Who is Jean Meslier?June 25, 2021
Jean Meslier, French priest and philosopher, born in the duchy of Retbel in 1664. After losing his trust in religion and clergy, Meslier criticized religion and preferred atheism.
He criticized M. de Touilly, the lord of his village, for some of his ill-treatments while preaching to the peasant. Meslier, who was complained to the bishop by the agha, was reprimanded and condemned by the Reims bishop. In his next sermon, Meslier took the pulpit and lamented the cardinal’s decision:
« Here is the usual end of the poor village priests! The bishops, who are great masters, insult them and do not listen to them. Now let’s pray for the lord of this place: we will pray to God that he will put Antoine de Touilly on the right path, never to insult the poor and rob the orphan, and to ordain him worthy of his grace and goodness. »
Thereupon, Meslier complained to the bishop again by the agha and was subjected to the same insults.
He was 65 when he died in 1729. He left his property to the poor peasant.
Three copies of the 366-page book were found in his house. It was all his own handwriting. A copy was confiscated by the bishop. Another copy was sent to the Ministry of Justice. The last copy remained in the Comte de Caylus and after a while it began to be sold secretly in Paris.
When Voltaire read one of these copies, he wrote to D’Alambert:
« They published the will of Jean Meslier, who died in the Netherlands. I trembled with horror while reading it. The martyrdom of a priest who asked God’s forgiveness on his death because he was educated as a Christian is in content that can greatly strengthen the free ones. At a time when he was in the lap of death, Meslier was writing against the religion of Jesus; it is a moment when even those who hide their thoughts and feelings the most do not dare to lie, at that moment the most fearless tremble. »
This book was first translated into Turkish in 1928 by the order of Atatürk, by the Ministry of National Education Publications. Today, it is published as “Common Sense-Catechism of Godlessness” by Kaynak Publications.