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Atheism Among The People by Alphonse de Lamartine

VI. The love of the People, the conscience of the citizenà

The love of the People, the conscience of the citizen, the sentiment which induces the individual to lose himself in the mass, to submit himself to the community, to sacrifice himself to its needs, -- his interest, his individuality, his egotism, his ambition, his pride, his fortune, his blood, his life, his reputation even, sometimes, to the safety of his country, to the happiness of the People, to the good of humanity, of which he is a member in the sight of God, -- in one word, all these virtues, necessary under every form of government, -- useful under a monarchy, indispensable under a republic, -- never have been derived, and never can be derived, from any thing but that single sentence, pronounced with religious faith, at the commencement, in the middle, at the end of all our patriotic acts: -- |I believe in God!|

The People who do not believe strongly, efficaciously in this first principle, in this supreme original, in this last end of all existence, cannot have a faith superior to their individual selfishness.

The People who cannot have a principle superior to their individual selfishness, in their acts as citizens, cannot have national virtue.

The People who cannot have national virtue cannot be free; for they can have neither the courage which enables them to defend their own liberty, nor the conscience which forces them to respect the liberty of others, and to obey the laws, not as an outward force, but as a second conscience.

The People who can neither defend their liberty, nor restrain it, may be, by turns, slaves or tyrants, but they can never be republicans.

Therefore, Atheism in the People is the most invincible obstacle to the establishment and consolidation of that sublime form of government, the idol of all ages, the tendency of all perfect civilization, the dream of every sage, the model of all great souls, -- the government of the entire People by the reason and conscience of each citizen, -- otherwise called the REPUBLIC.

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