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His antagonist had meanly insinuated that Milton's early rising was for sensual pursuits. In reply, he says: “My morning haunts are, where they should be, at home; not sleeping or concocting the surfeits of an irregular feast, but up and stirring; in winter often before the sound of any bell awakens men to labour or devotion; in summer as oft as the bird that first rouses, or not much tardier, to read good authors, or cause them to be read till the attention is weary, or the memory have its full fraught. Then, with useful and generous labour, preserving the body's health and hardiness, to render a lightsome, clear, and not a lumpish, obedience of the 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 performers. “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 sensuality 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 deject 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 sorceress, 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 “ answering 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 favourable 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 bishop'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 princely revenues the 'gulfs and whirlpools of benefices, but the dry pits of all sound doctrine.' And again, Bishops or presbyters we know, and deacons we know, but what are chaplains? In state, perhaps, 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
His sarcasms upon worldly-minded ministers were not confined to Episcopalians; the Puritans, who had succeeded them in the parish livings, and, it should appear, in
many instances, to their covetous and libidinous practices, came in for their full share. Oh, ye ministers,” says he, - read here what work he makes among your gallipots, your balms, and your cordials; and not only your sweet sippets in widows' 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 crys 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 Anti-christian 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 integral 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 sentences 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 straight-forward caustic style in which he attacked the prelates must have been highly diverting to those Puritans, both in church and