A Treatise of Humane Reason. London: Printed for Henry Brome, 1675. Twelvemo. [4], 89, [1] pp. Wing C4708. [With:] [Stephens, Edward]. Obse-rvations Upon a Treatise Intituled Of Humane Reason. London: Printed for John Leigh…1675.

First edition, second issue of the first work (originally published the previous year, but with a new title-page). First edition of the second work. Twelvemo. [2], 73, [1] pp. Wing S5430. A very good, unsophisticated copy. Bound together in contemporary calf. Extremities lightly worn, contemporary ink annotations on back endpapers. Item #15177

Clifford (d. 1677) was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. We know little about his background, except that he was one of the libertines and wits who gathered around Charles II, and that he tried without success to engage Dryden into open controversy. He is best known for the present work, which emphasizes the role of reason in religious belief. His thoughts are much in the vein of Spinoza, and they anticipate Locke. The present work was immediately denounced as irreligious. Stephens (d. 1706) was a pamphleteer and moral reformer, married to the daughter of Sir Matthew Hale. On Hale's death in 1676 Stephens edited and published the former chief justice's Contemplations Moral and Divine. Stephens's first tract, A Discourse Concerning the Original of the Powder-Plot (1674), introduced a recurring theme, arguing that the laxity of preferment-seeking Anglican clergy was driving zealous Christians to join the sects and weakening resistance to Rome. Stephens later wrote and debated against London nonconformists, particularly the Quakers, but he respected their sincerity and religious commitment, contrasting this with the ‘cold’ formalism of the Church of England. He opposed coercive uniformity as divisive and contrary to primitive Christianity.

See Dictionary of Seventeenth-Century British Philosophers, Oxford DNB. Both of these works are uncommon. ESTC lists thirteen copies of the first and eight of the second in North American libraries.

Price: $1,250.00

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