Front Page Titles (by Subject) 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 - 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 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 - 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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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 examin’d.
Here our Adversarys think they have us at an Advantage. It follows, say they, from your Arguments, that not only the Socinian, but even Turk and Jew ought to be tolerated in a Commonwealth: this Consequence is absurd, therefore the Doctrine from whence it follows is absurd. I answer, and grant the Consequence, but deny ’tis absurd. The middle way in many cases is certainly the best, and the Extremes faulty; this happens very often: but here we can fix on no just Medium; either we must allow all or none; there can be no solid Reason for tolerating any one Sect, which does not equally hold for every other. It happens in this case much as in that of Herennius Pontius, when he advis’d one of the two Extremes, either to use all the Romans kindly, or to put<261> ’em all to death;86 and Experience shew’d, that his Son, who wou’d fain trim it, was very much out in his Politicks. Ista quidem sententia, says his judicious Father, ea est quae neque amicos parat, neque inimicos tollit.87
Let’s endeavor to clear this matter in as few words as possible. And first as to what concerns the Jews, ’tis the Opinion even in Countrys where the Inquisition is settl’d, as in Italy, that they ought to be tolerated. They are tolerated in several Protestant States, and all the reasonable part of the World abhor the Treatment they meet with in Spain and Portugal. ’Tis true, it’s very much their own Fault; for why will they live in those Countrys under the Appearance of Christians, and in a horrible Profanation of all the Sacraments, when they may remove elsewhere, and enjoy the free Exercise of their Religion? However, their Wickedness does not excuse the cruel Laws of Spain, and much less the rigorous Execution of ’em. In the second place, as for what concerns Mahometans, I see no reason why they shou’d be thought more unworthy of a Toleration than Jews; quite the contrary, since they allow Jesus Christ to have bin a great Prophet: nor, shou’d the Mufti take it into his Head to send Missionarys into Christendom, as the Pope does into the Indies, and shou’d these Turkish Missionarys be taken insinuating into Peoples Houses to carry on Conversions, do I see what right any one has to punish ’em; for shou’d they make the same Answer that the Christian Missionarys do in Japan, to wit, that a Zeal for making known the true Religion to those who are in Error, and promoting the Salvation of<262> their Neighbor, whose Blindness they lament, mov’d ’em to such an Undertaking; and without any regard to this Answer, or hearing out their Reasons, the Magistrate shou’d order ’em to be hang’d, wou’d not it be ridiculous to complain, when the Japonese do the same? Seeing then the Japonese are horribly condemn’d for their Severitys, ’twere unreasonable to treat the Mufti’s Missionarys cruelly, or do any more than bring ’em to a Conference with the Priests or Ministers in order to undeceive ’em. And tho they still persisted in their own Opinions, and protested they wou’d chuse to die rather than disobey the Commands of God and their great Prophet, yet People shou’d be very far from condemning ’em to death: for provided they do nothing against the publick Peace, I mean, against the Obedience due to Sovereigns in temporal Matters, they cou’d not even be banish’d with Justice, neither they, nor those whom they shou’d gain over by their Reasons; else the Pagans might be justify’d in banishing and imprisoning the Apostles, and those whom they had converted to the Gospel. We must not forget the Command against having double Weights and double Measures, nor that with what measure we mete it shall be measur’d to us again. Wou’d to God the Infidels wou’d truck Missions and Tolerations with us, and consent, that our Missionarys shou’d have full Liberty of preaching the Gospel, and teaching in their Parts, on condition that their Missionarys had the like Privilege among us; the Christian Religion wou’d be a great Gainer by it. The Pagan and Mahometan Preachers cou’d never make any Progress among us, and ours might<263> reap a plentiful harvest in Infidel Nations. Besides, that we shou’d be much to blame, in having such distrust of our own Reasons, as to think they stood in need of Prisons and capital Punishments to support ’em against Turkish Missionarys. Your persecuting Religions have a fine opinion indeed of what they call the pure Truth which God has reveal’d; they don’t believe it capable of triumphing by its own force: They give it Hangmen and Dragoons for its Allys; Allys which have no need of the Assistance of Truth, since they can do the business without her, and bring about what they please by their own strength.
Now if in the least favorable case, such as that of sending Missionarys into a Christian Country where there are no Turks, there ought to be no temporal Punishment to restrain ’em; by a much stronger reason they may challenge a Toleration in Countrys where they have bin establish’d of old, whenever they fall into the hands of Christians by Conquest. And therefore I maintain, that unless Reasons of State require, as sometimes they do, that the new Subjects of the old Religion be dislodg’d and banish’d, Christian Princes cannot in justice expel the Mahometans out of Towns taken from the Turk, nor hinder their having Mosks, or assembling in their own Houses. All that ought to be done in this case is instructing ’em, but without any Violence or Constraint. This Justice is due to ’em, not only with regard to that eternal Law which discovers, when we consult it attentively and without passion, that Religion is a matter of Conscience subject to no controul; but<264> also on the score of Gratitude, for their having so long allow’d the Christians of their Empire the privilege of exercising their Religion. I much doubt whether they wou’d meet with the like treatment under us: The Pope wou’d never let the Emperor or Venetians be at rest, if they tolerated the Turks in their new Conquests; and the Imperial Court stands in no need of a spur to Persecution from that of Rome; she’s too well enter’d at that game of old, to need a Monitor.
In the third place I maintain, that the very Pagans were entitled to a Toleration, and that Theodosius, Valentinian, and Martian are inexcusable in condemning all those to death, who exercis’d any Act of the Pagan Worship. For altho the violent Proceedings of the antienter Emperors had made the Pagans in a great measure forfeit their Right to Toleration by virtue of this Maxim, That a Religion which forces Conscience, does not deserve to be tolerated; yet they shou’d have given ’em quarter, when they saw ’em so low that there was no danger of their ever recovering Power enough to act over the Tragedys of Decius and Dioclesian. Beside that there is not so much to be said against the Pagan as against the Romish Religion; the Pagan was not engag’d to persecute by the Authority of Councils, and by fundamental Principles: and therefore there’s no arguing from the Practice of the Emperors before Constantine to that of the Pagans who might, we’l suppose, have got the upper hand after Theodosius. Nor can it be alledg’d, that no violence was done to Conscience, by forbidding the Pagans on pain of death to worship their false Gods; for it’s evident they were en-<265>gag’d to their Worship by very powerful Tyes of Superstition, and some were even ready to renounce great Advantages rather than their Paganism.*
’Tis true, few wou’d lay down their Lives for it; but if this was the only cause why the Christians put no more of ’em to death in execution of the Imperial Laws, I see no reason they have to boast of their Moderation, or oppose it to the Pagan Crueltys. Now if Violence was unwarrantable in the Roman Empire, against the very Descendants of those who had so fiercely persecuted the Christians, it is by much a stronger reason unlawful now against those of Japan or China: so that shou’d the Emperor of either of these Countrys happen to turn Christian, or the Chief of a Crusade, like Godfrey of Bulloigne of old, become King of either; ’twou’d be very unjust in him to endeavor the Conversion of his Subjects by any other methods than those of meek Persuasion and Instruction. Yet it wou’d not be in his power to grant a Toleration; for if the Popish Missionarys converted the Emperor, or saw on the Throne the Chief of the Popish Crusade, they’d oblige him to publish an Edict next hour, enjoining all his Subjects to receive Baptism on pain of death. Which ought to be a warning to the Chinese to expel the Missionarys, who wou’d thus damn three parts in four of their People, by obliging ’em to profane the Sacraments, and act against Conscience.
’Twere needless insisting in particular for a Toleration of Socinians, since it appears that<266> Pagans, Jews, and Turks have a right to it: Let’s therefore pass to the Limitations of our Half-Toleration Men.
These Gentlemen, either to enjoy the Comforts of Toleration without losing the Pleasure of Persecution, or from some other honester Reason, wou’d fain split the Difference, and say, there are some Sects which may be tolerated, but that there are others which deserve to be extirpated, if not by Fire and Sword, at least by Banishment and Confiscation. They add, that if Death be too severe a Punishment for the Seduc’d, it is by no means so for the Heresiarch and Seducer. Nec totam Libertatem, nec totam Servitutem pati possunt;88 as was observ’d of the People of Rome.
When it comes to be enquir’d more particularly what kind of Heresiarchs those be who deserve to be punish’d with Death; they answer, they who blaspheme the Divinity: And because in the best-order’d Governments they bore the Tongue of a Blasphemer with a red-hot Iron, or tear it from the root, it shou’d not be thought strange, they say, that the blasphemous and horrible Outrages of Servetus against the Trinity were expiated by Fire. But they’l give me leave to tell ’em, they are under a gross mistake in this matter.
For to the end that a Blasphemer be punishable, ’tis not sufficient that what he says be Blasphemy, according to the Definition which one Set of Men may think fit to give this word; but it must be likewise such, according to his own Doctrine. And here’s the true ground of justly punishing a Christian who blasphemes<267> the holy Name of God, and reviles that Divinity which he professes to believe in; because in this case he sins from Malice, and from a clear knowledg of his Sin. But if a Christian, who believes not a Trinity, and is persuaded in his erroneous Conscience, that there cannot be three Persons each of which is God without there being three Gods, says and maintains that the God of the Catholicks and of the Protestants is a false God, a contradictory God, &c. this is not blaspheming with regard to him, because he speaks not against that Divinity which he acknowledges, but against another which he disowns.
This Remark will appear more solid, when I add, That if we leave Persecutors Masters of the Definition of Blasphemy, none will be more execrable Blasphemers than the first Christians and the Hugonots. For nothing can be more reviling, nothing meaner or more scurrilous than what the primitive Christians utter’d without the least reserve against the Gods of Paganism: and it’s well known, that Protestants don’t spare the God of the Mass; and that sometimes their Expressions against it before their Adversarys are enough to make their very hair stand an end. I don’t approve the use of odious Terms in the presence of those who are apt to be scandaliz’d: Decency and Charity oblige us to reverence Conscience, and the Respect due to Princes requires that we shou’d forbear harsh Expressions in their favor; insomuch that the primitive Christians were not always as discreet in this particular as they ought to be. But at bottom it’s no more than Ill-breeding and Clownishness.<268> The Protestants, if not restrain’d by these Considerations, make no scruple of speaking against the God of the Mass, such things as the Papists pronounce Blasphemy; and the primitive Christians spoke against the Idols of Paganism such things as the Pagans term’d Blasphemy. Does it therefore follow that the first Christians were Blasphemers guilty of Death, or that the Reform’d are guilty now? Not at all, because the Blasphemy is not defin’d by a Principle common to the Accuser and the Accused, to the Persecutor and the Persecuted. Now this very thing might be pleaded for Servetus. The Blasphemys he was accus’d of, cou’d not be so qualify’d by virtue of any Principle or Notion allow’d on his part, as well as on the part of the Senate of Geneva; and consequently he cou’d not be punish’d as a Blasphemer, but it must follow that the first Christians might be punish’d as Blasphemers by the Pagans, the Reform’d by the Papists, and all who believe a Trinity by the Socinians. In virtue of this Maxim the Reform’d, call’d Calvinists, might punish with Death the Papists and Remonstrants as Blasphemers, who say the God of Calvin is cruel, unjust, Author of Sin, and yet the Punisher of the same Sin on his innocent Creatures. These are horrible Blasphemys in the Construction which the Reform’d will put upon these words. But as they who speak ’em don’t direct ’em against that Divinity which they adore, but against what they look upon as the Vision and Chimera of another Party, they can’t be justly charg’d with Blasphemy.
I know they’l tell me, Servetus was in reality wrong, and the Reform’d in the right with re-<269>gard to the Eucharist, and therefore there’s no arguing from one to the other. But is not this the very Plea of the Papists? Were they call’d to account for saying the God of Calvin is a Tyrant, Author of Sin, &c. they’l say, they have reason to call what is spoke against the Eucharist Blasphemy, because the Truth is of their side; but that it’s wrong to call their speaking against Calvin’s Predestination Blasphemy, because that point of Doctrine is false. So that here’s nothing fix’d or determin’d, but a mere begging the Question in dispute, and a perpetual Circle. In fine, each Party will seize all the words of the Dictionary to its own use, and begin by possessing it self of this Strong-hold, I am in the right, you in the wrong; which is throwing back the World into a Chaos more frightful than that of Ovid.
Our Men of Half-Toleration say likewise, That we ought to tolerate Sects which destroy not the Fundamentals of Christianity, but not those which do. But here’s the very same Illusion again. For we may ask them what they mean by destroying the Foundation? Is it denying a Point, which really and in it self is a fundamental Article, or only denying a thing which is believ’d such by the Accuser, but not by the Accused? If they answer, the first; here’s the ground laid of a tedious Debate, in which the Accused will hold for the Negative, and maintain that what he denys, far from being a Fundamental of Religion, is really a Falshood, or at best but a matter indifferent. If they answer, the second; the Accused will reply, that truly he shan’t stick at destroying that<270> which passes for a Fundamental only in his Adversary’s brain, because it by no means follows that it is really such. And so here’s a new Dispute started upon this Enthymeme89 of the Accusers.
Such a thing appears to me a fundamental Article:
Therefore it is such.
Which is poor Reasoning. To make any thing therefore of this Dispute, ’twill be necessary to shew that such a Sect destroys what it believes to be a Fundamental of Christianity; and even then it has a right to a Toleration on the same foot as Jews are more or less tolerated: or else it must be prov’d, that the things which this Sect destroys are Fundamentals, tho she does not believe ’em such. But in order to prove this, the Accuser must not frame a Definition of Fundamentals from his own brain, nor make use of Proofs which are contested by his Adversary; for this were proving what is obscure by that which is as obscure, which is mere trifling: but come to Principles allow’d and agreed on by both Partys. If he gain his point, the Accused must for the future stand upon a foot of Non-Christian Toleration; if he does not gain the point, the Accused cannot be justly treated as one subverting the Fundamentals of Christianity.
I add, that if the subverting what we believe a fundamental Point were a sufficient bar against Toleration, the Pagans cou’d not have tolerated the Preachers of the Gospel, nor we the Church of Rome, nor the Church of Rome us; for we don’t believe the Romish Communion retains the Fundamentals of Christianity pure, and with-<271>out a mixture at least of deadly Poison; and for their parts, they are fully persuaded that by denying her Infallibility, we utterly destroy the Essence and most fundamental Doctrine of Christianity.
There are some too who distinguish between Sects which are but beginning to shew their head, and have never yet obtain’d any Edicts of Toleration, and Sects settled and establish’d either by Prescription, or Concessions duly obtain’d; and they pretend that this latter sort deserves all kind of Toleration, but not always the former. For my part, I freely allow that the second kind of Sect has incomparably a juster title to Toleration than the first; and nothing sure can be more infamous than annulling Laws religiously sworn to. But I insist that the first sort are worthy too: for if they were not, what pretence cou’d we have for condemning the first Persecutions of the Christians, and the Executions of the People call’d Lutherans in the Reigns of Francis I and Henry II? I say the same to that Distinction between the Head of the Sect, and the wretched People who are seduc’d. I own the Seducer, whether malicious or sincere, does more mischief than the People; but it does not follow from the People’s deserving more favor, that the Heresiarch deserves to be punished: for were this a just Consequence, we cou’d not condemn the punishing Luther and Calvin, nor the putting St. Peter and St. Paul to death.
I foresee they’l tell me, for the last shift, that if Luther, and Calvin, and the Apostles had not had the Truth on their side, the Punishments inflicted on ’em had bin just. This is founding the<272> Injustice of Persecution not in the Violence done to Conscience, but on the fact that the Persons persecuted belong to the true Religion: ’Tis a considerable Difficulty, and I shall examine it particularly in the following Chapter.
[86. ]Livy, IX.iii.6–8: “When he learned that the Roman armies had been hemmed in between two defiles at the Caudien Forks, and was asked by his son’s messenger for his opinion, he advised that they should all be dismissed unscathed, at the earliest possible moment. The policy being rejected … he recommended that all, to the last man, be slain”; translated B.= O. Foster, Loeb Classical Library, p. 171.
[87. ]Livy, IX.iii.12: “ ‘That,’ he answered, ‘is in sooth a policy that neither wins men friends nor rids them of their enemies’ ”; translated B. O. Foster, Loeb Classical Library, p. 173.
[* ]Zozim. l. 1. speaking of Generides under Honorius. [When the emperor Honorius enacted a law excluding pagans from public office, the military officer Generides resigned and remained at home. Honorius offered him a personal exemption, which he refused as an insult to all those unable to hold office because of the law. The emperor repealed the law. Zosimus, New History: Translation with Commentary by Ronald T. Ridley (Sydney, Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1982), V.46, pp. 123–24.]
[88. ]“They cannot bear either complete freedom, or complete slavery”; Tacitus, Histories, I.16.
[89. ]See Appendixes, “Bayle’s Use of Logic,” p. 580 (“enthymeme”).