Front Page Titles (by Subject) §7 - The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented
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§7 - 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).
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Of the Reconciliation of differing Opinions.The Reconcilement of differences in Religion can by no means be so done, as to have it declar’d that both are Truth, forasmuch as it is necessary from the Nature of Things, that in a Contradiction between Two Propositions one or other of them must needs be false. But to effect a Reconcilement in this Case, one Opinion must of necessity be declar’d and approv’d for Truth, and the other be rejected as false. Nor further, is a Reconciliation to be made by bringing all Parties to account that all Religions are alike useful, and effectual towards the Salvation of Men; or by a Declaration that this may be attain’d in any Religion which bears the Name of Christian. For this were to make the Christian Religion altogether Irrational, and a Discipline not rightly cohering with it self, but a Mass of Principles disagreeing with, and mutually destroying each other. Nor is it a fit Method of composing Differences to declare that the Opinions about which the Parties differ are only Problematical, and such as that it concerns not any Man’s Salvation to which Part of the Contradiction he gives his assent. For although within the whole Body of Divinity there may be many Questions handled, which a Man without any damage might be Ignorant of, or such as that it matters not to which Part he gives his assent; and that because in the Sacred Writings themselves many Things are deliver’d, which are not precisely necessary to Salvation, or because the Professors of Divinity have with more niceness and subtilty handled some Points of Christian Religion than were necessary to the plainness and simplicity of a saving Faith; yet we must not think it an Arbitrary thing, or what depends upon the Will of Man, that a Question be declar’d Problematical and Indifferent: But every thing must be tried to the Foundation, that it may manifestly appear whether it does necessarily belong to the Essence of the Faith or not. That we may obtain a compleat Reconciliation of Differences in Religion, it is necessary therefore, that after the controverted Opinions are searched to the Foundation, and the truth of the one, and the falshood of the other, are plainly demonstrated from the genuine Books of holy Scripture; they who have heretofore held a false Opinion do Renounce this, and yield to, and embrace the Truth. But alas, a perfect Reconciliation of this sort, such as that they who have hitherto cherish’d and maintain’d erroneous Opinions, should abandon these, and agree with others in the Truth, considering the present State and Manners of Mankind, is a thing rather to be desir’d, than it can be hoped to be accomplish’d. Not for that ’tis impossible in the Nature of the thing, that the Truth should be establish’d, or Errour discover’d and confuted: But by reason of the Obstinacy of Prejudices, which have taken possession of Mens Minds from their Childhood; and because of the Pride of Humane Nature, which disdains that others should seem wiser than ourselves, and will pertinaciously retain Opinions once receiv’d, even out of hatred to those that believe otherwise, especially if it be so that they who differ from us may be safely despised. If therefore any one should attempt such a Reconciliation of the Differences he would certainly bestow his Labour in Vain, and expose himself to contempt. And if it shall ever please God to heal the Breaches of the Church, and to Bless it with a perfect Union, which is the thing many do suppose may be expected from some Prophecies in the Sacred Writings, concerning a happy and flourishing State of the Church, which are not yet fulfill’d, he will certainly put another sort of Disposition into the Minds of Men, and such as will be fit to produce such an end, and that by some great Revolution which shall altogether change the State of Humane Affairs. But there is no appearance of any such thing at present, nor is it within the reach of Humane Foresight; tho’ ’tis very possible and easie to Almighty God to make Way for it by very small and seemingly inconsiderable Things. In my Opinion therefore for the present there is nothing else that remains to be done in this Case, but to propose a Reconcilement mixed with a Toleration. And that I think should be thus order’d, that in the first Place on both sides there should be an Agreement in a solid, sufficient, and adequate, Foundation of Faith, or that those Articles of Faith should be clearly defin’d and agreed upon which are so necessary to Salvation, as that they ought neither to be unknown to any Man, or deny’d by any one, nor wrested and drawn into a diverse Sense and Meaning. And that with relation to other Opinions, which do not come within the compass of the Foundation of the Faith, and in which if a Man does err, his Errour would not so much as indirectly destroy the Foundation, in these a Toleration should be granted; and for the sake of them no Man should be cast out from the Communion of any Church, or withdraw and separate himself from it, nor should any form a distinct and separate Communion for the sake of them. For it may so come to pass that an Errour which is not in its own Nature prejudicial to Salvation, may yet be so by some other Way. As for instance, if a Man should obstinately deny any Point whatever, which is manifestly contain’d in the Sacred Writings, and upon that account charge those Writings with falshood, and deny their Authority, by which he would subvert the very Foundation of the Christian Faith, which is built and depends upon the infallible Truth of those Writings. But it is another, and a very different thing from this, to deny a Doctrine deliver’d in the Sacred Writings, as believing that another Sence ought to be put upon those Places from whence it is said to be deriv’d. For in this Case the Authority of the Scriptures remains untouch’d, and only the true Sence of this or that Passage in them is disputed. On the other Hand, if a true Faith about the Fundamental Articles, other Requisites being added, is sufficient to Salvation, and to render a Man a true Member of Jesus Christ, why may not the same thing suffice among Men to make them exercise a brotherly Charity to each other, and live together in the same Communion? Provided there be nothing in a Man’s outward Appearance, and which the Sences can observe, that should hinder them from receiving him into external Communion, who cannot see into his Heart, nor know the Faith which he has there. See 1 Cor. 3:11, 12, 13, 14, 15. And what has been commented upon that Text by Georgius Calixtus in his literal Exposition upon that Epistle.4
[4.]Pufendorf refers here and in other sections of this work to the Commentary on the Epistles of the Apostle St. Paul (In Acta Apostolorum Expositio Litteralis …), which the Lutheran theologian Georgius Calixtus (1586–1656) published in 1654. Calixtus is well known for his efforts to unite the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches.