Imágenes de páginas

sagacious licensers, to the bishops of Charles II.” Well, I do not wonder they should have thought it to have been a parody! And what could have so galled the bishops, who had been at the bottom of the Act of Uniformity, and all the other persecuting statutes of that infamous and dissolute reign, as a picture of Saxon episcopal superstition, craft, and cunning? Toland says, “ the rejection of those passages put me in mind of a reply to a certain person by Sir Robert HowARD, a gentleman of great generosity, a patron of letters, a hearty friend to the liberty of his country, and a great admirer of Milton, and his steady friend to his dying day. Milton having been charged in some publication with having whipped the Protestant clergy on the back of the heathen and popish priests, Sir ROBERT asked: · What they had to do there ??" It is not said how he obtained the publication of this History at such a time as was the year 1670; but we are told that he bestowed a copy of the manuscript, while unlicensed, on the Earl of Anglesey, who in common with several of the nobility and gentry, was his constant visitor. “It is,” adds Toland,“ an irreparable loss to this most potent nation, that Milton did not find leisure to bring down his history to his own times.” There were other powerful causes for this “ irreparable loss ” than the want of leisure. If the reverend licen

sers of the press would not suffer the History of the Saxons before the Conquest to be written fully out, what would they have said to a history written by the unbought and unpurchasable MilTON of the times after the Restoration? The fairly written history of the intrigues of the bishops at the Savoy conference, and to procure the expulsion of two thousand Presbyterian confessors, would have been such an exposure of

superstition, pride, and cunning,” as would have driven Dr. Seth Ward, and some others of the episcopal bench, stark raving mad!

Milton, finding he could not have fair play shown him as a writer of history, employed himself in composing elementary school books—as a Latin Grammar, also a work entitled, “ Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio ad Petrie Rami methodum concinnata.He was permitted to publish too, “A brief History of Muscovy, and other less known Countries lying eastward of it as far as Cathay, collected from the relation of several Travellers.” He translated from the Latin the Declaration of the Poles concerning the Election of their King, John III. containing an account of the virtues and merits of that prince. He published also Sir WALTER RALEIGH's “ Prince, or Maxims and Aphorisms of State;" and his “Cabinet Council."

His biographer, Toland, evidently pained at heart that the bigotry of the

bishops should have bound in fetters this blind Sampson, and thus have almost deprived the world of his learning and knowledge, says: “More pieces of this rarely accomplished, though unfortunate gentleman, were made public by other persons; and I daily expect more from James Tyrrel, who has the manuscript copies.”

The mighty energies of Milton were at length roused, by the shameful and hypocritical countenance which at this time were given to papists by the king and the Duke of York, the heir presumptive to the throne. He saw through the thin disguise which had, in 1672, granted licenses for opening the meeting-houses of Protestant dissenters; nor could he feel any thing but detestation of the dispensing power arrogated by the king, in granting, for a small sum of money, such licenses. It is not said, but it is by no means improbable, that the bishops might have now solicited the aid of their former implacable foe, and still, as to his dissenting principles, uncompromising enemy. However it was, in the year 1673, he wrote what proved to be his last work, and which was published just before his death. This was entitled, “ A Treatise of true Religion, , Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and the best Means that may be used to prevent the growth of Popery. The author, J. M. London, printed in the year 1673."

The work thus commences :

“It is unknown to no man, who knows aught of concernment among us, that the increase of Popery is at this day no small trouble and offence to [the] greatest part of the nation; and the rejoicing of all good men that it is so, the more their rejoicing, that God hath given a heart to the people, to remember still their great and happy deliverance from Popish thraldom, and to esteem so highly the precious benefit of his gospel, so freely and so peaceably enjoyed among them. Since, therefore, some have already in public, with many considerable arguments, exhorted the people to beware the growth of this Romish weed; I thought it no less than a common duty to lend my hand, how unable soever to so good a purpose. I will not now enter into the labyrinth of Councils and Fathers, an intangled wood, which the Papist loves to fight in, not with hope of a victory, but to obscure the shame of an overthrow; which yet in that kind of combat, many heretofore, and one of late, hath eminently given them. And such manner of dispute with them, to learned men useful, and very commendable. But I shall insist now, on what is plainer to common apprehension.”

True religion is the true worship and service of God, learnt and believed from the word of God only. No man or angel can know how God

would be worship'd and serv'd, unless God reveal it: He hath reveal’d and taught it us in the Holy Scriptures by inspir’d ministers, and in the gospel by his own Son and his Apostles, with strictest commands to reject all other traditions or additions whatsoever; according to that of St. Paul, Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that we have preached unto you, let him be anathema, or accurst; and Deut. iv. 2, Ye shall not add to the word which I command, neither shall you diminish aught from it. Rev. xxii. 18, 19, If any man shall add, &c. If any man shall take away from the words, &c. With good and religious reasons, therefore, all Protestant churches, with one consent, and particularly the Church of England, in her Thirty-nine Articles. Articles 6th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and elsewhere, maintain these two points as the main principles of true religion, that the rule of true religion is, the word of God only; and that their faith ought not to be an implicit faith, that is to believe though as the church believes, against or without express authority from Scripture.”

His exposure of the system of Popery is in his own best manner: he says—“One of their own famous writers found just cause to stile the Romish Church, Mother of Error, School of Heresy."

Amongst the best means to prevent the growth

« AnteriorContinuar »