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voltaire toleration and other essays P.
Part of the Thomas Hollis Library published by Liberty Fund. This volume contains A Letter Concerning Toleration, excerpts of the Third Letter, An Essay on Toleration, and various fragments.
[Y]ou may meet with Men (whose reading yet I will not compare with yours) who think they have found in History, that Princes and those in Power, first corrupted the True Religion, by setting up the Images and Symbols of their Predecessors in their Temples; which, by their Influence, and the ready Obedience of the Priests they appointed, were in succession of Time, propos’d to the People as Objects of their Worship. Thus they think they Isis, Queen of with her Counsellor instituted the Funeral-Rites of King by the Honour done to the sacred Ox. They think they also that the same who was also King of in his turn, invented the Figures of the first Gods, and the rest: that is, the Figures of their Statues or Idols; and that he instituted the Worship and Sacrifices of these Gods: And his Institutions were so well assisted by those in Authority, and observed by the Priests they set up, that the Worship of those Gods soon became the Religion of that, and a Pattern to other Nations. And here we may perhaps, with good reason, place the rise and original of Idolatry after the Flood, there being nothing of this kind more ancient. So ready was the Ambition, Vanity, or Superstition of Princes, to introduce their Predecessors into the Divine Worship of the People, to secure to themselves the greater Veneration from their Subjects, as descended from the Gods; or to erect such a Worship, and such a Priesthood, as might awe the blinded and seduced People into that Obedience they desired. Thus by the Authority of his Successors, the Rulers of is first brought for the Honour of his Name and Memory into their Temples, and never left, till he is erected into a God, and made &c. which Fashion took afterwards with the Princes of other Countries.
A Letter Concerning Toleration - Wikipedia
You were more than ordinary reserv’d and gracious when you tell me, That you But having told me, that my Letter tends you thought (’tis like) that was sufficient to show the I write for; and so you might safely end your Letter with words that looked like civil. But that you may another time be a little better informed what I write for, I will tell you. They are those who in every Nation and not those who in every nation are zealous for Humane Constitutions, cry up nothing so much as outward Conformity to the National Religion; and are accepted by those who are the Promoters of it. Those that I write for are those, who, according to the Light of their own Consciences, are every-where in earnest in Matters of their own Salvation, without any desire to impose on others; A so seldom favour’d by any of the Powers or Sects of the World; A that has so few Preferments to bestow; so few Benefices to reward the Endeavours of any one who appears for it, that I conclude I shall easily be believ’d when I say, that neither Hopes of Preferment, nor a Design to recommend my self to those I live amongst, has biassed my Understanding, or misled me in my Undertaking. So much Truth as serves the turn of any particular Church, and can be accommodated to the narrow Interest of some Human Constitution, is indeed often received with applause, and the Publisher finds his account in it. But I think I may say, Truth (in its full Latitude, of those generous Principles of the Gospel, which so much recommend and inculcate universal Charity, and a Freedom from the Inventions and Impositions of Men in the things of God), has so seldom had a fair and favourable Hearing any where, that he must be very ignorant of the History and Nature of Man, however dignified and distinguish’d, who proposes to himself any secular Advantage by writing for her.
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,
Essay:Religious tolerance - RationalWiki
II. I say all practical principles or opinions by which men think themselves obliged to regulate their actions with one another. As that men may breed their children or dispose of their estates as they please, that men may work or rest when they think fit, that polygamy and divorce are lawful or unlawful, etc. These opinions and the actions flowing from them, with all other things indifferent, have a title also to toleration; but yet only so far as they do not tend to the disturbance of the state, or do not cause greater inconveniences than advantages to the community. For all these opinions, except such of them, as are apparently destructive to human society, being things either of indifference or doubt, and neither the magistrate or subject being on either side infallible, he ought no farther to consider them, than as the making laws and interposing his authority in such opinions may conduce to the welfare and safety of his people. But yet no such opinion has any right to toleration, on this ground, that it is a matter of conscience, and some men are persuaded that it is either a sin or a duty. Because the conscience, or persuasion of the subject, cannot possibly be a measure by which the magistrate can, or ought to frame his laws, which ought to be suited to the good of all his subjects, not the persuasions of a part: which often happening to be contrary one to another must produce contrary laws. And there being nothing so indifferent which the consciences of some or other, do not check at, a toleration of men in all that which they pretend out of conscience they cannot submit to, will wholly take away all the civil laws and all the magistrate’s power, and so there will be no law, nor government, if you deny the magistrate’s authority in indifferent things, over which it is acknowledged on all hands that he has jurisdiction. And therefore the errors, or scruples of anyone’s conscience, which lead him to, or deter him from the doing of anything, do not destroy the magistrate’s power nor alter the nature of the thing which is still indifferent. For I will not doubt here to call all these practical opinions in respect of the lawmaker indifferent, though perhaps they are not so in themselves. For however the magistrate be persuaded in himself of the reasonableness or absurdity, necessity or unlawfulness of any of them, and is possibly in the right, yet whilst he acknowledges himself not infallible, he ought to regard them in making of his laws, no otherwise, than as things indifferent, except only as that being enjoined, tolerated, or forbidden, they carry with them the civil good and welfare of the people. Though at the same time he be obliged strictly to suit his personal actions to the dictates of his own conscience and persuasion in these very opinions. For not being made infallible in reference to others, by being made a governor over them, he shall hereafter be accountable to God for his actions as a man, according as they are suited to his own conscience and persuasion; but shall be accountable for his laws and administration as a magistrate, according as they are intended to the good, preservation, and quiet of all his subjects in this world as much as is possible, which is a rule so certain and so clear, that he can scarce err in it unless he do it wilfully.
The Jesuit then made a rather long speech, during which the Dane and the Dutchman shrugged their shoulders. The mandarin did not understand a word of it. Then the Dane spoke; the two opponents regarded each other with pity, and the mandarin again failed to understand. The Dutchman had the same effect. In the end they all spoke together and abused each other roundly. The good mandarin secured silence with great difficulty, and said: “If you want us to tolerate your teaching here, begin by being yourselves neither intolerant nor intolerable.”
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Toleration and Other Essays - Online Library of Liberty
We have never had any idea of good and evil, save in relation to ourselves. The sufferings of an animal seem to us evils, because, being animals ourselves, we feel that we should excite compassion if the same were done to us. We should have the same feeling for a tree if we were told that it suffered torment when it was cut; and for a stone if we learned that it suffers when it is dressed. But we should pity the tree and the stone much less than the animal, because they are less like us. Indeed, we soon cease to be touched by the awful destiny of the beasts that are intended for our table. Children who weep at the death of the first chicken they see killed laugh at the death of the second.
Toleration and Other Essays by ..
What an admirable spectacle is that of the eternal destinies of all beings chained to the throne of the maker of all worlds! I imagine a time when it is not so, but a chimerical liberty makes every event uncertain. I imagine that one of the substances intermediate between us and the great being (there may be millions of such beings) comes to consult the eternal being on the destiny of some of the enormous globes that stand at such vast distances from us. The sovereign of nature would be forced to reply: “I am not sovereign, I am not the great necessary being; every little embryo is a master of destiny. The whole world is free to will without any other cause than the will. The future is uncertain; everything depends on caprice. I can foresee nothing. This great whole, which you regarded as so regular, is but a vast anarchy in which all is done without cause or reason. I shall be very careful not to say to you that such and such a thing will happen; for then the wicked folk who people the globes would do the contrary to what I had foretold, if it were only from malice. Men always dare to be jealous of their master, when he has not a power so absolute as to take away the very faculty of jealousy; they are pleased to see him fall into a trap. I am but weak and ignorant. Appeal to one more powerful and more gifted than I.”
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Wikipedia
Does this necessity deprive it of liberty? Not at all. Liberty can only be the power to act. Since the supreme being is very powerful, it is the freest of beings.
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