John Toland.

A new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory online

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Online LibraryJohn TolandA new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory → online text (page 3 of 31)
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and the Gentile; the civilized and the barbarian;
the free-rnan and the bond-slave, are all one in
Christ, however differing in other circumstances."
This treatise was animadverted on, by Messrs.
Mangey and Paterson; and by Dr. Brett.

This year, he also edited a pamphlet, called The
Jiesiiny of Rome; or, the speedy and final des-
truction of the Pope, founded partly on natural
and political reasons, and partly on the famous
prophecy of St. Malachy, archbishop of Armagh,
in the thirteenth century, &;c.

In the beginning of 1720, Dr. Hare pnblislied
the fourth etition of his Visitation Sermon, and
animadverted on Christianity not Mysterious ; as-
serting tliat Mr. Toland often quoted Mr. Locke,
to support notions he never dreamed of. As this
assertion was totally groundless, the doctor had.
Mr. Locke and Mr. Toland on his back at once.
Finding his ground untenable, he published the
following advertisement in the J^aily Courant.

"Just published, the fourth edition of The
Dean of Worcester's Visitation Sermon. In the

]> -2


postscript, line ninth from the end, instead of, is
often quoted, read, makes great use of Mr. Locke's


" London, February 1st, 1720."

Thus the reverend doctor had the contemptible
meanness to shelter a bare-faced falsehood, under
the subterfuge of a typographical error.

This pitiful conduct of Dr. Hare, produced
from Mr. Toland, a pamphlet, entitled, A Short
Essay on the Art of Lying ; or, a Defence of a Re-
verend Dignitary, who suffers under the Persecution
of Mr. Toland for a Lapsus Calami.

About this time, he published Pantheisticon;
sive formula ceUhrandcB Sodalitatis Socraticte, &c.
Some of his enemies pretended this tract was writ-
ten to ridicule the Romish and episcopal liturgies;
and, as it was made up of responses, lessons, a
philosophical canon, and a litany; and the whole
written both in red and black ink, their opinion
is perhaps well founded. Mr. Toland was, at all
times, a rigid advocate for the primitive apostolic
simplicity of the christian religion. This tract,
instead of being a proof of our author's hetero-
doxy, is so far the reverse, that had John Knox
been alive, I am persuaded, he would have thank-
ed him for it. To this treatise, he {iretixed the
name of Janus Junius Eoganesius, which, though
it was his real christian name, and the name of
his country, was as good a disguise as he could
have invented.


A bill having been introduced into the House
of Lords, to make the parliament of Ireland more
dependent on that of Great Britain, Mr. Toland
"wrote a treatise in opposition to that measure.

Some time after he published a book, entitled
Tetradymus: containing Imo. Hodegus; or, the
pillar of cloud and fire that guided the Israelites
in the wilderness, not miraculous, &c. 2do. Cly-
dophorus; or the Exoteric and Esoteric philoso-
phy of the ancients, &c. 3tio. Hypatia; or, the
history of a most beautiful, most virtuous, most
learned, and every way accomplished young lady,
who was torn to pieces by the clergy of Alexan-
dria, to gratify the pride, emulatioh and cruelty,
of their archbishop Cyril, commonly, but, unde-
servedly styled St. Cyril. 4to. Mangoneutes; or,
a defence of Nazarenus, addressed to the right
reverend John, lord bishop of London, against
his lordship's chaplin Dr. Mangey, his dedicator
Mr. Paterson, and the reverend Dr. Brett, once
belonging to his lordship's church.

In this last address to the bishop of London,
Mr. Toland, states the injurious treatment he had
received from Dr. Hare at considerable length •
and concludes with the following account of his
own conduct and sentiments : " Notwithstand-
ing, says he, the imputations of heresy and infide-
lity, so often published by the clergy, as lately, in
the vauntingest manner, by one not unknown to
you; the whifling and the ignorant being ever the


most arrogant and confident, I assure your lord-
ship, that the purity of religion, and the prospe-
rity of the state have ever been my chiefest aim.
Civil liberty, and religious toleration, as the most
desirable things in this world; the most condu-
cing to peace, plenty, knowledge, and every kind
of happiness, have been the two main objects of
all my writings. But, as by liberty, I did not
mean licentiousness ; so, by toleration, I did not
mean indifference, and much less an approbation
of every religion I could suffer. To be more par-
ticular, I solemnly profess to your lordship, that
the religion taught by Jesus Christ and his apos-
tles, but not as since corrupted by the subtrac-
tions, additions, and other alterations of any par-
ticular man, or company of men, is that which I
infinitely prefer before all others. I do over and
over again, repeat Christ and his apostles, exclu-
sive of either oral traditions, or the determinations
of synods, adding, what I declared before to tlie
world, that religion, as it came from their hands,
was no less plain and pure, than useful and in-
structive ; and that, as being the business of every
man, it was equally understood by every body.
For Christ did not institute one religion for the
learned and another for the vulgar," kr.

In 1721, Dr. Hare published a book, entitled
Script t/re Truth vindicated, from the misrepre-'
sentatiotis of the Lord bishop of Bangor, &c. ; and,
ill the preface, takes occasion to obisotve, that


none are prevented from settling in Carolina, but
down-right atheists, such as Mr. Toland; and
most vmjustly asserts, that in some copies of the
Pantheisticon, he inserted a prayer to the follow-
ing effect : Omnipotens et sempiterne JSacche ; qui
humanam societatem tnaxime in hibendo constituisti ;
concede propitius, ut istormn capita, qui hesterna
compotatione gravantur, hodiema leventur; idque
fiat per pocula poadorum. Amen. i. e. "Omnipo-
tent and everlasting Bacchus, who foundesthuman
society principally by drinking, propitiously gi-ant,
that the heads of those which are made heavy by
yesterday's drinking, may be lightened by this
day's, and that by bumper after bumper. Amen."
M. Maizeuz, a Frenchman, and Mr. Toland's
biographer, assures us, that Mr. Toland never
dreamed of such a matter. He assures us, that
he knows the author, but forbears to mention him,
on account of his profession. Indeed, there can
Jiardly be a doubt, that Dr. Hare himself was the

The same year, Mr. Toland publisijed Letters
from tti/e Earl of Shaftesbury to the Lord Viscount
Moleswortlt ^ as also, two letters written by Sir
George Cropsley.

Mr. Toland had these four years past lived at
Putney, whence he could conveniently go to Lon-
don, and return the same day. Being in town
about the middle of December, he found himself
very dl, and an ignorant physician, by his impro-


per prescriptions, very much increased his disor-
der. But he made a shift to return to Putney,
%vhere he grew better, and entertained some hopes
of recovery. In the interval, he wrote two trea-
iiaenhs, the one, entitled, Physic icithout Physicans;
and the other. The Danger of mercenai-y Parlia-
ments. This last, he did not live to finish; for, he
died on Sunday the 11th March, 1722, about four
o'clock in the morning. He behaved himself
throughout the whole course of hie sickness, with
the greatest calmness and fortitude, and looked
on death without the least perturbation of mind t
biding farewell to those about him, and telling
them, he ivas going to fall asleep.

A few days before his death, he composed the
following Epitaph:

H. S. E.


Qui, in Hibernia prope Deriam natus.

In Scotia et Hibernia Studmt,

Quod Oxonii quoque fecit Adolescens;

Atque Genna?iia plus scmel petita,

Tirikm cirea Londinum transegit cetatetn.

Omnium Literarum excultor

Ac Linguarum plus decern Sciens.

Veritatis Propugnator

Liber tatis Assert or:

Nullius autem Seclutor, aut Cliens,

Nee minis, ncc malis est injiexus,

Quin, quam elegit, viam perageret,


Utili honestum anteferens.

SpirUus cum ^thereo Patre,

A. Quo prodiit olim, conjungitur:

Corpus item riaturce cedens.

In Materuo grtemio reponitar.

Ipse vero ceternum est resitrrecturus,

A-t Idemfuturus Tolandtis nunquam.

Natus Nov. 30, 1670.

Ccetera ex Scriptis pete,


" Here lies John Toland, born in Ireland, near
" Londonderry, who in his youth studied in Scot-
" land, Ireland, and at Oxford; and, having re-
" peatedly visited Germany, spent his manhood
" about London. He was a cultivator of every
" kind of learning ; and skilled in more than ten
" languages : the champion of truth, and the as-
" sertor of liberty, but the follower or client of
" none; nor was he ever swayed, either by me-
" naces or misfortunes, from pursuing the path
" which he chalked out to himself, uniformly pre-
" ferring his integrity to his interest. His spirit
" is re-united to his heavenly Father, from whom
" it formerly proceeded ; his body, yielding to na-
" ture, is also re-placed in the bosom of the earth.
*' He himself will undoubtedly arise to eternal life,
" but will never be the same Toland. Born 30th
" November, 1670. Seek the rest from his writ-
" ings."


Mr. Tolanci'fs belief, that he tcill never he the same
Toland, after the Tesun-ectioii, is not heterodox,
though his enemies hare not failed to represent it
in this light. The gospel uniformly declares, that
a considerable change will take place in the human
body at the resurrection, and that we shall all be
changed. Mr. Toland must, therefore, not be con-
sidered as here denying his absolute future identity,
but merely as alluding to that partial change which
the scriptures so clearly point out.

Hitherto I hare almost implicitly followed M.
Mtiizeuz, and, as far as the nature of this abstract
would admit, have adopted his own words, being
w'tAX aware, that by so doing, no body will accuse
me of partiality to Mr. Tolaud. M. Maizeuz was
a Frf nchnian, a friend to popery and arbitrary
power; he did not undertake our author's bio-
graphy voluntarily, nor from any motive of res-
pect. On the contrary, when requested by a
friend of our author s (who was at the same time
the Frenchman's benefactor), to undertake the
task, he positively declined it. A second request,
more peremptory than the first, had the desired
eft'ect. M. Maizeuz has not, in one single instance,
made the slightest allusion to the con)plexion of
tlie times in which Mr. Toland lived, without a
knowledge of which, it is impossible duely to ap-
preciate either his principles, or the scope of his
writings. He seems, however, to have been under
great obligutions to his benefactor, and knowing


him to be a friend of our deceased author, was
obliged to confine himself to matters of fact. But
what Avill place the conduct of M. Maizeuz in a
very favourable point of view, is, that when Mr.
Toland's works were printed at London, in 172G,
M. Maizeuz not only withheld his own name from
his life, but also that of the gentleman at, whose
request it was written.

This gentleman having been guilty of these un-
pardonable omissions, I shall endeavour, as con-
cisely as possible, to remedy the defect, and shall
principally confine myself to Mr. Toland's Chris-
tianity not Mysterious, which has made so much
moise in the world.

Previous to the Reformation, the infallibility of
the Pope in spiritual, and the divine right of kings
in temporal, matters, were carried to the very
highest pitch; and the servile, ignorant, and de-
based state, to which mankind were reduced, by
the operation of these abominable doctrines, is too
well known to need any comment. At the dawn
of the Reformation, a better order of tilings began.
The scriptures were read and studied, and the
monstrous impositions, for more than ten centuries
practised on mankind, clearly displayed. JNeither
the infallibility of the Pope, nor the divine right
of kings, could stand the criterion either of reason
or revelation, and both were discalrded. After a
long stroggh', during more than a ceittury and a
half, our civil and re';j?,ious liberties v/eve efiects-


ally secured by the glorious Revolution, That the
whig interest placed King William on the throne;
and that the tory-party, to a man, were attached
to the cause of the abdicated monarch, are facts
that can admit of no dispute. From the date of
the Revolution, the tories, as far as regarded state
affairs, were obliged to alter their tone. To have
declaimed in support of the indefeasible hereditary
right of kings, would have been a direct insult to
King William, who had encroached on this right,
and might have been construed high-treason. The
toleration act secured all denominations in the
free exercise of their religion. This was another
source of discontent to the tories, who had uni-
formly aimed at religious and exclusive supremacy.

That the tories thwarted King William's mea-
sures, meditated the restoration of the abdicated
monarch, and shook the stability of the protestant
succession for more than half a century, needs no
demonstration. Their absurd tenets, respecting
civil and religious tyranny. Mere founded on a
perversion of the sacred records. With the ex-
ception of the whig-party, all ranks of mankind
were kept in profound ignorance of the di\ine
writings, under pretence of mysttiy and unintelli-
gibility. By these means the bulk of mankind
were blindly led, without using their senses or
their reason.

To drive arbitrary power from this last resource,
Mr. TolanA wrote Christianity not Mysterious.


In this treatise he clearly proves, that man's reason
was not given him, in order to lie dormant. That
if he was allowed to judge for himself in the ordi-
nary occurrences of life, and respecting the phae-
nomena of nature, he cannot be denied the same
privilege, as far as respects matters of religion, and
the principles of Christianity. Mr. Toland was
well aware, that if he could once induce mankind
to read the scriptures Avith impartial attention,
no man's interpretation on earth could mislead

Howe f/er convenient this mode of conduct might
be for the interests of true religion, it was, in fact,
a death blow to popery, which had reared its
monstrouk fabric on ignorance, mystery and super-
stition. The gospel was, by the popish priests, as
carefully kept from the vulgar, as if it had con-
tained the antidote, instead of the means of their
salvation. When Mr. Toland wrote, not one-
fourth of the papulation of the British empire
were allowed to read the scriptures; and, even at
the present day, nearly five millions are denied this
important privilege.

Had Christianity been so intricate and mysteri-
ous, as designing and interested men have repre-
sented it, certainly the twelve apostles were very
ill calculated to propagate the gospel. In many
popish countries, not one of them would have been
considered qualified to read or explain a single
verge of it. That the conduct of Christ, and of his


pretended vicegerents, has been widely different, I
readily admit; but the simple question is this,
" Whether Christ was, or was not, best qualified
ta judge of the nature of the christian system,
and the instruments best calculated to promote it?"

When we have duly weighed Mr, Toland's defi-
nition of the word Mystery, Christianity not Mys-
terious, means no more than Christimdty iutelli-
gible to all Christians. Tliis was certainly sap-
ping the very foundations of papal and tyrannical
power, by asserting that every christian had a right
to read and understand the gospel. That the
treatise was considered, by the adherents of the ab-
dicated monarch, as having this tendency, is evi-
dent from this circumstance, that Mr. Toland s
antagonists were, to a man, advocates for arbitrary
power, and religious intolerance. The church of
Scotland has, at all times, been forward to s;tem
the torrent of impiety and irreligion; but, it is
not known that any one of that venerable body,
ever objected to Mr. Toland's orthodoxy ; a cir-
cumstance which could not have happened, had
his writings been hostile to true religion. On this
head, I shall only add, that the same party which
persecuted Mr. Toland, would have treated King
William, and the qhurch of Scotland, with as little
ceremony, had thfy stood as unprotected as the
ilbintrious subject of these memoirs.

Mr. Toland's Amyntor, and his Pantheisticov,
have been already taken notice of. The first


proved that King Charles was not the author of
Icon Basilike; and the last is supposed to contain
a sarcastical allusion to the Romish and episcopal
liturgies: — The torrent of abuse consequently
poured on him, by the tories, is no more than might
have been naturally anticipated.

His biographer has descended so low as to in-
form us, that Mr. Toland was sometimes under
pecuniary difficulties, and as running in debt for
his wigs, kc. But, as this was a charge of the
same nature with his deism, atheism, mahomet-
anism, pantheism, illegitimacy, &c. I shall not
Retain the reader with a confutation of it.


It is difficult to determine in what department
of literature this great man most excelled. He
s£ems to have been a kind of universal genius. —
In controversy he was irresistible; and, at the
very moment when liis adversaries thought they
had confuted him, they found they had only fur-
nished materials for their own degradation. — He
was sliilled in more than ten languages, and the
Celtic was his native tongue. — Educated in the
grossest superstition of popery, at the early age of
sixteen, he became a convert to presbyterianism,
and remained steadily attached to it, till the hour
of his death. — Popery, prelacy, and arbitrary
power, h& utterly detested ; and, on every occa^^ion,


resisted them to the utmost of his power. To

the Revolution, in 1689, he was a warm and steady
friend. — Real and unaffected piety, and the church
of Scotland, which he thought bore the greatest
lesemblance to the primitive simplicity of the
apostolic times, always found, in him, an able and
inflexible advocate. — Though his pen was his es-
tate, yet he never prostituted it to serve the inte-
rest of his party at the expence of truth. — There
was interwoven, with his whole frame, a high de-
gree of stubborn and inexorabje integrity, ^^ hich
totally unfitted him for the tool of a party; and,
like poor Yorick, he invariably called things by
their right names, regardless of the consequences.
— There was not, in his whole composition, one
single grain of that useful quality which Swift calls
-modern discretion. Like an impregnable rock in
tjie midst of the tempestuous ocean, he stood im-
moveable against all his assailants; and his calm
dignified answers, in reply to their most virulent
and unmerited calumnies, equally characterize the
hero, the philosopher, and the christian, — To his
transcendant literary abilities e\ en the most iuve-
terate of his enemies have paid the most ample
tribute of respect. His Latin compositions, in
point of classical purity, have not been excelled,
even by Cicero himself. To him the Celtic tribes
are highly indebted for that unequalled produc-
tion, the Hisiory of the JDr aids. —Vxakerton, as
often as his Gothic mania led him to controvert


any of Toland's positions respecting the Druids
and Celts, is obliged to shrink from the contest.—
Dr. Smith, with a non-candour, for which, even
his best friends must blush, has borrowed the
whole of Toland's materials for his History of the
Druids, not only without making any acknow-
ledgment, but with a studied and deliberate de-
sign to conceal the plagiarism. Wherever Mr.
Toland enters into detail. Dr. Smith is concise;
and wherever Mr. Toland is concise. Dr. Smith
enters into detail. The important History of
Abaris, the Hyperborean Priest of the Sun, is dis-
missed by Dr. Smith in a few words, whereas, in
Mr. Toland's history, it takes up several pages.—
In the space of twenty-five years, Mr. Toland pub-
lished about one hundred different works, some of
them on the most intricate subjects, but the far
greater part on controversial matters, in opposition
to those who wished to restore the abdicated mo-
narch, and re-establish arbitrary power and religi-
ous intolerance. As it was the first, so it was the
last effort of his pen, to render civil government
consistent with the unalienable rights of mankind,
and to reduce Christianity to that pure, simple,
and unpompous system, which Christ and his
apostles established. It has often been objected
to John Knox, as well as Mr. Toland, that he was
a stubborn ill-bred fellow. But, when the Augsean
Stable of civil and religious corruptions is to be
cleansed, the Herculean labour requires Hercu-



lean instruments. Perhaps, the delicacy and re-
finement of the present day, might have shrunk
from the arduous task, and left the desirable work
not only unfinished, but unattempted. Toland's
fame has triumphed over all opposition, and will
be transmitted to the latest posterity. That very
party which branded him, when alive, Avith the
epithets of atheist, infidel, deist, mahometan, &c.
have now discovered, that he was only tinctured
with socinianism ; and, in less than fifty years, the
same party will discover that he was a rigid pres-
byterian, — peace to his manes. — It were ardently
to be wished, that the British empire, in all great
and critical emergencies, may possess many chris-
tians like John Toland.







Some men, my lord, from a natural greatness
of soul, and others from a sense of the want of
learning in themselves, or the advantages of it in
others, have many times liberally contributed to-
wards the advancement of letters. - But when
they, whose excellent natural parts are richly cul-
tivated by sound literatiire, undertake the protec-
tion of the muses, writers feel a double encourage-
ment, both as they are happily enabled to perfect
their studies, and as their patrons are true judges
of their perfonnances, "Tis from this considera-
tion alone (abstracted, my lord, from all that you
have already done, or may hereafter deserve from
your country, by an unshaken love of liberty) that
1 presume to acquaint your lordship wifh a design
wliich I form'd several years ago at Oxford, and
which I have ever since kept in view; coikcting,
as occasion presented, whatever might any way



tend to the advantage or perfection of it. 'Tis to
write The History of the Druids, containing an
account of the ancient Celtic religion and litera-
ture; and concerning which I beg your patience
for a little while. Tho' this be a subject that will
be naturally entertaining to the curious in every
place, yet it does more particularly concern the
inhabitants of antient Gaule (now France, Flan-
ders, the Alpine regions, and Lombardy), and of
all the British islands, whose antiquities are here
partly explain'd and illustrated, partly vindicated
and restor'd. It will sound somewhat oddly, at
first hearing, that a man born in the most north-
ern peninsula* of Ireland, shou'd undertake to set

* This peninsula is /«w-£og'aJ'n,TulgarlyJBnw.O«c<rn, in whose
isthmus stands the city of Londonderry, itself a peninsula, and,
if the tradition Be true, originally a famous grove and school of
the Druids. Hence comes the very name Doire, corruptly pro-
Bounced Derry, which in Irish signifies a grove, particularly of
oaks. The great Columba changed it into a college for Monks
(who in his time were retir'd Laymen, that lived by the labour
of their hands) as most commonly the sacred places of the hea.
thens, if pleasant or commodious, were converted to the like use
by the christians after their own manner. This Derry is the Ro.
ieretum or Campus roborum *, mentioned by Bede in his Eccle»
siastical Hiftory : but not Ardmacha, now Armagh, in the same
province of Ulster, as many have erroneously conceived ; nor
yet Durramh, uow Durrougk, in that of Leinster, as some have
no less groundlesly fancied, among whom Archbishop Lusher.

* Fecerat antem (Columba) prins quam in Britanniam veniret monastc.
rium nobile in Hibernia, quod a copia roborum Dearmach lingua Scotorcin,

Online LibraryJohn TolandA new edition of Toland's History of the druids : with an Abstract of his life and writings; and a copious appendix, containing notes critical, philological, and explanatory → online text (page 3 of 31)