Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF TOLERATION. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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OF TOLERATION. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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All the Author has said on toleration relates to this proposition in book xxv. chap. 9. “We are here politicians, and not divines: but the divines themselves must allow, that there is a great difference between tolerating, and approving a religion.
When legislators have believed it their duty to permit the exercise of many religions, they are also under the obligation of inforcing a toleration amongst these religions themselves.” The reader is desired to peruse the whole chapter.
A great outcry has been raised against the Author for having added in the next chapter: “This is then a fundamental principle of the political Laws of religion, That when a state is at liberty to receive or reject a new religion, it ought to be rejected; when it is received, it ought to be tolerated.”
It is here objected to the Author, that he is going to inform idolatrous Princes, that they ought to shut Christianity out of their states. Really it is a secret that it was ever whispered to the King of Cochin-China. As this argument has furnished matter for much declamation, I shall give two answers. The first is, That the Author has excepted it by name in his book on religion. He has said in book xxiv. chap. 1. “The Christian religion, which ordains that men should love each other, would doubtless have every nation blest with the best civil, the best political Laws; because these, next to this religion, are the greatest good that men can give and receive.” If then the Christian religion is the first and principal good, and political and civil Laws the second, there are no political or civil Laws in a state that can or ought to hinder the entrance of the Christian religion.
My second answer is, That the religion sent from heaven is not established by the same methods as the religions of the earth. Read the history of the church, and you will see the wonders of the Christian religion. Has she resolved to enter a country?—she knows how to open its gates, and all instruments are proper for that purpose: sometimes God makes use of a few fishermen; at others, he places an Emperor on the throne, and makes him bend his neck under the yoke of the gospel. Is Christianity concealed in caverns, and subterraneous abodes? stay a moment, and you will see the Imperial Majesty speak in her behalf. She, whenever she pleases, crosses the seas, rivers, and mountains; and no obstacles here below can stop her progress. Place repugnance in the mind; she will make it fly before her: establish customs, form habits, publish edicts, make Laws; she will triumph over the climate, the laws that result from it, and the legislators who made them. God, according to decrees concealed from us, extends or contracts the limits of his religion as he pleases.
We are told: That this is as if you went to the Kings of the East, and told them they ought not to receive the Christian religion among them. How carnal is it to talk in this manner! Is the Messiah a man like Herod? It seems as if Jesus Christ was considered as a King who conceals his stratagems and intelligences. Let us do ourselves justice: Is the manner in which we conduct ourselves in human affairs so pure, as to allow us to think of employing it in the conversion of nations?