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his own very liberal views, but also the opinions of the Spinozists and others more heretical than himself. Locke read the book while he was at Cleve, and seems to have been informed by Limborch that Le Clerc had intentionally imported into it certain rival and contradictory arguments, in order to disparage the excessive value often attached to theological arguments in general. readily believe what you tell me about the critic of the critic,” he wrote in the letter from which we have made a long digression. “I no sooner reached that part of the eleventh letter than I seemed to hear such a violent
lamour as might imply that religion itself was being destroyed; knowing as I do that this is the way of people, who, in proportion to their inability to rebut any heterodoxy, or to say anything in defence of God, pour out their noisy reproaches and calumnies. At the same time, though I admit that the argument”-against the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Bible—“is modestly put forward and cautiously worked out, I think it is one that cannot be too carefully discussed. If everything in the sacred books is to be indiscriminately adopted by us as divinely inspired, great opportunity will be given to philosophers for doubting our faith and sincerity. If, on the other hand, any part is to be regarded as of merely human composition, what becomes of the divine authority of the Scriptures, without which the Christian religion falls to the ground? What is to be the criterion ? what the rule? In handling this question—a fundamental one, if there be any such—the utmost caution, prudence, and modesty ought to be used, especially by one to whom, as
passages referred to by Locke were included in the parts of Le Clerc's work translated into English, and published in 1690, as Five Letters concerning the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.'
I suppose, the ecclesiastical authorities and the theologians are not very friendly.”
"I,” he continued, “who endeavour everywhere to seek truth alone, or as much as I can find of it, care not at all whether it comes to me from heretics or the orthodox; but I confess that, while it contains much which I cannot answer, there are some things in this work that do not satisfy me. About these I should like, if well, to get the author's answer. Concerning the others I shall ask your opinion.” To make clear the two points that Locke submitted to Le Clerc would require more space than the subject seems here to demand, especially as we have not Le Clerc's reply. It is more important to note Locke's admission of his own sceptical mood, while gently complaining of the young author's too great encouragement of scepticism. “ As there are so many passages in this book which call in question the infallibility and entire inspiration of the Scriptures, which I am quite unable to controvert,” he said to Limborch, “I do hope you will not refuse to give me your opinion on the subject. I have met with so many things in the canonical books, long before reading this treatise, which have filled me with doubt and anxiety, that the kindest thing you could do would be to rid me of my uncertainty.”ı
Kind as Limborch was, he could not comply with that request. The 'Essay concerning Human Understanding had not then begun to ferment in the minds of men and prepare the world for the supremacy of open-eyed reason over purblind faith. The fermentation was then only partially working even in the mind of the man who was writing the essay. Limborch, albeit a theologian, was
1. Familiar Letters,' ipp. 302, 304; Locke to Limborch, [26 Sept.-] 6 Oct., 1685.
wise enough to see that this fermentation neither should nor could be stayed. His answer has not been preserved; but all he could say in it would be that he too was in uncertainty from which he saw no relief.
Whatever doubts Locke may have had about the inspiration of the Bible, he had no doubts as to the duty of Christians towards one another, and towards outsiders, in allowing perfect freedom of religious opinion. Having returned, after his few weeks' stay in Cleve, to Amsterdam, and there again found a hiding-place in Dr. Veen's house, he occupied part of the ensuing winter in writing to Limborch a long letter, destined to become very famous, "about the mutual toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion.”
We have seen how, in 1667, Locke had written a very remarkable ` Essay concerning Toleration, designed especially to show that it is incumbent on the state to allow, and to secure for its subjects, entire freedom of opinion on religious matters, and also that it can have no proper control over religious worship except so far as to see that the action of any one sect does not interfere with the rights of any other sect, and is not opposed to the temporal well-being of the whole community. It is not unlikely that, while he was hiding in Dr. Veen's house, he told Limborch of this treatise, and was persuaded by him to re-write his thoughts in such a form as would be useful to them, even if the document was not to be
MSS. in the Remonstrants' Library; Limborch to Lady Masham, [19—]. 24 March, 1704-5. "Illa hyeme," said Limborch, " in aedibus D. Venii, me solo conscio, eximiam illam de tolerantia epistolam ad me scripsit." The letter, published in Latin in 1689, was almost immediately afterwards translated into English, with Locke's approval, and under his correction, by William Popple. In my extracts I have made use of Popple's translation.
shown to any one else. That, at any rate, was what Locke did. In a conversational, but at the same time orderly way, he reproduced his old arguments, with this important difference—that, whereas he had eighteen years before considered primarily, but not exclusively, the duties of governments in general, and of the English government in particular, towards Christians of various denominations, he now.considered primarily; but not exclusively, the duties of Christians of various denominations in all countries towards one another. The grand principle asserted by. Locke was the same on both occasions. In 1685 he probably agreed entirely with what he had written in 1667. He here only varied the expression of his views so as to make their presentment most suitable to the new occasion. The letter which he now addressed to the chief pastor of the remonstrants was indeed a far worthier remonstrance against Christian or un-Christian intolerance than Limborch, or Episcopius, or Arminius could have penned—an epistle to the churches fit to be bound up with those of Paul—a better encyclical than has been issued by any of the successors of Peter.
“ The mutual toleration of Christians," said Locke, in this letter, “I esteem to be the chief characteristical mark of the true church. For whatsoever some people boast of the antiquity of places and names, or of the pomp of their outward worship-others, of the reformation of their discipline-all, of the orthodoxy, of their faith, for every one is orthodox to himself—these things and all others of this nature are much rather marks of men striving for power and empire over one another than of the church of Christ. Let any one have ever so true a claim to all these things, yet, if he be destitute of charity, meekness, and good-will in general towards all mankind, even to those that are not Christians, he is certainly yet short of being a true Christian himself.” “If the gospel and the apostles may be credited, no man can be a Christian without charity and without that faith which works, not by force, but by love. Now I appeal to the consciences of those that persecute, torment, destroy, and kill other men upon pretence of
religion, whether they do it out of friendship or kindness towards them or no, and I shall then indeed, but not till then, believe they do so, when I shall see those fiery zealots correcting in the same manner their friends and familiar acquaintance for the manifest sins they commit against the precepts of the gospel—when I shall see them persecute with fire and sword the members of their own communion that are tainted with enormous vices, and without amendment are in danger of eternal perdition-and when I shall see them thus express their love and desire of the salvation of their souls by the infliction of torments and exercise of all manner of cruelties. For, if it be out of a principle of charity, as they pretend, and love to men's souls, that they deprive them of their estates, maim them with corporal punishments, starve and torment them in noisome prisons, and in the end take away their lives ; I say, if all this be done merely to make men Christians and procure their salvation, why then do they suffer whoredom, fraud, malice, and such like enormities, which according to the apostle manifestly relish of heathenish corruption, to predominate so much and abound amongst their flocks and people? These, and such like things, are certainly more contrary to the glory of God, to the purity of the church, and to the salvation of souls, than any conscientious dissent from ecclesiastical decision, or separation from public worship, whilst accompanied with innocency of life.”
Locke had fair reason for his seorn when, writing in his hiding-place in Amsterdam, he thought of all the tyrannical hypocrisy and vicious Christianity, so called, that he had left behind him in Charles the Second's England, and of all the greater evils that. James the Second and his advisers would introduce, if they dared. “ That any man should think fit to cause another man, whose salvation he heartily desires, to expire in torments, and that even in an unconverted estate, would, I confess, seem very strange to me, and, I think, to any other also. But nobody surely will ever believe that such a carriage can proceed from charity, love, or good-will. If any one maintain that men ought to be compelled by fire and sword to profess certain doctrines and conform to this or that exterior worship, without any regard had unto their morals, if any one endeavour to convert those that are erroneous unto the faith by forcing them to profess things that they do not believe, and allowing them to practise things that the gospel does not permit, it cannot be doubted, indeed, that such a one is desirous to have a numerous assembly joined in the same profession with himself; but that he principally intends by those means to compose a truly Christian church is altogether incredible. It is not to be wondered at if those who do not really contend for the advancement of the true religion and of the church of Christ make