Religion in GeneralMarch 10, 2020
AS amidst several degrees of darkness we may form a judgment of those which are the least thick, and among precipices, which are the least deep; so we may search among false religions for those that are most conformable to the welfare of society; for those which, though they have not the effect of leading men to the felicity of another life, may contribute most to their happiness in this.
I shall examine therefore the several religions of the world, in relation only to the good they produce in civil society; whether I speak of that which has its root in heaven, or of those which spring from the earth.
As in this work I am not a divine, but a political writer, I may here advance things which are no otherwise true, than as they correspond with a worldly manner of thinking, not as considered in their relation to truths of a more sublime nature.
With regard to the true religion, a person of the least degree of impartiality must see, that I have never pretended to make its interests submit to those of a political nature, but rather to unite them; now, in order to unite, it is necessary that we should know them.
The Christian religion, which ordains that men should love each other, would, without doubt, have  every nation blest with the best civil, the best political laws; because these, next to this religion, are the greatest good that men can give and receive.
Chapter 2= A Paradox of Mr. Bayle’s
Mr. Bayle has pretended to prove that:
- it is better to be an atheist than an idolater
- it is less dangerous to have no religion at all, than a bad one.
## Chapter 3= A Moderate Government is Best for Christianity; A Despotic One is Best for Islam THE Christian religion is a stranger to mere despotic power. The mildness so frequently recommended  in the gospel, is incompatible with the despotic rage with which a prince punishes his subjects, and exercises himself in cruelty. As this religion forbids the plurality of wives, its princes are less confined, less concealed from their subjects, and consequently have more humanity= they are more disposed to be directed by laws, and more capable of perceiving, that they cannot do whatever they please. The Muslim princes incessantly give or receive death. The Christians render their princes less timid, and consequently less cruel. The prince confides in his subjects, and the subjects in the prince. How admirable the religion, which, while it only seems to have in view the felicity of the other life, continues the happiness of this! Christianity has - hindered despotic power from being established in Ethiopia - carried into the heart of Africa the manners and laws of Europe, despite its size and climate The heir to the empire of Æthiopia enjoys a principality, and gives to other subjects an example of love and obedience. Not far from thence may be seen the Mahometan shutting up the children of the King* of Sennar, at whose death, the council sends to murder them, in favour of the prince who mounts the throne. Let us set before our eyes, on the one hand, the continual massacres of the kings and generals of the Greeks and Romans; and, on the other, the destruction of people and cities by those famous conquerors Timur Beg and Genghiz Khan, who ravaged Asia We owe to Christianity, in government, a certain political law; and in war, a certain law of nations; benefits which human nature can never sufficiently acknowledge. It is owing to this law of nations, that amongst us, victory leaves these great advantages to the conquered, life, liberty, laws, wealth, and always religion, when the conqueror is not blind to his own interest. Europeans are not at present more disunited than the people and the armies, or even the armies amongst themselves, were under the Roman empire, when it was become a despotic and military government. On the one hand, the armies engaged in war against each other; and, on the other, they pillaged the cities, and divided or confiscated the lands.
## Chapter 4= Consequences from the Character of Christianity and Islam It is difficult to prove which religion is true. But it is easier to prove that religion should humanize the manners of men. Therefore, we should embrace Christianity and reject Islam. It is a misfortune to human nature, when religion is given by a conqueror. Islam speaks only by the sword and instills that destructive spirit with which it was founded. Sabbaco was one of the pastoral kings of Egypt. His story is very extraordinary. The tutelar god of Thebes appeared to him in a dream and ordered him to put to death all the priests of Egypt. He judged, that the gods were displeased at his being on the throne, since they commanded him to commit an action contrary to their ordinary pleasure; and therefore he retired into Ethiopia.