Front Page Titles (by Subject) §37. - Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society
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§37. - 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).
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An Example of Controversie composed in the times of the Apostles. The true Method of composing Controversies arisen in the Church, is taught us by what is set us as an Example of this kind in the Acts, c. 15. where it deserves our most particular Observation, that the Controversy then in question was concerning a main Point in the Christian Religion, viz. Whether a man might be saved without being circumcised according to the Institution of Moses. For S. Paul, in the Epistle to the Galatians, c. 5:2. had positively declared: If you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. And it is very remarkable, that this Question was started in the very Infancy of the Church, when the Canon of the Church was not perfected, and there were not wanting living Testimonies of such as had received the Doctrine of Christ from his own mouth, and were endued with the Holy Ghost, and instructed with an Apostolical Authority. Neither is it to be doubted, but that Paul and Barnabas were endued with a sufficient Share of Wisdom and Understanding of the Holy Scripture, for the reducing of this Errour; as plainly appears out of the 5. verse of the above alledged Chapter,183 that they opposed such forcible Reasons against this erroneous Opinion, that those that were come thither out of Judea, were not able to contradict them: So they appealed to the Authority of the Church of Jerusalem, which being the Spring from whence the Christian Religion was derived into other Parts of the World, they hoped to be back’d in this Opinion by such of the Members of that Church, as did not without some Reluctancy brook the Abolishing of the Jewish Synagogue; and that they were not quite beyond their guess, but met with a great many there that were addicted to the same Opinion, appears out of the 5th Verse in the same 15th Chapter. To prevent therefore any further Disturbance, which might be raised in the Antiochian Church by reason of this Controversie, Paul and Barnabas, with some others, were deputed to go to the Church of Jerusalem, to decide this Controversie. When they came thither a Convocation was called, consisting not only of the Apostles and Presbyters, but also of the other Members of that Church, not excepting those of the contrary side: After their Reasons had been heard, the Case was in debate a considerable time; and at last the whole matter having been sufficiently disputed on both sides, then Peter rose up, not as an universal Judge, or who pretended to decide the Controversie by Virtue of his Authority, but his Proceeding was by demonstrative Arguments, telling them, what prodigious Effects had been wrought among the Gentiles by his preaching the Gospel to them, after the Vision which appeared to him at Joppe;184 Where he thus argues: That since the Holy Ghost had in the same measure purified the Hearts of those Believers that were uncircumcised, it would be unreasonable to put this Yoak upon the Neck of the Christians, the more, because they were not to be saved by Circumcision, but through the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul and Barnabas, being of the same Opinion, did declare at the same time what Miracles and Wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them, which would not have been done, if they were to be taken for unsanctified, as being not circumcised, or if Circumcision was an essential Part of the Christian Faith. After all had held their Peace, that is to say, no body further appearing who could contradict them or oppose their Arguments, James at last arose, declaring that the Vision of Peter did agree to the Words of the Prophets, and that therefore it was his Opinion that such among the Gentiles as did turn to Christ ought not to be troubled. But that they also in some measure might gratifie themselves, and to induce them not to fly the Conversation of such of the Gentiles as received the Christian Faith, it was thought fit that these should abstain from Pollution of Idols, from Fornication, from things strangled, and from Blood, all which was forbidden by the Mosaic Law, and partly disagreeable to the Law of Nature; as Fornication, which nevertheless was a common Vice among the Gentiles; the rest being things indifferent in themselves, might easily be let alone, rather than give Offence to a Brother. This having been approved of by common Consent, and as it appears, even by those that were of a contrary Sentiment before, a Synodical Epistle was writ to the Church at Antioch, in the name not only of those Apostles and Elders, but also of the Brethren of the Church of Jerusalem. Judas and Silas were deputed to carry this Epistle, who being arrived at Antioch, did not publish it in the nature of a Law, but, having delivered it to the Brethren, (from whom it met with a general Approbation) they exhorted them with many words to a due Observance of it.