Front Page Titles (by Subject) §28. - Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
§28. - Samuel von Pufendorf, Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society 
Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society, trans. Jodocus Crull, ed. and with an introduction by Simone Zurbuchen (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 Commission of the Apostles contains nothing resembling any Sovereign Power. Lastly, if we cast our eyes upon those Instructions, which Christ gave to his Apostles and Disciples, it will evidently appear, that their Commission had not the least relation to the Establishment of a Sovereign State. A State cannot be without a Supream Head, who having Power to bestow Honours and Dignities, this generally proves the occasion of ambitious Designs. A State cannot be maintained without considerable Revenues, which entices Men to Avarice. But, if we look upon our Saviour, we shall find that his main Endeavour is to keep his Disciples from ambitious Designs and Covetousness.111 The Instruction given by Christ to his Disciples in S. Matthew 10. when, after having endowed them with the Gift of Miracles, he sent them, as it was, to make their first Tryal, among the Jews, deserves particularly here to be taken notice of; tho’ it is not to be questioned, but that the same Instruction remained in force for the most part, after they were sent among the Gentiles. The first Precept in this Instruction is, That they shall take heed not to abuse the Christian Doctrine, and the Gift of Miracles for the heaping up of Gold and Silver, which are otherwise accounted the Sinews of a State. As you have received it for nothing, so you shall give it for nothing, is the Command, which was very well observed by St. Peter, when he said, Silver and Gold have I none.112 And, lest they should, under pretence of Subsistance and acquiring Necessaries, be enticed to Avarice, Christ forbid them, even to provide two Coats, Shoes, Staves, or a Purse; but that they should be contented with what they received from their Auditors. It is not to be denied, but that this Command may chiefly be applied to such Journeys, as were not to be too long, or in far distant Countries; But on the other hand it ought to be taken into consideration, that the Allowances, to be given to those that preached the Gospel, are compared to the Wages of Workmen, which seldom amount to any more, than is necessary for Subsistance; or, at the most, cannot exceed a private Fortune, having not the least comparison with those vast Revenues, which are required to maintain a State. As may be seen in Mat. 10:10. Luk. 10:7. 1 Cor. 9:11. And the passage in the 1 Epist. to Timothy 5:18. chiefly relates to the Priesthood, where it is expressly forbidden not to make a Trade of their Office, and to fly Avarice, as the root of all Evil; and consequently of all those Abuses and Superstitions, which have overwhelmed the Church of Rome, And, that by their Number they might not appear terrible, Christ only sends them two and two,113 with this express Command, not to force their Doctrine upon any Body, but to seek for reception by a kind Salute, and, if they find them inclined to receive their Doctrine, to abide there, but to leave those, whom they found unworthy, and not ready to hear their Words, and even to shake off the Dust of their Feet: After these instructions are given, Christ foretels them what Persecutions and Dangers they must undergo, all which, he will have them to overcome, not by Force, but by Patience, by shewing their Innocence, or flying to another Place.114 The quite contrary is practiced in Temporal Governments, whose Founders lay this down for a sure Maxim of State, Tu contra audentior ito, Never shrink before your Enemy. After the Ascension of our Saviour, they dispersed into all Parts of the World according as they were inspired, without having appointed any certain place of Residence for their Government, from whence they might receive their Instructions or Commissions, and where they were to be accountable concerning their Negotiation, or where to fix the Center of their Correspondency; at least, thus much is certain, that nothing like it is recorded in the holy Scripture. Neither was it in their Power to have acquired any great Territories, it being obvious, that they lived always under another Jurisdiction, and in such Places, where the Government was already Established. Nor had they any Authority to exact upon their Auditors, except what they were pleased to allot them by voluntary Contribution; For, if they should have attempted any thing beyond it, no doubt but those Magistrates, under whose Jurisdiction they lived, might legally have stopt their Proceedings, as done in prejudice of their Authority. For, in case the generality, or the greatest part of the Christians should have attempted to follow the Example of some of their Brethren at Jerusalem, who were for having all things in Common,115 it had been lawful for their Sovereigns to put a stop to their inconsiderate Design, which needs must have tended to the great detriment of the Commonwealth. Lastly, the Apostles did not oblige their Auditors to leave their antient Habitations, like Moses led the Israelites out of Aegypt, but left them in quiet Possession of their former Station and honest Functions, not pretending to any Innovation, but that they should receive the Christian Religion.
[111.]Matt. 18:1, 2, 3, 4; Mark 9:33ff.; Luke 9:46; John 13:13, 14.
[114.]Matt. 5:10, 11.
[115.]Acts 2:44, 45; 4:5.