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course; and lamented, it may be hoped, that anger and resentment, and not forgiveness and forbearance, had so long biassed and governed his mind. I wish I could produce any express declaration from his subsequent writings, to prove that MILTON, like “ Hezekiah, humbled himself for the pride of his heart;" for to this vice must be attributed the obstinacy and resentment, which interrupted his felicity.
The fact is, that MILTON had adopted a false principle of argument. He had argued upon the principle of expediency in reference to a point of revealed and positive law. And therefore, however specious his reasonings might have appeared to the inconsiderate, they could have had no weight with the judicious; nor do his sentiments seem to have prevailed to any considerable extent.*
* Mr. Todd says, in his Life of MILTON, p. 52, “ Ephraim Pagitt, in his description of Hereticks and Sectaries of that period, mentions the sect of Divorcers, with him who wrote the Treatise on Divorce at their head." My copy of this most ridiculous book, written by "the late minister of St. Edmond's, Lumbard Street," is "the sixth edition, whereunto is added the last year, 1661," &c. I cannot find the paragraph quoted by Mr. Todd, but there is the following notice, p. 100, under the head' Concerning Divorces: "Of Independents,— Mr. Milton permits a man to put away his wife upon his mere pleasure, without any fault in her, but for any dislike or disparity of nature.”
Since writing the above remarks, I have met with the following sentiments of the venerable Bishop Hall, which I give in a note in confirmation of the correctness of the view which I have taken.*
* This work is entitled, Resolutions and Decisions of divers practical cases of Conscience," printed in London, 1649. The bishop enquires, p. 388, "Whether marriage lawfully made, may admit of any cause of divorce, save only for the violation of the marriage bed by fornication and adultery?" He answers, "I have heard too much of, and once saw, a licentious pamphlet, throwne abroad in these lawless times, in the defence and encouragement of divorces, (not to be sued out, that solemnity needed not,) but to be arbitrarily given by the disliking husband to his displeasing and unquiet wife-upon this ground principally, that marriage was instituted for the help and comfort of man; when, therefore, the match proves such, as that the wife doth but pull downe a side, and by her innate peevishnesse, and either sullen, or pettish and forward disposition, brings rather discomfort to her husband, the end of marriage being hereby frustrate, why should it not, saith he, be in the husband's power (after some unprevailing means of reclaimation be attempted) to procure his own peace and contentment in a fitter match?
"Wo is me! to what a pass is the world come, that a Christian pretending to reformation should dare to render so loose a project to the publique. I must seriously professe, when I first did cast my eye upon the front of the booke, I supposed some great wit meant to try his skill in the maintainance of this so wild and improbable a paradoxe; but ere I could have run over some of those too-well penned pages, I found the author was in earnest, and meant
An extract from a work written against the Baptists by Dr. DANIEL FEATLY, will show the manner in which the Presbyterians treated MILTON, respecting his "Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce." Speaking of what he considered the awful sentiments of the Baptists on the subject of the sole headship of Christ in his church; that the civil magistrate had no authority in spiritual matters over the conscience; and that the doctrine of punishing men for conscience sake, was the crying sin of the new English churches, he
seriously to contribute this peece of good counsail in way of Reformation to the wise and sensible care of superiours. I cannot but blush for our age, wherein so bold a motion hath been, amongst others, admitted to the light: what will all the Christian churches through the world, to whose notice those lines shall come, thinke of our wofull degeneration in these deplored times, that so uncouth a design should be set on foot among us?"
Quoting Gen. ii. 24, the good bishop says: "Loe, before ever there was father or mother, or sonne in the world, God hath appointed that the bond betwixt husband and wife shall be more strait and indissoluble than betwixt the parent or the child; and can any man be so unreasonable as to defend it lawfull, upon some unkind usages, or thwartness of disposition, for parent to abandon and forsake his child, or the sonne to cast off his parent? much less therefore may it be thus betwixt an husband and wife: they two are one flesh. Behold here an union of God's making: a man's matched with a shrew: Thy bone that is fallen to thy lot, that doe thou knaw upon? which would not be, if it were altogether free for him to leave that bone, and take another."
adds, "Witness a treatise on Divorce, in which the bands of marriage are let loose to inordinate lusts, and putting away wives for many other causes, besides that which our Saviour only approveth; namely, in case of adultery." He then mentions several other pamphlets, besides this of MILTON'S, which had been recently published by the Baptists, to which denomination he belonged.
*The Rev. Dr. Daniel Featley was doubtless well acquainted with the Baptists. The following account is amusing:"On October 17, 1641, a famous dispute took place between Dr. Featley and four Baptists, somewhere in Southwark; at which were present Sir John Lenthel and many others. The Doctor published his disputation in 1644; and tells us, in his preface, that he could hardly dip his pen in any other liquor than that of the juice of gall; it is therefore no wonder it is so full of bitterness. He calls the Baptists, (1,) An idle and sottish sect. (2,) A lying and blasphemous sect. (3,) An impure and carnal sect. (4,) A bloody and cruel sect. (5,) A prophane and sacrilegious sect. (6,) Describes the fearful judgments of God, inflicted upon the ring-leaders of that sect. This quarto work is entitled, "The Dippers dipt; or, the Anabaptists ducked and plunged over head and ears, at a disputation in Southwark.' It is pompously dedicated To the most noble lords, with the honourable knights, citizens and burgesses, now assembled in parliament.' It is peculiarly gratifying that the Doctor, with all his malignancy, was not able to exhibit, much less substantiate, any charge against them, except what have been commonly but erroneously alleged against the Baptists in Germany; the disturbances at Munster being no more the effect of the principles of the Baptists, than the riots of London in 1789 were those
The following beautiful sonnet, written just after these scenes of domestic strife had ended, will exhibit the calmed state of MILTON's mind in regard to correct evangelical sentiments, and the highest exercises of religious feeling:
"ON THE RELIGIOUS MEMORY OF MRS.
THOMSON, MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND, DECEASED
"When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,
Of death, call'd life; which us from life doth sever.
His biographer Toland informs us: "And now both his own father dying, and his wife's relations returning to their several habitations, he revived
of Protestants, or those in Birmingham of Episcopalians."
"The Doctor speaks very contemptuously of his opponents. He calls one of them a brewer's clerk:' no doubt this was Mr. Kiffin, who had been an apprentice to the