"This work of the honest pastor is the most curious and the most powerful thing of the kind which the last century produced. . . . . Paine and Voltaire had reserves, but Jean Meslier had none. He keeps nothing back; and yet, after all, the wonder is not that there should have been one priest who left that testimony at his death, but that all priests do not. True, there is a great deal more to be said about religion, which I believe to be an eternal necessity of human nature, but no man has uttered the negative side of the matter with so much candor and completeness as Jean Meslier."
Jean Meslier was a French Catholic priest was to all appearances generally unremarkable, and he performed his office without complaint or problem for 40 years. He lived like a pauper, and every penny left over was donated to the poor. Upon his death it was discovered that he had written a book-length philosophical essay promoting atheism.