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tion, would have wished. But it is somewhat to have proceeded thus far. And I hope these beginnings are the foundations of liberty and peace, which shall hereafter be established in the church of Christ."
About this time, Mr. Locke had an offer to go abroad in a public character; and it was left to his choice whether he would be envoy at the court of the emperor, the elector of Brandenburg, or any other, where he thought that the air would best agree with him; but he declined it on account of the infirm state of his health. In the year 1690, he published his celebrated Essay concerning Human Understanding, in folio; a work which has made the author's name immortal, and does honour to our country; which an eminent and learned writer has styled, "one of the noblest, the usefulest, the most original books the world ever saw." But, notwithstanding its extraordinary merit, it gave great offence to many people at the first publication, and was attacked by various writers, most of whose names are now forgotten. It was even proposed, at a meeting of the heads of houses of the university of Oxford, to censure and discourage the reading of it; and, after various debates among themselves, it was concluded, that each head of a house should endeavour to prevent it from being read in his college. They were afraid of the light which it poured in upon the minds of men. But all their efforts were in vain; as were also the attacks of its various opponents on the reputation either of the work or its author, which continued daily to increase in every part of Europe. It was translated into French and Latin; and the fourth in English, with alterations and additions, was printed in the year 1700; since which time it has past through a vast number of editions. In the year 1690, Mr. Locke published his wo Treatises on Government, 8vo.-Those valuable treatises, which are some of the best extant on the subject, in any language, are employed in refuting and overturning sir Robert Filmer's false principles, and in pointing out the true origin, extent, and end of civil government. About this time, the coin of the kingdom was in a very bad state, owing to its having been so much clipped, that it wanted above a third of the standard weight. The magnitude of this evil, and the mischiefs which it threatened, having engaged the serious consideration of parliament, Mr. Locke, with the view of assisting those who were at the head of
affairs to form a right understanding of this matter, and to excite them to rectify such shameful abuse, printed Some Considerations of the Consequences of lowering the Interest, and raising the Value of Money, 1691, 8vo. Afterwards he published some other small pieces on the same subject; by which he convinced the world, that he was as able to reason on trade and business, as on the most abstract parts of science. These writings occasioned his being frequently consulted by the ministry, relative to the new coinage of silver, and other topics. With the earl of Pembroke, then lord keeper of the privy seal, he was for some time accustomed to hold weekly conferences; and when the air of London began to affect his lungs, he sometimes went to the earl of Peterborough's seat, near Fulham, where he always met with the most friendly reception. He was afterwards, however, obliged to quit London entirely, at least during the winter season, and to remove to some place at a greater distance. He had frequently paid visits to sir Francis Masham, at Oates, in Essex, about twenty miles from London, where he found that the air agreed admirably well with his constitution, and where he also enjoyed the most delightful society. We may imagine, therefore, that he was persuaded, without much difficulty, to accept of an offer which sir Francis made, to give him apartments in his house, where he might settle during the remainder of his life. Here he was received upon his own terms, that he might have his entire liberty, and look upon himself as at his own house; and here he chiefly pursued his future studies, being seldom absent, because the air of London grew more and more troublesome to him.
In 1693, Mr. Locke published his Thoughts concerning Education, 8vo. which he greatly improved in subsequent editions. In 1695, king William, who knew how to appreciate his abilities for serving the public, appointed him one of the commissioners of trade and plantations; which obliged him to reside more in London than he had done for some time past. In the same year, he published his excellent treatise, entitled The Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in the Scriptures, 8vo. which was written, it is said, in order to promote the scheme which king William had so much at heart, of a compromise with the dissenters.
The asthmatie complaint, to which Mr. Locke had been
long subject, increasing with his years, began now to subdue his constitution, and rendered him very infirm. He therefore, determined to resign his post of commissioner of trade and plantations; but he acquainted none of his friends with his design, till he had given up his commission into the king's own hand. His majesty was very unwilling to receive it, and told our author, that he would be well pleased with his continuance in that office, though he should give little or no attendance; for that he did not desire him to stay in town one day to the injury of his health. But Mr. Locke told the king, that he could not in conscience hold a place to which a considerable salary was annexed, without discharging the duties of it; upon which the king reluctantly accepted his resignation. Mr. Locke's behaviour in this instance discovered such a degree of integrity and virtue, as reflects more honour on his character than his extraordinary intellectual endowments. His majesty enter tained a great esteem for him, and would sometimes desire his attendance, in order to consult with him on public affairs and to know his sentiments of things. From this time, Mr. Locke continued altogether at Oates, in which agreeable retirement he applied himself wholly to the study of the sacred Scriptures. In this employment he found so much pleasure, that he regretted his not having devoted more of his time to it in the former part of his life. And his great regard for the sacred writings appears from his answer to a relation, who had inquired of him what was the shortest and surest way for a young gentleman to attain a true knowledge of the Christian religion. "Let him study," said Mr. Locke, "the holy Scripture, especially in the New Testament. Therein are contained the words of eternal life. It has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter." Locke now found his asthmatic disorder growing extremely troublesome, though it did not prevent him from enjoying great cheerfulness of mind. In this situation, his sufferings were greatly alleviated by the kind attention and agreeable conversation of the accomplished lady Masham, who was the daughter of the learned Dr. Cudworth; as this lady and Mr. Locke had a great esteem and friendship for each other. At the commencement of the summer of the year 1703, a season which, in former years, had always restored him some degrees of strength, he perceived that it had
begun to fail him more remarkably than ever. This convinced him that his dissolution was at no great distance, and he often spoke of it himself, but always with great composure; while he omitted none of the precautions which, from his skill in physic, he knew had a tendency to prolong his life. At length his legs began to swell; and that swelling increasing every day, his strength visibly diminished. He therefore prepared to take leave of the world, deeply impressed with a sense of God's manifold blessings to him, which he took delight in recounting to his friends, and full of a sincere resignation to the divine will, and of firm hopes in the promises of future life. As he had been incapable for a considerable time of going to church, he thought proper to receive the sacrament at home; and two of his friends communicating with him, as soon as the ceremony was finished, he told the minister, "that he was in perfect charity with all men, and in a sincere communion with the church of Christ, by what name soever might be distinguished." He lived some months after this; which time he spent in acts of piety and devotion. On the day before his death, lady Masham being alone with him, and sitting by his bed-side, he exhorted her to regard this world only as a state of preparation for a better; adding "that he had lived long enough, and that he thanked God he had enjoyed a happy life; but that, after all, he looked upon this life to be nothing but vanity." He had no rest that night, and resolved to try to rise on the following morning, which he did, and was carried into his study, where he was placed in an easy chair, and slept for a considerable time Seeming a little refreshed, he would be dressed as he used to be, and observing lady Masham reading to herself in the Psalms while he was dressing, he requested her to read aloud. She did so, and he appeared very attentive, till, feeling the approach of death, he desired her to break off, and in a few minutes expired, on the twenty-eighth of October, 1704, in the seventy-third year of his age. He was interred in the church of Oates, where there is a decent monument erected to his memory, with a modest inscription in Latin, written by himself.