Front Page Titles (by Subject) §65 - The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
§65 - 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 Original of these Controversies.But that we may the more truly and intimately understand the nature and quality of these Controversies, it must be known, that they derive their Original from the Disputations of Augustine against the Pelagians.43 For when the Pelagians would needs attribute more than was just to the Powers of Human Nature, and of the Free-will in Men: He, as is wont to happen in the Heat of Dispute, and from the Desire of Victory, inclin’d to another Extream; and that he might the more depress the Powers of Human Nature, and extenuate them, did exalt the Grace of God so far, that he referr’d all things to the absolute Will and Pleasure of God. After his time, during the barbarous Ages, and while the Superstition of the Kingdom of Darkness was prevailing, it was for the interest of those Times to incline to the Opinion of the Pelagians, so that there might be the more abundant meritorial Power and Force attributed to good Works. Tho’ for all this, there were some found even in that Synagogue, but with an eminent Proof of their Stupidity, who maintain’d the Opinion of the absolute Decree, since nothing does more contradict the Merit of Men than the absolute Decree of God. On the other hand, they who in the last Age labour’d in purging Religion from the Errours and Abuses of the Papists, that they might the more effectually destroy the Opinion of Human Merit, as conducing to eternal Salvation, they return’d to the Opinion of Augustine; and among these was Luther himself, as being in his Education a Disciple of Augustine. To which Opinion, some hard Expressions were annexed by some, not with an ill Mind; as it is reasonable to believe, but that they might take away all Force and Power from Human Strength and Merit in the Matter of Salvation, and ascribe it only to the Grace of God. And I am willing to believe, they did not at first foresee what a multitude of absurd and hard Consequences, might be drawn, or would easily follow from those things so inconsiderately laid down. Therefore, when afterward that Opinion began to be oppos’d, and, as it is the fault of Human Nature, they were unwilling to depart from the Principles they had once espoused; the next thing to be done, was, that they would argue those Consequences were reproachfully imputed to them, and deny, that they asserted or approv’d them: And from thence they would proceed to soften some Matters, and interpret them with some Variations, but yet so as to think it would be a Disparagement, should they openly reject their first Principles from whence those hard things do proceed. And here this thing seems to be certain, That if I sincerely lay down any Principle, and do not in the Beginning foresee, that this or that ill Consequence can be deduced from it, I am not to be accused as if I did approve those ill Consequences, and held them too for my Opinion. But that Doctrine from whence such things follow, cannot with at all the more Reason be accounted found. And when those Consequences are plainly demonstrated, and their Connexion cannot be denied, it is in vain to interpose a Protestation, that the Consequences are not acknowledg’d when the Premises are admitted from which they follow. For that which may be accounted true, must not be that which has a falshood Consequent upon it. And if any Opinion was approv’d at the beginning, but afterward being more throughly search’d into, it is found to produce evil Consequences, it ought either to be intirely rejected, or to be so limited and explain’d that the Spring or Source of those ill Consequences may be stop’d up.
[43.]Pelagianism received its name from Pelagius (late fourth to early fifth century) and designates a “heresy” according to which man can initiate his own salvation apart from divine grace; eventually this led to outright denial of original sin. Augustine wrote extensively against Pelagianism, e.g., On the Merits and Remission of Sins and on the Baptism of Infants, On the Spirit and the Letter, On Nature and Grace, On the Perfection of Man’s Righteousness, On the Grace of Christ and On Original Sin, On Marriage and Concupiscence, On the Soul and its Origin, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Against Julian of Eclanum.