Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ment had always proceeded from the craft or pride of the Bishops! He then boldly encourages the English and the Scotch, united by “the solemn league and covenant,” to pursue the contest for liberty in Church and State, which they had so nobly begun. “Go on both, hand in hand, O nations, never to be disunited. Be the praise and the heroic song of all posterity-Merit this; but seek only virtue, not to extend your limits; for what need you win a fading triumphant laurel out of the tears of wretched men, but to settle the pure worship of God in his church, and justice in the state? Then shall the hardest difficulties smooth out themselves before you; envy shall sink to hell; craft and malice be confounded, whether it be homebred mischief, or outlandish cunning; yea, other nations will then covet to serve you; for lordship and victory are but the passes of justice and virtue. Commit securely to true wisdom the vanquishing and unusing of craft and subtilty, which are but her two renegades. Join your invincible might to do worthy and godlike deeds, and then he that wishes to break your union, a cleaving curse be his inheritance to all generations.” Alas! how bitterly must Milton have lamented the disunion which soon after took place between these nations, and the oceans of noble blood which flowed of whole hecatombs, (chiefly Scotch) from the

victims offered to appease mutual pride and jealousy, craft and treachery !

With one other short extract I will conclude this article: "The sour leven of human traditions," he says, “mixt in one putrified mass, with the poisonous dross of hypocrisy in the hearts of Prelates, that lie basking in the

sunny warmth of wealth and promotion, is the serpent's egg, that will hatch an Antichrist wheresoever, and ingender the same monster as big or little as the lump is which breeds him. If the splendour of gold and silver begin to lord it once again in the Church of England, we shall see Antichrist shortly wallow here, though his chief kennel be at Rome. Believe me, Sir, right truly it may be said, that Antichrist is Mammon's son."

In 1641, certain of the Presbyterian ministers published a treatise against Episcopacy, the title, Smectymnuus, consisting of the initial letters of their names.* A Bishop having condescended to answer it, Milton says: “I

supposed myself to be not less able to write for truth, than others for their profit or unjust pow+ er.' He therefore undertook to answer the lordly prelate, and published his work of Prelatical Episcopacy. “In this work,” says Toland, “he proves, against the famous Usher, (for he would not readily engage a meaner adversary,) that Diocesan Episcopacy, or a superior order to the common ministry, cannot be deduced from the Apostolical times, by the force of such testimonies as are alleged to that purpose. Now, Usher's chief talents lying in much reading, and being a great editor, and admirer of old writings, Milton shows the insufficiency, inconveniency, and impiety of this method, to establish any part of Christianity; and blames those persons, who cannot think any doubt resolved, or any doctrine confirmed, unless they run to that indigested heap and fry of authors, which they call antiquity.” “Whatsoever either time,” he says, “ or the heedless hand of blind chance has drawn down to this present, in her huge drag-net, whether fish or sea-weed, shells or shrubs, unpicked, unchosen—these are the fathers.” And so he chides the good bishop Usher, “for divulging useless treatises, stuffed with the specious names of IGNATIUS and PolyCARPUS, with fragments of old martyrologies and legends, to distract and stagger the multitude of credulous readers.”

* This was a quarto work, and was written by Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow.

His next performance on the same subject, and chiefly directed against Usher’s “Origin of Episcopacy,was entitled, “The reason of Churchgovernment urged against Prelacy, in two books." “ The eloquence is masculine,” says Toland,

“the method is natural, and the sentiments are free.”

Another eminent Bishop, Dr. Joseph Hall, of Norwich, having written against Smectymnuus, Milton published “ Animadversions" on his book. In a very unceremonious manner, he thus attacks his respectable opponent: “We know where the shoe wrings you; you fret, and are galled at the quick; and oh! what a death to the prelates to be thus unvizarded; to have your periwigs plucked off, that cover your baldness; your inside nakedness thrown open to public view. The Romans had a time every year, when their slaves might speak their minds ; 'twere hard if the free-born people of England, with whom the voice of truth, for these many years, even against the proverb, hath not been heard but in corners, after all your monkish prohibitions, and

expurgatorious indexes, your gags, and sniffles, your proud Imprimaturs, not to be obtained but with the shallow services, but not shallow hand of some mercenary, narrow-souled, and illiterate chaplain; when liberty of speaking, than which nothing is more sweet to man, was girded and straight-laced, almost to a broken-winded Tizzick; if now, at a good time, our time of Parliament, the very

Jubilee and resurrection of the state,-if now the corrected, the aggrieved, and long persecuted truth could not be suffered (to] speak; and though she burst out with some efficacy of words, could not be excused, after such an injurious strangle of silence, nor avoid the censure of libelling, 'twere hard, 'twere something pinching, in a kingdom of free spirits.”

The “Remonstrant” had said, “If in time you

shall see wooden chalices and wooden priests, thank yourselves.”. Milton answers, “ It had been happy for this land, if your priests had been but only wooden : all England knows they have been to this island not wood, but wormwood, that have infected the third part of our waters, like the apostate starre in the revelation, that many souls have died of their bitternesse; and if you mean by wooden, illiterate or contemptible, there was no want of that sort among you, and their number increasing daily, as their laziness, their tavern-hunting, their neglect of all sound literature, and their liking of doltish and monastical schoolmen daily increast.”

To the reasons which are alleged by Episcopalians, for the liturgy being founded upon the acts of councils; and in order to give his opinion of free, or extempore prayer, he thus expresses himself: "Let the

grave councils put their books upon their shelves again, and string them hard, lest their various and jangling opinions put their leaves into a flutter. I do not intend, this hot season, to lead you a course

« AnteriorContinuar »