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“ tent King, Redeemer of that lost remnant whose “ nature thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting " Love! And thou the third subsistence of divine “ infinitude, illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of “ created things! one Tri-personal Godhead! look
upon this thy poor, and almost spent and expiring “ Church, &c.” And in his tract of Prelatical Episcopacy he endeavours to prove the spuriousness of some epistles attributed to Ignatius, because they contained in them heresies, one of which heresies is, that “ he “ condemns them for ministers of Satan, who say
that “ Christ is God above all.” And a little after in the same tract he objects to the authority of Tertullian, because he went about to“ prove an imparity between “ God the Father, and God the. San.” And in the Paradise Lost. we shall find nothing upon this head, that is not perfectly agreeable to Scripture. The learned Dr. Trapp, who was as likely to cry out upon heresy as any man, asserts that the poem is orthodox in every part of it; or otherwise he would not have been at the pains of translating it. Neque alienum videtur a studiis viri theologi poema magna ex parte theologicum; omni ex parte (rideant, per me licet, atque ringantur athei et infideles) orthodoxum. Milton was indeed a dissenter from the Church of England, in which he had been educated, and was by his parents designed for holy orders, as we related before; but he was led away by early prejudices against the doctrine and discipline of the Church; and in his younger years was a favourer of the Presbyterians; in his middle age he was best pleased with the Independents and Anabaptists, as allowing greater liberty of con
science than others, and coming nearest in his opinion to the primitive practice; and in the latter part of his life he was not a professed member of any particular sect of Christians, he frequented no public worship, nor used any religious rite in his family. Whether so many
different forms of worship as he had seen, had made him indifferent to all forins; or whether he thought that all Christians had in some things corrupted the purity and simplicity of the Gospel; or whether he disliked their endless and uncharitable disputes, and that love of dominion and inclination to persecution, which he said was a piece of Popery inseparable from all Churches; or whether he believed, that a man might be a good Christian without joining in any
communion; or whether he did not look upon himself as inspired, as wrapt up in God, and above all forms and ceremonies, it is not easy to determine: to his own master he standeth or falleth: but if he was of
any denomination, he was a sort of a Quietist, and was full of the interior of religion though he so little regarded the exterior; and it is certain was to the last an enthusiast rather than an infidel. As enthusiasm made Norris a poet, so poetry might make Milton an enthusiast.
See note on Par. Reg. iv. 288. the twelfth book, appears agreeSo much is said by Bishop able to Scripture. But it is very Newton both in the Life and in possible to copy the letter of Rethe notes of the orthodoxy of the velation, whilst its spirit is miParadise Lost, that it may be well serably neglected. And this erto put some of its readers on ror may be often 'traced in Miltheir guard against an error in- ton's work, especially in his darvolved, as I apprehend, in this ing descriptions of the Persons commendation of the poem. Mil- of the Trinity. Dr. Johnson ton's religious system, indeed, as indeed observes, that “ whoever it is discovered for instance in “ considers the few radical posi
His circumstances were never very mean, nor very great; for he lived above want, and was not intent
“tions which the Scriptures af- of its readers, and others through “ forded him, will wonder by them, with floating notions of “ what energetic operation he materiality in the persons of “ expanded them to such extent, the Trinity, tending obviously “ and ramified them to so much towards Tritheism, and tempting “ variety, restrained as he was other minds, offended at errors “ by religious reverence from of this nature, into the opposite “ licentiousness of fiction." But
errors of the Sabellian or Socinian some subjects are too sacred for schemes. expansion. Invention is inad Milton perhaps was in part semissible where the Deity is the duced into these speculations by subject of it. And a step in ad. the theology of his age. Hooker vance beyond the actual declara- and Ridley indeed might have tions of Scripture may easily lead taught him humility and wisdom; us into folly or impiety.
but yet it is said, that the writTake for example the descrip- ings of Locke had the merit of tion of the exaltation of the Son first introducing generally into in the fifth book. This is founded our theological works a just sono doubt on Ps. ii. 7. and on this briety in the treatment of these slender basis what a detailed and mysterious subjects. In part howdegrading story is constructed of ever to pride, which was a prothe eternal Son of God invested minent fault in Milton's characon a certain day with a species ter, and was perhaps at the root of vice-regal authority, his Son- of many of his exaggerated ideas ship declared, and the angels of domestic, civil, and ecclesiashenceforward required to obey tical liberty, may be ascribed and worship him: whilst the his presumptuous intrusions into Son himself, if Abdiel did not the most awful mysteries. declare of him that he took part I would not willingly be classed in the creation of the angels, with the traducers of Milton's would appear
little more than a character; but having touched superior angel, raised above his upon this subject, I am tempted fellows, allowed to wield the to pursue it a little further ; thunder, and reflecting the glory especially as
one of Milton's of his father. As à general latest biographers has described picture this is at utter variance him as one of the most perfect of with the spirit of those notions the human race. (Symmons, Life which Revelation gives us of the of Milton, p. 567, and p. 593. ed. Son of God; however it may be 2.) A proud and an implacable supported here and there by spirit appear to have been bis isolated texts, by the words of principal faults. His extraordiScripture torn from their context, nary abilities and attainments no and divested of their genuine doubt strongly tempted him to spirit. And it is greatly to be pride; and he had no slight profeared that the theology of the vocations to bitterness and reParadise Lost has tainted many
venge. His treatment also of his
upon accumulating wealth; his ambition was more to enrich and adorn his mind. His father supported him in his travels, and for some time after. Then his pupils must have been of some advantage to him, and brought him either a certain stipend, or considerable presents at least; and he had scarcely any other method
first wife, or rather his generosity strong sense of his living in a to her family, appears in brilliant state of trial, and having to rencontrast with his conduct in other der a strict account of the eminstances. But his severity to- ployment of all his talents—the wards his children, undutiful as devout and habitual study of the they were, and his merciless at- Scriptures-continual prayer for tacks upon his controversial op- spiritual assistance-a profound ponents, even when they were reverence for the Deity, and a beneath his notice, and when devotional spirit. they sought to deprecate his an Had he perceived that any ger, however they may be ex passages in his great poem were cused, can never be justified. tinctured with irreverence, he Hence in many of his controver- would no doubt have eagerly ex. sial works extremely vulgar, in- punged them. For the Paradise delicate, and malignant passages Lost, notwithstanding the error are found in close and strange which I noticed above, demoncontact with pages breathing the strates his reverence for the Scripmost exalted benevolence, and tures, and for their Author, by the most ardent admiration of this circumstance amongst many virtue.
others—the scrupulous care with 'The more gross and ordinary which he borrows the words atfailings of mankind, indolence, tributed to the Creator, scarcely sensuality, and covetousness, Mil- venturing to alter a syllable in ton appears to have conquered order to bend them into his verse. very early and casily. His am Even the reproach that has bition had very little in it of a been thrown upon him of fremerely worldly character. His quenting no place of public worlove of fame was not separated ship in his latter days should be from an ardent desire to benefit received, as Dr. Symmons obmankind, and to fulfil his ap- serves, with some caution. His pointed duties. The philosophy blindness and other infirmities of Greece and Rome however might be in part his excuse ; and mems to have warped in some it is certain that his daily employdegree his ideas of moral great- ments were always ushered in by ness, as well as some of his spe- devout meditation and study of culative opinions on other sub- the Scriptures. It is reasonable jete
. But we may remark in also to suppose, that had he lived bis mixed character, even from in happier times fewer blemishes his earliest years, many genuine would have tarnished the lustre virtues of a purer quality-a of his virtues. E.
of improving his fortune, as he was of no profession. When his father died, he inherited an elder son's share of his estate, the principal part of which I believe was his house in Bread-street: and not long after, he was appointed Latin Secretary with a salary of £200 a year*; so that he was now in opulent circuinstances for a man, who had always led a frugal and temperate life, and was at little unnecessary expense besides buying of books. Though he was of the victorious party, yet he was far from sharing in the spoils of his country. On the contrary (as we learn from his second Defence) he sustained great losses during the civil war, and was not at all favoured in the imposition of taxes, but sometimes paid beyond his due proportion. And turn of affairs he was not only deprived of his place, but also lost £2000 which he had for security and improvement put into the Excise Office. He lost likewise another considerable sum for want of proper care and management, as persons of Milton's genius are seldom expert in money matters. And in the fire of London his house in Bread-street was burnt, before which accident foreigners have gone out of devotion (says Wood) to see the house and chamber where he was born".
His gains were inconsiderable in pro
And upon a
Together with an estate of " mightily importuned to go into about sixty pounds a year, which “ France and Italy; foreigners belonged to the plundered abbey came much to see him, and of Westminster, according to Mr. “ much admired him, and offered Todd; who probably depends “to him great preferments to only upon the account of Mrs. coine over to them; and the Foster, see below, p. cix. E. “ chief inducement of several
u Wood speaks upon Aubrey's foreigners that came over into quthority, who adds, that Milton England was to see 0. Pro“ was much more admired abroad tector, and Mr. J. Milton." E. “ than at home;" that “ he was