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Fragments on Toleration - John Locke, A Letter concerning Toleration and Other Writings 
A Letter concerning Toleration and Other Writings, edited and with an Introduction by Mark Goldie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010).
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Published as The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (1670) and dated 1 March 1670. A manuscript (1669) in the National Archives, PRO 30/ 24/ 47/ 3, is almost identical, except for the absence of clause 96. There is uncertainty about Locke’s role in drafting this document.1 The manuscript opening and a number of corrections are in Locke’s hand, and a colleague of his referred to “that excellent form of government in the composure of which you had so great a hand” (Sir Peter Colleton, October 1673). However, Locke cannot have been the sole author, for he was serving his masters, Lord Ashley and the other proprietors of Carolina. Only the clauses relating to religion are reproduced here.
Fragments on Toleration
While in any state and society of men the right of making laws is the highest and greatest power, certainly next and almost equal to this is the authority of interpreting these laws. For what is the point of drawing up dumb, silent statements of laws, if anybody may attach a new meaning to the words to suit his own taste, find some remote interpretation, and twist the words to fit the situation and his own opinion? Observing this, sharp-sighted priests have violated both these powers in their efforts to establish in every way that control over the conduct and consciences of men which they so strongly claim. On the one hand these persons force upon the church their own traditions which grow up continually as the occasion demands, and they contend that these possess the force of laws and oblige men’s consciences. On the other hand the priests insist that the Roman pontiffis the sole and infallible interpreter of the Holy Bible. Nor does it matter very much what God himself dictated to his people on Mount Sinai, or what our lawgiver, Christ, declared on the Mount of Olives,1 as long as, loftier than either, the seven hills of Rome dominate both. Blindness is certainly inevitable, where Heaven itself does not have enough light to guide our steps. Or does that same God, who made the tongue and organs of speech and who gave the use of language to mankind, address men in such a way that he cannot be understood without an interpreter? Who will explain the mind of God better than God himself ? Or perhaps the words of God are obscure and ambiguous, while those of men are clear and certain? Is he who first made the souls of men unable to instruct them? Or does Christ so address the waves and storms that they do understand and speak to men alone so that they do not?2 Or, indeed, will the eyes of the blind heed his words which open ears are unable to grasp? Does he instruct ignorant and wretched mankind in such a way that the diseases understand his commands better than the diseased? The prophets, the apostles, even his own Son clothed in human form and not unaware of our weakness and ignorance—all of these God sent so that he might teach men what he wanted to be done, that mankind might know what the worship and reverence of the deity should be and what unity and fellowship should exist among themselves. After so many emissaries there is by now no need for an interpreter. So it is agreed that it is not necessary that an infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture be granted in the church.
Firstly, because an infallible interpreter of this sort has not existed since the time of the apostles; for here the argument from fact to necessity is valid. It cannot be doubted that God, who promised to preserve his church continuously until the end of time,3 will provide that nothing necessary to it should be lacking. That there has been no infallible interpreter is sufficiently shown by the disagreements of Christians among themselves about divine matters; and the dissension of opinions (and these notions are not only various but contradictory) troubled the diverse members of the church dispersed in various regions of the world and divided them into factions. All this, perhaps the priests will say, is only the quarrel and battle of the true church—that is to say their own—with the ignorant and heretical. Yet, it is obvious enough to anyone, however slightly acquainted with ecclesiastical history, that even in the Church of Rome and its infallible interpreter opinions about faith and morals and interpretations of Holy Scripture differ enormously.
Secondly, that which is not necessary would be utterly useless to both the faith and peace of the church. Even granting that some infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture be given, he will still not be able, however [ word illegible ] he may be, to contribute anything to the solution of problems of faith or to the establishment of peace among Christians, unless he can infallibly show that he is infallible. Since he cannot prove this about himself, for nobody’s testimony about himself is acceptable, and since the Scripture is silent, I cannot easily discover how he can be recognised. So we cannot expect any remedy from this quarter for so great a disagreement and so many errors; for there is no difference between everyone’s being subject to error and someone’s being infallible but unknown and uncertain. What help is it to be certain about something when you are uncertain about the person? How anxiously you must anticipate a cure for vice and ignorance from someone, when you do not know whether the man to whose trust you commit yourself is a doctor or a charlatan.
As to the Scripture whose interpreter we seek—since it was written at different times and not in the same style, embraces within itself various arguments, and contains the history of past events, rules of conduct, and the articles of faith, it can be considered in many ways.
1. Thus, there are many things contrived for arrogance and the display of learning, which are frivolous and empty quibbles that have not arisen from Holy Scripture, but are violently expressed by the hollow talents of madmen. Of such a kind are the questions, “What was the forbidden fruit of Paradise?”, “Where was that lovely garden?”, and others of that sort, which neither need an interpreter nor deserve a reader. Problems of this sort can perhaps exercise petty minds but scarcely detain a sober and pious man. Although these are difficult matters to know, they can safely be ignored. Moreover, they hardly seem to concern the Scripture, which is the standard of faith and conduct.
2. The Holy Scripture also contains within it the profound mysteries of divine matters which utterly transcend the human intellect. These, although they are obscure, nevertheless cannot have an interpreter. For, since to interpret is nothing else than to bring out the meaning of obscure words and to express unfamiliar language clearly in words of everyday speech, here such interpretation is clearly impossible, because God has proclaimed in the clearest and most unambiguous terms what he wanted men to know and believe. Whoever attempts to explain the trinity of persons in the divine nature in words other than those in which God has revealed it brings not so much light to the Scripture as darkness. We can add to this the union of divine and human nature in the person of the mediator, the infinity and eternity of God, and several other matters, the truth of which is certain and is to be believed, but the way in which they are true cannot be expressed in discourse nor grasped by the mind. Whatever it is that impedes us in these matters, it is certainly not the obscurity of the words but the magnitude of the matters themselves and the weakness of our minds. Whoever wants to interpret these things ought to bring to them not an extensive vocabulary and a facility of expression but a power and an intellect new to human souls.
3. There are other things in Holy Writ, things most necessary to salvation, so clear and unambiguous that virtually nobody can doubt them, for to hear is to understand them. Such are the principal duties of a Christian man—justice, chastity, charity, and benevolence—which certainly have little need of an interpreter, since they are so clearly transmitted that if any interpretation were added, it would in turn inevitably require another interpretation.
4. There are some precepts and instructions in Holy Writ of a more general nature. For example, there is that passage to the Corinthians: “Doth not even nature itself (i.e., custom) teach you that, if a man has long hair, it is a shame to him?”4 Scripture does not state what length of hair is too long, and so it is to be determined by the church. Similarly, it is stated in chapter 14: “Let all things be done decently and in order.”5 Since these precepts relate to matters which are in themselves and by their nature indifferent6 and can neither be applied to everyday life nor govern human behaviour without an interpreter, in these and other similar cases I agree that an infallible interpreter is given, possible, and needed. Such interpreters are the fathers and leaders of every church, who in these matters can be called infallible, but as I see it, their infallibility is directive not definitive. To be sure, the shepherds of the church can perhaps err while they are leading, but the sheep certainly cannot err while they are following. The path of obedience is safe and secure. For, since obedience is a certain and undeniable duty of Christian people, even if the interpretation of a text of Scripture is perhaps uncertain, the man who errs least is he who follows what is sure and applies himself to both obedience and the peace of the church. Interpreters of such divine laws can be called “infallible,” since even if they can perhaps be deceived themselves, they cannot mislead others.
In the interpretation of Scripture, however, how much is to be granted to each individual and how much to the authority of the church, and then what is achieved by reason and what by the illumination of the Holy Spirit is not so easy and straightforward to state. Great caution must be exercised, however, lest by relying too heavily on our reason we disregard our faith, or by neglecting the mysteries of the gospel embrace philosophy instead of religion. On the other hand, enthusiasm7 must be carefully avoided, lest, while we await the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we honour and worship our own dreams. It is certainly true that much is contributed to the interpretation of the Holy Bible by learning, much by reason, and finally much by the Holy Spirit’s enlightening the minds of men. However, the most certain interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself, and it alone is infallible.
The Constitutions of Carolina
(95) No man shall be permitted to be a freeman of Carolina, or to have any estate or habitation within it, that doth not acknowledge a God, and that God is publicly and solemnly to be worshipped.
(97)8 But since the natives of that place, who will be concerned in our plantation, are utterly strangers to Christianity, whose idolatry, ignorance, or mistake, gives us no right to expel, or use them ill; and those who remove from other parts to plant9 there, will unavoidably be of different opinions concerning matters of religion, the liberty whereof they will expect to have allowed them, and it will not be reasonable for us, on this account, to keep them out; that civil peace may be maintained amidst the diversity of opinions, and our agreement and compact with all men may be duly and faithfully observed, the violation whereof, upon what pretence soever, cannot be without great offence to Almighty God, and great scandal to the true religion that we profess; and also, that Jews, heathens, and other dissenters from the purity of Christian religion may not be scared and kept at a distance from it, but, by having an opportunity of acquainting themselves with the truth and reasonableness of its doctrines, and the peaceableness and inoffensiveness of its professors,10 may, by good usage and persuasion, and all those convincing methods of gentleness and meekness, suitable to the rules and design of the Gospel, be won over to embrace, and unfeignedly receive the truth: therefore, any seven or more persons agreeing in any religion shall constitute a church or profession, to which they shall give some name to distinguish it from others.
(98) The terms of admittance and communion with any church or profession shall be written in a book and therein be subscribed by all the members of the said church or profession, which book shall be kept by the public register of the precinct where they reside.
(99) The time of everyone’s subscription and admittance shall be dated in the said book or religious record.
(100) In the terms of communion of every church or profession, these following shall be three, without which no agreement or assembly of men, upon pretence of religion, shall be accounted a church or profession, within these rules: (i) That there is a God. (ii) That God is publicly to be worshipped. (iii) That it is lawful, and the duty of every man, being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to truth; and that every church or profession shall, in their terms of communion, set down the external way whereby they witness a truth as in the presence of God, whether it be by laying hands on, or kissing the Bible, as in the Church of England,11 or by holding up the hand, or any other sensible12 way.13
(101) No person above seventeen years of age shall have any benefit or protection of the law, or be capable of any place of profit or honour, who is not a member of some church or profession, having his name recorded in some one, and but one religious record at once.
(102) No person of any other church or profession shall disturb or molest any religious assembly.
(103) No person whatsoever shall speak anything in their religious assembly irreverently or seditiously of the government or governors, or states matters.
(104) Any person subscribing the terms of communion in the record of the said church or profession before the precinct register, and any five members of the church or profession, shall be thereby made a member of the said church or profession.
(105) Any person striking out his own name out of any religious record, or his name being struck out by any officer thereunto authorised by each church of profession respectively, shall cease to be a member of that church or profession.
(106) No person shall use any reproachful, reviling, or abusive language against the religion of any church or profession, that being the certain way of disturbing the public peace, and of hindering the conversion of any to the truth, by engaging them in quarrels and animosities, to the hatred of the professors and that profession, which otherwise they might be brought to assent to.
(107) Since charity obliges us to wish well to the souls of all men, and religion ought to alter nothing in any man’s civil estate or right, it shall be lawful for slaves as well as others, to enter themselves, and be of what church any of them shall think best, and thereof be as fully members as any freemen. But yet no slave shall hereby be exempted from that civil dominion his master hath over him, but be in all other things in the same state and condition he was in before.
(108) Assemblies, upon what pretence soever of religion, not observing and performing the abovesaid rules, shall not be esteemed as churches, but unlawful meetings, and be punished as other riots.14
(109) No person whatsoever shall disturb, molest, or persecute another for his speculative opinions in religion, or his way of worship.
(110) Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever.
Against Samuel Parker
Society15 is necessary to the preservation of human nature. Government necessary to the preservation of society, the end whereof is peace. One supreme necessary in every city for the preservation of the government. First, because there cannot be two supremes; second, because co-ordinate distinct powers may command the same person contrary obedience, which he cannot be obliged to. This supreme is the civil magistrate. The civil magistrate must have under his power all that may concern the end of government, i.e., peace. Religion and conscience are more apt to disturb the peace than even vice itself; first, because men are most apt to mistake [it], because backed with zeal, the glory of God, and the good of men’s souls, martyrdom; [second,] they make men more resolute, confident, turbulent, etc.; whereas vice discovered is out of countenance. Ergo, it is necessary the magistrate should have power over men’s consciences in matters of religion. This power is to be exercised with the most severity and strictness, because ordinary severity will not do.
Fathers have an absolute power over their children. This paternal power grew into several monarchies. These monarchs by this paternal right were also priests. Sovereignty and priesthood [were] jointly vested in the same person for [the] first 2500 years. Ecclesiastical supremacy [was] exercised by the Jewish kings, though the priesthood was vested in other persons. Christ, having no temporal power, exercised none, nor could give the magistrate none about his religion, which was to be propagated by patience and submission. But, instead of civil coercive power to keep up ecclesiastical discipline, there was given the church a miraculous power to punish as well as eject offenders by excommunication. This lasted in the church till the magistrate became Christian and then ceased as no longer necessary, because then the government of religion resolved in the magistrate and was restored, though the priests commissioned by our Saviour kept the ministerial function, and so the Christian magistrate hath again the power over religion.
’Tis absolutely necessary to the peace and tranquillity of the commonwealth, which, though it be the prime and most important end of government, can never be sufficiently secured, unless religion be subject to the authority of the supreme power, in that it has the strongest influence upon human affairs.
Whether [this] proves anything but that the magistrate’s business being only to preserve peace, those wrong opinions are to be restrained that have a tendency to disturb it? (and this is by every sober man to be allowed).17
As true piety secures the public weal by taming and civilising the passions of men, and inuring them to a mild, gentle and governable spirit: so superstition and wrong notions of God and his worship are the most powerful engines to overturn its settlement. And therefore unless princes have power to bind their subjects to that religion that they apprehend most advantageous to public peace and tranquillity, and restrain those religious mistakes that tend to its subversion, they are no better than statues and images of authority, and want18 that part of their power that is most necessary to a right discharge of their government.
Whether assigning those ill effects that follow to “mistakes” [and] “wrong notions of God and his worship,” he does not suppose the magistrate’s power to proceed from his being in the right? Whether by “bind the subject to his religion,” he means that, whether the magistrate’s opinion be right or wrong, he has power to force the subject to renounce his own opinions, however quiet and peaceable, and declare assent and consent to those of the magistrate? And, if so, why Christ and the apostles directed not their discourses and addressed their miracles to the princes and magistrates of the world to persuade them, whereas by preaching to and converting the people they, according to this doctrine, [lay] under a necessity of being either seditious or martyrs.
If conscience be ever able to break down the restraints of government, and all men have licence to follow their own persuasions, the mischief is infinite, and the folly endless; . . . there never yet was any commonwealth that gave a real liberty to men’s imaginations, that was not suddenly overrun with numberless divisions and subdivisions of sects: as was notorious in the late confusions, when liberty of conscience was laid as the foundation of settlement.
Whether subdivision of opinions into small sects be of such danger to the government?
Because the Church of Rome, by her unreasonable impositions, has invaded the fundamental liberties of mankind, they presently conclude19 allrestraints upon licentious practices and persuasions about religion under the hated name of popery.
What fundamental liberties of mankind were invaded by the Church of Rome that will not be in the same condition under the civil magistrate, according to his doctrine?, since the power of the Church of Rome was allowed and their decrees enforced by the will of the civil magistrate?
’Tis enough at present to have proved in general the absolute necessity that affairs of religion should be subject to government; . . . if the prince’s jurisdiction be limited to civil affairs, and the concerns of religion be subject to another government, then may subjects be obliged to (what is impossible) contradictory commands. . . . But, seeing no man can be subject to contradictory obligations, ’tis by consequence utterly impossible he should be subject to two supreme powers.
The end of government being public peace, ’tis no question the supreme power must have an uncontrollable right to judge and ordain all things that may conduce to it, but yet the question will be whether uniformity established by a law be (as is here supposed) a necessary means to it?, i.e., whether it be at all dangerous to the magistrate that, he believing free will, some of his subjects shall believe predestination, or whether it be more necessary for his government to make laws for wearing surplices than it is for wearing vests?
The wisdom of providence . . . so ordered affairs, that no man could be born into the world without being subject to some superior: every father being by nature vested with a right to govern his children. And the first governments in the world were established purely upon the natural rights of paternal authority, which afterward grew up to a kingly power by the increase of posterity; . . . and hence it came to pass that in the first ages of the world, monarchy was its only government.
Whether, allowing the paternal right of government (which is asserted not proved), that paternal monarchy descended upon [the] death of the father it descended wholly to the eldest son, or else all the brothers had an equal power over their respective issues. If the first, then monarchy is certainly jure naturali,20 but then there can be but one rightful monarch in the whole world, i.e., the right heir of Adam; if the second, all governments, whether monarchical or other, is only from the consent of the people.
Nothing more concerns the interest of the civil magistrate than to take care what particular doctrines of religion are taught within his dominions, because some are peculiarly advantageous to the ends of government, and others as naturally tending to its disturbance. . . . It must needs above all things concern princes, to look to the doctrine and articles of men’s belief.
Whether hence it will follow that the magistrate ought to force men by severity of laws and penalties to be of the same mind with him in the speculative opinions in religion, or worship God with the same ceremonies? That the magistrate should restrain seditious doctrines who denies, but because he may, then has he power over all other doctrines to forbid or impose? If he has not, your argument is short, if he hath, how far is this short of Mr Hobbes’s doctrine?21
Fanaticism is both the greatest and the easiest vice that is incident to religion; ’tis a weed that thrives in all soils, and there is the same fanatic spirit that mixes itself with all the religions in the world.
Whether this fanatic spirit be not the same passion, fired with religious zeal, whose fanatic heats he in that same paragraph accuses of having committed such dire outrages, massacres, and butchery, and done such mischiefs among men, and if it mixes itself with all religions? I desire him to examine, though he be of the Church of England, what spirit that is which sets him so zealously to stir up the magistrate to persecute all those who dissent from him in those opinions or ways of worship the public support whereof is to give him preferment?
Civil and Ecclesiastical Power
There is a twofold society, of which almost all men in the world are members, and that from the twofold concernment they have to attain a twofold happiness; viz. that of this world and that of the other: and hence there arises these two following societies, viz. religious and civil.
State (1)22 The end of civil society is civil peace and prosperity, or the preservation of the society and every member thereof in a free and peaceable enjoyment of all the good things of this life that belong to each of them; but beyond the concernments of this life, this society hath nothing to do at all.
Church (1) The end of religious society is the attaining happiness after this life in another world.
State (2) The terms of communion with, or being a part of this society, is promise of obedience to the laws of it.
Church (2) The terms of communion or condition of being members of this society, is promise of obedience to the laws of it.
State (3) The proper matter, circa quam,23 of the laws of this society are all things tending to the end above-mentioned, i.e., civil happiness; and are in effect almost all moral and indifferent things, which yet are not the proper matter of the laws of this society, till the doing or omitting of any of them come to have a tendency to the end above-mentioned.
Church (3) The proper matter of the laws of this society are all things tending to the attainment of future bliss, which are of three sorts. (i) Credenda, or matters of faith and opinion, which terminate in the understanding. (ii) Cultus religiosus, which contains in it both the ways of expressing our honour and adoration of the deity, and of address to him for the obtaining any good from him. (iii) Moralia, or the right management of our actions in respect of ourselves and others.
State (4) The means to procure obedience to the laws of this society, and thereby preserve it, is force or punishment; i.e., the abridgement of anyone’s share of the good things of the world, within the reach of this society, and sometimes a total deprivation, as in capital punishments.
Church (4) The means to preserve obedience to the laws of this society are the hopes and fears of happiness and misery in another world. But though the laws of this society be in order to happiness in another world, and so the penalties annexed to them are also of another world; yet the society being in this world and to be continued here, there is some means necessary for the preservation of the society here, which is the expulsion of such members as obey not the laws of it, or disturb its order.
State. And this, I think, is the whole end, latitude, and extent of civil power and society.
Church. And this, I think, is the whole end, latitude, and extent of ecclesiastical power and religious society.
This being, as I suppose, the distinct bounds of church and state, let us a little compare them together.
State (1) The end of civil society is present enjoyment of what this world affords.
Church (1) The end of church communion, future expectation of what is to be had in the other world.
State (2) Another end of civil society is the preservation of the society or government itself for its own sake.
Church (2) The preservation of the society in religious communion is only in order to the conveying and propagating those laws and truths which concern our well-being in another world.
State and Church (3) The terms of communion must be the same in all societies.
State (4) The laws of a commonwealth are mutable, being made within the society by an authority not distinct from it, nor exterior to it.
Church (4) The laws of religious society, bating24 those which are only subservient to the order necessary to their execution, are immutable, not subject to any authority of the society, but only proposed by and within the society, but made by a lawgiver without25 the society, and paramount to it.
State (5) The proper means to procure obedience to the law of the civil society, and thereby attain the end, civil happiness, is force or punishment. First, it is [the] effectual and adequate way for the preservation of the society, and of civil happiness, [which] is the immediate and natural consequence of the execution of the law. Second, it is just, for the breach of laws being mostly the prejudice and diminution of another man’s right, and always tending to the dissolution of the society, in the continuance whereof every man’s particular right is comprehended, it is just that he who has impaired another man’s good should suffer the diminution of his own. Third, ’tis within the power of the society, which can exert its own strength against offenders, the sword being put into the magistrate’s hands to that purpose. But civil society hath nothing to do without its own limits, which is civil happiness.
Church (5) The proper enforcement of obedience to the laws of religion is the rewards and punishments of the other world. But civil punishment is not so. First, because it is ineffectual to that purpose; for punishment is never sufficient to keep men to the obedience of any law, where the evil it brings is not certainly greater than the good which is obtained or expected from the disobedience. And therefore no temporal worldly punishment can be sufficient to persuade a man to that, or from that, way which he believes leads to everlasting happiness or misery. Second, because it is unjust, in reference both to credenda and cultus, that I should be despoiled of my good things of this world, where I disturb not in the least the enjoyment of others; for my faith or religious worship hurts not another man in any concernment of his. And in moral transgressions, the third and real part of religion, the religious society cannot punish, because it then invades the civil society, and wrests the magistrate’s sword out of his hand. In civil society one man’s good is involved and complicated with another, but in religious societies every man’s concerns are separate, and one man’s transgression hurts not another any farther than he imitates him, and if he err, he errs at his own private cost. Therefore I think no external punishment, i.e., deprivation or diminution of the good of this life, belongs to the church. Only because for the propagation of the truth (which every society believes to be its own religion) it is equity26 it should remove those two evils which will hinder its propagation: (i) disturbance within, which is contradiction or disobedience of any of its members to its doctrines and discipline; (ii) infamy without, which is the scandalous lives or disallowed profession of any of its members. And the proper way to do this, which is in its power, is to exclude and disown such vicious members.
State and Church (6) Church membership is perfectly voluntary, and may end whenever anyone pleases without any prejudice to him, but in civil society it is not so.
But because religious societies are of two sorts, wherein their circumstances very much differ, the exercise of their power is also much different.
It is to be considered that all mankind (very few or none excepted) are combined into civil societies in various forms, as force, chance, agreement, or other accidents have happened to contrive them. There are very few also that have not some religion. And hence it comes to pass, that very few men but are members both of some church and of some commonwealth. And hence it comes to pass:
1. That in some places the civil and religious societies are co-extended, i.e., both the magistrate and every subject of the same commonwealth is also member of the same church; and thus it is in Muscovy, where they have all the same civil laws, and the same opinions and religious worship.
2. In some places the commonwealth, though all of one religion, is but a part of the church or religious society which acts and is acknowledged to be one entire society; and so it is in Spain and the principalities of Italy.
3. In some places the religion of the commonwealth, i.e., the public established religion, is not received by all the subjects of the commonwealth; and thus the Protestant religion in England, the Reformed in Brandenburg,27 the Lutheran in Sweden.
4. In some places the religion of part of the people is different from the governing part of the civil society; and thus the Presbyterian, Independent, Anabaptist,28 Quaker, Papist, and Jewish in England, the Lutheran and Popish in Cleve, etc.;29 and in these two last the religious society is part of the civil.
There are also three things to be considered in each religion, as the matter of their communion. (i) Opinions or speculations or credenda. (ii) Cultus religiosus. (iii) Mores. Which are all to be considered in the exercise of church power, which I conceive does properly extend no farther than excommunication, which is to remove a scandalous or turbulent member.
1. In the first case there is no need of excommunication for immorality, because the civil law hath or may sufficiently provide against that by penal laws, enough to suppress it; for the civil magistrate hath moral actions under the dominion of his sword, and therefore ’tis not like[ly] he will turn away a subject out of his country for a fault which he can compel him to reform. But if anyone differ from the church in fide aut cultu,30 I think first the civil magistrate may punish him for it, where he is fully persuaded that it is likely to disturb the civil peace, otherwise not. But the religious society may certainly excommunicate him, the peace whereof may by this means be preserved; but no other evil ought to follow him upon that excommunication as such, but only upon the consideration of the public peace, for if he will silently conceal his opinion or carry away his opinion or differing worship out of the verge31 of that government, I know not by what right he can be hindered.
2. In the second case, I think the church may excommunicate for faults in faith and worship, but not those faults in manners which the magistrate has annexed penalties to, for the preservation of civil society and happiness.
3. The same also I think ought to be the rule in the third case.
4. In the fourth case, I think the church has power to excommunicate for matters of faith, worship, or manners, though the magistrate punish the same immoralities with his sword, because the church cannot otherwise remove the scandal which is necessary for its preservation and the propagation of its doctrine. And this power of being judges who are fit to be of their society, the magistrate cannot deny to any religious society which is permitted within his dominions. This was the state of the church till Constantine.32
But in none of the former cases is excommunication capable to be denounced by any church upon anyone but the members of that church, it being absurd to cut offthat which is no part. Neither ought the civil magistrate to inflict any punishment upon the score of excommunication, but to punish the fact33 or forbear, just as he finds it convenient for the preservation of the civil peace and prosperity of the commonwealth (within which his power is confined), without any regard to the excommunication at all.
Mankind is supported in the ways of virtue, or vice, by the society he is of, and the conversation he keeps, example and fashion being the great governors of this world. The first question every man ought to ask in all things he doth or undertakes is, how is this acceptable to God? But the first question most men ask, is, how will this render me to my company, and those whose esteem I value? He that asks neither of these questions is a melancholy rogue, and always of the most dangerous and worst of men. This is the foundation of all the sects and orders, either of religion or philosophy, that have been in the world. Men are supported and delighted with the friendship and protection they enjoy from all the rest of the same way; and as these are more or less really performed amongst them, so the party increaseth or diminisheth. The Protestant religion, whilst it was a sect and a party, cherished and favoured each other; [and] increased strangely, against all the power and persecution of the Church of Rome. But since the warmth of that is over, and ’tis embraced only as a truer doctrine, this last forty years hath hardly produced as many converts from the Romish fopperies;34 the greater clergy plainly inclining to go back to their interest, which is highest exalted in that religion; but the greater part of the laity, having an abhorrence to their cruelty and ambition, as well as their interests contrary, have divided themselves into sects and churches, of new and different names and ways; that they may keep up some warmth and heat, in opposition to the common enemy, who otherwise was like[ly] to find us all asleep.35 The Quakers are a great instance, how little truth and reason operates upon mankind, and how great force, society, and conversation hath amongst those that maintain an inviolable friendship and concern, for all of their way.36
’Tis a true proverb, what is every man’s business, is no man’s. This befalls truth, she hath no sect, no corporation, ’tis made no man’s interest to own her: there is no body of men, no council sitting, that should take care of him that suffers for her; the clergy have pretended to that care, for many hundreds of years past, but how well they have performed it the world knows; they have found a mistress, called the present power, that pays them much better than truth can. Whatever idol she enjoins, they offer us to be worshipped as this great goddess; and their impudence hath been so great that, though they vary it as often as the present power itself changeth, yet they affirm it still to be the same goddess, truth. Neither is it possible that the greatest part of that sort of men should not either flatter the magistrate, or the people: in both, truth suffers. Learning is a trade that most men apply themselves to with pains and charge, that they may hereafter live and make advantage by it: ’tis natural for trade to go to the best market: truth and money, truth and hire, did never yet long agree. These thoughts moved us to endeavour to associate ourselves with such as are lovers of truth and virtue; that we may encourage, assist, and support each other, in the ways of them; and may possibly become some help in the preserving truth, religion, and virtue amongst us; whatever deluge of misery and mischief may overrun this part of the world. We intermeddle not with anything that concerns the just and legal power of the civil magistrate; the government and laws of our country cannot be injured by such as love truth, virtue, and justice; we think ourselves obliged to lay down our lives and fortunes in the defence of it. No man can say he loves God that loves not his neighbour; no man can love his neighbour that loves not his country. ’Tis the greatest charity to preserve the laws and rights of the nation, whereof we are. A good man, and a charitable man, is to give to every man his due. From the king upon the throne, to the beggar in the street.
1.37 Whether there be any infallible judge on earth.
2. Whether any church be that judge.
3. Whether the Roman Church be that church.
4. If it be, what capacity, whether the infallibility be in the pope as the head, or in the body of the church, and then whether in the whole body diffusive or in the collective in a council,38 and if a council be infallible, then whether it be so only with the pope’s confirmation, or without it.
5. How shall we certainly know who must be members of it, clergy and laics, or only clergy; or only bishops, presbyters too and deacons, or chorepiscopy39 at least, for we find all these usually subscribing.
6. Or let the council be as they would have it; how shall I be sure they are infallible, for are they so absolutely infallible as they cannot determine falsely in rebus fidei,40 do what they will.
7. How shall I know when they determine aright, and what is required to a synodical constitution; must all concur in the votes, or will the major part serve the turn.
8. What makes a council general; must all the bishops of the Christian world be called.
9. When they are all called must they all come, or else it is no general council.
10. Who must call the general council, the pope or the Christian kings and emperors, and how shall I be assured which of them must.
11. How far are those determinations infallible, whether in matters of fact as well as faith.
12. And if in matters of faith then whether in fundamentals only or in superstructures.
13. How shall I infallibly know which points are fundamental, which not.
14. But admit all these were determined, and our infallible judge were a general council with the pope, yet in a time of schism where there are two or three popes at once: Clement III, Gregory VII; Gelasius II, Gregory VIII; Celestine II, Honorius II; Anacletus II, Innocent II; Victor IV, Alexander III; Clement VII, Urban VI; Eugene IV, Felix V:41 you may see [in] Gautior the Jesuit’s book42 a large catalogue more, and these warring one against another for forty or fifty years together: so that the learnedest clergymen alive know not which was St. Peter’s true successor, and thus, saith reason, there may be again, then I ask how I shall know which is the infallible judge or by what rule a Romanist may tell when a truth is defined and when not, since Sixtus V defined one Bible to be true anno 1590, and Clement VIII another two years after, and each of them prohibited and condemned all but his own;43 and these two Bibles contain many contradictions each to other, and certainly contradictory propositions cannot both be gospel, and if not then either one of these two was not really (whence inconveniency enough will follow) or they were both true popes, and so both these definitions true, and so no true papist hath any true Bible.
15. But suppose there be no schism and all agreed on the pope and a general council met, how shall I be sure that he that is reputed pope is so indeed, seeing by their own principles, secret simony makes him none, so [says] the Bull of Pope Julius II Super simoniaca papae electione si contigerit,44 and that he was not simoniacal it is impossible for me to know; the election of Sixtus V45 was notoriously simoniacal, for Cardinal D’Essy,46 whom he bribed and promised to obey and defend against any opposite faction etc., sent all these obligations subscribed by Sixtus V [in] his own hand to Philip then king of Spain, who in the year 159947 sent to Rome to bid the cardinals who had been elected before Sixtus V come to the see, to come to a council at Seville in Spain where the original writing was produced and the crime was evidently proved, and, if so, all the cardinals which were made by this Sixtus were in reality no cardinals, and then all the popes which have been really are no popes.
16. But admit the pope were certainly known to be such, that neither he nor any of his predecessors came in by simony, yet how shall I know whether those bishops, who with him make up a council are bishops. Indeed, for if they be no bishops then it is no council. And that they are true bishops it is for ever impossible for any papist certainly to know, for if he that did ordain them did not intend it when he gave orders48 (and whether he did or no, God only knows), then by their own principles, they are no bishops and by consequence no council.
17. How shall I know that the pope and bishops so met (at Trent for example)49 are Christians, for, if not, then they are no legislative council or church representative, and that they are Christians it is impossible for any Catholic to know with any infallible certainty, for if they be not baptised then I am sure with them they are no Christians, and if the priest that baptised them did not intend to do it then by the canon of the Trent Council’s they are not baptised. Now what the priest intended when he administered that sacrament ’tis impossible that any (save God that knows the heart) should certainly know without immediate revelation, which they pretend not to, and consequently ’tis impossible that any of them should certainly know that ever there was a pope or a bishop or a priest since our Saviour’s days; nay impossible that they should know whether there be now one Christian in their church, and therefore much less that there is or hath been a lawful council.
18. But admit all these doubts were clearly resolved and a council (in their own sense lawful) sitting and determining matters in controversy, yet how shall we know certainly that these are their determinations, specially since the Greek Church near 300 years since accused the Roman for forcing a canon into the Nicene Councils in behalf of the pope’s being head of the universal church, which could never be found in the authentic copies, though the African bishops sent to Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch to search for them, Codex Can. Eccles. Afri. Iustel p. 39, 40.50 We must rely on the honesty of the amanuensis, or of those persons that convey them to us, and those are certainly not infallible, and we know there are Indices Expurgatory,51 [and] foisting in and blotting out of manuscripts.52
19. But admit all this cleared, yet when I have indeed the genuine canons and am sure of it, how shall I be assured of the true meaning of them, for we know that Vega and Soto (two famous and learned men in the Council of Trent)53 writ and defended contradictory opinions, yet each thinketh the canon of the council to determine on his side; now, of necessity, one of them must mistake the doctrine of the council, unless you will say the council determined contradictions and then the council is not infallible itself, and if either of them mistook the council, then it was not an infallible guide to him; now if learned men who were members of the council (such as disputed much in it) could not infallibly know the meaning of it, how can I who am neither.
20. What necessity of an infallible judge at all; the Christian world had no such judge for 325 years, for the Nicene Council was the first general [council] and if they understood Scripture and were saved then, when they had no such thing, why may not we now; and if they were not saved, the Church of Rome must blot our many hundreds and thousands of saints and martyrs out of her martyrology.
Till these twenty questions be infallibly resolved it seems impossible that any man should have any infallible knowledge of the Church of Rome’s infallibility.
Religion in France
Nîmes, 3 January 1676. At Nîmes they have now but one temple (the other by the king’s order being pulled down about four years since), its roof supported on an arch like that at Orange.54 Two of their consuls55 are Protestants, two papists, but are not permitted to receive the sacrament in their robes as formerly. The Protestants had built them here too a hospital for their sick, but that is taken from them. A chamber in it is left for their sick, but never used, because the priests trouble them when there, but notwithstanding their discouragement, I do not find that many of them go over.56 One of them told me, when I asked him the question, that the papists did nothing but by force or money.
Montpellier, 31 January 1676. Uzès, a town in this province, not far from Nîmes, was wont to send every year a Protestant deputy to the assembly of the States57 here at Montpellier, the greatest part being Protestants, but they were forbid to do it this year.58 And this week the Protestants there have an order from the king to choose no more consuls of the town of the religion, and their temple is ordered to be pulled down, the only one they had left there, though three-quarters of the town be Protestants. The pretence given is that their temple being too near the papish church, their singing of psalms disturbed the service.
Montpellier, 7 February 1676. The States every morning go to Notre Dame to prayers, where mass is sung. All the while the priest who says mass is at the altar saying the office, you cannot hear him [say] a word, and indeed the music is the pleasanter of the two. The cardinal59 and bishops are all on the right hand [of ] the choir [. . .] and all the lay barons on the left or south side. The cardinal sat uppermost, nearest the altar, and had a velvet cushion, richly laced with broad silver and gold lace; the bishops had none at all. He also had his book and repeated his office apart very genteelly with an unconcerned look, talking ever[y] now and then, and laughing with the bishops next him. He keeps a very fine mistress60 in the town, which some of the very papists complain of, and hath some very fine boys in his train.61
Montpellier, 12 February 1676. If anyone [among the Protestant pastors] hold tenets contrary to their articles of faith, the king punishes him, so that you must be here either of the Romish or their church; for not long since it happened to one here, who was inclining to and vented62 some Arian63 doctrines, the governor complained to the king. He sent order he should be tried, and so was sent to Toulouse where upon trial, he denying it utterly, he was permitted to scape out of prison; but had he owned64 it, he had been burnt as a heretic.
Montpellier, 17 February 1676. The consistory65 manage their church censures thus. If anyone live scandalously, they first reprove him in private. If he mends not, he is called before the consistory and admonished there. If that works not, the same is done in the public congregation, and if after that he stands incorrigible, he is excluded from the eucharist. This is the utmost of their power.
Montpellier, 19 February 1676. Public admonitions of their consistory happen seldom. The last two instances were, one for striking a cuff on the ear in the church on a communion day, for which he was hindered from receiving. The other for marrying his daughter to a papist, for which he stood excommunicate six months, but their excommunication reaches no farther than exclusion from the eucharist, not from the church and sermons.66
Avignon, 22 April 1676. At Villeneuve over against Avignon on the other side [of ] the Rhone we saw the charterhouse where are sixty friars.67 Their chapel well adorned, their plate, copes and relics very rich, amongst the rest a chalice of gold, given by René, the last king of Naples of the Anjou race.68 I was going to take it in my hand, but the Carthu-sian withdrew it till he had put a cloth about the handle and so gave it into my hand, nobody being suffered to touch these holy things but a priest. In their chapel Pope Innocent the 6th lies interred; he died 1362, and in a little chapel in their convent stands a plain, old chair wherein he was infallible. I sat too little awhile in it to get that privilege. In their devotions they use much prostrations and kissing the ground. [. . .] The Carthusian that showed us the convent seemed not very melancholy. He enquired after their houses and lands in England, and asked whether, when we came to be papists, they should not have them again. I told him yes, without doubt, for there could be no reconciliation to their church without restitution. He told me I was a very good divine and very much in the right.69 They have in their chapel several pictures of the execution of some of their order in England in Henry 8’s reign.70
Montpellier, 9 August 1676. This fortnight Protestant ministers [were] forbid to teach above two scholars at once.71
Castelnaudary, 5 March 1677. An advocate we met at supper who is judge of the place where we lived, being asked, could not tell what was the Second Commandment, and confessed he had never read the Scripture.72
Angers, 23 August 1678. We saw also at St. Maurice, the cathedral of Angers, abundance of relics, the tooth of one saint, the bone of another, etc. [. . .] but the things of most veneration were a thorn of the crown of Our Saviour, some wood of his cross which I believe was there, though I saw nothing but the gold and silver that covered it. There was also some of the hair, a piece of the petticoat and some of the milk of the Virgin, but the milk was out of sight; and one of the water pots wherein Our Saviour turned water into wine.73 [. . .] I could not but wish for the pot because of its admirable effects to cure diseases, for once a year they put wine into it, consecrate it and distribute it to believers, who therewith cure fevers and other diseases.
Niort, 1 September 1678. Here a poor bookseller’s wife, which by the largeness and furniture of her shop seemed not to have either much stock or trade, told me that, there being last winter 1,200 soldiers quartered in the town, two were appointed for their share (for they were Protestants), which, considering that they were to have three meals a day of flesh, breakfast, dinner and supper, besides a collation in the afternoon, all which was better to give them, and a fifth meal too if they desired it, rather than displease them, these two soldiers, for the three and a half months they were there, cost them at least forty écus.74
Paris, 25 April 1679. The Protestants within these twenty years have had above three hundred churches demolished, and within these two months fifteen more condemned.
The Obligation of Penal Laws
There are virtues and vices antecedent to, and abstract from, society, e.g., love of God, unnatural lust: other virtues and vices there are that suppose society and laws, as obedience to magistrates, or dispossessing a man of his heritage. In both these the rule and obligation is antecedent to human laws, though the matter about which that rule is, may be consequent to them, as property in land, distinction and power of persons, etc.
All things not commanded or forbidden by the law of God are indifferent, nor is it in the power of man to alter their nature; and so no human law can lay any new obligation on the conscience, and therefore all human laws are purely penal, i.e., have no other obligation but to make the transgressors liable to punishment in this life. All divine laws oblige the conscience, i.e., render the transgressors liable to answer at God’s tribunal, and receive punishment at his hands. But because very frequently both these obligations concur, and the same action comes to be commanded or forbidden by both laws together, and so in these cases men’s consciences are obliged, men have thought that civil laws oblige their consciences to entire obedience; whereas, in things in their own nature indifferent, the conscience is obliged only to active or passive obedience, and that not by virtue of that human law which the man either practises or is punished by, but by that law of God which forbids disturbance or dissolution of governments. The Gospel alters, not in the least, civil affairs, but leaves husband and wife, master and servant, magistrate and subject, every one of them, with the very same power and privileges that it found them, neither more nor less. And therefore when the New Testament says, obey your superiors in all things, etc.,75 it cannot be thought that it laid any new obligation upon the Christians after their conversion, other than what they were under before; nor that the magistrate had any other extent of jurisdiction over them than over his heathen subjects: so that the magistrate has the same power still over his Christian as he had [over] his heathen subjects; so that, when he had power to command, they had still, notwithstanding the liberty and privileges of the Gospel, obligation to obey.
Now, to heathen politics (which cannot be supposed to be instituted by God for the preservation and propagation of true religion) there can be no other end assigned but the preservation of the members of that society in peace and safety together. This being found to be the end will give us the rule of civil obedience. For if the end of civil societies be civil peace, the immediate obligation of every subject must be to preserve that society or government which was ordained to produce it; and no member of any society can possibly have any obligation of conscience beyond this. So that he that obeys the magistrate to that degree as not to endanger or disturb the government, under what form of government soever he lives, fulfils all the law of God concerning government, i.e., obeys to the utmost [all] that the magistrate or society can oblige his conscience, which can be supposed to have no other rule set it by God in this matter but this. The end of the institution being always the measure of operation.
The obligation of conscience then upon every subject being to preserve the government, ’tis plain that where any law is made with a penalty, is submitted to, i.e., the penalty is quietly undergone without other obedience, the government cannot be disturbed or endangered. For whilst the magistrate has power to increase the penalty, even to loss of life, and the subject submits patiently to the penalty, which he in conscience is obliged to do, the government can never be in danger, nor can the public want active obedience in any case where it hath power to require it under pain of death. For no man can be supposed to refuse his active obedience in a lawful or indifferent thing, when the refusal will cost him his life, and lose all his civil rights at once, for want of performing one civil action; for civil laws have only to do with civil actions.
This, thus stated, clears a man from that infinite number of sins that otherwise he must unavoidably be guilty of, if all penal laws oblige the conscience further than this.
One thing further is to be considered, that all human laws are penal, for where the penalty is not expressed, it is by the judge to be proportioned to the consequence and circumstances of the fault. See the practice of the King’s Bench. Penalties are so necessary to civil laws, that God found it necessary to annex them even to the civil laws he gave the Jews.
Toleration and Error
Penal laws, made about matters of religion in a country where there is already a diversity of opinions, can hardly avoid that common injustice which is condemned in all laws whatsoever, viz., in retrospect. It would be thought a hard case, if by a law, now made, all would have to be fined that should wear French hats for the future, and those also who had worn them at any time in the year past. It is the same case to forbid a man to be a Quaker, Anabaptist, Presbyterian, for it is as easy for me not to have had on the hat yesterday, which I then wore, as it is in many cases not to have the same opinions, the same thought, in my head as I had yesterday, both being impossible. The great dispute in all this diversity of opinions is where the truth is. But let us suppose at present that it is wholly and certainly on the state’s side, though it will be pretty hard to suppose it so in England, in France, Sweden, and Denmark at the same time; and yet in all these places they have an equal power to make laws about religion. But let us suppose yet that all dissenters are in error, are out of their wits: but your law found them in this delirium, and will you make a law that will hang all that are beside themselves? “But we fear their rage and violence.”76 If you fear them only because they are capable of a raging fit, you may as well fear all other men, who are liable to the same distemper. If you fear it because you treat them ill, and that produces some symptom of it, you ought to change your method, and not punish them for what you fear because you go the way to produce it. If a distemper itself has a tendency to rage, it must be watched and fit remedies applied. If they are perfect innocents, only a little crazed, why cannot they be let alone, since, though perhaps their brains are a little out of order, their hands work well enough? “But they will infect others.” If those others are infected but by their own consent, and that to cure another disease that they think they have, why should they be hindered any more than a man is that might make an issue77 to cure palsy, or might willingly have haemorrhoids to prevent an apoplexy? “But then all people will run into this error.” This supposes either that it is true and so prevails, or that the teachers of truth are very negligent and let it, and that they are to blame; or that people are more inclined to error than truth: if so, then, error being manifold, they will be as distant one from another as from you, and so no fear of their uniting, unless you force them by making yourself an enemy to all by ill-treatment.
To settle the peace of places where there are different opinions in religion, two things are to be perfectly distinguished: religion and government, and their two sorts of officers, magistrates and ministers, and their provinces, to be kept well distinct (the not doing whereof was perhaps a great cause of distraction); a magistrate only to look at the peace and security of a city; ministers only [concerned] with the saving of the soul, and if they were forbidden meddling with making or executing laws in their preaching, we should be perhaps much more quiet.
Toleration in Israel
However people imagine that the Jews had a strict church discipline without any toleration yet it is to be observed besides that it was a law immediately given by God Almighty; 1. That there were no articles of faith that they were required to subscribe to, or at least that there was but one God and that Jehovah [was] their God; 2. That there were several laws given for excluding people [such] as bastards and eunuchs [and] Ammonites,78 etc., out of their congregation but none for forcing anybody in.
Toleration and Sincerity
No man has power to prescribe to another what he should believe or do in order to the saving of his own soul, because it is only his own private interest, and concerns not another man. God has nowhere given such power to any man or society, nor can man possibly be supposed to give it [to] another absolutely over him.
First, because man in all states being liable to error, as well governors as those under them, doctors as [well as] scholars, it would be unreasonable to be put under the absolute direction of those who may err in a matter of that concernment, eternal concernment, wherein if they misguide us they can make us no reparation.
Second, because such a power can by no means serve to the end for which only it can be supposed to be given, viz., to keep men in the right way to salvation. For supposing all the different pretenders to this power were nearer agreed in the matters they prescribe, or could consent to resign all their pretensions to this power to one certain guide, neither of which is ever like[ly] to happen, yet the power of using force to bring men [to believe] in faith and opinions and uniformity in worship could not serve to secure men’s salvation, even though that power were in itself infallible, because no compulsion can make a man believe against his present light and persuasion, be it what it will, though it may make him profess indeed. But profession without sincerity will little set a man forwards in his way to any place but that where he is to have his share with hypocrites, and to do anything in the worship of God which a man judges in his own conscience not to be that worship he requires and will accept, is so far from serving or pleasing God in it, that such a worshipper affronts God only to please men. For even the circumstances of the worship of God cannot be indifferent to him that thinks them not so, nor can the time, habit, posture, etc., be at pleasure used or omitted by one who thinks either acceptable or displeasing to the God he worships.
But though nobody can have a right to force men to receive such doctrines or to practise such ways of worship, yet this will not hinder the power of every society or profession of religion to establish within themselves confessions of faith, and rules of decency and order,79 which yet are not to be imposed on anyone with constraint. It only forbids that men should be compelled into that communion, or anyone be hindered from withdrawing from it, whenever anything comes to be established in it which he judges contrary to the end for which he enters into such a communion or religious society, i.e., the believing and owning certain truths which are taught and professed there, and the worshipping of God in a way acceptable to him. Sic argumentatus est Atticus: de quo videndum.80
Several Protestants not of the Church of England resident at Constantinople, had leave of Sir J. Finch,81 the English ambassador there, to have a room in his house to meet to pray in, they being most[ly] of the French church. But at last it was thought fit that if they would continue in that privilege they should come and receive the sacrament in his chapel administered there by his chaplain to the discipline of the Church of England. Of which they having notice they accordingly came. But presented themselves to receive it according to the several fashions of their churches or persuasions of their own minds, some sitting and some standing, though the ambassador and all the usual congregation of the English there had received it kneeling. However, the chaplain thought he could not refuse it [to] anyone that came solemnly and seriously to receive it for any posture he presented himself in, and therefore administered the bread to them all. Which significant declaration that kneeling was no essential part of receiving the Lord’s supper and no necessary part of worship, had so powerful an effect upon them, that when he came afterwards to give them the cup, they of their own accords received it every one kneeling. This way, if it were a little more practised, would perhaps be found not only the most Christian but the most effectual way to bring men to conformity. Mr. Covell.82
The Origin of Religious Societies
The light of nature discovering83 to man that he is under the government and disposal of an invisible and supreme being, teaches him also that he was concerned so to behave himself as not to offend, or, if he did, to find means to reconcile and recover again the favour of that being, which over rules all human affairs and sovereignly dispenses good and evil in this world, and on whom depends eternal happiness and misery in another. This knowledge of a God and his absolute power over them put all men everywhere upon thoughts of religion who have but reflected on their own original, or the constitution of the visible things of nature, to any degree beyond brutes, and though morality be acknowledged by them all to be a great part of that wherein God may be offended or pleased with us, yet morality being that law which God hath implanted in the nature of man to preserve the being and welfare of himself and other men in this world, a great part of it has fallen under the magistrate’s care, to whom the government of civil societies is committed, as the greatest means of the preservation of mankind in this world; and though men are persuaded that the observance of that law is a means also of pleasing, or displeasing God, and so a means too of procuring happiness or misery in another world, yet it has not passed under the name of religion, which has been appropriated to those actions only which are referred wholly to the pleasing or displeasing God without concerning at all my neighbour, civil society, or my own preservation in this life. For my praying to God in this or that fashion, or using any other ceremony in religion, or speculative opinions concerning things of another life, entrenches not at all upon the health or possession, good name, or any other right of my neighbour which serves to his well-being or preservation in this world. Religion being, then, those opinions and actions done, which I entertain and perform only to please God, and such as have no concernment at all with my neighbour, or the interest or affairs of this world, though many of these are outward and visible to others, are not within the civil magistrate’s inspection and care, whose proper province is only civil society, in order to men’s well being in this world.
This being the notion that men have had of religion as a transaction immediately betwixt God and them for the procuring his favour without concerning civil society at all, it has yet put men upon the necessity of uniting into societies about it, there being many parts of it that could not be performed in the solitary recesses of a retired man. For men, finding it their duty to honour and worship the God they served, were to do it by public acts of devotion, owning to the world thereby that deity by solemn acts of worship to whom they paid the internal acts of veneration in their hearts. And ’twas for this that men were obliged to enter into societies for religion, with those who were of the same belief and way of worship with themselves. The Christian religion, when it came into the world, proceeded upon the same grounds, and laid on its followers a necessity of public worship upon the same account, adding others which other religions did not so manifestly concern themselves in: and those were the particular edification of the members, and the preservation and propagation of its truth. But though Christian religion made it the duty of its followers to unite into societies for public worship, profession, and propagation of its doctrines, and edification of one another, yet it nowhere required or concerned the assistance or power of the civil magistrate in making or regulating those societies, not only because force and the sword and the proper instruments of the magistrate are altogether uncapable to convince men’s minds, and bring them to the belief of the truth of any religion, but because it was like[ly] to go very ill with the true religion in the world, if it had been put into the power of the magistrate to determine what religion men should be of; and therefore our Saviour and the apostles in the first institution and propagation took great care of this, to keep theirs within the strict limits of religion, and to have nothing at all to do with secular affairs, or civil societies, and therefore left particular and peremptory commands to all that entered into it, to think themselves still under, and carefully pay all, the duties they owed their fathers, masters, and magistrates and all other relations that they did before, not so much as prescribing to its followers a set form of government in their religious societies but leaving them to that latitude therein, that they might be at liberty to make use of their prudence to accommodate it so as they should judge might best suit with the circumstances they are in.
This then being the present state of religion in the world, man is still as he ever was at liberty in reference to the civil magistrate to choose what religion he judges the likeliest for the salvation of his soul, and so to unite into religious (or as they are called) church societies about it. (For religious societies in contradistinction to the civil, are called churches, as the others are called states), it not being in the magistrate’s power to force any man to be of this or that religion, or to choose for him whether his way to please God and be saved be to be a Christian, Mahumetan, Jew, or Gaurr.84 And as little can a Christian magistrate prescribe to him that is a Christian whether he shall be a Papist, Lutheran, or Calvinist, or command him to be of any other particular distinct Christian society, it being the privilege of every Christian as well as every man to choose of what religious societies he will be for the salvation of his soul.
These religious societies (at least among Christians) are called churches, which are only voluntary societies which men by their own consent enter into for the ends of religion above mentioned; [they] can have no other government than that which the society itself shall agree of over its own members, it being necessary to every society that has anything to do to have some order, and some distinction of offices amongst them and some laws to govern the members of that society. But these can reach none but those that are actual members of that society, which, if they will not submit to [it], the utmost power they have is [to] turn them out of the society, and to deny them the privileges of communicating with it. And, on the other side, as he entered freely into the society for the professing of the truth, the worshipping of God, and his edification, [so he] may quit again, when he thinks the constitution of that society serves not to those ends, or not so well as that of some other. For if I had the liberty to choose into what religious society I would at first enter into for the salvation of my own soul, I am for the same reason always at liberty to quit it again, when I judge it serves not to those ends, or not so well as another; nor let any man say that this is a principle that will make men change their religious societies, or religion, upon every fancy and slight occasion, for if we consider what difficulty it is for a man to quit the conversation and esteem of those he hath lived in society with, to be abandoned and cast out by his friends, relations and party, the credit a man has among them being that which is observed to be the thing which governs mankind more than any other; and, on the other side, with what suspicions a new convert is received into the church he enters into; and the reputation he meets with on all hands of an unsteady if not irreligious person, and an affecter of novelty and change; these, and a thousand inconveniences, do so necessarily attend men in the changing their religion or churches (even where the authority of the magistrate imposes not), have so great an influence upon men that I think those alone keep a very great part of men so fixed to their church communion; and we see the Jews in all countries, Christians in Asia and Africa, Mahumetan slaves in Christendom, Protestants in Papist, and Papists in Protestant countries do not so slightly change their religions, though they have not only the free leave of the magistrate but his encouragement to do it; and yet many of these, if their true reasons were known, would be found to be restrained by those outward considerations, and ’tis certain that those who are in earnest governed by the salvation of their souls and hopes of heaven would be much less given to change.
A strong and firm persuasion of any proposition relating to religion for which a man hath either no or not sufficient proofs from reason but receives them as truths wrought in the mind extraordinarily by God himself and influences coming immediately from him, seems to me to be enthusiasm, which can be no evidence or ground of assurance at all nor can by any means be taken for knowledge.85 (If such groundless thoughts as these concern ordinary matters, and not religion, possess the mind strongly, we call it raving, and everyone thinks it a degree of madness, but in religion men accustomed to the thoughts of revelation make a greater allowance to it, though indeed it be a more dangerous madness, but men are apt to think that in religion they may and ought to quit their reason.)86 For I find that Christians, Mahumetans, and Bramins87 all pretend to it (and I am told the Chineses too). But ’tis certain that contradictions and falsehoods cannot come from God, nor can anyone that is of the true religion be assured of anything by a way whereby those of a false religion may be and are equally confirmed in theirs.88 (Enthusiasm is a fault in the mind opposite to brutish sensuality,89 as far in the other extreme, exceeding the just measures of reason as thoughts grovelling only in matter and things of sense come short of it.) For the Turkish dervises90 pretend to revelations, ecstasies, vision, rapture, to be swallowed up and transported with illuminations of God, discoursing with God, seeing the face of God, vide Ricaut 216 (i.e., Of the Ottoman Empire, folio, London 70, 1. 2, c. 13, etc.)91 and the jaugis92 amongst the Hindous talk of being illuminated and entirely united to God: Bernier 173 (i.e., Memoires, Tome 3, 8vo, London 72) p. 36,93 as well as the most spiritualised Christians.94
It is to be observed concerning these illuminations that, how clear soever they may seem, they carry no knowledge nor certainty any farther than there are proofs of the truth of those things that are discovered by them and so far they are parts of reason and have the same foundation with other persuasions in a man’s mind and whereof his reason judges, and if there be no proofs of them they can pass for nothing but mere imaginations of the fancy, how clearly soever they appear to, or acceptable they may be to, the mind, for ’tis not the clearness of the fancy, but the evidence of the truth of the thing which makes the certainty. He that should pretend to have a clear sight of a Turkish paradise and of an angel sent to direct him thither might perhaps have a very lively imagination of all this, but it altogether no more proved that either there were such a place or that an angel had the conduct of him thither than if he saw all this in colours well drawn by a painter, these two pictures being no more different (as to the assurance of anything resembled by them) than that one is a fleeting draught in the imagination, the other a lasting one on a sensible body.
That which makes all these pretences to supernatural illumination farther to be suspected to be merely the effect and operation of the fancy is that all the preparation and ways used to dispose the mind to these illuminations and make it capable of them are such as are apt to disturb and depress the rational power of the mind, but to advance and set on work the fancy, such are fasting, solitude, intense and long meditation on the same thing, opium, intoxicating liquors, long and vehement turning round, etc., all which are used by some or other of those who would attain to those extraordinary discoveries as fit preparations of the mind to receive them, all which do naturally weaken or disturb the rational faculty and thereby let loose the imagination and thereby make the mind less steady in distinguishing betwixt truth and fancy, but [rather] mistake [them] as crazy, weak, drunken or mad men do, one for the other.
I do not remember that I have read of any enthusiasts amongst the Americans95 or any who have not pretended to a revealed religion, as all those before mentioned do; which if so it naturally suggests this inquiry: whether those that found their religion upon revelation do not from thence take occasion to imagine that since God has been pleased by revelation to discover to them the general precepts of their religion, they that have a particular interest in his favour have reason to expect that he will reveal himself to them if they take the right way to seek it, in those things that concern them in particular in reference to their conduct, state, or comfort. But of this I shall conclude nothing till I shall be more fully assured in matter of fact.
Hooker’s description of the church, lib. I, §15,96 amounts to this: that it is a supernatural but voluntary society wherein a man associates himself to God, angels, and holy men. The original of it, he says, is the same as of other societies, viz., an inclination unto sociable life, and a consent to the bond of association, which is the law and order they are associated in. That which makes it supernatural is that part of the bond of their association [which] is a law revealed concerning what worship God would have done unto him, which natural reason could not have discovered. So that the worship of God, so far forth as it hath anything in it more than the law of reason doth teach, may not be invented of men. From whence I think it will follow:
First, that the church being a supernatural society, and a society by consent, the secular power, which is purely natural, nor any other power, can compel one to be of any particular church society, there being many such to be found.
Second, that the end of entering into such society being only to obtain the favour of God by offering him an acceptable worship, nobody can impose any ceremonies unless positively and clearly by revelation enjoined, any farther than everyone who joins in the use of them is persuaded in his conscience they are acceptable to God; for if his conscience condemns any part of unrevealed worship, he cannot by any sanction of men be obliged to it.
Third, that since a part only of the bond of this association is a revealed law, this part alone is unalterable, and the other, which is human, depends wholly upon consent, and so is alterable, and a man is held by such laws, or to such a particular society, no longer than he himself doth consent.
Fourth, I imagine that the original of this society is not from our inclination, as he says, to a sociable life, for that may be fully satisfied in other societies, but from the obligation man, by the light of reason, finds himself under, to own and worship God publicly in the world.
The Jews, the Romanists and the Turks,97 who all three pretend to guide themselves by a law revealed from heaven which shows them the way to happiness, do yet all of them have recourse very frequently to tradition as a rule of no less authority than their written law. Whereby they seem to allow, that the divine law (however God be willing to reveal it) is not capable to be conveyed by writing to mankind distant in place, time, languages, and customs, and so through the defect of language, no positive law of righteousness can be that way conveyed sufficiently and with exactness to all the inhabitants of the earth in remote generations, and so must resolve all into natural religion, and that light which every man has born with him.98 Or else they give occasion to enquiring men to suspect the integrity of their priests and teachers, who unwilling that the people should have a standing known rule of faith and manners, have for the maintenance of their own authority foisted in another of tradition, which will always be in their own power to be varied and suited to their own interest and occasions.
And if any person shall abuse or deride any other for his different persuasion and practice in matters of religion, such shall be looked on as a disturber of the peace and be punished accordingly.99
Matter of perpetual prosecution and animosity.
Whosoever shall speak loosely and profanely of Almighty God, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the scriptures of truth, shall pay five shillings or five days imprisonment.
Q. What is loosely or profanely?
Adultery to be punished with twelve months imprisonment in the house of correction, and longer if the chief magistrate think meet.
[. . .]
Erect and order all public schools.
The surest check upon liberty of consciences, suppressing all displeasing opinions in the end.
1. We think nothing necessary to be known or believed for salvation but what God hath revealed.
2. We therefore embrace all those who in sincerity receive the word of truth revealed in the Scripture and obey the light which enlightens every man that comes into the world.
3. We judge no man in meats, or drinks, or habits, or days, or any other outward observances, but leave everyone to his freedom in the use of those outward things which he thinks can most contribute to build up the inward man in righteousness, holiness, and the true love of God and his neighbour in Christ Jesus.
4. If anyone find any doctrinal part of Scripture difficult to be understood, we recommend him: (i) the study of the Scripture in humility and singleness of heart; (ii) prayer to the Father of lights to enlighten him; (iii) obedience to what is already revealed to him, remembering that the practice of what we do know is the surest way to more knowledge, our infallible guide having told us, if any man will do the will of him that sent me, he shall know of the doctrine (John 7:17); (iv) we leave him to the advice and assistance of those whom he thinks best able to instruct him. No men, or society of men, having any authority to impose their opinions or interpretations on any other, [even] the meanest Christian; since in matters of religion everyone must know and believe, and give an account for himself.
5. We hold it to be an indispensable duty for all Christians to maintain love and charity in the diversity of contrary opinions. By which charity we do not mean an empty sound, but an effectual forbearance and good will, carrying men to communion, friendship and mutual assistance one of another, in outward as well as spiritual things. And by dehorting100 all magistrates from making use of their authority, much less their sword (which was put into their hands only against evil doers) in matters of faith or worship.
6. Since the Christian religion we profess is not a notional science, to furnish speculation to the brain or discourse to the tongue, but a rule of righteousness to influence our lives, Christ having given himself to redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people zealous of good works (Titus 2:14), we profess the only business of our public assemblies to be to exhort, thereunto, and laying aside all controversy and speculative questions, instruct and encourage one another in the duty of a good life, which is acknowledged to be the great business of true religion, and to pray God for the assistance of his spirit for the enlightening of our understanding and subduing our corruptions, that so we may perform unto him a reasonable and acceptable service and show our faith by our works. Proposing to ourselves and others the example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as the great pattern for our imitation.
7. One alone being our master, even101 Christ, we acknowledge no masters of our assembly; but if any man in the spirit of love, peace, and meekness, has a word of exhortation we hear him.
8. Nothing being so opposite, or having proved so fatal to unity, love and charity, the first and great characteristical duties of Christianity, as men’s fondness of their own opinions, and their endeavours to set them up and have them followed, instead of the Gospel of peace; to prevent these seeds of dissention and division, and maintain unity in the difference of opinions which we know cannot be avoided, if anyone appear contentious, abounding in his own sense rather than in love, and desirous to draw followers after himself, with destruction or opposition to others, we judge him not to have learned Christ as he ought, and therefore not fit to be a teacher of others.
9. Decency and order in our assemblies being directed, as they ought, only to edification, can need but very few and plain rules. Time and place of meeting being settled, if anything else, need regulation; the assembly itself, or four of the ancientest, soberest and discreetest of the brethren, chosen for that occasion, shall regulate it.
10. From every brother that after admonition walketh disorderly, we withdraw ourselves.
11. We each of us think it our duty to propagate the doctrine and practice of universal charity, good will, and obedience in all places, and on all occasions, as God shall give us opportunity.
There were two sorts of teachers amongst the ancients. [First,] those who professed to teach them the arts of propitiation and atonement, and these were properly their priests, who for the most part made themselves the mediators betwixt the gods and men, wherein they performed all or the principal part, at least nothing was done without them. The laity had but a small part in the performance, unless it were in the charge102 of it, and that was wholly theirs. The chief, at least the essential, and sanctifying part of the ceremony, was always the priests’, and the people could do nothing without them. The ancients had another sort of teachers, who were called philosophers. These led their schools, and professed to instruct those who would apply to them in the knowledge of things and the rules of virtue. These meddled not with the public religion, worship, or ceremonies, but left them entirely to the priests, as the priests left the instruction of men in natural and moral knowledge wholly to the philosophers. These two parts or provinces of knowledge, thus under the government of two distinct sorts of men, seem to be founded upon the supposition of two clearly distinct originals, viz., revelation and reason. For the priests never for any of their ceremonies or forms of worship pleaded reason; but always urged their sacred observances from the pleasure of the gods, antiquity, and tradition, which at last resolves all their established rites into nothing but revelation.103 The philosophers, on the other side, pretended to nothing but reason in all that they said, and from thence owned104 to fetch all their doctrines; though how little their lives answered their own rules, whilst they studied ostentation and vanity rather than solid virtue, Cicero tells us, Tusc. Quest., 1. 2, c. 4.105
Jesus Christ, bringing by revelation from heaven the true religion to mankind, reunited these two again, religion and morality, as the inseparable parts of the worship of God, which ought never to have been separated, wherein for the obtaining the favour and forgiveness of the deity, the chief part of what man could do consisted in a holy life, and little or nothing at all was left to outward ceremony, which was therefore almost wholly cashiered106 out of this true religion, and only two very plain and simple institutions introduced,107 all pompous rites being wholly abolished, and no more of outward performances commanded but just so much as decency and order required in the actions of public assemblies. This being the state of this true religion coming immediately from God himself, the ministers of it, who also call themselves priests, have assumed to themselves the parts both of the heathen priests and philosophers, and claim a right not only to perform all the outward acts of the Christian religion in public, and to regulate the ceremonies to be used there, but also to teach men their duties of morality towards one another and towards themselves, and to prescribe to them in the conduct of their lives.
The great division amongst Christians is about opinions. Every sect has its set of them, and that is called orthodoxy. And he who professes his assent to them, though with an implicit faith and without examining, he is orthodox and in the way to salvation. But if he examines, and thereupon questions any one of them, he is presently suspected of heresy, and if he oppose them or hold the contrary, he is presently condemned as in a damnable error, and [in] the sure way to perdition. Of this, one may say that there is, nor can be, nothing more wrong. For he that examines and upon a fair examination embraces an error for a truth, has done his duty, more than he who embraces the profession (for the truths themselves he does not embrace) of the truth without having examined whether it be true or no. And he that has done his duty, according to the best of his ability, is certainly more in the way to heaven than he who has done nothing of it. For if it be our duty to search after truth, he certainly that has searched after it, though he has not found it in some points, has paid a more acceptable obedience to the will of his maker, than he that has not searched at all, but professes to have found truth when he has neither searched nor found it. For he that takes up the opinions of any church in the lump, without examining them, has truly neither searched after, nor found, truth, but has only found those that he thinks have found truth, and so receives what they say with an implicit faith, and so pays them the homage that is due only to God, who cannot be deceived, nor deceive.108
In this way the several churches (in which, as one may observe, opinions are preferred to life,109 and orthodoxy is that which they are concerned for, and not morals) put the terms of salvation in that which the author of our salvation does not put them in. The believing of a collection of certain propositions, which are called and esteemed fundamental articles, because it has pleased the compilers to put them into their confession of faith, is made the condition of salvation. But this believing is not, in truth, believing, but a profession to believe; for it is enough to join with those who make the same profession; and ignorance or disbelief of some of those articles is well enough borne, and a man is orthodox enough and without any suspicion, till he begins to examine. As soon as it is perceived that he quits the implicit faith expected though disowned by the church, his orthodoxy is presently questioned and he is marked out for a heretic. In this way of an implicit faith, I do not deny but a man who believes in God the Father Almighty and that Jesus Christ is his only Son our Lord, may be saved, because many of the articles of every sect are such as a man may be saved without the explicit belief of. But how the several churches who place salvation in no less than a knowledge and belief of their several confessions, can content themselves with such an implicit faith in any of their members, I must own I do not see. The truth is, we cannot be saved without performing something which is the explicit believing of what God in the Gospel has made absolutely necessary to salvation to be explicitly believed, and sincerely to obey what he has there commanded. To a man who believes in Jesus Christ, that he is sent from God to be the saviour of the world, the first step to orthodoxy is a sincere obedience to his law.
Objection: But ’tis an ignorant day-labourer, that cannot so much as read, and how can he study the Gospel and become orthodox that way?110 Answer: a ploughman that cannot read is not so ignorant but he has a conscience, and knows in those few cases which concern his own actions, what is right and what is wrong. Let him sincerely obey this light of nature, it is the transcript of the moral law in the Gospel; and this, even though there be errors in it, will lead him into all the truths in the Gospel that are necessary for him to know. For he that in earnest believes Jesus Christ to be sent from God, to be his Lord and ruler, and does sincerely and unfeignedly set upon a good life as far as he knows his duty; and where he is in doubt in any matter that concerns himself he cannot fail to enquire of those better skilled in Christ’s law, to tell him what his Lord and master has commanded in the case, and desires to have his law read to him concerning that duty which he finds himself concerned in, for the regulation of his own actions. For as for other men’s actions, what is right or wrong as to them, that he is not concerned to know; his business is to live well himself and do what is his particular duty. This is knowledge and orthodoxy enough for him, which will be sure to bring him to salvation, an orthodoxy which nobody can miss who in earnest resolves to lead a good life. And, therefore, I lay it down as a principle of Christianity that the right and only way to saving orthodoxy is the sincere and steady purpose of a good life.
Ignorant of many things contained in the Holy Scriptures we are all. Errors also concerning doctrines delivered in Scripture, we have all of us not a few. These, therefore, cannot be damnable, if any shall be saved. And if they are dangerous, ’tis certain the ignorant and illiterate are safest, for they have the fewest errors that trouble not themselves with speculations above their capacities, or beside their concern. A good life in obedience to the law of Christ their Lord is their indispensable business, and if they inform themselves concerning that, as far as their particular duties lead them to enquire and oblige them to know, they have orthodoxy enough, and will not be condemned for ignorance in those speculations which they had neither parts,111 opportunity, nor leisure to know. Here we may see the difference between the orthodoxy required by Christianity, and the orthodoxy required by the several sects, or as they are called, churches of Christians. The one is explicitly to believe what is indispensably required to be believed as absolutely necessary to salvation, and to know and believe in the other doctrines of faith delivered in the word of God, as a man has opportunity, helps and parts; but112 to inform himself in the rules and measures of his own duty as far as his actions are concerned, and to pay a sincere obedience to them. But the other, viz., the orthodoxy required by the several sects, is a profession of believing the whole bundle of their respective articles set down in each church’s system, without knowing the rules of everyone’s particular duty, or requiring a sincere or strict obedience to them. For they are speculative opinions, confessions of faith that are insisted on in the several communions; they must be owned and subscribed to, but the precepts and rules of morality and the observance of them, I do not remember there is much notice taken of, or any great stir made about a collection or observance of them, in any of the terms of church communion. But it is also to be observed, that this is much better fitted to get and retain church members than the other way, and is much more suited to that end, as much as it is easier to make profession of believing a certain collection of opinions that one never perhaps so much as reads, and several whereof one could not perhaps understand if one did read and study; (for no more is required than a profession to believe them, expressed in an acquiescence that suffers one not to question or contradict any of them), than it is to practise the duties of a good life in a sincere obedience to those precepts of the Gospel wherein his actions are concerned: precepts not hard to be known by those who are willing and ready to obey them.
Scriptures for Toleration
Tolerantia Pro. Matthew 5:43–8, 7:24–7, Luke 6:27–8; Romans 12:14, 20–1; 1 Peter 3:9, Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 4:12–13; Galatians 5:9–10; Deuteronomy 14:21, 15:3, 23:19–20, 28:43, Exodus 22:21, 33:9; Leviticus 19:10; Jeremiah 7:6, 22:3, Zachariah 7:10, Malachi 3:5, Deuteronomy 10:18, 21:14.113
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[1. ]James Farr has published a persuasive case for Locke’s authorship of the discourse on Carolina, which appeared in John Ogilby’s atlas, America (London, 1671). Promotional in nature, the discourse describes the manifold advantages of life in Carolina and summarizes the Constitutions of Carolina. See James Farr, “Locke, ‘Some Americans,’ and the Discourse on ‘Carolina,’” Locke Studies, 9 (2009), 19–96.
[1. ]The Ten Commandments were delivered on Mount Sinai, and the Sermon on the Mount at the Mount of Olives.
[2. ]Matthew 8:23–27.
[3. ]Matthew 16:18–22.
[4. ]1 Corinthians 11:14.
[5. ]1 Corinthians 14:40.
[6. ]indifferent: see note 75, p. 33.
[7. ]enthusiasm: see note 50, p. 124.
[8. ]A new article 96 was inserted in the published 1670 version which is absent in the manuscript: “As the country comes to be sufficiently planted and distributed into fit divisions, it shall belong to the parliament to take care for the building of churches, and the public maintenance of divines, to be employed in the exercise of religion, according to the Church of England, which, being the only true and orthodox, and the national religion of all the king’s dominions, is so also of Carolina, and therefore it alone shall be allowed to receive public maintenance by grant of parliament.” Pierre Des Maizeaux stated that Locke did not approve of this clause (A Collection of Several Pieces of Mr. John Locke, 1720, p. 42).
[9. ]plant: settle.
[10. ]professor: one who proclaims or follows a religion.
[11. ]“Church of England”: the manuscript has “Protestant and Papist churches.”
[12. ]sensible: apprehensible to the senses.
[13. ]This passage seeks to exclude “Nicodemism,” the notion that it is legitimate to keep one’s religious allegiance secret. Some Protestant sects were suspected of this, and Catholics were accused of permitting dissimulation in their relations with heretics. The term derives from John 3:1–2.
[14. ]In law, a riot was not necessarily violent, merely an unlawful assembly.
[15. ]The first two paragraphs are Locke’s summary of Parker’s argument in his Discourse of Ecclesiastical Politie. Samuel Parker (1640–88) was chaplain to Archbishop Sheldon, 1667–72, and bishop of Oxford, 1686–88.
[16. ]The extracts in italics are from Parker’s Discourse, to which Locke responds. The initials of the interlocutors have been inserted at the beginning of each paragraph.
[17. ]allowed: accepted, agreed with.
[18. ]want: lack.
[19. ]“they presently conclude”: they [the dissenters] now include.
[20. ]jure naturali: by natural right.
[21. ]Hobbes, because of the arguments in bks. 3 and 4 of Leviathan (1651), was taken to be the extreme exponent of the submission of religion to the civil power.
[22. ]The numeration and repetition of the headings “state” and “church” are not in the manuscript; instead, the paragraphs appear in parallel columns, headed “Civil Society or the State” and “Religious Society or the Church.”
[23. ]circa quam: about which.
[24. ]bating: excepting.
[25. ]without: outside, outwith.
[26. ]“it is equity”: it is equitable that.
[27. ]The Electors of Brandenburg were Calvinist, but many of their subjects were Lutheran.
[28. ]Anabaptist: Baptist.
[29. ]Locke had visited Cleves (Kleve), part of the duchy of Brandenburg, in 1665–66 and had been impressed that religious pluralism and civil peace could subsist together.
[30. ]fide aut cultu: faith or worship.
[31. ]verge: sphere, domain.
[32. ]The first Christian emperor, who converted ca. 313.
[33. ]fact: deed.
[34. ]There was a widespread fear among Protestants in the late seventeenth century that, Europe-wide, their religion was contracting in the face of Catholic advances.
[35. ]Locke reverses a common argument among Anglicans hostile to toleration that the fragmentation of Protestantism into diverse denominations weakened the common cause against popery and that such fragmentation was promoted by Catholics on the “divide and rule” principle.
[36. ]Locke’s tolerationism was no bar to disdain for what he saw as the wilder shores of Christianity.
[37. ]This text is set out as a series of queries.
[38. ]Before the nineteenth century, many Catholics believed that infallibility lay in the general council of the church rather than personally in the pope. During the late Middle Ages, the conciliar movement involved a debate whether Catholic truth lay in the collective body of the church and not in councils at all (“the church diffusive”) and whether councils should have priests as well as bishops present.
[39. ]chorepiscopy: a country bishop in the early church; a suffragan bishop serving the hinterland of a city.
[40. ]in rebus fidei: in matters of faith.
[41. ]One of each of these pairs (whose names I have anglicized) is deemed by the Catholic Church to be an antipope; these popes reigned between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries.
[42. ]Jacques Gaultier, Table chronographique de l’estat du Christianisme (Lyon, 1609).
[43. ]Both were editions of the Vulgate (Latin) Bible, which alone was authorized for use in the Catholic Church, but the 1590 text was found to be faulty.
[44. ]Concerning the Simoniacal Election of the Pope (1505).
[45. ]Reigned 1585–90.
[46. ]Louis D’Este (1538–86).
[47. ]Philip III (r. 1598–1621) was king of Spain in 1599; it is not clear if the account here is accurate.
[48. ]Here and in the next paragraph Locke alludes to the Catholic principle of “defect of intention,” whereby an action may be deemed null if the agent did not intend what was outwardly done. (Annulments of marriage today are often made on this ground.) Protestants regarded the notion as a slippery and dangerous piece of casuistry.
[49. ]The Council of Trent (1545–63) launched the Counter-Reformation.
[50. ]Henri Justel, Bibliotheca juris canonici veteris (Paris, 1661).
[51. ]The Roman Inquisition compiled an index of banned books. In due course, Locke’s books were placed on it.
[52. ]A standard charge was that Catholics forged and altered manuscript evidence. The most famous case was the “Donation of Constantine,” a document in which the emperor Constantine had allegedly conferred imperial authority on the papacy. In the fifteenth century Lorenzo Valla demonstrated it to be a forgery.
[53. ]Andrés de Vega (1498–1549) and Domingo de Soto (ca. 1495–1560).
[54. ]Locke had been at Orange in December; the city gave its name to the Dutch princes of Orange but was seized by France in 1660. The second Protestant church at Nîmes was demolished in 1664.
[55. ]Officials of the local parlement.
[56. ]go over: convert to Catholicism. Locke elsewhere argues that persecution generally fails in its aim of conversion.
[57. ]States: the provincial assembly of Estates.
[58. ]Protestant deputies had in fact long been excluded.
[59. ]Pierre de Bonzi (1631–1703), archbishop of Narbonne, president of the Estates.
[60. ]Joanne de Gévaudan, who later married the comte de Ganges.
[61. ]Most of the final two sentences are written in shorthand.
[62. ]vented: gave outlet or expression to.
[63. ]Arian: see note 68, p. 30.
[64. ]owned: acknowledged, confessed.
[65. ]consistory: in Calvinist churches, a court of presbyters.
[66. ]Compare these remarks on excommunication with those Locke makes in the Letter Concerning Toleration, p. 19.
[67. ]Monks of the Carthusian order, whose monasteries are called charterhouses.
[68. ]René d’Anjou (d. 1480), king of Sicily and count of Provence.
[69. ]A standard element in Protestant fears of a Catholic restoration in England was that all medieval monastic and church lands, now in the hands of the laity, would be forcibly returned to the church. At his accession in 1685, James II specifically repudiated any such plan.
[70. ]Three Carthusian monks were martyred in 1535.
[71. ]The restriction was initially decreed in 1669. This entry is in shorthand.
[72. ]Catholic ignorance of Scripture was a Protestant commonplace. The entry is in shorthand.
[73. ]John 2.
[74. ]Compulsory quartering of soldiers on private citizens was a familiar form of intimidation and a prime signifier of tyrannous state power. This report presages the dragonnades, by which troops were used to enforce conversion. See note 17, p. 11. Écu: a silver coin worth three francs.
[75. ]Colossians 3:18–22.
[76. ]Quotation marks have been added to remarks that Locke attributes to an imaginary interlocutor.
[77. ]issue: surgical incision.
[78. ]Ammonites: an ancient people in conflict with the Israelites.
[79. ]John 21:16. The phrase occurs again in texts below.
[80. ]“Thus Atticus has argued, concerning which see.” Locke refers to his Essay Concerning Toleration, signed “Atticus.”
[81. ]Sir John Finch (1626–82), ambassador at Constantinople, 1672–82. His nephew, Daniel Finch, later second Earl of Nottingham, was a promoter of comprehension, i.e., reform of the Church of England in order to readmit moderate dissenters.
[82. ]John Covel (1638–1722), Church of England chaplain at Constantinople, later Master of Christ’s College, Cambridge, Locke’s source for this story.
[83. ]discovering: revealing.
[84. ]Gaurr: probably a variant of Giaour, a Turkish word for infidels.
[85. ]The passage in parentheses was originally an addition in the margin of the manuscript.
[86. ]Damaris Masham (1658–1708), who was brought up among the Cambridge Platonists, and to whom Locke sent these remarks on enthusiasm, responded in defense of spiritual experience. While, she said, it is true “that the proud and fantastic pretences of the conceited melancholists of this age to divine communion had indeed prejudiced many very intelligent persons against the belief of any such thing, they looking upon it but as a high-flown notion of warm imagination,” yet it remains possible to believe that God “affords his intimacies and converses to the better souls” and that “the divine spirit does afford its sensible presence and immediate beatific touch to some persons.” Letter to Locke, 20 April 1682.
[87. ]Locke elides Brahmins with Hindus.
[88. ]The passage in parentheses was originally an addition in the margin of the manuscript.
[89. ]Contemporary religious psychology posited a polarity between, at one extreme, ascetic mysticism, and at the other, sensual superstition; the true Christian was admonished to seek a middle way.
[90. ]Dervises: dervishes, Muslim mendicants, fakirs.
[91. ]Sir Paul Rycaut, Present State of the Ottoman Empire (1667; 3rd ed., 1670).
[92. ]Jaugis: yogis, Hindu ascetics.
[93. ]François Bernier, The History of the Late Revolution of the Empire of the Great Mogul (1671).
[94. ]In response, Masham insists that there are “sincere and devout lovers of God and virtue . . . amongst the most barbarous nations and professors of the wildest religions in the world.”
[95. ]Americans: Native Americans.
[96. ]Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie (1594–97), I.xv.2. Compare Locke’s use of Hooker to bolster his arguments in Two Treatises of Government .
[97. ]Turks: Muslims.
[98. ]Locke echoes a common criticism of Catholicism, that, paradoxically, its very reliance on tradition and the infallible teaching of the church, as being necessary to sustain the authority and coherence of Scripture, readily collapses Christianity into deism once those props are doubted.
[99. ]Locke is responding to William Penn’s Frame of Government.
[100. ]dehorting: dissuading.
[101. ]even: namely.
[102. ]charge: cost.
[103. ]In a footnote Locke reproduces a quotation from Cicero, De natura deorum, bk. 3, taken from Pierre Bayle, Pensées diverses (1683), §127.
[104. ]owned: claimed.
[105. ]Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, ii.4.
[106. ]cashiered: dismissed with disgrace.
[107. ]In the Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), chap. 11, Locke says that two things only are required of Christians, faith and repentance, i.e., believing Jesus is the Messiah, and conducting a virtuous life. In the Third Letter for Toleration he refers to the “plain simple truths of the Gospel”; see p. 80, above.
[108. ]Paragraph breaks have been added; they are not in the manuscript.
[109. ]life: conduct of life, morals.
[110. ]In the Reasonableness, chap. 14, Locke insists that the Christian religion must be plain enough for “day-labourers” and “dairy-maids.”
[111. ]parts: abilities.
[112. ]but: the sense requires “and” here.
[113. ]A motif in several of these verses is the treatment of “strangers” (migrants); for instance, Exodus 22:21: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The England and Netherlands of Locke’s time were full of religious refugees.