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ESSAY 6: On the Right of a Christian Prince in Religious Matters - Christian Thomasius, Essays on Church, State, and Politics 
Essays on Church, State, and Politics, edited, translated, and with an Introduction by Ian Hunter, Thomas Ahnert, and Frank Grunert (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007).
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On the Right of a Christian Prince in Religious Matters
Foreword1In the appendix to the Historia contentionis inter Imperium & Sacerdotium (chap. I, §55, p. 453),2 I mentioned, amongst other things, that in my public lectures of 16953 I had already dictated certain propositions on the right of a prince in religious affairs, and that I had developed these in a discourse in which I took on the task of here and there improving and completing Pufendorf’s propositions [on this matter].4 Now, although I have said that this discourse was in need of riper reflection, until recently I have had no time to undertake many changes to it; but I provide them herein, together with footnotes containing the summary content of the explanations I have advanced on this topic. I have made few changes, among which the most important is the restriction of the title, which now refers to the right of a Christian prince. For, although I noted in the Historia contentionis (p. 449 and p. 455) that Pufendorf had not distinguished clearly enough between the right of a prince in general and the right of a Christian prince in particular, at that time I had not myself dealt accurately enough with this difference. Some of the propositions to be found herein, however, will lessen this confusion somewhat, especially numbers 63 and following, which deal with the threefold duty of a Christian prince. Further alterations and improvements, which the present propositions might otherwise occasionally require, may be taken in part from the Historia contentionis pp. 455–502, and in part from my writings and disputations published from 1699 onward and identified in the Historia contentionis on p. 452 and following.
Explanation of the word “prince”1. By a prince, I here understand all persons who exercise supreme power and authority in a commonwealth.
Of “commonwealth”2. By commonwealth I understand a civil society deploying supreme power for the purposes of general peace.
Origin of the commonwealth4. If peace reigned everywhere, then there would be no commonwealth and, consequently, no prince or supreme power.c
5. Accordingly, there would have been no commonwealth or republic in the state of innocence.
And how the civil authorities are the divine order6. For as long as there is discord and unrest in the world as well as lack of piety and mistrust in God, there must also be civil authorities. Once men have ceased to trust in God, the authorities are the divine order, as are the physician and surgeon for as long as men are unhealthy and imperfect.
7. Accordingly, who resists the authorities resists God’s order.
8. If in this world men were so perfect that everything went peacefully, and there were no need for republics, then this would not be a miserable or disorderly condition.
9. All prerogative rights [regalien] of a prince have the preservation of the common peace as their purpose.a
Rules determining which conduct of subjects is not subject to the rights of a prince10. That conduct of subjects which can neither hinder nor promote the common peace is not subject to the prerogative right of a prince.b
11. Human conduct that is subject to the will of no man is thus not subject to the will of a prince and, consequently, not subject to his [regalian] rights.
12. Here belongs, for example, that which God has otherwise commanded or forbidden.
13. Also, all conduct of the human understanding, insofar as it has to do with the conception of a thing.c
14. The same applies to the evil inclinations that are basic to natural men, not only insofar as they consist in mere thoughts, but also insofar as they are made known through words that do not disturb the common peace; for example, when someone laments or confesses his evil inclinations.
15. In fact this even applies to such inclinations expressed in words and deeds, assuming that this does not jeopardize the external peace of mankind and that no one suffers injustice thereby; for example, when the lustful, ambitious, and avaricious make their desires known through words and deeds, as long as they weaken no one’s rights thereby.
16. Further, a man should not tell anyone how he should understand the nature of a thing, or what he should hold to be true; or that he should always speak otherwise than he thinks in matters of knowledge.a
17. If a prince wants to extend his right to such matters, then the subjects are not obliged to obey him; yet they are not to oppose him but are bound to tolerate the injustice done to them.b
18. There cannot be two supreme powers or authorities in a commonwealth, for this would make it impossible to preserve the common peace.c
Rules of religion independent of the republic19. Before civil society or the commonwealth arose, religion and religious worship already existed.d
20. Each person is responsible for his own worship of God, which may not be done through others.e
21. For the worship of God, it is not necessary that there be a society.f
22. People who are not subject to civil authority do not have to account for their worship to any man.a
23. Parents, however, have always been responsible for raising their children to the worship of God.b
24. Yet with teaching, entreaties, and admonition, not with coercion. For religion suffers no coercion.c
And after the establishment of the republic25. Civil society did not arise from and was not formed for the purpose of religious worship. It does not promote piety, and neither invented religious worship nor requires it as an instrument for ruling subjects.d
26. Following the establishment of civil society, no people has subordinated its will in religious matters to the civil authorities, nor could it rationally do so.e
Natural religion27. In the preceding propositions, by worship and religion we have understood the inner fear, reverence, trust, and love of God, so far as each man can recognize his obligation in this regard from the light of nature.f
28. This natural religious worship, however, is not adequate for human salvation, and natural reason may not derive it [natural worship] from the external forms of worship displayed in great ceremonies.a
Revealed religion29. From the beginning, God revealed to man not only what he needed to know in order to attain salvation, but also the kind of external ceremonies by which he wished to be venerated by him.
Various kinds of true religion30. According to its origin, true religionb is either natural or revealed; according to its operation it is either insufficientc or saving; according to its nature, either a matter of belief or of love;d and, finally, according to its disposition, it is either internal or external.e
God introduced revealed true religion to man through covenants31. God gave man revealed religion after the Fall, by means of a covenant with him.f
32. God has either made this covenant directly with man, or through certain intermediaries.
33. He did so directly with Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and indirectly with the Jews through Moses, and with the whole human race through Christ and his apostles.
Simple condition of revealed religion until Moses34. Now, although there is no doubt that during the whole time of the old covenant the true believers were directed toward a future child of man as their messiah, nonetheless, their confession did not consist in particular religious formulasa and jargon, but in humble simplicity.b
35. With regard to conduct, the covenant with Adam, Noah, and Abraham thus required very few external ceremonies of divine worship, over and above a properly pious life for God.c
36. The earliest external religious worship consisted in sacrifices, as a symbol of the true reconciling sacrifice [of Jesus], until in Abraham’s timea circumcision was required in addition.
37. In the beginning, though, the direction of this kind of worship rested with the father of the household.b
The Jewish religion introduced through Moses38. However, after Moses at God’s command had led the Israelite people by signs and miracles, and ruled them as a prince in God’s name, and also imposed religious laws at God’s command, the Jewish religion was combined with the state5 and commonwealth of the Jews, in such a way that one could almost not exist without the other. God here perpetually reserved the right in religious matters for himself, never conceding it to the kings of Judea and Israel.c
Difference between the Jewish and the Christian religion39. One cannot derive the Christian religion and the [regalian] rights of a Christian prince from the Jewish religion and the [regalian] rights of the kings of Judea and Israel. For Christian kings have more power than Jewish ones, while Christian teachers have less power than the Levites.a
40. For the Christian religion of the new covenant concluded with all men is quite different from the Jewish religion and, insofar as it is not tied to a particular state, the Christian religion is in fact opposed to the Jewish. This explains why Christ neither acted as a prince nor instituted a particular form of government but, before his death, merely occupied the office of a miracle-working teacher.b
41. The apostles spread the teachings of Christ as they received them from him, and although they derived their power to teach from God and thus depended on no human dominion, yet, by virtue of the same office and the things pertaining to it, they did not receive from Christ the power to rule over men, or to bring men to the Christian religion through coercive means, or to make use of such means.c
42. The office of a teacher requires love and is impossible to practice through compulsion, least of all, though, the office of a teacher of the Christian religion.d
43. The office of the Keys—or declaring forgiveness of the repentant and the stain of sin in the unrepentant—entails no civil power or right of coercion.e
44. From the standpoint of its origin and earliest use, excommunication in itself is not actually a punishment or a deprivation of civil honor, and entails no right of compulsion.a
45. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, and has nothing in common with civil or human power.b
46. The Christian church or congregation has nothing in common with the secular state or commonwealth. As a result, no form of government used in the commonwealth may be used in the Christian church; for it is nothing but an association which should consist of teachers and listeners (who in the sight of their only common Father are all brothers to one another).c
Condition of the Christian religion under the pagan emperors47. Under the pagan emperors, the Christian church had no secular dominion, administering only such justice as is possessed by other such honorable associations in the commonwealth, which involves no dominion but only good discipline and order, (grounded in the voluntary agreement of all). To this [discipline and order] belongs the fact that the community chooses particular teachers; gathers alms freely and without compulsion; consults its teachers in cases of conscience; appoints Christian arbitrators to decide outbreaks of controversy; refrains from disorderly conduct; endeavors to correct faults through reminders and admonition; retains the repentant in the community; and excludes the obstinate from it.d
The same under the Christian emperors or regents48. In being adopted by the emperor and kings, the Christian church was not made more perfect, nor was the prior duty between teachers and listeners changed or transformed. Much less were regents on this account given a special obligation by the Christians.a
49. The Christian religion alters the duties of ruler and subjects not in the slightest; in fact it confirms these. But just as blessedness is also beneficial to the secular peace, while reason, deprived of the Holy Scriptures, is easily reduced to ambition and suchlike under the appearance of true virtue, so too there is little doubt that the Christian religion brings many benefits to the commonwealth and must greatly alter it.b
50. Even if it is in a commonwealth, the Christian church does not cease to be an [voluntary] association6 as it was before, and all secular dominion and civil offices are suspended when prince and subjects are viewed as members of the Christian church.a
51. Princes do not become bishops or teachers by adhering to the Christian church. In fact a prince may not at the same time rightly hold the office of a Christian teacher.b
The true Christian religion: end, means, and only foundation52. The end of Christian, apostolic, and Protestant religion is peace with God.c
53. The means to attain this end is faith, which works through love.d
54. Here faith is not understood as the mere intellectual knowledge of truths associated with the contemplation of divine things, for the devil also has this;e still less is it such knowledge as is grounded in the texts of men not moved by God;f but it is the heart’s hope and trust in God.g Love, so far as it signifies the activity of faith,h we understand as good works in relation to men.
55. If one hates somebody, then one has no trust in him. If, though, one loves somebody, then one trusts in his promises. In this way, those who do not love God do not have faith.
56. Accordingly, the only true ground of Christian religion is the love of God and of all men.a
57. This ground of the Christian religion requires not so much an exact and especially subtle knowledge of the inconceivable essence of God, but, much more, a clear knowledge of his will, which is easily understood and needs no metaphysical subtleties.b
58. Inconceivable things cannot be conceived as they are, but only by analogy with conceivable things.
59. In its reflections on the nature of inconceivable things, the human understanding cannot fully hope for truth—which consists in the agreement of our understanding with the thing itself—but may well fall into error if it dwells too long on these things, because it can find no ground in them to serve as a foothold.
60. All disputation or quarreling over such things is therefore in vain, in that the most one can hope for is to demonstrate an error to someone, not, though, to defend an incontestable truth. This is because the unsurpassable excellence of the subject means that all predicates are applied to it improperly, or else analogically.
61. The veneration that we owe to God requires that we speak of the secrets of his nature as he in his Word wants himself spoken of. And because the foundations of Christianity teach us that illumination by the Holy Ghost is required to understand this, it is a great presumption and a sign of paganism if one tries to persuade oneself and others to hold a candle to the sun of wisdom with the jargon of human reason.
62. It thus follows from the preceding (numbers 57 and 60) that we should not regard the expressions and analogies that God applies to his nature via his creatures, as if God by this would have us form a complete idea of his nature, or the secrets of his works. Instead, through them there should be awakened in us a sense of his will, and of the love and benevolence shown to us, and also of our insignificance and misery, and a desire for and trust in him.
63. A Christian prince, as a prince, should observe the office of a prince and, as a Christian prince, the duty of a Christian.
Threefold duty of a Christian prince64. The office of prince—namely, his sovereignty [Majestät] and dominion—must be exercised in a way that does not conflict with the duty of a Christian; that is, the duty of a prince should give way to Christian duty, but not the latter to the former.
65. And because a prince should also observe the common natural duties of a man, the wisdom of a prince consists in knowing how to observe together the duties of a man, a prince, and a Christian.7
66. Accordingly, the right of the prince in religious affairs must be derived not only from human laws or associations, or from instituted customs, or from examples, but from the juxtaposition of these threefold duties.
And its relation to his right in religious matters67. Because all human rights or freedoms are generally bound to duties so, it is most reasonable, when discussing the doctrine of the right of a prince in religious matters, also to represent his duties.
68. The duty of a Christian prince insofar as he is a man, is to do good for other men in accordance with his capacity. Insofar as he is a prince, his duty is to protect peace-loving men and to punish those who disturb the peace. (See above, number 9.) Finally, insofar as he is a Christian, his duty is to restrain his desires with the prayed-for assistance of divine grace and, by means of this same grace, to do more good to all men (including his enemies) than he is otherwise obliged to do according to natural law (see above, number 56), and in general to place everything in God’s will.
In general69. Since all those who want to hinder him in the exercise of his duty do wrong and anger God, the right of a Christian prince consists in the fact that he is justified in calmly fulfilling his duty, without regard to the obstacles placed in his way, with true trust in God’s assistance, and in punishing the unruly if they are his subjects.
And in particular with regard to other peoples of a different religion70. With regard to other peoples of a different faith, a Christian prince has no power to wage war on them for the sake of religion.a
71. But he can defend himself with force if another prince who, having no right over him, refuses to respect his religious freedom. However, he should remain within the limits of defense, and be quite certain that his defense would please God.a
72. The prince can certainly offer refuge in his country to the subjects of another prince, when their prince has driven them out because of religion, or subjected them to religious coercion.b
73. If they accept subjection to his laws and wish to live peacefully, then the prince can accept as his subjects foreign peoples of a different religion. In fact, he does well in this regard if he endeavors to deliver them from error without compulsion, by teaching the truth and by displaying Christian love. He does not do well if he refuses to accept them as subjects for no other reason than difference of religion.c
Then with respect to his own subjects74. As far as his own subjects are concerned, it is agreed and follows from the preceding (numbers 13, 24–26, 41ff., and 50f.) that a Christian prince may not compel them to his religion, not a single one of them, let alone all.
75. As a prince cannot compel his subjects, so he must tolerate them, because for people who live in a society, there is no other means between these two.a
76. He is obliged to tolerate their doctrines, even if they are erroneous, and the religious customs they hold sacred, even if these deviate from his.b
77. At the same time, a prince also has the freedom to practice his religion, to believe what he holds to be true, and to honor God in the manner he thinks pleasing to him.c
78. [This remains true] even if he has already promised the subjects to adhere to their religion. For matters of religion are matters of conscience, and conscience is not bound by promising.a
79. If the subjects seek to prevent the prince from exercising his freedom and rights, he can punish them. If, however, the prince seeks to compel the subjects to his religion, they must themselves give way,b and cannot resist this with force.c
80. The prince is not obliged, however, to tolerate those doctrines that, under the pretext of religion, directly disturb the general peace and calm, and overturn common human duties.d
81. Even if it seems implausible that a religion should teach such doctrines (which would promote its own misfortune), nonetheless, a prince must keep an eye on those doctrines which grant a particular religion the privilege not to be bound in all matters to the common rules of law and of love. Considering that God has preserved the sparks of natural law in all men and allowed no other commandments to be renewed through Christ than the love of God and of men, for him to wish to be honored through suspension of the law of nature would be contrary not only to Christianity but also to sound reason. As such doctrines necessarily give rise to rebellion and discord, a Christian prince cannot tolerate them without disturbance to the general peace.
82. Such doctrines are, for example: that it is not necessary to keep promises to heretics. That kings and others excommunicated by the clerisy cease to be kings, or are in a condition in which they may no longer be shown common love. That the orthodox and those standing in God’s grace may dispossess the members of other religions. That those belonging to other religions are not to be tolerated or accepted. That the creeds and commentaries produced by men should set guidelines for Holy Scripture, [allowing] other men to be bound by these, and those who refuse to be bound should be banished. That indifferent things [Mitteldinge,adiaphora], which can be ignored in accordance with Christian freedom, cease to be indifferent if those adhering to the prince’s religion are offended by this—[especially if] the prince was happy about these being ignored, or left the various subjects of his religion free to use these [indifferent things] or not. That controversies in religious matters must be resolved judicially through councils and synods—in a word, coercively, by the clerisy and the princes as their secular arm, and so on.
83. Neither is a Christian prince obliged to tolerate religious groups whose religion requires them to obey above their own prince, another man or association not under their prince’s dominion. (See above, number 18.) It does not matter whether this man or this association is in Constantinople, Rome, Wittenberg, or anywhere else.8
84. Neither is a Christian prince obliged to tolerate an atheist, or him who denies the creator of the world and his providence.a For the prince must always expect that if the atheist dares to give free reign to his desires and their exercise in secret, he will not respect the laws and peace of the commonwealth, but will rather disturb these.9
85. Those, however, whom a Christian prince is not obliged to tolerate—for the reasons already advanced—he is not justified in repressing with civil punishments. [He is not justified] either as a Christian or as a man, for these statuses give him no right of punishment. But neither is he [justified] as a prince, because the doctrines advanced by the above-mentioned people, while they are dangerous in the sense that they could easily violate the common peace,a yet, as doctrines, they have still not done so, since they remain within the domain of doctrine without actually issuing in external actionsb —assuming that such doctrine is not itself real action.c
86. In this case, the right of a Christian prince goes no further than that he is not obliged to tolerate such people, but is in fact justified in ordering them to leave the republic. This right, however, does not automatically entail a duty, especially if the command to leave were to place the commonwealth in danger.a
87. He must also let them take their wealth and that which belongs to them, apart from that which must be handed over by those who choose to leave voluntarily. For otherwise he punishes them.
88. If he is permitted to impose nothing more than emigration on such people, then a Christian prince can scarcely impose anything greater on those who are subject to the false accusations of the ruling religion, as if they taught things that were dangerous and disturbing to the commonwealth; for example, [the accusations] that they teach that one should tolerate different religions; that one must restrain the lust for power and invective of the so-called religious [Geistliche, clergymen]; that one must start to repent and become more pious; and so on. If one does not wish to tolerate such doctrines and their followers,b then one should never demand the otherwise customary departure tax [from them], because they do not leave willingly, and nor have they deserved banishment.
89. Accordingly, there is thus a great difference between emigration and expulsion from the territory.10 ] The former flows from the natural freedom of all associations to discharge without insult those who will not accommodate themselves to the purpose of the association.a The latter, though, flows from subjection and, being a punishment, in and of itself robs the exile of his good name.b
90. If there is a split (or differences of opinion) in the religion of the prince or the subjects—for there is no religion in which divisions do not occur on account of doctrine or practices—the prince should not take this as an opportunity to suppress his subjects’ religion with force, or to treat the split as breaching the peace of the commonwealth so as to drive out the dissenters. Instead, he should see if through gentle persuasion peace-loving people on both sides can overcome this division and, if not, he should tolerate them in accordance with the preceding propositions, and prevent both parties from abusing and maligning each other.c
91. For the prince has no right in religious matters to decide differences in religious opinion through a legal judgment capable of being executed by force. [He may not claim this right] either as a man or as a Christian (because these statuses give him no right of coercion), or as a prince, because differences in religious opinions and practices do not hinder the common peace.
92. Much less should the prince allow other men to execute such enforceable judgments. It does not matter whether such men are his subjects or not; or whether they are religious or secular; councils, synods, ministries, theological faculties, or whatnot; or whether they use Scripture, councils, or traditions to mask their lust for power and strife. For Scripture and the spirit of Scripture itself judges each man in a spiritual way before God; and this is not a secular judge requiring secular weapons to coerce other men.
93. A Christian prince has to ensure that everything in his religion and that of his subjects proceeds in an orderly way. For, without order, the common peace cannot be preserved.
94. And just as the supreme right to ensure the good order of everything in the commonwealth belongs to the prince, while, for its part, the church exists as an association within the commonwealth, so the ordering of religious affairs is thus also a prerogative right of the prince.
95. In fact, with regard to religious customs commanded by God, or which his subjects believe to be commanded by God, the prince can command or change nothing. Otherwise, he would either be superior to God or else engaging in religious coercion. But when it comes to arrangements viewed by his subjects’ confession as commanded by God, or to circumstances and customs which his subjects’ confession itself views as a matter of choice, he can dispose over these, making laws and ordinances, and altering them.
96. Now, insofar as such ordinances prescribe aspects of divine worship believed to be commanded by God, and are thus equivalent to the repetition of divine commands, they cannot be brought under the class of human laws properly so called, because they apply no secular punishments and cannot go further than excommunication. See number 44, above.
97. Insofar, though, as such ordinances touch on matters of shame and vice prohibited by natural or secular law, they are real laws, and can sharpen the usual punishments in accordance with the circumstances of time and place.
98. Finally, insofar as they dispose over things which the subjects regard as matters of indifference [Mitteldinge, adiaphora], the ordinances bear the character of real laws, justly punishing transgressors, especially those who resist the prince under the pretext that it is not necessary to obey him in indifferent matters.
WORKS CITED BY THOMASIUS
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[2. ]Christian Thomasius, Historia contentionis inter imperium et sacerdotium (History of the contention between state and church) (Halle, 1722).
[3. ]Correcting 1595 in the 1724 edition.
[4. ]Samuel Pufendorf (1632–94)—political philosopher and historian, adviser to the Swedish and Brandenburg courts—was Thomasius’s greatest intellectual influence. Thomasius’s lectures on church-state relations relied heavily on Pufendorf, and the central section of the Right in Religious Matters (paragraphs 19–51) consists of a paraphrase of and commentary on the central arguments of Pufendorf’s major work on this theme, De habitu religionis christianae ad vitam civilem (On the nature of religion in relation to civil life) of 1687. Like several other works by Pufendorf, this was translated into English; see note 13 in chapter 2, above.
[a. ]Both within the commonwealth and without. From this arises the division of regalia into immanentia & transeuntia [internal and transterritorial].
[b. ]For these [regalian rights] are perfect (perfecta non imperfecta) and in fact supreme (summa) rights, which acknowledge no other man as judge.
[c. ]This follows from number 2. And just as it is said in metaphysics that “if the purpose ceases to exist, so does the action directed to it,” so it is also said in political science that “if the purpose [i.e., of society] ceases to exist, so does society itself.”
[a. ]This follows again from number 2.
[b. ]Becmann provides further instances of subjects’ conduct not subject to the rights of the prince, in his De Jure subditorum circa sacra, chap. 2. [Johann Christoph Becmann, Dissertatio de jure subditorum circa sacra (Dissertation on the right of subjects in religious matters) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1689).]
[c. ]See Becmann, same dissertation, chap. 2, §2, and chap. 3, §§2 & 4.
[a. ]See Becmann, De Jure subditorum circa religion, chap. 3, §11.
[b. ]Also see below, number 79.
[c. ]The preceding propositions are further clarified in my Institutiones jurisprudentiae divinae (Institutes of divine jurisprudence), bk. I, chap. 1, and bk. 3, chap. 6.
[d. ]Pufendorf, De habitu religionis ad remp., §1. [Samuel Pufendorf, De habitu religionis christianae ad vitam civilem (On the relation of the Christian religion to civil life) (Bremen, 1687).]
[e. ]Pufendorf, De habitu, §2.
[f. ]Pufendorf, De habitu, §3.
[a. ]Pufendorf, ibid., §3.
[b. ]Pufendorf, ibid., §4.
[c. ]Pufendorf, ibid., §4 & §3. See also Becmann, De jure subditorum, chap. 3, §4 and following; special note should be taken though of §13.
[d. ]Pufendorf, De habitu, §5.
[e. ]Pufendorf, De habitu, §6; even if in this paragraph several things are presented that need explanation or improvement. [Thomasius further explicates Pufendorf’s §6 in the commentary on the De habitu provided in his Vollständige Erläuterung der Kirchenrechts-Gelahrtheit (Complete explanation of ecclesiastical jurisprudence) (Frankfurt and Leipzig: 1740), pt. I, pp. 47–48. Thomasius’s main concern is to emphasize that the freedom of citizens in religious matters should not be a pretext for disobedience to the civil authorities. He does this by arguing that obedience to God and to the civil authorities takes place in completely disparate spheres of life, and thus one cannot interfere with the other.]
[f. ]Cf., Pufendorf, §8, and my Einleitung zur Sitten-Lehre, chap. 3. ristian Thomasius, Einleitung zur Sittenlehre (Introduction to ethics) (Halle, 1692; repr. Hildesheim, 1995).]
[a. ]See my Institutiones jurisprudentiae divinae, bk. II, chap. 1.
[b. ]Here I am discussing true religion rather than false. False religion, however, can also be divided up, in a different way. For it is also either natural or revealed; it also consists in matters of belief or of love. Yet in its operation it is not saving but insufficient, in fact damning. Briefly, false religion in fact amounts to blasphemy in matters of faith and idolatry in external worship. This idolatry is of two kinds: either of false gods, or of the true God in a false way. All religions, false and true, are opposed to atheism.
[c. ]That a religion could be true even if insufficient [for salvation], and that one cannot thus declare natural religion false tout court, is something I have shown in my Institutiones jurisprudentiae divinae, bk. II, chap. 1.
[d. ]By matters of belief, I understand things believed via the intellect; by matters of love, things done through the will.
[e. ]These four divisions of true religion can be compared with each other in the following way. Natural religion is insufficient, revealed is saving. Natural religion is only internal because external religion is always false. (See number 28.) However, natural religion also consists in matters of faith [belief] and matters of love: namely, in the love of other men. Therefore, by external religion, one usually means worship consisting in ceremonies. Further, revealed true religion is either internal or external, and consists of both matters of faith and matters of love.
[f. ]From this comes the division of the Holy Scriptures into the books of the old and new covenant that we [Lutherans] are still wont to call the Old and New Testaments. This is a remnant of papalism. For even though in Greek Diadeke can signify a testament as well as a covenant, it is quite unthinking to call the old covenant the Old Testament, in that God the Father did not die.
[a. ]Those who want to persuade people that the religion of Adam, Noah, and Abraham is in agreement with our confessions of today, twist the texts of the Scriptures with a false interpretation. They seek to claim this in long-winded disputations, through scholastic abstractions, or circular arguments; for example, Dr. Wilhelm Leyser, In trifolio religionis verae Vet. Testam. Adamiticae, Abrahamiticae § Israeliticae iuxta Unifolium religionis Lutheranae; and to a certain degree, Dr. Balthasar Bebel, Historia Ecclesiae Antediluvianae, item Noachicae. Dr. Pfeiffer does this more crassly in his Pansophia Mosaica, where he undertakes to derive all of the articles of faith in the Augsburg Confession from the first book of Moses. Generally, though, these people agree in understanding the unity of religion in terms of brain-faith in the intellect, and seek it there. [Wilhelm Leyser, Trifolium verae religionis V. T. Adamiticae, Abrahamiticae et Israeliticae, juxta unifolium religionis Lutheranae (The trifoliate true religion of the Old Testament: Adamitic, Abrahamic, and Israelitic, compared with the unifoliate Lutheran religion) (Wittenberg, 1664); Balthasar Bebel, Ecclesiae antediluvianae vera et falsa (Truths and falsehoods of the antediluvian church) (Strasburg, 1665); August Pfeiffer, Pansophia Mosaica E Genesi Delineata (Mosaic pansophy, outlined from Genesis) (Leipzig, 1685).]
[b. ]And, in fact, in such a simplicity that now and again was associated with no small errors in the understanding. Eve, the mother of the living—whose true faith no one doubts, or at least no one would dare declare a heretic—thus believed that Cain was the Messiah (Genesis IV, 1). Lamech, the father of Noah, fell into a similar error (Genesis V, 29).
[c. ]For the commandments that God gave to Adam and Noah are few in number, and Abraham was given no new commandments other than that of circumcision. See Genesis IV, 6–7; IX, 1ff.; XII, 7ff.; XV, 1ff.; and XVII, 1ff. Therefore, those of us [Lutherans] who pretend or imagine that the ceremonies of those days agree with ours, are mistaken; for example, when Luther claims with regard to Genesis that Adam would have preached in the state of innocence. Cf. Chemnitz, preface to Locos Theol. & Observ. Hist. Eccles. MSC. obs. 18, p. 82. [Probably refers to Martin Chemnitz, Locorum theologicorum Martini Chemnitii pars 1–3 (Theological topics of Martin Chemnitz, parts 1–3) (Frankfurt, 1604).]
[a. ]Pufendorf, De habitu, §8.
[b. ]Pufendorf, ibid., §8, p. 25. It would be worth investigating from whence arose the erroneous opinion that primogeniture gave the firstborn son a governmental and clerical right over his brothers and sisters. Perhaps from the text of Genesis XLIX, 3, which Luther did not translate correctly, however. See Saubert, Opera posthuma, pp. 225ff., who nonetheless wants to defend this error at pp. 289ff. Compare this with p. 305. Perhaps this opinion also arose from the fact one likewise finds different doctrines concerning Christ’s prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices. See Pearson, Symboli Apostolici, in the section under the heading “Messiah”; and, on prophets, Saubert, Opera posthuma, pp. 317ff. [John Pearson, Expositio symboli apostolici (Exposition of the apostolic creed) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1691).]
[5. ]This is Thomasius’s first use of the political term “state” (Staat) in this tract. For the most part, Thomasius uses it as a synonym for “commonwealth” (gemein Wesen) and as a means of formalizing the separation of polity from religion. But see also note b to paragraph 85, where he refers to uprisings against the “state of the commonwealth,” suggesting a distinction between that state as agent of sovereign political authority and the commonwealth as the territorial community more broadly. This distinction might be implied in the present reference to the “state and commonwealth of the Jews.”
[c. ]Pufendorf, §§9, 10, 12.
[a. ]Arising from political papalism, the error against which this proposition is directed still largely rules among many theologians and jurists.
[b. ]Pufendorf, De habitu, §§11, 13–17.
[c. ]Pufendorf, §§18–20, 28.
[d. ]Pufendorf, §21. Hovever, if this is juxtaposed with the beginning of §20, what is said there about the punishment of boys needs some restriction. See in any case §33.
[e. ]Pufendorf, §§22–25.
[a. ]Pufendorf, §§27 & 39, p. 137. The text of Matthew XIIX, 15–17 allows for another interpretation than the one advanced by Pufendorf. See also I Corinthians V, 3–5; and II Corinthians II, 5ff.
[b. ]Pufendorf, §29.
[c. ]Pufendorf, §§30–33 &c.
[d. ]Pufendorf, §39, where many other important remarks are to be found; for example, page 134 regarding the freedom of religious associations in the Roman republic; also that Christ prescribed no particular formula for the ordination of priests, or for the laying-on-of-hands undertaken by the bishop or the elders, and so on. I do not agree with him, though, when he treats the counsels of Paul in I Corinthians chap. 7 as statutes. In fact, the Christian church or congregation has no statutes, but follows good rational rules voluntarily and without compulsion. Also, it has no monetary penalties, only admonitions. Statutes are proper laws that effect a compulsion, even though they arise from a common promise. For all human power to prescribe laws arises from a binding promise. So one must not confuse advice or counsel with judgment or legal decisions (although this confusion still occurs very often today) much less with laws. One must also not make the mistake of thinking that blessed Luther teaches there is no difference between the gospel commandments (praeceptis) and advice. See Seckendorff, Histor. Lutheranismi, bk. I, fol. 171, no. 2. [Ludwig von Seckendorff, Commentarius historicus et apologeticus de Lutheranismo (Historical and apologetic commentary on Lutheranism) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1688).]
[a. ]Pufendorf, §40. In fact the condition of the church became much worse. The Christian church grew through tribulation and persecution, and withered in times of ease and abundance. As can easily be seen from the biography of Constantine the Great.
[b. ]Here I again depart from Pufendorf’s argument in §40, p. 138, Nec ad civitatem religione Christiana etc. Cf. §41; even though there is no doubt that if we were all perfect Christians we would have no need of a commonwealth. I have given a detailed discussion of the transformation of republics by the Christian church in a program-statement accompanying the disputation De jure principis circa adiaphora, by Herr Brenneisen, now chancellor of East Frisia. [Here Thomasius is referring to his Programma super quaestione: annon ecclesia saltem alteret politias (Declaration on the question: whether the church changes states). This was published as a foreword to the Latin version of the adiaphora dissertation and then in a collection of program-statements (Programmata Thomasiana) in 1714, but it was omitted from the German version of the dissertation translated in the present volume.]
[6. ]Here Pufendorf uses collegium, or college, in the sense of a voluntary association of teachers and learners.
[a. ]Pufendorf, §41; although the remark found at the end of p. 140—to the effect that in the commonwealth the church receives greater security—needs correction or a clearer explanation.
[b. ]Pufendorf, §42. See above number 42 [in the present work]. The episcopal right of the prince is a different question; for this takes the word bishop in a differentsense, in which it does not signify a teacher. In my notes to Monzambano, I have already shown that the term episcopal right (Jus episcopale), when it is spoken of and ascribed to a Protestant prince, does not correspond to the dignity of a true right in ecclesial affairs. [Thomasius is referring to the notes he added to his 1695 student edition of Pufendorf’s (“Monzambano’s”) De statu imperii Germanici (On the constitution of the German Empire).]
[c. ]Romans V, 1; Ephesians II, 14f.; VI, 15; also Matthew X, 34.
[d. ]Galatians V, 6; James II, 14–16; Matthew VII, 21; XXV, 34.
[e. ]James II, 19; Mark I, 23; I Corinthians II, 2; XV, 14, 17; I Timothy V, 8.
[f. ]I Corinthians II, 5.
[g. ]Hebrews XI, 1, hypostasis &c. Cf. the following verses and the whole chapter except verse 3.
[h. ]In fact it is usually said that love is a fruit and effect of faith. With regard to this, however, we should consider that: (1) Holy Scripture mentions the fruit or fruits of repentance or remorse (Matthew III, 8; Luke III, 8); of the spirit (Galatians V, 22; Ephesians V, 9); of justice (Hebrews XII, 11; James III, 18); and of wisdom (James II, 17); but I find no mention of the fruit of faith therein. (2) Love is first mentioned under the fruits of the spirit, and faith is next (Galatians V, 22), which means that faith is just as much a fruit of the spirit as love. (3) If one wants to say that the fruits of justice and the fruits of faith are the same, because faith makes one just, one must at least understand this fruit of faith as appearing with faith, and not something first appearing after a considerable time (Colossians I, 10; also James III, 14–26). If one wants to claim the example of the thief on the cross (as usually happens)—showing that he was saved through faith alone without good works—then I would be able to deny this claim with better justification. For, by works of love we are to understand not only such things as alms-giving, but all good works which have their source in love. The thief, though, performed one such good work before he professed his faith in Christ (Luke XXIII, 40). For it is one of the greatest works of love when one defends the innocent, and punishes the guilty sinner gently and in friendship.
[a. ]Those who claim that the Mosaic Laws do not apply to Christians—and include in this the Ten Commandments which decree love of God and one’s neighbors—deceive themselves mightily, and have looked only superficially at the commandments in the gospel, especially the sayings, I John II, 9–11; & chap. III, 6, 17, 23.
[b. ]Job XXXVIIIff.; Romans XI, 33f.; I Corinthians XIII, 2, 9, 12; Ephesians I, 17ff.; Colossians 2; I John IV, 7f.; II John III, 4.
[7. ]In stressing common observance, this initial formulation of the prince’s threefold duty is a little misleading for, as explained in paragraph 68, the prince’s duties as man, prince, and Christian are quite different, and his wisdom consists in not confusing them.
[a. ]From this one can easily judge whether Charlemagne’s wars against the Saxons and Westphalians—like those of the Spaniards against the Moors in more recent times—could be justified from the intended conversion of the heathens. This notwithstanding the fact that Christianus Nifanius strenuously seeks to defend (even if poorly and without judgment) Charlemagne’s war and to distinguish it from the Spaniards’. (In his book where he tries to prove that in most of his articles of faith Charlemagne was not formally a papalist: in the preface §9, p. 34ff., also §13, p. 50ff.) ristian Nifanius, Ostensio historico-theologica: quod gloriosissimi Imperator Carolus M. in quamplurimis fidei articulis formaliter non fuerit Papista (Historico-theological demonstration: that in regard to many articles of faith the most glorious Emperor Charlemagne was not formally a papalist) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1670).]
[a. ]As explained in number 68, at the end. See also my more detailed discussion of toleration in the Einleitung zur Sitten-Lehre, chap. 5, §59ff. Further, see my remarks on Duke Johann Friedrich of Saxony in the annals of the Testament of von Osse, p. 58. Here also belongs the saying, “War is sweet to those with no experience of it,” which Erasmus discusses at length in his Adagia. See, Adagia variorum conjunctim edita (Adages of various authors, collected and presented), Frankfurt ed. 1646, fols. 295ff. So too from the Holy Scriptures, there is the example of the Israelites, who waged what seemed to be a not unjust war, yet were nevertheless abandoned by God because they had not asked the obligatory question whether they should make war on the Benjaminites (Judges XX, 18ff.; & ibi Cleric. in notis [possibly a reference to Jean Le Clerc’s notes to his edition of Erasmus’s Adagia, which was published in 1703]). The Anabaptist error that all wars are contrary to Christianity conflicts not just with sound reason but also with the Holy Scriptures (Luke III, 14). Yet it cannot be denied that most wars amongst Christians are accompanied by a gross misuse of divine worship. For, when they are unlucky in war, both contending parties declare days of repentance; yet when they have been victorious over their opponents, they hold solemn thanksgiving celebrations, and by singing “praise be to thee O Lord God” celebrate with pretty martial music and acts of devotion, and so on.
[b. ]See below, number 74 and following. He can also intercede for them, but not to wage war against the other prince, on account of number 70. This is assuming that the other prince has not bound himself through pacts and peace treaties to allow his subjects the free exercise of religion, and then violated such pacts. Becmann’s disputation, De jure principium recipiendi exules fidei socios (On the prince’s right to accept exiled fellow believers), also pertains here.
[c. ][This applies] when religious difference consists only in theoretical speculations and assertions, and in the ceremonies of external religious worship. If, however, this religious group teaches a morality according to which all disgrace and vice, such as whoring, adultery, murder, are regarded as permissible or even as praiseworthy—so that one should hold heretics to no faith, and one could secretly murder a regent who disagreed with the foreign religion—then I would not advise such a regent to accept such guests, particularly if he were not in a position to decisively repress the eruption of such vice.
[a. ]I am speaking here of the religion to which the subjects adhered at the time the prince assumed his government. See below, number 90. The relevant rule will be as follows: the circumstance that was present at the time of the promise, and did not prevent the parties from making their promise, cannot hereafter be used as a reason not to keep this promise. Thus the following objection—that I had forgotten something or left something out—collapses. For it does not follow that the prince must tolerate subjects of another religion because he cannot coerce them, as there is a third possibility, namely, that he bids them leave or emigrate. Not to mention that through the words “who live in a society” this objection is preempted; and it is also the case that, in certain measure, enforced emigration is also a kind of coercion. (See number 79.) What is the situation, though, when the prince becomes a Christian after taking over the government? In this case too God has never commanded the prince to compel the unbelievers to adopt the Christian religion, but that he should endeavor to bring them to this through good education. The Christian religion is not contrary to warlike courage (see number 71, note a), but nor does it follow the pagan Aristotle and other philosophers by according it [courage] primacy, but rather recommends gentleness and humility, especially the Christian teaching: “But not so with you” [Luke 22, 26].
[b. ]For were he not to tolerate them, then he coerces them, which conflicts with number 74.
[c. ]He must also be allowed to practice his form of worship in his palace, for there at least he must have the right of a household head with no superior.
[a. ]Especially when the promisee had no real interest in the matter, and was not justified in requiring this promise. This is true unless, in making the above promise at the assumption of his reign, the prince also promised that he would relinquish his reign if he changed his religion. If so, then he would be obliged to do this, even if in this case still other circumstances would have to be taken into account; for example, whether the reign is by election or succession; further, whether the subjects’ desire for this promise was motivated by fear of future persecution, or by a heretic-mongering rooted in themselves; and so on.
[b. ]Cf. Becmann, Dissertatio de jure principum recipiendi exules fidei socios, chap. 2.
[c. ]Becmann, De jure subditorum circa sacra, chap. 4. And when Luther says: It is a cause from God. He himself will do it. If they drive you from one city, flee to another; and so on—he is right if the prince possesses a truly monarchical power. But he errs when he applies this to the electors and princes of the empire, because the German Empire is not ruled monarchically. (Cf. Historia contentionis, p. 570.)
[d. ]For example, when it is taught that theft, plunder, and killing, etc. are permissible or honorable things; that one need not keep promises, and so on.
[8. ]That is, it does not matter whether such groups have their allegiance to the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Lutheran Church.
[a. ]Here it should no less be observed that the argument of number 80—that a Christian prince is not obliged to tolerate certain doctrines and those who defend them—should not be extended such that he is obliged not to tolerate such people. [Editors’ emphasis.] In such cases it is thus necessary to take heed of the prudent teaching of Paul: “I have power to do everything, but not everything is useful.” In other words, that which I am not obliged to tolerate implies only a freedom to act or refrain, and in no way a command.
[9. ]Paragraphs 83 and 84—characteristic of a standard Protestant view on the non-toleration of Catholics and atheists—do not represent Thomasius’s final position on the matter. By 1720 at the latest, Thomasius had signaled a change of viewpoint, arguing that both Catholics and atheists should be tolerated to the degree that they are good citizens and do not bring civil disturbance to the commonwealth. See Thomasius, Vollständige Erläuterung der Kirchenrechts-Gelahrtheit (Complete explanation of ecclesiastical jurisprudence) (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1740; repr. Aalen 1981), pt. I, pp. 349–50. We can already see this change taking place in the distinction that Thomasius draws in footnote a to paragraph 84.
[a. ]For if a prince wanted to punish all those who could violate the common peace, then he would have to forbid all or at least most human behavior. If, against my argument, one wished to introduce from Roman law [the notion of] legal action concerning a corrupt servant, such action in fact is merely an invented and legalistic thing, especially in that [the notion of] the action of a corrupt servant itself has no clear value, but is a figment of Paul’s. (Cf. notes to the Institutes of Justinian,de actione, p. 261, and at de servo corrupto.) [“Paul” may refer to Giovanni Paolo Lancellotti (1522–90), the Italian canonist and Roman law glossator whose commentaries Thomasius criticizes from time to time.]
[b. ]For example, in real uprisings against the prince or the state of the commonwealth, or through incitement of the people to drive out other religious groups. In this regard, Melanchthon’s counsel against the Anabaptists, who were beheaded in Jena in 1536, was not made in a rational and Christian manner, as I have argued in more detail in the Historie der Weißheit und Thorheit, pt. III, pp. 27–45. ristian Thomasius, Historie der Weißheit und Thorheit (History of wisdom and folly) (Halle, 1693).]
[c. ]See above, number 16. And from this remark it is easy to see what we should think of the papalizing counsel of the clergy: namely, that those subjects who depart from the ruling religion should be forbidden from mentioning their doctrines to others, so that if they did not obey they could be punished as malefactors, not so much on account of their false religion as on account of their disobedience.
[a. ]These are the circumstances under which one must decide the question of whether and how far a Christian prince is justified in expelling the Jesuits from his country.
[b. ]I thus do not say that one should not tolerate such people, but argue only that one should not sin against them any further, in that Christian princes are often persuaded by the heretic-mongers to banish them, under the pretext that they cause unrest.
[10. ]Under the terms of the Treaty of Westphalia (Instrumentum pacis osnabrugensis, 1648), the ius emigrandi, or right of emigration, operated within narrow limits. It applied only to members of religious groups who had not been granted toleration under the provisions of Normaljahr (standard year), which required rulers to tolerate those congregations that had enjoyed rights of private or public worship in the year 1624. Members of congregations who had not enjoyed such rights, or those who had changed their religion after the signing of the treaty in 1648, could make use of the ius emigrandi, or could be required to make use of it. The right to live in exile might strike the modern reader as a highly ambivalent right. Yet it needs to be seen against the background that subjects were normally prevented from emigrating—due to manpower shortages in the German states and the common assumption that a country’s strength consisted in its population—and thus faced the prospect of being subject to religious persecution in homelands where they remained against their will. The ius emigrandi thus made its own contribution to freedom of conscience and conflict avoidance, which is the light in which Thomasius views it.
[a. ]As a result, subjects are normally permitted to leave when it suits them. Cf. number 79, above.
[b. ]This observation will often meet resistance (even among the Protestants), in that those who are commanded to emigrate are decried by the clergy as infamous exiles.
[c. ]Becmann, De jure subditorum circa sacra, chap. 3, §11.
Thomasius’s “Vom Recht eines Christlichen Fürsten in Religions-Sachen” was first published in 1724, in the second of three yearbooks of Gemischte Philosophische und Juristische Händel (Miscellaneous philosophical and juristic essays) (Halle, 1723–25). This was only four years prior to Thomasius’s death, yet he records in the foreword that the tract originates in lectures given in 1695, when Thomasius was writing his other major works on the prince’s right in relation to the church, including his “Right of Protestant Princes Regarding Indifferent Matters or Adiaphora” (chapter 2 of this volume).