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suming on the supposed absence of additional written evidence to falsify his statement, Titus Oates did not scruple to accuse Milton of being a member of a Popish Club. "The Popish lord is not forgotten, or unknown, who brought a petition to the late regicides and usurpers, signed by about five hundred principal Papists in England; wherein was promised, upon condition of a toleration of the Popish religion here by law, their joint resolution to abjure and exclude the family of the Stuarts for ever from their undoubted right to the Crown. Who more disheartened the loyalty and patience of your best subjects than their confident scribblers, White and others? And MILTON was a known frequenter of a Popish club.' See the Address or Dedication to the King prefixed to 'A true Narrative of the Horrid Plot, &c. of the Popish party against the life of his Sacred Majesty, &c. By Titus Oates, D. D. folio, Lond. 1679. This charge was subsequently copied into • A History of all the Popish Plots, &c. from the first year of Elizabeth to this present year 1684, by Thos. Long, Prebendary of Exeter,' who says, p. 93. • Milton was by very many suspected to be a Papist ; and if Dr. Oates may be believed, was a known frequenter of the Popish Club, though he were Cromwell's Secretary.' The evidence furnished by the present publication will show how improbable it is that Milton, who, even within the precincts of the Papal dominions, had been at so little pains to moderate his zeal for the reformed religion, as to be exposed to insult and personal danger in consequence of his known princi
ples, should have consented to sit at the same secret council-board with his alleged confederates. See particularly vol. I. p. 321, on the marriage of priests; p. 429, on purgatory ; vol. II. p. 128, &c. on transubstantiation; p. 136, on the sacrifice of the mass; p. 138, &c. on the five Papistical sacraments; p. 146, on the authority of the Roman pontiffs ; p. 177, on traditions ; p. 195, on councils..
. On the subject of Divorce, the line of argument pursued in this treatise coincides with the well-known opinions which Milton has elsewhere so zealously advocated. To his heterodoxy on this point must now be added, what hitherto has been unsuspected, his belief in the lawfulness of polygamy, to which he appears to have been led by the difficulty he found in reconciling the commonly received opinion with the practice of the patriarchs. It seems however no less easy to conceive that the Supreme Lawgiver might dispense with his own laws in the early ages of the world, for the sake of multiplying the population in a quicker ratio, than that marriages between brothers and sisters might be then permitted on account of the paucity of inhabitants on the face of the earth. Yet the existence of the latter practice in the primeval ages has never been alleged as a sufficient authority for the intermarriage of so near relations, now that the reason for the original permission has ceased to operate.
Doubts have always been entertained as to the real sentiments of Milton respecting the second person of
the Trinity. Newton indeed is assiduous in praising his theological views, although he once so far qualifies his assertion, as to content himself with pronouncing that Milton is generally truly orthodox.' Warton however has acknowledged the justice of Mr. Calton's remark on a memorable passage in Paradise Regained, (1. 161-167.) that not a word is there said of the Son of God, but what a Socinian, or at least an Arian, would allow. The truth is, that whoever takes the trouble of comparing with each other the passages referred to in the note below, will find real and important contradictions in the language of Milton on this subject.* That these contradictions should exist, will cease to appear extraordinary after a perusal of the chapter · On the Son of God’ in the ensuing pages. It is there asserted that the Son existed in the beginning, and was the first of the whole creation ; by whose delegated power all things were made in heaven and earth ; begotten, not by natural necessity, but by the decree of the Father, within the limits of time ; endued with the divine nature and substance, but distinct from and inferior to the Father; one with the Father in love and unanimity of will, and receiving every thing, in his filial as well as in his mediatorial character, from the Father's gift. This summary will be sufficient to show that the opinions of Milton were in reality nearly Arian, ascribing to the Son as high a share of divinity as was compatible with the denial of his selfexistence and eternal generation, but not admitting his co-equality and co-essentiality with the Father. That he entertained different views at other periods of his life, is evident from several expressions scattered through his works. The following stanza occurs in the ode on the morning of Christ's Nativity, written, according to Warton, as a college exercise at the age of twenty-one.
* Paradise Lost, III. 62-64. 138—140. 305-307. 350. 384-415. V. 603-605. 719, 720. VI. 676-884. X. 63--67. 85, 86. 225, 226.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
A few years afterwards he wrote thus in his first controversial work : · Witness the Arians and Pelagians, which were slain by the heathen for Christ's sake, yet we take both these for no true friends of Christ.* In the same tract he speaks of the hard measure' dealt out to the faithful and invincible Athanasius ;' and in the treatise · On Prelatical Episcopacy,' published shortly afterwards, he holds the following important language : •Suppose Tertullian had made an imparity where none was originally ; should he move us that goes about to prove an imparity between God the Father and God the Son ? ..... Believe him now for a faithful relater of tradition, whom you see such
* Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, L 7.
an unfaithful expounder of the Scripture."* Whether Milton wonld have ceased to hold the doctrines espoused by him in his earlier years, had he lived subsequently to the times of Bishop Bull and of Waterland, it is now useless to conjecture. The pride of reason, though disclaimed by him with remarkable, and probably with sincere earnestness, formed a principal ingredient in his character, and would have presented, under any circumstances, a formidable obstacle to the reception of the true faith. But we may be permitted to regret that the mighty mind of Milton, in its conscientious, though mistaken search after truth, had not an opportunity of examining those masterly refutations of the Arian scheme, for which Christianity is indebted to the labours of those distinguished ornaments of the English Church.
With respect to the cardinal doctrine of the atonement, the opinions of Milton are expressed throughout in the strongest and most unqualified manner. No attentive reader of Paradise Lost can have failed to remark, that the poem is constructed on the fundamental principle that the sacrifice of Christ was strictly vicarious ; that not only was man redeemed, but a real price, life for life,' was paid for his redemption.. The same system will be found fully and unequivocally maintained in this treatise ; and much as it is to be regretted that it cannot be said, in the author's
* Prose Works, I. 72.