The Laws of the Divine Providence
No external compulsion to religion
From Divine Providence
DP 129. IT IS A LAW OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT MAN SHOULD NOT BE COMPELLED BY EXTERNAL MEANS TO THINK AND WILL, AND THUS TO BELIEVE AND LOVE, THE THINGS OF RELIGION, BUT SHOULD GUIDE HIMSELF, AND SOMETIMES COMPEL HIMSELF.
This law of the Divine providence follows from the two preceding, namely, that man should act from freedom in accordance with reason (n. 71-99); and that he should do this from himself and yet from the Lord, therefore as if from himself (n. 100-128). And as being compelled is not from freedom in accordance with reason, and not from oneself, but is from what is not freedom, and from another, so this law of the Divine providence follows in order after the two former. From... this it can be seen that the external cannot compel the internal. Nevertheless, this is sometimes done; but that it is pernicious will be shown in this order:
- No one is reformed by miracles and signs, because they compel.
- No one is reformed by visions or by conversations with the dead, because they compel.
- No one is reformed by threats and punishments, because they compel.
- No one is reformed in states that do not spring from rationality and liberty.
- To compel oneself is not contrary to rationality and liberty.
- The external man must be reformed by means of the internal, and not the reverse.