John Toland

From Academic Kids

John Toland is also the name of an American author who was famous for his biography of Adolf Hitler.

John Toland (November 30, 1670 - March 11, 1722) was the illegitimate son of a Catholic priest born in the village of Ardagh, Donegal, Ireland. His book Christianity Not Mysterious (1696) was burnt by the public hangman in Dublin. He was the first person called a freethinker (by Bishop Berkeley) and went on to write over a hundred books, and also to translate Giordano Bruno's The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. In many ways he continued Bruno's pantheistic atheism as can be seen in his Pantheisticon published in 1720, shortly before his death.

Toland is generally classed with the deists, but at the time when he wrote Christianity not Mysterious he was decidedly opposed to deism. The design of the work was to show, by an appeal mainly to the tribunal of Scripture, that there are no facts or doctrines of the Gospel, or the Scriptures, or Christian revelation, which, when revealed, are not perfectly plain, intelligible and reasonable, being neither contrary to reason nor incomprehensible to it. It was intended to be the first of three discourses, in the second of which he was to attempt a particular and rational explanation of the reputed mysteries of the gospel, and in the third a demonstration of the verity of Divine revelation against atheists and all enemies of revealed religion. After his Christianity not Mysterious and his Amyntor, Toland's Nazarenus was of chief importance, as calling attention to the right of the Ebionites to a place in the early church, though it altogether failed to establish his main argument or to put the question in the true light. His Pantheisticon, sive formula celebrandae sodalitatis socraticae (Pantheisticon, or the Form of Celebrating the Socratic Society), of which he printed a few copies for private circulation only, gave great offence as a sort of liturgic service made up of passages from heathen authors, in imitation of the Church of England liturgy. The title also was in those days alarming, and still more so the mystery which the author threw around the question how far such societies of pantheists actually existed.

See Mosheim's Vindiciae antiquae christianorum disciplinae (1722), containing the most exhaustive account of Toland's life and writings; A Life of Toland (1722), by one of his most intimate friends; Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mr John Toland, by Pierre Des Maizeaux, prefixed to The Miscellaneous Works of Mr John Toland (London, 1747); John Leland's View of the Principal Deistical Writers (last ed. 1837); G. V. Lechlers Aeschichte des englischen Deismus (1841); Isaac Disraeli's Calamities of Authors (new ed., 1881); article on "The English Freethinkers" in Theological Review, No. 5 (November, 1864); J. Hunt, in Contemporary Review, No. 6.

(Information from this section was originally taken from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.)


(This is non-exhaustive.)

  • Christianity Not Mysterious: A Treatise Shewing, That there is nothing in the Gospel Contrary to Reason, Nor Above It: And that no Christian Doctrine can be properly cal'd A Mystery (1696)
  • An Apology for Mr. Toland (1697)
  • Amyntor, or the defence of Milton's life (1698)
  • Amyntor, or a Defence of Miltons Life (1699)
  • Edited James Harrington's Oceana and other Works (1700)
  • The Art of Governing Partys (1701)
  • Limitations for the next Foreign Successor, or A New Saxon Race: Debated in a Conference betwixt Two Gentlemen; Sent in a Letter to a Member of Parliament (1701)
  • Propositions for Uniting the Two East India Companies (1701)
  • Reasons for Address His Majesty to Invite into England their Highnesses, the Electress Dowager and the Electoral Prince of Hanover (1702)
  • Vindicius Liberius (1702)
  • Letters to Serena (1704)
  • The Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover (1705)
  • Socinianism Truly Stated (by "A Pantheist") (1705)
  • Translated A. Phillipick Schiner's Oration to Incite the English Against the French (1707)
  • Adeisidaemon - or the "Man Without Superstition" (1709)
  • Origines Judaicae (1709)
  • The Art of Restoring (1710)
  • The Jacobitism, Perjury, and Popery of High-Church Priests (1710)
  • An Appeal to Honest People against Wicked Priests (1713)
  • Dunkirk or Dover (1713)
  • The Art of Restoring (1914) (against Robert Harley)
  • Reasons for Naturalising the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland on the same foot with all Other Nations (1714)
  • Nazarenus, or Jewish, Gentile and Mahometan Christianity (1718)
  • The Probability of the Speedy and Final Destruction of the Pope (1718)
  • Tetradymus (1720) (translated into English in 1751)
  • Pantheisticon (1720)
  • History of the Celtic Religion and Learning Containing an Account of the Druids (1726)
  • A Collection of Several Pieces of Mr John Toland, ed. P. Des Maizeaux, 2 vols. (1726)de:John Toland

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