Download A Political Biography of John Toland (Eighteenth-Century by Michael Brown PDF

By Michael Brown

John Toland used to be infamous. Condemned through the Middlesex Grand Jury and the Irish parliament for authoring Christianity now not Mysterious (1696), he was once to spend a lot of his profession 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, smooth scholarship has struggled to put his writings in the debates of his day. This learn is the 1st to completely recount his extraordinary biography, and to situate his writings totally in the controversies that formed them.

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He also contributed to an anti-clerical Enlightenment that challenged the hegemony of the Church of England as much as it did Roman Catholic authority elsewhere in Europe. Finally, Toland did much to promulgate the idea that politics is structured by power, self-interest and deceit. His body of work constitutes a conspiracy theory concerning the corruption of liberty by the malevolent forces of arbitrary government and spiritual orthodoxy. Yet, as we shall see, the trouble with this, is that there were enemies who wished to silence him.

Party for contemporaries spoke of the civil wars, of faction and of fraudulent self-interest draped as the patriotic pursuit of the common weal. To be motivated by a party was to be desiccated, immoral, and intolerable. If this is to make Christianity Not Mysterious into a late seventeenthcentury version of the Da Vinci Code, so be it. It does however give us an answer to the initial question concerning Toland’s commitment to a conspiratorial political worldview. Toland shared with many of his contemporaries a compulsion to see conspiracy behind every form of power, and in so doing found shelter in the circle of latitudinarian Anglicans who wished to strip away the ceremonials of the High Church and return the faith to its original purity.

92 ‘Serves a party’: here Toland completes his course, and Christianity Not Mysterious is revealed to be a tract concerning a great historical conspiracy involving the corruption of Christianity, the denial of the true faith to the believers for party ends, with all the bile that the late seventeenth century could impart into that most derided of words. Party for contemporaries spoke of the civil wars, of faction and of fraudulent self-interest draped as the patriotic pursuit of the common weal.

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