Locke shares many assumptions with Hobbes, yet was obviously alarmed by his absolutist conclusions. Our selection opens with restatement of a distinction dating back to Aristotle (itself, perhaps, an implicit response to Plato's absolutism). The distinction is between the political and the private, between the polis and the oikos (household). In familial and economic relations, one party may rule another absolutely, as, for instance, parents over young children. (The examples Aristotle and Locke actually give make this way of drawing the distinction appear rather contentious, e.g., master over slave, husband over wife...) Political power, in any case, refers to a different kind of relationship. His definition: "a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in execution of such laws, and in defense of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good" (243). He will proceed to argue, however, that this power is always conditional on the government acting according to the trust with which the people endow it (e.g. 275). Indeed, there is a passage at p.250 in which he cleverly turns Hobbes' own assumptions against him. Beginning, as Hobbes does, from the conviction that our passion for self-preservation is the most powerful motivating force in our lives, it is manifestly irrational to place oneself unconditionally under the authority of a potentially arbitrary sovereign.
Like Hobbes, Locke grounds his political theory by appeal to a state of nature. Yet he paints a decidedly rosier picture of this state. We are all equal, he says, not in our ability each to kill the other, but in the free use of the same set of human faculties. He appeals here to the religious conviction that God put us here to prosper, and we ought not to interfere with his intention (244-5). There are also operative assumptions of natural abundance and sociability. The natural law that follows from this description is that "being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions" (244). Furthermore, in the state of nature, everyone has the right to enforce this law, punishing offenses proportionally to the degree of transgression (245). He introduces civil government as the proper remedy for the "inconveniences" that arise from the difficulties of judging cases in which we are a party (246). I don't have an OED to-hand, but, compared with what we saw in Hobbes, the language of "inconveniences" is to me strikingly mild (though Locke does acknowledge that this inconvenience might result in quite a bit of violence at p.249).
There is unfortunately little argument in these opening passages to persuade us to accept this picture rather than that of Hobbes. How does he respond to the charge that we are, by natural disposition, inclined toward quarrel, that our interest in gain, safety, and reputation set us continually at odds with one another (Hobbes 208)? I believe that it is Locke's discussion of property that is supposed to help make his view plausible to us.
I am going to stop here for the moment. Perhaps you want to cover his view on property? Or just respond to whatever struck you in the text or the above. I will try to be better about keeping up with this...