Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VIII.: Of the Pontificate. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAP. VIII.: Of the Pontificate. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
Of the Pontificate.
WHEN religion has many ministers, it is natural for them to have a chief, and for a sovereign pontif to be established. In monarchies, where the several orders of the state cannot be kept too distinct, and where all powers ought not to be lodged in the same person; it is proper that the pontificate be distinct from the empire. The same necessity is not to be met with in a despotic government, the nature of which is to unite all the different powers in the same person. But in this case it may happen, that the prince may regard religion as he does the laws themselves, as dependent on his own will. To prevent this inconveniency, there ought to be monuments of religion, for instance, sacred books, which fix and establish it. The king of Persia is the chief of the religion; but this religion is regulated by the Koran. The emperor of China is the sovereign pontif; but there are books in the hands of every body, to which he himself must conform. In vain a certain emperor attempted to abolish them: they triumphed over tyranny.