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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 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 is sustained 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 malig. nity of the attack, but by the grandeur of the subject, and the magnitude 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
island under the special indulgent eye of his providence; and pitying us the first of all other nations, after he had decreed to purify and renew his church that lay wallowing in idolatrous pollutions, sent first to us a healing messenger to touch softly our sores, and carry a gentle hand over our wounds: he knocked once and twice, and came again opening our drowsy eyelids leisurely by that glimmering light which Wickliff and his followers dispersed; and still taking off by degrees the inveterate scales from our nigh-perished sight, purged also our deaf ears, and prepared them to attend his second warning trumpet in our grandsire's days. How else could they have been able to have received the sudden assault of his reforming Spirit, warring against human principles, and carnal sense, the pride of flesh, that still cried up antiquity, custom, canons, councils, and laws, and cried down the truth for novelty, schism, profaneness, and sacrilege ? whenas we that have lived so long in abundant light, besides the sunny reflection of all the neighbouring churches, have yet our hearts riveted with those old opinions, and so obstructed and benumbed with the same fleshly reasonings, which in our forefathers soon melted and gave way, against the morning beam of reformation. If God had left undone this whole work, so contrary to flesh and blood, till these times, how should we have yielded to his heavenly call had we been taken, as they were, in the starkness of our ignorance; that yet, after all these spiritual preparatives and purgations, have our earthly apprehensions so clammed and furred with the old leaven ? O if we freeze at noon after their early thaw, let us fear lest the sun for ever hide himself and turn his orient steps from our ingrateful horizon, justly condemned to be eternally benighted! Which dreadful judgment, O thou the ever-begotten Light and perfect Image of the Father ! intercede, may never come upon us, as we trust thou hast; for thou hast opened our difficult and sad times, and given us an unexpected breathing after our long ppressions : thou hast done justice upon those that tyran