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now that Charles II. and the Duke of York were pursuing their dark and equivocal policy, he had the boldness to sound an alarm to England. His plea against popery was the last work he published : before we notice this, let the reader remark how explicitly he states his views in his “Defence;” and whatever may be the aspect of popery in England, now, there can be no doubt, that in that day in England, the Papists laboured hard to subvert all constitutional authority. Milton loved civil and religious liberty : evidence was not wanting, that the papists in England of that day loved neither ; they wound their tortuous way to the corruption of all that could be dear to the English mind.
He thus speaks of the Papists in the preface to his “ Defence of the People of England," published in 1651: “You find fault with our magistrates for admitting such a common sewer of all sorts of sects. Why should they not? It belongs to the Church to cast them out of the communion of the faithful, not to the magistrate to banish them the country ; provided they do not offend against the civil laws of the state. Men at first united into civil societies, that they might live safely, and enjoy their libety, without being wronged or oppressed;
and according to the doctrines of Christianity, and that they might do so religiously, and they united themselves into churches. Civil societies have laws, and churches have a discipline peculiar to themselves, and far differing from each other. And this has been the occasion of so many wars in Christendom; to wit, because the civil magistrate and the church confounded their jurisdictions. Therefore we do not admit of the Popish Sect, so as to tolerate Papists at all; for we do not look upon that as a religion, but rather as a hierarchical tyranny, under a cloak of religion, clothed with the spoils of the civil power, which it has usurped to itself, contrary to our Saviour's own doctrine.”
In the last work to which reference has been made, he groups together all sects of Protestants : and he enquires, how are they to be tolerated ? “ Doubtless equally," as being "all Protestants; that is, on all occasions giving account of their faith, either by their arguing, preaching in their several assemblies, public writing, and freedom of printing.”
“Let us now inquire,” he says, “whether popery be tolerated or no. Popery is a double thing to deal with, and claims a two-fold power, ecclesiastical and political, both usurped,
and the one supporting the other. But ecclesiastical has ever pretended to political. The pope, by this mixed faculty, pretends rights to kingdoms and states, and especially to this of England; thrones and unthrones kings, and absolves the people from their obedience to them; sometimes interdiots to whole nations the public worship of God, shutting up their churches: and now, since, through the infinite mercy and favour of God, we have shaken off this Babylonish yoke, hath not ceased by his spies and agents, bulls and emissaries, once to destroy both king and parliament; perpetually to seduce, corrupt, and pervert as many as they can of the people. Whether therefore it be fit or reasonable, to tolerate men thus principled in religion towards the state, I submit it to the consideration of all magistrates, who are best able to provide for their own and the public safety.”
Milton does not interfere with the religious tenets of the Romanist, but with his civil opinions. The Romanist holds his reserved dogmas. The Romanist does not submit to the conditions of simple civil society. The Romanist holds the right of a foreign pontiff to interfere in the affairs of state ; to make and unmake kings; to throw a foreign state into anarchy ; to support his supremacy; and, therefore, he protests against their elevation to equal civil dignity with the Protestants. In the nineteenth century, the Protestant can afford to be more chivalrous than in Milton's day; but Rome remains as dark, as bloody, and as persecuting as then.
Milton, in fact, was as little tolerant of “Papists” as he was of “prelates ;” and for the same reasons—they were both inimical to the existence of perfect civil and religious liberty. But it must not be supposed that he would countenance persecution. “Are we,” he asks, “to punish them by corporal punishment, or fines in their estates, upon account of their religion? I suppose it stands not with the clemency of the Gospel, more than what appertains to the security of the state.” The means he recommends to “hinder the growth of Popery” are—“the reading of the Scriptures," “mutual forbearance and charity amongst those who profess to take the Bible for their guide,” and “the amendment of their lives;”—a process of conviction, to which few, we imagine, will object.
Finally, he says, “Let us, therefore, using this last means, last here spoken of, but first to be done, amend our lives with all speed, lest, through impenitency, we run into that stupidly which we now seek, by all means, warily to avoid,—the worst of superstitions, and the heaviest of all God's judgments, popery."
PARTING GLIMPSES OF GREAT LIFE.
Of the events of the more private portion of the life of this illustrious man we have scarcely left ourselves room to speak; and indeed the personal narrative mixes itself with the public performance. We may go back and recapitulate a little. When Milton, just turned thirty, returned from his foreign tour, he began to look round him for some occupation in life. He had taken the usual degrees at the University; but his conscience would not allow him to enter upon the pursuits of the Church or the Law. Indeed, from some paragraphs in his life, he appears to have been equally inclined to say,“ Woe unto you lawyers !” as, “ Woe unto you prelates !” He became, therefore, a schoolmaster ; he founded, what Johnson, in a