24. As the new revelation, inculcating more rational ideas in regard to the future life, has made clear that each soul must work out its own salvation through its own efforts, it has naturally excited an opposition that is all the more bitter in proportion to the importance of the source of pecuniary gain which it destroys. The same angry opposition is always excited by every new discovery or invention that threatens to change the habits of humankind. All those who have been accustomed to gain their living by the old costly ways of the past, cry out in the same voice, and decry the innovations. Is it supposable, for instance, that the art of printing, notwithstanding the immense services it was evidently destined to render to the human race, could have been welcomed, at its commencement, by the enthusiastic acclamations of the numerous body of copyists? Assuredly not; on the contrary, they would naturally receive the new invention with curses. All kinds of laborsaving machinery, railways, and the thousands of other inventions have met with similar opposition.
By the skeptic, the doctrine of eternal punishment is regarded as an absurdity that would be impossible to discuss without a smile; while, in the eyes of the philosophers, it constitutes, through the falsities it implies and the abuses to which it leads, a serious danger for society: the sincerely religious man desires, for the honor of religion and the well-being of society, to see those abuses disappear through the sweeping away of the unfounded and irrational assumption that is their cause.