By Michael Brown
John Toland was once infamous. Condemned by means of the Middlesex Grand Jury and the Irish parliament for authoring Christianity now not Mysterious (1696), he used to be to spend a lot of his occupation at the heterodox fringes of highbrow lifestyles in Britain and past. but he was once additionally an intimate of a sequence of influential politicians and performed an important half within the Hanoverian succession of 1714. A pamphleteer, a polemicist and a prankster of the 1st order, sleek scholarship has struggled to place his writings in the debates of his day. This examine is the 1st to completely recount his outstanding biography, and to situate his writings absolutely in the controversies that formed them.
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Extra resources for A Political Biography of John Toland (Eighteenth-Century Political Biographies)
In his view the mysteries of faith referred to in scripture were not such in essence, but rather because they came to be known solely through special revelation. 18 Indeed, it was implausible to his mind that God would require belief in a notion that could not be conceptualized by human reason. Indeed whereas the clerics wished to assert the authority of revelation over and above reason, Toland insisted in a crucial passage that 24 A Political Biography of John Toland Revelation was not a necessitating Motive of Assent, but a Mean of Information.
For though he want not ready wit and eloquence, nor reading, for his short time here (for he began not his university studies till about the Boyne fight), yet he seems to have some solidity and weight to support his [words illegible] and make him the head of a party. 40 Yet, to his mind Toland was not worthy of the energy expended, perhaps because he was not of that stripe, instead he wryly dismissed the maelstrom as merely a squall of little note. What was the purpose then of writing Christianity Not Mysterious?
Tis true indeed you are distinguishing in your respect to men of that order, and you are very much in the right of it. 72 Regrettably, this apparently plain virtue was in short supply, for men’s interests often led them to frustrate … its native and useful effects [by making] Learning consist in strange and difficult words, in the meer Grammatical Knowledge of Languages, without any regard to the sense, if sometimes they have any; in frivolous, precarious, and imper- Ireland, 1670–97 33 tinent distinctions; in Etymologies, a World of old stories, and the Lord knows what Gibberish and Nonsense.
A Political Biography of John Toland (Eighteenth-Century Political Biographies) by Michael Brown