Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/164

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148
Books Condemned to be Burnt.

Second Thoughts concerning the Human Soul, in which he contended that the notion of the soul as a separate immaterial substance was " a plain heathenist invention:" not exactly a position the clergy were likely to welcome, although the author repeatedly avowed his belief in an eternal future life. In 1704 the Doctor published his Grand Essay: a Vindication of Reason and Religion against the Impostures of Philosophy, in which he repeated his ideas about immaterial substances, and argued that matter and motion were the foundation of thought in man and brutes. The House of Commons called him to its bar, and burnt his books; a proceeding which conferred such additional popularity upon them that the Doctor was enabled the very same year to bring out a second edition of his Second Thoughts, Certainly no other treatment could have made the books popular. They are perfectly legitimate, but rather dry, metaphysical disquisitions; and Parliament might quite as fairly have burnt Locke's famous essay on the Human Understanding.

For Parliament thus to constitute itself Defender of the Faith was not merely to trespass on the office of the Crown, but to sin against the more sacred right of