Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter VIII: The seventh Argument against the literal Sense, drawn from its being unknown to the Fathers of the three first Centurys. - A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, 'Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full'
Chapter VIII: The seventh Argument against the literal Sense, drawn from its being unknown to the Fathers of the three first Centurys. - 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
The seventh Argument against the literal Sense, drawn from its being unknown to the Fathers of the three first Centurys.
This Argument might be binding upon those of the Church of Rome, were they Men of fixt Principles: But alas, they are not, they are Proteus’s, who get loose by a thousand slippery tricks, and under all kind of Forms, when one thinks he has ’em fastest. They’l teach us in all other Instances, that where a Dispute arises concerning the Sense of any Scripture-Passage, we must consult Tradition, and hold by the Sense of the Fathers: So that let any Exposition of Scripture be ever so reasonable, yet if it be new, they’l tell us it’s not worth a straw, it comes too late, and there’s Prescription against it. To reason upon this Principle, all Arguments for Persecution drawn from the Gospel, in the days of Theodosius and St. Augustin, ought to be rejected; because ’twas giving the Gospel a Sense intirely new, which came too late, and which there was Prescription against. But our Adversarys are not to be stun’d with such Trifles; they’l say, the Authority of the Fathers is valid, not where themselves happen to differ about any point of Doctrine, but where they unanimously agree: And for this Reason, the great<127> Lights of the fourth Century not falling in with some former Opinions concerning Persecution, the more antient Fathers are not a sufficient Authority for the Doctrine I maintain. When we press ’em by saying, that all the Fathers are not agreed in any one point, they wriggle themselves out by some other Loop-hole, and are not asham’d to maintain the literal Sense; tho by their own Confession, the unanimous Consent of the Fathers, that indispensable mark of Truth, be wanting. However, this shall not hinder my going on with my Argument in the following manner.
It is not probable, had Jesus Christ ordain’d the making Christians by force, that the Fathers of the three first Centurys had constantly reason’d, as Men verily persuaded, that all Constraint is inconsistent with the Nature of Religion: for with regard to all points of Gospel-Morality, or as to any Precept, or Counsel (call it so) of Jesus Christ, none were fitter to know the Sense of the Scriptures than they; and shou’d God have conceal’d from ’em the meaning of a Precept of this importance, so far as to let ’em run on in false Reasonings, and in a Supposition of its being impious, there’s no Christian but might justly be shock’d and scandaliz’d at their Ignorance. Once more then, I say, it’s manifestly against Reason, against all the Appearances of Truth, that Jesus Christ shou’d enjoin compelling the Jews and the Gentiles to Baptism; and yet the Apostles either not comprehend him, or if they did, not caution their chief Disciples to be reserv’d in condemning Violences, lest by condemning ’em in general, they shou’d advance<128> an Heterodoxy, and directly contradict Jesus Christ, at least put Arms into the hands of those whom the Christians might one day use violence to, and give ’em a handle for crying out upon the shameful difference between the Christianity of the first, and that of the latter days. This was the least cou’d be expected from the Apostles and their first Disciples, the trustiest Depositarys of Tradition: If it was not seasonable or prudent to execute the Order of Jesus Christ in those earlier days, by compelling to come in; at least they shou’d have hinted, that a Day wou’d come, when this might be very piously practis’d, and in the mean time beware branding this Doctrine with the Character of Falshood. Yet this the Fathers have done in the strongest terms, and even in the fourth Century, when the Arians first began to persecute. This alone, says St. Athanasius, is a plain Argument, that they have neither Piety nor the Fear of God before their Eyes. ’Tis the Nature of Piety not to constrain, but to persuade; after the Example ofJ. Christ,who constraining none,left it to every one’s Discretion, whether they wou’d follow him or no. For the Devil’s part, as he has not the force of Truth on his side, he comes about with Sledges and Iron Crows to burst open the Doors of those who are to receive him: but so meek is our Lord and Saviour, that tho he teaches in such a Stile as this, If any one will come after me; He that will be my Disciple; yet he compels none; knocking only at the Door, and saying, My Sister, my Spouse, open unto me; and entring when it’s open’d, and departing if they tarry and are unwilling to receive him: for it is not (mark well these words, ye Gentlemen of the Council of Conscience to Lewis XIV most Chris-<129>tian King of France and Navarre) withSwordandSpear,nor withSoldiersand arm’dForce,thatTruthis to be propagated, but byCounseland sweetPersuasion. Isn’t this the plainest Proof, that the Apostles knew nothing of this pretended Mystery of Persecution, contain’d in the Parable; and that Jesus Christ intended, not only that it shou’d be unknown to the first Ages of Christianity, but condemn’d also and stigmatiz’d as a cruel and diabolical Impiety? which wou’d look very absurd, if at the same time he had enjoin’d Persecution. For how can we conceive, that he shou’d suffer a Point of Morality of such Consequence to be traduc’d and anathematiz’d by the holiest and purest part of Christianity for some Ages together; and these Anathema’s intended to refute the Enemys of Truth, by showing, that Jesus Christ taught his Disciples to constrain no one? They said so much not only before the Christian Emperors made use of Violence, but for a long time after. Our venerableBede speaking of King Ethelred, in whose Reign St. Gregory Pope of Rome mission’d the Monk Augustin, with some others, to convert our Island, mentions expresly, that this King being converted to the Christian Faith, constrain’d none of his Subjects to follow his Example, and only distinguish’d those by his Favors, who<130> became Christians; having learn’d, says he, from his Doctors and Instruments of his Salvation, that the Service ofJesus Christought to be voluntary, and not constrain’d. This Notion, to wit, that Jesus Christ has ordain’d only Instruction, Persuasion, a voluntary Service, and by no means Violence, is so deeply engrav’d in our Minds, that we vend it as indubitable, whenever there is not an actual design of flattering, or not provoking Princes who persecute, or when the justifying Persecutions is not the present Subject of one’s Book. In France there are Treatises daily printed, in which this Notion is plainly exprest, which renders the Popish Writers of that Kingdom extremely ridiculous; because sometimes in the very Books where they say it’s lawful to compel, having in view the Dragoonerys for forcing the Protestants, they drop unawares, that the Gospel is a Law of Meekness and Gentleness, which accepts no Offerings but what are voluntary: the Reason is, that they forget for that moment their principal Theme of palliating and flattering, and so long the Notions of the Heart and Understanding take place. Add to this, that they deny their King has made use of Violence, which is in some measure acknowledging the Falsity of the literal Sense.
I don’t cite those Passages of the Fathers, which condemn in the general all manner of Persecution and Violence on the score of Religion: they are notorious to all the World. Grotius has collected a good many; and even the mercenary French Apologists for Persecution can’t dissemble these Authoritys of the Fathers, as may be seen in a Book written by one Ferrand, a Barister at Law among ’em.<131>