Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion in Reference to Civil Society
De habitu religionis christianae ad vitam civilem
Автор(и) : Samuel Pufendorf
Издател : Liberty Fund, Inc.
Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA
Година на издаване : 2002
ISBN : 978-9-86597-370-1
Брой страници : 158
Език : английски
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Samuel Pufendorf’s Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion (published in Latin in 1687) is a major work on the separation of politics and religion. Written in response to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the French king Louis XIV, Pufendorf contests the right of the sovereign to control the religion of his subjects, because state and religion pursue wholly different ends. He concludes that, when rulers transgress their bounds, subjects have a right to defend their religion, even by the force of arms.
Pufendorf’s opposition to the French king does not demonstrate political radicalism. Instead, like John Locke and others who defended the concept of toleration, Pufendorf advocates a principled, moderate defense of toleration rather than unlimited religious liberty.
Appearing at the dawn of the Enlightenment, Pufendorf’s ideas on natural law and toleration were highly influential in both Europe and the British Isles. As Simone Zurbuchen explains in the introduction, Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion is a major contribution to the history and literature of religious toleration.
Out of what has been said before, it is most evident, That Civil Governments were not erected for Religions sake; or that Men did not enter into Civil Societies, that they might with more conveniency establish, and exercise their Religion. For, since Religious Exercises could be performed as well by a few, as by a great Number; and in a small Congregation as well as in a great one, it was unnecessary to erect several great Societies on that account: Besides, that those who committed open violences against others, which was the first motive that obliged Men to enter into Societies for their mutual Defence, did not aim at the Religion of Mankind; but, to robb these that were weaker than themselves of their Liberty, Life, and Fortunes. Neither does a Man’s Probity and Piety receive the least addition, by the Number of People, which join in their Devotion; For every one must be acceptable to God Almighty upon his own account; neither is a Man always deem’d the more pious, because he lives among such as are pious themselves. Those Patriarchs that liv’d before Civil Societies were erected, are no less Famous for their Piety, than those that lived afterwards under a settled Government. From whence it is evident, That Religion is not an ingenious Invention of the first Founders of Commonwealths, but as antient as Humane Race it self; it being sufficiently apparent, that Mankind did not enter into Civil Societies; till long after, being enforced thereunto, by great and weighty Reasons; tho’ at the same time, it cannot be deny’d, but that some have cunningly abused Religion, for obtaining their Ends in the State; But, Religion in it self considered, Is not made subordinate to the State; or to be deem’d a proper Instrument to serve a States Turn, and to keep the People in Obedience. And, when Religion is called, Vinculum Societatis Civilis, The Cement of Civil Society, it must be taken in this Sense; That if all Religion and Regard, which ought to be had to God’s displeasure, were abolished, there would be no Tie left, strong enough to oblige Mankind to a compliance with those Laws and fundamental Constitutions, which are the original Foundation of all Commonwealths; And, that, without the fear of being accountable to God Almighty, no Human Power alone would be prevailing enough to bridle the Enormities of some stubborn and refractory Spirits.
Baron Samuel von Pufendorf (1632-694) was a German jurist, political philosopher, economist, statesman, and historian. Born in Saxony in 1632, the son of a Lutheran clergyman, he studied at Leipzig and Jena and held the first modern professorship in natural law, at the University of Heidelberg. Pufendorf was successively professor of natural law at Lund in Sweden and Swedish historiographer royal. He ended his career as Prussian court historian and died in Berlin in 1694. In addition to fundamental works in Protestant natural law, much admired by Locke, Pufendorf contributed importantly to German constitutional theory and wrote major historical works.
Samuel Pufendorf was one of the most important figures in early-modern political thought. An exact contemporary of Locke and Spinoza, he transformed the natural law theories of Grotius and Hobbes, developed striking ideas of toleration and of the relationship between church and state, and wrote extensive political histories and analyses of the constitution of the German empire.