His religious unorthodoxy was condoned because he never scoffed; his political heresies, after their first effect was over, seemed harmless from the very want of logic and practical spirit in them, while part at least of his literary secret was the common property of almost every one who attempted literature.
The imperturbable courtesy of his style is in striking contrast to the violence of his opponents; and it must be remembered that, in spite of his unorthodoxy, he was not an atheist or even an agnostic. In his own words, "Ignorance is the foundation of atheism, and freethinking the cure of it" (Discourse of Freethinking, 105).
It does not appear that up to this time the Pascal family had been contemners of religion, but they now eagerly embraced the creed, or at least the attitude of Jansenism, and Pascal himself showed his zeal by informing against the supposed unorthodoxy of a Capuchin, the Pere Saint-Ange.
In 1805 Stewart published pamphlets defending Mr (afterwards Sir John) Leslie against the charges of unorthodoxy made by the presbytery of Edinburgh.
On the other hand, it is urged that, though Guyon and Du Verdier were in a sense contemporaries, they wrote long after the events, and that the testimony of the former is vitiated, not merely by its extreme vagueness, but by the fact .that it occurs in a plaidoyer, tending to exculpate physicians from the charge of unorthodoxy; that Du Verdier in another place assigns the Pantagrueline Prognostication to this same unknown student of Valence, and had therefore probably confused and hearsay notions on the subject; that the rasher and fiercer tone, as well as the apparent repetitions, are sufficiently accounted for on the supposition that Rabelais never finally revised the book, which indeed dates show that he could not have done, as the fourth was not finally settled till just before his death; and that it is perfectly probable, and indeed almost certain, that it was prepared from his papers by another hand, which is responsible for the anachronous allusions above referred to.
He refused to submit himself to any form of positive orthodoxy, yet when a man like Strauss pushed unorthodoxy to its extreme limits Quinet revolted.