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blessed meekness of his lowly roof, those ever-open and inviting doors of his dwelling-house, which delight to be frequented with only filial access; how can they justify to have turned these domestic privileges into the bar of a proud judicial court, where fees and clamours keep shop and drive a trade, where bribery and corruption solicits, paltering the free and moneyless power of discipline with a carnal satisfaction by the purse ? Contrition, humiliation, confession, the very sighs of a repentant spirit, are there sold by the penny. That undeflowered and unblemishable simplicity of the gospel, not she herself, for that could never be, but a false-whited, a lawny resemblance of her, like that airborn Helena in the fables, made by the sorcery of prelates, instead of calling her disciples from the receipt of custom, is now turned publican herself; and gives up her body to a mercenary whoredom under those fornicated arches, which she calls God's house, and in the sight of those her altars, which she hath set up to be adored, makes merchandise of the bodies and souls of men. Rejecting purgatory for no other reason, as it seems, than because her greediness cannot defer, but had rather use the utmost extortion of redeemed penances in this life.” *
In conclusion, Milton thus declares the enslaving and ruinous influence of prelacy on the state and the monarch, and pleads for its entire extinction. “I shall show briefly, ere I conclude, that the prelates, as they are to the subjects a calamity, so are they the greatest underminers and betrayers of the monarch, to whom they seem to be most favourable. I cannot better liken the state and person of a king than to that mighty Nazarite Samson ; who being disciplined from his birth in the precepts and the practice of temperance and sobriety, without the strong drink of injurious and excessive desires, grows up to a noble strength and perfection with those his illustrious and sunny locks, the laws, waving and curling about his godlike shoulders. And while he keeps
Prose Works, vol. ii. pp. 498_500.
them about him undiminished and unshorn, he may with the jawbone of an ass, that is, with the word of his meanest officer, suppress and put to confusion thousands of those that rise against his just power. But laying down his head among the strumpet flatteries of prelates, while he sleeps and thinks no harm, they wickedly shaving off all those bright and weighty tresses of his law, and just prerogatives, which were his ornament and strength, deliver him over to indirect and violent counsels, which, as those Philistines, put out the fair and far-sighted eyes of his natural discerning, and make him grind in the prisonhouse of their sinister ends and practices upon him : till he, knowing this prelatical razor to have bereft him of his wonted might, nourish again his puissant hair, the golden beams of law and right; and they sternly shook, thunder with ruin upon the heads of those his evil counsellors, but not without great affliction to himself. .... For the which, and for all their former misdeeds, whereof this book and many volumes more cannot contain the moiety, I shall move ye, lords, in the behalf I dare say of many thousand good Christians, to let your justice and speedy sentence pass against this great malefactor, prelacy. And yet in the midst of rigour I would beseech ye to think of mercy; and such a mercy, (I fear I shall overshoot with a desire to save this falling prelacy,) such a mercy (if I may venture to say it) as may exceed that which for only ten righteous persons would have saved Sodom. Not that I dare advise ye to contend with God, whether he or you shall be more merciful, but in your wise esteems to balance the offences of those peccant cities with these enormous riots of ungodly misrule, that prelacy hath wrought both in the church of Christ, and in the state of this kingdom. And if ye think ye may with a pious presumption strive to go beyond God in mercy, I shall not be one now that would dissuade ye. Though God for less than ten just persons would not spare Sodom, yet if you can find, after due search, but only one good thing in prelacy, either to reli
gion or civil government, to king or parliament, to prince or people, to law, liberty, wealth, or learning, spare her, let her live, let her spread among ye, till with her shadow all your dignities and honours, and all the glory of the land be darkened and obscured. But, on the contrary, if she be found to be malignant, hostile, destructive to all these, as nothing can be surer, then let your severe and impartial doom imitate the divine vengeance; rain down your punishing force upon this godless and oppressing government, and bring such a dead sea of subversion upon her, that she may never in this land rise more to afflict the holy reformed church, and the elect people of God." *
* Prose Works, vol. ii. pp. 506-508.
MILTON PUBLISHES HIS ANIMADVERSIONS ON THE REMONSTRANTS'
DEFENCE"-THE MOST STRIKING PASSAGE FROM THIS WORK-THE
It was, as has been mentioned before, a spiteful expression of Dr. Johnson, that Milton "vapoured away his patriotism in a private boarding-school.” So far is this from the truth, that, in the year 1641, immediately after his return to England, and in the thirty-third year of his age, he produced no fewer than five treatises on the most important subject that agitated the minds of that day. His two books of “Reformation in England,” his “ Treatise on Prelatical Episcopacy,” and that entitled the “Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy,” have already been considered. The fifth remains to be noticed. A pamphlet had been published, written by five presbyterian ministers, and entitled “Smectymnuus," a word formed with the initial letters of the names of the authors, Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurston. This treatise excited no ordinary degree of attention, and elicited a reply from Bishop Hall, under the title of a “Defence of the Remonstrance.” This second appearance of Bishop Hall on the arena of controversy again summoned Milton from his more cherished pursuits : he replied in a work, entitled “ Animadversions on the Remonstrants' Defence.” It was thrown into the form of a dialogue, one part of which stained by the author, while the other
is put into the mouth of his opponent, and drawn from his “Defence of the Remonstrance.”
This style of composition afforded an opportunity which Milton was not slow to embrace, of visiting his antagonist with that severity which, in too many instances, defaced the controversies of the day. Of his triumphant mastery over the Bishop, no unprejudiced reader can entertain a doubt; though it must be admitted that in this, as in some other of Milton's controversial writings, his asperity, occasionally descending to coarseness, was less consistent with his own dignity, than with the deserts of his antagonist. He, however, did not content himself with ebullitions of indignant satire, and with “scattering about him the instruments of pain.” The “ Animadversions” contain some majestic passages, the animation of which is inspired not by the malignity of the attack, but by the grandeur of the subject, and the nagnitude of the interests imperilled. One of these is 'so characteristic of the genius of Milton, when led by the habit of his mind to vent its excitement in expatiating on the grandest subjects of human contemplation, that it cannot be omitted in this place.
“In this age, Britons, God hath reformed his church after many hundred years of popish corruption; in this age he hath freed us from the intolerable yoke of prelates and papal discipline; in this age he hath renewed our protestation against all those yet remaining dregs of superstition. Let us all go, every true protested Briton, throughout the three kingdoms, and render thanks to God the Father of light, and Fountain of heavenly grace, and to his Son Christ our Lord, leaving this Remonstrant and his adherents to their own designs; and let us recount even here without delay, the patience and long-suffering that God hath used towards our blindness and hardness time after time. For he being equally near to his whole creation of mankind, and of free power to turn his beneficent and fatherly regard to what region or kingdom he pleases, hath yet ever had this