The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires and the Law of Nature

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These two bodies being assembled face to face, and regarding each other with astonishment, I saw indignation and rage arising in one side, and a sort of panic in the other. And the large body said to the little one: Why are you separated from us?

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Are you not of our number? No, replied the group; you are the people; we are a privileged class, who have our laws, customs, and rights, peculiar to ourselves. We toil and you enjoy! Wealth proceeds from us, and you absorb it. Privileged men! Our king cannot be with you; you possess only his phantom. And the military governors came forward. The people are timorous, said they; we must threaten them; they will submit only to force. Soldiers, chastise this insolent multitude.

Will you strike your brothers, your relatives? If the people perish who will nourish the army? And the soldiers, grounding their arms, said to the chiefs: We are likewise the people; show us the enemy! Then the ecclesiastical governors said: There is but one resource left.

The people are superstitious; we must frighten them with the names of God and religion. Our dear brethren! God has ordained us to govern you. Religion prescribes obedience. And the little group said : We are lost! And the people answered : You are safe; since we are enlightened we will commit no violence; we only claim our rights.

We feel resentments, but we will forget them. We were slaves, we might command; but we only wish to be free, and liberty is but justice. Mollas, and the Muftis; and near them are the Dervishes with pointed bonnets, and the Santons with dishevelled hair. Behold with what vehemence they recite their professions of faith! They are now beginning a dispute about the greater and lesser impurities,—about the matter and the manner of ablutions,—about the attributes of God and his perfections,— about the Chaitan, and the good and wicked angels,—about death, the resurrection, the interrogatory in the tomb, the judgment, the passage of the narrow bridge not broader than a hair, the balance of works, the pains of hell, and the joys of paradise.

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Next to these, that second more numerous group, with white banners intersected with crosses, are the followers of Jesus. Acknowledging the same God with the Mussulmans, founding their belief on the same books, admitting, like them, a first man who lost the human race by eating an apple, they hold them, however, in a holy abhorrence; and, out of pure piety, they call each other impious blasphemers.

The great point of their dissension consists in this, that after admitting a God one and indivisible , the Christian divides him into three persons, each of which he believes to be a complete and entire God, without ceasing to constitute an identical whole, by the indivisibility of the three. And he adds, that this being, who fills the universe, has reduced himself to the body of a man; and has assumed material, perishable, and limited organs, without ceasing to be immaterial, infinite, and eternal.

The Mussulman, who does not comprehend these mysteries, rejects them as follies, and the visions of a distempered brain; though he conceives perfectly well the eternity of the Koran, and the mission of the prophet: hence their implacable hatreds. Again, the Christians, divided among themselves on many points, have formed parties not less violent than the Mussulmans ; and their quarrels are so much the more obstinate, as the objects of them are inaccessible to the senses, and incapable of demonstration: their opinions, therefore, have no other basis but the will and caprice of the parties.

Thus, while they agree that God is a being incomprehensible and unknown, they dispute, nevertheless, about his essence, his. Many of its doctrines, it is true, soar above the reach of the understanding, and impose on reason a respectful silence; but this more fully demonstrates its revelation, since the human mind could never have imagined such mysteries. Then, passing on to the doctrine of the sacraments, he was going to treat at large on the power of absolution and reprobation, of the means of purging all sins by a little water and a few words, when, uttering the words indulgence, power of the pope, sufficient grace, and efficacious grace, he was interrupted by a thousand cries.

Silence being at last restored, the Mussulmans observed to the legislator :. Is not theirs still more contrary to common sense and justice?

A God, immaterial and infinite, to become a man! This god-man to become bread, to be eaten and digested! Have we any thing equal to that? Have the Christians an exclusive right of setting up a blind faith? And will you grant them privileges of belief to our detriment?

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The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires ; and, the Law of Nature

Some savage tribes then advanced: "What! And you call God just? What tyrant ever rendered children responsible for the faults of their fathers? What man can answer for the actions of another? Does not this overturn every idea of justice and of reason? Others exclaimed: "Where are the proofs, the witnesses of these pretended facts?

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Can we receive them without examining the evidence? The least action in a court of justice requires two witnesses; and we are ordered to believe all this on mere tradition and hearsay! A Jewish Rabbin then addressing the assembly, said: "As to the fundamental facts, we are sureties; but with regard to their form and their application, the case is different, and the Christians are here condemned by their own arguments.

For they cannot deny that we are the original source from which they are derived—the primitive stock on which they are grafted; and hence the reasoning is very short: Either our law is from God, and then theirs is a heresy, since it differs from ours, or our law is not from God, and then theirs falls at the same time. It was especially when, having been conquered by the kings of Nineveh and Babylon and transported to the banks of the Tygris and the Euphrates, where they resided for three successive generations, that they imbibed manners and opinions which had been rejected as contrary to their law.

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The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires and the Law of Nature

You Might Like. A Poem on the Meditation of Nature. See at Walmart. This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprin …. The Halacha or Rules of the Law. The Natural History of Law. According to the evidence discovered by the French researcher Gilbert Chinard , Jefferson translated the invocation plus the first 20 chapters of the Paris edition of Volney's Ruins. Presumably, Jefferson then became too occupied with the Presidential campaign and didn't have time to finish the last four chapters of the book.

In these chapters Volney describes "General Assembly of Nations," a fictionalized world convention wherein each religion defends its version of "the truth" according to its particular holy book. Since no religion is able to scientifically "prove" its most basic assertions, Volney concludes the book with a call for an absolute separation of church and state :. From this we conclude, that, to live in harmony and peace…we must trace a line of distinction between those assertions that are capable of verification, and those that are not; we must separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities… [7].

Since Jefferson did not have time to complete the translation project , the last four chapters were translated by Joel Barlow , an American land speculator and poet living in Paris. Barlow's name then became associated with the entire translation, further obscuring Jefferson's role in the project. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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French philosopher and politician. Craon, Mayenne. Cambridge University Press. Deism in Eighteenth Century America. Minerva's Message: Stabilizing the French Revolution. McGill-Queen's University Press. Barbara B.