As we can judge among sha­dows which are the least dark, and among chasms which are the least deep, so we can seek among false reli­gions those which are the most consis­tent with the wel­fare of society ; those which, though they have not the effect of lea­ding men to the feli­ci­ties of the after­life, can contri­bute the most to their hap­pi­ness in this one.

I shall the­re­fore exa­mine the various reli­gions of the world only with res­pect to the good deri­ved from them in the civil state, whe­ther I speak of the one that has its root in hea­ven, or of those that have theirs on earth.

As in this work I am not a theo­lo­gian but a poli­ti­cal wri­ter, there could be things that would be enti­rely true only in a human way of thin­king, not having been consi­de­red with res­pect to more sublime truths.

It will require very lit­tle fair­ness to see that I have never pre­ten­ded to make the inte­rests of reli­gion yield to poli­ti­cal inte­rests, but to bring them toge­ther ; and to being them toge­ther, one must know them.

The Christian reli­gion, which com­mands men to love one ano­ther, no doubt wills that every peo­ple should have the best poli­ti­cal laws and the best civil laws, because they are, next to itself, the grea­test good that men can give and receive.