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mind, for the cause of religion and our country's liberty, when it shall require firm hearts in sound bodies, to stand and cover their stations, rather than see the ruin of our Protestation, [Protestantism,] and the inforcement of a slavish life.”
He thus castigates collegians who were theatrical per. formers. “There, while they acted and overacted, among other young scholars, I was a spectator : they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools; they made sport, and I laughed; they mispronounced, and I misliked; and to make up the Atticism, they were out, and I hist.”
He had to answer the charge of lewdness and sensual. ity from his reverend accuser! “These means, together with a certain niceness of nature, an honest haughtiness and self-esteem, either of what I was or what I might be, (which let envy call pride,) and lastly, a burning modesty, all uniting their natural aid together, kept me still above those low descents of mind, beneath which he must de. ject and plunge himself, that can agree to salvable and unlawful prostitution.”—“If I should tell you what I learnt of chastity and love, (I mean that which is truly so,) whose charming cup is only virtue, which she bears in her hand to those who are worthy ; the rest are cheated with a thick, intoxicating potion, which a certain sor. ceress, the abuser of love's name, carries about: and if I were to tell you how the first and chiefest office of love begins and ends in the soul, producing those happy twins of the divine generation, knowledge and virtue, with such abstracted sublimities as these, it might be worth your listening, readers.”
His most reverend antagonist indulged in the following advice to MILTON's acquaintances; that is, if they were genuine Christians. “You that love Christ,” said he, : " and know this miscreant wretch, stone him to death, lest you smart for his impunity.” The following retort is too much in the stile of “ rendering railing for railing;” though it is probable Milton thought it to be “answer. ing a fool according to his folly, lest he should be wise in his own conceit.” “ There be those in the world, and I among those, who nothing admire the idol of a bishoprick; and hold that it wants so much to be a blessing, as that I deem it the merest, the falsest, the most unfortunate gift of fortune ; and were the punishment and misery of being a bishop to be terminated only in the person, and did not extend to the affliction of the whole diocese, if I could wish any thing in the bitterness of my soul to an enemy, I should wish him the biggest and the fattest bishoprick.”
On this prayer his biographer quaintly remarks : “If Milton had been such a saint as never missed a favour. able answer to his prayers, I question not, but at this rate, more had coveted to be his enemies than his friends." “ Another mark of Milton's goodwill to the bishops,” says Toland, “was this unpardonable simile :— A bi. shop's foot, that has all its toes, (maugre the gout,) and a linen sock over it, is the aptest emblem of the prelate himself; who being a pluralist, may under one surplice hide four benefices, besides the great metropolitan toe which sends such a foul stench to heaven.' In another place, he calls their princelý revenues the gulfs and whirlpools of benefices, but the dry pits of all sound doc. trine.' And again, · Bishops or presbyters we know, and deacons we know, but what are chaplins ? In state, per. haps, they may be listed among the upper serving men of some great household, and be admitted to some such place as may stile them the servers or yeomen-ushers of devotion, where the master is too rusty or too rich to say his own prayers, or to bless his own table.'”
His sarcasms upon the worldly-minded ministers were not confined to Episcopalians; the Puritans, who had succeeded them in the parish livings, and, it should ap. pear, in many instances, to their covetous and libidinous practices, came in for their full share. “Oh, ye minis. ters,” says he, “read here what work he makes among your gallipots, your balms, and your cordials; and not only your sweet sippets in widow's houses, but the huge goblets, wherewith he charges you to have devoured houses and all. Cry him up for a saint in your pulpits, while he cries you down for Atheists in hell.”
All these elaborate works must have been written in little more than a year after his return, and when he was but little more than thirty-three years of age. .
The judicious reader will have perceived, that Milton's objections to the Episcopal Church of England, were founded upon the dissenting arguments of the sufficiency of the Scriptures alone, and the right of private judgment, in opposition to her acknowledged foundation, being the Creeds of the first four general councils, in addition to the Scriptures; and the Antichristian principle of the right of the civil magistrate to adopt rites and ceremonies, and enforce them by civil pains and penalties, upon the observance of those whose consciences would not allow them to obey any thing in religion, but what was taught them in the oracles of God.
It is fair to admit, that another circumstance which roused his mighty choler was adventitious to the order of bishops, but which, with many of that order, was an in. tegral part of their office : this was their being employed as civil officers, having to manage many of the affairs of government, at least in so far as related to what they
called religious delinquencies. The decisions and sen. tences of bishops, in the Star Chamber, from which there was no appeal, were the most galling oppression, the most cruel tyranny; and even the Canons, which had been adopted by them in their last Convocation, in 1640, had roared hoarse thunder, and sent forth more than fire and smoke against the almost only honest men, at that time, in the kingdom, the Puritans and Sectaries : the Anabaptists, Brownists, Separatists, Familists, &c. &c.
Nor should it be overlooked, that though the blunt and strait-forward caustic style in which he attacked the prelates must have been highly diverting to those Puritans, both in church and state, who had begun to throw off their prelatical chains, yet the sentiments would be very far from meeting their approbation ; because, though the Puritans were opposed to Episcopacy, they yet had no objection to the principle of an establishment, the spiritual supremacy of the monarch; and much less to any tithes provided for the support of the priesthood ; nor, I might add, to what was, above all, exposed by Milton, the right of the established sect to withhold toleration, and to pun. ish, with fines and imprisonments, and even with death, those who would not submit their consciences to the dic, tation of the magistrate.
1644–1648. At this time a most dreadful civil war raged in the nation, which was began in the year 1640. The historian Hume, speaking of the meeting of parliament at that period, says: “The parliament, at meeting, (the 13th of April, 1640,) was unusually numerous. Every member looked upon this conjunction as a national crisis. The king in his speech represented the necessity of a supply to main. tain his troops, and of means to expel the Scottish rebels, that the nation in general might be free from its fears, and the northern counties disburdened of such trouble. some guests, whom they were obliged to maintain. The commons having, at the king's recommendation, filled their chair with William Lenthal, a lawyer of some rep. utation, established a committee of elections. Then they resolved that, on certain days of every week, there should be a committee of the whole house, to deliberate upon the state of religion, the grievances, the courts of justice, commerce, and the affairs of Ireland. Fanaticism, with all its levelling principles, had now overspread the land. Even those leaders of the commons who had assumed a puritanical severity in their words and actions, to work the more effectually on the minds of the populace, were gradually infected with that enthusiasm which at first they had only feigned : many became real religionists, while others imbibed a large portion of puritanism, with. out laying aside their hypocrisy. The members were generally bent upon an alteration in the government. A few moderate men sought only to ascertain the liberties of the nation : others resolved to humble and diminish