Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter iv: Of the Duty of Man towards God, or, concerning Natural Religion - The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature
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chapter iv: Of the Duty of Man towards God, or, concerning Natural Religion - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature 
The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature, trans. Andrew Tooke, ed. Ian Hunter and David Saunders, with Two Discourses and a Commentary by Jean Barbeyrac, trans. David Saunders (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Of the Duty of Man towards God, or, concerning Natural Religion
I.Natural Religion, its Parts.The Duty of Man towards God, so far as can be discover’d by Natural Reason, is comprehended in these two; that we have true Notions concerning him, or know him aright; and then that we conform all our Actions to his Will, or obey him as we ought. And hence Natural Religion consists of two sorts of Propositions, to wit, *Theoretical or Speculative, and Practical or Active.
II.That God is. L. N. N. l. 2. c. 4. §3.Amongst those Notions that every Man ought to have of God, the first of all is, that he firmly believe his Existence, that is, that there is indeed some supreme and first Being, upon whom this Universe depends. And this has been most plainly demonstrated by learned and wise Men from the Subordination of Causes to one another, which must at last be found to have their Original in somewhat that was before them all; from the necessity of having a first Mover; from the Consideration of this great Machin, the World, and from the like Arguments.14 Which if any Man denies himself to be able to comprehend, he is not therefore to be excus’d for his Atheism. For all Mankind having been perpetually, as it were, possest of this Persuasion, that Man who undertakes to oppose it, ought not only solidly to confute all those Arguments that are brought to prove a God, but should advance Reasons for his own Assertion, which may be more plausible than those. And since by this Belief of the Deity the Weal of Mankind may be supposed to have been hitherto preserv’d, he ought to shew that Atheism would better answer that End than sober Religion and the Worship of God. Now seeing this can by no means be done, the Wickedness of those Men who attempt any way to eradicate this Persuasion out of the Minds of Men, is to be above all things abominated, and restrain’d by the severest Punishments.
III.God the Creator of the World. L. N. N. l. 3. c. 4. §4.The Second is, that God is the Creator of this Universe. For it being manifest from Reason, that none of these Things could exist of themselves, it is absolutely necessary that they should have some supreme Cause; which Cause is the very same that we call God,
And hence it follows, that those Men are cheated, who every now and then are putting upon us Nature, forsooth, as the original Cause of all Things and Effects. For, if by that Word they mean that Energy and Power of Acting which we find in every Thing, this is so far from being of any force to prove there is no God, that it proves him to be the Author of Nature it self. But if by Nature they would have us understand the Supreme Cause of all Things, this is only out of a profane Nicety to avoid the receiv’d and plain Appellation of God.
Those also are in a great Error, who believe that any thing can be God, which is the Object of our Senses, and particularly the Stars, among the rest. For the Substance of these argues them all to derive their Beings from somewhat else, and not to be the first Things in Nature.
Nor do they think less unworthily of God, who call him the *Soul of the World. For the Soul of the World, let them conceive of it as they please, must signifie a Part of the World; and how can a Part of a Thing be the Cause of it, that is, be something before it self? But if by the Soul of the World, they mean that first and invisible Being, from which all Things receive their Vigour, Life, and Motion, they only obtrude upon us an obscure and figurative Expression for one that is plain and obvious. From hence also it appears, that the World did not exist from all Eternity; this being contrary to the Nature of that which has a Cause. And he that asserts, that the World is Eternal, denies that it had any Cause of its being, and consequently denies God himself.
IV.God governs the World.The Third is, that Godgoverns the whole World, and particularly Mankind; which plainly appears from the admirable and constant Order which is to be seen in this Universe; and ’tis to the same moral Purpose whether a Man deny that Godis, or that he rules and regards the Affairs of Men; since either of them destroy all Manner of Religion. For let him be never so excellent in himself, ’tis in vain to fear or worship him, if he be altogether regardless of us, and neither will nor can do us either Good or Hurt.
V.God infinitely perfect.The Fourth is, that no Attribute can belong to God, which implies any manner of Imperfection. For it would be absurd, (He being the Cause and Source of all Things) for any Creature of his to think it self able to form a notion of any Perfection, of which he is not fully possest. Nay, His Perfection infinitely surmounting the Capacity of so mean a Creature, it is most reasonable to express the same in negative rather than in positive Terms. Hence nothing is to be attributed to God that is finite or determinate; because what is finite has always somewhat that is greater than it self: And whatsoever is determinate, or subject to Figure and Form, must suppose Bounds and Circumscription: Neither can He be said to be distinctly and fully comprehended or conceiv’d in our Imagination, or by any Faculty of our Souls; because whatsoever we can comprehend fully and distinctly in our Minds, must be Finite. And yet, when we pronounce God to be Infinite, we are not to think we have a full Notion of Him; for by the word Infinite we denote nothing in the Thing it self; but only declare the Impotence of our Understandings, and we do, as it were, say, that we are not able to comprehend the Greatness of his Essence. Hence also it is, that we cannot rightly say of God that he has any Parts, as neither that He is All any thing; for these are Attributes of things finite; nor that he is contain’d in any Place, for that denotes Limits and Bounds; nor that He moves or rests, for both those suppose Him to be in a place: So neither can any thing be properly attributed to God which intimates Grief, or any Passion, such as Anger, Repentance, Mercy. I say properly; because when the inspir’d Writers sometimes use such Expressions, speaking of the Almighty, they are not to be understood in a proper Sense, but as accommodating their Language to the common Apprehensions and Capacities of Men; so that we are not to understand hereby that God receives the same Impressions from external Objects that Man receives, but only by way of similitude, as to the Event or Effect; thus God is said to be angry with, and to be offended at Sinners, not that such Passions or Affections can possibly be in the Divine Nature, but because he will not suffer those who break his Laws to go unpunish’d. Nor may we say of Him ought that denotes the Want or Absence of any Good, as Appetite, Hope, Concupiscence, Desire of any thing; for these imply Indigence and consequently Imperfection; it not being supposable that one should desire, hope, or crave any thing of which he does not stand in some need. And so when Understanding, Will, Knowledge, and acts of the Senses, Seeing, Hearing, &c. are attributed to God, they are to be taken in a much more sublime Sense, than we conceive them in our selves. For the Will in us is a rational Desire; but Desire, as it is said afore, presupposes the Want or Absence of something that is agreeable and necessary. And Understanding and Sense imply some Operation upon the Faculties of Man, wrought by exterior Objects upon the Organs of his Body and the Powers of his Soul; which being Signs of a Power depending upon some other Thing, demonstrate it not to be most perfect.
God but One.Lastly, it is utterly repugnant to the Divine Perfection to say there are more Gods than one; for, beside that the admirable Harmony of the World argues it to have but one Governour, God would not be infinite, if there were more Gods of equal Power with himself, and not depending upon Him; for it involves a Contradiction to say, There are many Infinites. Upon the whole then, ’tis most agreeable to Reason, when we attempt to express the Attributes of God, either to make use of Words of a Negative signification, as Infinite, Incomprehensible, Immense, Eternal, i.e. which had no Beginning nor shall have End; or Superlative, as most Excellent, most Powerful, most Mighty, most Wise, &c. or Indefinite, as Good, Just, Creator, King, Lord, &c. and this in such a Sense as we would not think our selves to express What he is, but only in some sort to declare our Admiration of Him, and profess our Obedience to Him; which is a token of an humble Soul, and of a Mind paying all the Veneration it is capable of.15
VI.Internal Worship of God.The Propositions of Practical Natural Religion are partly such as concern the Internal, and partly the External Worship of God. The Internal Worship of God consists in honouring Him. Now Honour is a high Opinion of another’s Power conjoyn’d with Goodness: And the Mind of Man is obliged, from a Consideration of this his Power and Goodness, to fill it self with all that Reverence towards him, of which its Nature is susceptible. Hence it is, that it is our Duty to love him, as the Author and Bestower of all Manner of Good; to hope in him, as from whom only all our Happiness for the future does depend; to acquiesce in his Will, he doing all things for the best, and giving us what is most expedient for us; to fear him, as being most powerful, and the offending whom renders us liable to the greatest Evil; Lastly, in all things most humbly to obey him, as our Creator, our Lord, and our best and greatest Ruler.
VII.External Worship of God.The External Worship of God is chiefly shewn in these Instances:
VIII.Eternal Salvation not acquired by Natural Religion alone.16And yet, after all, it must be confest, that the Effects of this Natural Religion, nicely consider’d, and with regard to the present State of Mankind, are concluded within the Prospect of this Life; but that it is of no Avail towards procuring eternal Salvation.17 For Human Reason, left alone to it self, knows not that the Pravity, which is so discernable in our Faculties and Inclinations, proceeded from Man’s own Fault, and that, hereby he becomes obnoxious to the Wrath of God, and to eternal Damnation: So that with the Guidance of this only, we are altogether ignorant of the Necessity of a Saviour, and of his Office and Merit; as well as of the Promises made by God to Mankind, and of the several other Matters thereupon depending, by which alone, it is plain from the holy Scriptures, that everlasting Salvation is procured to mortal Men.
IX.Religion the firmest Bond of Society.It may be worth the while, yet a little more distinctly to consider the Benefits which through Religion accrue to Mankind; from whence it may appear, that *It is in truth the utmost and firmest Bond of Human Society.18 For in the Natural Liberty, if you take away the Fear of a Divine Power, any Man who shall have confidence in his own Strength, may do what Violences he pleases to others who are weaker than himself, and will account Honesty, Modesty, and Truth but as empty Words; nor will he be persuaded to do that which is right by any Arguments, but from a Sense of his own Inability to act the contrary. Moreover, lay aside Religion, and the Internal Bonds of Communities will be always slack and feeble; the Fear of a temporal Punishment, the Allegiance sworn to Superiours, and the Honour of observing the same, together with a grateful Consideration that by the Favour of the supreme Government they are defended from the Miseries attending a State of Nature; all these, I say, will be utterly insufficient to contain unruly Men within the Bounds of their Duty. For in this case that Saying would indeed have place, †He that values not Death, can never be compell’d; because to those who fear not God nothing can be more formidable than Death. He that can once bring himself to despise this, may attempt what he pleases upon those that are set over him; and to tempt him so to do, he can hardly want some Cause or Pretence; as, either to free himself of the Uneasiness he seems to lie under by being subject to another’s Command, or that himself may enjoy those Advantages which belong to him that possesses the Government; especially when he may easily persuade himself, that his Enterprise is just, either because He that at present sits at the Helm of Government is guilty of Mal-Administration, or that himself thinks he could manage it by many degrees to better purpose. An Occasion too cannot long be wanting for such Attempts, either from the Prince’s Want of Circumspection in the care of his Person, (and indeed in such a State of Things * who shall guard even the Guards themselves?) or from a powerful Conspiracy, or, in time of foreign War, from a Defection to the Enemy. Beside private Men would be very prone to wrong one another; for the Proceedings in human Courts of Judicature being govern’d by Proofs of Matter of Fact, all those Wickednesses and Villanies which could be secretly acted and without Witnesses, if any thing were to be gain’d by them, would be accounted Dexterities of Wit, in the practice of which a Man might enjoy some Self-satisfaction. Again, no Man would be found that would do Works of Charity or of Friendship, except with probable Expectation of Glory or Profit. From whence it would follow, that, supposing no Punishment from above, one Man not being able to place any solid Confidence in the Troth of another, they must every one always live anxiously in a mutual Fear and Jealousy, lest they be cheated or harm’d each by his Neighbour. The Governours also would have as little Inclination, as the Governed, to Actions that are brave and honourable; for those that govern not being obliged by any Tie of Conscience, would put all Offices, and even Justice itself to sale; and in every thing seek their own private Profit by the Oppression of their Subjects; from whom they being always fearful of a Rebellion, they must needs know, there can be no surer Means to preserve themselves, than by rendring them as heartless and as weak as possible. The Subjects also, on the other side, standing in fear of the Violences of their Rulers, would always be seeking Opportunities to rebel, tho’ at the same time they must be mutually distrustful and fearful of each other. The same would be the Case of married Persons; upon any slight Quarrel, they would be suspicious lest one should make away the other by Poison or some such clandestine Way; and the whole Family would be liable to the like Danger. For it being plain, that without Religion there could be no Conscience; it would not be easy to discover such secret Villanies; they being such as mostly are brought to light by the incessant pricking of the Conscience, and internal Horrors breaking forth into outward Indications. From all which it appears, how much it is the Interest of Mankind, that all Means be used to check the spreading of Atheism in the World; and with what vain Folly those Men are possess’d, who think to get the Reputation of being notable Politicians, by being seemingly inclin’d to Looseness and Irreligion.
[*] See Mons. Le Clerc’s Pneumatologia, §3. and Mons. Budaeus’s Discourse, de Pietate Philosophica, being the fourth Discourse in his Selecta Jura Naturae & Gentium. [Barbeyrac’s note (I.1, p. 54), where he indicates that these texts should be consulted for “all of this.”]
[14.]The prime- mover argument—that, considering the whole chain of causes and effects, there must be a first cause—was a standard nonrevealed demonstration of God’s existence, hence compatible with a natural law known through the light of reason alone.
[*] See the Continuation of various Thoughts about Comets, &c. by Mr. Bayle. [(Barbeyrac’s note III.1, p. 57.) Like Bayle, Pufendorf was opposed to Stoic and Deistic treatments of God, in the pantheistic manner, as the world’s animating principle. This formed part of Pufendorf’s rejection of natural theologies purporting to offer metaphysical insight into God’s nature.]
[15.]This sentence summarizes Pufendorf’s almost entirely negative view of metaphysics and speculative (natural) theology. God is not an object of knowledge and understanding but of faith and will. Leibniz’s metaphysical counterattack is presented, and criticized in turn, in Barbeyrac’s Judgment of an Anonymous Writer in the appendix.
[17.]Pufendorf’s denial that natural religion has any role to play in salvation—his insistence that the whole soteriological drama of sin, justification, and redemption is inaccessible to natural reason—demonstrates the non- transcendental, wholly civil character of his natural religion.
[*] L. N. N. lib. 7. cap. 4. §8. Eris. Scand §6. p. 7. Epist. ad Schetzer, p. 84. Append. p. 108. seq. Spicileg. Controv. §16. p. 350. Exam. Doctrin. §2. quaest. 316. Discuss. Calumn. Beckmann. p. 169.
[18.]The theme of religion as the cement of society (societatis vinculum) was a standard one capable of several constructions. Unlike the scholastics (and Barbeyrac to a degree), Pufendorf refused to derive human society from man’s community with God, deriving it instead from the need for peace and the cultivation of sociability. In what follows, Pufendorf thus treats conscience and the fear of God not as the foundation of natural law, but as a psychological factor useful for securing adherence to it.
Tooke’s subheading is quite contrary to the spirit of this section, in which Pufendorf states that eternal salvation is not acquired by natural religion at all.