Front Page Titles (by Subject) §50. - Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society
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§50. - 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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Concerning Tolerating of several Religions in a State. Notwithstanding what has been alledg’d there may be such a juncture of Time & Circumstances, that Sovereigns may, nay ought with a safe Conscience to tolerate such of their Subjects as are of a different Opinion from the Established Religion. For, it may so happen, that the number of the Dissenters is so great, as not to be expelled without great Prejudice to the State, and, not without danger to the Commonwealth, if they should settle under another Government. For that common Saying of a certain Sort of Men that ’tis better to have a Country lie waste, than to have it inhabited by Hereticks, favours of Barbarity, if not Inhumanity. And a certain Prince who said, that he would rather walk out of his Territories with nothing but a Staff in his hands, than to suffer it to be inhabited by Hereticks, may well pass for one of the most bigotted Zealots in Christendom. For the Doctrine of the Gospel is not destructive to civil Society, neither is thereby the least Obligation laid upon Princes, to propagate Religion by violent and destructive means, or to undertake more in that behalf, than belongs to them as Protectors of the publick Tranquility; they may therefore with a safe Conscience supercede such violent ways, by which the State either is endangered or weakned; especially, since neither our Saviour did make use of them himself, nor commanded any thing like it to his Apostles. On the other hand, those that expect to be tolerated in a State, ought by all means to endeavour to live peaceably and quietly, and as becomes good Subjects, they ought not to Teach any Doctrine which savours of Sedition and Disobedience, or to suffer such Principles to be fomented in their Congregations, as may prove destructive to the Prerogatives of their Sovereigns. For, there is not the least question to be made, but Princes have a right to rout out such as propagate these Doctrines, they having not the least relation to Religion, but are like spots, wherewith some turbulent Heads bespatter the Christian Religion. Besides this, there is another duty incumbent to Sovereigns over a State, where more than one Religion is tolerated; viz. to keep a watchful eye over them, that the Dissenting Parties do not break out into extravagant Expressions about the Differences in Religion, these being the Fuel that enflames them into Animosities, which oftentimes prove the spring of Factions, Troubles, and intestine Commotions. A much greater Obligation lies upon Sovereigns to tolerate Dissenters, if they, when they first submitted to the Government, had their Liberty of Conscience granted them by Contract; or have obtain’d it afterwards by certain Capitulations, any following Statutes, or by the fundamental Laws of the Land; all which ought to be sacred to Princes, and to be observed by them with the same Circumspection, as they expect a due Obedience from their Subjects. No Opinion concerning matter of Religion ought to be declared Erroneous, before it be duely examined, and the Parties convicted, especially if they are ready to prove the same out of the Fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith; And great care is to be taken that such a Decision be not left to the Management of their Adversaries, who being perhaps guided by self Interest, oftentimes are both Accusers and Judges. There are not a few Politicians, who are of opinion, that Sovereigns may with a safe Conscience give Protection to their Subjects, tho’ of an erroneous Opinion, provided it be for the benefit of the Commonwealth, especially if care be taken, that they do not draw away others into the same Error. For, supposing the established Religion both in point of Doctrine and Morality, to excel all others, it is to be hoped that the Dissenting Parties may be in time brought over to it, rather than to be feared, that they should seduce others; Besides, that it may contribute to the encrease of the Zeal and Learning of the established Clergy, it being sufficiently proved by Experience, that in those places and times, where and when no Religious Differences were in agitation, the Clergy soon degenerated into Idleness and Barbarity.