Reason and Toleration: Henry More and Philip Van Limborch

  • Luisa Simonutti
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas/Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 127)


The young Philippus van Limborch’s first letter to Henry More was written in March 1666.1 The year before he had collaborated with Arnold Poelen-burg in the publication of the Operum theologicorum pars altera by his great uncle, Simon Episcopius.2 It was the sending of copies of this book that led to Limborch’s correspondence with More and other Englishmen, among them Ralph Cudworth, Peter Gunning, Thomas Pierce, Henry Jenkes and Oliver Doiley.3 With the encouragement of Petrus Grotius, son of the great jurist, and Dutch ambassador to the Swedish court, Limborch aimed to promote dialogues between the Remonstrants and others who supported the cause of peace between Christians, such as the English Latitudinarians and Neo-Platonists.4 Arnold Poelenburg, theologian at the Remonstrant Seminary of Amsterdam, preacher, polemicist and Rabbinical Scholar,5 was one of the chief promoters of religious consensus between the Remonstrants and certain English theologians, especially those of Oxford and Cambridge. Indeed, in 1664, Poelenburg had written to Isaac Vossius in London, urging him to secure the recognition of the Remonstrant creed by the Church of England as a means of healing the rift in Dutch Protestantism.6 Poelenburg would, moreover ask Vossius to send greetings on his behalf to Pierce in Oxford and Gunning and More in Cambridge.


Mutual Tolerance Christian Doctrine Plastic Nature Rough Draft Theological Argument 
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    The last four chapters (20–23) of the seventh and final book of Theologia Christiana, stand apart from the strictly theological argument of the preceding portion of the book. They discuss the punishment of heretics, mutual tolerance between Non-conformists regarding non-fundamental articles of faith, and the religious and political uses of tolerance in the preservation of the church. Nor was this the first time that Limborch had addressed himself to these problems. Twenty-five years earlier he had defended the idea of mutual toleration against attacks by the anti-Remonstrant, Sceperus: Korte wederlegginge van’t boecxken onlangs uytgegeven bij Jacobus Sceperus, genaemt Chrysopolerotus (Amsterdam, 1661). The last chapters of Theologia Christiana deal with subjects to which Limborch turns repeatedly in his religious and political writings, e. g. in the first edition of Praestantium ac eruditorum virorum epistolae ecclesiasticae et theologicae (Amsterdam, 1660); in his 1687 Dutch edition of the Episcopius’ work on the Roman Church’s claim to right of judgement in cases of religious controversy; in Historia inquisitionis (Amsterdam, 1692); and in the short treatise, Relatio historica de origine et progressu controversiarum in Foederatio Belgio, first published in Dutch in 1713, and subsequently published as an appendix to the 4th edition of Theologia Christiana (Amsterdam, 1715).Google Scholar
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    On the well-known relations between Locke and Limborch see Maurice Cranston, John Locke. A Biography (London etc.: Longmans, Green & Co., 1957) esp. chap. 7. For information concerning their correspondence and the topics discussed in it, see L. Simonutti, Arminianesimo, 6, n. 2 andGoogle Scholar
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    Maurice Cranston, “Considerazioni su ‘power’ e ‘liberty’ nel ‘Saggio sull’Intelletto Umano’ se-condo un manoscritto di Coste,” Giornale Critico della Filosofía Italiana 63 (1984): 179–99.Google Scholar

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1990

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  • Luisa Simonutti

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