"EACH MAN IS AT LIBERTY TO SERVE GOD, ACCORDING TO THE MOTIONS OF HIS CONSCIENCE": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF NOODT'S THE POWER OF THE SOVEREIGN, AND THE RIGHT OF LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE, 1708
NOODT, Gerhard. SAVAGE, John, translator. The Power of the Sovereign, and the Right of Liberty of Conscience: In Two Discourses. London: Printed by J. Humfreys for Andrew Bell, 1708. Small octavo, disbound. $550.
First edition of this important early 18th-century lecture on religious toleration, containing Enlightenment-era ideas that would filter through to the Founding Fathers.
Heavily influenced by Locke's writings on religious freedom, Dutch jurist Gerhard Noodt took up the issue of religious toleration. Noodt had grown up in the 17th-century Netherlands, where Calvinism (salvation through grace) was in constant conflict with the more liberal Arminianism (salvation through grace and works). In a lecture delivered at the University of Leyden, Noodt argued that religious tolerance was a right under natural law. First, Noodt asserted that men were free to choose their own form of religious belief. Next, he stated that men had freedom of association that allowed them to choose membership in a religious institution and also to leave that institution when desired. Finally, Noodt said that civil authorities did not have the authority to interfere in those choices. According to Noodt, this set a minimum bar for religious toleration insofar as a government could not legitimately punish its citizens for religious reasons. Thus, religious tolerance was not a favor; it was a right. Noodt's lecture was highly influential at the time and sparked a publishing blitz of essays and pamphlets extending, arguing with, and reiterating Noodt's ideas. The Founding Fathers' version of religious freedom, particularly the separation of church and state, reflect the influence of Noodt's natural law-based views on religious toleration. ESTC T44119. Occasional neat early ink notations.
Only faint scattered soiling to text, text trimmed closely affecting a few printed sidenotes. Extremely good condition.