Front Page Titles (by Subject) §9 - The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented
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§9 - 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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The Controversies about meer Principles may be entirely decided.Further, the Controversies of this sort, and all others, so far as they only concern Opinions, we suppose may be so throughly examin’d, that they who are not overcome with Prejudice may clearly discern on which Side the Truth lyes, and who do by meer Obstinacy defend themselves with Sophistry, as not being asham’d to retain those Principles which have over and over been prov’d false. For when there is an infallible Rule from which a Judgment may be made, such as the Holy Scripture is in Controversies of Divinity, it must needs be that the Controversies relating to that may at length find an end. And no less possible is it that the Genuine Sense of Scripture be perfectly found out, from whence the Decision of Controversies must proceed, if due Means and Helps of interpreting them be made use of. But if there be any Question which cannot have its Decision from Holy Scripture, that may justly be look’d upon as Problematical, and as not belonging to the Foundation of the Faith, and as what may be assented to on either Side, without any Prejudice to Salvation. Tho’ it were certainly much better if all such superfluous Questions, which are fit only to create Disputes and Contentions, were altogether banish’d from the Body of Divinity. Nevertheless it is a thing which we have clearly observ’d, both in the Histories of ancient and latter Times, that there is but little Success to be expected towards the reconciling of Differences in Religion from appointed Conferences between the Divines of different Perswasions. Not only because when they grow warm with Dispute, they do often inconsiderately utter some things which cherish the Strife, and give new Occasions of exasperating one another. But also because the Result of such Conferences commonly follows a Flood of Eloquence, the Volubility of the Tongue, the Craft of Disputing, and a ready Sharpness of Wit; by which Arts they oftentimes prevail, who yet have not the Truth on their Side. Which Inconvenience does also attend Councils, in which Factions oftentimes, and ill Arts, have an Influence, and Votes prevail rather by Number commonly than by Weight. But if any thing worth while of this sort were to be done, it seems to me that it could no Ways be more likely to have a good Success than if there were an Assembly constituted of such a Form, as is often agreed upon between several Princes: That is, that if any Debate arises among them, there should be Commissioners of an equal Number, chosen out of both the Parties, who after a mature Consideration of the Matter committed to them, may consent into a Conclusion, form’d rather after the Manner of an Agreement, than of a Decree of a Majority of Votes. And this Assembly ought to consist not only of Priests or Professors of Divinity, but there ought to be join’d with them some other Men, eminent for Piety and Prudence, who are also well furnish’d with a solid Knowledge of Divinity, and who are moderate Men, and skilful in the Management of Affairs. And this not only because such may be necessary to allay and temper the Fervour and Zeal with which the others are apt to manage such Matters; but also because by Divine Right, and by the Nature of the Kingdom of Christ, the Judgment in Matters of Faith does not belong to the Ministry alone, but to the whole Church; which would betray its own Right, if it should relinquish the Exercise of it to one Order alone, and would her self give Occasion to the Abuses which would certainly follow from thence. Therefore to such an Assembly there ought to be added not only some of the Ministers, and Counsellors of State, but also some chosen out of the third Order, who should represent their Persons, and maintain their Rights. If some of the most learned Divines, chosen out of both Sides, were set to debate in writing before such an Assembly one Point of the Controversie after another, order’d in a clear and well-digested Method, as is wont to be done in Judiciary Proceedings, and the Assembly were to moderate and govern the whole Process of the Dispute, that it might not wander from the true and right Subject of it, but be kept close to a right State of the Controversie, the Fruit of this would certainly be, that the Reproaches and false Accusations made by the Parties against each other before, would be condemn’d and remov’d. And thus it would be manifest in what Things the differing Parties do truly agree, and in what the Difference between them does still remain. Lastly, If a Controversie were in this manner manag’d, it is not possible but they who have any Measure of the Knowledge of Divinity, and who are not biass’d by Affection and Prejudice, must needs see which Side has the better in the Dispute. And altho’ it should so happen, that they who came thus to be Convinced, and put to Silence, should by Obstinacy of Mind shut their Eyes against the Light, yet would not such a Dispute be altogether without Fruit, and they notwithstanding would be held convicted of Errour. So Mat. 22:34. ’tis said our Saviour put the Sadducees to Silence, tho’ ’tis not said that they had the Grace to acknowledge the Truth that was shown them.