Front Page Titles (by Subject) 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 - A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, 'Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full'
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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 - 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).
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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 Absurdity of this Excuse; and supposing the literal Sense, That capital Punishments are much more reasonable than the Law-Quirks, Pillorys, and Captivitys made use of in France.
Your Reasoning, they’l tell me, is very disingenuous; you eternally suppose, that to obey the Precept, Compel ’em to come in, we must set up a Gibbet in every street, and study the most exquisite Torments. This is not our way of understanding it: tho we think it but reasonable, that a King in whom the whole Legislative Power is vested, shou’d distinguish those of his own Religion by his Favors, and discountenance others; nay threaten, if they obstinately refuse to be instructed, that he shall be forc’d against his Inclination to lay on extraordinary Taxes, exact all the Dutys of Vassalage, quarter his Troops on ’em, &c.<186>
I answer, 1. That they might easily see I did not make the most odious Crueltys, or the most crying in the judgment of the world, my Standard; and for the most part, that I have gone upon the Persecution which our Adversarys wou’d fain have accounted the gentlest that ever was, to wit, the late Persecution in France. 2. That I had a right to guide my self by what is actually practis’d in all the Countrys where the Inquisition is settled, and by what the Popish Princes have ever done at the instigation of the Pope and his Emissarys, as here among our selves under the Reign of Q. Mary, and in France under that of Francis I and Henry II. Fire, and Faggot, and Gibbet was the way then; I suppose they won’t deny this.
But my most significant Answer is this, That the Constraint allegedly enjoin’d by Jesus Christ being impracticable without the Commission of Actions evil in their nature, if the Appointment of Jesus Christ, and the Benefit accruing from ’em to the Church did not rectify; it follows, that in order to judg whether any particular Species of Constraint be unjust, we ought to consider these two things: 1. Whether prohibited by God. 2.= Whether unfit to promote the Good of the Church. And if it lie under neither of these Defects, it evidently follows from the Principles which I impugn, that it is just. If neither the Wheel then, nor any other cruel Punishment, be under either of these cases, it follows they may be very justly employ’d against Sectarys. Now it’s easily prov’d, that they lie under neither.
1. Nothing can be pretended from God’s having<187> forbidden ’em; because we must by a necessary Consequence allow, that no other way of constraining to the true Religion, by Fine, Banishment, Dungeons, and quartering of Soldiers, is warranted by God. It’s evident, these are all prohibited and sinful in other circumstances; but our Gentlemen pretend, that in case they are made use of for bringing Men over to the true Religion, they become lawful, and warranted, and good: consequently the general Reason, That God has forbidden Murder, and detests the shedding of innocent Blood, does not hold against the burning a Heretick; because by the same rule it wou’d hold against the imprisoning him, or bringing him to Beggary: it being evident, that one is as much forbidden by God as the other. If therefore the general Command against oppressing the Innocent ceases with regard to Hereticks; the Command against shedding of innocent Blood must cease with regard to the same Hereticks, unless God himself declares the Exception to his own Law, when he enjoins the compelling to come in. But it’s manifest he makes no such Exception, since he only expresses it simply and absolutely, Compel ’em to come in. There can be no reason then which, in paying obedience to this Command, dispenses with the Breach of another Command, Thou shalt not steal, but shall equally dispense with the Breach of, Thou shalt do no murder. The Command of constraining is general, it must therefore either derogate from no Law of the second Table, or derogate from all; nor can it ever be shewn, why it shou’d dispense with the Transgression of any one, and not dispense with the Transgression of all the rest. This I have<188> urg’d in another place.70 Since Jesus Christ therefore has no where distinguish’d upon the kinds of Constraint, he has left the choice of ’em to the pleasure and discretion of the proper Powers; and it can’t be pretended, that Wheel and Gibbet have had an exclusion.
They’l tell me perhaps, that the Analogy of Faith makes us easily perceive what kind of Constraints are disallow’d by Jesus Christ; and that as the Spirit of the Gospel is that of Gentleness and Patience, common Sense must tell us, when Jesus Christ dispenses with this Gentleness, that he still means we shall keep as near it as possible, and avoid all those barbarous Punishments which Cruelty inspires. This, in my opinion, is the most reasonable thing they can offer, and yet there’s nothing at all in it.
For were we to set bounds to our Constraint by the Analogy of the Gospel Spirit, we shou’d never go beyond lively and pathetick Exhortations, and the pressing in season and out of season the Promises of a future Life, and the Pains of Hell; or at most, not beyond the diminishing some Privileges, when we saw Men make an ill use of their Liberty. We shou’d never think it allowable to depart from the Gentleness of the Gospel so far, as to separate Husbands from their Wives, Fathers and Mothers from their Children, expose ’em to the Pillage of the Soldiery, thrust ’em into Dungeons, and deprive ’em of all means of subsisting. And tho there’s perhaps less Cruelty and Barbarity in Punishments of this kind, than in impaling a Man ’nointed with a bituminous matter, and then setting him in a blaze, or stoving him in Phalaris’s brazen Bull; yet it<189> is certain, there’s Inhumanity and Injustice enough to convince us that Jesus Christ does not approve ’em. Else we must say, he forbids only Crimes of the most heinous, and not those of a lower kind; whereas he condemns the very Thought and Look of Inhumanity and Injustice. Shou’d they say, it’s out of charity that they torment People with their Dragoons, it’s to save ’em so as by Fire; who sees not that as much may be said in behalf of the cruellest Punishments? For what can hinder their answering, that they break a Heretick upon the Wheel out of an excess of Christian Charity, either in hopes that the Dread of the Punishment will make himself comply, or the Example strike a terror into the whole Sect? But we shall speak more fully to this in another place. What I have said, suffices to shew that the first of the two things I suppos’d, to wit, that taking the Parable in the literal Sense, it can’t be pretended the cruellest Punishments are unlawful.
2. The next thing I advanc’d was, that Punishments of this kind are not improper towards promoting the Good of Religion; that is, towards adding to the number of those who profess it. All Constraint is indeed in different respects proper and improper for this end; for there are those who stiffen in their Opinions by being teaz’d about ’em, and on whom the Blood of Martyrs, be they true or false, makes a wonderful impression: but there are many more on the other hand, generally speaking, who stagger, and at last sink under Persecution. It’s hard to lay down any general Rule in this case, because the Effects of Persecutions vary according to the Circumstances of<190> Time and Place, and according to the Dispositions of the Persecuted. The surest I think is this, That if a gentle Persecution can add to a Church, a smart Persecution shall add much more; and therefore tho persecuting by Fine, Prison, and Dragoon, be less estrang’d from the Spirit of the Gospel, than persecuting to the life, as in the Reign of Dioclesian, yet it were more expedient, take one thing with another, to persecute in this last way than the first; because that which on one hand might be less Evangelick in this way, wou’d be abundantly compensated by the Overplus of Advantage to Religion. The better to comprehend this, let us examine what Advantages the Convertists pretend to reap from their mitigated Violences; that is, from Prisons, Banishment, and Confiscation.
1. Say they, These rouze Men from their slumber in a false Religion, such as live in it only because they were born in it, without ever considering the Reasons o’ both sides; and oblige ’em seriously to examine their own Religion: and in this Examination they will meet with the Truth.
But I ask any reasonable Man, whether they shan’t be much better rouz’d by threatning ’em with the Galleys, than by threatning only with a Fine; by threatning ’em with perpetual Imprisonment, than by threatning with double Taxes; in a word, by threatning ’em with the Wheel, than by threatning with Banishment. I don’t think any will deny this; and consequently, that they advance more by the most violent Persecutions, than by the less violent, with regard to the obliging the Incurious, who are of such a Religion only from Custom and<191> Education, to examine wherefore they are of it.
2. They say, the Fear of pinching Want, and slight temporal Affliction, inclines ’em to examine the Reasons without prejudice; it weans from a Fondness for their native Sect, it slackens the Bands of inveterate Habits, to think it may be much for their advantage, shou’d they get thorow this Examination undeceiv’d of their Opinions, and firmly persuaded that the Church which threatens is better for this Life, as well as for that which is to come. Now this happy Disposition is a good step to the finding out the true Church.
But let me ask any reasonable Man in my turn, Whether, if the Fear of a slight Punishment be able to break the Charm of inveterate Habits, and the Power of Prejudices, and inspire a predisposing Desire or implicit Wish, that what the Party had all along believ’d false, might now upon the inquiry be found true: I ask, I say, whether if the Fear of a slight Punishment be able to produce such Effects, the Fear of the Wheel, Gibbet, or Galley, won’t produce ’em much quicker. They who have a mortal hatred for Convertists, need only wish ’em ridiculous enough to answer, No.
3. Say they, Threatning a Forfeiture of Goods and Honors, makes the Ambitious and Covetous quit their Heresy; and tho they shou’d not be inwardly chang’d, not even by habitually going to Mass, which they are oblig’d to do, still their Children and Posterity are gain’d.
But once more, won’t they gain all this, and much more securely, by threatning Hereticks with Death? Won’t they conquer their Obsti-<192>nacy much the sooner, the more terrible the threatned Punishments are? How many Men wou’d submit to pay a heavy Fine yearly, to be redeem’d from the Mass, who yet wou’d not redeem themselves at the price of Life; so that they are sure of gaining the more Children, the more they aggravate the Penaltys? In a word, we need only trace this last Persecution from the beginning to the end, to find that it never produc’d its effects to any considerable degree, till it put Men upon the Alternative, either of starving, dying of lingring Deaths in Dungeons, the Sport and May-game of an insolent Soldiery; or else signing the Formulary. All the Preludes to it by Quirks at Law and vexatious Prosecutions, scarce quitted the Cost of signing, sealing, and registring the Edicts: They must either have bin baffled and lost all their labor, or put the Persecution upon a foot, which if rightly consider’d, was more rigorous than Death it self. Here then is a fresh Example confirming what I had said before, to wit, that the sharper the Persecution, the more it increases the persecuting Communion, generally speaking.
4. Say they, The Church is secur’d from the Scandal of having dy’d its hands in Blood, when they content themselves with a Persecution a la mode de Lewis XIV. Now the being freed from this Reproach is no small gain; the rather, as it preserves the Lives of many who become good Catholicks by Custom and Acquaintance.
I answer, (1.) That as to the Glory of Christianity, I see no great matter in its being rescu’d from the blackest Reproach. To set up for Merit, it is not enough that it fall short of the<193> extremest Point of Evil: its Reputation is low enough, if it be confessedly very bad, tho ’twere possible to be worse. (2.) That the Protestants expostulate in their Writings, that they wou’d rather be persecuted in Francis I’s or Dioclesian’s way, than a la mode de Lewis XIV. And therefore these pretendedly mitigated Persecutions can no more hinder their crying out against the Gallican Church, than if she had actually dy’d her hands in Blood. (3.) That if on one hand it be an advantage to spare the Lives of Hereticks under the appearance of good Catholicks, because in effect they sometimes become such; it is pernicious on the other, because they may corrupt their Children, and instruct ’em privately in their Heresy: whereas if the Fathers and Mothers were all knock’d o’ the head, they might afterwards reckon upon the Children. (4.)= That it’s pure Vanity, or Reasons of State, which hinder their putting Hereticks to death, and make ’em chuse to dragoon ’em into compliance. ’Tis because they wou’d find matter for their fulsom Panegyricks and Poems, and boast that his Majesty had done more without Fire and Faggot, than all his Ancestors with ’em. ’Tis because they are afraid this kind of Punishment might mar the Design, as it did in the days of Francis I, Henry II, Charles IX, &c. Beside that the Death of a Subject is a detriment to the State.
Nothing in nature is more to be pity’d than the Writings of the French Authors against the Spanish, upon their methods of supporting the Catholick Church. The Spaniards glory in their Inquisition, and reproach the French on their tolerating Calvinists. The French (I mean those<194> who wrote before the late Persecution) say a thousand handsom things in answer, cite the antient Fathers thick and threefold, to prove, that we must not force Conscience, and say as severe things against the Inquisition as any Protestant. They’l still cry it down, and reproach the Spaniards, that their Faggots and bloody Tribunal of the Inquisition are a Scandal to Christianity; and that if they must persecute, they ought to follow the methods which were taken in France. I hope I shall live to see some able Spanish Doctor expose the Absurdity and Ridiculousness of this Distinction; for in reality, here’s the fairest occasion in the World for mocking the bitter Invectives of the French Writers against the Spanish Inquisition: not that at bottom they condemn’d it in it self, but purely because not establish’d among themselves; for were it once introduc’d, you shou’d have Panegyricks upon the Inquisition stuck up at the Corner of every street. The truth is, nothing can be more agreeable than the Inquisition to the literal Sense of the Words, Compel ’em to come in, if you only except some want of Formality in the Indictment; nothing more just or more laudable, than putting Hereticks to death, as the Spaniards do; if once it be suppos’d, that Jesus Christ commands to force ’em in. How horrible that some Christians shou’d hold a Doctrine, which once suppos’d, must make the Inquisition the most holy Institution that ever was upon Earth!
It’s possible the greatest part of my Readers may not have consider’d these things thorowly enough, to agree to all I have now said; yet I am persuaded, they can’t but allow what follows.<195>
That the same Reasons which authorize the Dragoon Crusade, and the other Methods in vogue with the French Government, being sufficient to authorize Wheel and Faggot, the Question is only this, to know at what Seasons, and in what Places the first kind of Constraint is preferable to the latter: and after this, in order to know, whether the Spanish Inquisition be a more proper way than the French Dragooning, ’twere requisite to know, which of the two methods is best fitted to the Genius of the Subjects upon whom they are serv’d; for to say, that the Inquisition puts People to death, whereas the Dragoonery only ruins ’em, is saying nothing. The Spaniards will presently reply, that they have to deal with a sort of People, who are never to be reclaim’d but by broiling; whereas the French have to do with more tractable Spirits, and there’s an end of that Dispute: each Nation employs the means which they deem properest; shou’d either be wrong, it is not out of any Disregard to the Command of Jesus Christ, but for want of a thorow Acquaintance with the Character of the Spanish Nation, or from a juster Knowledge of that of the French. Now it’s but a slight Fault in the sight of God, and a very low degree of Vertue, to be more or less ignorant of the Genius of a Nation; and as for the Judgment of Men, the Spaniards are under no pain about it, because they find their own Account in the Tribunal of the Inquisition, they preserve Unity by it as near as possible, and therefore may very well applaud themselves in having wisely adapted the means to the ends. And in case it did happen, that a Prince, in obeying the Command, Compel ’em to come in,<196> shou’d chuse amiss, as the Duke of Alva in the Low Countrys, when he chose the bloody way of Executions with those People; yet ’twere no hard matter to justify him in the thoughts of all equitable Persons, by only saying, that we must not judg of things by the Event, and that those means which in human Prudence are thought the fittest, have very often an unprosperous Issue. One might even insist, that the King of Spain had hit, in the Temper of the Duke of Alva, upon the true means for extinguishing the Reformation in the Low Countrys, had he but the Patience to let him continue for a few Years; and there’s good ground to believe, if Philip made a wrong step in sending such a Man into Flanders, that he made much a worse step in recalling him. He ought either never to have employ’d him there, or have let him go on in his own way. The Convertists of those times, such as were the least unreasonable of the Tribe, wish’d undoubtedly something, not unlike the illustrious*Roman’s Wish touching the Union of Cesar and Pompey. A world of People, and especially the French, talk and exclaim to this Day, against Charles V as tho, thro his Remisness, in not vigorously exerting his Arms early enough against Lutheranism, he had bin the Cause of its taking root in Germany, where, say they, he might easily have crush’d it, if he had bestir’d himself betimes. By this they confess, that generally speaking, there’s no such sure way of duly fulfilling the Precept of the Parable as extreme Severity.<197>
From hence I think it very plainly appears, that the literal Sense which I reject is justly chargeable with Wheel, Gibbet, Tortures, Phalaris’s Bull, and in general, with the most inhuman Executions; since it calls for ’em by a just and very natural Consequence, wherever the less rigorous Methods are judg’d insufficient to the end.
And here I can’t forbear exposing the Conceit of a modern French Monk, who, after†having shewn from Scripture and Ecclesiastical History, that the Council of Lateran was right, in delivering over Hereticks, the Albigenses for example, to the Secular Arm, to be punish’d with temporal Punishments; adds, that the Clemency of Princes, who treat ’em by gentler Methods, to recover ’em from their Errors and incline them to be instructed, is notwithstanding more to be prais’d, and more conformable to the Spirit of the Church: what our great Monarch (Louis XIV) pursues he, practises with so much Wisdom and Gentleness. The whole ground of this Monk’s Moderation was this: He saw the way with the Calvinists of France was, not punishing with Death, but tormenting ’em sundry other ways; this was Demonstration to him, that the Practice was more praise-worthy, and more agreeable to the Spirit of the Church; since else he must have fallen into this capital Heresy, that what is practis’d in France is not more agreeable to the Spirit of God which governs the Church, than what is practis’d in the Countrys under the Inquisition. But what wou’d this Monk mean by saying, that a Conduct, opposite to Scripture, and to Ecclesiastical Histo-<198>ry, is more to be commended, and more agreeable to the Spirit of the Church? This is strange Jargon. Can the Spirit of the Church be opposite to Scripture, and to the History of the Church? And when a Prince won’t do what’s recommended in Scripture and Church-History, can he merit greater Praises, and be more conform’d to the Spirit of the Church than when he does? After all, is it not overthrowing the Authority of Councils to say, it’s more praise-worthy to treat Hereticks, as they have bin treated in France for twenty years past, than to obey the Council of Lateran, which ordains the exterminating ’em?
See what a Lock our Doctors of the Romish Communion are got into. Their Councils have ordain’d Persecution to death, yet a great many Authors dare not condemn those Princes who keep within some Bounds of Moderation; and they who maintain the literal Sense of the Precept, Compel ’em to come in, are yet constrain’d to own upon several occasions, that ’tis more agreeable to the Spirit of the Church, not to compel by temporal Inflictions. This we plainly see in that Passage of the Jacobin71 just now cited. He proves from Scripture, and doubtless he cou’d not have overlook’d the Parable in question, that the Council of Lateran was very right; and yet the King of France, who for three years past has neither obey’d the Council of Lateran, nor the Scripture approving that Council, was more to be prais’d, and more led by the Spirit of the Church, than if he had conform’d to the Council of Lateran, which, according to this Author, was most exactly conformable to Scripture and Tradition. ’Tis not amiss to observe, that<199> the words of the Parable, taken in the literal Sense, don’t import a bare Permission only of compelling, but a most express Command; so that one is oblig’d, in pursuance of it, to force to the utmost of his Power.
I have met with another hitch of this kind, and which has a near relation to these matters, in a Treatise of Justus Lipsius. This Man having bin ruin’d in his Fortune by the Wars in the Low Countrys, fled to Leyden, where he found an honorable Retreat; and was chosen a Professor, making no great scruple of outwardly abjuring Popery. During his stay there, he publish’d some Pieces concerning Government, in which he advanc’d among other Maxims, That no State ought to suffer a Plurality of Religions, nor shew any Mercy towards those who disturb’d the establish’d Worship, but pursue ’em with Fire and Sword; it being better, one Member shou’d perish rather than the whole Body. Clementiae non hic locus, ure, seca, ut membrorum potius aliquod quam totum Corpus corrumpatur.72 This was very unhandsom in a Person kindly entertain’d by a Protestant Republick, which had newly reform’d its Religion; since it was loudly approving all the Rigors of Philip II, and the Duke d’Alva. And besides, ’twas a prodigious piece of Imprudence, and an execrable Impiety: since on one hand it might be infer’d from his Book, that none but the Reform’d Religion ought to be tolerated in Holland; and on the other, that the Pagans were very right in hanging all the Preachers of the Gospel. He was attack’d on this head by one Theodore Cornhert, and put into some disorder;<200> for we find him oblig’d to tack about, and declaring, that these two words, Ure, Seca, were only Phrases borrow’d from Chirurgery, to signify, not literally Fire and Sword, but some smart Remedy. All these Doubles are to be met with in his Treatise de una Religione. It is truly the very worst Book he ever wrote, except his impertinent Legend, and silly Poems written in his old Age, upon some Chappels of the Virgin; his Mind beginning about this time to be moap’d, as heretofore Pericles’s, so far as to suffer himself to be trick’d out Neck and Arms with Amulets, and old Womens’ Charms; being perfectly infatuated to the Jesuits, into whose Arms he threw himself, when he found the vile little Book we are now speaking of, began to be censur’d in Holland: this was it that made him sneak away privately from Leyden. To return to this little Book, it’s a wretched Medly of Passages, authorizing all the Pagan impious Maxims on which their horrible Persecutions of the primitive Christians were founded, and of a great many other Passages directly contrary. And as the Author does not avow his two words, Ure, Seca, in their full force, he has recourse to some pitiful Distinctions, amounting to this, that Hereticks shou’d be put to death but rarely, and then too very privately; but as for Fines, Banishment, Marks of Infamy, Degradation, there shou’d be no stinting ’em in these. All these Doctrines fall flat to the ground before the Reflections already made.
It’s certain, there are a great many Roman Catholicks, who approve the inflicting capital Punishments on other Christians, and undoubtedly they reason more consistently; but the prettiest<201> Conceit I have met with on this head is that of one Ferrand, a modern French Author, that they who put Hereticks to death do well, but not quite so well as they who don’t carry it so far as capital Punishment. This is extravagant; for if a Heretick deserves death, ’tis either because Jesus Christ has commanded to compel all Straglers to come in, or because the Heretick blasphemes in saying, for example, that the Priest has no more than a piece of Wafer in his hands, and that instead of the Son of God, he adores and swallows a bit of Bread. If he’s worthy of death by virtue of the Command of Jesus Christ, it’s as great a Sin to let him live, as it had bin in the Jews to let a Sorcerer live, whom God expresly commanded to be put to death. If he be worthy of death on the score of his scandalous Blasphemys, it’s an Impiety to spare him three days, for so long he only repeats his Blasphemys; whereas, if he were cut off quick, ’twou’d prevent the Danger of his infecting others. Nullus hic Clementiae locus, quoth Lipsius very justly, Ure, Seca; there’s no room for Mercy here, burn, broil, break on the Wheel incessantly, and without trifling time. See where the abominable Maxims of our Convertists lead; they can alledg nothing in favor of their pretendedly mollify’d Persecutions, in reality crueller than a quick Death, which does not necessarily infer an Obligation of dispatching a Heretick altogether as soon as a Highwayman, provided always he refuse to abjure his Tenets.
I remember a Dilemma that Tertullian makes use of against Trajan’s Instructions to Pliny the younger, by which he orders him not to promote In-<202>formations against the Christians; but if Accusers voluntarily impeach’d and convicted ’em by due course of Law, in such case to put ’em to death. Tertullian looks on this Order as absurd: for says he, If Christians recognized as such deserve Death, strict inquiry shou’d be made to find ’em out; and if they merit a Suspension of this inquiry, they ought not to be put to death when detected. O. sententiam, says he, necessitate confusam! negat inquirendos ut innocentes, & mandat puniendos ut nocentes. Parcit & saevit, dissimulat & animadvertit. Quid teipsum censura circumvenis? Si damnas, cur non & inquiris? Si non inquiris, cur non & absolvis?73
All things rightly consider’d, Persecutions which put Men to death are best of all, especially where they don’t spare the Lives of those who abjure: for to promise a man Life who is sentenc’d to die; to promise it, I say, on condition he abjures his Religion, is a dangerous Snare, leading to Acts of Hypocrisy, and the grievousest Sins against Conscience: Whereas were there nothing to be gain’d by dissembling, every one wou’d know what he must trust to, and resolve to die for what he believes the Truth. And there’s no doubt but he who is sincere in his Error, dies a Martyr for the Cause of God; since ’tis to God, as revealing himself to his Conscience, that he offers himself in Sacrifice; I say, in a voluntary Sacrifice, tho it is not in his choice either to live or die. It fares in this case much as when a Man commits a Rape on a Woman: He does her less injury than if he tempted her Vertue, and brought her to yield by his Wheedles, because the Consent makes her a sharer in<203> the Guilt; whereas his forcing her Body leaves not the least stain on the Purity or Innocence of her Soul in the sight of God. These are the good Fruits of your Persecutions which give no quarter; which, upon the Confession of such a Faith, sentence you to death, and dispatch you, even tho you profess’d you change your Opinion. But your teazing knavish Persecutions, which promise on one hand, which threaten on another, which tire you out of your life with Dispute and Instruction; which, in fine, whether you change inwardly, or whether you do not, will have it under your hand before they have done with you, or never expect a moment’s Comfort of your Life: these Persecutions, I say, are diabolical Temptations, which extort the Sin, as the Presents, the Flatterys, and Wheedles, work Women to yield to their Lovers vicious Desires.
I remember I have read that Mahomet II, intending to get rid of David Emperor of Trebizond, and his Children, gave ’em their Choice either of Death or of the Alcoran. Of nine Children which he had, there was one Son and one Daughter incapable, by reason of their tender Age, of chusing between these two Extremes; so they fell a Prey to Mahometism: but David and seven of his Sons chose Death, which they all suffer’d with a great deal of Constancy. This was a glorious Martyrdom, and by so much the more, as ’twas in their power to redeem their Lives, by abjuring the Christian Faith; and therefore with respect to them, and considering the Success, ’twas better that the Sultan left ’em the liberty of chusing. But on the other hand, what a violent Temptation did he lay ’em<204> under by promising Life? and therefore with regard to him the Order was much more malicious, than if he had simply condemn’d ’em to death; tho even in this case the Sacrifice had bin voluntary: just as in Sickness, when a Man sees he cannot recover, and makes a free Act of Resignation to the Will of God, he does that which shall be constru’d a voluntary Sacrifice of his Desires to those of his Creator.
Judg now, whether Persecution ben’t very execrable; since the only way to render it less evil, is its being made inexorable Death.
[70. ]See above, Part I, Chapter 4, p. 86.
[* ]Utinam, Cn. Pompeii, cum C. Cesare Societatem, aut nunquam coisses, aut nunquam diremisses. Cicero Philip. 2. [Cicero, Philippics. II.x.24: “I wish, Pompey, that you had never allied with Caesar, or never broken with him.”]
[† ]Journal des Savans of the 19th of Feb. 1685. speaking of a Book of Natalis Alexander.
[71. ]Dominican, member of the Order of Preachers.
[72. ]Lipsius, Civil. doctr. IV.3. [Author’s note in the French edition. Justus Lipsius, Politicorum, sive civilis doctrinae libri sex, 1589.]
[73. ]Tertullian, Apologeticum, II.8: “What a decision, how inevitably entangled! He says they must not be sought out, implying they are innocent, and he orders them to be punished, implying they are guilty. He spares them and rages against them, he pretends not to see and punishes. Why cheat yourself with your judgment? If you condemn them, why not hunt them down? If you do not hunt them down, why not also acquit them?” Translated T.= R. Glover, Loeb Classical Library, 1977, p. 11.