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Atheism Among The People by Alphonse de Lamartine

XVI. See where we were when the Republic arose: happy was it that the People hadà

See where we were when the Republic arose: happy was it that the People had at bottom more of the true sentiment of God than these masters and heads of sects. For, what would have become of us, if, in that total eclipse of government, of armed force, and of law, which followed the 24th of February, the People, masters of all, of the fortunes and lives of the citizens, of Heaven and earth, had been a People of Materialists, of Terrorists, and of Atheists? The Revolution would have been a pillage, the Republic a scaffold, the dynasty of the People a deluge of blood. But there was no such thing. God was there. He revealed Himself in the multitude; Materialism disappeared in enthusiasm, which always exhibits the divinity of the human heart.

We heard but one cry, -- |Honor to God! Respect for the altars! Liberty to their ministers! Self-denial, harmony, protection to the weak, inviolability of property, assistance to the miserable!| Yes, -- on the first day, and during the whole time that the People was alone and burning with excitement, it was religious! It was not until after the cooling of this enthusiasm that the materialistic sects, who waited their opportunity afar off, and who now torment the People, dared to offer their sensual symbols, and to set up Capital and Interest, the organization of labor, the increase of wages, and equality of conditions in this human manger, as the sole Divinities, -- dared to infuse envy against the happy, the breath of hatred as the only consolation to the hearts of the miserable, lightning vengeance against the wrongs of Providence, imprecations against society, blasphemies against the existence of God, the enjoyments and bestialities of the corporeal nature, purchased by complete forgetfulness of the moral nature, and enjoyed in a debauch of ideas, and in a deification of matter.

This cannot last; the People will not allow themselves to be changed into hogs by the Circes of Atheism. Their souls will flash indignation against their transformers. A day will come when they will see that they are impoverished under the pretext of being enriched; that, when they are robbed of their souls and of God, both their titles to liberty are stolen from them. Atheism and Republicanism are two words which exclude each other. Absolutism may thrive without a God, for it needs only slaves. Republicanism cannot exist without a God, for it must have citizens. And what is it that makes citizens? Two things, -- the sentiment of their rights, and the sentiment of their duties as a republican People. Where are your rights, if you have not a common Father in Heaven? Where are your duties, if you have not a Judge between your brothers and you? Republicanism draws you in both these ways to God.

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