3. The nearer humans are to the primitive state, the more closely they are allied to materiality; for the moral sense is precisely the faculty of the human mind, which is the last developed. For this reason, they could only form to themselves a very imperfect idea of God and of God’s attributes, and an equally vague conception of the future life. They molded their idea of the Deity upon themselves. For them, God was an absolute sovereign, all the more formidable because invisible, like a despotic monarch who, hidden within his palace, never allows himself to be seen by his subjects. Having no conception of moral force, they could only conceive of God’s power as being of a physical nature; they imagined God wielding the thunderbolt, moving in the midst of lightning and tempests, and scattering ruin and desolation around Him after the fashion of earthly conquerors. A God of love and of mercy would not have seemed to them to be a God, but a feeble being unable to secure obedience. On the contrary, implacable vengeance, chastisements the most terrific and unending were quite in harmony with the idea they had thus formed to themselves of the Divinity, and offered nothing repugnant to their minds. Being, themselves, implacable in their resentments, cruel to their enemies, pitiless for the vanquished, it appeared to them perfectly natural that God, whose power was superior to their own, should be still more implacable, cruel and pitiless than themselves.
For the influencing of such human beings, a religious belief in harmony with their rude and violent nature was necessary. A religion of spirituality, of love and of charity, would have been impossible with the brutality of their usages and passions. The Draconian legislation of Moses, which represented the Divine Being as a jealous and revengeful God, scarcely sufficed to keep within bounds a stiff-necked people committed to his charge; the gentle doctrine of Jesus would have awakened no echo in their hearts and would have been powerless to influence their action.