Page:Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1775).djvu/85

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


his greatest interest. As if a man could think himself obliged to contribute to his own destruction; and as if, when interest speaks, religion was not generally silent; religion, which in all ages hath, of all other things, been most commonly abused; and indeed, upon what motive should it be respected by the wicked, when it has been thus violated by those who were esteemed the wisest of men? The motives which religion opposes to the fear of impending evil, and the love of life, are too weak, as they are too distant, to make any impression on the senses. The affairs of the other world are regulated by laws entirely different from those by which human affairs are directed; why then should you endeavour to compromise matters between them? Why should a man be reduced to the terrible alternative, either of offending God, or of contributing to his own immediate destruction? The laws which require an oath in such a case, leave him only the choice of becoming a bad christian, or a martyr. For this reason, oaths become, by degrees, a mere formality, and all senti-