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descending by direct transmission from the apostles, and through this figment found their way to the doctrine of sacramental efficacy. If they denied the infallibility of the pope, they transferred it to the church,* and added to it the still more baneful dogma of the ecclesiastical supremacy of the monarch. While they abjured the mass they so stated the doctrine of the Eucharist, as to admit of its being wrested (as is commonly done in the present day) to the notion of a perpetual oblation. Their Prayer-book was little else than an English translation of the Romish liturgy and offices, teaching men to invoke and commemorate the saints to whom they had ceased to pray, and to continue the vain repetitions and still vainer material observances which popery had ever substituted for the “reasonable service" of the human mind.
The observation of Lord Russell, with regard to the scheme of Henry VIII., requires but little modification to make it applicable to every subsequent period :—“The religion established by Henry," he remarks, “was so far from being the reformed church of Luther, or of Calvin, that he prided himself in maintaining the Roman Catholic faith, after he had shaken off the supremacy of the pope. His ordinances, indeed, vibrated for a short time between the old and the new religion, as he listened more to Cranmer or to Gardiner; but the law of the six articles, which contains the creed he finally imposed on his people, maintains and confirms all the leading articles of the Roman belief.”
It might be supposed that a church embodying, though in a diluted form, the tenets of the popish religion, but without the prestige of its authority or antiquity, usurping the gorgeous edifices of the Catholic church, but for a worship which was shorn of the splendour which corresponded to them, contained within itself the seeds of rapid dissolution. And, doubtless, its destruction would have been speedy and complete had not its authors moored it safely to the state,
* Article XX: “The Church hath power to decree rites and cere monies, and authority in controversies of faith.”
so that its abolition might involve the perils of a political revolution. This arrangement not only contributed to the solidity of the ecclesiastical despotism, but supplied it with an ample armoury for the subjugation and punishment of all dissentients. It was at the period when Archbishop Laud and his associates, armed with these terrible powers, and " breathing threatenings and slaughter," were devastating the Christian church in this country, that JOHN MILTON was raised up by the providence of God to defend and revive , "expiring Liberty."
BIRTH AND PARENTAGE OF MILTON-NOTICE OF HIS FATHER-EARLY
EDUCATION AND HABITS OF THE SON-HIS EARLIEST EXTANT POEM-
JOHN MILTON was born at his father's house, in Bread Street, Cheapside, on the 9th of December, 1608. His father appears, in some respects, to have been worthy to have his name perpetuated by such a son; for, while prosecuting his studies at the University of Oxford, he became convinced of the anti-christian character of the popish religion, and embraced the protestant faith at the sacrifice of his paternal inheritance and his immediate prospects. Having abruptly quitted the University upon this change of his fortunes, he commenced practice in London as a scrivener; and, while procuring the means of giving a high education to his son, he found leisure for the pursuit of various studies, and especially that of music, in which he seems to have attained considerable excellence. This accomplishment his son rated so highly, that he associated it with his own poetic genius and fame, in a Latin poem, subsequently addressed to his father, distinguished as much for its filial piety as for that classic latinity in which Milton has but few rivals in modern times. The passage referred to has been thus translated:
Nor you affect to scorn the Aonian quire,
With child and sire the same, though varied god. In answer to some malignant insinuations thrown out in after life by a political adversary, Milton, in his second defence to the people of England, presents with equal brevity and modesty a view of his early history. In this we find the following reference to his boyhood : “My father destined me from a child to the pursuits of literature; and my appetite for knowledge was so voracious, that, from twelve years of age, I hardly ever left my studies or went to bed before midnight. This primarily led to my loss of sight. My eyes were naturally weak, and I was subject to frequent head-aches, which, however, could not chill the ardour of my curiosity, or retard the progress
my improvement. My father had me daily instructed in the Grammarschool, and by other masters at home.” Aubrey, also, in his MS. Life of Milton, preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, relates that, “when Milton went to schoole, and when he was very younge, he studied very hard, and sate up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock; and his father ordered the maid to sitt up for him.” At the age of fifteen, that is, in the year 1623, Milton was admitted to St. Paul's School, and in the same year produced the first poems which have come down to our time; although, from the authority before quoted, we learn that he was a poet at ten years old, at which
age his first portrait was executed by Cornelius Jansen.
a flood.” *
To those who are interested in tracing in “the child the father of the man,” it will be delightful to examine these early productions; just as 66 the little rill near the source of one of the great American rivers is an interesting object to the traveller who is apprised, as he steps across it, or walks a few miles along its banks, that this is the stream which runs so far, and which gradually swells into so vast
The poems referred to are versions of the 114th and 136th Psalms. The former of these is inserted as being the shorter, and, perhaps, the more characteristic. Milton afterward translated it into Greek verse.
A PARAPHRASE ON PSALM CXIV.
And make soft rills from fiery flint-stones gush!
* Foster's Essay on a Man's writing Memoirs of himself.