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to afk it again. Since therefore you afk me a fccond
time, *' what is the beft method to ftudy religion?"
I mud alk you, '' what religion you mean ?'V For if it
be, as I underftood you before, the '* chriflian religion
in its full extent and purity ;" I can make you no other
anfwer but what I did, viz. that " the only way to at-
" tain a certain knowledge of that, is the lludy of the
'* holy fcripture." And myr.afon is, bccaufc the chnf-
tian religion is a revelation from God Almighty, which

X 3 ' i«

3IO Several Letters.

is contained in the bible; and fo all the knonIedp;e we
can have of it muH: be derived from thence, *' But if
" you afk, which is the beft way to get the knowledge
'' of the r>mi(h, huhcran, or reformed religion, of
*' this or that particular church, Szc.'' each whereof
intitks itfelf to be the true chrifUan religion, with fome
kind of exrknion or diminution to the red ; that will
not be hard to tell you. But then it is plain that the
books, that belt teach you any one of thefe do moft
remove you from all the reft ; and in this way of ftudy-
ing, you pitch upon one as the right, before you know
it to be fo ; whereas choice fhould be the refult of
your ftudy of the chriftian religion, in the facrcd fcrip-
tures. And the m.ethod I have propofed would, 1 pre-
fume, bring you the fureft way to that church, which,
I imai^ine, you already think moft conformable to the
word of God.

I find the letter you laft: honoured me with contains a
new queftion, and that a very material one, viz. *' what
*' is the beft way of interpreting the facrcd fcripture?"
Taking " interpreting" to n^can '' underftanding," I
think the bcft way for underftanding the fcripture, or
the New Tcftaincnt, (for of that the queftion will
here be in the firft place) is to read itaiTiduoufty and di-
ligently ; and, if it can be, in the original. I do not
mean, to read everv day fomc certain number of chap-
ters, as is ufiial ; but to read it fo, as to ftudy and c«'»n-
fidcr, and not to leave till you are fatisfied that\ou have
got tbr- true meaning.

'i'o this purpofe, il will be neccflary to take the afTift-
ancc of iiucrpreters and commentators ; fuch as arc
thofe called X\\t critics, and Pool's '' Synopfts Critico-
rum ;" Dr. Hammond on the New Teltament, and Dr.
Whitby, c^.c.

I fliould not think it convenient to multiply books of
this kind, were there any one that I could dircd: you to,
that was infallible. Bur you will not think it ftrange,
if 1 tell you, that after all, you muft make ufe of your
O'vvn judgment ; when you conftder, that it is and always
w'll be, impOihble to'hnd an expolitor, whom you can
blind-fold rely upon, and cannot be miftaken in follow-
ing. Such a relignation as that, is due to the holy


Several Letters. 3 1 1

fcriptiVrcj^ alone ; which were didatcd by the infallible
fpirit of God-

Such writings alfo as Mr. Mede's and Dr. Lightfoot's
$re very much conducing to lead us into a true fenfe of
the facred fcriptures.

As to the method of reading them, order requires
that the four Evangelills fliould, in the firft place, be
well iludied, and thoroughly undcrflood. They all treat-
ing of the fame fubject do give great light to one ano-
ther; and, I think, may" with the greateft- advantage,
be read in hai'monv. To this purpofe, Monficur Le
Clerc's, or Mr. Wh'iflon's '' Harmony of the four Evan-
gelifts," will be of ufe, and fave a great deal of time
and trouble, in turning the bible. They are now both
in engiiHi, and Le Clerc's has a paraphrafe. But if you
would read the Evangelifts in the original, Mr. Lc
Clerc's edition of his '' Harmony" in greek and latin
will be the bed:.

If you 'find that, by this method, you advance in the
knowledge of the gofpel ; when you have laid a founda-
tion there to your fatisfadion, it will not be hard to add
w hat may help you forwards, in the ftudy of other parts
of the New Tellamcnt.

But I have troubled you too much already, for which
i beg your pardon ; and am, &c.

^0 the fame.

Sir, . Gates, 20 January, 1 703-4.

THE fmall acknowledgments I was able to make, for
the honour of your vilit, and enjoyment of your com-
pany here, left 'the debt on my lide, and deferve not the
notice you are pleafed to take of them.

In your obliging letter of the ;3th, you do me fi-
vours, and you thank nae too. If you intend by this a
perfedt acquilition of fo inconfiderable a thing as 1 am,
your worth and virtue difpofe me to be as much at your
fervice as you plcafe; I wilh I found any thing m myfelf
that might promife you any ufefulncfs from me. That
dcfedl Tll^all endeavour to make up the bed I can, w^itli

X 4 apcrfcdl

■^ 1 2 Several Letters,

a peifccl: cllccm, and a readincTs of will; which muft
fupply the want of abilities of doing.

I thank you for the printed paper you fcnt me *, and
am very glad to fee fiich a fpint raifed, for the fupport
and enlargement of religion. Proteftants, 1 think, are
as much concerned now, as ever, to be vigorous in
their joint endeavours for the maintenance of the re-
formation. I Willi all, that call themfelves fo, may be
prevailed with by thofc, whom your paper intimates,
to imitate the zcai, and purfue the principles of thofe
great and pious men, who were inftrumental to bring
us out of darknefs and bondage. I heartily pray
for good fuccefs on all fuch endeavours.

If I may guefs at the intention of the fociety, by the
only man you let me know of it, 1 may be confident that
the glory of God, and the propagation t/f true religion,
is the only aim of it. May God eminently profper all
endeavours that way, aind increafe the number of thofe
who ferioufly lay it to heart.

Sir Francis t, my lady, and the reft 'of this family, re-
turn you their humble fervice. I am, ^:c.


irhich v:et once a zveek, for their improvement in ufeful
hiozvledge, and for the promoting of truth and chrijliaii

T. THAT it begin at fix in the evening, and end at
e\[')\i ; unlefs a majority of two thirds prcfent are in-
clined to rontmueit longer.

II. That no perfon be admitted into this fociety,
without the fuflVage of two thirds of the parties prcfentj
after the perfon, defiring athniflion, hath fub-
imbed to the rules contained in this paper, and anfwer-
ed in ilie afliimativc to the following quellions :

* "An Account of the Society for promoting Chriftian Knowledge."
+ bii Francis Alalliam.

. Whether

Several Letters. 310

T. Whether he loves all men, of what profeflion or
religion Ibever ?

2. Whether he thinks no perfon ought to be harmed
\n his body, name, or goods, for mere fpeculative opi-
nions, or his external way of worfliip ?

3. Whether he loves and feeks truth for truth's fake;
and will endeavour impartially to find and receive it
himfelf, and to communicate it to others ?

III. That no perfon be admitted occaiionally, with-
out a good teftimony from fome of the fociety that
knows him, and he anfwering in the affirmative to the
above-mentioned queftions.

IV. That every member in his courfe, if he pleafc,
be moderator ; (and the courfe here meant, is that of
their lirnames, according to the alphabet) ; whofe care
muft be to keep good order, to propofe the queftion to
be debated, recite what may have been faid to it al-
ready, briefly deliver the fenfc of the queflion, and keep
the parties clofe to it ,- or, if he plcafe, he may name
one to be moderator for him. The queltion for the
enfuing conference to be always agreed, before the com-
pany departs.

V. That no perfon or opinion be unhandfomely re-
fledied on ; but every member behave himfelf with all
the temper, judigment, modefly, and difcrction he is
mafter of.

VI. That every member place himfelf to the left
hand of the moderator, in order, as he happens to come
in; and in his turn fpeak as plainly, diftinclly, and
concifely as he can to the qucilion propofcd, direcfling
his difcourfe to the n^odcrator.

VII. That no more than one perfon fpeak at once;
and none objec^t, till it com.e to his turn to f|-»eak.

VIII. That, the quellion having gone round, if the
time will permit, and the company pleafes, it may be
difcourfed again in the fame order; and no weighty
queflion to be quitted, till a majority of two thirds be
fatished, and are willing to proceed to a new one. That
when a conr.roverfy is not thought, by two thirds of the
company, likely to be ended in a convenient time; then
fhofe two thirds may difmifs it, and, if they pleafe, an-

-^ 1 4 Several Le Iters,

other qucllion may be propofcd. That two thirds of the
company may adjourn the ordinary fubjcdl in qucllion,
for <^ood and fufficicnt rcafons.

IX. That no qucHion be propofed, that is contrary to
religion, civil government, or good manners ; unlefs it
be agreed to debate fuch queftion, merely and only the
t;)clter to confute it.

We whofc names arc here under-written, propofing
to ourfelves an improvement in ufeful knowledge,
and the promoting of truth and Chriflian charity;
by our becoming of this fociety, do hereby declare
our approbation of, and confent to, the rules be-
fore w ritten.

A Letter to Mrs, CQckburn,

THERE was cothing- more public than the obliga-,
lion I received from you, nor any thing more concealed
than the perfon I was obliged to. This is a generolity
above the drain of this groveling age, and like that of
fuperiour fpirits, who aflift without fliowing themfelves.
I ufed my bel\ endeavours to draw from you by your
bookfellcr the confeflion of your name, for want whereof
I could, whilfl: you kept yourfelf under that rcferve, no
more addrefs rnyfelf dircvflly to you with good manners,
than I could have pulled off your malk by force, in a
place where you were rcfolved to conceal yourfelf. Had
not this been fo, the bearer hereof would not the firrt
rime have come to you without a letter from me to ac-
knowledge the favour you had done me. You not af-
fordmg mean opportunity for that, I defigned to make
you {ovwii Imall acknowledgment, in a way that chance
had opened to nie, without your confent. i>ut this
gentleman tranfgrcfted my order in two main points of
jr. The one was in delaying it fo long. The other
was in naming me to you, and talking of matters which
he had no commifiion from mc to mention. What he


)eveyal Lei leys, ^15

deferves from you for it, mufl be left to your mercy.
For I cannot in carncfl: be anijry with him for pro-
curing me, without any guilt of mine, an opportunitv
to own you for my protectrcfs, which is the grcateft ho-
nour my ElTay could have procured me. Give mc leave
therefore to aifure you, that as the rcll: of the world take
notice of the ilrengUi and clcarnefs of your rcafoning, fo
I cannot but be extremely fcnfible that it was employed
in my defence. You have herein not only vanquiflied my
adverfary, but reduced me alfo abfolutely under your
power, and left no delires more flrong in me than thofe
of meeting with fome opportunity to aifure you with
what refpedl: and fubmilTion I am. Madam,

Your mofl: humble,

and mofl obedient fcrvant.

Gates, 30 Dec. 1702. J. Locke.

A Letter from Mr, Loeke to Mr. Samuel Bold,

Sir, Gates, 16 May, 1699.

YGURS of the nth of April I received not till the
lad week. I fuppofe Mr. Churchill fiaid it till that
difcourfe wherein you have been pleafcd to defend my
Eflay was printed, that they might come together,
though neither of them need a companion to recom-
mend it to me. Your reafonings are fo flrong^ nd juiV,
and your friendfliip to me fo vifiblc, that every thing
mufl be welcome to me that comes from your pen,
let it be of what kind foever. I promife myfelf that to all
thofe who are willing to open their eyes and to enlarge
their minds to a true knowledge of things, this little
treatife of yours will be greatly acceptable and ufcful ;
and for thofe who will fliut their eyes for fear they flioiild
fee more than others have (cqw before them, or rather
for fear they fliould make ufe of them, and not blindly
and lazily follow the fayings of others ; what can be


3 1 6 Several Letters,

done to them? They arc to be let alone to join in the
cry of the herd they have placed thenifelves in, and
take that for applaufe which is nothing but the noil'c
that of courfe they make to one another, which way ever
they are going : fo that the greatnefs of it is no manner
of proof that they are in the right. — I fay not this be-
caufe it is a difcourfe wherein you favour any opinions
of mine, (for I take care not to be deceived by the rea-
fonings of my friends) but I fay it from thofe who are
Grangers to you, and who own themfelves to have re-
ceived light and con virion from the clearnefs and clofe-
nefsofyour reafonings, and that in a matter at firft
iif;ht very abftrufe and remote from ordinary concep-
tions. — There is nothing tliat would more rejoice me
than to have you for my neighbour. The advantages
that you promife yourfelf from mine, I Ihould receive
from your converfation. 1 he in^.partial lovers and
fearchers of truth arc a great deal fewer than one could
wifh or imagine. It is a rare thing to find any one to
whom one can communicate one's thoughts freely, and
from v.hom one may expect a careful examination and
impartial judgment of them. To be learned in the
lump by other men's thoughts, and to be in the right by
faying after others, is the much eafier and quicker way ;
but how a rational man that (liould inquire and know
for himfclf, can content himfclf v/ith a faith or religion
taken upon trull, or with fuch a fervile fubmillion of
his underllanding, as to admit all and nothing elfe but
\shat falhion makes at prefent paflable amongfl fomc
men, is to me aflonifliing. I do not wonder that con-
cerning nTany points you fhould have different appre-
hcnfions from what you meet with in authors ; with a
free mind, that unbialfedly purfues truth, it cannpt be
otheruilc ; ifl, beeaufe all authors did not write un-
biallecily for truth's fake ; and, 2dly, becaufe there are
fcarce any two men that have perfectly the fame views
of the fame thing till they come with attention, and
perhaps mutual aifillance, to examine it. A conlidera-
tion that makes converfation with the living much more
delirable and ufeful than confulting the dead, would
the living but be inquifitivc after truth, apply their


Several Letters, 3 1*7

thoughts with attention to the gaining of it, and be
indifferent with whom it was found, fo they could but
find it. The firft requifite to the profiting by books is
not to judge of opinions by the authority of the w riters.
None have the right of didating but God himfclf, and
that bccaufe he is truth itfelf. All others have a right
to be followed as far as I have, and no farther, i. c. as
far as the evidence of what they fay convinces, and of
that u\y own underflanding alone muft be judge for me,
and nothing elfe. If we made our own eyes our own
guides, admitted or rejeded opinions only by the
evidence of reafon, we fliould neither embrace nor rc-
fufe any tenet, becaufe wc find it publiflied by another,
of what name or character focver he was.

You fay you lofe many things becaufe they flip from
you. I have had experience of that rnyfelf, but for
that my lord Bacon has provided a fure remedy. For,
as I remember, he advifes fomewhere never to go with-
out pen and ink, orfomething to write with, and to be
fure not to neglect to write down all thoughts of mo-
ment that come into the mind. I mull own I have
omitted it often, and often repented it. The thoughts
that come often unfought, and, as it were, drop into
the mind, are commonly the mod valuable of any we
have, and therefore Ibould be fee u red, becaufe they
feldom return again.

You fay alfo that you lofe many things, becaufe your
own thoughts are not Heady and ftrong enough to follow
and purfue them to ajufl ilfuc. Give me leave to think
that herein you miftake yourfelf, and your own abilities.
Write down your thoughts upon any point as far as you
have at any time purfued them, and go on with them
again fome other time, when you find your mind dif-
pofed to it, and fo till you have carried them as far as
you can, and you will be convinced that, if you ha\c
loft any, it has not been for want of ftrcngth of mind
to bring them to an iffue, but for want of memory to re-
tain a long train of reafonings which the mind, having
once beat out, is loth to be at the pains to go over
again, and fo the connexion and train having flipped
the memory, the purfuit ftops, and the rcafonmg is nc-


31 8 Several Letters.

gleckd before it comes to the lafl conclufion. If you
have not tried it, you cannot imagine the differrnce
there is in lludying with '.\w^ without a pen in your
hanti. Your ideas, if the connexions of them that vou
have traced be fct down, fo that, without the pains
of rccollce'iinjT them in your memory, you can take an
cafy view of them again, uill lead you farther than you
could exped. \\\\ and tell me if it be not fo. I fay
not this that I lliould not be <T]ad to have anv converfa-
tion with you, upon any points you ilnill employ your
thoughts about. Propofe what you have of this
kind freely, and do not fufpecl it will interfere with
any of my atlairs. Know that bcfides the pleafure it is
tO(onverfe with a thinking man, and a lover of truth,
i fliall profit by it more than you. I'his you would fee
by the frequency of my vifits, if you A\ere w ithin the
reach of them.

That which I think of Deut. xii. 15. is this, that the
rcafon why it is fuid, as the roehuek and the harty is, be-
caufe. Lev. xvii. to prevent idolatry in offering the
blood to other gods, they were commanded to kill all
the cattle that they ate at the door of the Tabernacle, as
a peace-offering, and fprinkle the blood on the altar.
But wild beafls that were clean might be eaten, though
their blood were not offered to God, ver. ii^- becaufe
being commonly killed before they were taken, their
blood could not be fprinkled on the altar, and therefore
it fufficed in fuch cafes to pour out their blood w here-
cver they were killed, and cover it with duff, and for the
fame reafon, when the camp was broken up, wherein
the whole people was in the neighbourliood of the Tabcr-
nacle, during their 40 years paffage from Kgypt to Ca-
naan, and the people were fcattered m their habitations
through all the Land of Promife, thofe who were too
far oir from the Temple were excu fed (Deut. xii. 21,
22.) from killing their tame cattle at Jerufalem and
fprinkling their blood on the altar. No more was re-
quired of them than was required in killing a roebuck,
or any other clean wild beall : they were only to pour
out the blood, and cover it with duff, and fo they
might eat of the tielh.


Several Letters* o j q

Thefe are my thoughts concerning that paflagc.*
What you fay about critics and critical interpretations,
particularly of the holy fcriptures, is not only in my
opinion very true, but of great ufe to be obferved on
reading learned commentators, who not fcldom make
it their bufmefs to fliow in what fcnfe a word has been
ufed by other authors ; whereas the proper bulinefs of
a commentator is barely to fliow in what ^(tn.^^ it was
ufed by the author in that place ; which in the fcripture
Ave have reafon to conclude was mod commonly in the
ordinary vulgar fenfe of that word or phrafc known in
that time, becaufe the books were writ, as you juftly
obferve, and adapted to the people. If the critics had
obferved this, we fhould have had in their works Icfs
oflentation, and more truth, and a great deal of the
darknefs and doubtfulnefs now fpread upon the fcrip-
tures had been avoided. I have had a late proof of this
in myfelf, who have lately found in fome large pafTages
of fcripture a fenfe quite different from what I under-
ftood it in before, and from what I find in commenta-
tors ; and yet it appears fo clear to me, that when I fee
you next I fhall dare to appeal to you in it. But I read
the word of God without prepofTeffion or bias, and come
to it with a refolution to take my fcnfe from it, and not
-with a dcfign to bring it to the fcnfe of my fyftem. How
much that had made men wind and twill and pull the
text in all the feveral feds of chrillians, I need not tell
you. I dcfire to take my religion from the fcriptures,
and then whether it fuits or fuits not any other deno-
mination, I am not much concerned ; for I think at the
laft day it will not be inquired whether I were of the
church of cngland, or church of geneva, but whether I
fought and embraced the truth in the love of it. The
proofs I have fet down in my book, (;f one infinite, in-
dcpentient, eternal Being, fatisiied me ; and the gentle-
man that deli red others, and pretended that the next
proportion to that of the exigence of a felf-fufiicicnt, in-
dependent Being, fuould be this, that fuch a Being is
but one, and that he could prove it antecedent to iiis at-
tributes, v. g. of infinity, omnipotence, &:c. I am
pretty well fatisfied^ pi'etendcd to wh:it he had not, and


270 Sez^eral Letters.

therefore trouble not mvTcIf any farther about that
matter. As to what you f^iy upon this occafion, I
agree with you, that the ideas of the modes and adlions
of fubllances are ufually in our minds before the idea of
fubllance itfelf ; but in this I differ from you, that 1 do
not think the ideas of the operations of things are ante-
cedent to the ideas of their exigence, for they muft exift
before they can any way atted us, or make us fenfiblc
of their operations, and we mull fuppofc them to be
before they operate. My Effay is going to be printed
again ; 1 willi you were near me, that I might fliow you
the feveral alterations and additions I have made, before
they go to the prefs.

The warin weather that begins now with us makes mc
hope 1 Ib.all now fpcedily get to town; if any bufinefs
drawi you thither this fummer, I hope you will order
it fo that I may have a good fliare of your company.
No body values it more than I do ; and I have a great
many things to talk with you. I am. Sir,

Your mo ft affedlionate,

and moft humble Servant,

For Mr. Samuel Bold, J. Locke.

at Steeple.

Gates, April 24, 1696.
Dear Coll,

I SEE by the temper the country is in, (and I doubt
not but there arc thofe who will blow the coal) that if
London does not fel diem a good example, the ad will
be broken through, and clij)ping will be continued upon
us. — 1 am furc the trade goes on as brifk as ever; a
company was lately taken at or about Ware. Somebody
ready, as foon as the day comes, to arrell a goldfmith
that refufed to pay money according to the law, would
fpoil the trick, efpecially if feveral of them were made
examples. — if clipped money once get but currency


Several Letters. 321

in London amongfl thofe blades, but for the firft week
after the 4th of May, I look upon it as irretrievable,
but if it be ftopped there, the reft of the kingdom will
fall into it, efpeclally if receiving clipped money by
weight be introduced. Thefe are at prefent my thoughts,
which I trouble thofe with who I know are able to
make ufe of them, if they may be of any. Duty and
fcrvice from all here.

I am, dear Col, &:c.

J. Locke.

Lord AJhley to Dr, Fell.

S I R, Dec. 8, 1670.

YOU are well acquainted with the kindneffe I have
great reafon to have to Mr. Locke, in whofc behalf I
had prevailed with the duke of Ormond for his af-
fiflance tow ards the attaining his doctor's degree, at the
reception of the prince of Aurange; and I am apt to
think the inllance of your chancellor, and the relation
he has to me, would not have been denied by the uni-
verfiry. But Mr. Locke undcrRanding the provofl of
Eaton declared himfclf, and you, dilTatisfied with it,
has importuned me to give him leave to decline it,
which, upon conference with my worthy friend the
billiop of Rochefter, I have donne, and returned his
grace^s letter, though my lord bifliop of Rochefter
can tell you I could not but complain to him, that your
chapter had not been fo kindc to mc, in Mr. Locke's af-
fairs, as I thought I might jufUy exped, conlidering
him a member of their houfe, having done both my life
and family that fervice I owne from him, and I being
of that quality Lam under his majeftic, under which
title only I pretend to any favour from them. All that
I requeft now, of you and them, is, that lincc he will
not allow me to doe him this kindneife, you will give mc
leave to bcfpeakc your favour for the next faculty place,

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