Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter XX: The Conclusion and Summary View of the general Consideration, hinted at in the Title of the first Chapter. - A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, 'Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full'
Return to Title Page for A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, ‘Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full’
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Chapter XX: The Conclusion and Summary View of the general Consideration, hinted at in the Title of the first Chapter. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Conclusion and Summary View of the general Consideration, hinted at in the Title of the first Chapter.
I have now offer’d every thing that I think cou’d possibly be invented by my Adversarys, to elude the Force of the Arguments which I had advanc’d against ’em in this general Consideration of the Weakness of St. Austin, the great Apologist for Persecution; and this is the Reason why this single Consideration has held me so long, and bin drawn out to such a length: but I can hardly repent of it, having heard good Judges say, and experienc’d it my self, that one never convinces his Readers by the Arguments he offers, unless he take care<677> to foresee all the Difficultys they may raise upon ’em, and unless they spare ’em this trouble, by solidly confuting all that ’tis probable they can invent, or imagine against ’em. I can’t therefore ask pardon for being so prolix, since I persuade my self, that nothing less cou’d have decided the dispute with St. Austin, and with all the other Adherents and Patrons of Persecution, on the Sense of these Words, Compel ’em to come in, so clearly to my Advantage; for now my Argument stands thus.
That Sense of these Words which enjoins a Conduct, that no tolerable Reason cou’d be assign’d for when employ’d against the Partizans of Falshood, which might not equally justify those when they thought fit to keep the same Conduct with the Orthodox Believers, is false.
Now such is the literal Sense of these Words.
Therefore it’s false.
The Major of this Syllogism is evident: for what wou’d become of the Wisdom, the Goodness, and the Justice of God, shou’d he have had an Intention of putting into the hands of the Persecutors of his Truth, the same Arms which he had given the Protectors of this same Truth? The whole difficulty then lies in the Minor, but to remove this I have done as follows.
I have in the first place261 suppos’d as a thing incontestable, that shou’d the Protestants, whereever they were uppermost, think fit to proceed against the Church of Rome, in the manner that she has lately treated the Reform’d in France; they might say, in answer to the Complaints and Remonstrances of the Catholicks, all the same things that St. Austin has answer’d to the Dona-<678>tists, and the French Writers to the Protestants. No one will deny the Supposition; but what they will say is this, that the same Arguments which are true in the Mouth of a Catholick, are false in that of a Protestant. To overthrow this Answer,
I have shewn in the second place,262 that ’twou’d be absolutely of no effect towards putting a stop to the oppressing of the Truth; that ’twou’d be only a begging the Question, and an Appeal to an endless Discussion of the Controversys between ’em; that the Justice of the Complaints, turning on a Determination of the Dispute, ’twere ridiculous in the Orthodox to complain, so long as this Dispute were continuing. And,
In the third place,263 that from hence it might be concluded, this Answer was false at bottom; that it’s repugnant to all the Ideas of the Divine Wisdom and Equity, that God shou’d leave his Church in such a condition, that all the most inviolable Maxims of natural Righteousness shou’d not only become useless to her with those who were the most inclin’d to be equitable, but her claiming the benefit of ’em, even render her ridiculous to all the World. But because, in opposition to this, they answer, that God will at last justify his Church in the Face of the World, by shewing she follow’d his Intention, in treading under foot all the Rules of natural Equity with regard to Hereticks, whereas these have merited eternal Death, by presuming to act the same way against the Orthodox;
I have shewn in the fourth place,264 that supposing there were a Command from God, for persecuting those in Error; Hereticks, who perse-<679>cuted the Orthodox, cou’d not on this score be said to do ill, any more than a Conqueror can be said to do ill in governing the Kingdoms he has usurp’d, according to the Laws of God; or a false Mother, who piously educates a Child that she has stoln, can be said to do ill in this particular. In a word, I have shewn, that as Hereticks shall not be blam’d at the last day for having obey’d the Precept of Alms-giving, so neither shall they be blam’d for having in the Sincerity of their Souls obey’d that of compelling. But because it might be objected, that the Poor, to whom they give an Alms, are the proper Objects, and those for whom Jesus Christ design’d it; whereas they whom they compel are not the Persons against whom he intended Constraint:
I have shewn in the fifth place,265 that it is not necessary, in order to obey the Precept of Alms-giving, that the Persons to whom we give be really and actually poor, or that they to whom we refuse be not; but that ’tis enough, if we sincerely and upon probable Reasons believe, that they whom we refuse are above want, and that they to whom we bestow our Alms are not. But, lest Examples of this kind shou’d not be convincing enough,
I have shewn in the sixth place,266 by the Example of Magistrates, that we obey the Precept of punishing the Guilty and delivering the Innocent, even when we acquit the Guilty and punish the Innocent, provided this be done according to the Forms of Law, and from an Ignorance which cou’d not be surmounted by the strictest Inquiry. This is a Case in point, because the pretended Command of compelling Hereticks is directed to<680> Sovereigns, and the Civil Magistrate: so that Trials for Heresy must undergo the same Fate as those for Poisoning, Murder, Adultery, in which the Judg is only oblig’d to examine the matter with due care; nor is he further answerable for its happening that the Innocent is punish’d, and the Guilty deliver’d. But because it might be objected, that the Ignorance in these Causes is invincible, but not in those of Heresy,
I have prov’d in the seventh place,267 that it is at least as difficult to discover, whether a Person, accus’d of Heresy, is really a Heretick, as whether a Man, accus’d of Murder, Robbery, or Poisoning, be guilty of the Fact. And because it might be alledg’d, that the Ignorance in these Cases proceeds not from a malicious corrupt Heart, whereas in Trials for Heresy it does;
I have shewn in the eighth and last place,268 and that beyond all Contradiction, that nothing is more false or more absurd than this Supposition, taken in the general, or restrain’d to such and such.
This, as far as I cou’d conceive upon the maturest thought, is all that can possibly be objected to elude the Force of my Reasonings: So that I have ground to hope, that it’s building with Lime and Stone to answer as I have done. Shou’d my Adversarys hereafter start any new Cavil, or even a sound Difficulty, I dare engage to answer it; in the mean time I may, on so solid a Foundation as this before us, be allow’d to superstruct the following Conclusion,
To wit, That if God had enjoin’d the persecuting of Hereticks, Hereticks might perform a good Work by persecuting all such, as, on a thorow<681> Examination of the Cause, and from a sincere Principle, they deem’d heretical.
I hope my Readers will pardon my insisting so much on this Point: for since this was the only Hold which the Patrons of Compulsion had left, and which how pitiful soever they were not asham’d to boast of on all Occasions; ’twas but fit to drive ’em clearly out of it, and deprive ’em of every Shift or Shadow of Defence.
How weak and wretched St. Austin’s Apology must now appear.
My Readers will likewise, I hope, be convinc’d I had good grounds for saying in the first Chapter, that to confute St. Austin’s Apology for Penal Laws, I needed only to shew, that all his Arguments might be turn’d upon the Orthodox, when under Persecution from Hereticks. In effect, retorting the wretched Justifications for forcing Conscience, sinks all Apology for Persecution to rights: and if St. Austin has judiciously remark’d in some part or other of his Works, That in all Disputes,*We ought to wave those general Mediums, which may be offer’d of each Side, tho not with Truth by each; how much more ought we to follow this excellent Rule, where the contending Partys have an equal Right of employing the same Arms; as, I think, I have unanswerably prov’d, that Hereticks and the Orthodox have with regard to Persecution, sup-<682>posing Jesus Christ had enjoin’d Violence, and the constraining Men to come into his Fold?
Now if nothing be more ridiculous in all Disputes, than ecchoing to our Adversary’s Words, and pleading, I am right and you are wrong; in answer to his saying, He is right and we are wrong: if this be a mere Childish Play, tossing the same Ball backwards and forwards; if begging the Question be the lowest and sillyest of all Sophistry; if we are guilty of this, not only when we offer, as a reason, the very Thesis which our Adversary impugns, but also when we urge a Doctrine in proof against him, which we know he rejects, no less than the main Thesis; how will it be for the future, when we may not make use even of this weak and pitiful Subterfuge, You who are an Heretick, have no right to persecute me who am Orthodox; but I may justly persecute you, because you are in an Error, and I am not: How extravagant, I say, will it be for the future to plead, Compel ’em to come in; when ’tis manifest, that even supposing a Man a Heretick, there’s no denying him a right to persecute with Impunity, even before the Throne of God, if he is sincere in his Error, and if the persecuting Orthodox may hope for Impunity at the same dreadful Tribunal?
I have one word more to add, before I quit this Matter. For as my principal Design was only to justify those in Error, who don’t therefore cease to be Christians, as has bin shewn at the beginning of the thirteenth Chapter;269 it remains still a Question, Whether Infidels might justly persecute Christians, on a supposition that Jesus Christ had enjoin’d the forcing Conscience.<683> I say, that their right of treating Christians as Enemys of Mankind, is incontestable; because they might have just ground to imagine, that the Gospel is the Production of the evil Genius of Human Kind, which seem’d to have instructed Men in a purer Morality, and enhanc’d Conscience, only to plunge ’em hereby into the most enormous Iniquitys, and the most deplorable State of Woe: Since it’s certain, that the more a Soul knows the Obligation it lies under of loving God above all things, and with the utmost Purity of Affections, the more guilty it becomes, and the sharper Remorses it feels when it sinks under the Trials of Persecution. Add to this, that the Command to compel, importing that the greatest service we can render to God, is that of extending the Borders of his Church, the greater the Zeal of Christians is, the more they’l ravage the World, and lay wast Towns and Countrys, in hopes of making Converts. So that the Pagan Nations, who once understood this Doctrine, might very justly be prais’d for endeavoring to maintain natural Religion, the Principles of Humanity, and Reason, and Equity, against the Attempts of such Convertists, by expelling ’em. See the fifth Chapter of the first part of the Commentary,270 where this Matter is treated at large.
None cou’d justly be condemn’d, but such Persecutors only as were void of all Religion themselves, or who from mere Sloth or wickeder Motives, living in a confus’d and loose Belief of the Goodness of their own Religion, wou’d yet authorize their Violences, by the pretended Pre-<684>cept, Compel ’em to come in. But this can be of no manner of service to St. Austin, because it’s an Arrow which equally pierces Persecutors outwardly Orthodox (or those resting in a loose general Belief) who are Orthodox from no sincere Principle, and Persecutors who are Hereticks outwardly and from no sincere Principle.
[261. ]See above, p. 412.
[262. ]See above, p. 413.
[263. ]See above, p. 414.
[264. ]See above, p. 419.
[265. ]See above, p. 423.
[266. ]See above, p. 425.
[267. ]See above, p. 445.
[268. ]See above, p. 466.
[* ]Omittamus ista communia quae dici ex utraque parte possunt, licet veré dici ex utraque non possunt. See the Art of Thinking, ch. 19. [Cf. Augustine, Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 44, col. 641.]
[269. ]See above, p. 466.
[270. ]See above, p. 92.