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These are my thoughts concerning that passage. What you say about critics and critical interpretations, particularly of the holy scriptures, is not only in my opinion very true, but of great use to be observed on reading learned commentators, who not seldom make it their business to show in what sense a word has been used by other authors; whereas the proper business of a commentator is barely to show in what sense it was used by the author in that place; which in the scripture we have reason to conclude was most commonly in the ordinary vulgar sense of that word or phrase known in that time, because the books were writ, as you justly observe, and adapted to the people. If the critics had observed this, we should have had in their works less ostentation, and more truth, and a great deal of the darkness and doubtfulness now spread upon the scriptures had been avoided. I have had a late proof of this in myself, who have lately found in some large passages of scripture a sense quite different from what I understood it in before, and from what I find in commentators; and yet it appears so clear to me, that when I see you next I shall dare to appeal to you in it. But I read the word of God without prepossession or bias, and come to it with a resolution to take my sense from it, and not with a design to bring it to the sense of my system. How much that had made men wind and twist and pull the text in all the several sects of christians, I need not tell you. I desire to take my religion from the scriptures, and then whether it suits or suits not any other denomination, I am not much concerned; for I think at the last day it will not be inquired whether I were of the church of England, or church of Geneva, but whether I sought and embraced the truth in the love of it. The proofs I have set down in my book, of one infinite, independent, eternal Being, satisfied me; and the gentleman that desired others, and pretended that the next proposition to that of the existence of a self-sufficient, independent Being, should be this, that such a Being is but one, and that he could prove it antecedent to his attributes, v. g. of infinity, omnipotence, &c. I am pretty well satisfied, pretended to what he had not, and
therefore trouble not myself any farther about that mat ter. As to what you say upon this occasion, I agree with you, that the ideas of the modes and actions of substances are usually in our minds before the idea of substance itself; but in this I differ from you, that I do not think the ideas of the operations of things are antecedent to the ideas of their existence, for they must exist before they can any way affect us, or make us sensible of their operations, and we must suppose them to be before they operate. My essay is going to be printed again; I wish you were near me, that I might shew you the several alterations and additions I have made, before they go to the press.
The warm weather that begins now with us makes me hope I shall now speedily get to town; if any business draws you thither this summer, I hope you will order it so that I may have a good share of your company. Nobody values it more than I do; and I have a great many things to talk with you. I am, Sir,
Your most affectionate,
and most humble Servant,
For Mr. Samuel Bold, at Steeple.
Oates, April 24, 1696.
I SEE by the temper the country is in, (and I doubt not but there are those who will blow the coal,) that if London does not set them a good example, the act will be broken through, and clipping will be continued upon us. I am sure the trade goes on as brisk as ever; a company was lately taken at or about Ware. Somebody ready, as soon as the day comes, to arrest a goldsmith that refused to pay money according to the law, would spoil the trick, especially if several of them were made examples. If clipped money once get but currency
in London amongst those blades, but for the first week after the 4th of May, I look upon it as irretrievable, but if it be stopped there, the rest of the kingdom will fall into it, especially if receiving clipped money by weight be introduced. These are at present my thoughts, which I trouble those with who I know are able to make use of them, if they may be of any. Duty and service from all here.
I am, dear Col, &c.
Lord Ashley to Dr. Fell.
Dec. 8, 1670.
YOU are well acquainted with the kindnesse I have great reason to have to Mr. Locke, in whose behalf I· had prevailed with the duke of Ormond for his assistance towards the attaining his doctor's degree, at the reception of the prince of Aurange; and I am apt to think the instance of your chancellor, and the relation he has to me, would not have been denied by the university. But Mr. Locke understanding the provost of Eaton declared himself, and you, dissatisfied with it, has importuned me to give him leave to decline it, which, upon conference with my worthy friend the bishop of Rochester, I have donne, and returned his grace's letter, though my lord bishop of Rochester can tell you I could not but complain to him, that your chapter had not been so kinde to me, in Mr. Locke's affairs, as I thought I might justly expect, considering him a member of their house, having done both my life and family that service I owne from him, and I being of that quality I am under his majestie, under which title only I pretend to any favour from them. All that I request now, of you and them, is, that since he will not allow me to doe him this kindnesse, you will give me leave to bespeake your favour for the next faculty place, and that a more powerful hand may not take it from him.
I rely very much on my lord Rochester's mediation, and your own kindnesse to me, that may induce you to believe, that an obligation will not be absolutely cast away on,
Your affectionate friend and servant.
I DOUBT not but your lordship hath before this time heard of the death of Mr. Locke, who was in the full possession of his reason and understanding to the last minute of his life; he hath made me his executor, by means whereof his writings are come to my hands, amongst which I find three or four sheets of memoirs of your grandfather's life, with an epitaph on your grandfather. Mr. Locke designed, if he had lived longer, to have gone on farther with those memoirs. I beg your lordship's pardon that I have not acquainted your lordship herewith sooner; but Mr. Locke happening to dye in the term, I had not leisure to look into his concerns, beyond what was absolutely necessary, till within these few days. These papers properly belong to your lordship, and I thought it my duty to acquaint your lordship therewith, and shall dispose of them as your lordship shall direct.
I am, with all sincerity,
Your lordship's most dutiful,
and affectionate servant,