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the intermarriage of so near relations, now that the reason for the original permission has ceased to operate. It should be remembered likewise that polygamy seems to have ceased even among the Jews previously to the advent of our Lord, as we meet with no instance of it recorded in the New Testament. Something too, must be conceded to the Judaizing spirit of Milton's age, which led him, in his deference for the authority and examples of the Jewish dispensation, to make the Christianity of the New Testament subservient to the religion of the Old.
But Milton's views, both with respect to divorce and polygamy, may be considered to have been materially influenced by the low estimation in which he held the female sex. Whatever may be thought of the truth of the stories current of his behaviour as a husband and a father, it is undeniable that he held strong notions respecting the inequality of the sexes, and shewed a strong disposition to support in his practice his own theory of this
indelible character of priority, which God had marked the man with.' If the character of Eve be objected, it should be remembered, that she is represented as passively obedient to the will of Adam by divine prescription.
What thou bidd'st
Unargu'd I obey; so God ordains;
That this was his habitual and settled opinion is evident from the frequency with which he introduces it in his prose works, as well as in his poetry; witness the passages quoted in the notes page 224 and Book II, chap. xv.; witness also the eagerness with which he fixes on the submission of Salmasius to the tyranny of his wife, as one of the topics of his splendid though bitter invective against his political adversary.
Doubts have frequently been entertained as to the real sentiments of Milton respecting the second person of the Trinity. His commentators and biographers indeed have striven to rescue him from the charge of any heretical taint. Newton 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.' In his life, however, after noticing that some had inclined to believe that Milton was an Arian, he asserts that there are more express passages scattered among his works to overthrow this opinion than to confirm it. So also Dr. Trapp: Neque alienum videtur a studiis viri theologi poema magna ex parte theologicum; omni ex parte (rideant, per me licet, atque ringantur athei et infideles) orthodoxum.'s Even See also Todd's Life, pl
Preface to his translation of Paradise Lost. 156-7; Symmons', p. 443.
Johnson, whe would not have spared his heterodoxies, had he uspected them, appears to have thought that his differences with the Church of England only regarded the form of ecclesiastical government, and pronounces him to have been untainted by any heretical peculiarity of opinion;" more truly did Addison say that "if Milton's majesty forsakes him anywhere, it is in those parts of his poem where the Divine Persons are introduced as speakers.' And Warton has acknowledged the justice of Mr. Calton's remark on a memorable passage in Paradise Regained (I. 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 everything, 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 self-existence and eternal generation, but not admitting his co-equality and co-essentiality with the Father. Had he avoided the calling Christ a creature, he might have been ranked with that class of Semi-Arians who were denominated Homoiousians, among whom Dr. Samuel Clarke must be reck oned. On the whole, his Chapter on the Son of God may be considered as more nearly coincident with the opinions of Whitby in his Last Thoughts than of any other modern divine. Bot
9 See his Life.
1 Paradise Lost, III. 62-64. 138-140. 305-307. 250. 384-415 V. 603-605. 719, 720. VI. 676884. 742-745. X. 63-67. 85, 86. 225 226. The omissions of Milton might lead a careful reader to the same conclusion. Had his views respecting the supreme divinity of the Son been different, he would surely have availed himself of this sublime topic in his hymns of the angels in the presence of the Father: nor would he have been silent respecting it in the vision at the end of the poem, where Michael unfolds to Adam the doctrine of the atonement. Still less, had he entertained other sentiments, would he have selected the temptation as the main incident of Paradise Regained.
acknowledge Christ to be verus Deus, though not summus Deus ; both admit his true dominion and his Godhead, though not original, independent, and underived; both assert his right to honour and worship, in virtue of the Father's gift; both deny his sameness of individual essence with the Father; and both maintain that he derives all his excellencies and power from the Father, and consequently is inferior to 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.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
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 an unfaithful expounder of the Scripture." Again;...... Lest the Arians, and Pelagians in particular, should infect the people by their hymns, and forms of prayer.' 95 So late even as the year 1660, at the beginning of which he wrote and published his Treatise entitled The ready and easy way to establish a free Commonwealth,' &c., he apostrophizes the two first persons of the Trinity in language which seems to imply that he then admitted their coequality. 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 her perverse inhabitants
2 See also Paradise Lost, III. 303-307.
3 Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, II. 371
• Animadversions on the Renonstrant's Defence. III. 57.
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 Foly 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 'n 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
• 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.