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are deaf to. Nay, though what I have spoke should happen (which those suffer not, who didst create mankind free! nor thou next, who didst redeem us from being servants of man!) to be the last words of our expiring liberty."
His language, however, was very different in his latest work, Of True Religion, &c., which it is important to remember was published only about a year before his death, and where, consequently, if at all, we might expect to meet with sentiments corresponding with those contained in the following treatise. As the passage may be considered ambiguous, it will be proper to quote the context. Some will say, with Christians it is otherwise, whom God hath promised by his spirit to teach all things. True, all things necessary to salvation; but the hottest disputes among Protestants, calmly and charitably inquired into, will be found less than such. The Lutheran holds consubstantiation; an error indeed, but not mortal. The Calvinist is taxed with predestination, and to make God the author of sin, not with any dishonourable thought of God, but it may be over-zealously asserting his absolute power, not without plea of Scripture. The Anabaptist is accused of denying infants their right of baptism; again they say, they deny nothing but what the Scripture denies them. The Arian and Socinian are charged to dispute against the Trinity: they affirm to believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost according to Scripture and the Apostolic creed; as for terms of trinity, triniunity, co-essentiality, tri-personality, and the like, they reject them as scholastic notions, not to be found in Scripture, which by a general Protestant maxim is plain and perspicuous abundantly to explain its own meaning in the properest words belonging to so high a matter, and so necessary to be known; a mystery indeed in their sophistic subtleties, but in Scripture a plain doctrine. Their other opinions are of less moment. They dispute the satisfaction of Christ, or rather the word satisfaction,' as not scriptural: but they acknowledge him both God and their Saviour. The Arminian lastly is condemned for setting up free will against free grace; but that imputation he disclaims in all his writings, and grounds himself largely upon Scripture only.' To a cursory reader it would appear at first sight that the words 'their sophistic subtleties' referred to the grammatical antecedents, 'the Arian and Socinian.' But it is evident, on a closer examination, that the whole spirit of the passage requires us to refer them to the holders of trinitarian opinions, or scholastic notions;' inasmuch as the very object of Milton is to show that the Arian and Socinian hold what is in Scripture a plain doctrine,' but reject what they consider unscrip
6 Prose Works, II. 138.
tural terms, and a mystery' founded purely on 'scholastic subtleties.' It should also be remarked, that at the end of the chapter on the Son of God in the following treatise, Milton asserts in language very similar to a part of the above quotation, that the doctrine he has been maintaining respecting the Son is that which is also taught in Scripture, and is conformable to 'the faith proposed in the apostle's creed."
Whether Milton would 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.
From the Socinian scheme, however, Milton expresses his decided dissent. Speaking of Rev. i. 4, 5. he says, those who reduce these spirits to one Holy Spirit, and consider them as synonymous with his sevenfold grace....ought to beware, lest by attributing to mere virtues the properties of persons, they furnish arguments to those commentators who interpret the Holy Spirit as nothing more than the virtue and power of the Father." This is in direct opposition to one of the fundamental doctrines of the Socinians respecting the third person of the Trinity. He is no less explicit in condemning their views respecting the second person. He must necessarily have existed previous to his incarnation, whatever subtleties may have been invented to evade this conclusion by those who contend for the merely human nature of Christ."
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
7 Pages 149, 150.
8 Page 167.
9 Page 288.
author's own words elsewhere, of the Son of God as delineated in the following pages, that
.in him all his Father shone Substantially express'd,
yet the translator rejoices in being able to state that the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ is so scripturally and unambiguously enforced, as to leave, on that point, nothing to be desired.
So too Milton's sentiments respecting the divine decrees are as clear, and perhaps as satisfactory, as can be expected on a subject in which it is wisest and safest to confess with the cautious Locke our inability to reconcile the universal prescience of God with the free agency of man, though we be as fully persuaded of both doctrines, as of any truths we most firmly assent to. His views may be thus summarily stated; that everything is foreknown by God, though not decreed absolutely. He argues that the Deity, having in his power to confer or withhold the liberty of the will, showed his sovereignty in conceding it to man, as effectually as he could have done in depriving him of it; that he therefore created him a free agent, foreseeing the use which he would make of his liberty, and shaping his decrees accordingly, inasmuch as the issue of events, though uncertain as regards man, by reason of the freedom of the human will, is perfectly known to God, by reason of the divine prescience. This is, on the one hand, in direct opposition to the doctrine of the Socinians, that there can be no certain foreknowledge of future contingencies; and on the other, to that of the Supralapsarians, that the Deity is the causal source of human actions, and consequently that the decrees of God are antecedent to his prescience. In treating of the latter topic, Milton justly protests against the use of a phraseology when speaking of the Deity, which properly applies to finite beings alone. It must be confessed, however, that he can no more escape the difficulties connected with free will, than inferior men. Witness p. 202. 'God distinctly declares that it is he himself who impels the sinner to sin, who hardens his heart, who blinds his understanding, and leads him into error; yet on account of the infinite holiness of the Deity, it is not allowable to consider him as in the smallest instance the author of sin.' This involves the same contradiction as we find in all systems when they touch this part of the subject. A succeeding sentence is important. 'Not the human heart in a state of innocence and purity and repugnance to evil is induced by him to act wickedly and deceitfully, but after it has conceived sin....he inclines and biasses it in this or that direction,' &c. This seems to be a just distinction well put.
There are other subjects, and particularly that of the Holy Spirit, to which the translator had wished to have adverted, had he not been warned, by the length to which the preceding observations have already extended, to abstain from further comment. He cannot however conclude these preliminary remarks, without acknowledging his obligations to W. S. Walker, Esq. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who has not only discharged the greater part of the laborious office of correcting the press, but whose valuable suggestions during the progress of the work have contributed to remove some of its imperfections.
WINDSOR, July, 1825.
TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
SOON after the original publication of the following Treatise, some additional papers of great importance were discovered in the State Paper Office by the indefatigable industry of the late Mr. Lemon, to which it is right to advert in sending out the present Edition.
The first has reference to the Mr. Skinner spoken of in the foregoing pages, respecting whom much doubt existed. See Preliminary Observations, p. vi.-xiv. The Translator ventured to identify this Skinner with the Daniel Skinner to whom Mr. Perwich, in a communication from Paris, dated March 15, 1677, addressed to Mr. Bridgeman, Secretary to Sir Joseph Williamson, reports that he had delivered a letter from Dr. Barrow, presumed to be Dr. Isaac Barrow, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. See ante, p. xii. The following documents place beyond a doubt the accuracy of this conjecture.
From a Collection of Domestic Papers, Petitions, &c., in the Reign of King Charles II., preserved in His Majesty's State Paper Office. Vol. xix. pp. 165, 167.
I doe heartyly thank you for your care of my concerns, and of the College interest. I am sorry for the miscarriages of that wild young man, to whom I have written the enclosed, which you may please to seall and send. I have since received another Letter from Harris, complaining that I do not return any answer to his Letters, yet without direction whither I should send; I should be glad if you should