16. The idea that individual cooperation and activity in the general work of civilization have been limited to the present life, that one has been nothing and will be nothing, gives to man no incentive for the present or future. What matters it to him that in the future man will be better governed, happier, more enlightened, kinder to one another, since it bears no fruit for him? Is not this progress lost upon him? What good will it do him to work for posterity if he will never be acquainted with it, if it is composed of strangers who will, after a little, enter themselves into nothingness? Under the empire of a denial of a future for the individual, all forcibly shrinks to the narrow proportions of the moment and of personality.
But, on the contrary, what amplitude is given to the thought of man by a certainty of the perpetuity of his spiritual being? What can be more rational, grander, more worthy of the Creator, according to which the spiritual and corporeal life are only two modes of existence which alternate themselves for the accomplishment of progress? What can be more just, more consoling, than the idea of the same beings progressing without ceasing, at first through generations on the same Earth, afterwards, from world to world onward and upward to perfection, without solution of continuity? All actions have, then, an object; for, by working for all, one works for himself, and reciprocally. As long as individual or general progress is never sterile in its results, it is profitable to future generations and individuals, who are none other than the past generations and individualities arrived at a higher degree of advancement.