Short summary - Testament - Jean Meslier

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Testament
Jean Meslier

In the preface, the author says that during his lifetime he could not openly express his thoughts about the methods of managing people and their religions, since this would be fraught with very dangerous and regrettable consequences. The purpose of this work is to expose those ridiculous delusions, among which everyone had the misfortune to be born and live - the author himself had to support them. This unpleasant duty did not give him any pleasure - as his friends might have noticed, he performed it with great disgust and rather carelessly.
From a young age, the author saw delusions and abuses, from which all evil in the world comes, and over the years, he became even more convinced of the blindness and anger of people, the senselessness of their superstitions, the injustice of their way of managing. Having penetrated into the secrets of the cunning politics of ambitious people striving for power and honor, the author easily deciphered the source and origin of superstition and mismanagement - in addition, it became clear to him why people considered smart and educated do not mind such an outrageous order of things. The source of all evils and all deceptions is the subtle politics of those who seek to rule over their neighbors or wish to acquire the vain glory of holiness. These people not only skillfully use violence, but also resort to all kinds of tricks to stupefy the people. Taking advantage of the weakness and gullibility of the dark and helpless mass of the people, they easily make it believe in what is beneficial to them, and then reverently accept tyrannical laws. Although at first glance, religion and politics are opposite and contradictory in their principles, they get along well with each other, as soon as they enter into an alliance and friendship: they can be compared to two pickpocketing thieves working as a couple. Religion supports even the most bad government, and the government, in turn, supports even the most stupid religion.
All worship and worship of gods is delusion, abuse, illusion, deceit and charlatanism. All decrees and decrees issued by the name and authority of a god or gods are man's inventions, just like the magnificent festivals, sacrifices and other acts of a religious nature performed in honor of idols or gods. All this was invented by cunning and subtle politicians, used and multiplied by false prophets and charlatans, blindly accepted on faith by fools and ignoramuses, enshrined in the laws of sovereigns and the mighty of this world. The truth of all of the above will be proved with the help of clear and intelligible arguments on the basis of eight proofs of the futility and falsity of all religions.
The first proof is based on the fact that all religions are human inventions. It is impossible to admit their divine origin, for they all contradict each other and condemn each other themselves. Consequently, these different religions cannot be true and stem from the supposedly divine principle of truth. That is why the Roman Catholic adherents of Christ are convinced that there is only one true religion - their own. They consider the following as the basic tenet of their teaching and their faith: there is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one church, namely the Apostolic Roman Catholic Church, outside of which, as they claim, there is no salvation. From this it is obvious that one can deduce the conclusion that all other religions are created by man. They say that the first invented these imaginary gods was a certain Nin, the son of the first king of the Assyrians, and this happened around the time of the birth of Isaac or, according to the Jewish chronology, in 2001 from the creation of the world. They say that after the death of his father, Nin put him an idol (which soon afterwards received the name Jupiter), and demanded that everyone worship this idol as a god - thus all kinds of idolatry, which then spread on earth, took place.
Proof of the second comes from the fact that at the heart of all religions is blind faith - the source of delusion, illusion and deception. No Christ-worshiper can prove, with clear, reliable, and convincing arguments, that his religion is indeed a God-established religion. That is why they have been arguing among themselves on this issue for many centuries and even persecute each other with fire and sword, each defending their beliefs. Exposing a false Christian religion will be at the same time a verdict for all other absurd religions. True Christians believe that faith is the beginning and basis of salvation. However, this insane faith is always blind and is a pernicious source of turmoil and eternal schisms among people. Everyone stands for their religion and its sacred secrets not for reasons of reason, but out of stubbornness - there is no such atrocity that people would not resort to under the beautiful and specious pretext of defending the imaginary truth of their religion. But one cannot believe that the almighty, all-good and all-wise God, whom Christ worshipers themselves call the god of love, peace, mercy, consolation, and so on, wished to establish a religion on such a fatal and pernicious source of turmoil and eternal strife - blind faith a thousand and a thousand times more destructive, than the golden apple thrown by the goddess of discord at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, which later became the cause of the death of the city and the kingdom of Troy.
The third proof is derived from the falsity of visions and divine revelations. If in modern times a person decided to boast of something like that, he would be considered a crazy fanatic. Where is the appearance of a deity in these lurid dreams and empty deceptions of the imagination? Imagine this example: several foreigners, for example Germans or Swiss, will come to France and, having seen the most beautiful provinces of the kingdom, will announce that God has appeared to them in their country, ordered them to go to France and promised to give them and their descendants all the beautiful lands and fiefdoms from the Rhone and the Rhine to the ocean, promised them to conclude an eternal alliance with them and their descendants, to bless in them all the peoples of the earth, and as a sign of his union with them, he ordered them to circumcise themselves and all male babies born to them and their offspring ... Is there a person who will not laugh at this nonsense and consider these foreigners crazy? But the tales of the allegedly holy patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob deserve no more serious consideration than these aforementioned nonsense. And if three venerable patriarchs told about their visions in our day, they would turn into a general ridicule. However, these alleged revelations reveal themselves, for they are given only for the benefit of individuals and one people. It is impossible to believe that God, supposed to be infinitely good, perfect and just, did such an outrageous injustice in relation to other persons and peoples. False covenants also expose themselves in three other respects: 1) a vulgar, shameful and ridiculous sign of an imaginary union of God with people; 2) the cruel custom of bloody slaughter of innocent animals and the barbaric command of God to Abraham to sacrifice his own son to him; 3) the obvious failure to fulfill the beautiful and generous promises that God, according to Moses, made to the three named patriarchs. For the Jewish people have never been numerous - on the contrary, they were noticeably inferior in numbers to other peoples. And the remnants of this miserable nation are currently considered the most insignificant and despicable people in the world, having nowhere their territory and their own state. The Jews do not even own the country which, as they claim, has been promised and given to them by God for eternity. All this clearly proves that the so-called sacred books were not inspired by God.
Proof of the fourth follows from the falsity of the alleged promises and prophecies. Christ worshipers claim that only God can reliably foresee and predict the future long before it comes. They also assure that the future was announced by the prophets. What were these human beings of God, who supposedly spoke at the inspiration of the holy spirit? They were either fanatics prone to hallucinations, or deceivers who pretended to be prophets in order to easily lead the dark and ordinary people by the nose. There is a true sign for recognizing false prophets: every prophet whose predictions do not come true, but, on the contrary, turn out to be false, is not a real prophet. For example, the famous Moses promised and prophesied to his people on behalf of God that he would be especially chosen from God, that God would sanctify and bless him above all the peoples of the earth and give him the eternal possession of the Canaanite country and neighboring regions - all these beautiful and tempting promises turned out to be false. The same can be said about the grandiose prophecies of King David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos, Zechariah and all the others. Proof of the fifth: a religion that admits, approves and even permits errors in its teaching and morality cannot be a divine institution. The Christian religion, and especially its Roman sect, admits, approves and resolves five errors: 1) it teaches that there is only one God, and at the same time obliges to believe that there are three divine persons, each of which is a true God, and this triple and one god has no body, no form, no image whatsoever; 2) she attributes divinity to Jesus Christ - a mortal man who, even in the portrayal of the evangelists and disciples, was just a pitiful fanatic, possessed seducer and hapless gallows; 3) she orders to honor as a god and savior miniature idols made of dough, which are baked between two iron sheets, consecrated and eaten every day; 4) she proclaims that God created Adam and Eve in a state of bodily and mental perfection, but then expelled both from paradise and doomed all life's hardships, as well as eternal damnation with all their offspring; 5) finally, under fear of eternal damnation, she obliges to believe that God took pity on people and sent them a savior who voluntarily accepted a shameful death on the cross in order to atone for their sins and by shedding his blood to give satisfaction to the justice of God the father, deeply offended by the disobedience of the first man ...
Proof of the sixth: a religion that tolerates and approves abuses contrary to justice and good governance, encouraging even the tyranny of the mighty of the world to the detriment of the people, cannot be true and truly established by God, for divine laws and regulations must be just and impartial. The Christian religion tolerates and encourages no less than five or six such abuses: 1) it sanctifies the enormous inequality between the various conditions and positions of people, when some are born only in order to despotically rule and forever enjoy all the pleasures of life, while others are doomed to be poor, unhappy and despicable slaves; 2) it allows the existence of entire categories of people who do not bring real benefit to the world and serve only to burden the people - this countless army of bishops, abbots, chaplains and monks makes huge riches, snatching from the hands of honest workers what they have earned in the sweat of their brow; 3) it puts up with the unjust appropriation of the goods and riches of the land in private ownership, which all people should have jointly owned and used in the same position; 4) it justifies unfounded, outrageous and offensive distinctions between families - as a result, people with a higher position want to use this advantage and imagine that they have a higher value than everyone else; 5) it establishes the indissolubility of marriage until the death of one of the spouses, which results in an endless number of unsuccessful marriages, in which husbands feel like unhappy martyrs with bad wives or wives feel like unhappy martyrs with bad husbands; 6) finally, the Christian religion sanctifies and supports the most terrible delusion that makes most people finally unhappy for life - we are talking about the almost universal tyranny of the greats of this world. The sovereigns and their first ministers set themselves the main rule to bring the peoples to exhaustion, to make them poor and miserable, in order to lead to greater obedience and to deprive them of any opportunity to undertake anything against the government. The people of France are in a particularly difficult situation, for the last of its kings went further than all others in asserting their absolute power and brought their subjects to the most extreme degree of poverty. No one shed so much blood, was not the culprit in the murder of so many people, did not force widows and orphans to shed so many tears, did not ravage and devastate so many cities and provinces as the late King Louis XIV, nicknamed the Great not for any meritorious or glorious deeds. which he never committed, but for the great injustices, seizures, theft, devastation, ruin and beating of people, which occurred through his fault everywhere - both on land and at sea.
Proof of the seventh comes from the falsity of the very idea of people about the alleged existence of God. From the provisions of modern metaphysics, physics and morality, it is clearly clear that there is no supreme being, therefore people are completely wrong and falsely using the name and authority of God to establish and protect the errors of their religion, as well as to maintain the tyrannical rule of their kings. It is clear where the original belief in the gods comes from. In the story of the alleged creation of the world, it is definitely indicated that the god of the Jews and Christians talked, reasoned, walked and strolled in the garden just like an ordinary person - it also says that God created Adam in his own image and likeness. Therefore, it is very likely that the imaginary god was a cunning one who wanted to laugh at the innocence and uncouthness of his comrade - Adam, apparently, was a rare fool and a fool, therefore he so easily succumbed to the persuasions of his wife and the cunning seductions of the serpent. Unlike the imaginary god, matter undoubtedly exists, because it is found everywhere, is in everything, everyone can see and feel it. What, then, is the incomprehensible secret of creation? The more you ponder over the various properties with which the supposed higher being has to be endowed, the more you become entangled in the labyrinth of obvious contradictions. The situation is completely different with the system of natural formation of things from matter itself, therefore it is much easier to recognize it as the very root cause of everything that exists. There is no such force that would create something out of nothing - this means that time, place, space, extension, and even matter itself could not be created by an imaginary god.
Proof of the eighth follows from the falsity of the idea of the immortality of the soul. If the soul, as Christ worshipers assert, were purely spiritual, it would have no body, no parts, no form, no appearance, no extension - therefore, it would not represent anything real, nothing substantial. However, the soul, animating the body, gives it strength and movement, therefore it must have a body and extension, for the essence of being lies in this. If we ask what becomes of this mobile and subtle matter at the moment of death, we can say without hesitation that it instantly dissipates and dissolves in the air, like a light vapor and a light exhalation - approximately in the same way as a candle flame extinguishes by itself after the exhaustion of that the combustible material that it feeds on. There is one more very tangible proof of the materiality and mortality of the human soul: it gets stronger and weaker as the human body gets stronger and weaker - if it were an immortal substance, its strength and power would not depend on the structure and state of the body.
The author considers his ninth and last proof to be the consistency of the previous eight: according to him, not a single argument and not a single reasoning destroy or refute each other - on the contrary, they support and confirm each other. This is a sure sign that they all rest on a solid and solid foundation of truth itself, since a delusion in such a matter could not find confirmation in the full agreement of such strong and compelling arguments.
Addressing in conclusion to all the peoples of the earth, the author urges people to forget strife, unite and rebel against common enemies - tyranny and superstition. Even one of the supposedly holy books says that God will overthrow the proud princes from the throne and put the humble in their place. If the arrogant parasites are deprived of the abundant nutritious juice delivered by the labor and efforts of the people, they will dry up, as herbs and plants dry up, the roots of which are unable to absorb the juices of the earth. Likewise, one should get rid of the empty rituals of false religions. There is only one true religion - this is the religion of wisdom and purity of morals, honesty and decency, heartfelt sincerity and nobility of the soul, determination to finally destroy tyranny and the superstitious cult of the gods, the desire to maintain justice everywhere and protect people's freedom, conscientious work and a well-ordered life of all together. , mutual love for each other and the unbreakable preservation of the world. People will find happiness by following the rules, principles and commandments of this religion. They will remain miserable and unhappy slaves as long as they endure the rule of tyrants and abuse from delusion.