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derstanding, animated by a fervent, steady, and laudable desire to enlighten mankind, and to render them more virtuous and happy.
In the year 1640, when Milton returned to England, the current of popular opinion ran with great vehemence against episcopacy. He was prepared to catch the spirit of the time, and to become an advocate for ecclesiastical reformation, by having peculiar and domestic grounds of complaint against religious oppression. His favorite preceptor had been reduced to exile, and His father disinherited, by intolerance and superstition. He wrote, therefore, with the indignant enthusiasm of a man resenting the injuries of those, who are most entitled to his love and veneration. The ardour of his affections conspired with the warmth of his fancy to enflame him with that puritanical zeal, which blazes so intensely in his controversial productions: no less than four of these were published within two years after his return; and he thus speaks of the mo
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lives, that led him to this species of compo? sition, in his Second Defence.
"Being* animated by this universal
* Ut pritmrm loquendi saltem caspta est libertas con? cedi, omnia in episcopos apcriri ora; alii de ipsorum vitiis, alii de ipsius ordinis vitio conqueri—:—Ad haee sane experrectus, cum veram affectari viam ad liberta* tem cernerem, ab his initiis, his passibus, ad liberandam servitute vitam dronem mortalium rectissime procedi, si ab rdigione discipKna orta, ad mores & instituta rciputu licas emanaivt, cum ctiam me ita ab adolescentia pa? rassem, ut quid divini, quid humani esset juris, ant* omnia possem non ignorare, meque consuluisscm ecr quando ullins usus essem futurus, si nunc patriae, immo vero ecclesia; totque fratribus evangelii causa periculo sese objicientibus decsscm, statui, etsi tunc alia quaedam nveditabar, hucomno ingenium, omnes industrias vir^s transferre. Primum itaque de reformanda ecclesia Anr glicana, duos ad amicum quondam libros conscripsi; deinde, cum duo pras caeteris magni nominis episcopi suum jus contra ministros quosdam primarios assererent, ratus de iis rebus, quas amore solo veritatis, & ex officii chrbtiani rationc didiceram, haud pejus me dictumm quam qui de sui quastu & injustissimo dominatu coqtendebant,'ad hunc libris duobus, quorum unus De Epi*copatu PraelaticQ, alter De Ratione Disciplinae Ecclesiastics, inscrib itur, ad ilium scriptis quibusdam anioutcry against the bishops, as I perceived that men were taking the true road to liberty, and might proceed with the utmost rectitude from these beginnings to deliver human life from all base subjection, if their discipline, drawing its source from religion proceeded to morals and political institutions; as I had been trained from my youth to the particular knowledge of what belonged to divine, and what to human jurisdiction ; and as I thought I should deserve to forfeit the power of being useful to mankind, if 1 now failed to assist my country and the church, and so many brethren, who for the sake of the gospel, were exposing themselves to peril, I resolved, though my thoughts had been pre-engaged by other designs, to transfer to this object, all my talents and all my application: first, therefore, I wrote of reformation in England, two
madversionibus, & mox Apologia respondi, et ministris (acundiam hominis, ut ferebatur segre sustinentibus, suppetias tuli, & ab eo tempore, si quid postea responderent, interfui.
books addressed to a friend: afterwards, when two bishops of eminence had asserted their cause against the leadin? ministers of the opposite party, as I conceived that I could argue, from a love of truth and a sense of christian duty, not less forcibly than my antagonists, (who contended for lucre and their own unjust dominion) I answered one of them in two books with the following titles, Of Prelatical Episcopacy, Of Church Government: and the other, first in Animadversions upon the Remonstrants Defence against Smectymnuus, and secondly, in my Apology. As the ministers were thought hardly equal to their opponent in eloquence I lent them my aid, and from that time, if they made any farther reply, I was a party concerned."
I have inserted this passage at full length, because it gives us a clear insight into the motives of Milton on his first engaging in controversy, and discovers the high opinion which he entertained, both of the christian purity and the argumentative powers of his own cultivated mind; the twa bishops to whom he alludes, were, Hall bishop of Norwich, famous as our first satirist, and the learned Usher, primate of Ireland. Hall published, in 1640, "An humble Remonstrance to the High Court of Parliament in Behalf of Episcopacy"—an answer to this appeared written by six ministers, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word casually formed from the initial letters of their respective names. This little band of religious writers included Thomas Young, the beloved preceptor of Milton; so that personal attachment conspired with public enthusiasm to make our author vehement in his reply to the two bishops, who failed not to encounter the confederate antagonists of their order. He probably recollected the sufferings of his favorite instructor, when he exclaimed in his treatise of reformation, "What numbers of faithful and free born Englishmen and good christians have been constrained to forsake their dearest home, their friends and kindred, whom nothing but the wide ocean, or the savage deserts