Imágenes de páginas

have been made, but the reader, if he wishes, can consult the work for himself. It affords me real pleasure to quote with entire satisfaction the following remarks of the Bishop of Chester: “With respect to the cardinal doctrine of the atonement, the opinions of Milton are expressed throughout in the strongest and most unqualified manner. No attentive reader of Paradise Lost can have failed to remark, that the poem is constructed on the fundamental principle that the sacrifice of Christ was strictly vicarious; that not only was man redeemed, but a real price,“ life for life,' was paid for his redemption. The same system will be found fully and unequivocally maintained in this treatise; and much as it is to be regretted that it cannot be said, in the author's own words elsewhere of the Son of God, as delineated in the following pages, that

•In him all his Father shone Substantially express'd,'

yet the translator rejoices in being able to state, that the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ is so scripturally and unambiguously enforced, as to leave on that point nothing to be desired.” MILTON “gloried in the cross of Christ.

It will be recollected how strongly Milton, in his work on “ The likeliest Means to remove Hirelings out of the Church," spoke of the un

[ocr errors]

scriptural mode of paying the clergy by tithes. In this work also, it is said: “ To exact or bargain for tithes, or other stipendiary payments under the gospel, to extort them from the flock under the alleged authority of civil edicts, or to have recourse to civil actions and legal processes for the recovery of allowances purely ecclesiastical, is the part of wolves rather than of ministers of the gospel.” Acts xx. 29.

In his History of Britain, he quotes to the same effect Gildas's character of the Saxon clergy: “Subtle prowlers, pastors in name, but indeed wolves; intent upon all occasions, not to feed the flocks, but to pamper and well-line themselves.'

It having been stated that Milton was of the Baptist denomination, the following extracts is made in confirmation: Under the gospel, the first of the sacraments commonly so called is baptism, wherein the bodies of believers who engage themselves to newness of life are immersed in running water,* to signify their regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and their union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection."

From this statement he argues: “Hence it follows that infants are not to be baptized, inas

* There were at that time no baptisteries: the Baptists used the rivers as their fonts.

much as they are incompetent to receive instruction, or to believe, or to enter into a covenant, or to promise or answer for themselves, or even to hear the word. For how can infants, who understand not the word, be purified thereby, any more than adults can receive edification by hearing an unknown language? For it is not that outward baptism, which purifies only the filth of the flesh, which saves us, but the answer of a good conscience, as Peter testifies; of which infants are incapable. Besides, baptism is not merely a covenant, containing a certain stipulation on one side, with a corresponding engagement on the other, which in the case of an infant is impossible; but it is also a vow, and as such can neither be pronounced by infants, nor required of them. It is remarkable to what futile arguments those divines have recourse who maintain the contrary opinions."

“IMMERSION. It is in vain alleged by those who, on the authority of Mark vii. 4, Luke xi. 38, have introduced the practice of affüsion in baptism, instead of immersion, that to dip and sprinkle mean the same thing; since in washing we do not sprinkle the hands, but immerse them.”

The opinions of Milton in regard to the capital doctrine of the TRINITY, as contained in this manuscript, are so utterly at variance with those on the same subject in the works published by

himself, that it is difficult to conceive how both could have proceeded from the same pen. Admitting, however, that the “Treatise of Christian Doctrine,” which is without any date, was dictated by him, (and for that conclusion there are certainly very strong reasons,) at what period of his life could it have been written? It should seem it must have been subsequent to the publication of his Paradise Lost in 1666; for were it written sooner, surely that work could not have contained the sublime sentiments which are applied to the Son of God, and to the Holy Spirit. And yet, upon that supposition, it must consequently have been during the last eight years of his life, but then how can we account for his having asserted in 1674, in his last work, that “the doctrine of the Trinity is a plain doctrine in Scripture?” In fact, this manuscript is involved in mystery; but supposing the possibility of its genuineness, I am inclined to adopt a remark applied to the seraphic and pious Dr. Watts, in reference to the gigantic MilΤΟΝ, ,

that he had studied the doctrine of the Trinity, as some Indian devotees are said to have contemplated the sun, till their own sight was darkened.” Affecting instances these, of the errors into which the most powerful minds might be led, if they are not satisfied to receive the mysteries of the gospel, as matters to be believed upon

the authority of divine inspiration, and not to be explained by the feeble and darkened reason of fallen nature. Happy would it have been for these two great men, had they been influenced in all their reasonings on the nature and perfections of Jehovah, by the sentiment and spirit of the following most admirable couplet:

• Where reason fails, with all her powers,
There faith prevails, and love adores."*


It is a very remarkable feature in the history of some of the most eminent men whom God has raised up for usefulness in his church, that they should have lived long enough to have exhibited in their old age such remarkable proofs of imbecility, as to prove that the best of men are not perfect, either in grace or in knowledge; and that “no man should glory in men.” Such men as Cranmer, and Watts, and Milton, might have been supposed to be a kind of super-human beings, not partaking of the weaknesses and infirmities of men in general; but who that are acquainted with the aberrations and folly which they manifested, but will unite in the truth of

* As to the history of the finding of this manuscript in the State Paper Office, I must refer the reader to the Preface to the translation, and to Todd's Account of Milton, published in 1826.

« AnteriorContinuar »