1713 · London
First edition, early issue of a controversial work that spawned an extensive debate. The author, a close friend of John Locke and of freethinkers John Toland and Matthew Tindal, was a Cambridge-educated philosopher who, despite the furor over his writings, was acknowledged by his contemporaries as "an amiable and upright man . . . [who] made all readers welcome to the use of a free library" (DNB). His Discourse, an argument in favor of individual logical assessment of Christian doctrine and other beliefs, brought forth vigorous rebuttals by Richard Bentley, George Berkeley, Jonathan Swift, and others, but remains => a landmark work of rationalistic religion. Opinions continue to vary, even in modern criticism, regarding whether Collins's work promoted deism or atheism; he himself claimed that increased independent critical thinking was responsible for the decline in belief in witchcraft.
This copy lacks the two preliminary leaves. The catchword on p. 7 is "allow'd." This is the variant issue with a final blank leaf instead of the advertisement leaf.
Provenance: From the library of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School; properly deaccessioned.
Evidence of Readership: Occasional pencil markings and a few marginal comments in the first third of text.
ESTC T31966; Allibone 411–12. Recent blue-grey marbled paper–covered boards, spine with printed paper label. Title-page repaired with loss of perhaps ten letters of epigraph, with partially trimmed name inked in an early hand, and with very elegant old institutional pressure-stamp; title-page verso with pencilled call numbers; first text page with institutional stamp in upper margin, inked and pencilled numeral in lower margin. Two preliminary leaves lacking. A few leaves closely trimmed at one or another margin; last 20 with very short marginal tears not approaching text. Light age-toning and occasionally a spot; generally, clean; marked as above. An influential work on rational religion with evidence of use. (Inventory #: 36007)