Some essays published earlier as pamphlets
Samuel Moore, Edward Aveling, trans.
In England itself, religious conflict dominated the 17th century,contributing in important respects to the coming of the English civilwar, and the abolishing of the Anglican Church during theProtectorate. After the Restoration of Charles II, Anglicans inparliament passed laws which repressed both Catholics and Protestantsects such as Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers and Unitarians who didnot agree with the doctrines or practices of the state Church. Ofthese various dissenting sects, some were closer to the Anglicans,others more remote. One reason among others why King Charles may havefound Shaftesbury useful was that they were both concerned aboutreligious toleration. They parted when it became clear that the Kingwas mainly interested in toleration for Catholics, and Shaftesbury forProtestant dissenters.
Kahane, trans.Foreword by Friedrich A.
At the end of the Second Treatise we learn about the nature ofillegitimate civil governments and the conditions under whichrebellion and regicide are legitimate and appropriate. As noted above,scholars now hold that the book was written during the Exclusioncrisis, and may have been written to justify a general insurrectionand the assassination of the king of England and his brother. Theargument for legitimate revolution follows from making the distinctionbetween legitimate and illegitimate civil government. A legitimatecivil government seeks to preserve the life, health, liberty andproperty of its subjects, insofar as this is compatible with thepublic good. Because it does this it deserves obedience. Anillegitimate civil government seeks to systematically violate thenatural rights of its subjects. It seeks to make them illegitimateslaves. Because an illegitimate civil government does this, it putsitself in a state of nature and a state of war with its subjects. Themagistrate or king of such a state violates the law of nature and somakes himself into a dangerous beast of prey who operates on theprinciple that might makes right, or that the strongest carries it. Insuch circumstances, rebellion is legitimate as is the killing of sucha dangerous beast of prey. Thus Locke justifies rebellion and regicideunder certain circumstances. Presumably this justification was goingto be offered for the killing of the King of England and his brotherhad the Rye House Plot succeeded. Even if this was not Locke’sintention, it still would have served that purpose well.