,
which spreads through the body and and which is called the soul.


Not to shuffle, as all these philosophers have done, and to have
as perfect an idea as is possible of the souls of animals, let us
admit that in all, without excepting man, it is of the same nature,
and has no different functions, but by reason of the diversity of
organs and humors; hence we must believe what follows.

It is certain that there is in the universe a very subtile spirit, or
a very delicate matter, and always in motion, the source of which is
in the Sun, and the remainder is spread in all the other bodies, more
or less, according to Nature or their consistency. That is the Soul of
the Universe which governs and vivifies it, and of which some portion
is distributed among all the parts that compose it. This Soul, and
the most pure Fire which is in the universe does not burn of itself,
but by the different movements that it gives to the particles of other
bodies where it enters, it burns and reflects its heat. The visible
fire has more of this spirit than air, the latter more than water,
and the earth much less than the latter. Among the mixed bodies,
plants have more than minerals, and animals more than either. To
conclude, this fire being enclosed in the body, it is rendered capable
of thought, and that is what is called the soul, or what is called
animal spirits, which are spread in all parts of the body. Now, it
is certain that this soul being of the same nature in all animals,
disperses at the death of man in the same manner as in other animals,
from whence it follows that what Poets and Theologians sing or preach
of the other world, is a chimera which they have invented, and which
they narrate for reasons that are easy to guess.



We have fully commented on how the belief in Spirits was introduced
among men, and how these Spirits were but phantoms which existed in
their imagination. The ancient Philosophers were not sufficiently clear
to explain to the people what these phantoms were, and did not allow
themselves to say that they could raise them. Some seeing that these
phantoms dissolved and had no consistency, called them immaterial,
incorporeal, forms without matter, or colors and figures, without
being, nevertheless, bodies either colored or defined, adding that
they could cover themselves with air like a mantle when they wished
to render themselves visible to the eyes of men. Others said that
they were animated bodies, but were composed of air, or some other
more subtile matter which condensed at their will when they wished
to appear.


These two kinds of Philosophers being opposed in the opinion which
they had of phantoms, agreed in the name which they gave them, for
all called them Demons, in which they were but little more enlightened
than those who believed they saw in their sleep the souls of the dead,
and that it is their soul which they see when they look in a mirror,
and who also believed that they saw (reflected) in the water the souls
of the stars. After this foolish fancy they fell into an error which is
hardly less supportable, that is, the current idea that these phantoms
had infinite power. An absurd but ordinary belief with the ignorant who
imagined that whatever they did not understand was an infinite power.


This ridiculous opinion was no sooner published than the Sovereigns
began to use it to support their power. They established a belief
concerning spirits which they called Religion, so that the fear which
the people possessed for invisible powers would hold them to their
obedience. To have it carry more influence they distinguished the
demons as good and bad. The latter to encourage men to obey their laws,
and the former to restrain and prevent them from infringing them. Now
to learn what these demons were it is only necessary to read the
Greek poets and their histories, and above all what Hesiod says in
his Theogony where he fully treats of the origin and propagation of
the Gods.


The Greeks were the first who invented them, and by them they were
propagated through the medium of their colonies, and their conquests in
Asia, Egypt and Italy. The Jews who were dispersed in Alexandria and
elsewhere got their acquaintance with them from the Greeks. They used
them as effectively as the other peoples but with this difference,
they did not call them Demons like the Greeks, but good and bad
spirits; reserving for the good Demons the name of Spirit of God,
and calling those Prophets who were said to possess this good spirit
called the Divine, which they held as responsible for great blessings,
and cacodaemons or Evil spirits on the contrary those which were
provocative of great Evil.


This distinction of good and evil made them name as Demoniacs those
whom we call lunatics, visionaries, madmen and epileptics, and those
who spoke to them in an unknown tongue. A man ill-shaped and of evil
look was to their notion possessed of an unclean spirit, and a mute of
a dumb spirit. Now, these words spirit and demon became so familiar to
them that they spoke of them on all occasions, so that it is evident
that the Jews believed like the Greeks, that these phantoms were not
mere chimeras and visions, but real beings that existed independent
of imagination.


So it happens that the Bible is quite filled with these words Spirits,
Demons and Fiends, but nowhere is it said when they were first known,
nor the time of their creation, which is hardly pardonable in Moses,
who is earnest in depicting the Creation of Heaven, Earth and Man. No
more then is Jesus Christ who had such close intimacy with them,
who commanded them so absolutely according to the Gospel, and who
spoke so often of angels and good and bad spirits, but without saying
whether they were corporeal or spiritual; which makes it plain that
he knew no more than the Greeks had taught other nations, in which
he is not less culpable than for denying to all men the virtue of
faith and piety which he professed to be able to give them.

But to return to the Spirits. It is certain that the words Demon,
Satan and Devil, are not proper names which designated any individual,
and which never have any credence but among the ignorant; as much
among the Greeks who invented them, as among the Jews where they were
tolerated. So the latter being overrun by them gave them names--which
signified enemy, accuser, inquisitor,--as well to invisible powers
as to their own adversaries, the Gentiles, whom they said inhabited
the Kingdom of Satan; there being none but themselves, in their own
opinion, who dwelt in that of God.


As Jesus Christ was a Jew, and consequently imbued with these silly
opinions, we read everywhere in the Gospels, and in the writings
of his Disciples, of the Devil, of Satan and Hell as if they were
something real and effective. While it is true, as we have shown,
that there is nothing more imaginary, and when what we have said is
not sufficient to prove it, but two words will suffice to convince
the most obstinate. All Christians agree unanimously that God is
the first principle and the foundation of all things, that he has
created and preserves them, and without his support they would fall
into nothingness. Following this principle it is certain that God
must have created what is called the Devil, and Satan, as well as
the rest, and if he has created both good and evil, why not all the
balance, and if by this principle all evil exists, it can only be by
the intervention of God.

Now can one conceive that God would maintain a creature, not only
who curses him unceasingly, and who mortally hates him, but even
who endeavors to corrupt his friends, to have the pleasure of
being cursed by a multitude of mouths. How can we comprehend that
God should preserve the Devil to have him do his worst to dethrone
him if he could, and to alienate from his service his elect and his
favorites? What would be the object of God in such conduct? Now what
can we say in speaking of the Devil and Hell. If God does all, and
nothing can be done without him how does it happen that the Devil
hates him, curses him, and takes away his friends? Now he is either
agreeable, or he is not. If he is agreeable, it is certain that the
Devil in cursing him only does what he should, since he can only do
what God wills. Consequently, it is not the Devil, but God in person
who curses himself; a situation to my idea more absurd than ever.

If it is not in accord with his will then it is not true that he
is all powerful. Thus there are two principles, one of Good, the
other of Evil, one which causes one thing and the other that does
quite the contrary. To what does this reasoning lead us? To avow
without contradiction that there is no God such as is conceived,
nor Devil, nor Soul, nor Paradise, such as has been depicted, and
that the Theologians, that is to say, those who relate fables for
truth, are persons of bad faith who maliciously abuse the credulity
of the ignorant by telling them what they please, as if the people
were capable of nothing but chimera or who should be fed with insipid
food in which is found only emptiness, nothingness and folly, and not
a grain of the salt of truth and wisdom. Centuries have passed, one
after the other, in which mankind has been infatuated by these absurd
imaginations which have been combatted; but during all the period
there have also been found sincere minds who have written against the
injustice of the Doctors in Tiaras, Mitres and Gowns, who have kept
mankind in such deplorable blindness which seems to increase every day.


By permission of the Lord Baron de Hohendorf I have compiled this
epitome out of the manuscript Library of his Most August Highness,
Duke Eugene of Sabaudio, in the year 1716.



Another sketch of Mahomet translated from the "Edition en Suisse,"
1793, and which may interest worshippers of Arabian mysteries evolved
from imaginative brains, tinctured with extracts from "Thory's Ada
Latomorum," and similar works, and embellished with effects from
"Michael Strogoff."


Of Mahomet.

Hardly had the disciples of Christ abolished the Mosaic law to
introduce the Christian dispensation, than mankind, carried away by
force, and by their ordinary inconstancy, followed a new law-giver,
who advanced himself by the same methods as Moses. He assumed, like
him, the title of prophet, and envoy of God, like him he performed
miracles and knew how to profit by the passions of the people. First
he was accompanied by an ignorant rabble, to whom he explained the
new oracles of heaven. These unfortunates, seduced by the promises
and fables of this new impostor, spread his renown and exalted him
to a height that eclipsed his predecessors.

Mahomet was not a man who appeared capable of founding an empire, as
he excelled neither in politics [50] nor philosophy; in fact, could
neither read nor write. He had so little firmness that he would often
have abandoned his enterprise had he not been forced to persist in
his undertaking by the skill of one of his followers. From that time
he commenced to rise and become celebrated. Corais, a powerful Arab,
jealous that a man of his birth should have the audacity to deceive
the people, declared himself his enemy, and attempted to cross his
enterprise, but the people persuaded that Mahomet had continual
conferences with God and his angels caused him to prevail over his
enemy. The tribe of Corais were at a disadvantage and Mahomet seeing
himself followed by a crazy crowd who thought him a divine man,
thought he would have no need of a companion, but fearing that the
latter (Corais) might expose his impostures he tried to prevent it,
and to do it more certainly he overwhelmed him with promises, and
swore to him that he wished only to become great by sharing the power
to which he had contributed. "We have reached," said he, "the moment
of our elevation, we are sure of the great multitude we have gained,
and we must now assure ourselves by the artifice you have so happily
conceived." At the same time he induced him to hide himself in the
cave of oracles. There was a dried-up well from which he made the
people believe that the voice of God declared himself for Mahomet,
who was in the midst of his proselytes. Deceived by the caresses of
this traitor, his associate went into the well to counterfeit the
oracle as usual; Mahomet then passing by at the head of an infatuated
multitude a voice was heard saying: "I who am your God, declare that
I have established Mahomet as the prophet of all nations: from him
you will learn my true law which has been changed by the Jews and
the Christians." For a long time this man played this game, but in
the end he was paid by the greatest and blackest ingratitude. Mahomet
hearing the voice which proclaimed him a divine being, turned towards
the people and commanded them in the name of the God who recognized
him as his prophet, to fill with stones the ditch from whence had
issued such authentic testimony in his favor, in memory of the stone
which Jacob raised to mark the place where God appeared to him. [51]
Thus perished the unfortunate person who had contributed to the
elevation of Mahomet; it was on this heap of stones that the last
of the celebrated prophets established his law. This foundation is
so stable and founded in such a way that after a thousand years of
reign it has no appearance of being overthrown.


                        DE TRIBUS IMPOSTORIBUS.

                              ANNO MDIIC.

                              EMIL WELLER.

                      VERLAG VON GEBR. HENNINGER.

Many maintain that there is a God, and that he should be worshipped,
before they understand either what a God is, or what it is to be,
as far as being is common to bodies and spirits, according to the
distinction they make; and what it is to worship God, although they
regard the worship of God according to the standard of the honor
given to ruling men.

What God is, they describe according to the confession of their own
ignorance. For it is inevitable that they declare how he differs
from other things by the denial of former conceptions. They cannot
comprehend that there is an infinite being; that is, one of whose
limits they are ignorant. There is a creator of heaven and earth,
they say, but who is his creator they do not say, because they do not
know; because they do not understand. Some say that he is the origin
of himself and maintain that he comes from nothing but himself. We do
not understand his origin they say, therefore he has none (why so? if
we do not understand God himself, is there, therefore, no God?) And
this is the first principle of their ignorance.

There is no progression into infinity; why not? because the human
intellect must have some foundation? because it is accustomed to this
belief? because it cannot imagine anything beyond its own limits? As
if, indeed, it followed, that if I do not comprehend infinity,
therefore there is no infinity.

And nevertheless as is known from experience, some among the members of
the sects of Christ, think there is an infinite progression of divine
properties or persons, concerning the limitations of which, however,
there has hitherto been dispute, and so indeed they think that there
is a progression into infinity. For the son is begotten from infinity,
and the holy spirit is breathed from infinity. This begetting and
this procession goes on to infinity. For if that begetting or that
breathing of the spirit had begun or should once have ceased, the
conception of eternity would be destroyed. But if you should agree
with them on this point also, that the creation of man can not be
prolonged to infinity, which they infer, however, on account of
their finite minds, it will not yet be evident whether other beings
have not been begotten among the higher powers, in a peculiar manner
and in great number, as well as among men on earth; and who of this
great number should especially be accepted as God. For every religion
admits that there are Gods who are mediators, although they are not
all under equal limitations, whence that principle, that there must
be one being only, raised above men by his own nature, is evidently
demolished. And so it will be possible to say that from a diversity of
Gods as creators, a diversity of religions, and a variety of kinds of
worship afterwards arose: which the religious feeling of the heathen
especially employed. But as to the objection which is raised about the
murders and the concubinage of the Pagan Gods, aside from the fact that
the Pagans have long since shown that these things must be understood
as mysteries, similar things will be found in other religions.

The slaughter of many tribes was perpetrated by Moses and Joshua at
the command of God. Even human sacrifice the God of Israel demanded
of Abraham, but it was not carried into effect in this remarkable case.

But he could either not have given a command, or Abraham could not have
believed that it had been given in earnest, which would have been in
itself utterly at variance with the nature of God. Mahomet promises
the whole world as the reward offered by his religion, and Christians
talk about the universal slaughter of their enemies and the subjugation
of the foes of the church, which indeed has not been insignificant,
from the fact that the church had the entire control of public affairs.

Was not polygamy also permitted by (Mohammed) Moses, and as some
maintain, even in the New Testament, by Christ? Did not the Holy Spirit
beget the son of God by a peculiar union with a betrothed virgin?

As for other objections which are made to the pagans about their
ridiculous idols, and their misuse of worship, they are not so
weighty that similar ones can not be made to the members of other
sects; nevertheless it can easily be proved that these abuses have
proceeded from the subordinates rather than from the leaders, from
the disciples, rather than from the masters of religions.

But to return to the former argument. This being,--since the intellect
limits its extent,--is what some call Nature and others God. On these
points some agree, others disagree. Some fancy that the worlds have
existed from eternity, and call the connection of things God; certain
ones call God an individual being, which can be neither seen or known,
although among these disputes are not infrequent.

Religion, as far as it concerns worship, some attribute to the fear,
some to the love, of invisible powers. But if the invisible powers are
false, idolatry is just as the principles of each worshipper demand.

They will have it that love springs from kindness and refer it
to gratitude; although nevertheless it chiefly arises from the
sympathy of humors. The kind deeds of enemies inspire especially
violent hatred although no one of the hypocrites has dared to confess
it. But who would suppose that love arises from the kindness of him
who gave to man the characteristics of a lion, a bear and other
wild beasts that he might assume a nature contrary to the will
of the creator? Who, well knowing the weakness of human nature,
placed before [our progenitors] a tree, by which he was sure they
would bring a fatal sentence upon themselves and their descendants
(as some will have it)? And yet the latter are bound to worship and
to perform deeds of gratitude, as if for a great favor, Forsooth! So
the Ithacan may have it, etc. Take deadly arms, a sword for instance,
and if you had the most certain foreknowledge (which some claim for
God also in this very case, inasmuch as there can be no chance with
God) of the very purpose that he, before whose eyes you place it,
will seize it and inflict on himself and all his descendants the
most dreadful death. (He who has still one drop of the milk of human
kindness will shudder to do such a deed). Take, I say, a sword, you
who are a father, for instance, or you who are a friend; and if you
are a father, if you are a real friend, present it to your friend,
or your children, with the command that they should not run upon it,
you foreseeing beyond all doubt, nevertheless, that he will run upon
it, and inflict on his children and those hitherto innocent, the most
dreadful death. Consider, you who are a father, would you do such a
thing? What is it to make a command a mockery, if this is not? And
nevertheless God must have given such a command. But they maintain
that God should be worshipped for his kindness, saying: If God is,
he must be worshipped; just as they make this inference, the Great
Mogul is, therefore he must be worshipped. His own people do indeed
worship him, but why? assuredly that his unbridled pride and that
of all great men may be gratified, and for no other reason. For he
is worshipped chiefly on account of the fear of his visible power
(hence at his death the worship ceases), and then too on account of
the hope of rewards. This same reason exists for the reverence shown
parents and other people in power; and since invisible powers are
considered more important and greater than visible ones, therefore,
they will have it that still more should they be worshipped. And this
God should be worshipped on account of his love, they say. And what
kind of love is it to expose innocent posterity to infinite suffering
on account of the fall of one man, certainly foreseen and therefore
foreordained (foreordained as far at least as being permitted). But,
you say, they are to be redeemed. But how? The father exposes his
only son to extreme suffering, that he may deliver the other man from
tortures no greater, because of the redemption offered by the former.

The Barbarians had no such silly idea. But why should God be loved,
why worshipped? because he created us? But to what end? that we should
fall! because assuredly he had foreknowledge that [our progenitors]
would fall, and set before them the medium of the forbidden fruit,
without which they could not have fallen. Granted, however, that
he should be worshipped because on him all things depend for their
creation; some, nevertheless, add, for their continued existence also,
and their preservation. Why should God be worshipped? Does he himself
delight in worship? Certainly. Parents and benefactors are honored
among us. But why is this honor given? Human nature has regard for
mutual wants and, the bestowal of honor is due to the idea that we can
be aided by a greater and more enduring power. No one wishes to aid
another unless his own wants are satisfied in turn. That is called
a person's recognition of kindness and gratitude, which demands
a greater recognition of his own kindness; and in order that his
reputation may be spread abroad, it demands that the other be ready,
as a handmaid, so to speak, to inspire in others an idea of his fame
and nobility. Doubtless the idea others may entertain of our ability
to be of service to general or individual needs, tickles us, and
raises plumes for us like those of a peacock, wherefore generosity
is found among the virtues. But who does not see the imperfection
of our nature? Who, however, would say that God, the most perfect
of all beings, wants anything? Or that he wishes for any such thing
if he is perfect and already self-sufficient and honored without any
external honors. Who would say that he wants honor except those who
persist in honoring him?

The desire for honor is a sign of imperfection and lack of power.

The consensus of opinion among all races on this subject, is urged by
those who have talked with scarcely all even of their own friends,
or have examined three or four books treating of the testimony of
the world, not even carefully considering how far the authors had
knowledge of the customs of the world; but those excellent authors
were not familiar with all customs. Notice, however, that when one is
considering the matter, the objection here arises, that the fundamental
reasons for worship are connected with God himself and his works,
and not with the elementary constitution of any society. For there is
no one who is not aware that worship is due to the custom, prevalent
among the ruling and rich classes especially, of maintaining some
external form of religion in order to calm the passions of the people.

But if you are concerned about the former reason, who would believe
that in the principal seat of the Christian religion,--Italy,--there
are so many free-thinkers, or to speak more meaningly, Atheists, and if
he should believe it, would say that there is a consensus of opinion
among all races. God is, therefore should he be worshipped? Because,
forsooth, the wiser men at least say so? Who, pray, are the wiser? The
high priest, the augurs, the soothsayers of the ancients, Cicero,
Caesar, the leading men and their priestly adherents, etc.

Would they let it be known that such practices were to their
interests? Doubtless those in control of public affairs, deriving
their profits from the credulity of the people, told fear-inspiring
stories of the power and vengeance of the invisible gods, and lied
about their own occasional meetings and association with them; and
demanded in proportion to their own luxury beings suitable for or even
surpassing themselves. For it is not to be wondered at that priests
promulgate such teachings, since this is their method of maintaining
their own lives. And such are the teachings of the wiser men.

This world may depend on the control of a prime mover; this
is certainly the fact--that the dependence will be only at the
start. For why might there not have been a first command of God, such
that everything would go in a foreordained course to a fixed end,
if he wished to fix one. There would no longer be need of new care,
dependence or support, but he might at first have endowed every one
with sufficient powers. And why should it not be said that he did
this? For it is not to be supposed that he visits all the elements
and parts of the universe as a physician does a sick man.

What then is to be said of the testimony of conscience? and whence
would come those fears of the mind because of wrong-doing, were it
not evident that there is near us a higher power who sees and punishes
us, whom wrong-doing displeases just as it is altogether at variance
with worship of him? It is not now my purpose to inquire more deeply
into the nature of good and evil nor the dangers of prejudice and
the folly of great fear which springs from preconceived ideas. This
merely I say. Whence did they arise? especially since all evil-doing
depends on the corruption and destruction of the harmony resulting
from the interchange of services in the wants to which the human
race is subject, and since the idea about one who wishes to increase
rather than to be of aid in those wants, renders him an object of
hatred. Whence it happens that he himself may fear lest he may incur
the hatred and contempt of others, or a like refusal to satisfy his
wants; or may lose his power of being of service not only to others
but to himself, in so far indeed as he needs to fear any harm from
being wronged by others.

And so, they say, those who do not have the light of Holy Scriptures,
follow the natural light in accordance with the dictates of their
consciences, which proves to be sure, that God has endowed the
intellect of all men with some sparks of his own knowledge and will,
and if they act according to these it must be said that they have
done right. For what reason of theirs can be a command to worship God
if this is not? But it is maintained on many grounds that beasts act
according to the guide of reason, and this matter has not yet been
decided; nevertheless I do not urge this. Who has said anything to
you to prove that this does not occur, or that a trained animal does
not at times surpass an ignorant and uneducated man in intellect and
powers of judgment? But to speak to the point, the majority of men of
leisure who have had time to consider subtile ideas and those beyond
the comprehension of the ordinary intellect, in order to gratify
their own pride and promote their own advantage, have devised many
subtile principles for which Alexis and Thyrsis, prevented by their
pastoral and rustic duties, could have had no leisure. Wherefore,
the latter have placed confidence in the philosophers of leisure,
as if they were wiser, while they are more fitted to impose on the
foolish. Hence, good Alexis, go to, worship the sylvan Pans, Satyrs and
Dianas, etc. For the great philosophers will tell you about the dream
of Numa Pompilius, and narrate to you the story of his concubinage
with the nymph Aegeria, and they will wish by this very account
to bind you to his worship, and as a reward for this pious work,
because of the reconciliation and favor of those invisible powers,
they will demand for their own support, the flower of your flock and
your labor as a sacrifice. And hence, since Titius worshipped Pan,
Alexis, the Fauns, Rome, the Gods of War, Athens, the unknown Gods,
is it to be supposed that those good men learned from the light of
reason certain tales which were the idle inventions and ideas of
philosophers? not to attack too harshly the religion of others.

And why did not this reason also tell that they were mistaken in
their worship, in foolishly worshipping statues and stones, as if
they were the dwelling places of their Gods? But is it indeed to be
supposed that since good women bestowed such worship on Francis,
Ignatius and Dominicus and such men, reason teaches that at least
some one among holy men should be worshipped? That they learn from the
light of nature the worship of some superior power no longer visible,
although, nevertheless, such are the fabrications of our priests of
leisure for the more splendid increase of their own means of support.

Therefore, there is no God? Suppose there is (a God.) Therefore,
should he be worshipped? But this does not follow, because he desires
worship as far as he has inscribed it in the heart. What more then? We
should then follow the guide of our nature. But this is known to be
imperfect. In what respects? For is it sufficient enough to maintain
the society of men peacefully? Because other religious people,
following revelation, do not pass more tranquil lives?

But is it rather because God demands of us especially a more precise
idea of God? But nevertheless you who promise this of any religion
whatsoever, do not supply it. For any revelation of what God is, is
far more unintelligible than before. And how will you make this clearer
by the conception of the intellect, since he limits every intellect?

What do you think of these things?

No one, I say, has a knowledge of God, moreover eye has not seen him,
and he dwells in unapproachable light, and from the time of revelation
till now, in allegory. But I suppose every one knows how clear an
allegory is. Wherefore do you indeed believe that God makes such
demands? or is it from the desire of the intellect to surmount the
limitations of its own capacity in order to comprehend everything more
perfectly than it does, or from something else? Who of you is there
who speaks from special revelation? Good God! what a hodge-podge of
revelations. Do you point to the oracles of the heathen? Antiquity
has already held them up to ridicule. To the testimony of your
priests? I can show you priests who will contradict them. You may
protest in your turn, but who will be the judge? Who will put an end
to these disputes? Do you call attention to the writings of Moses,
the Prophets and Apostles? I bring to your notice the Koran, which
says that, according to a new revelation, these are corrupt and its
author boasts of having settled by the sword the corruptions and
altercations of Christians as did Moses those of the heathen. For
by the sword Mahomet and Moses subjugated Palestine, each instructed
by great miracles. And the writings of the Sectarians as well as of
the Vedas and the Brahmins 1300 years back, are in opposition, to say
nothing of the Sinenses. [52] You, who in some remote spot in Europe
are disputing about such things disregard or deny these writings. You
yourself should see very clearly that with equal ease they deny your
writings. And what proofs not miraculous, would be sufficient to
convince the inhabitants of the world, if it were evident from the
first three books of Veda, that the world was contained in and came
from an egg of a scorpion, and that the earth and first elements
of things was placed on the head of a bull, if some envious son of
the Gods had not stolen these first three volumes. In our times this
would be laughed at; and among those people there would not be this
strange argument to establish their religion if it did not have its
origin in the brains of these priests.

And whence else came those many immense volumes concerning the gods of
the pagans and those wagon loads of lies? Moses acted very wisely in
first becoming skilled in the arts of the Egyptians, that is in the
mastery of astrology and magic, and then by cruel war driving from
their homes the petty kings of Palestine, and pretending a conference
like that of Numa Pompilius. Leading his army, confident of their
fortunes, into the possessions of peaceful men; in order that he,
forsooth, might be a great general and his brother high priest,
and that he himself might be a leader and dictator. But of what
a people! Others by milder means and by pulling the wool over the
eyes of the people under cover of profound sanctity (I am afraid to
mention other things,) and by the pious deceits of members of their
sect in secret assemblies, first got control of the ignorant country
people and then, because of the growing strength of the new religion,
they got control of those who feared for themselves, and hated a
leader of the people. At length another eager for war, by feigning
miracles attached to himself the more ferocious people of Asia,
who had suffered ill treatment at the hands of commanders of the
Christians, and who, like Moses, with the promise of many victories
and favors, he subjugated the warring and peaceful leaders of Asia,
and established his religion by the sword. The first is considered
the reformer of the heathen, the second of Judaism and the third the
reformer of both. It remains to be seen who will be the reformer
of Mahomet and Mahometanism. Doubtless then, the credulity of men
is likely to be imposed on, and to take advantage of this under the
pretense of some gain to be derived, is rightly called imposture.

It would be too long and tedious to show more at length in this
place, the nature and forms of what goes under the name of imposture,
but we must observe, that, even if natural religion is granted and
the worship of God is right as far as it is said to be commanded by
nature; that up to this time the leader of every new religion has been
suspected of imposture, especially since it is evident to all and is
obvious from what has been said or can be said, how many deceptions
have been used in propagating any religion.

It remains then unanswerable according to the previous argument, that
religion and the worship of God according to the promptings of natural
light, is consistent with truth and justice; but if any one wishes to
establish any new principles in religion, either new or displeasing,
and that by the authority of invisible powers, it will evidently be
necessary for him to show his power of reforming, unless he wishes to
be considered by all an impostor. Since, not under the conclusions
of natural religion, nor under the authority of special revelation,
he offers opposition to the ideas of all. Moreover he should be so
upright in life and character that the people may believe him worthy
of being associated with so high and holy a power, who does not
approve of anything impure. Nor can merely his own confession, nor
the holiness of a past life, nor any miracles--that is extraordinary
deeds--prove this; for this is common rather among the skillful and
the deceivers of men, lying hypocrites who pursue their own advantage
and glory in this way. For it is not worth considering that some
reached such a degree of madness that they voluntarily sought death,
in order that it might be supposed that they despised and conquered
everything, like different ones among the ancient philosophers. Nor
is it to be supposed that they were upheld by special divine powers
in that which they did because of foolish fancies and fond hopes of
mountains of gold, rising from a defective judgment. For they did not
give the matter the proper consideration, nor did the real teachers,
for in order that you may come to a fair decision about them, I have
said not only is their own testimony not sufficient, but in order
to reach the truth of the matter, they must be compared with one
another; and other witnesses with them, and then their acquaintances
and friends, and then strangers, then friends and enemies; and then
after the testimony is all gathered in, that of each teacher concerning
himself, and then that of others must be compared. And if we do not
know the witnesses, we must consult the witnesses of the witnesses,
and so on; besides instituting an investigation as to your powers of
distinguishing from the true and the false involved in such or other
circumstances. Especially in similar ones, inquiring, moreover, whence
you desired data to learn the truth, for this purpose comparing the
judgment of others, as to what they infer from such an investigation
or from the testimony of witnesses. And from these data it will
be permissible to infer whether he who makes this claim, is a true
messenger of the revelation of divine will and whether his teachings
should be gradually adopted. But at this point we must be very careful
not to get into a circle. Whenever the nature of important religions
may be such that one supplants another, as that of Moses, Paganism,
that of Mahomet, Christianity,--the later one may not always nor in
every particular cast aside the earlier, but only in certain parts,
to such an extent that the latter is founded on the former, it will
be necessary to investigate carefully not only either the last,
or the middle, or the first, but all, especially since the charge
of imposture is brought by every sect. So the ancients were charged
with it by Christ, because they corrupted the law; the Christians
by Mahomet, because they corrupted the gospels, a fact not to be
wondered at, inasmuch as one sect of Christians charges the other
with corrupting texts of the New Testament, so that it can [not]
be ascertained whether he who is offered as an example is a teacher
of a true religion or how far those who claim to have been given
authority, should be listened to. For in an investigation no sect
must be overlooked, but each must be compared with the rest without
any prejudice. For if one is overlooked, that perhaps, is the very
one which is nearer the truth. Thus, those who followed Moses, have
followed the truth according to the Christians also, but they ought
not to have paused at that point, but should examine the truth of
the Christian religion also.

Each sect maintains that its own teachers are the best and that it
has had and is daily having proof of this, and that there are no
better ones, so that either every one must believe it, which would
be absurd, or no one, which is the safer plan, until the true way is
known, though no sect should be disregarded in a comparison.

There is no need of presenting the objection that it is known that
all mathematicians agree that twice two is four. For it is not a
similar case, since no one has been known to doubt whether twice
two is four, while on the contrary religions agree neither in end,
beginning nor middle. Suppose that I do not know the true way of
salvation; I follow, however, the Brahmins or the Koran. Will not
Moses and the rest say: What wrong have we done you that you thus
reject us, though we are better and nearer the truth? What reply shall
we make? I believed in Mahomet or the Gymnosophistes [53], in whose
teachings I was born and brought up, and from them I learned that
your religion and that of the Christians which followed, have long
since decayed and grown corrupt, and are still misleading. Will they
not reply that they do not know anything about the others and that
these do not know anything about the true guide to salvation, since
they know that those who are corruptors of the people are impostors,
feigning miracles, or by lies pulling the wool over the eyes of the
people. Nor should faith be thus simply given to one man or one sect,
rejecting all others without a complete and proper investigation. For
with equal right the Ethiopian, who has not left his own land, says
that there are no men under the sun except those of a black color.

Moreover, this precaution also should be taken in the investigation
of other sects, that equal care should be used in an investigation of
all, and while one is explained with great pains, the other should not
be slighted, because one claim or another at first sight seems to be
wrong, or because of the evil reports of gossip concerning the leader
of that sect, while other reports are cast aside. For that should
not be set down as doctrine or indubitable testimony, which the first
vagabond that comes along asserts about a hostile religion. Indeed,
with equal right on account of common gossip and the mere mention of
a name, the Christian religion was to some an object of horror, and
to others an object of scorn. With the latter because the Christians
worshipped the head of an ass, and with the former because they ate
and drank their God, so that at length the report became current
that to be a Christian was to be a deadly enemy of God and men;
when, nevertheless, such tales were either things which had been
misunderstood or skillfully told lies, which were then confirmed,
and having some foundation, spread abroad because an enemy of that
religion had absolutely no intercourse, or no proper intercourse,
with the Christians themselves, or the more learned among them,
but believed the first ignorant person or deserter or enemy of that
religion. Such a method of investigation being decided upon, it would
always be a matter of great difficulty. What shall we say about women,
what about children, what about the majority of the masses of the
people? All children will be excluded from a feeling of security
in regard to their religion, and the majority of women to whom even
those matters which have been most clearly explained by the leaders
of any religion, as far as can be done, are obscure: also from their
manner of life you rightly perceive that with the exception of a
very few superior ones, they have no accurate powers of comprehending
mysteries of such a character, to say nothing of the countless numbers
of insignificant persons and country people for whom the question of
their own support is the most important subject for the exercise of
their powers of reason, while other matters they accept or reject in
good faith. Doubtless there is only a very small part of the world,
who weigh all religions, compare their own carefully with others and
correctly distinguish true reasons from false, in details in which
deception may creep in; but the majority rather adopt the faith of
others, of teachers of sacred matters especially, whose knowledge
and powers of judgment in sacred matters are considered noteworthy.

And so in any religion this is done, especially by those who can not
read and write or do not have anything to read. But it should have been
observed that in this matter it is not sufficient that the teachers of
any religion should have the power, because of very exact powers of
judgment and avowed experience, of distinguishing the true from the
false. Indeed it ought to be very certain to others, with powers of
judgment no less exact, that those teachers have not only the ability
to distinguish the true from the false, but the desire as well, and
indeed we ought to be especially certain that he who professes such
a knowledge and desire is neither deceived nor wishes to be.

And what choice shall we make here among so many teachers so much at
variance in even one eminent sect? For when we look at our comrades
and associates, who disagree on many subjects, although they are most
friendly in other respects, one of the two disputants will maintain
his opinion on account of some defect, either because he has not a
correct understanding of the matter, and lacks the power of judgment,
or because he does not wish to give up, and so does not desire to
confess the truth. But although it might be matters of secondary
importance in which this happened, nevertheless the result will be
that they will be mistrusted in other matters also. Each doubtless is
in possession of one truth, and he who gives this up in one place,
either from a defect of judgment or a wrong desire is deservedly
mistrusted of doing the same thing in other cases.

Therefore, that you may judge of the ability and honesty of any teacher
in religion, first, it is necessary for you to be just as able as he;
for otherwise he will be able to impose on you very easily, and,
moreover, if he is unknown to you, he will need the testimony of
others, and these again of others, and so on indefinitely; not only
in regard to his truthfulness, that he really taught such doctrines,
but in regard to his honesty, that he did this without deceit. And
the same method must at once be employed in regard to the witnesses
of his honesty and his teachings. But where will you place an end to
this? It is not enough that such discussions have already taken place
among others; you must consider how well this has been done. For
the ordinary proofs which are set forth are neither conclusive nor
manifest, and prove doubtful matters by others more doubtful, so that,
like those who run in a circle, you return to the starting point.

In order that it may be manifest whether any one is a teacher of a true
religion or an impostor, there is need either of personal knowledge,
which we can not have in the case of the three great founders of
the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Mahometanism, inasmuch
as they lived in far distant places and died long before our time;
or of the knowledge of others, which, if any one imparts it to you,
we call testimony.

Between these, there is still another way of knowing any one, namely
through his own writings, which may be called one's own testimony
concerning himself. And concerning Christ, there is no such testimony;
concerning Moses, it is doubtful whether there is; concerning Mahomet,
there is the Koran. The testimony of others is of two classes--that
of friends and that of enemies. Between these extremes there is no
third class, according to the saying, "who is not with me is against
me." Mahomet in his writings assumes and attributes to himself the
same divine qualities as did Moses and another. Moreover the friends of
Mahomet and members of his sect wrote the same things concerning him as
did the members of the sects of the others concerning their masters,
and the enemies of the others wrote just as disparagingly of them as
their friends did of Mahomet. As for the rest, the testimony of any one
concerning himself is too unreliable to inspire implicit confidence,
and is of no consequence except, perchance, to perplex a thoughtless
hearer. The assertions of friends, who doubtless unanimously repeat
the sayings of their masters, are of the same nature. Nor should
the enemies of any one be heeded on account of their prejudices. But
as it is, in spite of these facts, it is for such trivial reasons,
which are confirmed only by the master's own boasts, the assertions
of friends, or the calumnies of enemies, that every follower of
any one of the three assumes that the claims of his enemy are based
wholly on imposture, while the teachings of his master are founded
wholly on truth. Nevertheless Mahomet is undoubtedly considered an
impostor among us; but why? Not from his own testimony or that of his
friends but from that of his enemies. Then, on the contrary, among
the Mahometans he is considered a most holy prophet; but why? From
his own testimony, but especially from that of his friends. Whoever
considers Moses an impostor or a holy teacher employs the same method
of reasoning. And there is equal reason in the case of Mahomet as
in the case of the others, either for charging him with imposture
or for answering that charge, although, nevertheless, the former
are considered holy, while he is considered a scoundrel, contrary
to all the demands of justice. To put it in the scholastic manner,
then, the following conclusions are most firmly established: Whenever
there is the same reason as in the case of Mahomet for charging any
person with imposture or for answering that charge, they should be
placed in the same category. And for example, in the case of Moses,
there is the same reason, therefore justice should be demanded just
as in the case of Mahomet, nor should he be considered an impostor.


(a.) In regard to the rebuttal of the charge of imposture: this is
based on the above-mentioned testimony not only of Mahomet concerning
himself in his well-known writings, but on that of every one of his
friends concerning their master, and hence, it logically follows:

(I.) Whatever value the testimony of Moses' friends has in defending
him on the charge of imposture, the testimony of Mahomet's friends
ought to have the same value. And whatever the value of the acquittal,
though their favorable testimony, etc., etc. Therefore, etc.

(II.) And whatever value the books of Moses have for this purpose,
the same value the Koran has also. And so, etc. Therefore, etc.

Moreover, the Mussulmen, from the very books of the New Testament
(although according to these very persons, these books have been much
corrupted in other respects,) draw various arguments even in support
of their Mahomet, and especially that prediction of Christ concerning
the future Paraclete. [54] They maintain that he came and exposed the
corruption of the Christians, and established a new covenant. And
although at other times the Koran is charged with many silly, nay
impious tales, all these nevertheless, can be explained in a spiritual
sense or smoothed over in other ways, since the rest of the teachings
insist on nothing but extreme sanctity and a stringent mode of morals,
but especially on temperance and abstinence from wine. And to the
objection frequently raised that wine is the gift of God, the reply
can be made that so also are poisons, and yet we are not supposed
to drink them. The further objection often made that the spirit of
the Koran is too carnal, and fills eternal life with pleasures of
the world and the flesh, polygamy moreover being so indiscriminately
permitted, it is not of such weight that it can not be confuted, since
Moses also permitted polygamy and in the New Testament life eternal
admits of banquets, e. g., you will sit down with Abraham and Isaac,
etc., etc. Again, I shall not taste wine except in the Kingdom of my
Father. It is said that all those pleasures mentioned in the Song of
Solomon, which is, of course, also instanced, are not wrong, and when
explained in a spiritual sense imply no wrong, although the same thing
is not said of the Koran. And if we are too severely critical of the
words of the Koran, we ought to employ the same severity of criticism
against the writings of Moses and others. Moreover the arguments which
are offered from Moses himself in answer to the charge of imposture,
do not seem reasonable nor of sufficient weight.

(I.) Our knowledge of the intercourse Moses had with God depends on
his own testimony and that of his friends, and hence such evidence
can have no more weight than similar arguments of the Mussulmen
concerning the conference that Mahomet had with Gabriel; and what
is more, this intercourse of Moses, according to Moses himself (if
all those sayings are Moses', which are commonly attributed to him)
is open to the suspicion of imposture, as is to be shown below.

(II.) No one indeed who is acquainted with the many very grave crimes
of Moses, will be able to say easily or at least justly, that his
holiness of life can not easily be matched. His crimes then are
the following:

(a.) Fraud, which none but his friends have palliated, but they are
not impartial judges of the matter; nor does that commendatory passage
of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles form any apology, for there is
dispute as to the honesty and veracity of that witness.

(b.) The stirring up of rebellion; for it can not be proved that
this was due to a command of God, nay, the contrary is clear, since
elsewhere Moses is urged to forbid resistance to tyrants.

(c.) Wars, although murder is contrary to the V. and VII. (?VI.) [55]
commandments of Moses himself, unrestrained plunder, etc., etc.; just
as the high priest in India, or Mahomet in his land, offering the
command of God as a pretext, drove from their territory the former
possessors. Moses slew thousands and gave them over to slaughter in
order to insure salvation to himself and his people.

(d.) The teaching concerning the taking of the property of others
under the pretense of a loan.

(e.) The prayer to God in which Moses desired to die eternally for
his people, although this petition asked of God such things as would
destroy his essence. See Exodus xxxii, 31, 32. [56]

(f.) Neglect of the commands of God in regard to circumcision (Exodus
iv, 24, 25, 26,) [57] and finally,

(g.) The chief of Moses' crimes, the extreme and stupid incredulity
of one who was chosen to perform so many miracles by the power of God,
and who nevertheless on account of his wavering faith was censured by
God himself severely and with the threat of punishment. (Numbers xx,
12). [58]

As to

(b.) The proof of the other argument, namely, the charge of imposture,
it can be said: We believe that Mahomet was an impostor, not from
our personal knowledge, as was pointed out above, but from the
testimony, not of his friends, but of his enemies. But all such
are anti-Mahometans, according to the saying "Who is not with me
is against me," etc., etc.: hence follows the conclusion: Whatever
weight the testimony of enemies has in the case of one, that it ought
to have in the case of the other also. Otherwise we shall be unjust
in condemning one from the testimony of enemies and not the other;
if this were done, all justice would be at an end.

And in the case of Mahomet, the testimony of enemies has such weight,
that he is considered an Impostor, therefore, etc., etc.

Furthermore, I say that reasons for suspecting Moses of imposture
can be elicited not only from external, but from internal evidence,
whereby imposture can be proved by his own testimony as well as by
that of others, albeit, his followers, although there is still dispute.

(I.) Whether the books, which are said to be those of Moses, are his or
(II.) those of compilers, (III.) or those of Esdras, especially, and
(IV.) whether they were written in the Samaritan, or (V.) the real
Hebrew language; and (VI.) if the latter, whether we can understand
that language. All these matters are doubtful for many reasons, and
especially it can be shown from the first chapters of Genesis that we
can not correctly interpret that language. I confess I am unwilling
to concern myself with these points, but I wish to discuss the man.

I. From Moses' own testimony and indeed

(a.) concerning his life and character which we have considered above,
and which, if any blame is attached to Mahomet on account of the fierce
wars he waged, especially against the innocent, is equally blamable,
and in other respects does not seem at all different from Mahomet's.

(b.) Concerning the authority of his own teaching. And here applies
what was said above about Moses' intercourse with God, which Moses
indeed boasted of but evidently with too great exaggeration. For if
any one boasts of intercourse with God of an impossible nature, his
intercourse is properly doubted and Moses, etc. Therefore, etc. It is
proved because he boasts of having seen that of which in the Old and in
the New Testament afterward, it is very often said that no eye has seen
(namely) God face to face. Exodus xxxii. 11. Numbers xii. 8. [59] Thus
he saw God (1) in his own form, not in a vision nor in a dream (2),
but face to face as friend to friend when he spoke directly to him. But
any vision, which (1) is like that of friends speaking face to face,
directly to one another, (2) like that of the blessed in the other
life, is properly called and considered a vision of God. And Moses,
etc. Therefore, etc. The Minor premise is proved from the passages
previously cited and from the words of the Apostle: then indeed
face to face, etc., and there is the same argument in the passages
of Moses and in that of the Apostle. And yet among Christians the
belief is most firmly established that no unjust person can see God
in this life. And in the above passage of Exodus xxxiii. 20, [60]
it is expressly added: you will not be able to see my face. These
words God addressed to Moses and they are in direct contradiction to
the passages previously cited, so that these claims can be explained
in no other way than by saying that they were added by a thoughtless
compiler, but by so doing the whole is rendered doubtful.

(c.) Concerning the teachings of Moses, which relate either to the
laws or the gospel. Among the laws, all of which for the sake of
brevity I can not now consider, the decalogue is most important, being
called the special work of God and said to have been written on Mount
Horeb. But it is evident it was devised by Moses before it was written
by God, because these commands are not in themselves characterized
by the perfection of God, since (1) they are either superfluous,
namely the last three, arguing from the words of Christ in Math. v,
[61] undoubtedly relating to the former, while the IX should not
be separated from the X, and they will likewise be superfluous (2)
or they are defective. For where are these commandments: thou shalt
not desire to have other Gods, nor desire to curse God, nor desire to
desecrate the Sabbath, nor to injure thy parents, and similar ones? And
is it to be presumed that God would forbid the lesser sins of coveting
a neighbor's house, land and property especially, and in an order
so extraordinary, and not the greater? As to the teaching of Moses
concerning the gospel, he establishes a very foolish and untrustworthy
sign of the future great prophet, or Christ. Deut. xviii, 21, 22,
[62] since this sign makes faith impossible for a long time. From this
dictum it follows that Christ, having predicted the fall of Jerusalem,
ought not to have been considered a true prophet while that prophecy
was as yet unfulfilled (nor should Daniel, until his prophecy had
been fulfilled), and so those who lived in the interval between the
time of Christ and the overthrow of Judea, can not be blamed for not
believing in him, although Paul hurled anathemas at those who did
not attach themselves to Christ before the fall.

Whatever sign, then, permits people for a long time to believe what
they please with impunity, can not proceed from God, but is justly
subject to suspicion. And this sign was given, etc., therefore, etc.

What is said concerning the fulfillment of other prophecies is no
objection. For it is the special and genuine sign of that great
prophet, that his predictions are fulfilled. Wherefore, naturally,
previous to this fulfillment he could not have been considered such
a prophet.

The other absurd conclusion which evidently follows from this passage,
is this: that although this sign ought to have been the proof of the
divine inspiration of all prophets, in the case of certain prophets
who made predictions, indefinite indeed, but in words not admitting a
moral interpretation (such as soon, swiftly, near, etc.,) that sign
can by no means be found, e. g. Many predict the last day of the
world and Peter said that that day was at hand; therefore, so far,
until it comes it will be impossible to consider him a true prophet.

For such is the express requirement Moses makes in the passage cited.

(d.) Concerning the histories of Moses. But if the Koran is charged
with containing many fables, doubtless in Genesis there are many
stories to arouse the suspicions of the thoughtful reader: as the
creation of man from the dust of the earth, the inspiration of
the breath of life, the creation of Eve from the rib of the man,
serpents speaking and seducing human beings, who were very wise and
well aware that the serpent was possessed by the father of lies,
the eating of an apple which was to bring punishment upon the whole
world, which would make finite one of the attributes of God, namely
his clemency (the attributes of God being identical with his essence),
as the redemption of the fallen would make finite the wrath of God,
and so God himself: for the wrath of God is God himself; men eight
or nine hundred years old; the passage of the animals into the
ark of Noah, the tower of Babel, the confusion of tongues, etc.,
etc. These and a thousand other stories can not fail to impress the
investigating freethinker as being similar to the fables, especially
of the Rabbins since the Jewish race is very much addicted to the use
of fables; nor at all inconsistent with other works, to mention those
of Ovid, the Vedas, those of the Sinenses and the Brahmins of India,
who tell that a beautiful daughter born from an egg bore the world,
and similar absurdities. But Moses especially seems to arrest our
attention because he represents God as contradicting himself, namely,
saying that all things were good and yet that it was not good for Adam
to be alone. Whence it follows that there was something apart from
Adam that was not good and so could injure the good condition of Adam,
while, nevertheless, the solitude of Adam itself was the work of God,
since he had created goodness not only of the essences but also of
the qualities.

For all things were good in that quality in which God had created
them. I adduce as proof: It is impossible for any work created by God
not to be good. And the solitude of Adam, etc., etc. Therefore, etc.

Whoever enters upon the study of the genealogies of the Old Testament
finds many difficulties in Moses. I shall not now cite all, contenting
myself with merely this one example, since Paul, I. Tim. i., 4,
[63] has taught that genealogies are useless, and the study of them
unprofitable, nay, to be avoided. Of what use were so many separate,
nay, so oft times repeated, genealogies? And there is a remarkable
example to arouse suspicion at least of the corruption of the text
or of the carelessness of compilers, in the case of the wives of Esau
and the different things said of them.


 [64]Genesis xxvi, 34:

    Judith, daughter of Berit, the Hittite.
    Basnath, daughter of Elon, the Hittite.

Genesis xxviii, 9:

    Mahalaad, daughter of Ishmael, sister of Nabajoth, who is mentioned
    after the two former.

Genesis xxxvi, 2:

    Ada, daughter of Elon, the Hittite.
    Akalibama, C. I.
    Basnath, daughter of Ishmael, sister of Nabajoth.

The one who is called Ada in Genesis xxxvi, is called Basnath in
Gen. xxvi, namely, the daughter of Elon, the Hittite, and the one who
is called Basnath in Gen. xxxvi, is called Mahalaad in Gen. xxviii,
namely, the sister of Nabajoth, although, nevertheless, Mahalaad,
in the passage cited in Gen. xxviii, is said to have been married
after Judith and Basnath, previously mentioned in Gen. xxvi.

I do not yet see how these names are to be reconciled. And these and
similar passages increase the suspicion that the writings of Moses
which we have, have been put together by compilers and that errors
in writing have crept in at some time.

Finally the most conclusive argument against the authenticity of
Moses is the excessive tautology and useless repetition, with always
the same amount of difference, as if different passages had been
collected from different authors.

(II.) To prove that Moses is subject to suspicion from the testimony,
not of his enemies only, but from that of those who openly professed
to be his followers and disciples. And this testimony is

(g.) Of Peter, Acts xv. 10, [65] calling the yoke of Moses
insupportable: and hence either God must be a tyrant, which would be
inconsistent with his nature, or Peter speaks falsely, or the laws
of Moses are not divine.

(h.) Of Paul always speaking slightingly of the laws of Moses, which
he would not do if he considered them divine. Thus Gal. iv. [66]
he calls them

(a.) Bondage v. 3, 4, but who would have so called the laws of God.

(b.) Beggarly commands v. 9. [67]

(c.) V. 30, [67] he writes: Cast out the bondwoman and her son. Hagar,
the bondwoman, is the covenant of Mount Sinai, which is the law
of Moses according to v. 24. [67] But who would tolerate the saying,
cast out the law of God and its children, and followers, although Paul
himself, as he asserts here and in the following chapter Gal. iv. 2,
3, [67] does not permit Timothy to be circumcised. Act xvi. [68]

(d.) He calls the law a dead letter, and what else does he not call it?
II. Cor. iii., 6-10 [67] and following. Likewise he did not consider
its glory worth considering. c. v., 10. Who would say such things of
the most holy law of God? If it is just as divine as the gospel it
ought to have equal glory, etc., etc.

The testimony of those who are outside of the Jewish or Christian
church, is etc., etc.



In the library of Cornell University, at Ithaca, N. Y., is a large
collection of Spinoza manuscripts and printed books by the same
author. The collection was left to the library, and is known as the
"Strauss Collection." In the collection is a manuscript copy of "La
vie et l'esprit de M. Benoit de Spinosa," which includes "Le traité
des trois Imposteurs."

This particular manuscript is much longer than any of the printed
editions of Traité des Trois Imposteurs, and includes several more
chapters than another manuscript which is in same library.

The printed editions usually contain six chapters, although the
edition à Philadelphie, 1796, alluded to on pages 18-19, contains
nine chapters. None of the printed editions that I have seen contains
a chapter entitled Numa Pompilius.

The manuscript in Cornell library has six additional chapters
more than our manuscript, 1716, which chapters are entitled:
1. Religions. 2. Of the Diversity of Religions. 3. Divisions of
Christians. 4. The Superstitious,--of the superstition and credulity
of the people. 5. Of the Origin of Monarchies. 6. Of Legislators and
Politicians, and how they serve themselves with Religion.

These chapters being but an elaboration of the matters and ideas
contained in our English translation.--A. N.


P. 8, paragraph 3, "Atheismus Triumphatus." Atheism destroyed.

P. 10, paragraph 1, "Perini del Vago, Equitis de Malta, Epistolium
ad Batavum in Brittania hospitem de tribus Impostoribus," (3 Greek
words omitted). Epistle to Batavus, a friend in Britain, about the
Three Impostors (the Pamphleteers, Sycophants and so-called Doctors).

P. 12, line 2, "Ridiculum et imposturae in omni hominum
religione, scriptio paradoxa, quam ex autographo gallico Victoris
Amadeo Verimontii ob summam rei dignitatem in latinum sermonem
transtulit." What is ridiculous, and the impostures in every religion
of mankind, a strange writing, which he translated into Latin from
the original French of Victor Amadeus Verimontius, on account of the
great worth of the subject matter.

P. 12, line 9, "Quaedam deficiunt s. fragmentum de libro de tribus
impostoribus." Certain things are missing. His fragment of the book
about the three impostors.

P. 12, line 12, "De imposturis religionum breve. Compendium descriptum
ab exemplari manuscripto quod in bibliotheca J. Fred. Mayeri, Berolini,
publice distracta deprehensum et a Principe Eugenio de Sabaudio,
80 Imperialibus redemtum fuit." An abstract about the impostures
of religions. An abridgment copied from the original manuscript
which, at the dispersal of the library of J. Fred. Mayer of Berlin,
was discovered and repurchased by Prince Eugene de Sabaudio for
80 imperials.

P. 12, line 18, "Communes namque demonstrationes, quae publicantur,
nec certae, nec evidentes, sunt, et res dubias per alias saepe
magias dubias probant, adeo ut exemplo eorum, qui circulum currunt,
ad terminum semper redeant, a quo currere inceperant. Finis." For the
ordinary arguments which are set forth, are not established, nor are
they evident, and prove doubtful matters by others often much more
doubtful, just like those who run in a circle, and always return to
the starting point. End.

P. 12, last 7 lines, "Quamvis omnium hominem intersit nosse veritatem,
rari tamen boni illi qui eam norunt," etc. Although it is to the
interest of all men to know the truth, nevertheless those few good
men who know it, etc.

"Qui veritates amantes sunt, multum solatii inde capient, et hi sunt,
quibus placere gestimus, nil curantes mancipia, quae prejudicia
oraculorum--infallibilium loco venerantur." Those who are lovers of
the truth will derive much comfort from this, and those are the ones
whom we are anxious to please, not caring for those servile persons
who reverence prejudices as infallible oracles.

P. 13, paragraph 7, "De impostura religionum compendium s. liber de
tribus impostoribus." Treatise about the imposture of religions. His
book about the three impostors.

P. 15, paragraph 2, "Homo sum, nihil humania me alienum puto." I am
a man, I consider nothing human alien to me.

Page 29, 4th paragraph. Latin orthography corrected:

"Quod de tribus famosissimis Nationum Deceptoribus in
ordinem. Jussu. meo digessit Doctissimus ille vir, quocum Sermonem
de illa re in Museo meo habuisti exscribi curavi atque codicem illum
stilo aeque, vero ac puro scriptum ad te ut primum mitto, etenim
ipsius perlegendi te accipio cupidissimum."

This treatise about the three most famous impostors of the world, in
accordance with my instructions was put in order by that scholar with
whom you had the conversation concerning that matter in my library,
I had it copied, and that MS. written in a style equally genuine and
simple. I send you as soon as possible, for I am sure you are very
eager to read it.

P. 29-30, last paragraph, (Latin orthography corrected),
"I. liber de Nat. Deor. Qui Deos esse dixerunt tanta sunt in
Varietate et dissentione constituti ut eorum molestum sit dinumerare
sententias. Alterum fieri profecto potest ut eorum nulla, alterum certe
non potest ut plus unum vera fit. Summi quos in Republica obtinuerat
honores orator ille Romanus, eaque quam servare famam Studiote curabat,
in causa fuere quod in Condone Deos non ausus sit negare quamquam in
contesta Philosophorum, etc."

I. Book about the nature of the Gods. "Those who have said that there
are Gods, are characterized by such a variety of ideas and difference
of belief, that it would be difficult to enumerate their opinions.

"On the one hand it might indeed happen that not one of their opinions
was true, but on the other hand, certainly not more than one can be
true." The great honors which that famous Roman orator had gained in
the state, and that reputation, which he took the most zealous care
to maintain, were the reason why in a public speech he dared not deny
the Gods, although in a discussion of philosophers, etc.

P. 35, last paragraph, "De poteste Imperiali,"--Of the Imperial power.

P. 144, TANTUM--So Far.


Did you ever attend a meeting of the society for the--perhaps I had
better not mention the name of the society, lest I tread on your
favorite Quixotism. Suffice it to say that it has a noble purpose. It
aims at nothing less than the complete transformation of human
society, by the use of means which, to say the least, seem quite
inadequate. After the minutes of the last meeting have been read,
and the objects of the society have been once more stated with much
detail, there is an opportunity for discussion from the floor.

"Perhaps there is some one who may give some new suggestions, or who
may desire to ask a question."

You have observed what happens to the unfortunate questioner. What
a sorry exhibition he makes of himself! No sooner does he open his
mouth than every one recognizes his intellectual feebleness. He seems
unable to grasp the simplest ideas. He stumbles at the first premise,
and lies sprawling at the very threshold of the argument.

"If what I have taken for granted be true," says the chairman, "do not
all the fine things I have been telling you about follow necessarily?"

"But," murmurs the questioner, "the things you take for granted are
just what trouble me. They don't correspond to my experience."

"Poor, feeble minded questioner!" cry the members of the society,
"to think that he is not able to take things for granted! And then
to set up his experience against our constitution and by-laws!"

The Gentle Reader--Quixotism--Samuel M. Crothers.



Introduction      3
Bibliography      7
Dissertation      26
Letter of Frederic the Emperor, to Otho, the Illustrious      37


God, of      38
(Originally Secs. 1-6, later, Chap. I.)
Reasons which have caused mankind to create for themselves an Invisible
Being which has been commonly called God      44
(Originally Secs. 1-9 and x-xi, later Chap. II.)
God, what is      52
(Originally Secs. x-xi, later, Secs. 1-2, Chap. III.)
Religions, what the word signifies, and how and why such a great
number have been introduced in the world      56
(Originally Secs. i-xxiii, later, Secs. 1-8, Chap. IV.)
Moses, of      62
(Originally Secs. ix-x, later, Secs. 1-2, Chap. V.)
Numa Pompilius, of      71
(Originally Secs. xi, later, Chap. VI.)
Jesus Christ, of      72
(Originally Secs. xii, later, Chap. VII.)
Jesus Christ, of the Policy of      75
(Originally Secs. xiii-xvi, later, Secs. 1-6, Chap. VIII.)
Jesus Christ, of the Morals of      80
(Originally Secs. xvii-xviii, later, Secs. 1-3, Chap. IX.)
Jesus Christ, of the Divinity of      84
(Originally Secs, xix-xxi, later, Secs. 1-3, Chap. X.)

Mahomet      88
(Originally Secs. xxii-xxiii, later, Secs. 1-3, Chap. XI.)
Truths, sensible and obvious      93
(Original Secs. i-vi.)
Soul, of the      96
(Original Secs. i-vii.)
Demons, of Spirits called      101
(Original Secs. i-vii.)
Appendicitis      107
Mahomet, Edition "En Suisse," 1793      107
De Tribus Impostoribus, Edition MDIIC      111
(A literal translation of Latin reprint by E. Weller, 1876.)
Cornell University      145
Translations of Latin in the Text      146
The Gentle Reader--Quixotism      149


P. 5, 2d paragraph, 1st line, Werner should read Weller.

P. 12, line 5, sermonen should read sermonem.

Original Mss., A. D. 1716, Contains--

    Dissertation, pp. 26-36,    3300 words French.
    Treatise, pp. 37-101,      19800 words French.
        Total,                 23100 words.

    Weller's reprint, 1876, Edition, 1598 contains 5800 words Latin.


[1] The History of the Three Infamous Impostors of this Age.

1. Padre Ottomano, a pretended son of the Sultan of Turkey who
flourished about 1650, and who latterly, under the above title,
became a Dominican Friar.

2. Mahomed Bei, alias Joannes Michael Cigala, who masqueraded as a
Prince of the Ottoman family, a descendant of the Emperor Solyman
the Magnificent, and in other characters about 1660.

3. Sabbatai Sevi, the pretended Messiah of the Jews, "the Only and
First-borne Son of God," who amused the Jews and Turks about 1666.

[2] La vie et l'esprit de M. Benoit de Spinosa was published without
the author's name, in Amsterdam 1719. In the "Preface du Copiste" it
is stated that the author of it is not known, but that if a conjecture
might be permitted it might be said, perhaps with certitude, that the
book is the work of the late Mr. Lucas, so famous for his Quintessences
and for his manners and way of living.

Kuno Fischer, in his Descartes und seine Schule. Zweiter Theil,
Heidelberg, 1889, p. 101, says:

"The real author of the work is not known with entire certainty;
probably the author was Lucas, a physician at the Hague, notorious
in his own day; others name as author a certain Vroese."

Freudenthal, in his Die Lebensgeschichte Spinoza's. Leipzig, 1899,
writing of the various conjectures as to the authorship of the book,
states that W. Meyer has lately sought to prove that Johan Louckers,
a Hague attorney, was the author, but that the authorship had not
been settled.

Oettinger in his Bibliographie Biographie Universelle, Bruxelles 1854,
p. 1707, gives Lucas Vroese as the author.

It has also been suggested that Lucas and Vroese were two men and
together wrote the book.

The authority for ascribing the book to Vroese, of whose life no
particulars seem to have been recorded, appears to be the following
passage in the Dictionnaire Historique, par Prosper Marchand, à la
Haye, 1758, v. 1., p. 352:

"A la fin d'une copie manuscrit de ce Traité que j'ai vûe et lûe, on
lui donne pour véritable Auteur a Mr. Vroese, conseiller de la cour
de Brabant à la Haie, dont Aymon et Rousset retouchèrent le langage;
et que ce dernier y ajouta la Dissertation ou Réponse depuis imprimée
chez Scheurleer."

The name "Vroese" appears at the side of the colophon at end of our
translation, but probably as a reference only.

[3] This is probably a Latin edition of the original manuscript from
which our translation was made.--Ed.

[4] See translation Chap. 1 "Of God," first two lines.


Title, "Literary Forgeries."

"The Duc de la Valliere and the Abbe de St. Leger, once concerted
together to supply the eager purchaser of literary rarities with
a copy of "De Tribus Impostoribus," a book, by the date, pretended
to have been printed in 1598, though probably a modern forgery of
1698. The title of such a book had long existed by rumor, but never
was a copy seen by man. Works printed with this title have all been
proved to be modern fabrications--a copy however of the 'introuvable'
original was sold at the Duc de la Valliere's sale. The history of this
volume is curious. The Duc and the Abbe having manufactured a text had
it printed in the old Gothic character, under the title 'De Tribus
Impostoribus.' They proposed to put the great bibliopobet, De Bure,
in good humor, whose agency would sanction the imposition. They were
afterwards to dole out copies at 25 louis each, which would have been
a reasonable price for a book which no one ever saw! They invited De
Bure to dinner, flattered and cajoled him, and, as they imagined at
the moment they had wound him up to their pitch, they exhibited their
manufacture--the keen-eyed glance of the renowned cataloguer of the
'Bibliographie Instructive' instantly shot like lightning over it, and
like lightning, destroyed the whole edition. He not only discovered the
forgery but reprobated it! He refused his sanction; and the forging
Duc and Abbe, in confusion suppressed the 'livre introuvable'; but
they owed a grudge to the honest bibliographer and attempted to write
down the work whence the De Bures derive their fame."

[6] The names are noted on title page in pencil.

[7] The French nation recognize the Supreme Being, the Immortality
of the Soul, and the Freedom of Worship.

[8] Treatise of the Dominant Religions.

[9] In old prints Moses is always depicted with horns on his forehead.

[10] When they weep at Rome, they do not laugh in Paris.

[11] There is a measure in everything.

[12] As to the printing of the book they can bring forward no proof
whatever of its having being done prior to this date (1716) and it
is impossible to conceive that Frederick, surrounded as he was by
enemies, would have circulated a work which gave a fair opportunity of
proclaiming his infidelity. It is probable therefore that there were
only two copies, the original one and that sent to Otho of Bavaria.
J. L. R. L.

[13] This phrase is frequently employed to express ecclesiastical
criticism. Its first application however had a more pungent
meaning. The individual here alluded to having boldly
assailed the errors of the Church was attacked one evening by an
assassin. Fortunately the blow did not prove fatal; but the weapon (a
stylus, or dagger, which is also the Latin name for a pen) having been
left in the wound, on his recovery he wore it in his girdle labelled,
"The Theological Stylus," or Pen of the Church. The trenchant powers
of this instrument have more frequently been employed to repress truth,
than to refute argument.

[14] Sep. 20, 1703.

[15] Frederick Barbarossa was Emperor of Germany in 1152 and was
drowned during Crusade in Syria June 10, 1190. He created Henry the
Lion (? Henry VI.) Duke of Bavaria in 1154, expelled him in 1180,
and Henry died 1195.

Otho the Great, Count of Witelspach, was made Duke of Bavaria 1180,
and died 1183. He was the grandfather of Otho the Illustrious, who
gained the Palatinate and was assassinated in 1231. He married the
daughter of Henry the Lion about 1230.

Henry VI succeeded to the Empire on death of his father, Frederick
Barbarossa, 1190, and died 1195--that is if Henry the Lion and Henry
VI are identical.

Frederick II, son of Henry VI, began to reign (?) 1195, and was
living 1243.

The succession of Popes during the period 1152-1254 (Haydn's Dict. of
Dates), was as follows:

Anastasius IV, 1153, Adrian IV, 1154, (Nicholas Brakespeare, the only
Englishman elected Pope. Frederick I. prostrated himself before him,
kissed his foot, held his stirrup, and led the white palfrey on which
he rode.)

Alexander III. 1159, (Canonized Thomas à Becket and resisted Frederick
I.) Victor V. 1159, Pascal III. 1164, Calixtus III. 1168, Lucius
III. 1181.

Urban III. 1185, (opposed Frederick I.) Gregory VIII. (2 months)
1187. Clement III. 1187, proclaimed third Crusade.

Celestin III. 1191. Innocent III. 1198, excommunicated John, King of
England. Honorius III. 1216, learned and pious. Gregory IX. 1227,
preached new Crusade. Celestine IV. 1241. Innocent IV. 1243-1254
(opposed Frederick II.).

If Frederick II. caused pamphlet to be written about 1230, it could
not have been burned by Honorius III., who reigned as Pope 1216-1227,
but by Gregory IX., who reigned 1227-1241, who sent Frederick II. to
the Crusades, upset his affairs while he was gone, and against whom
the "Dissertation" says the pamphlet was written.

[16] Carlyle, in his "History of Frederick II. of Prussia, called
Frederick the Great," mentions Hermann von der Saltza, a new sagacious
Teutschmeister or Hochmeister (so they call the head of the Order)
of the Teutonic Knights, a far-seeing, negotiating man, who during
his long Mastership (A. D. 1210-1239,) is mostly to be found at Venice
and not at Acre or Jerusalem.

He is very great with the busy Kaiser, Frederick II., Barbarossa's
grandson, who has the usual quarrels with the Pope, and is glad of such
a negotiator, statesman as well as armed monk. A Kaiser not gone on the
Crusade, as he had vowed: Kaiser at last suspected of free thinking
even:--in which matters Hermann much serves the Kaiser.--People's
Edition, Boston, 1885, Vol. 1, p. 92.

[17] Pierre des Vignes, suspected of having conspired against the life
of the Emperor, was condemned to lose his eyes, and was handed over to
the inhabitants of Pisa, his cruel enemies: and where despair hastened
his death in an infamous dungeon where he could hold intercourse with
no one.

[18] In "Volney's Lectures on History," it is said: "If a work be
translated it always receives a colouring which is more or less
faint or is vivid according to the opinions and ability of the
Translator." From an examination of other translations of this
Treatise, I am assured that Volney's statement above has actuated
and governed all who have been previously engaged with this work. I
can assure the readers hereof, that the Treatise contained herein is
a literal translation of the manuscript and the notes found therein,
and no liberties have been taken with the text.

Any additional notes from other sources are so marked.    A. N.

[19] Moses killed at one time 24,000 men for opposing his law.

[20] It is written in the First Book of Kings, ch. 22, v. 6, that Ahab,
King of Israel, consulted 400 prophets, and found them entirely false
in the success of their predictions.

[21] Man is the noblest work of God--but nobody ever said so but
man.--Fra Elbertus.

[22] So of water, however, it may be subject to generation and
corruption, as long as it is substance it is not subject to separation
and division.

[23] The four first Councils were 1. That of Nice in the year 345,
under the Emperor Constantine the Great, and under Pope Sylvester I.;
2. That of Constantinople in the year 381, under the Emperors Gratian,
Valentinian and Theodore and the Pope Damase I.; 3. That of Ephesus in
the year 431, under the Emperor Theodore, the younger, and Valentinian
and under the Pope Celestin; 4. That of Chalcedon in the year 451,
under Valentinian and Martian, and under Pope Leo I.

[24] These, among us, are the Astrologers and Fanatics.

[25] The Talmud remarks that the Rabbins deliberated whether they
should omit the Book of Proverbs and that of Ecclesiastes from the
number of canonicals, and would have done so had they not found
in several places that they eulogized the Mosaic law. They would
have done the same with the prophecies of Ezekiel had not a certain
Chananias undertook to harmonize them with the same law.

[26] The versions that we have differ greatly in a thousand places,
one with another, until the end of the book.

[27] See Tertullian ante, also Hobbes' Leviathan, C. 12, p. 56.

[28] This word must not be taken in the ordinary sense, for what
is called a magician among learned people means an adroit man, a
skillful charlatan, and a subtle juggler whose entire art consists
in dexterity and skill, and not in any compact with the devil as the
common people believe.

[29] He remained from time to time in a solitary place under pretext
of privately conferring with God, and by this pretended intercourse
with the Divinity he taught them a respect and obedience which was,
in the meanwhile, unlimited.

[30] See Book of Kings, Chapter II.

[31] Romulus drowned himself in the morass of Cherres, and his body not
being found, it was believed that he was raised to heaven and deified.

When Romulus was reviewing his forces in the plain of Caprae there
suddenly arose a thunderstorm during which he was enveloped in so thick
a cloud that he was lost to the view of his army: nor thereafter on
this earth was Romulus seen. Livy I. 1, c. 16.

[32] Empedocles, a celebrated philosopher, threw himself into the
crater of Mount Etna, to cause the belief that, like Romulus, he was
raised to heaven.

[33] It is recorded by Livy (liber II., c. 21,) that there is a grove
through which flowed a perennial stream, taking its origin in a dark
cave, in which Numa was accustomed to meet the goddess, and to receive
instructions as to his political and religious institutions.

[34] Breath or inspiration of the Gods.

[35] The Tartars assert that Genghis Khan was born of a virgin, and
that Foh, according to the Chinese belief, derived his origin from
a virgin rendered pregnant by the rays of the sun.

Since the introduction of the umbrella or sun-shade into the Central
Flowery Kingdom occurrences like the latter have been infrequent.

[36] Celsus says, in Origen, that Jesus Christ was a native of a
little hamlet in Judea, and that his mother was a poor villager who
only existed by her labor. Having been convicted of adultery with
a soldier named Pandira, she was induced to flee by her betrothed,
who was a carpenter by trade, who condoned their offence, and they
wandered miserably from place to place. She was secretly delivered
of Jesus, and finding themselves in want, they were constrained to
flee to Egypt. After several years, his services being of no value
to the Egyptians, he returned to his own country, where, quite proud
of the miracles he knew how to perform, he proclaimed himself God.

Human nature was at those times not fundamentally different from what
it is now, and we need, therefore, not be surprised to hear that one
of the stalwart Roman warriors, whose name was Pandira, fell in love
with one of the dark-eyed daughters of Nazareth, and that the fruit
of their "illegitimate" union was a son whom they called Jehoshua,
and who inherited from his father the manly pride of the Roman,
and from his Jewish mother his almost feminine beauty and modesty.

Of Jehoshua's mother, little is to be said. * * * * * Ignorant,
innocent, and of modest manners, uneducated but kind, sympathetic and
beautiful, Stada, like many others of her sex, was guided more by the
decision of her heart than by the calculations of her intellect. Her
heart yearned for love and she hoped to find in Pandira the realization
of her ideal.--Life of Jehoshua, The Prophet of Nazareth, an Occult
Study and a Key to the Bible. Franz Hartmann, M. D., Boston, 1889.

[37] A beautiful dove overshadowed a virgin; there is nothing
surprising in that. It happened frequently in Lydia, and the swan of
Leda is the counterpart of the dove of Mary.

Qu'un beau Pigeon a tire d'aile   When a pretty dove under her wing
Vienne abombrer une Pucelle,      Happens to conceal a Virgin,
Rien n'est suprenant en cela;     There is nothing surprising in that.
L'on en vit autant en Lydie.      The same thing is known in Lydia,
Et le beau Cygne de Leda          For the beautiful swan of Leda
Vaut bien le Pigeon de Marie.     Is just as good as Mary's pigeon.

[38] In the book of Samuel, chap. vii, it is related that the
Israelites being discontented with the sons of Samuel who judged them,
demanded a King, the same as other nations, with whom they wished
to conform.

[39] Jesus Christ was of the sect of the Pharisees, or the poor,
who were opposed to the Sadducees, who formed the sect of the rich.

[40] By this Norman reply he eluded the question. A Norman never says
yes, or no. Blason populaire de la Normandie.

[41] Vide Boniface VIII. (1294) and Leo X. (1513) Boniface said
that men had the same souls as beasts, and that these human and
bestial souls lived no longer than each other. The Gospel also
says that all other laws teach several virtues and several lies;
for example, a Trinity which is false, the child-birth of a Virgin
which is impossible, and the incarnation and transubstantiation which
are ridiculous. I do not believe, continued he, other than that the
Virgin was a she-ass, and her son the issue of a she-ass.

Leo X. went one day to a room where his treasures were kept, and
exclaimed "we must admit that this fable of Jesus Christ has been
quite profitable to us."

[42] The belief in the Christian doctrine is strange and wild to reason
and human judgment. It is contrary to all Philosophy and discourse of
Truth, as may be seen in all the articles of faith which can neither
be comprehended nor understood by human intellect, for they appear
impossible and quite strange. Mankind, in order to believe and receive
them, must control and subject his reason, submitting his understanding
to the obedience of the faith. St. Paul says that if man considers
and hears philosophy and measures things by the compass of Truth,
he will forsake all, and ridicule it as folly.

That is the avowal made by Charron in a book entitled "The Three
Truths," page 180. Edition of Bordeaux, 1593. (This inserted
note is written on the back of a portion of a letter addressed to
"Prince graaft by de Spiegelstraat. A Amsterdam," postmarked "Ce
4e. Aout. 1746.")

[43] Hermaphrodites.

[44] Which determined the Emperor Julian to abandon the sect of
Nazarenes whose faith he regarded as a vulgar fiction of the human
mind, which he found based solely on a simple tale of Perdiccas.

[45] Also his belief in visions and the legend of his translation
to Heaven.

[46] A friend of the celebrated Golius having asked what the Mahometans
said of their prophet, this wise professor sent him the following
extract which contains an abridgement of the life of that Impostor
taken from a manuscript in the Turkish language: "The Lord Mahomet
Mustapha, of glorious memory, the greatest of the Prophets, was born
in the fortieth year of the Empire of Anal Schirwan, the Just. His
holy nativity happened the twelfth day in the second third of the
month Rabia. Now, after the fortieth year of his age had passed, he
was divinely inspired, received the crown of prophecy and the robe of
Legation, which were brought him from God by the faithful messenger
Gabriel, with instructions to call mankind to Islamism. After this
inspiration from God was received, he dwelt at Mecca for thirteen
years. He left there aged fifty-three years the eighth day of the
month Rabia, which was a Friday, and took refuge at Medina. Now, it was
there, after his retreat the twentieth day of the eleventh month, and
the sixty-third year of his blessed life, he succeeded to the enjoyment
of the divine presence. Some say that he was born while Abelaka, [47]
his father, was yet living, others say after his death. Lady Amina,
a daughter of the Wahabees, gave him for nurse lady Halima, of the
tribe of Beni-Saad. Abdo Imutalib, [47] his grandfather, gave him the
blessed name of Mahomet. He had four sons and four daughters. The sons
were Kasim, Ibrahim, Thajib and Thahir, and the daughters, Fatima,
Omokeltum, Rakia and Zeineb. The companions of this august envoy of
God were Abulekir, Omar, Osman and Ali, all of sacred memory.

[47] These names, Abdul-Motallab and Abdallah, in Arabic, seem to be
rendered Abdo-Imutalib and Abelaka in the Turkish language.--A. N.

[48] This includes Numa Pompilius.--A. N.

[49] Hades.

[50] "Mahomet," says the Count de Boulainvilliers, "was ignorant of
common knowledge, as I believe, but he assuredly knew much of what a
great traveler might acquire with much native wit, when he employed it
usefully. He was not ignorant of his own language, the use of which,
and not by reading, taught him its nicety and beauty. He was not
ignorant of the art of knowing how to render odious what was truly
culpable, and to portray the truth with simple and lively colors in
a manner which could not be forgotten. In fact, all that he has said
is true in comparison with the essential dogmas of religion, but he
has not said all that is true. It is in that particular alone that
our Religion differs from his." He adds further on, "that Mahomet was
neither rude nor barbarous, that he conducted his enterprise with all
the art, delicacy, constancy, intrepidity, and all the other great
qualities which would have actuated Alexander or Cesar were they in
his place." Life of Mahomet, by Count de Boulainvilliers. Book II.,
pp. 266-7-8. Amsterdam Edition, 1731.

[51] Genesis ch. xxviii., v. 18.

[52] (?)Those holding sinecures.

[53] A sect of East Indian philosophers who went about almost naked,
ate no flesh, renounced all bodily pleasures, and simply contemplated

The "Pre-Adamite doctrine," similar to the above, was published by
Isaac de Peyrere about 1655. These fanatics believed that mankind
lost none of their innocence by the fall of Adam. Both men and
women made their appearance in the streets of Munster, France, in
puris naturalibus, as did our first parents in the Garden of Eden,
before the fruit incident, which brought so much trouble into the
world. The magistrates failed to put them down, and the military had
some difficulty in abolishing this absurdity.--A. N.

[54] An Intercessor, applied to the Holy Spirit.

[55] Average seems to indicate the VI. Commandment.--A. N.

[56] Exodus xxxii, 31, 32. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and
said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them
gods of gold.

Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray
thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

[57] Exodus iv, 24, 25, 26. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut
off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his (?the Lord's) feet,
and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

So he (the Lord) let him (Moses) go: then she said, a bloody husband
thou art, because of the circumcision.

[58] Numbers xx, 12. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, because
ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of
Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land
which I have given them.

[59] Exodus xxxii. 11. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said,
Lord why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast
brought forth out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with
a mighty hand?

Numbers xii. 8. With him (Moses) will I speak mouth to mouth, even
apparent and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord
shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against
my servant Moses?

[60] Exodus xxxiii. 20. Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep
thee in the way, and to bring thee in the place which I have prepared.

[61] Matthew V. Sermon on the Mount, 17. Think not that I am come to
destroy the law, etc. Matt. x, 2? names Apostles.

[62] Deuteronomy xviii, 21, 22. And if thou say in thine heart,
How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow
not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not
spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt
not be afraid of him.

[63] Paul to Timothy (I.) I. 4. Neither give heed to fables and
endless genealogies, etc.

[64] Genesis xxvi, 34, 35. And Esau was forty years old when he took
to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri, the Hittite, and Bashemath the
daughter of Elon, the Hittite, which were a grief of mind unto Isaac
and Rebekah.

Genesis xxviii, 9. Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the
wives which he had, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son,
the sister of Nabajoth, to be his wife.

Genesis xxxvi, 2, 3. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan,
Adah, the daughter of Elon, the Hittite, and Aholibamah, the daughter
of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon, the Hivite, and Bashemath, Ishmael's
daughter, sister of Nabajoth.

[65] Acts xv. 10. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon
the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able
to bear?

[66] Galatians 3, 4. Even so we when we were children, were in
bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the
time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under
the law. v. 9. But now after that ye have known God, or rather are
known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements,
whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage.

v. 30. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? cast out the bond-woman
and her son: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with
the son of the free-woman.

v. 24. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants;
the one from the mount of Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which
is Agar.

Galatians v. 2, 3. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be
circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to
every man that is circumcised, that is a debtor to do the whole law.

[67] II. Cor. iii., 6-10. Who also hath made us able ministers of the
New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter
killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death,
written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children
of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the
glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall
not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the
ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration
of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious
had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

II. Cor. v. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat
of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

[68] Acts xvi, 1, 2, 3. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra, and behold,
a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain
woman which was a Jewess, and believed, but his father was a Greek;
which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and
Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him, and took and
circumcised him, because of the Jews which were in those quarters,
for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

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