Front Page Titles (by Subject) §4 - The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
§4 - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented 
The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented, trans. Theophilus Dorrington, ed. with an Introduction by Simone Zurbruchen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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 Toleration of Dissenting Parties is either Political.Toleration is of the Nature of a Truce in War, which suspends the Effects of it, and the actual Hostilities, while the State and Cause of the War do remain. By that in like manner the Controversies, and different Opinions upon the Articles of Faith, do still persist and continue, but so that the evil Effects of them cease, and they are not made matter of Hatred and Persecutions: And those that differ from one another, live together as if there were no Dissention among them; at least one Party does not hinder those of another from the publick Profession of their different Opinion, or from Worshipping God after their own manner; nor does one Party any ways incommode or hurt the other upon any such Account. And such Toleration seems to be the readiest Remedy to Cure the Evils, which are wont to proceed from Diversities of Religion, since it is so difficult a Matter for Men to be brought to lay aside inveterate Opinions, and to Unite in a full Reconciliation. And that Method our Saviour himself seems to have recommended, while he forbad the pulling up of the Tares, lest at the same time the good Wheat should be pluck’d up with them: And he would have them let alone to grow together till the time of Harvest, Mat. 13:18, &c. In which Place by the time of Harvest it is not necessary that we must understand the End of the World; but it may perhaps mean that appointed Period which the Divine Providence has fix’d for every Sect. For manifest it is, that many Heresies are so perfectly vanish’d, that there is nothing remaining of them more than their Names in the History of the Church: Which if any Attempt had been unseasonably and violently made to have rooted them up, it might have given no small Trouble to the Orthodox. But this Toleration is Twofold, one is what may be call’d Political, the other Ecclesiastical. Concerning the former it is to be observ’d, that the Subjects of a Commonwealth who differ in their Religion, may have their Liberty to do so Two manner of Ways; either in their own Right, or by the Concession and Favour of those who have Possession of the Government. It may several Ways come to pass that Two or more different Religions may be admitted in the same Commonwealth. If in any one Nation a great Part of the People depart from their ancient Rites of Religion, and the rest continue in them as formerly, or if any People Universally forsake their ancient Religion, but in forming the new One do differ from one another, and these People mutually yeild to each other by Agreement to their different Ways of Religion, both Parties in this Case must be judg’d to have a Right to their Liberty. Thus in the German Empire, both the Protestants and the Catholicks do in their own Right enjoy the Liberty of their Religion. So when in any State where a certain Religion is publickly receiv’d, the Prince thinks fit to depart to another, or a Prince of a different Religion is receiv’d and acknowledg’d by the People, in this Case the Prince injoys the new, and the People their old Religion, and both with full Liberty, and in their own Right. So in Germany, by the Constitution of the Peace of Osnabrug, if a reform’d Principality should fall to a Prince of the Lutheran Profession, or a Lutheran Principality should come under a Prince of the reform’d Way, both People and Prince are to have Liberty of their Religion in their own Right. And in such a State, if the Prince or Ruler be of a different Religion from that of the People, or of the greater Part of them, yet the Religion of the Prince is not therefore to be accounted the ruling Religion, and that of the People precarious and obnoxious: Forasmuch as the Religion of the Ruler is one thing, and the ruling Religion is another. So when King James II. reconcil’d to the Romish Religion, came to the Kingdom of England, it must not be said that thereupon that became the ruling Religion there, but that Prerogative remain’d in the Possession of the Church of England; and when that King, led by evil Council, would needs go about to Impose the Roman Rites upon his People, it was without Injury that he lost his Kingdoms.1 Which was the thing that formerly befel to Sigismund the King of Sueden.2 But those who in this manner enjoy the Liberty of their Religion, cannot properly be said to be tolerated; but they only are so who have their Liberty not in their own Right, but by the Concession of the Government. Which may come to pass, and is wont to do so when Strangers of a different Religion are receiv’d into any Nation. Who owe it to the Favour of the Government there, both that they are admitted into that Nation, and are admitted with a Religion different from that of the Nation which receives them. So also when a smaller Number of the People change and forsake their ancient Religion than are of any Importance to the Commonwealth, or than can by their Wealth obtain a Right to their Liberty, they must owe it to the Indulgence of the Government, that they are allow’d without Disturbance to Practice their new and different Way of Religion.
[1.]After succeeding his brother, Charles II, to the throne of England in 1685, James II (1633–1701) remained a staunch adherent to the Roman Catholic faith. When James openly opposed the Test Act of 1673, which barred all Catholics and Protestant Dissenters from holding administrative positions, by appointing Catholics to high positions, public opinion turned against him. In 1689 Parliament invited James’s Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, to take the throne after an orchestrated invasion by the Dutchman the previous year. For a more detailed account of the Glorious Revolution, see Pufendorf’s posthumous history of Frederic III of Brandenburg-Prussia, De rebus gestis Friderici Tertii, Electoris Brandenburgici, post Primi Borussiae Regis Commentariorum Libri Tres, complectentes annos 1688–1690. Fragmentum posthumum ex autographo auctoris editum, ed. E. F. de Hertzberg (Berlin, 1784). See the analysis by Michael J. Seidler, “‘Turkish Judgment’ and the English Revolution,” in Samuel Pufendorf und die europäische Frühaufklärung. Werk und Einfluss eines deutschen Bürgers der Gelehrten-republik nach 300 Jahren (1694–1994), ed. Fiammetta Palladini and Gerald Hartung (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1996), 83–104.
[2.]In 1592 the Catholic king Sigismund III of Poland inherited the throne of Sweden from his father, John III. Lutheranism had been established as Sweden’s state religion, which Sigismund was obliged to uphold as a condition for his coronation in 1594. His strong promotion of Catholicism, however, led to conflict; he was defeated by his successor, Charles IX, and deposed by the Riksdag in 1599.