The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson
MORAL PRINCIPLES / AND RELIGIOUS BELIEF
If by religion we are to understand
sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your
exclamation on that hypothesis is just, "that this would be the
best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."
But if the moral precepts, innate in man, and made a part of his
physical constitution, as necessary for a social being, if the sublime
doctrines of philanthropism and deism taught us by Jesus of Nazareth,
in which all agree, constitute true religion, then, without it, this
would be, as you again say, "something not fit to be named even,
indeed, a hell.
to John Adams, 5 May 1817