The Philosophical Dictionary from the French of M. de Voltaire: - Vol. 2

The Philosophical Dictionary from the French of M. de Voltaire: - Vol. 2

Read FREE!

The Philosophical Dictionary from the French of M. de Voltaire: - Vol. 2

The Philosophical Dictionary from the French of M. de Voltaire: - Vol. 2

Read FREE!

Excerpt

A GREEK word, signifying "belief, or elected opinion." It is not greatly to the honour of human reason, that men should be hated, persecuted, massacred, or burnt at the stake, on account of their chosen opinions; but what is exceedingly little to our honour is, that this mischievous and destructive madness has been as peculiar to us as leprosy was to the Hebrews, or lues formerly to the Caribs.

We well know, theologically speaking, that heresy having become a crime, as even the word itself is a reproach; we well know, I say, that the Latin church, which alone can possess reason, has also possessed the right of reproving all who were of a different opinion from her own.

On the other side, the Greek church had the same right; accordingly, it reproved the Romans when they chose a different opinion from the Greeks on the procession of the Holy Spirit, the viands which might be taken in lent, the authority of the pope, &c. &c.

But upon what ground did any arrive finally at the conclusion that, when they were the strongest, they might burn those who entertained chosen opinions of their own? Those who had such opinions were undoubtedly criminal in the sight of God, since they were obstinate. They will, therefore, as no one can possibly doubt, be burnt to all eternity in another world; but why burn them by a slow fire in this? The sufferers have represented that such conduct is an usurpation of the jurisdiction of God; that this punishment is very hard and severe, considered as an infliction by men; and that it is, moreover, of no utility, since one hour of suffering added to eternity is an absolute cypher.

The pious inflicters, however, replied to these reproaches, that nothing was more just than to put upon burning coals whoever had a self-formed opinion; that to burn those whom God himself would burn, was in fact a holy conformity to God; and finally, that since, by admission, the burning for an hour or two was a mere cypher in comparison with eternity, the burning of five or six provinces for chosen opinions--for heresies--was a matter in reality of very little consequence.

In the present day, it is asked, among what cannibals have these questions been agitated, and their solutions proved by . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.