Front Page Titles (by Subject) A Philosophical Commentary On these Words of the Gospel according to St. Luke, Chap. XIV. ver. 23: Advertisement of the English Publisher.; - A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, 'Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full'
A Philosophical Commentary On these Words of the Gospel according to St. Luke, Chap. XIV. ver. 23: Advertisement of the English Publisher.; - Pierre Bayle, A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, ‘Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full’ 
A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, ‘Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full’, edited, with an Introduction by John Kilcullen and Chandran Kukathas (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- A Note On the Present Translation
- A Philosophical Commentary On These Words of the Gospel According to St. Luke, Chap. XIV. Ver. 23: Advertisement of the English Publisher.;
- Part the First.
- Chapter I: That the Light of Nature, Or the First Principles of Reason Universally Receiv’d, Are the Genuin and Original Rule of All Interpretation of Scripture; Especially In Matters of Practice and Morality.
- Chapter II: First Argument Against the Literal Sense of the Words, Compel ’em to Come In, Drawn From Its Repugnancy to the Distinctest Ideas of Natural Light.
- Chapter III: Second Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Opposition to the Spirit of the Gospel.
- Chapter IV: The Third Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Cancelling the Differences of Justice and Injustice, and Its Confounding Vertue and Vice, to the Total Dissolution of Society.
- Chapter V: The Fourth Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Giving Infidels a Very Plausible and Very Reasonable Pretence For Not Admitting Christians Into Their Dominions, and For Dislodging ’em Wherever They Are Settl’d Among ’em.
- Chapter VI: The Fifth Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From the Impossibility of Putting It In Execution Without Unavoidable Crimes. That It’s No Excuse to Say, Hereticks Are Punish’d Only Because They Disobey Edicts.
- Chapter VII: The Sixth Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Depriving the Christian Religion of a Main Objection Against the Truth of Mahometism.
- Chapter VIII: The Seventh Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Being Unknown to the Fathers of the Three First Centurys.
- Chapter IX: The Eighth Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Rendring the Complaints of the First Christians Against Their Pagan Persecutors All Vain.
- Chapter X: The Ninth and Last Argument Against the Literal Sense, Drawn From Its Tending to Expose True Christians to Continual Violences, Without a Possibility of Alledging Any Thing to Put a Stop to ’em, But That Which Was the Ground of the Contest Betw
- The Second Part.: Containing a Full Answer to All the Objections Which May Be Rais’d Against What Has Bin Before Demonstrated.the Second Part.: Containing a Full Answer to All the Objections Which May Be Rais’d Against What Has Bin Before Demonstrated.
- Chapter I: First Objection, That Violence Is Not Design’d to Force Conscience, But to Awaken Those Who Neglect to Examine the Truth. the Illusion of This Thought. an Inquiry Into the Nature of What They Callopiniatreté.58
- Chapter II: Second Objection, the Literal Sense Appears Odious, Only By Our Judging of the Ways of God From Those of Men. Tho the State That Men Are In, When They Act From Passion, Seems Likely to Lead ’em to Wrong Judgments, It Does Not Follow But God, B
- Chapter III: Third Objection: They Aggravate the Matter Maliciously, By Representing the Constraint Enjoin’d Byjesus Christ,under the Idea of Scaffolds, Wheel, and Gibbet; Whereas They Should Only Talk of Fines, Banishment, and Other Petty Grievances. the
- Chapter IV: The Fourth Objection: We Can’t Condemn the Literal Sense of the Words, Compel ’em to Come In, But We Must At the Same Time Condemn Those Laws Which God Gave the Jews, and the Conduct of the Prophets On Several Occasions. the Disparity, and Par
- Chapter V: The Fifth Objection: Protestants Can’t Reject the Literal Sense of the Parable, Without Condemning the Wisest Emperors and Fathers of the Church, and Without Condemning Themselves; Since They In Some Places Don’t Tolerate Other Religions, and H
- Chapter VI: Sixth Objection: the Doctrine of Toleration Can’t Chuse But Throw the State Into All Kinds of Confusion, and Produce a Horrid Medly of Sects, to the Scandal of Christianity. the Answer. In What Sense Princes Ought to Be Nursing Fathers to the
- Chapter VII: The Seventh Objection: Compulsion In the Literal Sense Cannot Be Rejected Without Admitting a General Toleration. the Answer to This, and the Consequence Allow’d to Be True But Not Absurd. the Restrictions of Your Men of Half-toleration Exami
- Chapter VIII: Eighth Objection: Compulsion In the Literal Sense Is Maliciously Misrepresented, By Supposing It Authorizes Violences Committed Against the Truth. the Answer to This; By Which It Is Prov’d, That the Literal Sense Does In Reality Authorize Th
- Chapter IX: An Answer to Some Objections Against What Has Bin Advanc’d In the Foregoing Chapter Concerning the Rights of an Erroneous Conscience. Some Examples Which Prove This Right.
- Chapter X: A Continuation of the Answer to the Difficultys Against the Rights of an Erroneous Conscience. an Examination of What They Say, That If Hereticks Retaliate On Those Who Persecute ’em, They Are Guilty of Injustice. Arguments to Prove, That a Fal
- Chapter XI: The Result From What Has Bin Prov’d In the Two Foregoing Chapters; and a Confutation of the Literal Sense, Let the Worst Come to the Worst.
- Part III.
- I.: St. Austin’s Words
- II.: St. Austin’s Words
- III.: St. Austin’s Words
- IV.: St. Austin’s Words
- V.: St. Austin’s Words
- VI.: St. Austin’s Words
- VII.: St. Austin’s Words
- VIII.: St. Austin’s Words
- IX.: St. Austin’s Words
- X.: St. Austin’s Words
- XI.: St. Austin’s Words
- XII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XIII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XIV.: St. Austin’s Words
- XV.: St. Austin’s Words
- XVI.: St. Austin’s Words
- XVII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XVIII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XIX.: St. Austin’s Words
- XX.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXI.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXIII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXIV.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXV.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXVI.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXVII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXVIII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXIX.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXX.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXXI.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXXII.: St. Austin’s Words
- XXXIII.: St. Austin’s Words Letter 164,148 to Emeritus.
- XXXIV.: St. Austin’s Words Letter 166,152 to the Donatists.
- XXXV.: St. Austin’s Words Ibid.
- XXXVI.: St. Austin’s Words Letter 204,154 to Donatus.
- XXXVII.: St. Austin’s Wordsibid.
- XXXVIII.: St. Austin’s Words Ibid.
- XXXIX.: St. Austin’s Words Ibid.
- Xl.: St. Austin’s Words Letter 167,160 to Festus.
- The Fourth Part, Or a Supplement to the Philosophical Commentary On These Words of Jesus Christ,compel ’em to Come In.
- The Preface<503>
- Chapter I: General Considerations On St. Austin’s Argument In Defence of Persecution; Shewing, That He Offers Nothing Which May Not Be Retorted, With Equal Force, Upon the Persecuted Orthodox.
- Chapter II: A Confirmation of the Foregoing Chapter, Chiefly By a New Confutation of the Answer Alledg’d At Every Turn Against My Reasonings; to Wit, That the True Church Alone Has a Right to Dispense With the Natural Rule of Equity, In Her Proceedings Ag
- Chapter III: The New Confutation of the Fore-mention’d Answer Continu’d, and Supported By Two Considerable Examples.
- Chapter IV: Another Way of Considering This Second Example.
- Chapter V: An Answer to the First Disparity Which May Be Alledg’d Against My Examples; to Wit, That Hereticks, In Giving an Alms, Do Well, Because They Give It to Those to Whom God Intended It Shou’d Be Given; But Do Ill, In Compelling to Come In, Because
- Chapter VI: A Parallel Between a Judg Who Shou’d Punish the Innocent, and Acquit the Guilty, From an Error In Point of Fact, and a Heretick Judg Who Shou’d Condemn the Orthodox.
- Chapter VII: Whether Heretical Ecclesiasticks May Be Blam’d For Having a Hand In the Trials and Condemnation of the Orthodox.
- Chapter VIII: An Abstract of the Answer to the First Disparity.
- Chapter IX: That a Judg Who Condemns an Innocent Person, and Acquits a Malefactor, Sins Not, Provided He Act According to Law.
- Chapter X: An Answer to a Second Disparity; to Wit, That When a Judg Gives Sentence Against a Person Falsly Accus’d of Murder, It’s an Ignorance of Fact; Whereas If He Condemns As Heresy What Is Really Orthodox, It’s an Ignorance of Right. I Shew That It’
- Chapter XI: An Answer to a Third Disparity; Which Is, That In Criminal Trials, the Obscurity Arises From the Thing It Self; Whereas In Those of Heresy, It Proceeds From the Prepossession of the Judges. I Answer, That Even Disinterested Judges, As the Chin
- Chapter XII: A Particular Consideration of One of the Causes Which Renders the Controversys of These Times So Cross and Intricate; to Wit, That the Same Principles Which Are Favorable Against One Sort of Adversarys, Are Prejudicial In Our Disputes With Ot
- Chapter XIII: An Answer to the Fourth Disparity; Which Is, That When a Judg Is Deceiv’d In a Cause of Heresy, He Is Guilty In the Sight of God; Because the Error In This Case Proceeds From a Principle of Corruption, Which Perverts the Will: an Evil Not In
- Chapter XIV: Examples Shewing That Men Continue In Their Errors Against the Interests of Flesh and Blood, and Their Own Inclinations.
- Chapter XV: That the Persuasion of the Truth of a Religion, Which Education Inspires, Is Not Founded On a Corruption of Heart.
- Chapter XVI: That the Strong Belief of a Falshood, Attended Even With the Rejecting Those Suspicions Which Sometimes Arise In Our Minds, That We Are In an Error, Does Not Necessarily Proceed From a Principle of Corruption.
- Chapter XVII: An Answer to What Is Objected, That All Errors Are Acts of the Will, and Consequently Morally Evil. the Absurdity of This Consequence Shewn; and a Rule Offer’d For Distinguishing Errors, Which Are Morally Evil, From Those Which Are Not.
- Chapter XVIII: A Discussion of Three Other Difficultys.first Difficulty. Knowing the Obliquity of the Motive, Is Not Necessary Towards Denominating an Action Evil.
- Chapter XIX: The Conclusion of the Answer to the Fourth Disparity.
- Chapter XX: The Conclusion and Summary View of the General Consideration, Hinted At In the Title of the First Chapter.
- Chapter XXI: An Answer to a New Objection: It Follows From My Doctrine, That the Persecutions Rais’d Against the Truth Are Just; Which Is Worse Than What the Greatest Persecutors Ever Pretended.
- Chapter XXII: That What Has Bin Lately Prov’d, Helps Us to a Good Answer to the Bishop of Meaux Demanding a Text, In Which Heresys Are Excepted Out of the Number of Those Sins, For the Punishing of Which God Has Given Princes the Sword.
- Chapter XXIII: A Summary Answer to Those Who Fly to Grace For a Solution of These Difficultys.
- Chapter XXIV: Whether the Arguments For the Truth Are Always More Solid Than Those For Falshood.
- Chapter XXV: A New Confutation of That Particular Argument of St. Austin, Drawn From the Constraint Exercis’d By a Good Shepherd On His Sheep.
- Chapter XXVI: A Small Sketch, Representing the Enormitys Attending the Doctrine of Compulsion By Some New Views, As the Destroying the Rights of Hospitality, Consanguinity, and Plighted Faith.
- Chapter XXVII: That Sodomy Might Become a Pious Action, According to the Principles of Our Modern Persecutors.
- Chapter XXVIII: An Examination of What May Be Answer’d to the Foregoing Chapter.
- Chapter XXIX: The Surprizing Progress Which the Doctrine of Compulsion Has Made In the World Over Many Centuries, Tho So Impious and Detestable. Reflections On This.
- Chapter XXX: That the Spirit of Persecution Has Reign’d, Generally Speaking, More Among the Orthodox, Since Constantine’s Days, Than Among Hereticks. Proofs of This From the Conduct of the Arians.
- Chapter XXXI: That the First Reformers In the Last Age Retain’d the Doctrine of Compulsion.
- The Language of the Translation
- Obsolete Or Unusual Words Or Meanings
- Bayle’s Use of Logic
- Religious and Philosophical Controversies
- Faith and Heresy
- Trinity and Incarnation
- Grace, Original Sin, Predestination
- The Eucharist
- Church and State
- The Rule of Faith
- Reason the Fundamental Rule
- The Bible
- Philosophical Controversies
- Alterations to the 1708 Translation
Advertisement of the English Publisher.<ii>;<iii>
When the two first Tomes of the following Work were publish’d in Holland, they were pretended to be translated from the English of Mr. John Fox of Bruggs. The Reason of Mr. Bayle’s feigning this Original, as ’tis observ’d in his LIFE, lately translated from a French Manuscript, and printed at the End of the Second Volume of his Miscellaneous Reflections, was, 1. Because the way of Reasoning in it resembl’d that Depth and strenuous Abstraction, which distinguishes the Writers of England. And, 2. Because he wou’d not be suspected<iv> for the Author; for which end he disguis’d his Stile, making use of several obsolete or new-coin’d Words.
The Reader need not be surpriz’d, if he find the Author does not always keep so strictly to the Part he personates of an English Writer, particularly where he gives such an account of the Anabaptists, as agrees rather to Holland than England.
A Character of this Work, as well as his other Writings, need not be given here, that being already so well perform’d in the LIFE above-mention’d. And for this Translation, it must speak for it self.
St. Austin’s Words.
Letter 164. to Emeritus.
If the Temporal Powers stretch forth their hand against Schismaticks, ’tis because they look on their Separation as an Evil, and that they are ordain’d by God for the Punishment of Evil-doers, according to that Saying of the Apostle, Whosoever therefore resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of God; and they that resist, shall receive to themselves Damnation: For Rulers are not a terror to Good-works, but to the Evil, &c. The whole Question then lies here, whether Schism be an Evil, and whether you have not made the Schism; for if so, you resist the Powers, not for any Good, but for Evil. But, say you, no one shou’d persecute even bad Christians. Allow they ought not; yet how can this secure ’em against the Powers ordain’d by God for the Punishment of Evil-doers? Can we cancel that Passage of St. Paul, which I have just now cited?
St. Austin’s Explication of this Passage leads to an impious Falshood, in charging all the Martyrs, Confessors and Apostles with Rebellion against God.
In what sense ’tis to be understood.
This Passage, Do good to all, but especially to the Houshold of Faith, is a sufficient Answer to St. Austin and the Bishop of Meaux; since it excludes Hereticks and Schismaticks from the number of Evil-doers.
St. Austin’s Words.
Letter 166. to the Donatists.
Must not he be abandon’d to all shame, who won’t submit to what Truth ordains by the Voice of the Sovereign?
This can’t be apply’d but to a Man, who being persuaded ’tis Truth, refuses to submit to it.
St. Austin’s Words.
If the care we take to rescue you from Error and Perdition be what inflames your Hatred so much against us, you must lay the blame upon God, who has given this terrible Reproof to the slothful Pastors, Ye have not brought back the Stray or looked for what was lost.
In what sense this Passage is to be understood.
According to St. Austin’s sense, those Pastors of the Roman Church who have bin the most violent Persecutors, wou’d yet be culpable before God of Connivance and criminal Laxity.
St. Austin’s Words.
Letter 204. to Donatus.
- If you think it unlawful to constrain Men to do good, pray consider that a Bishoprick is a good Office, since the Apostle has said as much; yet there are a great many on whom Violence is actually exercis’d to oblige ’em to accept of it. They are seiz’d, they are hurry’d away by main force, they are shut up and confin’d till they are forc’d to desire this good thing. 373
- From what Opinion they acted who refus’d Bishopricks.373
- Essential Differences between a Man, made Bishop as ’twere by force, and another constrain’d to abjure his Religion.374
St. Austin’s Words.
- We well know, that as nothing can damn Men but an evil Disposition of Will; so nothing but their good Will can save ’em: But how can the Love, which we are oblig’d to bear our Neighbor, permit our abandoning such numbers to their own wicked Will? Is it not cruel to throw, as I may say, the Reins loose on their Necks; and ought we not, to the utmost of our Power, prevent their doing Evil, and force ’em to do Good? 375
- ’Tis a Contradiction to force any one to do Good.375
St. Austin’s Words.
- If we must always leave an evil Will to its natural Liberty, why so many Scourges and piercing Goads to force the Children of Israel, in spite of all their Murmurings and Stiffneckedness, to move forward toward the Land of Promise? &c.376
- Difference between Actions to which a good Will is requir’d, and those to which it is not; between Actions which we know will displease God, and those by which we think to please him.376
- Solomon’s advising Fathers to correct their Children, is not for Opinions in Religion.377
- Difference between the Violence in hindring a Man who wou’d kill himself out of Conscience, and that done to make him abjure his Religion.378
St. Austin’s Words.
- While Jesus Christ was upon Earth, and before the Princes of the World worship’d him, the Church made use only of Exhortation; but ever since those days she has not thought it enough to invite Men to Happiness, she also forces ’em. These two Seasons are prefigur’d in the Parable of the Feast: The Master of the Family was content, for the first time, to order his Servants to bid the Guests to his Dinner; but the next time he commanded ’em to compel ’em<xxxiii> to come in. 379
- Confutation of this contain’d in the two first Parts of this Commentary.
St. Austin’s Words.
Letter 167. to Festus.
- If any one will compare, what they suffer thro our charitable Severity, with the Excesses to which their Fury transports ’em against us; he’l easily judg which are the Persecutors, they or we. Nay they might justly be denominated such with regard to us, without all this; for be the Severitys which Parents exercise over their Children, to bring ’em to a sense of their Duty, ever so great, yet they can never properly be call’d Persecution: whereas Children, by following evil Courses, become Persecutors of Father and Mother, tho possibly they mayn’t be guilty of any personal Violence against ’em. 380
- We ought not to punish the Innocent with the Guilty.380
- Parents, in many Instances, wou’d deserve the name of Persecutors, with respect to their Children.380
The Fourth Part, or Supplement.
- Chapter I. General Considerations on St. Austin’s Argument in defence of Persecution; shewing, That he offers nothing which may not be retorted, with equal force, upon the persecuted Orthodox. 411
- Chapter II. A Confirmation of the foregoing Chapter, chiefly by a new Confutation of the Answer alledg’d at every turn against my Reasonings; to wit, That the true Church alone has a Right to dispense with the natural Rule of Equity, in her Proceedings against Hereticks.415
- Chapter III. The new Confutation of the fore-mention’d Answer continu’d, and supported by two con-<xxxiv>siderable Examples. 419
- Chapter IV. Another way of considering this second Example. 421
- Chapter V. An Answer to the first Disparity which may be alledg’d against my Examples; to wit, That Hereticks, in giving an Alms, do well, because they give it to those to whom God intended it shou’d be given; but do ill, in compelling to come in, because this Command relates only to those who are in Error. I here shew, by just Examples, that Heretick Judges wou’d obey God in punishing the Orthodox, if the Principle of Persecutors hold good. 423
- Chapter VI. A Parallel between a Judg who shou’d mistakenly punish the Innocent, and acquit the Guilty, from an Error in point of Fact, and a Heretick Judg who shou’d condemn the Orthodox. 428
- Chapter VII. Whether Heretical Ecclesiasticks may be blam’d for having a hand in the Trials and Condemnation of the Orthodox. 431
- Chapter VIII. An Abstract of the Answer to the first Disparity. 434
- Chapter IX. That a Judg who condemns an innocent Person, and acquits a Malefactor, sins not, provided he act according to Law. 436
- Whether Judges that do not discover the Truth are possess’d with any criminal Passion.436
- Whether a Man, who is sensible he has not profound Knowledg and a sharp Wit, is oblig’d to renounce the Judicature.440
- Confirmation of these Particulars by a Parallel between Judges and Physicians.442
- <xxxv>Chapter X. An Answer to a second Disparity; to wit, That when a Judg gives Sentence against a Person falsly accus’d of Murder, it’s an Ignorance of Fact; whereas if he condemns as Heresy, what is really Orthodox, it’s an Ignorance of Right. I shew that it’s as hard to discover the Truth in Charges of Heresy, as in those for Murder. 445
- The Dispute of Jansenism consider’d as to Fact.447
- The same as to Right.449
- Whether discussing the Fathers may be dispens’d with.452
- Whether ’tis easy to give the Definition of Heresy.454
- Chapter XI. An Answer to a third Disparity; which is, That in Criminal Trials, the Obscurity arises from the thing it self; whereas in those of Heresy, it proceeds from the Prepossession of the Judges. I answer, That even disinterested Judges, as the Chinese Philosophers for example, wou’d find our Controversys more intricate, and harder to be decided, than Civil or Criminal Causes. 455
- Supposition of a Conference between Ministers and Missionarys before Chinese Philosophers.456
- Chapter XII. A particular Consideration of one of the Causes which renders the Controversys of these times so cross and intricate; to wit, That the same Principles which are favorable against one sort of Adversarys, are prejudicial in our Disputes with others. 463
- Chapter XIII. An Answer to the fourth Disparity; which is, That when a Judg is deceiv’d in a Cause of Heresy, he is guilty in the sight of God; because the Error in this Case proceeds from a Principle of Corruption, which perverts the Will: an Evil not incident to a Judg, who is deceiv’d in Trials for Murder or Adultery. I shew, that were this the Case, each Sect wou’d be oblig’d to believe, that those of other opposite Sects never pray’d for the Assistance of God’s<xxxvi> Spirit to direct ’em in reading his Holy Word. 466
- A Preliminary Observation to be remember’d in due time and place.466
- Chapter XIV. Examples shewing that Men continue in their Errors against the Interest of Flesh and Blood, and their own Inclinations. 471
- Chapter XV. That the Persuasion of the Truth of a Religion, which Education inspires, is not founded on a Corruption of Heart. 473
- Chapter XVI. That the strong Belief of a Falshood, attended even with the rejecting those Suspicions which sometimes arise in our Minds that we are in an Error, does not necessarily proceed from a Principle of Corruption. 478
- Chapter XVII. An Answer to what is objected, That all Errors are Acts of the Will, and consequently morally evil. The Absurdity of this Consequence shewn; and a Rule offer’d for distinguishing Errors, which are morally evil, from those which are not. 485
- What Judgment ought to be made of those who will not enter into Dispute.490
- Of what Importance ’tis to avoid confounding in our Minds the Moral with the Physical.492
- Chapter XVIII. A Discussion of three other Difficultys. 495
- First Difficulty. Knowing the Obliquity of the Motive, is not necessary towards denominating an Action evil. 495
- Second Difficulty. If we were not Sinners, we shou’d not mistake Truth for Falshood, and contrariwise. 496
- Third Difficulty. St. Paul in the fifth Chapter to the Galatians, reckons Heresys among the Works of the Flesh, which damn those who commit ’em. 500
- <xxxvii>That the Love of that which seems true, tho it is false, is not a Love of Falshood.504
- Chapter XIX. Conclusion of the Answer to the fourth Disparity. 506
- Chapter XX. The Conclusion and summary View of the general Consideration, hinted at in the Title of the first Chapter. 506
- St. Austin’s Apology how weak and wretched.510
- Chapter XXI. An Answer to a new Objection: It follows from my Doctrine, that the Persecutions rais’d against the Truth are just; which is worse than what the greatest Persecutors ever pretended.512
- Chapter XXII. That what has bin lately prov’d, helps us to a good Answer to the Bishop of Meaux demanding a Text, in which Heresys are excepted out of the number of those Sins, for the punishing of which God has given Princes the Sword. 514
- A new turn to the Examination of the Objection founded on the Clearness of Controversys.520
- Chapter XXIII. A summary Answer to those who fly to Grace for a Solution of these Difficultys. 523
- Chapter XXIV. Whether the Arguments for the Truth are always more solid than those for Falshood. 531
- From whence it happens that Falshood proves it self by good Reasons.535
- Chapter XXV. A new Confutation of that particular Argument of St. Austin, drawn from the Constraint exercis’d by a good Shepherd on his Sheep. 539
- First Defect of this Comparison, That the Evil from which they wou’d preserve the Heretick by constraining him, enters with him into the Church; whereas the Wolf does not enter the Fold with the Sheep that’s thrust in by main Force. 539
- <xxxviii>Confutation of those who say, that a Heretick must be damn’d if not constrain’d, therefore ’tis good to constrain him.539
- Second Defect of the foresaid Comparison, That it proves invincibly, either the Pretensions of the Court of Rome over the Temporal Rights of Princes, or that the Church may depose Princes who persecute her. 540
- Chapter XXVI. A short Sketch, representing the Enormitys attending the Doctrine of Compulsion by some new Views, as the destroying the Rights of Hospitality, Consanguinity, and plighted Faith. 542
- Instance in the last Persecution of France. 545
- Reflection on what was done to the Mareschal Schomberg. 546
- Chapter XXVII. That Sodomy might become a pious Action, according to the Principles of our modern Persecutors. 548
- Chapter XXVIII. An Examination of what may be answer’d to the foregoing Chapter. 549
- First Answer. This way of compelling wou’d scandalize the Publick. 549
- Second Answer. Sodomy is essentially sinful, whereas Murder is sometimes warrantable. 550
- Third Answer. Kings have not the same power over Pudicity, as over Life. 551
- Fourth Answer. They who executed this Command, wou’d commit a great Sin on account of the Pleasure they might take in it. 552
- Chapter XXIX. The surprizing Progress which the Doctrine of Compulsion has made in the World, tho so impious and detestable. Reflections on this. 552
- Chapter XXX. That the Spirit of Persecution has reign’d, generally speaking, more among the Orthodox, since Constantine’s days, than among Here-<xxxix>ticks. Proofs of this from the Conduct of the Arians. 560
- Conversion of the Arians in Spain. 562
- Another Comparison between Catholick and Arian Princes.567
- Solution of some Difficultys.567
- Chapter XXXI. That the first Reformers in the last Age retain’d the Doctrine of Compulsion. 570
- Politick Reason not to tolerate Papists.571
<1>A Preliminary Discourse, Containing some Remarks of a distinct Nature from those in the Commentary.
A French Gentleman, whom I had known in my Travels in France about seven or eight Years ago, having fled for Refuge into England soon after the Expedition of the Dragoons; told me, as we often discours’d on the Subject, That among all the Cavils with which the Missionarys (and under this name he comprehended Priests, Monks, Evidence for the King, Judges, Intendants, Officers of Horse and Foot, and others of all Conditions and Sexes) had pester’d him, none appear’d to him more sensless, and yet at the same time more thorny and perplexing, than that drawn from these words of Jesus Christ,Compel ’em to come in, in favor of Persecution, or, as they term’d it, the charitable and salutary Violence exercis’d on Hereticks, to recover ’em from the Error of their Ways. He let me know how passionately he<2> desir’d to see this Chimera of Persecutors confounded: And fancying he observ’d in me not only an extreme Aversion to persecuting Methods, but something too of a Vein for entring into the true Reasons of things; he was pleas’d to say, he look’d on me as a proper Person for such an Undertaking, and urg’d that, succeeding in it as he expected, I shou’d do great Service to the Cause of Truth, and indeed to the whole World. He added that he had a Translator ready at hand who would put what I wrote in my Language, if not into good French, at least into a quite intelligible Style.
I answer’d him, That I had not the Vanity to think my self equal to such an Undertaking; and that I had still a worse Opinion of Convertists, whom I look’d on as utterly irreclaimable, to such a pitch did their wild Prepossession in this point over-bear ’em: in general, that Books were but an Amusement; so that Authors, after taking a deal of pains with ’em, had this new Mortification to boot, of seeing that what they promis’d themselves the greatest things by, had little or no good effect upon the World. As he’s a Man of a fiery Spirit, which he has sufficiently discover’d in a small Pamphlet of his, entitled, A Review of France intirely Catholick under the Reign of Lewis the Great; he press’d me unmercifully, as oft as ever I fell in his way, without the least regard to my Excuses. At last, as well to deliver my self from his Importunity, as to try my hand upon a Subject which on one side appear’d to me very evident, yet leading on the other to Consequences somewhat harsh, unless thorowly explain’d; I promis’d him to form a Philosophical Commentary on those Words of the Parable of the Wedding, which Convertists, that’s to say Persecutors, do so much pervert.<3> For Convertist, henceforward, and Villain, and Persecutor, and fouler Language, if any be, shall mean the same thing, and I shall accordingly use the Terms indifferently; which ’twas but fit I shou’d signify in the Entrance.
It has happen’d with the word Convertist much as with those of Tyrant and Sophist. The word Tyrant in the beginning had no other meaning than that of King, nor Sophist than that of Philosopher: but because many of those who exercis’d the Sovereign Power, abus’d it to wicked and cruel purposes, and many who profess’d Philosophy fell into fallacious ridiculous Subtletys, design’d to obscure the Truth, their Names became odious, and convey’d only the Idea of the worst of Men; and respectively signify’d Blood-suckers and Oppressors, Whifflers and Cheats. Here’s the true Image of the Fate of the word Convertist: It imported originally a Soul sincerely zealous in propagating the Truth, and undeceiving those in Error; but for the future it shall signify only a Mountebank, only a Counterfeit, only a Pilferer, only a Maroder, a Soul void of Pity, void of Humanity, void of natural Equity, only a Man who proposes by tormenting others to expiate for his own Leudness past and to come, and for all the Irregularitys of a profligate Life; or, shou’d it happen that all these Characters don’t exactly fit every Convertist, let’s try in fewer words to settle its just and proper Sense for the time to come. It shall mean a Monster, Half-Priest and Half-Dragoon, who like the Centaur of the Fable, which in one Person united the Man and the Horse, confounds in one Actor the different Parts of a Missionary<4> who argues, and a Foot-Soldier who belabours a poor human Body, and rifles a Cottage. They say there are Taverns already in some parts of Germany with the Sign of the Convertist, dress’d up by the Model of some Cuts of Bernard de Galen, Bishop of Munster, in which he’s represented with half Mitre half Helmet round his Temples; with a Cross in one hand, a Sabre in t’other; half Rochet, and half Cuirass about his Loins, and so on; commanding to sound to Horse in the middle of his Mass, and a Charge at the place where he shou’d give the Benediction. ’Twas by this Model they say, mutatis mutandis, that the Sign of the Convertist to some Inns or Taverns in certain famous Imperial Towns was drawn. Judg then whether Mr. Arnaud deserves any Answer on his making so much of what the agreeable Author of the Politicks of the Clergy has said by way of Elogy on the Protestants, That they came not into this World on the foot of Convertists. It’s strange our Dutch Artists shou’d let the High-Germans run away with this Whim.
Having thus resolv’d to form a Commentary of a new kind, on the famous words, Compel ’em to come in; I thought it wou’d be best to draw the Convertists out of their own ground: I mean out of their old beaten common Places, and propose ’em Difficultys, for which they have not yet had leisure enough to find out Evasions. For here’s the main drift of the Writers of this Party; they apply themselves much less to the proving their Point, than to the eluding the Arguments with which they are press’d; like those false Witnesses, Greeks by Nation, whose<5> Picture Cicero has drawn to the life: Nunquam laborant quemadmodum probent quod dicunt, sed quemadmodum se explicent dicendo. Accordingly I foresee, that if they attempt to answer me, they’l pass over all my principal Difficultys, and only endeavor to find whether I have not contradicted my self in some part or other of the Work; whether I have not made a trip in my Reasonings; whether my Principles are not attended with some absurd Consequences. If this be all they do, I declare to ’em before-hand, that I shan’t look on it as an Answer, nor on my Cause as less victorious in the main; for the Cause is not lost, because perhaps its Advocate does not always reason justly, because his Notions in one place do not perhaps nicely fall in with his Notions in another; because he pushes his point too far at some times, and loses himself in the chase. All this may possibly have befallen me: but because notwithstanding all these Failings, which are purely those of the Advocate, and not of the Cause, I persuade my self I have said enough to prove my point incontestably; I declare once more, that if the Convertists design to justify their Proceedings, they must answer all that’s reasonable and solid in my Argument, and not think to get off as their Controvertists commonly do, if they can only discover that an Author has perhaps cited a Passage wrong, or employ’d a particular Argument sometimes to one purpose, sometimes to another, and which perhaps may be retorted, or committed some other Over-sights of this kind; since there never was a Book, how strong and forcible soever, which may not be answer’d at<6> this rate. One that can pick up some faults of this kind, or separate a Proof here and there from that which in other parts of the Works does sufficiently support it, and from the true end and purpose to which the Author design’d it, fancies he makes a fine Answer to the best Book; which shall triumph in the Judgment of those who don’t compare the two Pieces with Exactness, and freedom from Prejudice. Hence we meet with Answers to every thing; tho, properly speaking, this is not confuting, but rather making the Errata of an Adversary’s Book, and leaving the Merits of the Cause upon the Tenters: And for my part, if my Adversarys do no more than this, I shall look on my self as the Victor.
As I wrote it at the instance of a French Refugee, and on occasion of the late Persecution in France, and with a design of having it translated into French; I have forbore quoting any Books, but such as are perfectly well known to the French Convertists. Were it not for this, I might often have refer’d my Reader to very excellent Pieces written in the English Tongue upon the Point of Toleration. No Nation can be suppos’d to afford more Arguments on this Subject than ours, by reason of that Variety of Sects among us, harass’d for so long a time by the establish’d Religion. The very Papists in this Country are the first to cry out, That nothing is more unjust than vexing Men on the score of Conscience. A ridiculous Maxim in their mouths; and not ridiculous only, but perfidious and insincere in them, Qualitys inseparable from their Nature for so many Ages past: since it’s certain they wou’d<7> not forbear three years, nor fail bringing those to the Stake who did not go to Mass, had they once more the Power in their own hands; and had others the Baseness of those Court-Parasites and Pensioners, Men unworthy of the Name of Protestants, tho outwardly professing it, who endeavor the Subversion of that fundamental Barrier of our Security, which ballances the Royal Authority. Tho I don’t doubt but there are still brave Spirits enough left among us, worthy Patriots, and sincere Protestants, to correct the evil Influences of the Complaisance of these false Brethren, and by God’s Blessing to preserve to us that Tranquillity we enjoy, tho under a Catholick Sovereign. The Calamitys of our Brethren of France will, in all probability, turn to our advantage. They have awaken’d us to a prudent Distrust of Popery; they have convinc’d us that this false Religion is not to be mended by length of time, that she’s still animated as much as ever with a Spirit of Cruelty and Fraud, and in spite of all the Civility and Politeness which reigns in the Manners of the Age, still savage and intractable. Strange! All that was rough and shocking in the Manners of our Ancestors is quite worn off; to that rustick and forbidding Air of former times, there has succeeded an universal Gentleness and exceeding Civility, all Christendom over. Popery alone feels no Change; she alone keeps up her antient and habitual Ferocity. We of England began to think the Beast was grown tame and tractable; began to think that this Wolf, this Tiger had forgot her savage Nature: but, God be thank’d, the French Convertists have undeceiv’d us, and<8> we now know what we must trust to, shou’d it ever be our lot to fall into her clutches. Nunquam bona fide vitia mansuescunt, is chiefly applicable to the Vices of Religion. God grant that we may more and more profit by the Calamitys of our Brethren, and always stand upon our Guard.
Nor can this Fierceness of Popery be computed, as some undertook to do about a year ago, by a Parallel between the Growth of the Politeness of this Age, and the Diminution of the Punishments which it has of late made use of for converting. We affirm, there’s as much Barbarity in Dragooning, Dungeoning, Cloistering, &c. People of a contrary Religion, in such a civiliz’d, knowing, genteel Age as ours; as there was in executing ’em by the hands of the common Hangman, in Ages of Ignorance and Brutality, before People had purg’d off the Manners of their Ancestors, Goths and Vandals, Scythians and Sarmatians, who formerly overspread the Roman Empire, and founded all the Empires and States in the Western Europe. Where Men have not purg’d off the Barbarousness of their Race, nor are inur’d to new Opinions, ’tis not so much in them to put those to death who profess ’em, as in those who are intirely quit of the Rust of their first Origin, who are polish’d by an Improvement of the Sciences and nobler Arts, who have liv’d all their Lives in the same Towns, in the same Conversation, in the same Partys of Pleasure, very often with those of the Reform’d Religion, carry’d Arms together for the same Cause; and bin in the same Interests with ’em, to prosecute, disquiet, torment, and vex ’em in<9> their Persons and Estates, as has lately been practis’d in France. This is our Rule for computing the just Proportion between the Crueltys of antient and modern Persecutions; nay, sometimes the slow Pain seem’d to us to cast the Scale: tho capital Punishment, or Death by the hand of the Hangman, not being inflicted in this last Persecution, must have hinder’d most People’s thinking it equal to those of former Ages, unless they compensated the want of Rigor in this last Scene, with the Excesses of Ignorance and Barbarity in former times. But setting aside all Compensations of this kind, here’s a certain Rule for finding the true Proportion between the one sort of Persecution and the other: Let any one compare ’em upon the square, and abstracted from all Circumstances of more or less Politeness of Times, and he shall find ’em equal, at least since the Declaration of July last, which forbids, upon pain of Death, the Exercise of any other Religion in France except the Romish; and which is executed without delay upon all who have the Courage to contravene it in the least. If the Reform’d of France were as zealous in these days as in those of Francis I and Henry II or as the English in the Reign of Queen Mary; we shou’d see as many Gibbets in these days as in those of old. Let’s think of this, and consider what Miserys betide us, shou’d we let Popery grow up again in these happy Climates. I don’t say this with a design of stirring up People to retaliate upon the Papists; no, I detest such Imitations: I only desire they may be kept from ever having it in their power to execute on us what they have the will to do.<10>
When I say the Protestants ought not to reprize themselves when they may, it is not from any such pitiful Reason as a French Author gives us in a Book lent me since my Commentary was printed. ’Tis a reason so impertinent, that I cou’d scarce think they’d make use of it, and therefore did not propose it as an Objection. I was wrong tho in believing any thing too absurd for these Gentlemen; one wou’d imagine they had resolutely taken up the Character of being as ridiculous in their Apologys, as terrible in their Exploits: and one can never enough admire, that in a Country where there are so many good Pens, so many vile Justifications shou’d be suffer’d to pass. ’Twere much better not say a word, than defend themselves so wretchedly. Here’s this pleasant Author’s Thought. He introduces some Persons apprehending, that the Violences exercis’d on the Protestants in France may be prejudicial to the Catholicks in other Countrys.
Still it is to be fear’d, say some sort of People, that the Protestants, seeing how their Brethren are treated at this time in France, may think themselves warranted to treat the Catholicks in the same manner wherever they are Masters. But one must be abandon’d to all shame to pretend, that People, who have gone out of the Church within less than two hundred Years, and in a manner which all the World knows; People who have no kind of Authority but what they bestow on themselves, and what any one, who has a Mind to separate this hour, may give himself with altogether as<11> much color, shou’d be entitul’d to the same Privileges as the Catholick Church; which being founded byJesus Christand the Apostles, has continu’d in an uninterrupted Succession of all Ages, and shall abide to the end of the World in spite of all the Malice and Artifices of Sects and Schisms, and all their Endeavors to get her disown’d. … Once more then, he must be lost to all Shame who’l pretend, that rebellious Children have the same Power over their Mother which she has over them, or that they can take the same Methods for bringing those into their Communion who were never of it, as the Church has a right to take to reduce those to its Communion who cannot disown their going out from it. For which reason we have no Cause to apprehend, that what passes now in France can ever be drawn into a Rule in favor of Protestants. They may do the same thing in the Countrys where they are uppermost; but that which in the Church is a holy and regular Discipline, because founded on a lawful Authority, wou’d in them be a tyrannical Oppression, because destitute of a like Authority. As Kings punish those with Death who are taken in Arms against ’em, so Rebels have sometimes treated the faithful Servants of their Kings the same way when they have fall’n into their Hands. Whence comes it then, that the same Action is an Act of Justice with regard to the Sovereign, and a Violation of Right and Justice with regard to them? From hence, that of one side it’s done by a lawful Authority, and of the other without Authority. The Case is the same, when those who have revolted from the Church will force the Catholicks to come into their Communion, by the same Methods which the Church makes use of to bring them into hers.<12>
I ask my Reader’s pardon for troubling him with so long a piece of Impertinence. What! will these People ever be playing the fool? will they never leave arguing like Children, how great Abilitys soever they may have in other Matters? Shall we never beat it into ’em, that nothing in nature is more ridiculous than reasoning by always assuming the thing in question? The Dispute between them and us is, whether the Church of Rome be the true Church: Common Sense requires, that we on our parts shou’d prove from common Principles, and not from a bare Pretension, that she is not; and that they on their part prove she is the true Church, not by a bare Pretension (for that’s unpardonable in a School-boy) but from Principles common to them and us. This we have represented to ’em a thousand and a thousand times over; we have done it sometimes in a serious way, sometimes by turning ’em into ridicule: but nothing will open their Eyes; still they come about to their old Cant, We are the Church, you are the Rebels, therefore we have a right of chastising you, but you have none of returning us like for like. What stock of Patience is sufficient for such stuff?
There are some among ’em who tell us with the same compos’d Look, and with the same grave Air of Impertinence, that to find whether the Hugonots have just Cause to complain, we ought to consider what Judgment the Gallican Church makes of ’em; to wit, that she looks on ’em as rebellious Children, over whom she retains a right of Punishment, in order to reclaim ’em from their Disobedience. I own I can’t comprehend how these Men do to pick up all this<13> wretched Trumpery (give me leave to use this word to represent Impertinences, too ridiculous and vile to be fully exprest). Are they so blind as not to see, that the Pretensions of the Protestants, once suppos’d, give them a far more plausible Pretext for persecuting Popery, than that which Popery borrows from the Pretensions which it makes.
The Protestants pretend, that the Church of Rome, far from being that Spouse of Jesus Christ which is the Mother of all true Christians, is really an infamous Harlot, who has seiz’d the House, by the Assistance of a band of Ruffians, Cut-throats, Hell-hounds; who has turn’d the Father and Mother out o’ doors, has murder’d as many of the Children as she cou’d lay her hands on, forc’d others to own her for lawful Mistress, or reduc’d ’em to live in exile. These exil’d Children, these who are not able to bear the Infamy of living in a feign’d Obsequiousness for a Mother, whom they look upon as a Strumpet who has expel’d their true Mother, and slain their Brethren; these are the Protestants, or at least pretend to be. On one side then we see a Church which pretends to be the Mother of the Family, and that all who own her not as such are rebellious Children; and on the other side, Children pretending she is only an abominable Harlot, who has seiz’d upon the House by downright force, and turn’d out the true Mistress and the true Heirs, to make room for her Lovers, and the Accomplices of her Whoredom. To consider only the respective Pretensions of both Partys, the Rigor is more natural and more reasonable on the side of the Protestants than on that of the<14> Church of Rome: For the Church of Rome, by supposing her Pretensions, ought to preserve the natural Tenderness of a Mother for the Protestants, and make use only of moderate Chastisements to recover ’em to their Duty. We know how David commanded that they shou’d spare the Life of his Son Absalom, tho in Arms against him, and tho he had carry’d his Rebellion to the greatest Extremity; and there are very few Mothers who won’t put up the Affronts and Insolences of their Children, rather than arraign ’em before the criminal Judg, when they think their Lives may be in danger. So that the terrible Punishments which the Church of Rome has inflicted on Hereticks for so many Ages past, are a Rigor so much the more unnatural and monstrous, the more strongly one supposes her Pretensions.
But by supposing the Pretensions of the Protestants, their most extreme Rigors are in the order of human things. For when the case is no less than the revenging a Mother impiously turn’d out of her own House by a Strumpet, and resettling her in her Right, Nature does allow her Children to act with all imaginable Vigor and Vehemence; nor can it be thought hardly of, if they have no Mercy upon this wicked Prostitute who had usurp’d her place, or upon her Favorers and Adherents.
The Reader will easily perceive the Ridiculousness of the Passage which I have cited, without my taking it to task Period by Period; and comprehend, that nothing is more reasonable than the Apprehensions of some sort of People, did the Protestants think fit to imitate the Church of<15> Rome. Let any one but reflect a little on the State in which the two Religions liv’d together about twenty Years ago, supposing always their respective Pretensions. The Church of Rome, believing her self the true Mother of all Christians, thought it expedient for the good of those Children who did own her, not to exercise her Right over those who persisted in their Disobedience. The Protestant Church, believing the Romish an Adulteress, who in prejudice of her Rights acted the Mistress in the Family, suffer’d her for peace sake to injoy the finest Apartments in the House, and suspended her Right of punishing the Favorers and Accomplices of her Adultery. Here was a kind of Truce; the Church of Rome comes and violates this Truce, and prosecutes her Pretensions, constraining all those of France, who were of her Rival’s Party, to come over to her own. Who sees not that the Protestant Church has all the right in the World, on the foot which we suppose, to prosecute the Punishment of the Whore’s Accomplices? So that the Church of England might now reasonably tell all the English Papists; I hitherto suspended the Punishment due to you for continuing in the Interest of a Harlot, who had expel’d me my House; me, who am the true Mother of the Family: but since she begins to treat my faithful Children cruelly, I shall no longer delay your deserv’d Punishment.
Pray mind what this Author advances twice in a Breath, That one must be abandon’d to all shame to pretend, that rebellious Children have the same Right over their Mother which she has over them. But who told him, the Protestants are rebellious Children? only a humor of always supposing the<16> thing in question. To be a little more exact he shou’d have stated the Question thus, One must be abandon’d to all shame who pretends, that Children who do not wish to recognise as their Mother a Woman they believe is only a rapacious Adulteress prostituted to all Comers, have as much Right of punishing her, as a Mother has to punish those, who she pretends are her Children. The Question being thus propos’d, to pretend this, is so far from being a Sign that one is lost to all shame, that not to pretend it, one must have lost all his Senses; for what Right can be more reasonable than a Right in Children to expel a wicked Woman out of their House, who is a Dishonor to the Family, and to the Memory of their Father, who deprives the Mother of her Dowry, and of all the Provision for her Widowhood, and consumes their Substance on a pack of dissolute Wretches, and Servants whom she has seduc’d? To continue in her Interest, even after the injur’d Mother has bin reinstated in her House, as God be thank’d she is in England, is much the same as continuing in Cromwel’s Interest after the Restoration of King Charles II. Nor let it be pretended, that there’s a difference between the two Cases, because Cromwel’s Usurpation lasted but 9 or 10 Years; for we are all agreed in this common Principle, that there’s no Prescription against the Truth: so that tho the dethroning the Successors of Hugh Capet, for example, might be an unjust Attempt in the Descendants of Charlemagne, were there any of his Line in being, so very long a Possession having rectify’d the Injustice done to the Family of Charlemagne by Hugh; yet it can be no Injustice, after a thousand, two thousand Years, or any longer Prescription of Falshood, to restore the Truth,<17> and reinstate it in all its inalienable Rights. And by this we overthrow, and have overthrown so often that we are even asham’d to repeat it, all the Common-places of Papists on the uninterrupted Succession, &c. Nothing they can possibly say will hinder the Principle that Falshood may not usurp the place of Truth; and therefore we are to examine whether the Case has really happen’d as the Protestants alledg. We are to examine which side is right, and which wrong in fact; for if we talk of the bare Pretension only, and if Pretension be a sufficient ground for persecuting, all the World will persecute; each Party will say that they persecute righteously, and are very unrighteously persecuted: and till such time as God shall decide this great Claim at the last Day, the Strong will always oppress the Weak without controul. Are not these rare Principles?
It’s plain then, that a Right of Persecuting cannot be contested to Protestants upon the ridiculous Reason which this Author assigns, nor upon any other but that which I have establish’d in this Work, and which equally and universally takes this Right from all Religions.
I shan’t say any thing in particular to his alledg’d Example of a King who punishes his rebellious Subjects, and of Rebels who sometimes serve their Prisoners of the King’s side in the same kind; because the Application is one of the common Impertinences of the Party. Be it known to him, that the Protestants look on themselves as those who fight under the Banner of the lawful Queen, and on the Papists as rebellious Subjects, who had depriv’d her of almost<18> all her Dominions, and who still usurp the most considerable part of them; persisting obstinately in the Interests of an Adulteress, most justly repudiated, and still continuing her Prostitutions.
I must now offer a word or two in answer to an Objection which may be made, upon the Laws of this Kingdom’s excluding Papists from all Places, and exacting from ’em the Oath of Supremacy. Is not this, say they, tempting Men? Is not this the ready way to make the Ambitious betray their Consciences, when a fair Employment presents for the Reward of their Hypocrisy? I answer, according to my Principles, That no doubt there is a defect in these Laws, in that they don’t equally exclude all the new Converts; for did they exclude ’em for Life, and their Children who had not abjur’d Popery before they were fully bred up and instructed in it, nothing in my opinion cou’d be more reasonable or more necessary than these Laws: not that I think the false Religion of Papists, consider’d simply as such, a just ground for making Laws against those who profess it. No, it certainly is not. I take the Justice of these Laws to be founded wholly on their having Principles, such as that Hereticks must be compell’d to come in, that Heretick Kings should not be obey’d, &c., inconsistent with the publick Safety of the State where they themselves are not uppermost: for tho I shou’d suppose that there were here and there a Papist who believ’d the paying Obedience to a Heretick King no Sin, yet there’s no Papist but must believe the Doctrine right in the main, as it is better relish’d at Rome, and more agreeable to the Sense of several Councils<19> than the contrary Doctrine. And this alone is a sufficient Reason for never trusting Popish Subjects but upon special Security: the rather, because they clandestinely introduce Monks, and other Emissarys of the Church of Rome, who study all occasions of embroiling the State, and devolving the Crown on Heads of their own Religion; wherein if they succeed, presently they talk of nothing else but crushing the infernal Hydra of Heresy, and sacrificing all their Oaths and Assurances to the Interests of Religion. The Reign of Queen Elizabeth, and that of her Successor (to say nothing of the two following) have shewn to what excesses they can carry their Attempts against Sovereigns of a contrary Religion: So that ’twere the most inexcusable Imprudence in this Nation, not to take all just Precautions against this Party, by excluding it from all Trusts and Employments, which ’tis plain it wou’d only make use of for the better executing the black and horrible Maxims of Persecution, its favorite Doctrine. And as to the Oath of Supremacy, for my part I think our Legislature has bin very weak, and done Papists too great an Honor, to believe it any Security against ’em. For that Man who thinks it lawful to compel to come in, as in the Romish Communion they do, where ’twere no less than Heresy to maintain the contrary, after it has been so often enjoin’d by Popes and Councils; may as well believe that the Decalogue was ne’er intended for those who are occupy’d in propagating Religion, but that as they are dispens’d with in the Breach of the Command against Murder and Stealing, so they are by a Parity of Reason in the Breach of that<20> against false Swearing: so that there’s no reckoning upon any such thing as Oaths with them. It’s a jest to say, the Council of Constance boggled at declaring, That Faith was not to be kept with Hereticks. Is it not enough that Papists think themselves oblig’d to kill and extirpate ’em? For by this, it’s plain, they think themselves freed from the Obligation of not committing Murder: now no body will say that the Obligation is less in this case, than in that of performing Vows and Promises. But I insist not= on this Point here; the Reader will find it amply treated in the Commentary.
So abominable a Doctrine is that which authorizes the forcing Men to embrace a Religion, that with all the Aversion I have to Non-Toleration, I think it were a thing highly displeasing to God, to suffer Papists to get the Power into their hands of compelling Men: and therefore Prudence indispensably obliges us to banish ’em from all Places where there may be the least ground of Umbrage from ’em; and displace Ministers of State, Magistrates, and all Persons in any Trust or Employment, the moment they are convicted of Catholicity. I always except the Persons of Kings, because the Royal Dignity, and sacred Unction of their Character, dispenses with the most general Laws in their favor; and therefore it may be lawful for them to turn Papists, if they please, Jews, Turks, Infidels, without the least danger of forfeiting what they have a Right to by their Birth. But as for all others, they ought to be immediately oblig’d to break ground, or utterly depriv’d of all means of endangering the State.<21>
’Twere to be wish’d from the pure Motives of wise Policy, that Policy which aims at the general Good of Mankind, that all the Christian Princes who are not Papists wou’d unite in a solemn League, to take away that Reproach which Christianity lies under, on account of the horrible Persecutions exercis’d by it from time immemorial. If such a League shou’d not be thought sufficient, let’s hope for the Addition to it of all the Infidel Nations of both Continents, till we make up a Body capable of bringing Popery to reason; Popery, that sore Disgrace of Christianity, and Bane of Human kind! Such a League wou’d be altogether as just as a League against the Rovers of Barbary: And as it were very reasonable to exact all manner of Assurances from these, that they wou’d never cruise more, nor disturb the Trade of the World by their infamous Piracys; so nothing were more reasonable than exacting from Popery a Promise never to persecute more, and obliging it to annul all the Decrees of Councils, all the Bulls of Popes, and all the Decisions of Casuists authorizing Persecution. But because there wou’d still be ground enough to apprehend, that she wou’d flinch from all Engagements as soon as the danger was over; to obviate this Inconvenience, ’twere necessary to demand Hostages from her, and impose such heavy Penaltys on every default, that she shou’d never more presume to violate the Treaty. These indeed are Projects fitly calculated for sparing the World many and great Desolations, yet they are never the less chimerical; and, as the Author, who has occasion’d the writing this Commentary, has very justly re-<22>mark’d, Popery is too necessary an Instrument in the hands of an incens’d Providence (which to punish Human kind effectually, must decree it both miserable and ridiculous) to expect that any thing shou’d ever deliver the World from it. And I know a Man of a great deal of Wit, who querying whether there shou’d be a Romish Church in Hell, that is, a Body of Men govern’d by the furious and detestable Maxims of this Religion; answers in the affirmative, and for this reason, Because without it there wou’d something still be wanting to compleat the Misery of those who are consign’d to the darksom Abodes.
I took the Infidel Nations of both Continents into my imaginary Scheme, and not without good reasons; because tho they have not so immediate an Interest in the abolishing the impious Maxims of Persecution as we, yet they all have a concern in it more or less remote, according as they are more or less distant from the places into which the Missionarys riggle themselves; especially that dark and dreadful Machine which stretches out its Arms as wide as China. There’s no room to doubt but the Pope, and his Imps, have a design of reducing the whole World under their Yoke. They are prompted to this by the Interest of Lording it far and near, and heaping up Riches, and of preventing that Confusion with which the Protestants cover ’em, as often as they shew how ridiculous their Pretences are to the Title of Universal Church, when there are so many Nations in the World which have never as much as heard of it. Now to gratify their Ambition and their Avarice, and to spare<23> themselves the shame of never being able to answer pertinently to this Objection of the Protestants; there’s no manner of doubt but they will introduce their dear and well-beloved Handmaid, the constraining to sign a Formulary, as soon as they have power enough among the Infidels. The Jesuits have themselves own’d, during the Life of their Founder, that they had made use of Constraint in the Indies. In their Letters written from this Country we are inform’d, that the Brachmans being nonplus’d in a Dispute, stood it out upon this single Reason, That they follow’d the Doctrines of their Ancestors; and persisted to such a degree of Obstinacy, that no Arguments, of what force soever, cou’d make the least Impression on ’em: Whereupon the Vice-Roy, to shorten the Dispute, and drive one Nail with another, publish’d a Law, whereby they who wou’d not turn within the space of forty days, were condemn’d to Banishment; on pain, if they did not depart the Country in that time, of forfeiting all their Substance, and being sent to the Gallys. Scioppius is the Man who reproaches the Jesuits with this, in his Criticism on Famianus Strada; where there are several other very honest Remarks to the same purpose, but which stand to the worst advantage imaginable in this Author, because he himself had bin a mere Firebrand in his former Writings; his Classicum Belli Sacri, printed in 1619, being stuff’d with the most execrable Maxims relating to the Excision of those who are call’d Hereticks. However, he had ground enough for censuring the Uncertainty and Variations of the Jesuits Tenets, on their publishing a Work in Germany about seven<24> years ago, intitled, Justa Defensio, in which they laugh at a set of Monks, who pretended to maintain, that no Arms but the Apostolical ought to be employ’d for the Conversion of those in Error: that’s right, say they, with regard to Infidels, but not with regard to Hereticks, nothing will do with these but Menaces and Blows. Why then will they make use of the same means for converting the Pagans in the Indies?
The truth is, they who take on ’em the odious task of vindicating Persecution of any kind, are hard put to it to trim the Matter. If they persecute only Hereticks, and the Conduct of the Apostles be alledg’d against ’em, they answer, That this Example wou’d be a Rule indeed if they had to deal with Infidels as the Apostles had; but that Hereticks being rebellious Children, the Church retains more Right over them than over Pagans. They don’t perceive, that this is furnishing Jews and Pagans with Arms against those among them who embrace the Gospel; and furnishing these Arms in such a manner, that shou’d the new Converts pretend to constrain those who persisted in the Religion of their Fathers, they may presently speak out, That one must be abandon’d to all shame who pretends, that rebellious Children have the same Right over their Mother which she has over them. If they persecute and constrain infidels, as has bin practis’d thro both the Indies in a manner, the very Accounts of which are enough to chill one’s Blood, then they are necessarily forc’d to turn the Tables; they alledg the Practice of the antient Christian Emperors (who, unacquainted with the modern Distinction between the Me-<25>thods to be taken with Hereticks and Infidels, condemn’d the Pagans to Death) and interpret the Parable in its utmost Import, without any manner of Restriction. So that they have such or such Principles, according to the Exigency and Occasions, nothing fixt, but staring Contradictions at every turn, as any one may see, who takes the Pains of reading what Pope Gregory the Great, and his new HistorianMaimbourg, have said upon the Methods of converting the Jews and others. To shew that these Gentlemen have time-serving Principles, I shall cite P. Maimbourg writing at a time when the forcing Men to communicate was not as yet practis’d in France, and highly disapproving this Constraint; for he tells us, that by forcing the Jews to receive Baptism against their Opinion, there were as many Profanations of so holy an Ordinance, and as many Acts of Sacrilege as there were Jews baptis’d. By condemning these forc’d Baptisms, he necessarily condemns all forc’d Communions. At that very time he approv’d all the other Methods made use of against the Reform’d; but because this of constraining to communicate was not yet in vogue, and consequently needed no Apology, and he did not foresee that it wou’d need any, he condemns it peremptorily. As Matters are order’d since, he must bethink himself of some new come-off.
Mr. Diroys, whom I have cited in the Body of my Commentary, must needs be strangely out of Countenance, because it follows from what<26> he has advanc’d in his reasonings on these Points, that his own Religion is good for nothing. Observe how he cuts down Mahometism, without considering, that he strikes Catholicism to the heart at every stroke.
The fourth Character of Falshood, says he, in this Religion of Mahomet, is, That whereas the true Religions, as those of the Jews and Christians, admit no body as a Member of ’em, unless he appears persuaded of their Truth, Hypocrisy serving only to enhance their Guilt; that of Mahomet does in many Cases exact an outward Profession from Persons who inwardly detest it. If a Man has had the Misfortune unwittingly, or even in drink, to give any external Mark of his [Dis]Approbation;if he has hapned to speak of it with Contempt, if he has struck a Mahometan tho in his own defence, if he debauches a Woman, or marrys one of this Religion; there’s no way left for him of expiating these real or pretended Crimes, but by making external Profession of this Religion, altho the Reluctance with which he does it sufficiently testifys, that he is not in the least persuaded of its Truth.
We have shewn, continues he, in discoursing of the Religion of the Gentiles, that the extorting the Profession of a Religion, which one is not in conscience persuaded of, is an evident Proof of its being govern’d by a Spirit at Enmity with Truth and Holiness; since nothing can be more repugnant to Truth, to Vertue, and to solid Piety, than the outward Profession of a Religion, which one believes to be false. The Jews, before the coming ofJesus Christ,and sometimes the Christians since, have indeed punish’d Crimes committed against their Religions with Death, but the embracing it was never made the Condition of Pardon. And therefore no-<27>thing but the Love of God, and a firm Persuasion of its Truth, cou’d incline these Offenders to bewail their Crime, and confess that Religion which they had once blasphem’d. So far Monsieur Diroys.
O what fine Divisions might a Body run upon this Passage! but there’s no great need of discanting on it; I leave it to every Reader to do this of himself, and apply to the present Methods of France so much as comes to its share in this Discourse. I shall only observe, that this learned Doctor of the Sorbon is of my Mind in the Commentary, to wit, that they who condemn Hereticks to Death with a Proviso of Pardon in case they abjure their Heresy, do much worse than if they condemn’d ’em without Mercy. The Spaniards and Portuguese, who give a horror to all true Christians with their detestable Autos de fe, which our Gazets ring with yearly, act very honestly, the first Demerit once suppos’d, I mean the capital Crime of a poor Jew, in not giving him his Life on condition he declares himself a Christian; and wou’d act still better if they did not mitigate his Punishment by changing it for strangling, because in all probability the dread of being burnt alive is what extorts this feign’d Conversion.
I wou’d willingly know how Mr. Diroys, if sent a Missionary into China, cou’d look a Chinese in the Face, who shou’d read this Book of his, after having first read over the Accounts which the Protestants might and ought to furnish ’em of the Exploits of Popery in Europe, America, and the Indies. Wou’d not they tell Monsieur the Missionary, that by his own Principles, the extorting a Profession by Violence is Evidence enough, that the Religion which requires it, is<28> led by a Spirit at enmity with Truth and Holiness? This he cou’d not deny. Wou’d not they likewise tell him, that the Religion which he now preach’d to them had very lately extorted forc’d Professions in the Kingdom of France, and even constrain’d those to communicate who were first constrain’d to sign; and threatned those with the Gallys if they recover’d, who refus’d the Sacrament in their Sickness, or with having their dead Bodys drawn on a Sledg in case they dy’d in such a Refusal? He durst not deny it, if he found that the Protestants took care to transmit the French King’s Edicts to China; or if he were only an honest Man, as we are willing to suppose him. The Conclusion on the whole is unavoidably this; Therefore the Religion, which you, Mr. Diroys, a Doctor of the Sorbon, come to preach up among us, is led by a Spirit at enmity with Truth and Holiness; whereupon all well-minded Men, Christians or not Christians, ought to cry out, εὀ̑ καì ὑπέρευ, belle, optime, nihil supra. And here I can’t but greatly wonder, that the ease of confuting Mr. Diroys on his applying to the Church of Rome, exclusive of all other Churches, the Characters of the Truth of the Christian Religion, has never tempted any one to undertake it. Did I, unworthy I, take up the Cudgels against him, I dare say, I shou’d quickly make appear, that all his Arguments on this Head are purely a begging the Question, or palpable Paralogisms and fallacious Reasoning.
Some of my Acquaintance were strangely surpris’d at the Edicts for drawing on Sledges the dead Bodys of those who refus’d the Communion, and for putting those to Death who shou’d exer-<29>cise any Function of the Reform’d Religion in France, and all Ministers who shou’d come into the Kingdom without a Licence, with large Rewards to the Discoverers, and Penaltys on those who shou’d harbor ’em; the Fate precisely of the Proscrib’d in Rome during the Triumvirate. These Gentlemen told me, they cou’d never have believ’d, that in an Age so clear-sighted and so civiliz’d as ours, a Nation which passes for very polite, cou’d ever come to such cruel Extremitys. I soon chang’d the Object of their wonder, by letting ’em see there was much more reason to be surpriz’d at the Church of Rome’s chaffering so long, and trifling away so much time without coming to Blood; that as this was her natural Element, and the Scene she most delighted in, and the Mark which her truest Arrows oftnest hit, she ought by the course of nature, and by the tendency of human things, to have struck the Blow much sooner, and lodg’d her Arrow, which was not the four nor= the five hundredth she had let fly at Hugonotism in the very midst of the Mark. And as to what they mention’d concerning the Civility of the Age, I let ’em know, that false Religions are always excepted out of the number of those things whose Nature may be humaniz’d. Cruelty is their indelible Character; they have the Power of effacing from the Hearts of Father and Mother those Sentiments of Love and Tenderness for their Infants, which Nature has so deeply imprinted upon ’em. They have had the Power of making Parents stand the broiling and sacrificing these innocent Creatures before their Eyes.<30>
- Aulide quo pacto Triviai Virginis arma
- Iphianassai turparunt sanguine foede
- Ductores Danaum delecti prima virorum.
Why then shou’d they boggle at the Lives of their Enemys? The Church of Rome is now in the very Posture which becomes her best, and sets her off to the greatest Advantage; all she had bin hitherto transacting in France might well have had the Substance and full Effect of the extremest Cruelty, but the Pomp of it was wanting: This she has at last compass’d with great Glory; and after having turn’d herself often round her resting-place, you see her lolling at full length, and perfectly at her ease.
It remains that I offer a Word or two in answer to those who pretend, that Toleration creates endless Confusions in a State, and prove it too by the Advice which Mecenas gives Augustus in the 52d Book of the History of Dion Cassius: Worship the Gods, says he to him, at all Seasons, and in all the ways of Worship which the Religion of your Ancestors prescribes, and take care, that your People, do the same; shew your Abhorrence of those who cause the least Innovations in religious Matters, and restrain ’em by your Authority, not only from a Reverence to the Gods, but also from a Regard to your own Dignity, in as much as these Innovators, by introducing new Worships, divide the Body of the People, whence naturally spring Factions, Cabals, Seditions, Conspiracys, things of very pernicious Consequence in a State. These words taken in gross, and as coming from a Pagan Politician, have an appearance of excellent reason; but nothing in nature can be<31> more ridiculous, than applying ’em as the Roman Catholicks eternally do, to the instigating Christian Princes to persecute different Communions: because in the first place, by virtue of this Advice Augustus and his Successors were oblig’d to persecute the Jews and Christians; and the Emperors of Japan, China, &c. to oppose those with all their Might who mention Christianity in their Dominions, which the Pope and his Adherents will never allow: and therefore they must change the general Maxim of Mecenas into this particular Maxim; Worship God in the way of your Ancestors, where it shall appear that they worship’d God aright; oppose all Innovations except they be for the better: And then it’s a mere indefinite Sentence, which decides nothing.
In the second place, The Maxim of Mecenas was much more reasonable in his times than it wou’d be at present, because the Romans, granting a full Liberty of Conscience to all the Sects of Paganism, and frequently adopting the Worships of other Countrys, it might justly be presum’d, that a Man who did not find his Account in a Religion so large and comprehensive, but affected Noveltys, cou’d have no other design than that of making himself the Head of a Party, and forming political Cabals under a Pretence of worshipping the Gods. But this Presumption does not easily reach a Christian, as well because he is persuaded, that Jesus Christ has left us a standing Rule which we are strictly to follow, as because the Church of Rome imposes a necessity of believing all her Decisions; in which case he who is persuaded, that she has not Reason of her side, is bound in conscience, as he wou’d avoid<32> the Guilt of Hypocrisy, to withdraw from her Communion.
To shew the Absurdity of those who pretend that Toleration causes Dissensions in the State, we need only appeal to Experience. Paganism was divided into an infinite number of Sects, which paid the Gods several different kinds of Worship; and even those Gods which were supreme in one Country, were not so in another: yet I don’t remember I have ever read of a Religious War among the Pagans, unless we give this name to the War enter’d into against those who attempted to pillage the Temple of Delphos. But as for Wars undertaken with a design of compelling one Nation to the Religion of another, I find not the least mention of any such in the Heathen Authors. Juvenal is the only Author who speaks of two Citys of Egypt which had a mortal Aversion to one another, because each maintain’d its own were the only true Gods. Every where else there was a perfect Calm, a perfect Tranquillity; and why? but because the Partys tolerated each others Rites. It’s plain then, as I have shewn in my Commentary, that Non-Toleration is the sole cause of all the Disorders which are falsly imputed to Toleration. The different Sects of Philosophy ne’er disturb’d the Peace of Athens, each maintain’d its own Hypothesis, and argu’d against those of all the other Sects; yet their Differences concern’d matters of no small moment, nay, sometimes it was over Providence, or the Chief Good. But because the Magistrates permitted ’em all alike to teach their own Doctrines, and never endeavor’d by violent Methods to incorporate one Sect into another, the State felt<33> no Inconvenience from this Diversity of Opinions; tho, ’tis probable, had they attempted this Union, they had thrown the whole into Convulsions. Toleration therefore is the very Bond of Peace, and Non-Toleration the Source of Confusion and Squabble.
I shall conclude this Preliminary Discourse with a Remark, which may serve to illustrate what I have said touching the evil effects of Constraint in Religion. I took notice, that Persons intirely persuaded of the Truth of what they abjure with their mouths, sink under the Violence of Pain and Torment. We have a memorable Example of this in the Christians of the first Century, when accus’d of the Fire of Rome under the Reign of Nero. This wicked Emperor was himself the Incendiary; and was generally thought so. He did what he cou’d to remove the Suspicion from himself, but all in vain; at last he bethought himself of laying it on the Christians, and had ’em put to the most exquisite Tortures. Some own’d the Fact, and accus’d a very great number of their Brethren; yet they were all perfectly innocent: but as their Executioners undoubtedly signify’d, that the Design of these Torments was only to make ’em confess themselves the Authors of the Crime, and name a great many Accomplices (for Nero hop’d by this means to acquit himself) they readily gave into the noose, overcome by the Extremity of Pain. Which shews how very difficult it is for a body not to lye, when expos’d to the trial of the sharpest Sufferings. What’s remarkable herein, is, that the Martyrology celebrates all these first Christians, who were tormented on this occa-<34>sion, as Martyrs; as well those who had the Weakness to tell a lye by owning themselves guilty, and accusing their Brethren of an Action very infamous to the Christian Name, as those who resisted the Temptation. Igitur primo correpti qui fatebantur, says Tacitus in B. 15. of his Annals, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens haud perinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti.
When a body considers the Effects of violent Methods on these first Christians, who ought to have bin fill’d with the greatest Ardor which a nascent Religion is able to inspire, when sustain’d by so many visible and fresh Marks of the Divinity of its Founder; when one considers besides, the Success that all those have had who have persecuted to the Rigor, he can’t but conceive a Contempt, mixt with Indignation, for those French Writers, who deafen us with their vile Flatterys, while they pretend that the Extirpation of Calvinism in France was a Work reserv’d for the greatest and most accomplish’d Monarch that ever came into the World, meaning Lewis XIV. One of these Scriblers, a Preacher by Trade (which I observe not to heighten, but to diminish my Reader’s Surprize) pronounc’d a Panegyrick in a full Sorbon last year, in which he told his Hearers, there was a necessity of a Concurrence of several extraordinary Circumstances to extinguish Hugonotism; A solid Peace with the neighboring Powers, the Glory of a Prince spread to the uttermost parts of the Universe, the Terror of his Name transmitted to distant Countrys, a mighty Power, a deal of Lenity, &c. He adds, that Lewis the<35> Great was blest with all these Advantages; that the Kings his Predecessors had employ’d Fire and Sword to destroy the Heresys of their Times, some with good Success, and some to no purpose: but that his Majesty, without making use of these lawful means, had triumph’d over Heresy by his Gentleness, by his Wisdom, and by his Piety. This is exactly the Language of a world of other Authors, even those who are neither Haranguers nor Sermon-mongers. And now who cou’d forbear laughter, did the Miserys of his Neighbor allow his laughing at things the most ridiculous in themselves? ’Twas necessary, say they, that his Glory shou’d be spread to the utmost parts of the Earth, the Terror of his Name convey’d to foreign Nations, and a mighty Power: And why all this? Only to convert Hereticks, by his Gentleness, by his Wisdom, and by his Piety. Did ever any one hear such Extravagance? This Terror, this Power, this Glory, were proper enough, I own, for constraining Men to return into the Bosom of the Church, who were most averse to it, and to extort the signing of a Formulary; but where a Prince resolves to employ only Gentleness, and Wisdom, and Piety, as this Abbe Robert says in his Panegyrick the King did, I can’t see of what use it was to render himself terrible to all Europe. But to pass over this Contradiction, to pass over all the Remarks which may be made on these mercenary Declamations; as their saying on one hand, he had accomplish’d the Work by Methods of Gentleness, and on the other hand that it was necessary to strike a terror into Strangers, and be sustain’d with mighty Forces; which shews at least that there was a Design of working upon the Fears<36> of People, and employing Force against those who wou’d not be converted by fair means: to pass over, I say, all these Remarks, I shall content my self with maintaining, that there was so little need of acquiring a mighty Reputation, such as the King of France has got by the Success of his Arms, in order to constrain his Subjects by the methods which have bin practis’d to make ’em abjure, that the meanest Monarch of the first or second Race might have done as much, had he to deal with Subjects under such Circumstances as the Hugonots, dispers’d over a vast Kingdom, without a Head, without Fortresses, without Magazines, surrounded and every where beset by Popish Subjects and arm’d Troops. Chuse me out any Nation of Men that you please, and of what Religion you please; scatter ’em all over France, exactly as those of the Reformation lay, and I’l chuse my King the despicablest and meanest that ever wore a Crown, but with plenty of Dragoons and Foot-Soldiers at his beck: let him give ’em orders to treat their Landlords as the pretended Hereticks were lately treated in France, I’l pawn my Life, and I dare say any sober Man, who considers the matter ever so little, will be of my opinion, that these People will almost every Mother’s Son of ’em change their Religion. But how comes it then, that neither Charles IX nor Henry III cou’d compass the Ruin of this Sect? Not because either of ’em was void of the personal Qualitys which meet in the Prince who is now on the Throne, but because the Hugonots were then arm’d, and in a condition to repel Force by Force; besides that, generally speaking, they were in those days extremely zealous in their<37> Religion. Had these Princes found the Reformation in that Declension to which it was reduc’d about ten years ago, they had certainly accomplish’d its Ruin as effectually as others have now. I say then, that its Declension in Power being once suppos’d, which is principally due to Lewis XIII, there was no need of a formidable Glory among Strangers, nor of any extraordinary personal Qualitys to finish its Ruin; there was nothing more requisite to this end, than on one hand a Capacity in the Prince of looking with a dry and unrelenting Air on the sacking of one part of his Subjects, and the Captivity or Exile of so many Familys, and on the other a great many Soldiers accustom’d to Barbaritys: nothing more was requisite for the so much boasted Exploit. The Chilperic’s and the Wenceslaus’s had bin altogether as well qualify’d for such a Work in the foremention’d Circumstances, as the Charlemagn’s.
Which more and more exposes the French Panegyrists want of Judgment, who can’t say three words together with any Justness, or without cutting themselves down. I’m amaz’d, that among so many Refugees as write upon the present State of their Religion, not one of ’em shou’d think of making Extracts of all that the French Catholicks say of this kind in their Books. One shou’d find in ’em such a Chaos of jarring and incoherent Thoughts, as can no where be parallel’d. I’m told, they design to intreat Mr. Colomies to give himself this trouble.
I can scarce make the primitive Church an Exception to the general Rule. I know ’twas the Purpose of Providence, that it shou’d prevail without the Assistance of the Secular Power, and<38> in spite of all the Opposition of the World; and for this end God inspir’d the Faithful of these first Days with an extraordinary Zeal: yet I can’t but think that the intervals of Peace and Respite which they enjoy’d, sometimes for many years together, contributed mainly to the establishing the Christian Religion. It’s certain, all our Accounts of the ten Persecutions are deliver’d by Historians none of the most exact, and that they are all stuff’d with Declamation and Hyperbole. Christianity had undoubtedly perish’d, without a continual course of Miracles for the three first Centurys, if all the Pagan Emperors had apply’d themselves in good earnest to the extinguishing it: but God was pleas’d to entertain ’em with other Thoughts and other Affairs, which oblig’d ’em to let the Christians live in Peace. And the great Progress of the Christian Church is as much owing to this, as to its Patience under Sufferings.
I can’t conclude without a short Reflection on these words of the Panegyrick of the Abbé Robert, Great Penitentiary of the Church of Paris; That his Majesty chose not the lawful means, to wit, Fire and Sword, which his Ancestors had frequently employ’d against the Hereticks of their times. Pray observe his Language in the presence of a full Sorbon, the Language of Popery in general: Fire and Sword are wholesom and warrantable Methods with all who are not Orthodox. If so, pray how cou’d the Duke of Guise, who was murder’d by Poltrot, pronounce with so much Emphasis the Saying which is ascrib’d to him, and mention’d so much to his Honor? The Story is this: That at the Siege of Roan a Hugonot<39> Gentleman being brought before him, who had conspir’d his Death, and who own’d he was not prompted to it from any Hatred to his Person, but purely from the Instincts of his own Religion, and because he thought his Death might be of service to it; the Duke releasing him, said: Go, Sir, if your Religion enjoins you to assassinate those who have never injur’d you, mine obliges me to give you your Life, tho I might justly take it away; and now judg you which of the two is best. This were a truly Wise and Christian Saying, from any one but a Catholick, at the head of a persecuting Army: but when one considers that the Person who speaks thus is a Persecutor on the score of Religion, he can’t but despise him, as acting an unnatural part, and turning Religion into Grimace; one who out of rank Pride and a Bravado pardons a private Person who deserves Death, while at the same time he exercises the most savage and horrible Crueltys on a whole Body of innocent People. Was not this very Duke of Guise of the same Religion as Francis I and Henry II? Had not he approv’d and advis’d the Edict of Chateau-Briant, and that of Romorantin, which first decreed the Protestants to death? Did not he labor with all his might to settle the Inquisition in France? which, strictly speaking, had bin setting up a Slaughterhouse for Men, a Court of Fire and Faggot, beset and continually surrounded with Bloodhounds. Was not he the principal Promoter of all the Measures which were broken by the precipitate Death of Francis II for marching Troops thro all the Provinces of the Kingdom, to force<40> every living Soul to sign a Formulary, on pain of Banishment and Confiscation of Goods (which was the gentlest Treatment). For how many, alas, must they have put to death! Last of all, Was not this the very Duke, who had suffer’d his Troops to massacre a whole Congregation of Hugonots at Vassi, only because they were assembled at their Prayers in a Barn? In a word, the Obstinacy of this single Person, and his persisting to have these poor People inexorably punish’d with Death, was it not the cause of all the Civil Wars on the score of Religion; which France had never felt, if these People had bin suffer’d to worship God in their own way? And did not he do all this out of a Zeal for Religion? Had he done any thing like it, if he had bin a Pagan? Wou’d not he have tolerated Protestants as well as Papists? Was not all this Conduct of his approv’d by Pope and Clergy? How then cou’d he pretend that his Religion taught him to pardon those who had injur’d him, since it oblig’d him to murder and torment, by a thousand exquisite ways, a world of poor People, who never had done him the least prejudice, and who had no other demerit, but that of serving God according to the Light of their Consciences? Observe the horrible Turpitude and Kind of Farce, which mixes with those Religions that persecute, and compel to come in. A Man of such a Religion will make no difficulty of protesting he’s ready to pardon one of a different Religion all private Offences committed against himself; yet he’l truss him up to a Gibbet, or send him to the Gallys, because he wants the true Faith, even tho he had receiv’d<41> kind Offices from him. In good truth, this Duke did not think before he spake, when he durst make a comparison of the two Religions, and give his own the Preference in point of Charity. The Gentleman, who had conspir’d his Death, upon a persuasion of its being for the Interest of the Protestant Religion, was a Stranger to the true Principles of this Party; for there’s no Protestant Divine, but says, and preaches, and maintains, that Assassination is an unlawful means of promoting the Interest of Religion: but the Duke, conformably to a Doctrine approv’d and enjoin’d a thousand times over in his own Religion, gave his Opinion in Council for the enacting of sanguinary Laws against a world of innocent inoffensive People; nor was there a Pulse in his Body, that did not beat high for the extirpating Protestants by the most violent methods. And, with such Dispositions as these, was it not mocking the World to glory in being of a Religion which enjoins Forgiveness? I wish the Convertists would think a little of this. They are got into such Circumstances, that all the fairest Maxims of Christian Morality are mere Ironys, Farce, and unaccountable Jargon in their mouths. For can they have the face to say, that they sacrifice their Resentments for the Love of Jesus Christ, forgive Injurys, and seek peace with all Men? Can they have the face to say this, when we may so justly reproach ’em, that by constraining Conscience, which they believe a Christian Duty, they are under a necessity of pillaging, smiting, imprisoning, kidnapping, and putting to death a world of People, who do no prejudice to the<42> State, nor to their Neighbor; and who are guilty of no other Crime, than that of not believing, from a sense of their Duty to God, what others do believe from a sense likewise of their Duty to God?
The Age we live in, and, I’m apt to think, the Ages before us, have not fallen short of ours; is full of Free-Thinkers and Deists. People are amaz’d at it; but for my part, I’m amaz’d that we have not more of this sort among us, considering the havock which Religion has made in the World, and the Extinction, by an almost unavoidable Consequence, of all Vertue; by its authorizing, for the sake of a temporal Prosperity, all the Crimes imaginable, Murder, Robbery, Banishment, Rapes, &c. which produce infinite other Abominations, Hypocrisy, sacrilegious Profanation of Sacraments, &c. But I leave it to my Commentary, to carry on this matter.