Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXVI.: ST. AUSTIN'S WORDS - 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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XXVI.: ST. AUSTIN’S WORDS - 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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ST. AUSTIN’S WORDS
One must be void of common Sense, to tell Princes, Take no thought whether People trample upon, or whether they revere, within your Dominions, the Church of him whom you adore. What, they shall take care to make their Subjects live according to the Rules of Vertue and Sobriety, without any one’s presuming to say, that this concerns ’em not; and yet they shall presume to tell ’em, that it is not their business to take Cognizance within their Dominions, whether Men observe the Rules of the true Religion, or whether they give themselves over to Profaneness and Irreligion? For if from hence, that God has given Man a Free-will, Profaneness were to be permitted, why shou’d Adultery be punish’d?<462> The Soul which violates that Faith which it has plighted to its God, is it therefore less criminal than the Wife which violates the Faith she owes her Husband? And tho Sins, which Men thro Ignorance commit against Religion, are punish’d with less Severity; must they therefore be suffer’d to subvert it with Impunity?
This is all very specious, and deserves so much the more to be consider’d with Order and Exactness.
I. I’l allow St. Austin, that one must be void of common Sense, to think it amiss in Princes to concern themselves, whether Men trample upon, or whether they revere, within their Dominions, the Church of him whom they adore. So far ought they to be from being wholly unconcern’d about the Church, that on the contrary, it’s their Duty to keep a watchful eye over it; but after what manner? for here’s the whole Difficulty, and the sole ground of the difference. Why, if their Religion be attack’d by Arms, they ought to defend it by Arms; if attack’d by Books and by Sermons, they ought to defend it by the same Weapons. So that if a Sect springs up in their Dominions, which wou’d seize the Churches, and take People by the Collar to force ’em to follow ’em; they ought to dispatch their Missionarys of the short Robe against ’em, their standing Troops and Militia, to fall foul on these Sectarys, to restrain their Insolences, and chastise ’em according to the nature of their Offence. But if this Sect employ only Arguments and Exhortations, they ought only to get ’em confuted<463> by better Arguments, if they can, and endeavor to inform ’em of the Truth: For it’s plain to any Man who considers this matter aright, that if they employ Wheel and Scaffold against Men who back their Arguments and Exhortations with Scripture-Proofs, they violate the Reverence due to Reason and Scripture: and that if they extort Subscriptions from ’em by a dread of Death, they constrain ’em to deny with their Mouth, what their Heart adores as Truth; which is plunging ’em into much a greater Sin than their Error.
II. From hence it appears, that it is their Duty to enquire, whether People observe the Rules of the true Religion within their Dominions, or whether they are guilty of Profaneness and Irreligion. But the great Question is, how they ought to behave themselves when they are inform’d, that a Party of their Subjects follow not that Religion which their Princes believe to be true, but exercise another Worship which they look on as impious and damnable. I think I have already most evidently prov’d,141 to all who are not utterly blinded by their Prejudices, that Princes ought in this case to content themselves with letting the Controversy play, and convincing ’em, if it be possible, by sound Arguments and Instructions. Having done their Duty this way as much as in them lies, they ought to think themselves acquitted before God; and for the rest take care, that this Sect, which differs from their own, contain themselves within Bounds, and live like good Subjects, and good Citizens. But, say they, this Sect is daily committing the horriblest Impietys and Profanations. Yes, say I,<464> if you define things by your Notions of ’em, but not if you consider ’em according to the Definitions of the Sect; for they pretend, that the Impietys and Profanations are all of your side, and that their own is the only true and perfect Worship of God. This brings me again to the applying a Thought of the Bishop of Meaux, as I did once before;142 That if each Sect of Christianity assumes a Right of defining Blasphemy, Impiety, Profaneness, by Principles peculiar to themselves, and decree Punishments on Men as Blasphemers, and Profaners of holy things, convicted upon a Definition of the Crime which they don’t allow; Christianity is the weakest of all Societys, and the most obnoxious to incurable Evils: For whilst the Protestants burnt the Catholicks in England as Blasphemers and Profane, these might burn the Protestants in Italy and France as Blasphemers and Profane: the same Opinions being treated at the same time as pious and impious, as holy and blasphemous; and what’s the very Excess of Horror, we shou’d see Men expire in Flames as Blasphemers of God and his Truth, who protested with their last words, that they died only because they cou’d not say any thing that they believ’d displeasing to God; and to testify, that the Truth reveal’d to Mankind, in his Holy Word, was dearer to ’em than Life. The only means for preventing all these Confusions wou’d be, to define Blasphemy and Profaneness, by Principles common to the Accuser and the Accused; and then a Man fairly convicted of Blasphemy or Profaneness, might be hang’d out of the way, or burnt, or broil’d; and they, who delight in the death of Hereticks, have Content. Thus a Christian is<465> justly punish’d who renounces God, or robs the Vestry, the Poor-box, &c. because by his own Principles he is guilty of Blasphemy and Sacrilege. But the truth is, it were too hard upon St. Austin, to desire he wou’d qualify things otherwise than from the Instinct of his own Prejudices.
III. My third Remark arises naturally from the second. ’Tis all the reason in the world, that Princes shou’d ordain Penaltys and Chastisements for the obliging Men to the Observation of the Laws of Honesty and Sobriety, because all their Subjects acknowledg the Justice of these Laws, and consequently every Transgression against ’em is malicious, wilful, and under the Conscience of its being displeasing to God. But as to the Tenets of Religion, and the Laws enacted by Princes concerning the Worship of God, all their Subjects acknowledg not the Justice of ’em alike; there are those who believe ’em impious and abominable: so that their disobeying ’em proceeds not either from Malice, or a Spirit of Rebellion, or a Contempt of their Sovereign, but from a fear of disobeying God, the great Lord and common Master of Prince and People. This, this is the great and capital Circumstance which makes the difference between Civil Observances, and Religious, with regard to the Prince’s Jurisdiction; and the reason why he may justly enforce the Laws concerning those, with temporal Punishments and Rewards, but not punish the Infringers of such Laws as determine concerning these.
IV. The Answer is now very plain to St. Austin’s Comparison between Profanation and Adultery. Why, says he, shou’d they punish Adultery and<466> not Profaneness? Because, he who commits Adultery is agreed with his Accuser and his Judg, that it is Adultery and a wicked Action; but far from agreeing with ’em, that he is guilty of Impiety or Profaneness, in serving God according to the Principles of his own Sect: he thinks he’s in the Discharge of a pious Work, and shou’d think himself guilty of Impiety and Profaneness, shou’d he worship God according to the Principles of his Judg or Accuser. The Judges find nothing, in the case of an Adulterer, that challenges their regard. They find the Motive evil, and a Sense and certain Knowledg in him of his acting wickedly; consequently that he had not any manner of regard in it to God, or to his Neighbor, so that every thing crys for Vengeance against him. But when a Catholick Judg wou’d punish what he calls Impiety, Blasphemy, and Sacrilege in a Calvinist, maintaining that the consecrated Host is no more than Bread, and refusing it Adoration; he discovers a Motive in the Soul of this Heretick which merits his regard, to wit, a fear of offending God, a horror of Idolatry, and a stedfast purpose of incurring the Detestation of Men rather than do that which he believes God has forbidden. A Disposition of Mind like this, ought it not to be an inviolable Asylum against all human Jurisdiction; and is it possible, there shou’d be Men of Blood and gigantick Boldness enough, to put a Man to death, because he makes that the Rule of his Actions, which he takes to be the Law and express Will of God?
V. As to the Parallel between a Wife who violates her conjugal Faith, and a Soul which per-<467>severes not in a rightful Persuasion (and this St. Austin calls, violating the Fidelity which we owe to God) I have little more to say than that this Father cou’d not possibly mark out his Camp in worse ground; he cou’d not maintain this Post a moment against a modern* Author, whom I have cited elsewhere,143 and approv’d in part, and in part disapprov’d. I refer him therefore to this Author; he’l shew him, by the Example of a Wife, who, deceiv’d by the Likeness, and persuaded that an Impostor, who personates her Husband, is her lawful Spouse, receives him into her Bed without offending God in the least; that a Heretick, who mistakes a Falshood for the Truth, ought to pay it the same regard as if it really were the Truth, and is answerable in the sight of God only for the Neglect or Malice, by the means of which he might be led into the Mistake. So that one can never enough blame St. Austin for his want of Exactness and Accuracy in all these Parallels. He runs on with his Comparison very demurely, and as if he had to deal with mere Ideots; between a Wife who lies with a Man whom she knows not to be her Husband, and a Soul which entertains false Opinions, but entertains ’em only because it’s fully persuaded they are true; insomuch that the whole Influence and Power they have over the Man, proceeds from no other Cause, than the firm and sincere Disposition of his Soul to the loving and reverencing the Truth.<468>
[141. ]See above, p. 205.
[142. ]See above, pp. 333–34.
[* ]Nouv. Lett. de l’ Auteur de la Crit. Gen. de Maimbourg, Tom. 1. [Bayle, Nouvelles Lettres, OD, vol. 2.]
[143. ]See above, p. 233.