The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law (1758)
Emmerich de Vattel
Of Piety and Religion
§ 125. Of piety.
PIETY and religion have an essential influence on the happiness of a nation, and, from their importance, deserve a particular chapter. Nothing is so proper as piety to strengthen virtue, and give it its due extent. By the word Piety, I mean a disposition of soul that leads us to direct all our actions towards the Deity, and to endeavor to please him in every thing we do. To the practice of this virtue all mankind are indispensably obliged: it is the purest source of their felicity; and those who unite in civil society are under still greater obligations to practice it. A nation ought then to be pious. The superiors intrusted with the public affairs should constantly endeavor to deserve the approbation of their divine Master; and whatever they do in the name of the state, ought to be regulated by this grand view. The care of forming pious dispositions in all the people should be constantly one of the principal objects of their vigilance, and from this the state will derive very great advantages. A serious attention to merit, in all our actions, the approbation of an infinitely wise Being, cannot fail of producing excellent citizens. Enlightened piety in the people is the firmest support of a lawful authority; and, in the sovereign’s heart, it is the pledge of the people’s safety, and excites their confidence. Ye lords of the earth, who acknowledge no superior here below, what security can we have for the purity of your intentions, if we do not conceive you to be deeply impressed with respect for the common Father and Lord of men, and animated with a desire to please him?
§ 126. It ought to be attended with knowledge.
We have already insinuated that piety ought to be attended with knowledge. In vain would we propose to please God, if we know not the means of doing it. But what a deluge of evils arises, when men, heated by so powerful a motive, are prompted to take methods that are equally false and pernicious! A blind piety only produces superstitious bigots, fanatics, and persecutors, a thousand times more dangerous and destructive to society than libertines are. There have appeared barbarous tyrants who have talked of nothing but the glory of God, while they crushed the people, and trampled under foot the most sacred laws of nature. It was from a refinement of piety, that the anabaptists of the sixteenth century refused all obedience to the powers of the earth. James Clement and Ravaillac,1 those execrable parricides, thought themselves animated by the most sublime devotion.
§ 127. Of religion internal and external.
Religion consists in the doctrines concerning the Deity and the things of another life, and in the worship appointed to the honor of the Supreme Being. So far as it is seated in the heart, if is an affair of conscience, in which every one ought to be directed by his own understanding: but so far as it is external, and publicly established, it is an affair of state.
§ 128. Rights of individuals.
Every man is obliged to endeavor to obtain just ideas of God, to know his laws, his views with respect to his creatures, and the end for which they were created. Man doubtless owes the most pure love, the most profound respect to his Creator; and to keep alive these dispositions, and act in consequence of them, he should honor God in all his actions, and show, by the most suitable means, the sentiments that fill his mind. This short explanation is sufficient to prove that man is essentially and necessarily free to make use of his own choice in matters of religion. His belief is not to be commanded; and what kind of worship must that be which is produced by force? Worship consists in certain actions performed with an immediate view to the honor of God; there can be no worship proper for any man, which he does not believe suitable to that end. The obligation of sincerely endeavoring to know God, of serving him, and adoring him from the bottom of the heart, being imposed on man by his very nature, — it is impossible that, by his engagements with society, he should have exonerated himself from that duty. or deprived himself of the liberty which is absolutely necessary for the performance of it. It must then be concluded, that liberty of conscience is a natural and inviolable right. It is a disgrace to human nature, that a truth of this kind should stand in need of proof.
§ 129. Public establishment of religion. Duties and rights of the nation.
But we should take care not to extend this liberty beyond its just bounds. In religious affairs a citizen has only a right to be free from compulsion, but can by no means claim that of openly doing what he pleases, without regard to the consequences it may produce on society.2 The establishment of religion by law, and its public exercise, are matters of state, and are necessarily under the jurisdiction of the political authority. If all men are bound to serve God, the entire nation, in her national capacity is doubtless obliged to serve and honor him (Prelim. § 5), And as this important duty is to be discharged by the nation in whatever manner she judges best, — to the nation it belongs to determine what religion she will follow, and what public worship she thinks proper to establish.
§ 130. When there was yet no established religion.
If there be as yet no religion established by public authority, the nation ought to use the utmost care, in order to know and establish the best. That which shall have the approbation of the majority shall be received, and publicly established by law; by which means it will become the religion of the state, But if a considerable part of the nation is obstinately bent upon following another, it is asked — What does the law of nations require in such a case? Let us first remember that liberty of conscience is a natural right, and that there must be no constraint in this respect. There remain then but two methods to take, — either to permit this party of the citizens to exercise the religion they choose to profess, or to separate them from the society, leaving them their property, and their share of the country that belonged to the nation in common, — and thus to form two new states instead of one. The latter method appears by no means proper: it would weaken the nation, and thus would be inconsistent with that regard which she owes to her own preservation. It is therefore of more advantage to adopt the former method, and thus to establish two religions in the state. But if these religions are too incompatible; if there be reason to fear that they will produce divisions among the citizens and disorder in public affairs, there is a third method, a wise medium between the two former, of which the Swiss have furnished examples. The cantons of Glaris and Appenzel were, in the sixteenth century, each divided into two parts: the one preserved the Romish religion, and the other embraced the Reformation; each part has a distinct government of its own for domestic affairs; but on foreign affairs they unite, and form but one and the same republic, one and the same canton.
Finally, if the number of citizens who would profess a different religion from that established by the nation be inconsiderable; and if, for good and just reasons, it be thought improper to allow the exercise of several religions in the state — those citizens have a right to sell their lands, to retire with their families, and take all their property with them. For their engagements to society, and their submission to the public authority, can never oblige them to violate their consciences. If the society will not allow me to do that to which I think myself bound by an indispensable obligation, it is obliged to allow me permission to depart.
§ 131. When there is an established religion.
When the choice of a religion is already made, and there is one established by law, the nation ought to protect and support that religion, and preserve it as an establishment of the greatest importance, without, however, blindly rejecting the changes that may be proposed to render it more pure and useful: for we ought, in all things, to aim at perfection (§ 21). But as all innovations, in this case, are full or danger, and can seldom be produced without disturbances, they ought not to be attempted upon slight grounds, without necessity, or very important reasons. It solely belongs to the society, the state, the entire nation, to determine the necessity or propriety of those changes; and no private individual has a right to tempt them by his own authority, nor consequently to preach to the people a new doctrine. Let him offer his sentiments to the conductors of the nation, and submit to the orders he receives from them.
But if a new religion spreads, and becomes fixed in the minds of the people, as it commonly happens, independently of the public authority, and without any deliberation in common, it will be then necessary to adopt the mode of reasoning we followed in the preceding section on the case of choosing a religion; to pay attention to the number of those who follow the new opinions — to remember that no earthly power has authority over the consciences of men, — and to unite the maxims of sound policy with those of justice and equity.
§ 132. Duties and rights of the sovereign with regard to religion.
We have thus given a brief compendium of the duties and rights of a nation with regard to religion. Let us now come to those of the sovereign. These cannot be exactly the same as those of the nation which the sovereign represents. The nature of the subject opposes it; for in religion nobody can give up his liberty. To give a clear and distinct view of those rights and duties of the prince, and to establish them on a solid basis, it is necessary here to refer to the distinction we have made in the two preceding sections: if there is question of establishing a religion in a state that has not yet received one, the sovereign may doubtless favor that which to him appears the true or the best religion, — may have it announced to the people, and, by mild and suitable means, endeavor to establish it; — he is even bound to do this, because he is obliged to attend to every thing that concerns the happiness of the nation. But in this he has no right to use authority and constraint. Since there was no religion established in the society when he received his authority, the people gave him no power in this respect; the support of the laws relating to religion is no part of his office, and does not belong to the authority with which they intrusted him. Numa was the founder of the religion of the ancient Romans: but he persuaded the people to receive it. If he had been able to command in that instance, he would not have had recourse to the revelations of the nymph Egeria. Though the sovereign cannot exert any authority in order to establish a religion where there is none, he is authorized, and ever obliged, to employ all his power to hinder the introduction of one which he judges pernicious to morality and dangerous to the state. For he ought to preserve his people from every thing that may be injurious to them; and so far is a new doctrine from being an exception to this rule, that it is one of its most important objects. We shall see, in the following sections, what are the duties and rights of the prince in regard to the religion publicly established.
§ 133. Where there is an established religion
The prince, or the conductor, to whom the nation has intrusted the care of the government and the exercise of the sovereign power, is obliged to watch over the preservation of the received religion, the worship established by law, and has a right to restrain those who attempt to destroy or disturb it. But to acquit himself of this duty in a manner equally just and wise, he ought never to lose sight of the character in which he is called to act, and the reason of his being invested with it. Religion is of extreme importance to the peace and welfare of society; and the prince is obliged to have an eye to every thing in which the state is interested. This is all that calls him to interfere in religion, or to protect and defend it. It is therefore upon this footing only that he can interfere: consequently, he ought to exert his authority against those alone whose conduct in religious matters is prejudicial or dangerous to the state; but he must not extend it to pretended crimes against God, the punishment of which exclusively belongs to the Sovereign Judge, the searcher of hearts. Let us remember that religion is no farther an affair of state, than as it is exterior and publicly established: that of the heart can only depend on the conscience. The prince has no right to punish any persons but those that disturb society; and it would be very unjust in him to inflict pains and penalties on any person whatsoever for his private opinions when that person neither takes pains to divulge them, nor to obtain followers. It is a principle of fanaticism, a source of evils and of the most notorious injustice, to imagine that nail mortals ought to take up the cause of God, maintain his glory by acts of violence, and avenge him on his enemies. Let us only give to sovereigns, said a great statesman and an excellent citizen3 — let us give them, for the common advantage, the power of punishing whatever is injurious to charity in society. It appertains not to human justice to become the avenger of what concerns the cause of God.4 Cicero, who was as able and as great in state affairs as in philosophy and eloquence, thought like the Duke of Sully. In the laws he proposes relating to religion, he says, on the subject of piety and interior religion, “if any one transgresses, God will revenge it:” but he declares the crime capital that should be committed against the religious ceremonies established for public affairs, and in which the whole state is concerned.5 The wise Romans were very far from persecuting a man for his creed; they only required that people should not disturb the public order.
§ 134. Objects of his care, and the means he ought to employ.
The creeds or opinions of individuals, their sentiments with respect to the Deity, — in a word, interior religion — should, like piety, be the object of the prince’s attention: he should neglect no means of enabling his subjects to discover the truth, and of inspiring them with good sentiments; but he should employ for this purpose only mild and paternal methods.6 Here he cannot command (§ 128). It is in external religion and its public exercise that his authority may be employed. His task is to preserve it, and to prevent the disorders and troubles it may occasion. To preserve religion, he ought to maintain it in the purity of its institution, to take care that it be faithfully observed in all its public acts and ceremonies, and punish those who dare to attack it openly. But he can require nothing by force except silence, and ought never to oblige any person to bear a part in external ceremonies: — by constraint, he would only produce disturbances or hypocrisy.
A diversity of opinions and worship has often produced disorders and fatal dissensions in a state: and for this reason, many will allow but one and the same religion. A prudent and equitable sovereign will, in particular conjunctures, see whether it be proper to tolerate or forbid the exercise of several different kinds of worship.
§ 135. Of toleration.7
But, in general, we may boldly affirm that the most certain and equitable means of preventing the disorders that may be occasioned by difference of religion, is a universal toleration of all religions which contain no tenets that are dangerous either to morality or to the state. Let interested priests declaim! they would not trample under fool the laws of humanity, and those of God himself, to make their doctrine triumph, if it were not the foundation on which are erected their opulence, luxury, and power. Do but crush the spirit of persecution, — punish severely whoever shall dare to disturb others on account of their creed, and you will see all sects living in peace in their common country, and ambitious of producing good citizens. Holland, and the states of the King of Prussia, furnish a proof of this: Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics, Pietists, Socinians, Jews, all live there in peace, because they are equally protected by the sovereign; and none are punished, but the disturbers of the tranquillity of others.
§ 136. What the prince ought to do when the nation is resolved to change its religion.
If in spite of the prince’s care to preserve the established religion, the entire nation, or the greater part of it, should be disgusted with it, and desire to have it changed, the sovereign cannot do violence to his people, nor constrain them in an affair of this nature. The public religion was established for the safety and advantage of the nation: and, besides its proving inefficacious when it ceases to influence the heart, the sovereign has here no other authority than that which results from the trust reposed in him by the people, and they have only committed to him that of protecting whatever religion they think proper to profess.
§ 137. Difference of religion does not deprive a prince of his crown.
But at the same time it is very just that the prince should have the liberty of continuing in the profession of his own religion, without losing his crown. Provided that he protect the religion of the state, this is all that can be required of him. In general, a difference of religion can never make any prince forfeit his claims to the sovereignty, unless a fundamental law ordain it otherwise. The pagan Romans did not cease to obey Constantine when he embraced Christianity; nor did the Christians revolt from Julian after he had quitted it.8
§ 138. Duties and rights of the sovereign reconciled with those of the subject.
We have established liberty of conscience for individuals (§ 128). However, we have also shown that the sovereign has a right, and is even under an obligation, to protect and support the religion of the state, and not suffer any person to attempt to corrupt or destroy it, — that he may even, according to circumstances, permit only one kind of public worship throughout the whole country. Let us reconcile those different duties and rights, between which it maybe thought that there is some contradiction: — let us, if possible, omit no material argument on so important and delicate a subject.
If the sovereign will allow the public exercise of only one and the same religion, let him oblige nobody to do any thing contrary to his conscience; let no subject be forced to bear a part in a worship which he disapproves, or to profess a religion which he believes to be false; but let the subject on his part rest content with avoiding the guilt of a shameful hypocrisy; let him, according to the light of his own knowledge, serve God in private and in his own house — persuaded that Providence does not call upon him for public worship, since it has placed him in such circumstances that he cannot perform it without creating disturbances in the state. God would have us obey our sovereign, and avoid every thing that may be pernicious to society. These are immutable precepts of the law of nature: the precept that enjoins public worship is conditional, and dependent on the effects which that worship may produce. Interior worship is necessary in its own nature; and we ought to confine ourselves to it, in all cases in which it is most convenient. Public worship is appointed for the edification of men in glorifying God: but it counteracts that end, and ceases to be laudable, on those occasions when it only produces disturbances, and gives offence. If any one believes it absolutely necessary, let him quit the country where he is not allowed to perform it according to the dictates of his own conscience; let him go and join those who profess the same religion with himself.
§ 139. The sovereign ought to have the inspection of the affairs of religion, and authority over those who teach it.
The prodigious influence of religion on the peace and welfare of society incontrovertibly proves that the conductor of the state ought to have the inspection of what relates to it, and an authority over the ministers who teach it The end of society and of civil government necessarily requires that he who exercises the supreme power should be invested with all the rights without which he could not exercise it in a manner the most advantageous to the state. These are the prerogatives of majesty (§ 45), of which no sovereign can divest himself, without the express consent of the nation. The inspection of the affairs of religion, and the authority over its ministers, constitute, therefore, one of the most important of those prerogatives, since, without this power, the sovereign would never be able to prevent the disturbances that religion might occasion in the state, nor to employ that powerful engine in promoting the welfare and safety of the society. It would be certainly very strange that a multitude of men who united themselves in society for their common advantage, that each might, in tranquillity, labor to supply his necessities, promote his own perfection and happiness, and live as becomes a rational being: it would be very strange, I say, that such a society should not have a right to follow their own judgment in an affair of the utmost importance; to determine what they think most suitable with regard to religion; and to take care that nothing dangerous or hurtful be mixed with it. Who shall dare to dispute that an independent nation, has, in this respect as in all others, a right to proceed according to the light of conscience? and when once she has made choice of a particular religion and worship, may she not confer on her conductor all the power she possesses of regulating and directing that religion and worship, and enforcing their observance?
Let us not be told that the management of sacred things belongs not to a profane hand. Such discourses, when brought to the bar of reason, are found to be only vain declamations. There is nothing on earth more August and sacred than a sovereign; and why should God, who calls him by his providence to watch over the safety and happiness of a whole nation, deprive him of the direction of the most powerful spring that actuates mankind? The law of nature secures to him this right, with all others that are essential to good government; and nothing is to be found in Scripture that changes this disposition. Among the Jews, neither the king nor any other person could make any innovation in the law of Moses; but the sovereign attended to its preservation, and could chock the high priest when he deviated from his duty. Where is it asserted in the New Testament, that a Christian prince has nothing to do with religious affairs? Submission and obedience to the superior powers are there clearly and expressly enjoined. It were in vain to object to us the example of the apostles, who preached the gospel in opposition to the will of sovereigns: — whoever would deviate from the ordinary rules, must have a divine mission, and establish his authority by miracles.
No person can dispute that the sovereign has a right to take care that nothing contrary to the welfare and safety of the state be introduced into religion; and, consequently, he must have a right to examine its doctrines, and to point out what is to be taught, and what is to be suppressed in silence.
§ 140. He ought to prevent the abuse of the received religion.
The sovereign ought, likewise, to watch attentively, in order to prevent the established religion from being employed to sinister purposes, either by making use of its discipline to gratify hatred, avarice, or other passions, or presenting its doctrines in a light that may prove prejudicial to the state. Of wild reveries, seraphic devotions, and sublime speculations, what would be the consequences to society, if it entirely consisted of individuals whose intellects were weak, and whose hearts were easily governed? — the consequences would be a renunciation of the world, a general neglect of business and of honest labor. This society of pretended saints would become an easy and certain prey to the first ambitious neighbor; or if suffered to live in peace, it would not survive the first generation; both sexes, consecrating their chastity to God, would refuse to co-operate in the designs of their Creator, and to comply with the requisitions of nature and of the state. Unluckily for the missionaries, it evidently appears, even from Father Charlevoix’ History of New France, that their labors were the principal cause of the ruin of the Hurons. That author expressly says, that a great number of those converts would think of nothing but the faith — that they forgot their activity and valor — that divisions arose between them and the rest of the nation, etc. That nation was, therefore, soon destroyed by the Iroquois, whom they had before been accustomed to conquer.9
§ 141. The sovereign’s authority over the ministers of religion.
To the prince’s inspection of the affairs and concerns of religion we have joined an authority over its ministers: without the latter power, the former would be nugatory and ineffectual; — they are both derived from the same principle. It is absurd, and contrary to the first foundations of society, that any citizens should claim an independence of the sovereign authority, in offices of such importance to the repose, the happiness, and safety of the state. This is establishing two independent powers in the same society — an unfailing source of division, disturbance, and ruin. There is but one supreme power in the state; the functions of the subordinate powers vary according to their different objects: — ecclesiastics, magistrates, and commanders of the troops, are all officers of the republic, each in his own department; and all are equally accountable to the sovereign.
§ 142. Nature of this authority.
A prince cannot, indeed, justly oblige an ecclesiastic to preach a doctrine, or to perform a religious rite, which the latter does not think agreeable to the will of God. But if the minister cannot, in this respect, conform to the will of his sovereign, he ought to resign his station, and consider himself as a man who is not called to fill it — two things being necessary for the discharge of the duty annexed to it, viz. to teach and behave with sincerity, according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to conform to the prince’s intentions and the laws of the state. Who can forbear being filled with indignation, at seeing a bishop audaciously resist the orders of the sovereign, and the decrees of the supreme tribunals, solemnly declaring that he thinks himself accountable to God alone for the power with which he is intrusted?
§ 143. Rule to be observed with respect to ecclesiastics.
On the other hand, if the clergy are rendered contemptible, it will be out of their power to produce the fruits for which their ministry was appointed. The rule that should be followed with respect to them may be comprised in a few words; — let them enjoy a large portion of esteem; but let them have no authority, and still less any claim to independence. In the first place, let the clergy, as well as every other order of men, be, in their functions, as in every thing else, subject to the public power, and accountable to the sovereign for their conduct. Secondly, let the prince take care to render the ministers of religion respectable in the eyes of the people, let him trust them with the degree of authority necessary to enable them to discharge their duty with success; let him, in case of need, support them with the power he possesses. Every man in office ought to be vested with an authority commensurate to his functions; otherwise he will be unable to discharge them in a proper manner. I see no reason why the clergy should be excepted from this general rule; only the prince should be more particularly watchful that they do not abuse their authority; the affair being altogether the most delicate, and the most fruitful in dangers. If he renders the character of churchmen respectable, he should take care that this respect be not carried to such a superstitious veneration as shall arm the hand of an ambitious priest with a powerful engine with which he may force weak minds into whatever direction he pleases. When once the clergy become a separate body, they become formidable. The Romans (we shall often have occasion to recur to them) — the wise Romans elected from among the senators their pontifex-maximus and the principal ministers of the altar; they knew no distinction between clergy and laity; nor had they a set of gownsmen to constitute a separate class from the rest of the citizens.
§ 144. Recapitulation of the reasons which establish the sovereign’s rights in matters of religion.
If the sovereign be deprived of this power in matters of religion, and this authority over the clergy, how shall he preserve the religion pure from the admixture of any thing contrary to the welfare of the state? How can he cause it to be constantly taught and practiced in the manner most conducive to the public welfare? and, especially, how can he prevent the disorders it may occasion, either by its doctrines or the manner in which its discipline is exerted? These cares and duties can only belong to the sovereign, and nothing can dispense with his discharging them.
Hence we see that the prerogatives of the crown, in ecclesiastical affairs, have been constantly and faithfully defended by the parliaments of France. The wise and learned magistrates, of whom those illustrious bodies are composed, are sensible of the maxims which sound reason dictates on this subject. They know how important it is not to suffer an affair of so delicate a nature, so extensive in its connections and influence, and so momentous in its consequences, to be placed beyond the reach of the public authority. — What! Shall ecclesiastics presume to propose to the people, as an article of faith, some obscure and useless dogma, which constitutes no essential part of the received religion? — shall they exclude from the church, and defame those who do not show a blind obedience? — shall they refuse them the sacraments, and even the rites of burial? — and shall not the prince have power to protect his subjects, and preserve the kingdom from a dangerous schism?
The kings of England have asserted the prerogatives of their crown: they have caused themselves to be acknowledged heads of the church: and this regulation is equally approved by reason and sound policy, and is also conformable to ancient custom. The first Christian emperors exercised all the functions of heads of the church; they made laws on subjects relating to it,10 — summoned councils, and presided in them, — appointed and deposed bishops, etc. In Switzerland there are wise republics, whose sovereign knowing the full extent of the supreme authority, have rendered the ministers of religion subject to it, without offering violence to their consciences. They have prepared a formulary of the doctrines that are to be preached, and published laws of ecclesiastical discipline, such as they would have it exercised in the countries under their jurisdiction, — in order that those who will not conform to these establishments may not devote themselves to the service of the church. They keep all the ministers of religion in a lawful dependence, and suffer no exertion of church discipline but under their own authority. It is not probable that religion will ever occasion disturbances in these republics.
§ 145. Pernicious consequences of the contrary opinion.
If Constantine and his successors had caused themselves to be formally acknowledged heads of the church, — and if Christian kings and princes had, in this instance, known how to maintain the rights of sovereignty, — would the world ever have witnessed those horrid disorders produced by the pride and ambition of some popes and ecclesiastics, emboldened by the weakness of princes, and supported by the superstition of the people, — rivers of blood shed in the quarrels of monks, about speculative questions that were often unintelligible and almost always as useless to the salvation of souls as in themselves indifferent to the welfare of society — citizens and even brothers armed against each other, — subjects excited to revolt, and kings hurled from their thrones? Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum! The history of the emperors Henry IV., Frederick I., Frederick II., and Louis of Bavaria, is well known. Was it not the independence of the ecclesiastics, — was it not that system in which the affairs of religion are submitted to a foreign power, — that plunged France into the horrors of the league, and had nearly deprived her of the best and greatest of her kings? Had it not been for that strange and dangerous system, would a foreigner, Pope Sextus V., have undertaken to violate the fundamental law of the kingdom, and declared the lawful heir incapable of wearing the crown? Would the world have seen, at other times and in other places,11 the succession to the crown rendered uncertain by a bare informality — the want of a dispensation, whose validity was disputed, and which a foreign prelate claimed the sole right of granting? Would that same foreigner have arrogated to himself the power of pronouncing on the legitimacy of the issue of a king? Would kings have been assassinated in consequence of a detestable doctrine?12 Would a part of France have been afraid to acknowledge the best of their kings,13 until he had received absolution from Rome? And, would many other princes have been unable to give a solid peace to their people, because no decision could be formed within their own dominions on articles or conditions in which religion was interested?14
§ 146. The abuses particularized. 1. The power of the popes.
All we have advanced on this subject, so evidently flows from the notions of independence and sovereignty, that it will never be disputed by any honest man who endeavors to reason justly. If a state cannot finally determine every thing relating to religion, the nation is not free, and the prince is but half a sovereign. There is no medium in this case; either each state must, within its own territories, possess supreme power in this respect, as well as in all others, or we must adopt the system of Boniface VIII., and consider all Roman Catholic countries as forming only one state, of which the pope shall be the supreme head, and the kings subordinate administrators of temporal affairs, each in his province, — nearly as the sultans were formerly under the authority of the caliphs. We know that the above-mentioned pope had the presumption to write to Philip the Fair, king of France, Scire te volumus, quod in spiritualibus et temporalibus nobis subes15 —; “We would have thee know that thou art subject to us as well in temporals as in spirituals.” And we may see in the canon law16 his famous bull Unam sanctam, in which he attributes to the church two swords, or a double power, spiritual and temporal, — condemns those who think otherwise, as men, who, after the example of the Manicheans, establish two principles, — and finally declares, that it is an article of faith, necessary to salvation, to believe that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff..17
We shall consider the enormous power of the popes as the first abuse that sprung from this system, which divests sovereigns of their authority in matters of religion. This power in a foreign court directly militates against the independence of nations and the sovereignty of princes. It is capable of overturning a state; and wherever it is acknowledged, the sovereign finds it impossible to exercise his authority in such a manner as is most for the advantage of the nation. We have already, in the last section, given several remarkable instances of this; and history presents others without number. The senate of Sweden having condemned Trollius, archbishop of Upsal, for the crime of rebellion, to be degraded from his see, and to end his days in a monastery, pope Leo X. had the audacity to excommunicate the administrator Steno and the whole senate, and sentenced them to rebuild, at their own expense, a fortress belonging to the archbishop, which they had caused to be demolished, and pay a fine of a hundred thousand ducats to the deposed prelate.18 The barbarous Christiern, king of Denmark, took advantage of this decree, to lay waste the territories of Sweden, and to spill the blood of the most illustrious of her nobility. Paul V. thundered out an interdict against Venice, on account of some very wise laws made with respect to the government of the city, but which displeased that pontiff, who thus threw the republic into an embarrassment, from which all the wisdom and firmness of the senate found it difficult to extricate it. Pius V., in his bull, in Cænna Domini, of the year 1567, declares, that all princes who shall introduce into their dominions any new taxes, of what nature soever they be, or shall increase the ancient ones, without having first obtained the approbation of the holy see, are ipso facto excommunicated. is not this a direct attack on the independence of nations, and a subversion of the authority of sovereigns?
In those unhappy times, those dark ages that preceded the revival of literature and the Reformation, the popes attempted to regulate the actions of princes, under the pretense of conscience — to judge the validity of their treaties — to break their alliances, and declare them null and void. But those attempts met with a vigorous resistance, even in a country which is generally thought to have then possessed valor alone, with a very small portion of knowledge. The pope’s nuncio, in order to detach the Swiss from the interests of France, published a monitory against all those cantons that favored Charles VIII., declaring them excommunicated, if within the space of fifteen days they did not abandon the cause of that prince, and enter into the confederacy which was formed against him; but the Swiss opposed this act, by protesting against it as an iniquitous abuse, and caused their protest to be publicly posted up in all the places under their jurisdiction: thus showing their contempt for a proceeding that was equally absurd and derogatory to the rights of sovereigns.19 We shall mention several other similar attempts, when we come to treat of the faith of treaties.
§ 147. 2. Important employments conferred by a foreign power.
This power in the popes has given birth to another abuse, that deserves the utmost attention from a wise government. We see several countries in which ecclesiastical dignities, and all the higher benefices, are distributed by a foreign power — by the pope — who bestows them on his creatures, and very often on men who are not subjects of the state. This practice is at once a violation of the nation’s rights, and of the principles of common policy. A nation ought not to suffer foreigners to dictate laws to her, to interfere in her concerns, or deprive her of her natural advantages; and yet, how does it happen that so many states still tamely suffer a foreigner to dispose of posts and employments of the highest importance to their peace and happiness? The princes who consented to the introduction of so enormous an abuse were equally wanting to themselves and their people. In our times, the court of Spain has been obliged to expend immense sums, in order to recover, without danger, the peaceable possession of a right which essentially belonged to the nation or its head.
§ 148. 3. Powerful subjects dependent on a foreign court.
Even in those states whose sovereigns have preserved so important a prerogative of the crown, the abuse in a great measure subsists. The sovereign nominates, indeed, to bishoprics and great benefices; but his authority is not sufficient to enable the persons nominated to enter on the exercise of their functions; they must also have bulls from Rome.20 By this and a thousand other links of attachment, the whole body of the clergy in those countries still depend on the court of Rome;
from it they expect dignities; from it that purple, which, according to the proud pretensions of those who are invested with it, renders them equal to sovereigns. From the resentment of that court they have every thing to fear; and of course we see them almost invariably disposed to gratify it on every occasion. On the other hand, the court of Rome supports those clergy with all her might, assists them by her politics and credit, protects them against their enemies, and against those who would set bounds to their power — nay, often against the just indignation of their sovereign; and by this means attaches them to her still more strongly. Is it not doing an injury to the rights of society, and shocking the first elements of government, thus to suffer a great number of subjects, and even subjects in high posts, to be dependent on a foreign prince, and entirely devoted to him? Would a prudent sovereign receive men who preached such doctrines? There needed no more to cause all the missionaries to be driven from China.
§ 149. 4. The celibacy of the priests.
It was for the purpose of more firmly securing the attachment of churchmen that the celibacy of the clergy was invented. A priest, a prelate, already bound to the see of Rome by his functions and his hopes, is further detached from his country, by the celibacy he is obliged to observe. He is not connected with civil society by a family: his grand interests are all centered in the church; and, provided he has the pope’s favor, he has no further concern: in what country soever he was born, Rome is his refuge, the center of his adopted country. Everybody knows that the religious orders are a sort of papal militia, spread over the face of the earth, to support and advance the interests of their monarch. This is doubtless a strange abuse — a subversion of the first laws of society. But this is not all: if the prelates were married, they might enrich the state with a number of good citizens; rich benefices affording them the means of giving their legitimate children a suitable education. But what a multitude of men are there in convents, consecrated to idleness under the cloak of devotion! Equally useless to society in peace and war, they neither serve it by their labor in necessary professions, nor by their courage in arms: yet they enjoy immense revenues; and the people are obliged, by the sweat of their brow, to furnish support for these swarms of sluggards. What should we think of a husbandman who protected useless hornets, to devour the honey of his bees?21 It is not the fault of the fanatic preachers of overstrained sanctity, if all their devotees do not imitate the celibacy of the monks. How happened it that princes could suffer them publicly to extol, as the most sublime virtue, a practice equally repugnant to nature, and pernicious to society? Among the Romans, laws were made to diminish the number of those who lived in celibacy, and to favor marriage:22 but superstition soon attacked such just and wise regulations; and the Christian emperors, persuaded by churchmen, thought themselves obliged to abrogate them.23 Several of the fathers of the church has censured those laws against celibacy — doubtless, says a great man,24 with a laudable zeal for the things of another life; but with very little knowledge of the affairs of this. This great man lived in the church of Rome” — he did not dare to assert, in direct terms, that voluntary celibacy is to be condemned even with respect to conscience and the things of another life: — but it is certainly a conduct well becoming genuine piety, to conform ourselves to nature, to fulfill the views of the Creator, and to labor for the welfare of society. If a person is capable of rearing a family, let him marry, let him be attentive to give his children a good education: — in so doing, he will discharge his duty, and be undoubtedly in the road to salvation.
§ 150. 5. Enormous pretensions of the clergy. Pre-eminence.
The enormous and dangerous pretensions of the clergy are also another consequence of this system, which places every thing relating to religion beyond the reach of the civil power. In the first place, the ecclesiastics, under pretense of the holiness of their functions, have raised themselves above all other citizens, even the principal magistrates: and, contrary to the express injunctions of their master, who said to his apostles, seek not the first places at feasts, they have almost everywhere arrogated to themselves the first rank. Their head, in the Roman church, obliges sovereigns to kiss his feet; emperors have held the bridle of his horse; and if bishops or even simple priests do not at present raise themselves above their prince, it is because the times will not permit it: they have not always been so modest; and one of their writers has had the assurance to assert, that a priest is as much above a king as a man is above a beast.25 How many authors, better known and more esteemed than the one just quoted, have taken a pleasure in praising and extolling that silly speech attributed to the emperor Theodosius the First — Ambrose has taught me the great difference there is between the empire and the priesthood!
We have already observed that ecclesiastics ought to be honored: but modesty, and even humility, should characterize them: and does it become them to forget it in their own conduct while they preach it to others? I would not mention a vain ceremonial, were it not attended with very material consequences, from the pride with which it inspires many priests, and the impressions it may make on the minds of the people. It is essentially necessary to good order, that subjects should behold none in society so respectable as their sovereign, and, next to him, those on whom he has devolved a part of his authority.
§ 151. 6. Independence immunities.
Ecclesiastics have not stopped in so fair a path. Not contented with rendering themselves independent with respect to their functions, — by the aid of the court of Rome, they have even attempted to withdraw themselves entirely, and in every respect, from all subjection to the political authority. There have been times when an ecclesiastic could not be brought before a secular tribunal for any crime whatsoever.26 The canon law declares expressly, It is indecent for laymen to judge a churchman.27 The popes Paul III., Pius V., and Urban VIII., excommunicated all lay judges who should presume to undertake the trial of ecclesiastics. Even the bishops of France have not been afraid to say on several occasions, that they did not depend on any temporal prince, and, in 1656, the general assembly of the French clergy had the assurance to use the following expressions — “The decree of council having been read, was disapproved by the assembly, because it leaves the king judge over the bishops, and seems to subject their immunities to his judges.”28 There are decrees of the popes that excommunicate whoever imprisons a bishop. According to the principles of the church of Rome, a prince has not the power of punishing an ecclesiastic with death, though a rebel or a malefactor; — he must first apply to the ecclesiastical power; and the latter will, if it thinks proper, deliver up the culprit to the secular arm, after having degraded him.29 History affords us a thousand examples of bishops who remained unpunished, or were but slightly chastised, for crimes for which nobles of the highest rank forfeited their lives. John de Braganza, king of Portugal, justly inflicted the penalty of death on those noblemen who had conspired his destruction: but he did not dare to put to death the archbishop of Braga, the author of that detestable plot.30
For an entire body of men, numerous and powerful, to stand beyond the reach of the public authority, and be dependent on a foreign court, is an entire subversion of order in the republic, and a manifest diminution of the sovereignty. This is a mortal stab given to society, whose very essence it is, that every citizen should be subject to the public authority. Indeed the immunity which the clergy arrogate to themselves in this respect, is so inimical to the natural and necessary rights of a nation, that the king himself has not the power of granting it. But churchmen will tell us they derive this immunity from God himself; but till they have furnished some proof of their pretensions, let us adhere to this certain principle, that God desires the safety of states, and not that which will only be productive of disorder and destruction to them.
§ 152. 7. Immunity of church possessions.
The same immunity is claimed for the possessions of the church. The state might, no doubt, exempt those possessions from every species of lax at a time when they were scarcely sufficient for the support of the ecclesiastics; but, for that favor, these men ought to be indebted to the public authority alone, which has always a right to revoke it, whenever the welfare of the state makes it necessary. It being one of the fundamental and essential laws of every society, that, in case of necessity, the wealth of all the members ought to contribute proportionally to the common necessities — the prince himself cannot, of his own authority, grant a total exemption to a very numerous and rich body, without being guilty of extreme injustice to the rest of his subjects, on whom, in consequence of that exemption, the whole weight of the burden will fall.
The possessions of the church are so far from being entitled to an exemption on account of their being consecrated to God, that, on the contrary, it is for that very reason they ought to be taken the first for the use and safety of the state. For nothing is more agreeable to the common Father of mankind than to save a state from ruin. God himself having no need of anything, the consecration of wealth to him is but a dedication of it to such uses as shall be agreeable to him. Besides, a great part of the revenues of the church, by the confession of the clergy themselves, is destined for the poor. When the state is in necessity, it is doubtless the first and principal pauper, and the most worthy of assistance. We may extend this principle even to the most common cases, and safely assert that to supply a part of the current expenses of the state from the revenues of the church, and thus take so much from the weight of the people’s burden, is really giving a part of those revenues to the poor, according to their original destination. But it is really contrary to religion and the intentions of the founders to waste in pomp, luxury, and epicurism, those revenues that ought to be consecrated to the relief of the poor.31
§ 153. 8. Excommunication of men in office.
Not satisfied, however, with rendering themselves independent, the ecclesiastics undertook to bring mankind under their dominion; and indeed they had reason to despise the stupid mortals who suffered them to proceed in their plan. Excommunication was a formidable weapon among ignorant and superstitious men, who neither knew how to keep it within its proper bounds, nor to distinguish between the use and the abuse of it. Hence arose disorders which have prevailed in some protestant countries. Churchmen have presumed, by their own authority alone, to excommunicate men in high employments, magistrates whose functions were daily useful to society — and have boldly asserted that those officers of the state, being struck with the thunders of the church, could no longer discharge the duties of their posts. What a perversion of order and reason! What! shall not a nation be allowed to intrust its affairs, its happiness, its repose and safety, to the hands of those whom it deems the most skillful and the most worthy of that trust? Shall the power of a churchman, whenever he pleases, deprive the state of its wisest conductors, of its firmest supports, and rob the prince of his most faithful servants? So absurd a pretension has been condemned by princes, and even by prelates, respectable for their character and judgment. We read in the 171st letter of Ives de Chartres, to the Archbishop of Sens, that the royal capitularies (conformably to the thirteenth canon of the twelfth council of Toledo, held in the year 681) enjoined the priests to admit to their conversation all those whom the king’s majesty had received into favor or entertained at his table, though they had been excommunicated by them, or by others, in order that the church might not appear to reject or condemn those whom the king was pleased to employ in his service.31
§ 154. 9. And of sovereigns themselves
The excommunications pronounced against the sovereigns themselves, and accompanied with the absolution of their subjects from their oaths of allegiance, put the finishing stroke to this enormous abuse; and it is almost incredible that nations should have suffered such odious procedures. We have slightly touched on this subject in §§ 145 and 346. The thirteenth century gives striking instances of it. Otho IV. for endeavoring to oblige several provinces of Italy to submit to the laws of the empire, was excommunicated and deprived of the empire by Innocent III. and his subjects absolved from their oath of allegiance. Finally, this unfortunate emperor, being abandoned by the princes, was obliged to resign the crown to Frederic II. John, king of England, endeavoring to maintain the rights of his kingdom in the election of an archbishop of Canterbury, found himself exposed to the audacious enterprises of the same pope. Innocent excommunicated the king — laid the whole kingdom under an interdict — had the presumption to declare John unworthy of the throne, and to absolve his subjects from their oath of fidelity; he stirred up the clergy against him — excited his subjects to rebel — solicited the king of France to take up arms to dethrone him — publishing, at the same time, a crusade against him, as he would have done against the Saracens. The king of England at first appeared determined to defend himself with vigor: but soon losing courage, he suffered himself to be brought to such an excess of infamy, as to resign his kingdoms into the hands of the pope’s legate, to receive them back from him, and hold them as a fief of the church, on condition of paying tribute.32
The popes were not the only persons guilty of such enormities: there have also been councils who bore a part in them. That of Lyons, summoned by Innocent IV., in the year 1245, had the audacity to cite the emperor Frederic II. to appear before them in order to exculpate himself from the charges brought against him — threatening him with the thunders of the church if he failed to do it. That great prince did not give himself much trouble about so irregular a proceeding. He said — “that the pope aimed at rendering himself both a judge and a sovereign; but that, from all antiquity, the emperors themselves had called councils, where the popes and prelates rendered to them, as to their sovereigns, the respect and obedience that was their due.”33 The emperor, however, thinking it necessary to yield a little to the superstition of the times, condescended to send ambassadors to the council, to defend his cause; but this did not prevent the pope from excommunicating him, and declaring him deprived of the crown. Frederic, like a man of a superior genius, laughed at the empty thunders of the Vatican, and proved himself able to preserve the crown in spite of the election of Henry, Landgrave of Thuringia, whom the ecclesiastical electors, and many bishops, had presumed to declare king of the Romans — but who obtained little more by that election, than the ridiculous title of king of the priests.
I should never have done, were I to accumulate examples; but those I have already quoted are but too many for the honor of humanity. It is an humiliating sight to behold the excess of folly to which superstition had reduced the nations of Europe in those unhappy times.34
§ 155. 10. The clergy drawing every thing to themselves, and disturbing the order of justice.
By means of the same spiritual arms, the clergy drew everything to themselves, usurped the authority of the tribunals, and disturbed the course of justice. They claimed a right to take cognizance of all causes on account of sin, of which (says Innocent III.35) every man of sense must know that the cognizance belongs to our ministry. In the year 1329, the prelates of France had the assurance to tell King Philip de Valois, that to prevent causes of any kind from being brought before the ecclesiastical courts, was depriving the church of all its rights, omnia ecclesiarum jura tollere.36 And accordingly, it was their aim to have to themselves the decision of all disputes. They boldly opposed the civil authority, and made themselves feared by proceeding in the way of excommunication. It even happened sometimes, that as dioceses were not always confined to the extent of the political territory, a bishop would summon foreigners before his tribunal, for causes purely civil, and take upon him to decide them, in manifest violation of the rights of nations. To such a height had the disorder arisen three or four centuries ago, that our wise ancestors thought themselves obliged to take serious measures to put a stop to it, and stipulated, in their treaties, that none of the confederates should be summoned before spiritual courts, for money debts, since every one ought to be contented with the ordinary modes of justice that were observed in the country37 We find in history, that the Swiss on many occasions repressed the encroachments of the bishops and their judges.
Over every affair of life they extended their authority, under pretense that conscience was concerned. They obliged new-married husbands to purchase permission to he with their wives the first three nights after marriage.38
§ 156. 11. Money drawn to Rome.
This burlesque invention leads us to remark another abuse, manifestly contrary to the rules of a wise policy, and to the duty a nation owes to herself; I mean the immense sums which bulls, dispensations, etc., annually drew to Rome, from all the countries in communion with her. How much might be said on the scandalous trade of indulgences! but it at last became ruinous to the court of Rome, which, by endeavoring to gain too much, suffered irreparable losses.
§ 157. 12. Laws and customs contrary to the welfare of states.
Finally, that independent authority intrusted to ecclesiastics, who were often incapable of understanding the true maxims of government, or too careless to take the trouble of studying them, and whose minds were wholly occupied by a visionary fanaticism, by empty speculations, and notions of a chimerical and overstrained purity, — that authority, I say, produced under the pretense of sanctity, laws and customs that were pernicious to the state. Some of these we have noticed; but a very remarkable instance is mentioned by Grotius. “In the ancient Greek church,” says he, “was long observed a canon, by which those who had killed an enemy in any war whatsoever were excommunicated for three years:”39 a fine reward decreed for the heroes who defended their country, instead of the crowns and triumphs with which pagan Rome had been accustomed to honor them! Pagan Rome became mistress of the world; she adorned her bravest warriors with crowns. The empire, having embraced Christianity, soon became a prey to barbarians; her subjects, by defending her, incurred the penalty of a degrading excommunication. By devoting themselves to an idle life, they thought themselves pursuing the path to heaven, and actually found themselves in the high road to riches and greatness.
1. The former assassinated Henry III of France; the latter murdered his successor, Henry IV.
2. With respect to these in England, and punishments for the violation, see 4 Bla. Com. 41 to 66. Blasphemy, or a libel, stating our Savior to have been an imposter, and a murderer in principle, and a fanatic, is an indictable misdemeanor at common law. Rex v. Waddington, 1 Barn. & Cress. 26. And as to modern regulation, see 4 Bla. Com. 443. —
3. The Duke de Sully; see his Memoirs digested by M. de l’Ecluse, vol. v. pp. 135, 136.
4. Decorum injuriae diis curae. — Tacit. Ann. book i. c. 73.
5. Qui secus faxit, Deus ipse vindex erit. … Qui non paruerit, capitale esto. — De Legib. lib. ii.
6. Quas (religiones) non metu, sed ea conjunctione quae est homini cum Deo, conservandas puto. Cicero de Legib. lib. i. What a fine lesson does this pagan philosopher give to Christians!
7. See the modern enactments, 4 Bla. Com. 440, 443; Id. 52, 53, in the notes. — C.
8. When the chief part of the people in the principality of Neufchatel and Vallangin embraced the reformed religion in the sixteenth century Joan of Hochberg, their sovereign, continued to live in the Roman Catholic faith, and nevertheless still retained all her rights. The state counsel enacted ecclesiastical laws and constitutions similar to those of the reformed churches in Switzerland, and the princess gave them her sanction.
9. History of New France, books v. vi. vii.
10. See the Theodosian Code.
11. In England under Henry VIII.
12. Henry III. and Henry IV. assassinated by fanatics, who thought they were serving God and the church by slabbing their king.
13. Though Henry IV. relumed to the Romish religion, a great number of Catholics did not dare to acknowledge him until he had received the pope’s absolution.
14. Many kings of France in the civil wars on account of religion.
15. Turretin. Hist. Ecclesiast. Compendium. p. 182, Where may also be seen the resolute answer of the king of France.
16. Extravag. Commun. lib. i. tit De Majoritate & Obedientia.
17. Gregory VII. endeavored to render almost all the states of Europe tributary to him. He maintained that Hungary, Dalmatia, Russia, Spain, and Corsica, were absolutely his property, as successor to St. Peter, or were feudatory dependencies of the holy see. Greg. Epist. Concil. vol. vi. Edit, Harduin. — He summoned the emperor Henry IV. to appear before him, and make his defense against the accusations of some of his subjects: and, on the emperor’s non-compliance, he deposed him. In short, here are the expressions he made use of in addressing the council assembled at Rome on the occasion: “Agite nunc, quæso, patres et principes sanctissimi, ut omnis mundus intelligat et cognoscat, quia si potestis in cœlo ligare et solvere, potestis in terra imperia, regna, principatus, ducatus, marchias, comitatus, et omnium hominum possessiones, pro meritis tollere unicique et concedere: Natal, Ales. Dissert. Hist. Eccl., s. xi. and xii. p. 384. The canon law boldly decides that the regal power is subordinate to the priesthood, “Imperium non præest saccerdotio, sed subest, et ei obedire tenetur.” Rubric. ch. vi. De Major, et Obed. “Et est multum allegabile,” is the complaisant remark of the writer of the article.
18. History of the Revolutions in Sweden.
19. Vogel’s Historical and Political Treatise on the Alliances between France and the Thirteen Cantons, pp. 33 and 36.
20. We may see, in the letters of Cardinal d’Ossat, what difficulties, what opposition, what long delays. Henry IV. had to encounter, when he wished to confer the archbishopric of Sens on Renauld de Baune, archbishop of Bourges, who had saved France, by receiving that great prince into the Roman Catholic church.
21. This reflection has no relation to the religious houses in which literature is cultivated. Establishments that afford to learned men a peaceful retreat, and that leisure and tranquility required in deep scientific research, are always laudable, and may become very useful to the state.
22. The Papia-Poppæn law.
23. In the Theodosian Code.
24. The president de Montesquieu, in his Spirit of Laws.
25. Tantum sacerdos præstat regi, quantum homo bestiæ. Stanislaus Orichovius. — Vid; Tribbechov. Exerc. 1, ad Baron. Annal Sect 2, et Thomas Nat. ad. Lancell.
26. The congregation of inmunities has decided that the cognizance of causes against ecclesiastics, even for the crime of high treason, exclusively belongs to the spiritual court: — “Cognitio causæ contra ecclesiasticos, etiam pro delicto læsæ majestatis, feri debet a judice ecclesiastico.” RICCI Synops. Decret. et Resol. S. Congreg. Immunit. p. 105. — A constitution of pope Urban VI. pronounces those sovereigns or magistrates guilty of sacrilege, who shall banish an ecclesiastic from their territories, and declares them to have ipso facto incurred the sentence of excommunication. Cap. II. De Fora. Compet in VII. To this immunity may be added the indulgence shown by the ecclesiastical tribunals to the clergy, on whom they never inflicted any but slight punishments, even for the most atrocious crimes. The dreadful disorders that arose from this cause, at length produced their own remedy in France, where the clergy were at length subjected to the temporal jurisdiction for all transgressions that are injurious to society. See Papon Arrets Notables, book i. tit. v. act 34.
27. Indecorum est laicos homines viros ecclesiasticos judicare. Can. in nona actione 22, xvi. q. 7.
28. See the Statement of Facts on the System of Independence of Bishops.
29. In the year 1725, a parish priest, of the canton of Lucerne, having refused to appear before the supreme council, was, for his contumacy, banished from the canton. Hereupon his diocesan, the bishop of Constance, had the assurance to write to the council that they had infringed the ecclesiastical immunities — that “it is unlawful to subject the ministers of God to the decisions of the temporal power.” In these pretensions he was sanctioned by the approbation of the pope’s nuncio and the court of Rome. But the council of Lucerne firmly supported the rights of sovereignty, and, without engaging with the bishop in a controversy which would have been derogatory to their dignity, answered him — “Your lordship quotes various passages from the writings of the fathers, which we, on our side, might also quote in our own favor, if it were necessary, or if there was question of deciding the contest by dint of quotation. But let your lordship rest assured that we have a right to summon before us a priest, our natural subject, who encroaches on our prerogatives — to point out to him his error — to exhort him to a reform of his conduct — and, in consequence of his obstinate disobedience, after repeated citations, to banish him from our dominions. We have not the least doubt that this right belongs to us; and we are determined to defend it. And indeed it ought not to be proposed to any sovereign to appear as party in a contest with a refractory subject like him — to refer the cause to the decision of a third party, whoever he be — and run the risk of being condemned to tolerate in the state a person of such character, with what dignity soever he might be invested.” etc. The bishop of Constance had proceeded so far as to assert in his letter to the canton, dated December 18th, 1725, that “churchmen, as soon as they have received holy orders, ceased to be natural subjects, and are thus released from the bondage in which they lived before.” Memorial on the Dispute between the Pope and the Canton of Lucerne, p. 65.
30. Revolutions of Portugal.
31. See Letters on the Pretensions of the Clergy.
32. Matthew Paris. — turretin. Compend. Hist. Eccles. Secul. xiii.
33. Heiss’s History of the Empire, book ii., chap. svi.
34. Sovereigns were sometimes found, who, without considering future consequences, favored the papal encroachments when they were likely to prove advantageous to their own interests. Thus, Louis VIII., king of France, wishing to invade the territories of the Count of Toulouse, under pretense of making war on the Albigenses, requested of the pope, among other things, “that he would Issue a bull declaring that the two Raymonds, father and son, together with all their adherents, associates, and allies, had been and were deprived of all their possessions.” VELLY’S Hist. of France, vol. iv. p. 33. Of a similar nature to the preceding is the following remarkable fact: — Pope Martin IV. excommunicated Peter, king of Arragon, declared that he had forfeited his kingdom, all his lands, and even the regal dignity, and pronounced his subjects absolved from their oath of allegiance. He even excommunicated all who should acknowledge him as king, or perform towards him any of the duties of a subject. He then offered Arragon and Catalonia to the Count de Valois, second son of Philip the Bold, on condition that he and his successors should acknowledge themselves vassals of the holy see, take an oath of fealty to the pope, and pay him a yearly tribute. The king of France assembled the barons and prelates of his kingdom, to deliberate on the pope’s offer, and they advised him to accept of it. “Strange blindness of kings and their counselors!” exclaims, with good reason, a modern historian; “they did not perceive, that, by thus accepting kingdoms from the hands of the pope, they strengthened and established his pretensions to the right of deposing themselves.” VELLY’S History of France, vol. vi. p. 190.
35. In cap. Novit. de Judicis.
36. See Leibnitii Codex, Juris Gent. Diplomat. Dipl. LXVII. § 9.
37. Ibid. Alliance of Zurich with the cantons of Uri, Schweitz, and Underwald, dated May 1, 1351, § 7.
38. See A Regulation of Parliament in an arret of March 19, 1409. Spirit of Laws. These (says Montesquieu) were the very best nights they could pitch upon; they would have made no great profit of any other.
39. De Jure Belli et Pacis. lib. ii. cap. xxiv. He quotes Basil ad Amphiloch, x. 13. Zonarcas in Niceph. Phoc. vol. iii.