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were contending for their liberty at home ;—it is Milton, the stern, incorruptible republican, the more than Roman citizen, of consistency and integrity unimpeachable, amid contending partizans the patriot, the defender of the People of England, and the Secretary, not of Cromwell, but of his country ;-it is Milton, again, 'encompassed with dangers and with darkness,' like another Edipus, greater for his fall, and richly compensated for his blindness by the clearer light which broke upon his inward sense, led forth by his daughters to utter his last oracles in the ears of his contemporaries before he sank into the tomb, leaving nothing like himself behind. When, from this bright idea,-the ideal Milton, however, is the true one, we turn to the pages which exhibit him as the fierce polemic or the erring theologist, we are conscious of the same sort of revulsion of feeling as is produced by passing from the lives of martyrs to the squabbles of councils, or by turning from the Socrates of Plató to the Socrates of Aristophanes.
We are naturally impatient of that discordant combination of opposite qualities, grandeur and meanness, lofty genius and feeble judgement, heroism and littleness, wisdom and imbecility, which so perpetually presents itself in human nature, and often in the same individual. To escape from this mortifying and distasteful spectacle, we call in the aid of the poet and the artist, who, by abstracting all that is fair and beautiful from every grosser element, shew us Nature in the form which she wears to fond or aspiring hearts and glowing fancies. There are some writers who delight in exhibiting the other side of Nature, which they would fain persuade us is the truer view;-as if the representations of Butler and Voltaire were more true or just than those of Plutarch or Xenophon! The admirable qualities which make up the character of those grand exemplars whose names illuminate the page of history, are not less real than the failings and defects by which they were alloyed ; and the enthusiasm which those qualities awaken in the generous mind, is not less rational and wellgrounded, than the opposite feelings inspired by conversing with human nature in its work-day dress. And yet, the discovery of weakness or imperfection mingling itself with the nobler qualities of the character, is apt to make us resent as a delusion imposed on our minds, the first impression of admiration to which we had surrendered ourselves. The view of imperfection and incongruity is so unpleasing, that we either strive to shut our eyes to the flaws which appear in the objects of our enthusiasm, or indemnify ourselves by bringing down the individual to our own level, thus exchanging the pleasures of admiration for the gratification of self-love.
We entreat pardon for this long exordium. We wish to prepare the reader for the freedom of the remarks which we shall have occasion to make on the work before us, which certainly is ill adapted to satisfy the expectations raised by the transcendent genius stamped on all the former works of the great Author. That it does not lower bis character, that it cannot possibly tarnish his fame, is saying little. In some respects, it does the highest honour to his intellect and to his heart. Who can read the noble preface to the present Treatise without seeming to listen to the dying accents of a Sage and Saint-without recognising at every line the lofty integrity and high-toned piety of the Author of Paradise Lost? It is addressed • To all the Churches of Christ, and to all who pro • fess the Christian Faith throughout the world.'
........ If I were to say that I had devoted myself to the study of the Christian religion, because nothing else can so effectually rescue the lives and minds of men from those two detestable curses, slavery and superstition, I should seem to have acted from a regard to my highest earthly comforts, rather than from a religious motive.
But since it is only to the individual faith of each that the Deity has opened the way of eternal salvation, and as he requires that he who would be saved should have a personal belief of his own, I resolved not to repose on the faith or judgement of others in matters relating to God, but, on the one hand, having taken the grounds of my faith from Divine revelation alone, and, on the other, having neglected nothing which depended on my own industry, I thought fit to scrutinize and ascertain for myself the several points of my religious belief, by the most careful perusal and meditation of the Holy Scriptures themselves.
• If I communicate the result of my inquiries to the world at large, if, as God is my witness, it be with a friendly and benignant feeling towards mankind, that I readily give as wide a circulation as possible to what I esteem my best and richest possession, I hope to meet with a candid reception from all parties, and that none at least will take unjust offence, even though many things should be brought to light which will at once be seen to differ from certain received opinions. I earnestly beseech all lovers of truth, not to cry out that the Church is thrown into confusion by that freedom of discussion and inquiry which is granted to the schools, and ought certainly to be refused to no believer, since we are ordered to prove all things, and since the daily progress of the light of truth is productive far less of disturbance to the Church than of illumination and edification. Nor do I see how the Church can be more disturbed by the investigation of truth, than were the Gentiles by the first promulgation of the Gospel; since so far from recommending or imposing any thing on my own authority, it is my particular advice that every one should suspend his opinion on whatever points he may not feel himself fully satisfied, till the evidence of Scripture prevail, and persuade his reason into assent and faith. Concealment is not my object; it is to the learned I address myself; or, if it be thought that the learned are not the best umpires and judges of such things. I should at least wish to submit my opinions to men of a more mature and manly understanding, possessing a thorough knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel
, on whose judgements I should rely with far more confidence, thạn on those of novices in these matters. And whereas the greater part of those who have written most largely on these subjects have been wont to fill whole pages with explanations of their opinions, thrusting into the margin the texts in support of their doctrine with a summary reference to the chapter and verse ; I have chosen, on the contrary, to fill my pages even to redundance with quotations from Scripture, that as little as possible might be left for my own words, even when they arise from the context of revelation itself.
• For my own part, I adhere to the Holy Scriptures alone: I follow no other heresy or sect. I had not even read any of the works of heretics, so called, when the mistakes of those who are reckoned for orthodox, and their incautious handling of Scripture, first taught me to agree with their opponents whenever those opponents agreed with Scripture. If this be heresy, I confess with St. Paul, Acts xxiv. 14, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets-to which I add, whatever is written in the New Testament. Any other judges or chief interpreters of the Christian belief, together with all implicit belief, as it is called, I, in common with the whole Protestant Church, refuse to recognise.
• For the rest, brethren, cultivate truth with brotherly love. Judge of my present undertaking according to the admonishing of the Spirit of God-and neither adopt my sentiments, por reject them, unless every doubt has been removed from your belief by the clear teşti. mony
of revelation. Finally, live in the faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Farewell.'
How, then, has it come to pass, that this great man, under the guidance of motives thus pure, and of principles so just and scriptural, should have failed to deduce from the Word of God, a form of sound doctrine ? The system of theology which is here presented to us, has been characterized as a combination of " arianism, anabaptism, latitudinarianism, quakerism, and' (in reference to the Author's opinions on polygamy) mohammedism.' No existing sect can lay claim to the honour or the shame of having engendered the theological monster, upon which is entailed the fate of all hybrids ; it will perpetuate no new variety. No future Miltonists will arise to form an article in the catalogue of sects and opinions. As a theologist, not less than as a poet, its Author must stand alone. The Baptists disown him ; the Socinians can have no
fellowship with him ; he soars above the Arians ; he would not be admitted among the gentle followers of Penn. Too heterodox for the orthodox, he is by far too orthodox for the sceptical and misbelieving school. In short, he must be admitted to rank within the pale of the true Church, from the impossibility of classing him with any other than devout and faithful men.
But within that divine enclosure, he dwells apart, an intellectual hermit, a sect consisting of the individual, a genus with one species, in society with himself
. Yet, though thus isolated as regards his opinions, he is no sectarian in spirit, but most truly Catholic; and of his very aberrations from sound doctrine, it may truly be said, • But yet the light that led astray,
Was light from heaven!' Before venture any remarks, however, on the circumstances which may be supposed to have caused or influenced Milton's theological opinions, we must inform our readers, that this posthumous volume contains scarcely any new disclosures on this point. His sentiments respecting Divorce, if not his belief in the lawfulness of Polygamy, were well known before. His views of Baptism were not previously known; these, however, will not be counted heretical. But doubts have always been entertained, as Mr. Sumner remarks, as to Milton's real sentiments respecting the Second Person of the Trinity. A considerable variance on this point between his early and his later opinions, is discoverable in his published works; but the passages in the Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained referred to by the learned Translator and Editor of this Treatise, are, to say the least, perfectly compatible with that high Arianism which is more explicitly avowed and 'defended in the present work. Nor has the fact escaped the notice of his commentators. Every reader, we imagine, has felt the truth of Addison's remark, that if Milton's majesty forsakes him any
where, it is in those parts of his poem where the Divine • Persons are introduced as speakers.' And large concessions must have been made by pious readers to the claims of poetical license, although the Poet himself would probably have disdained to take shelter under so flimsy an apology. We must confess that, for our own parts, we could never reconcile our feelings to the greater part of the third book. The inferiority which is there ascribed to the Son, is, perhaps, less palpable on account of the almost anthropomorphous representation of the Eternal Father; those expressions which would otherwise have struck even an ordinary reader as heretical, being as it were lost in the general character of impropriety. For instance,
when, in the fifth book, the Almighty is introduced as address-
Nearly it now concerns us to be sure
Of deity or empire,'-
transcribing passages which, if they lessen the reputation of Milton, diminish in some degree the honour of our country?" Still, we deem it important to point out the real character of the theological tenets not indistinctly avowed (though by many overlooked) in his great poem ; for, in our view, his piety, though it cannot consecrate his errors, is, by the very tenets which he held, cleared from the imputation that might seem to attach to him, of making theology bend to poetry. Where he erred, he erred through mistake, not through levity, never surrendering the reins to fancy so far as to forget his office as the expositor of celestial truth. The present Treatise shews, as Mr. Sumner remarks, 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 coequality and co-essentiality with the Father.'
Although, in the present work, he enters at great length into the vindication of these opinions, it contains no paragraph more explicit on this subject, than the following passages in the Paradise Lost.
- Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent,
Immutable, immortal, infinite,
* Milton would, perhaps, have referred to Gen. iii. 22. in defence of this passage, but bothing, in our view, can justify such language.