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other question may be proposed. That two thirds of the company may adjourn the ordinary subject in question, for good and sufficient reasons.
. IX. That no question be proposed, that is contrary to religion, civil government, or good manners; unless it be agreed to debate such question, merely and only the better to confute it.
We whose names are here under-written, proposing to ourselves an improvement in useful knowledge, and the promoting of truth and christian charity, by our becoming of this society, do hereby declare our approbation of, and consent to, the rules before written.
A Letter to Mrs, Cockburn,
THERE was nothing more public than the obliga tion I received from you, nor any thing more concealed than the person I was obliged to. This is a generosity above the strain of this groveling age, and like that of superior spirits, who assist without showing themselves. I used my best endeavours to draw from you by your bookseller the confession of your name, for want whereof I could, whilst you kept yourself under that re serve, no more address myself directly to you with good manners, than I could have pulled off your mask by force, in a place where you were resolved to conceal yourself. Had not this been so, the bearer hereofwould not the first time have come to you without a letter from me to acknowledge the favour you had done me. You not affording me an opportunity for that, I designed to make you some small acknowledgment, in a way that chance had opened to me, without your consent. But this gentleman transgressed my order in two main points of it. The one was in delaying it so long. The other was in naming me to you, and talking of matters which he had no commission from me to mention. What he
deserves from you for it, must be left to your mercy. For I cannot in earnest be angry with him for procuring me, without any guilt of mine, an opportunity. to own you for my protectress, which is the greatest honour my Essay could have procured me. Give me leave therefore to assure you, that as the rest of the world take notice of the strength and clearness of your reasoning, so I cannot but be extremely sensible that it was employed my defence. You have herein not only vanquished my adversary, but reduced me also absolutely under your power, and left no desires more strong in me than those of meeting with some opportunity to assure you with what respect and submission I am, Madam,
Your most humble,
and most obedient servant,
Oates, 30 Dec. 1702.
A Letter from Mr. Locke to Mr. Samuel Bold. SIR, Oates, 16 May, 1699. YOURS of the 11th of April I received not till the last week. I suppose Mr. Churchill staid it till that discourse wherein you have been pleased to defend my Essay was printed, that they might come together, though neither of them need a companion to recommend it to me. Your reasonings are so strong and just, and your friendship to me so visible, that every thing must be welcome to me that comes from your pen, let it be of what kind soever. I promise myself that to all those who are willing to open their eyes and to enlarge their minds to a true knowledge of things, this little treatise of yours will be greatly acceptable and useful; and for those who will shut their eyes for fear they should see more than others have seen before them, or rather for fear they should make use of them, and not blindly and lazily follow the sayings of others; what can be
done to them? They are to be let alone to join in the cry of the herd they have placed themselves in, and take that for applause which is nothing but the noise that of course they make to one another, which way ever they are going: so that the greatness of it is no manner of proof that they are in the right. I say not this because it is a discourse wherein you favour any opinions of mine, (for I take care not to be deceived by the reasonings of my friends,) but I say it from those who are strangers to you, and who own themselves to have received light and conviction from the clearness and closeness of your reasonings, and that in a matter at first sight very abstruse and remote from ordinary conceptions.-There is nothing that would more rejoice me than to have you for my neighbour. The advantages that you promise yourself from mine, I should receive from your conversation. The impartial lovers and searchers of truth are a great deal fewer than one could wish or imagine. It is a rare thing to find any one to whom one can communicate one's thoughts freely, and from whom 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 saying after others, is the much easier and quicker way; but how a rational man that should inquire and know for himself, can content himself with a faith or religion taken upon trust, or with such a servile submission of his understanding, as to admit all and nothing else but what fashion makes at present passable amongst some men, is to me astonishing. I do not wonder that concerning many points you should have different apprehensions from what you meet with in authors; with a free mind, that unbiassedly pursues truth, it cannot be otherwise; 1st, because all authors did not write unbiassedly for truth's sake; and, 2dly, because there are scarce any two men that have perfectly the same views of the same thing till they come with attention, and perhaps mutual assistance, to examine it. A consideration that makes conversation with the living much more desirable and useful than consulting the dead, would the living but be inquisitive after truth, apply their
thoughts with attention to the gaining of it, and be indifferent with whom it was found, so they could but find it. The first requisite to the profiting by books is not to judge of opinions by the authority of the writers. None have the right of dictating but God himself, and that because he is truth itself. All others have a right to be followed as far as I have, and no farther, i. e. as far as the evidence of what they say convinces, and of that my own understanding alone must be judge for me, and nothing else. If we made our own eyes our own guides, admitted or rejected opinions only by the evidence of reason, we should neither embrace nor refuse any tenet, because we find it published by another, of what name or character soever he was.
You say you lose many things because they slip from you. I have had experience of that myself, but for that my lord Bacon has provided a sure remedy. For, as I remember, he advises somewhere never to go without pen and ink, or something to write with, and to be sure not to neglect to write down all thoughts of mo ment that come into the mind. I must own I have omitted it often, and often repented it. The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have, and therefore should be secured, because they seldom return again.
You say also that you lose many things, because your own thoughts are not steady and strong enough to follow and pursue them to a just issue. Give me leave to think that herein you mistake yourself, and your own abilities. Write down your thoughts upon any point as far as you have at any time pursued them, and go on with them again some other time, when you find your mind disposed to it, and so till you have carried them as far as you can, and you will be convinced that, if you have lost any, it has not been for want of strength of mind to bring them to an issue, but for want of memory to retain a long train of reasonings which the mind, having once beat out, is loth to be at the pains to go over again, and so the connexion and train having slipped the memory, the pursuit stops, and the reasoning is ne
glected before it comes to the last conclusion. If you have not tried it, you cannot imagine the difference there is in studying with and without a pen in your hand. Your ideas, if the connexions of them that you have traced be set down, so that, without the pains of recollecting them in your memory, you can take an easy view of them again, will lead you farther than you could expect. Try, and tell me if it be not so. I say not this that I should not be glad to have any conversa. tion with you, upon any points you shall employ your thoughts about. Propose what you have of this kind freely, and do not suspect it will interfere with any of my affairs. Know that besides the pleasure it is to converse with a thinking man, and a lover of truth, I shall profit by it more than you. This you would see by the frequency of my visits, if you were within the reach of them.
That which I think of Deut. xii. 15. is this, that the reason why it is said, as the roebuck and the hart, is, because, 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 sprinkle the blood on the altar. But wild beasts that were clean might be eaten, though their blood were not offered to God, ver. 13. because being commonly killed before they were taken, their blood could not be sprinkled on the altar, and therefore it sufficed in such cases to pour out their blood whereever they were killed, and cover it with dust, and for the same reason, when the camp was broken up, wherein the whole people was in the neighbourhood of the Tabernacle, during their 40 years passage from Egypt to Canaan, and the people were scattered in their habitations through all the Land of Promise, those who were too far off from the Temple were excused (Deut. xii. 21, 22.) from killing their tame cattle at Jerusalem and sprinkling their blood on the altar. No more was required of them than was required in killing a roebuck, or any other clean wild beast: they were only to pour out the blood, and cover it with dust, and so they might eat of the flesh.