Montesquieu

When reli­gion has many minis­ters, it is natu­ral that they should have a head, and that the pon­ti­fi­cate be esta­bli­shed. In the monar­chy, where the orders of the state can­not be too sepa­rate, and where all forms of autho­rity ought not to be lod­ged in the same per­son, it is a good thing for the pon­ti­fi­cate to be sepa­rate from the empire. The same neces­sity is not encoun­te­red in des­po­tic govern­ment, the nature of which is to concen­trate all powers in the same per­son. But in that case, it could hap­pen that the prince would regard reli­gion as his own laws, and as effects of his will. To obviate this pro­blem, there need to be wit­nes­ses to the reli­gion, for exam­ple sacred books that fix and esta­blish it. The king of Persia is the head of the reli­gion, but the Coran deter­mi­nes the reli­gion ; the empe­ror of China is the supreme pon­tiff, but there are books which are in eve­ryone’s hands to which he must him­self conform. In vain did an empe­ror attempt to abo­lish them ; they trium­phed over his tyranny.