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Apr 14, 2018




  • 7/27/2019 Locke Toleration.doc


    A Letter Concerning Toleration, John Locke (16!" # Classic state$ent o% the case %ortoleration o% those hol&ing &i%%erent 'iews.

    A Letter Concerning Toleration

    ) John Locke


    Translate& ) *illia$ +opple

  • 7/27/2019 Locke Toleration.doc


    onoure& -ir,

    -ince )ou are please& to inuire what are $) thoughts aout the $utual toleration o%Christians in their &i%%erent pro%essions o% religion, $ust nee&s answer )ou %reel) that

    estee$ that toleration to e the chie% characteristic $ark o% the true Church. 0or

    whatsoe'er so$e people oast o% the antiuit) o% places an& na$es, or o% the po$p o%their outwar& worship others, o% the re%or$ation o% their &iscipline all, o% the ortho&ox)

    o% their %aith 22 %or e'er)one is ortho&ox to hi$sel% 22 these things, an& all others o% this

    nature, are $uch rather $arks o% $en stri'ing %or power an& e$pire o'er one anotherthan o% the Church o% Christ. Let an)one ha'e ne'er so true a clai$ to all these things, )et

    i% he e &estitute o% charit), $eekness, an& goo&2will in general towar&s all $ankin&,

    e'en to those that are not Christians, he is certainl) )et short o% eing a true Christian

    hi$sel%. 3The kings o% the 4entiles exercise lea&ership o'er the$,3 sai& our -a'iour tohis &isciples, 3ut )e shall not e so.351 The usiness o% true religion is uite another

    thing. t is not institute& in or&er to the erecting o% an external po$p, nor to the otaining

    o% ecclesiastical &o$inion, nor to the exercising o% co$pulsi'e %orce, ut to the regulating

    o% $en7s li'es, accor&ing to the rules o% 'irtue an& piet). *hosoe'er will list hi$sel%un&er the anner o% Christ, $ust, in the %irst place an& ao'e all things, $ake war upon

    his own lusts an& 'ices. t is in 'ain %or an) $an to unsurp the na$e o% Christian, withoutholiness o% li%e, purit) o% $anners, enignit) an& $eekness o% spirit. 3Let e'er)one that

    na$eth the na$e o% Christ, &epart %ro$ iniuit).358 3Thou, when thou art con'erte&,

    strengthen th) rethren,3 sai& our Lor& to +eter.59 t woul&, in&ee&, e 'er) har& %or onethat appears careless aout his own sal'ation to persua&e $e that he were extre$el)

    concerne& %or $ine. 0or it is i$possile that those shoul& sincerel) an& heartil) appl)

    the$sel'es to $ake other people Christians, who ha'e not reall) e$race& the Christian

    religion in their own hearts. % the 4ospel an& the apostles $a) e cre&ite&, no $an cane a Christian without charit) an& without that %aith which works, not ) %orce, ut )

    lo'e. ow, appeal to the consciences o% those that persecute, tor$ent, &estro), an& kill

    other $en upon pretence o% religion, whether the) &o it out o% %rien&ship an& kin&nesstowar&s the$ or no; An& shall then in&ee&, an& not until then, elie'e the) &o so, when

    shall see those %ier)

  • 7/27/2019 Locke Toleration.doc


    the Church, an& %or the sal'ation o% souls 22 urning sa), literall), with %ire an& %aggot 22

    pass ) those $oral 'ices an& wicke&nesses, without an) chastise$ent, which are

    acknowle&ge& ) all $en to e &ia$etricall) opposite to the pro%ession o% Christianit),an& en& all its ner'es either to the intro&ucing o% cere$onies, or to the estalish$ent o%

    opinions, which %or the $ost part are aout nice an& intricate $atters, that excee& the

    capacit) o% or&inar) un&erstan&ings; *hich o% the parties conten&ing aout these thingsis in the right, which o% the$ is guilt) o% schis$ or heres), whether those that &o$ineer

    or those that su%%er, will then at last e $ani%est when the causes o% their separation

    co$es to e ju&ge& o% e, certainl), that %ollows Christ, e$races is &octrine, an& earsis )oke, though he %orsake oth %ather an& $other, separate %ro$ the pulic asse$lies

    an& cere$onies o% his countr), or who$soe'er or whatsoe'er else he relinuishes, will

    not then e ju&ge& a heretic.

    ow, though the &i'isions that are a$ongst sects shoul& e allowe& to e ne'er so

    ostructi'e o% the sal'ation o% souls )et, ne'ertheless, a&ulter), %ornication,uncleanliness, lasci'iousness, i&olatr), an& such2like things, cannot e &enie& to e works

    o% the %lesh, concerning which the apostle has expressl) &eclare& that 3the) who &o the$shall not inherit the king&o$ o% 4o&.35> *hosoe'er, there%ore, is sincerel) solicitous

    aout the king&o$ o% 4o& an& thinks it his &ut) to en&ea'our the enlarge$ent o% it

    a$ongst $en, ought to appl) hi$sel% with no less care an& in&ustr) to the rooting out o%these i$$oralities than to the extirpation o% sects. ?ut i% an)one &o otherwise, an& whilst

    he is cruel an& i$placale towar&s those that &i%%er %ro$ hi$ in opinion, he e in&ulgent

    to such iniuities an& i$$oralities as are uneco$ing the na$e o% a Christian, let such a

    one talk ne'er so $uch o% the Church, he plainl) &e$onstrates ) his actions that it isanother king&o$ he ai$s at an& not the a&'ance$ent o% the king&o$ o% 4o&.

    That an) $an shoul& think %it to cause another $an 22 whose sal'ation he heartil) &esires

    22 to expire in tor$ents, an& that e'en in an uncon'erte& state, woul&, con%ess, see$'er) strange to $e, an& think, to an) other also. ?ut noo&), surel), will e'er elie'e

    that such a carriage can procee& %ro$ charit), lo'e, or goo&will. % an)one $aintain that

    $en ought to e co$pelle& ) %ire an& swor& to pro%ess certain &octrines, an& con%or$ to

    this or that exterior worship, without an) regar& ha& unto their $orals i% an)oneen&ea'our to con'ert those that are erroneous unto the %aith, ) %orcing the$ to pro%ess

    things that the) &o not elie'e an& allowing the$ to practise things that the 4ospel &oes

    not per$it, it cannot e &oute& in&ee& ut such a one is &esirous to ha'e a nu$erousasse$l) joine& in the sa$e pro%ession with hi$sel% ut that he principall) inten&s )

    those $eans to co$pose a trul) Christian Church is altogether incre&ile. t is not,

    there%ore, to e won&ere& at i% those who &o not reall) conten& %or the a&'ance$ent o%the true religion, an& o% the Church o% Christ, $ake use o% ar$s that &o not elong to the

    Christian war%are. %, like the Captain o% our sal'ation, the) sincerel) &esire& the goo& o%

    souls, the) woul& trea& in the steps an& %ollow the per%ect exa$ple o% that +rince o%

    +eace, who sent out is sol&iers to the su&uing o% nations, an& gathering the$ into is

  • 7/27/2019 Locke Toleration.doc


    Church, not ar$e& with the swor&, or other instru$ents o% %orce, ut prepare& with the

    4ospel o% peace an& with the exe$plar) holiness o% their con'ersation. This was is

    $etho&. Though i% in%i&els were to e con'erte& ) %orce, i% those that are either lin& orostinate were to e &rawn o%% %ro$ their errors ) ar$e& sol&iers, we know 'er) well

    that it was $uch $ore eas) %or i$ to &o it with ar$ies o% hea'enl) legions than %or an)

    son o% the Church, how potent soe'er, with all his &ragoons.

    The toleration o% those that &i%%er %ro$ others in $atters o% religion is so agreeale to the

    4ospel o% Jesus Christ, an& to the genuine reason o% $ankin&, that it see$s $onstrous %or

    $en to e so lin& as not to percei'e the necessit) an& a&'antage o% it in so clear a light.

    will not here tax the pri&e an& a$ition o% so$e, the passion an& uncharitale

  • 7/27/2019 Locke Toleration.doc


    %orce an& strength o% all his sujects, in or&er to the punish$ent o% those that 'iolate an)

    other $an7s rights.

    ow that the whole juris&iction o% the $agistrate reaches onl) to these ci'ilconcern$ents, an& that all ci'il power, right an& &o$inion, is oun&e& an& con%ine& to

    the onl) care o% pro$oting these things an& that it neither can nor ought in an) $anner to

    e exten&e& to the sal'ation o% souls, these %ollowing consi&erations see$ unto $eaun&antl) to &e$onstrate.

    0irst, ecause the care o% souls is not co$$itte& to the ci'il $agistrate, an) $ore than to

    other $en. t is not co$$itte& unto hi$, sa), ) 4o& ecause it appears not that 4o&

    has e'er gi'en an) such authorit) to one $an o'er another as to co$pel an)one to his

    religion. or can an) such power e 'este& in the $agistrate ) the consent o% the people,ecause no $an can so %ar aan&on the care o% his own sal'ation as lin&l) to lea'e to the

    choice o% an) other, whether prince or suject, to prescrie to hi$ what %aith or worshiphe shall e$race. 0or no $an can, i% he woul&, con%or$ his %aith to the &ictates o%

    another. All the li%e an& power o% true religion consist in the inwar& an& %ull persuasion

    o% the $in& an& %aith is not %aith without elie'ing. *hate'er pro%ession we $ake, towhate'er outwar& worship we con%or$, i% we are not %ull) satis%ie& in our own $in& that

    the one is true an& the other well pleasing unto 4o&, such pro%ession