By B.W. Holmes
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To a man of sense, nothing appears more ridiculous, than the opinions, which the partisans of the different religions with equal folly entertain of each other. A Christian regards the Koran, that is, the divine revelation announced by Mahomet, as nothing but a tissue of impertinent reveries, and impostures insulting to the divinity. The Mahometan, on the other hand, treats the Christian as an idolater and a dog. He sees nothing but absurdities in his religion. He imagines he has a right to subdue the Christian, and to force him, sword in hand, to receive the religion of his divine prophet.
Every religion is only a system, invented to reconcile irreconcilable notions. By the aid of habit and terror, man becomes obstinate in the greatest absurdities, even after they are exposed in the clearest manner. All religions are easily combated, but with difficulty extirpated. Reason avails nothing against custom, which becomes, says the proverb, a second nature. Many persons, in other respects sensible, even after having examined the rotten foundation of their belief, adhere to it in contempt of the most striking arguments.
Upon this discourse of the monarch, the company look at each other affrighted. No one wishes to expose himself to so dangerous a chance. What! says the enraged Sultan, does no one offer to play? I tell you then you must; My glory requires that you should play. Play then; obey without replying. It is well to observe, that the dice of the despot are so prepared, that out of a hundred thousand throws, there is but one, which can gain the number required. Thus the generous monarch has the pleasure of seeing his prison well filled, and his riches seldom ravished from him.