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crew, together with all the mischiefs, dissensions, troubles, wars merely of their kindling, Christendom might soon rid herself and be happy, if Christians would but know their own dignity, their liberty, their adoption, and let it not be wondered if I say, their spiritual priesthood, whereby they have all equally access to any ministerial function, whenever called by their own abilities, and the church, though they never came near commencement or university. But while Protestants, to avoid the due labour of understanding their own religion, are content to lodge it in the breast, or rather in the books, of a clergyman, and to take it thence by scraps and mammocks, as he dispenses it in his Sunday's dole, they will be always learning and never knowing; always infants ; always either his vassals, as lay papists are to their priests ; or at odds with him, as reformed principles give them some light to be not wholly conformable; whence infinite disturbances in the state, as they do, must needs follow. Thus much I had to say; and, I suppose, what may be enough to them who are not avariciously bent otherwise, touching the likeliest means to remove Hirelings out of the church; than which nothing can more conduce to truth, to peace and all happiness both in Church and State. If I be not heard nor believed, the event will bear me witness to have spoken truth; and I, in the meanwhile, have borne my witness, not out of season, to the church and to my country.
TRACTS AFTER THE DEATH OF CROMWELL.
TRACTS AFTER THE DEATH OF
A LETTER TO A FRIEND CONCERNING THE RUPTURE OF THE COMMON
THE READY AND EASY WAY TO ESTABLISH A FREE COMMONWEALTH, AND
THE EXCELLENCIES THEREOF, COMPARED WITH THE DANGERS OF READMITTING KINGSHIP IN THIS NATION: A LETTER TO GENERAL MONK.
BRIEF NOTES UPON A LATE SERMON, TITLED THE FEAR OF GOD AND
THE KING;” BY MATTHEW GRIFFITH, D.D., WHEREIN MANY NOTORIOUS WRESTINGS OP SCRIPTURE AND OTHER FALSITIES ARE OBSERVED.
[SCARCELY was the great Protector dead, before it became clear that it needed his vigorous arm to hold in check the factions of the Republicans on the one hand, and to keep at bay the Royalists on the other. The old parliamentary and military leaders, who had submitted to Cromwell's supremacy whilst he lived, began forthwith to intrigue against each other. The partizans of the Stuart dynasty succeeded in hoodwinking the Presbyterians, and secured their cooperation in the proposal to recall Charles the Second. Monk brought over a large part of the army to their side, and within two years the king was restored. It was with indignation and shame that Milton saw his fellow-countrymen again bow their necks to the yoke, and relapse into their old servitude. He forewarned them of the calamities they were bringing upon the nation, and earnestly implored them to pause in their downward course. The Tracts which he published at this time are marked with a solemn and dignified sorrow. He felt that the task was hopeless, and that his appeals were vain. Still he dared not keep silence. Like Cassandra, he must utter his foreboding of impending evil, with the depressing consciousness that none would heed it. Whoever might fail in his duty, he at least would have the satisfaction of having done his part. With a dignity and prescience, which are almost prophetic in their
tode, he warned the English people that, “though they now seem to be choosing them a captain back for Egypt,” they will “soon repent, when they begin to find the old encroachments coming on little by little, which must necessarily proceed from king and bishop united in one interest; and be forced to fight over again all that they have fought, and spend over again all that they have spent, but are never likely to attain thus far as we are now advanced to the recovery of our freedom, never to have it in possession as we have it now, never to be vouchsafed hereafter the like signal mercies and assistances of Heaven in our cause, if, by our ingrateful backsliding, we now make these fruitless.” The history of the next twenty-eight years furnished an emphatic commentary on these remarkable words, and the “Glorious Revolution of 1688” fulfilled his prophecy to the very letter. Meanwhile he could only utter words of unavailing warning, and he closes his appeal to General Monk, by saying:
“However, with all hazard, I have ventured what I thought it my duty to speak in season, and to forewarn my country in time.
Thus much I should perhaps have said, though I were sure I should have spoken only to trees and stones; and had none to cry to, but with the prophet: “O earth, earth, earth!' to tell the very soil itself what its inhabitants are deaf to: nay, though what I have spoke should happen (which Thou suffer not, who didst create man free! nor Thou next, who didst redeem us from being the servants of men !) to be THE LAST WORDS OF OUR EXPIRING LIBERTY."
“The last words of our expiring liberty” they were, for that generation.)
TRUE RELIGION, HERESY, SCHISM, TOLERATION.
TRUE RELIGION, HERESY, SCHISM,
WHAT MEANS MAY BE USED AGAINST THE GROWTH OF POPERY.*
[THE rapid spread of Popery in the reign of Charles the Second greatly alarmed the English people, and at length gave rise to one of the most foolish of the many very foolish panics in our history. In the year before his death, Milton issued a small pamphlet on the subject, — the last of his published works. In it he claims an universal toleration for all Protestant sects, but would withhold it from the Romanists, on the twofold ground that their worship is idolatrous, and that their organization is political rather than religious. He lays the chief stress of resisting the further progress of Popery, however, not on the State, but on the Church, and argues that the careful study of the Scriptures, the practice of mutual charity and forbearance amongst Protestants, and the reformation of our lives in accordance with the Word of God, will furnish the most efficient means of hindering the spread, and abating the dangers, of Popery.]
TRUE RELIGION, HERESY, AND SCHISM. TRUE religion is the true worship and service of God, learnt and believed from the Word of God only. No man or angel can know how God would be worshipped and served, unless God reveal it: He hath revealed and taught it us in the Holy Scriptures by inspired ministers, and in the Gospel by His own Son and His apostles, with strictest command to reject all other traditions or additions whatsoever. According to that of St. Paul: “Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema, or accursed.” And
* Published 1673.
Deut. iv. 2 : “ Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall
you diminish aught from it.” Rev. xxii. 18, 19: “ If any man shall add.
any man shall take away from the words,” &c. And if all Protestants, as universally as they hold these two principles, so attentively and religiously would observe them, they would avoid and cut off many debates and contentions, schisms and persecutions, which too oft have been among them, and more firmly unite against the common adversary. From hence it directly follows, that no true Protestant can persecute, or not tolerate, his fellow-Protestant, though dissenting from him in some opinions, but he must flatly deny and renounce these two his own main principles, whereon true religion is founded; while he compels his brother from that which he believes as the manifest Word of God, to an implicit faith (which he himself condemns) to the endangering of his brother's soul, whether by rash belief, or outward conformity : for "whatsoever is not of faith, is sin."
I will now as briefly shew what is false religion or heresy, which will be done as easily : for of contraries the definitions must needs be contrary. Heresy, therefore, is a religion taken
and believed from the traditions of men, and additions to the Word of God. Whence also it follows clearly, that of all known sects, or pretended religions, at this day in Christendom, Popery is the only or the greatest heresy : and he who is so forward to brand all others for heretics, the obstinate Papist, is the only heretic. Hence one of their own famous writers found just cause to style the Romish church, “Mother of error, school of heresy.” And whereas the Papist boasts himself to be a Roman Catholic, it is a mere contradiction, one of the Pope's bulls, as if he should say, universal particular, a Catholic schismatic. For catholio in Greek signifies universal : and the Christian church was so called, as consisting of all nations to whom the Gospel was to be preached, in contradistinction to the Jewish church, which consisted for the most part of Jews only.