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gradually discovered, and I exist only to bear testimony to them.
If you observe them, you will be just and good.
If you violate them, you will be unjust and wicked.
I offer you no other motive.
Already, among your fellows, several have recognized that justice is better, for each and for all, than iniquity; and they have agreed with each other to mutually keep faith and right,—that is, to respect the rules of transaction which the nature of things indicates to them as alone capable of assuring them, in the largest measure, well-being, security, peace.
Do you wish to adhere to their compact, to form a part of their society?
Do you promise to respect the honor, the liberty, and the goods of your brothers?
Do you promise never to appropriate, either by violence, or by fraud, or by usury, or by speculation, the product or the possession of another?
Do you promise never to lie and deceive, either in justice, or in business, or in any of your transactions?
You are free to accept or to refuse.
If you refuse, you become a part of the society of savages. Outside of the communion of the human race, you become an object of suspicion. Nothing protects you. At the slightest insult, the first comer may lift his hand against you without incurring any other accusation than that of cruelty needlessly practised upon a brute.
On the contrary, if you swear to the compact, you become a part of the society of free men. All your brothers enter into an engagement with you, promise you fidelity, friendship, aid, service, exchange. In case of infraction, on their part or on yours, through negligence, passion, or malice, you are responsible to each other for the damage as well as the scandal and the insecurity of which you have been the cause: this responsibility may extend, according to the gravity of the perjury or the repetitions of the offence, even to excommunication and to death.
The law is clear, the sanction still more so. Three articles, which make but one,—that is the whole social contract. Instead of making oath to God and his prince, the citizen swears upon his conscience, before his brothers, and before Humanity. Between these two oaths there is the same difference as between slavery and liberty, faith and science, courts and justice, usury and labor, government and economy, non-existence and being, God and man."