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Atheism Among The People by Alphonse de Lamartine

V. God, when one believes in Him as you and I doà

God, when one believes in Him as you and I do, imposes then on man a duty towards the society of which he makes a part. You admit it, do you not?

Then follow, and analyze with me this society. Of whom, and how, is it composed?

It is composed, at the same time, of strong and weak, conquerors and conquered, victors and vanquished, oppressors and oppressed, masters and slaves, nobles and serfs, of citizens and bondmen or subjects disinherited and enslaved, considered as living furniture, as tools and laughing-stocks to their fellow-men, as were the Blacks in our colonies before the Republic.

Thanks to the increase of general reason, to the light of philosophy, to the inspiration of Christianity, to the progress of the idea of justice, of charity, and of fraternity, in laws, manners, and religion, society in America, in Europe, and in France, especially since the Revolution, has broken down all these barriers, all these denominations of caste, all these injurious distinctions among men. Society is composed only of various conditions, professions, functions, and ways of life, among those who form what we call a Nation; of proprietors of the soil, and proprietors of houses; of investments, of handicrafts, of merchants, of manufacturers, of farmers; of day-laborers becoming farmers, manufacturers, merchants, or possessors of houses or capital, in their turn; of the rich, of those in easy circumstances, of the poor, of workmen with their hands, workmen with their minds; of day-laborers, of those in need, of a small number of men enjoying considerable acquired or inherited wealth, of others of a smaller fortune painfully increased and improved, of others with property only sufficient for their needs; there are some, finally, without any personal possession but their hands, and gleaning for themselves and for their families, in the workshop, or the field, and at the threshold of the homes of others on the earth, the asylum, the wages, the bread, the instruction, the tools, the daily pay, all those means of existence which they have neither inherited, saved, nor acquired. These last are what have been improperly called the People. This name is extended now; it embraces really all the People; but still it is used as the name of the indigent and suffering part of the People.

It is more especially of this class that I intend to speak, in saying to you, |To love the People, it is necessary to believe in God.|

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