Montesquieu

Mr. Bayle, after insul­ting all reli­gions, stig­ma­ti­zes the Christian reli­gion : he dares to sug­gest that true Christians would not form a state capa­ble of las­ting. Why not ? They would be citi­zens infi­ni­tely enligh­te­ned about their duties, and have very great zeal for ful­filling them ; they would be quite cons­cious of the rights of natu­ral defense ; the more they belie­ved they owed to reli­gion, the more they would think they owed to their home­land. The prin­ci­ples of Christianity, dee­ply engra­ved in the heart, would be infi­ni­tely more power­ful than the false honor of monar­chies, the human vir­tues of repu­blics, and the ser­vile fear of des­po­tic sta­tes.

It is sur­pri­sing that it is pos­si­ble to accuse this great man of mis­jud­ging the spi­rit of his own reli­gion, of being una­ble to dis­tin­guish the orders for the esta­blish­ment of Christianity from Christianity itself, or the pre­cepts of the Gospel from its gui­dance : when the legis­la­tor, ins­tead of giving laws, has given gui­dance, it is because he has seen that his gui­dance, were it com­man­ded like laws, would be contrary to the spi­rit of his laws.