The you say, opposes the True Religion. I grant it you. There was also, say you, an after the Flood; let this also be granted you: and yet from hence it will not follow, that the True Religion cannot subsist and prevail in the World without the assistance of Force, your way apply’d, till you have shewn, that the False Religions, which were the Inventions of Men, grew up under Toleration, and not by the Encouragement and Assistance of the Powers in being.
The Case between the true and false Religions, as you have stated it, in short, stands thus, or False Religions Why then does not the true Religion prevail against the false, having so much the advantage in Light and Strength? The Counter-ballance of hinders. And wherein does that consist? The Drunkard must part with his Cups and Companions, and the Voluptuous Man with his Pleasures. The Proud and Vain must lay by all Excess in Apparel, Furniture and Attendance; and Money, the support of all these, must be got only by the ways of Justice, Honesty, and fair Industry. And every one must live peaceably, uprightly, and friendly with his Neighbour. Here then the Magistrate’s assistance is wanting: Here they may and ought to interpose their Power, and by Severities, against Drunkenness, Lasciviousness, and all sorts of Debauchery; by a steady and unrelaxed Punishment of all the ways of Fraud and Injustice; and by their Administration, Countenance, and Example, reduce the Irregularities of Mens Manners into order, and bring Sobriety, Peaceableness, Industry and Honesty into Fashion. This is their proper Business every-where; and for this they have a Commission from God, both by the Light of Nature and Revelation; and by this, removing the great Counterpoise, which lies in strictness of Life, and is so strong a Bias, with the greatest part, against the true Religion, they would cast the Ballance on that side. For if Men were forced by the Magistrate to live sober, honest and strict Lives, whatever their Religion were, would not the advantage be on the side of Truth, when the gratifying of their Lusts were not to be obtained by forsaking her?
1. Toleration—Early works to 1800.
You say too, you write not You write indeed, and contend earnestly, that Men should be brought into an outward Conformity to the Church of But that they imbrace that Profession upon Reason and Conviction, you are content to have it without any farther Enquiry or Examination. And those who are once in the outward Communion of the National Church, however ignorant or irreligious they are, you leave there unassisted by your only without which, you tell us, the against Mens Lusts and the Corruption of Nature, so as to be consider’d as it ought, and heartily imbraced. And this drop’d not from your Pen by chance: But you profess-edly make Excuses for those of the National Religion who are ignorant of the of it; And give us Reasons why Force cannot be used to those who outwardly conform, to make them consider so as sincerely to imbrace, believe and obey, the Truth that must save them. But the Reverend Author of the tells you,
A Letter concerning Toleration and Other Writings - …
C. And that which may render them yet more incapable of toleration is when, [in addition] to these doctrines dangerous to government, they have the power of a neighbour prince of the same religion at hand to countenance and back them upon any occasion.
Toleration And Other Essays By Voltaire
B. ’Twill be said that if a toleration shall be allowed as due to all the parts of religious worship it will shut out the magistrate’s power from making laws about those things over which it is acknowledged on all hands that he has a power, things indifferent, as many things made use of in religious worship are, wearing a white or a black garment, kneeling or not kneeling, etc. To which I answer, that in religious worship nothing is indifferent, for it being the using of those habits, gestures, etc., and no other, which I think acceptable to God in my worshipping of him, however they may be in their own nature perfectly indifferent, yet when I am worshipping my God in a way I think he has prescribed and will approve of, I cannot alter, omit, or add any circumstance in that which I think the true way of worship. And therefore if the magistrate permit me to be of a profession or church different from his, ’tis incongruous that he should prescribe any one circumstance of my worship, and ’tis strange to conceive upon what grounds of uniformity any different profession of Christians can be prohibited in a Christian country, where the Jewish religion (which is directly opposite to the principles of Christianity) is tolerated; and would it not be irrational, where the Jewish religion is permitted, that the Christian magistrate, upon pretence of his power in indifferent things, should enjoin or forbid anything, or any way interpose in their way or manner of worship?