Front Page Titles (by Subject) 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 - 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 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 - 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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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 Church.
It must be own’d, that the Condition of Man, among a thousand other Infirmitys, is subject in particular to this, of scarce ever knowing any Truth but by halves: for if it happen that he is able to prove a thing from clear and demonstrative Reasons a priori, immediately he finds himself hamper’d with absurd, or at least very difficult Consequences, arising from what he reckon’d upon as demonstrated; which is no small balk upon his Spirits: Or if he has the good fortune not to be shackled with Absurditys flowing from his Opinions, he has the mortification, on the other hand, of having only<242> very confus’d Notions, and but insufficient Proofs of his Position. They who maintain either the infinite Divisibility of Matter, or Epicurus’s Doctrine of Atoms, can answer for the truth of this. For my part, I am sincere enough to own, that if the Opinion I have bin hitherto defending has any flaw at all, it is on the side of its Consequences. The direct Proofs which support it are admirable, the Consequences of the contrary Opinion monstrous; so far all’s right: but when we turn to the Consequences of my Hypothesis, things don’t look altogether so well. One wou’d think, that Almighty God, to humble the human Understanding, had decreed it shou’d find no sure footing o’ this side Heaven, but Rubs and Perplexitys of what side soever it turns it self. I have however this Comfort, that all the frightful Consequences from my Opinion may very well be resolv’d. We shall see.
There is not, say they, a more dangerous Pest in any Government than Multiplicity of Religions; as it sets Neighbor at variance with his Neighbor, Father against Son, Husbands against their Wives, and the Prince against his Subjects. I answer, that this, far from making against me, is truly the strongest Argument for Toleration; for if the Multiplicity of Religions prejudices the State, it proceeds purely from their not bearing with one another, but on the contrary endeavoring each to crush and destroy the other by methods of Persecution. Hinc prima mali labes: Here’s the Source of all the Evil. Did each Party industriously cultivate that Toleration which I contend for, there might be the same<243> Harmony in a State compos’d of ten different Sects, as there is in a Town where the several kinds of Tradesmen contribute to each others mutual Support. All that cou’d naturally proceed from it wou’d be an honest Emulation between ’em which shou’d exceed in Piety, in good Works, and in spiritual Knowledg. The Strife among ’em wou’d only be, which shou’d most approve it self to God by its Zeal in the Practice of Vertue, which out-do the other in promoting the Interest of their Country, did the Prince protect ’em all alike, and maintain an even ballance by the distribution of his Favors and Justice. Now it’s manifest, such an Emulation as this must be the Source of infinite publick Blessings; and consequently, that Toleration is the thing in the world best fitted for retrieving the Golden Age, and producing a harmonious Consort of different Voices, and Instruments of different Tones, as agreeable at least as that of a single Voice. What is it then that hinders this lovely Harmony arising from a Consort of various Voices and different Sounds? ’Tis this, that one Religion will exercise a cruel Tyranny over the Understanding, and force Conscience; that Princes will countenance the unjust Partiality, and lend the Secular Arm to the furious and tumultuous Outcrys of a Rabble of Monks and Clergymen: in a word, all the Mischief arises not from Toleration, but from the want of it.
Here’s my constant Answer to that thredbare Common-place of your little Politicians, that a Change in Religion draws on a Change in Government, and that therefore special care shou’d<244> be taken to prevent Innovation. I shan’t here examine whether this has come to pass as often as they pretend; I shall content my self, without inquiring into the Fact, to affirm, that supposing it true, still it proceeds from Non-Toleration only: for did the new Sect but entertain the Principles which I lay down, it cou’d exercise no Violence on those who persever’d in the old Religion; ’twou’d rest in proposing its Reasons, and instructing ’em in a Spirit of Charity. In like manner, were the old Religion govern’d by the same Maxims, ’twou’d only oppose the new by gentle and charitable Instructions, and never proceed to Violence. Thus Princes might always maintain their Authority intire, every private Person sit under his own Vine and his own Fig-tree, worshipping God in his own way, and leave others to worship and serve him as they thought fit; which wou’d be the true Accomplishment of the Prophecy in Isaiah, concerning the Agreement of Men under Persuasions diametrically opposite: The Wolf also shall dwell with the Lamb, and the Leopard shall lie down with the Kid; and the Calf and the young Lion, and the Fatling together; and a little Child shall lead them, &c.84
It’s plain to any Man who considers things, that all the Disturbances attending Innovations in Religion, proceed from People’s pursuing the first Innovators with Fire and Sword, and refusing ’em a Liberty of Conscience; or else from the new Sect’s attempting, from an inconsiderate Zeal, to destroy the Religion establish’d. Nothing therefore but Toleration can put a stop to all those Evils; nothing but a Spirit of Persecution can foment ’em.<245>
They alledg likewise I don’t know how many Examples of factious Spirits, who, in order to subvert the Constitution of the State, have pretended the necessity of a Reformation in Religion; and having drawn the People into their Designs, have taken the field with Sword in hand, and committed a thousand Disorders: but this proves nothing more, than that the best things are liable to Abuse. It no way proves, that it’s the Duty of Princes to suppress all Innovation in Religion by the Secular Power; for the Heathen Emperors in this case had had the justest Right of suppressing Christianity, and all their Persecutions had bin indispensable Acts of Justice: but as such a Position wou’d be impious, it follows there are Exceptions to be made to this Rule. Experience informs us, that there have bin Innovations in matters of Religion which were found to be good and holy: We know there must be Innovations for the introducing Christianity in Infidel States; we know too, that there have bin Innovations, which were only a cover for factious Designs. What course then must the Sovereign take, when he sees a new Teacher set up in his Dominions? Must he seize him at first dash, and all his Followers? By no means. He must wait a little to see where his Doctrines tend, whether to the aggrandizing himself and his Party by civil Broils: if he find this, he’s to give him no quarter; he may exterminate him, tho the Man were never so much persuaded his Doctrine was divine. This is not the sort of Men that I plead for, since their Designs are damnable, and the Religion they preach, if they have any, is of a persecuting<246> nature; and consequently falls in with the literal Sense, which I confute. But if this new Doctor has really no design of stirring up Seditions; if his only aim be to infuse his Opinions, persuaded they are true and holy, and to establish ’em by the methods of Reasoning and Instruction; in this case we ought to follow him, if we find he has Truth on his side: and if he does not happen to convince our selves, yet we ought to permit those who are convinc’d, to serve God in this new Doctor’s way. This course our King Ethelred took with the Monks who were sent into this Country by Pope Gregory the Great to preach the Gospel. But all this while we ought to omit no means, by attacking this new Doctor at his own weapon, to wit, Reason and Instruction, of bringing him back into the old way, and confirming others in it, if we judg it the best.
This furnishes me with an Answer to a specious Reason, which our Adversarys make use of: They say, that among the Blessings which God has promis’d to his Church, that of giving it Kings who shall be nursing Fathers is one of the chiefest. I grant it: Nothing is a greater Blessing to the Church, than Princes who protect and cherish it; who see it be supply’d with sober and able Pastors, who found and endow Colleges and Academys for this purpose, and spare no necessary Charge for its Maintenance; who take care to punish Ecclesiasticks for their vicious and scandalous Lives, that others may take warning, and walk in that Integrity which their Profession demands; who by their own good Lives and wholesom Laws excite all their<247> People to the Practice of Vertue; and last of all, are always ready to punish those severely who presume to invade the Liberty of the Church: For I extremely approve, and think it the indispensable Duty of Princes, if new Sects arise, who offer to insult the Ministers of the establish’d Religion, or offer the least Violence to those who persevere in the old way, to punish these Sectarys by all due and requisite methods, and even with Death if occasion be; because in this case they betray a persecuting Spirit, they break the Peace, and aim at the Subversion of politickal Laws. This I take to be the true Sense in which Princes are to be nursing Fathers to the Church: and as nothing cou’d be a greater Scourge to her than being left expos’d by the Prince to the Insults of the Laity, than being abandon’d by him to their own Lusts, without any prudential Rules or Constitutions to restrain ’em; than his neglecting to minister to her Wants and Necessitys; hence it is that God promises her the Love and Protection of earthly Kings as a special Blessing.
But, say they, this is not all. Princes don’t bear the Sword in vain; they have receiv’d it from God to the intent they may punish Evil-doers; and among Evil-doers, none surely out-do Hereticks, since they affront the Divine Majesty, trample under foot his Sacred Truths, and poison the Soul, whose Life is our all, and ought to be infinitely dearer to us than that of the Body. They are therefore worse than Poisoners, than Highway-men or Banditti, who kill the Body only, and ought consequently to be more severely punish’d. Bona verba quaeso! Run-<248>ning on at this rate will quickly justify the Persecutors of the first Christians (I often fly to this Example, because, as we shall see hereafter, there’s no fence against it) will arm the Chinese against the Missionarys, the Protestant Princes against their Popish Subjects, and in general every Sovereign against those of a different Religion: for each will alledg that God has commanded him to punish Evildoers, and that none are more so than those who oppose the true Religion; so each calls his own. There must therefore be some ugly Sophism at bottom; let’s unravel it.
Our Adversarys don’t take care in this matter to distinguish betwixt that Right with which Princes are invested, of punishing with the Sword those who exercise Violence against their Neighbor, and who destroy the publick Security which every one ought to enjoy under the Protection of the Laws; they don’t, I say, distinguish betwixt this Right, and that which they falsly attribute to ’em over Conscience. But for our part we don’t confound these two things. We say, it’s very true that Kings are invested with a Power from God of hanging, whipping, imprisoning, or punishing in any other like manner, all such as injure their Neighbor more or less, in his Person, or Estate, or Honor; and this is so much the more just, as those who commit such Violences confess not only that they commit ’em against the Laws of the Land, but also against their Conscience, and the Precepts of their Religion: so that their Malice is perfectly wilful. I don’t believe there ever was an Example of a Highway-man, or a House-breaker, or a Poisoner, or <249> a Duelist, or a False Witness, or an Assassin, sentenc’d to death by the proper Judg, who pleaded the Instincts of his Conscience, or the Commandments of God, in justification of the Crime for which he hang’d him. So that he sins knowingly and maliciously, and offers violence to his Neighbor in contempt of his God and his King.
Here then are two Circumstances which concur not in such Hereticks as I suppose shou’d be tolerated. For, (1.) They offer Violence to no one. They tell their Neighbor indeed that he’s in an error; they urge this upon him by the best Reasons they are masters of; they set before him another Faith, and support it the best they can; they exhort him to change; they pronounce him damn’d, unless he embraces the Truth which they preach to him: this is all they do, and then they leave him at full liberty. If he changes, they are glad of it; if not, there’s an end of the matter: they recommend him to God. Is this treating one’s Neighbor ill? Is this violating the publick Security, in the shadow of which every one ought to eat his Morsel in quiet under the Protection of the Laws, and train up his own Family as he sees fit?
In the second place, these Hereticks (I call all those so in this place, whom the Sovereign distinguishes by this name on the score of their differing from the establish’d Worship) in instructing their Neighbor, in disputing with him, in admonishing him to change his Religion on pain of Hell-fire, are far from thinking that they commit an ill Action; on the contrary, they fancy they do great service to God, and<250> it’s pure Zeal in ’em, no matter whether true or false; but in fine, it’s Zeal for the Glory of God, and an Instinct of Conscience, which prompts ’em: so that they don’t sin from Malice, or if they do, ’tis only with regard to God; their earthly Judges can take no cognizance of it, and the Presumption lies on the side of their acting from Conscience. It’s plain then, that the two grand Circumstances which authorize the punishing Highway-men and Murderers with death, do not occur in the case of Hereticks.
But, say they, the Poison shed into the Soul is much more fatal than that infus’d in a Man’s Liquor: To blaspheme God and his Truths, to seduce his faithful Servants, is a higher Crime, than speaking evil of the King, or stirring up his People to Rebellion. A Heretick therefore is punishable in a higher degree than la Voisin, or the Chevalier de Rohan,85 who spoke against his Monarch with the greatest contempt, and actually endeavor’d an Insurrection. I answer upon the two points already remark’d: La Voisin, and the Chevalier de Rohan, were conscious they committed a Crime; they acted with a formal Design of doing mischief; nor did they leave it at the discretion or choice of him whom they abus’d and revil’d, whether he wou’d be abus’d and revil’d or no: whereas a Heretick thinks he shall save his Neighbor’s Soul; he talks to him with a design of saving him, and leaves him the full liberty of chusing or refusing. But besides the Disparity in both these cases, I have two things more to offer.
First, that the Prince sufficiently discharges his Duty, if he provides a proper and saving Anti-<251>dote against the Poison instill’d into his Subjects, by sending forth his Doctors and Preachers to confound these Hereticks, and prevent their seducing Men from the true Religion, and catching ’em by their fallacious Reasonings. Shou’d the Preachers not be able to prevent the falling away of some of his Subjects, yet the Prince has nothing to reproach himself with, he has done his Duty: the warping mens Souls to such or such an Opinion, is no Function of his Royal Character; in this respect Men are without the least dependance on one another; they have neither King, nor Queen, nor Lord, nor Master upon earth. A King therefore is no way accountable for not exercising a Jurisdiction in matters which God has not subjected to him.
The next thing I observe, is our giving things very hard names o’ purpose to create a horror for ’em; which yet, generally speaking, are out of the sphere of our Decisions. Such a one, say we, utters insufferable Blasphemys, and affronts the Divine Majesty in the most sacrilegious manner. And what does all this amount to, when consider’d soberly and without prejudice? To this, that concerning the manner of speaking honorably of God, he has Conceptions different from our own. Our case is much the same as that of an ignorant Courtier, who upon reading a Letter written to the King by a little Indian Prince, suppose, in whose Country the most respectful way of writing was in a burlesque Stile; shou’d presently, from his excess of Zeal for his Majesty, propose the sending a Fleet to dethrone this little Sovereign, who had the impudence to mock the King in his Letter. Wou’d<252> not a War declar’d against this little Prince, upon such a Provocation, be very well founded; against this Prince, I say, who quitted the serious Stile purely for fear of affronting the King, and took up the burlesque only to express the deepest respect for him? The only thing this Indian Prince cou’d be blam’d for, was his not informing himself of the Customs of England, and the Notions People there have of a respectful or disrespectful Letter; but if the Savage cou’d not possibly inform himself in this particular, whatever Inquirys he made, wou’d it not be an extreme Brutality to go and drive him out of his Dominions, on account of the pretended Irreverence of this burlesque Stile? Yet this is exactly what Persecutors do, when they punish a Heretick. They fancy his way of speaking of God is very injurious to the Divine Majesty; but for his part he speaks so only because he thinks it honorable, and the contrary next to blasphemous, and highly injurious to God. The only thing to be said against him in this case, is, that he ought to have inform’d himself better concerning that way of speaking of God, which is judg’d most honorable in the Court of Heaven. But if he answer, he has done his best endeavors to be inform’d, and that he had not taken up such a way of honoring God till after he had made all possible inquiry; and that those who charge him with Blasphemy, are, in his opinion, so ill inform’d concerning the Honor due to God, that he doubts not but they mistake one for t’other; and that he shou’d think himself verily a Blasphemer, did he talk at their rate: if, I say, he answer ’em thus, shou’d not it stop their mouths, at least till they convict him<253> of speaking against his Conscience, which none but God, the Searcher of Hearts, can do? And if they put such a Heretick to death, don’t they do the very same as putting the Indian Prince to death, or dethroning him in the former case?
This single Example is worth the whole Commentary I am about, and must to every reasonable Mind expose the Turpitude of Persecution in its proper Colors. Examples of this kind sink our Adversarys to rights; and I make no doubt but they are touch’d to the quick as they read ’em, because they begin to be sensible their Cavils can no longer blind themselves. I’m sorry for the Smart which this is like to give ’em; but I can’t avoid it, nor forbear urging it once more as a Demonstration, that Princes have not receiv’d the Sword, to punish Irreverences of this kind to the Divine Majesty. ’Tis to these Irreverences that the saying of an Antient properly belongs, Deorum Injuriae Diis Curae; ’tis the Prerogative of the Deity to take cognizance of these Offences, and do in them as to him seems fit: but as for Men, they see no more in ’em than a mistake in the Judgment; they all agree in the general, that God is to be honor’d, and that all the greatest things shou’d be said of him which can be conceiv’d to belong to the Supreme Being: but when this is done, one determines his choice to this manner, another to that, and each condemns what the other approves. It’s plain it belongs to God alone to punish him who is in an Error; and it can never enter into a reasonable Mind, that he’l punish an involuntary bad Choice, I mean such as results not from an untoward use maliciously made of the Understanding to determine us to a wrong<254> Choice. If Alexander the Great, who first laugh’d at the City of Megara’s* presenting him with the Freedom of their City, accepted it gratefully when made to understand, that they judg’d it the highest Honor imaginable, and what they never had confer’d on any one before but Hercules; is it not reasonable to think, that God, who judges candidly and equitably on all things, considers not whether the Present we make of such or such Conceptions about the Divinity, be magnificent in it self or no, but whether the greatest in our Estimate, and the fittest upon a due Inquiry to be offer’d to him?
As to that monstrous Medly of Sects disgracing Religion, and which they pretend is the Result of Toleration; I answer, That this is still a smaller Evil, and less shameful to Christianity, than Massacres, Gibbets, Dragooning, and all the bloody Executions by which the Church of Rome has continually endeavor’d to maintain Unity, without being able to compass it. Every Man who enters into himself, and consults his Reason, shall be more shock’d at finding in the History of Christianity so long a train of Butcherys and Violences as it presents, than by finding it divided into a thousand Sects: for he must consider, that ’tis humanly inevitable that Men in different Ages and Countrys, shou’d have very different Sentiments in Religion, and interpret some one way some another, whatever is capable of various Interpretations. He shall therefore be less shock’d at this, than at their torturing and<255> wracking one another, till one declare, that he sees just as the other sees; and burning by turns at a stake, those who refuse to make such a Declaration. When one considers, that we are not Masters of our own Ideas, and that there’s an eternal Law forbidding us to betray Conscience, he must needs have a horror for those who tear a Man’s Body Limb from Limb, because his Mind has one Set of Ideas rather than another, and because he follows the Light of his Conscience. Our Convertists therefore, by endeavoring to remove one Scandal, only fix a greater on Christianity.
I shall make no Advantage of the Parallel of a Prince, whose vast Empire comprehended several Nations differing in their Laws, Usages, Manners, and Tongues, yet each honoring its Sovereign, according to the Custom and Genius of the Country; which seems to carry more Grandeur in it, than if there were only one simple and uniform Rule of Respect: I shan’t, I say, make any Advantage of this Example to shew, that all that odd Variety of Worship in the World is not unbecoming the Grandeur of a Being infinitely perfect, who has left such a vast Diversity in Nature as an Image of his Character of Infinite. No, I rather allow, that Unity and Agreement among Men were an invaluable Blessing, especially Agreement among Christians in the Profession of one and the same Faith. But as this is a thing more to be wish’d than hop’d for; as difference in Opinions seems to be Man’s inseparable Infelicity, as long as his Understanding is so limited, and his Heart so inordinate; we shou’d endeavor to reduce this Evil within<256> the narrowest Limits: and certainly the way to do this, is by mutually tolerating each other, either in the same Communion, if the Nature of the Differences will permit, or at least in the same City. One of the finest* Wits of Antiquity compares human Life to a Game at Hazard, and says, we shou’d manage in this World just as Men do who play at Dice; if the Throw they want does not come up, they help out by their Judgment what is wanting in their Fortune. ’Twere to be wish’d that all Men were of one Religion; but since this is never like to happen, the next best thing they can do is tolerating each other. One says it’s a Sin to invoke the Saints, another says it’s a Duty. Since one thinks the other in an Error, he ought to undeceive him, and reason with him to the best of his Skill: but after he has spent all his Arguments without being able to persuade him, he shou’d give him over, pray to God for him, and for the rest live with him in such a Union as becomes honest Men and fellow-Citizens. Wou’d People take this Course, the Diversity of Persuasions, of Churches, and Worship, wou’d breed no more Disorder in Citys or Societys, than the Diversitys of Shops in a Fair, where every honest Dealer puts off his Wares, without prejudicing his Neighbor’s Market.
If the Church of Rome thinks, that a Multiplicity of Sects defaces Christianity, how can<257> she accommodate herself to that bizarre Variety in her own Communion, where the Ecclesiasticks are some Cardinals, with their Palaces, fine Gardens, and open Table; some Bishops, who are Generals of Armys, and petty Sovereigns; or who go in Embassys, pass their time at Court, at Balls, in Hunting, or who game, and live high, or who preach and publish Books; others sparkish Abbés, Pillars of the Play-house, Musick-Meetings, Opera’s, to say no worse; others great Men at Controversy, Proselyte-mongers; some, Mumpers from door to door drest out like Harlequins, some confin’d to Solitudes and deep Recesses? How can she accommodate herself to that viler Diversity of Drunkards, Gamesters, Ruffians, Panders, Bigots, Counterfeits, Men of Probity, Men of Honor in the Notion of the World? Very well, says she, because they all profess to own my Authority. Here’s the Test; let ’em be what they will, so they submit to the Church they are sure of a Toleration. And what hinders then but others may dispense with an infinite Variety of Sects in the same Commonwealth, provided they are all agreed in acknowledging Jesus Christ for their Head, and the Scriptures for their Rule? It shall be lawful for the Church of Rome to divide and subdivide into infinite Societys very opposite in Rules and in Doctrines, and which mutually charge one another, sometimes with dangerous Errors, provided they in general own the Authority of the Church; and it shan’t be lawful to tolerate infinite Sects, differing from one another in Opinion, provided they all allow the Authority of the Scriptures. If it be said, that the Church of Rome tolerates<258> not different Opinions in those points on which she has pronounc’d a definitive Judgment; who can hinder the tolerating Partys saying, that they allow no difference in Opinions, only as to Points in which the Scriptures are not convincingly clear?
I had forgot an Objection of one sort of Men, who skirmishing as they retreat, will so far allow, that indeed, if all the World were of a tolerating Spirit, Differences in Religion con’d be of no ill Consequence to the State: but considering the Nature of Man, and that the greatest part, especially Church-men, are apt to be transported by an intemperate Zeal, Prudence won’t allow a Prince to tolerate different Sects, because such a Toleration disgusts those of his own Religion; it alienates the Hearts of his Clergy from him, who have credit enough to shake his Throne, by representing him as a Man of no Principle, a Favorer of Hereticks, and fomenting a thousand Jealousys and Resentments in the Minds of his People. I answer, The truth is, there’s nothing so bad but may justly be apprehended from Men of such a Spirit as the Romish Clergy, unless proper measures were taken with ’em from the beginning: but did the Prince understand the Art of Government, he might soon put himself above all danger from ’em, by only publishing thro-out his Dominions, that he was resolv’d to tolerate no Sectarys, provided all the Clergy of the establish’d Religion wou’d but live up as became ’em to the Counsels and Precepts of Jesus Christ, and no longer scandalize their Neighbor by their Worldly-mindedness, by their Pride, and Ambition, and restless Spirit. This<259> Condition wou’d undoubtedly please the Laity, who desire nothing more than to see a general Purity of Manners among their Clergy: but as the Ecclesiasticks wou’d certainly chuse to continue in their disorderly Courses, the condition being not perform’d on their part, the King might dispense with his persecuting Sectarys, and the People wou’d only mock at the Clergy for exclaiming against a Toleration, which ’twas wholly in their own power to destroy by leading godly Lives. Besides this, it wou’d be requisite to chuse out a Set of moderate and peaceable Men among ’em, and prefer some to the highest Dignitys in the Church, and send others to preach about in the Country, that the only lawful way of extinguishing Sectarys was by the Example of a holy Life, and by wholesom Instruction. This wou’d soon bring the Body of the People to a better Temper; and upon the whole, a Prince who found himself importun’d to extirpate a Sect, and shou’d tell those who importun’d him, that they ought to do their part in the first place, by convincing the Sectarys of their Errors, and that as soon as he saw they were convinc’d, he wou’d expel ’em his Dominions, unless they reconcil’d themselves to the Church, might put the persecuting Convertists to a strange nonplus: for how cou’d they have the impudence to tell him, that the convincing Sectarys they were in an Error, was not necessary in order to found a Right of punishing ’em, if they knew the Prince might presently send for his Arch-Bishops, Men in favor, and able Divines withal, who might soon prove the contrary against ’em from the Fathers, and from Scripture and Rea-<260>son? It’s plain then, that if ever Persecution be a necessary Evil, it becomes so wholly thro the Sovereign’s fault, in delivering himself up to the Mercy of Monks and Clergymen; either thro a want of Understanding, or thro some corrupt Motive.
[84. ]Isaiah 11:6.
[85. ]La Voisin was burned as a poisoner in 1680. Louis Chevalier de Rohan was beheaded in 1674 for conspiring against Louis XIV.
[* ]Seneca tells it of the Corinthians, de Benef. l. 1. c. 13. [Seneca, De beneficiis, I.xiii.1, Loeb Classical Library, p. 40.]