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The Enlightenment Philosophy of John Locke

John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher and political theorist. One of his best known works was Two Treatises of Government (1690). This book set out a theories of government that would have a long-lasting impact–especially in Europe and the western world.

The following are excerpts from Locke’s Second Treatise of Government
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Church Regulations for Geneva

Concerning the Times of Assembling at Church

That the temples be closed for the rest of the time, in order that no one shall enter therein out of hours, impelled thereto by superstition ; and if anyone be found engaged in any special act of devotion therein or near by he shall be admonished for it: if it be found to be of a superstitious nature for which simple correction is inadequate then he shall he be chastised.

Blasphemy.

Whoever shall have blasphemed, swearing by the body or by the blood of our Lord, or in similar manner, he shall be made to kiss the earth for the first offence ; for the second to pay 5 sous, and for the third 6 sous, and for the last offence be put in the pillory for one hour.

Drunkenness.

  1. That no one shall invite another to drink under penalty of 3 sous.
  2. That taverns shall be closed during the sermon, under penalty that the tavern -keeper shall pay 3 sous, and whoever may be found therein shall pay the same amount.
  3. If anyone be found intoxicated he shall pay for the first offence 3 sous and shall be remanded to the consistory ; for the second offence he shall he held to pay the sum of 6 sous, and for the third 10 sous and be put in prison.
  4. That no one shall make roiaumes [a big party] under penalty of 10 sous.

If anyone sings immoral, dissolute or outrageous songs, or dance the virollet or other dance, he shall be put in prison for three days and then sent to the consistory.

Usury.
That no one shall take upon interest or profit more than five per cent., upon penalty of confiscation of the principal and of being con-demned to make restitution as the case may demand.

Games.
That no one shall play at any dissolute game or at any game whatsoever it may be, neither for gold nor silver nor for any excessive stake, upon penalty of 5 sous and forfeiture of stake played for.

Questions for consideration:

  1. How do these rules go beyond religious matters?
  2. What types of behavior seemed to be the most objectionable in these regulations?

Luther’s Letter on Indulgences

Indulgences were granted by officials of the church which granted remission (or relief) from the Earthly punishments of sin. During the late middle ages and early modern era (when Luther was writing), Indulgences were sold to raise money for the building a new St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and many–including Luther–believed this to be contrary to Christian doctrine.
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