Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter II: A Confirmation of the foregoing Chapter, chiefly by a new Confutation of the Answer alledg'd at every turn against my Reasonings; to wit, That the true Church alone has a Right to dispense with the natural Rule of Equity, in her Proceedings ag - 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 II: A Confirmation of the foregoing Chapter, chiefly by a new Confutation of the Answer alledg’d at every turn against my Reasonings; to wit, That the true Church alone has a Right to dispense with the natural Rule of Equity, in her Proceedings ag - 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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A Confirmation of the foregoing Chapter, chiefly by a new Confutation of the Answer alledg’d at every turn against my Reasonings; to wit, That the true Church alone has a Right to dispense with the natural Rule of Equity, in her Proceedings against Hereticks.
Possibly some may tell me, That God might have wise Reasons for depriving his Church, even of the Benefit of the most humble Remonstrances to her cruel Persecutors, founded on the<544> general Laws of Equity; because, say they, this is a means of letting us see, that his Church is preserv’d purely by the invisible and extraordinary methods of his Providence, when wholly, as ’twere, abandon’d, or left intirely to the passive Constancy of its Children in the midst of Persecution. But to reason at this rate, People must give very little heed to two things, which yet are very certain:
1. That the holiest Men, and the most zealous Defenders of the Cause of the Son of God, have never omitted all lawful and modest ways of making their Persecutors understand, that they trod under foot the most sacred and inviolable Maxims of Equity. Thus St. Peter remonstrates, on that great and universal Maxim, That it is better to obey God than Men: and in general, we find by all the Apologys which the Christians of the first Ages presented to the Emperors, that they insisted principally on the Innocence of their Morality, and the Injustice of not letting ’em enjoy that Security which the Laws of the State, and those of Nature and Nations, provided in common for all the Subjects of the Empire. Is not this manifestly appealing to the common Right, and claiming the benefit of all the natural and positive Laws observ’d in the State? It’s false then, that God intended the Orthodox shou’d encounter their Persecutors only by one or other of these two ways, either a dumb Patience, or a bare Declaration at most, that they had the Truth o’ their side. We find ’em often reasoning on Principles common to them and the Gentiles: my meaning is, that they urge the Gentiles to think of those universal Dutys,<545> which bring Men under a mutual Obligation to each other, and which were not observ’d towards the Christians. This was the speediest way of moving ’em: for while they reason’d only on Maxims deny’d by their Pagan Adversarys, such for example, as telling ’em they paid a false Worship to the Divinity; they cou’d gain very little against an Edict for Persecution, at least unless they prov’d their Assertion by some sensible Argument, founded on Principles evident and allow’d by Pagans as well as Christians. Tertullian is admirable this way. Who knows not that bright Passage of his, in the second Chapter of his Apologetick?201 “You overturn (says he to the Persecutors) all Methods of Justice with regard to us. You torture other Criminals to make them confess what they deny, and you torture Christians to make them deny what they confess. If the being a Christian were really a fault, we shou’d deny it, and you wou’d force us by Torments to confess it. In the mean time, you can’t abide a Christian shou’d tell you what he really is, and you wou’d have him tell you what he is not. You, who are specially appointed for extorting the Truth from the mouths of other Criminals, leave no means unessay’d to draw a Lye from the mouths of Christians; and whereas you won’t easily give credit to what others say, when they deny what you ask ’em, you’l take us at half a word, if it happen that any of us are wretched enough to deny what we are. Let this so uneven, so preposterous a Conduct, become suspect to your selves, and possess you with a Dread of some hidden Malignity at<546> bottom, which tempts you thus to violate all the Rules of Justice in your dealings with us.”
This was giving the thing a right turn, and was an Argument ad hominem,202 or Representation importing that they did not act consistently with their own Principles: in which, by the way, the Authors of the French Dragoonerys may see some of their own Lineaments.
The second very certain thing which the Authors of the Answer in question don’t give heed to, is their manifestly contradicting themselves. For if Jesus Christ has enjoin’d Constraint, and the extorting the signing a Formulary; if he authorizes all the ways of Violence, employ’d from the days of Constantine down to our own, for enlarging the Borders of the Church: it is not true, that God had a purpose of preserving this Church by the invisible and miraculous Assistance of his Holy Spirit, without the intervention of human means.
I come now to another Engine, which we may properly call the Perpetual Motion, because no sooner is it dash’d on the ground, but it presently rises again with a jerk, and plays with as much activity as ever. God, say they, never meant to deprive the Truth of a right of urging, when persecuted, all the Principles of natural Religion in its own defence, and compassing it self about with ’em as with a Wall of Brass; he only intended that Falshood, when persecuted, shou’d not have the same right. I have answer’d this Exception so often, that I am perfectly tir’d of it. However, because they’l still be repeating it, without taking the least notice of my Confutations, I shall offer ’em a new Answer, which<547> lies more on a level with mean Understandings.
I say then in the first place, That it is equally depriving a Man of the benefit of his Arms, whether they be taken clearly away from him, or whether they be left in his hands, when his Adversary is fitted with a Buckler that’s perfect Proof against ’em, and which comes out of the same Forge with the Arms themselves. Now this is precisely the Case. Prove stoutly that Jesus Christ has enjoin’d constraining Conscience, and put this Command in execution on all occasions, you shall infallibly produce these two dismal effects: First, Infidels will look on you as the Pest of human Society, and the infamous Violators of those Laws which are most essentially necessary to the Welfare and Preservation of Human Kind; and consequently will think themselves oblig’d to treat you like so many wild Beasts, when or wherever they are uppermost. Secondly, Christian Schismaticks and Hereticks, thinking themselves no less oblig’d than you to execute the Orders of Jesus Christ, will give you no Quarter, in hopes hereby of forcing you to come over to that Communion which they believe the true: thus each will become inexorable and impenetrable to all your Remonstrances and Apologys; and the beseeching your Persecutors to observe the universal Dutys of Equity and Humanity towards you, will serve only to make you ridiculous as well as miserable.
What kind of Right then, is this you pretend God has especially left you, of urging the common Ideas of Equity in the presence of Tyrants and Persecutors? A Right indeed of no man-<548>ner of use or advantage, a pure Chimera!
What wou’d any Man of good Sense say of Virgil, if having fetch’d his Hero from the Taurick Chersonesus, where ’twas the custom to cut the throats of all Strangers at the foot of Diana’s Altar, he shou’d have put that moving Complaint in his Companions mouths, which we find ’em make, when just sav’d from a Shipwreck on the Coast of Africk, the Natives immediately assaulted ’em:*Good God, say they, what a barbarous inhospitable Nation is this, that won’t allow us the privilege of the Sands on the Seashore!
As proper and reasonable as this Complaint is in the mouths of Men who had themselves observ’d the Rules of Humanity, just so ridiculous wou’d it be in the mouths of Persons belonging to the Taurick Chersonesus. So true is it, that the Violators of Faith and Humanity have no reason to take it ill, if they are paid in their own coin.
What will you get then, my Gentlemen Orthodox Persecutors, by saying that God has restrain’d the Right of compelling to the side of Truth alone? Will the ill effects of this pretended Right be hereby render’d less fatal and destructive? As to the bloody Consequences of your Persecutions, from all the Laws of Retaliation and Reprisal, they’l be much the same, whether you say that Falshood has not in reality the same Right in this respect as the Truth, or whether you maintain the contrary. Whence it ma-<549>nifestly follows, that had God commanded the Orthodox to force the Heterodox, he had done the most unjust thing in the world on one hand; and the most likely, on the other, to expose the true Church to incurable and insupportable Evils, perpetrated at least with such a plausible appearance of Right, that she cou’d not find a disinterested Judg upon Earth, who wou’d not affirm this Right against her.
But the Church will at least have the Consolation, at the Day of Judgment, of hearing her Persecutors condemn’d. Here again we justle with the Engine of perpetual Motion, the last Resource of our Adversarys, their Sheet-Anchor. What answer can be made? We shall see.
[201. ]Tertullian, Apologeticum, II.10; T.R. Glover, Loeb Classical Library, 1977, p. 13.
[202. ]See Appendixes, “Bayle’s Use of Logic,” p. 580, note 3.
[* ]Quod Genus hoc hominum, quaeve hunc tam barbara morem Permittit Patria? Hospitio prohibemur Arenae; Bella cient primaque vetant consistere Terra. [Virgil, Aeneid I.539.]