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And I know no other way of accounting for his conduct, but by presuming (as I think we may rear sonably presume) that he was far from entirely approving of Cromwell's proceedings, but considered him as the only person who could rescue the nation from the tyranny of the Presbyterians, who he saw were erecting a worse dominion of their own upon the ruins of prelatical episcopacy; and of all things he dreaded spiritual slavery, and therefore closed with Cromwell and the Independents, as he expected under them greater liberty of conscience. And tho” he served Cromwell, yet it must be said for him, that he served a great master, and served him ably, and was not wanting from time to time in giving him excellent good advice, especially in his second Defense: and so little being said of him in all Secretary Thurloe's state-papers, it appears that he had no great share in the secrets and intrigues of government; what he dispatched was little more than matters of necessary form, letters and answers to foreign states ; and he may be justified for acting in such a station, upon the fame principle as Sir Matthew Hale for holding a Judge's commission under the usurper : and in the latter part of his life he frequently expressed to his friends his entire satisfaction of mind, that he had constantly employed his strength and faculties in the defense of liberty, and in opposition to slavery.
In matters of religion too he has given as great offense, or even greater, than by his political principles. But still let not the infidel glory: no such man was ever of that party. He had the advantage of a pious education, and ever expressed the VOL. I.
profoundest reverence of the Deity in his words and actions, was both a Christian and a Protestant, and studied and admired the Holy Scriptures above all other books whatsoever ; and in all his writings he plainly showeth a religious turn of mind, as well in verse as in prose, as well in his works of an earlier date as in those of later composition. When he wrote the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, he appears to have been a Calvinist; but afterwards he entertained a more favorable opinion of Arminius. Some have inclined to believe, that he was an Arian; but there are more express passages in his works to overthrow this opinion, than any there are to confirm it. For in the conclusion of his treatise of Reformation he thus solemnly invokes the Trinity ; “ Thou therefore that fittest in light and glory " unapproachable, Parent of Angels and Men!
next thee I implore Omnipotent King, Ree deemer of that lost remnant whose nature thou “ didst assume, ineffable and everlasting Love ! « And thou the third subsistence of divine infini" tude, illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of “ created things ! one Tri-personal Godhead! look
upon this thy poor, and almost spent and ex
piring Church &c.” And in his tract of Prelatical Episcopacy he endevors to prove the spuriousness of some epistles attributed to Ignatius, because they contained in them heresies, one of which heresies is, that “he condemns them for ministers of “ Satan, who say that Christ is God above all.” And a little after in the same tract he objects to the authority of Tertullian, because he went about to “ prove an imparity between God the Father, and
« God the Son.” And in Paradise Lost we shall find nothing upon this head, that is not perfectly agreeable to Scripture. The learned Dr. Trap, who was as likely to cry out upon heresy as any man, alserts that the poem is orthodox in every part of it; or otherwise he would not have been at the pains of translating it. 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. Milton was indeed a difsenter from the Church of England, in which he had been educated, and was by his parents designed for holy orders, as we related before ; but he was led away by early prejudices against the doctrin and disciplin of the Church; and in his younger years was a favorer of the Presbyterians; in his middle age he was best pleased with the Independents and Anabaptists, as allowing greater liberty of conscience than others, and coming nearest in his opinion to the primitive practice; and in the latter part of his life he was not a professed member of any particular sect of Christians, he frequented no public worship, nor used any religious rite in his family. Whether so many different forms of worship as he had seen, had made him indifferent to all forms; or whether he thought that all Christians had in some things corrupted the purity and simplicity of the Gospel; or whether he disliked their endless and uncharitable disputes, and that love of dominion and inclination to persecution, which he faid was a piece of Popery inseparable from all Churches; or whether he believed, that a man might be a good Christian without joiping in any
communion; or whether he did not look upon himself as inspired, as wrapt up in God, and above all forms and ceremonies, it is not easy to determin: to his own master he standeth or falleth: but if he was of any denomination, he was a sort of a Quietist, and was full of the interior of religion tho' he so little regarded the exterior; and it is certain was to the last an enthusiast rather than an infidel. As enthusiasm made Norris a poet, so poetry might make Milton an enthusiast.
His circumstances were never very mean, nor very great; for he lived above want, and was not intent upon accumulating wealth; his ambition was more to enrich and adorn his mind. His father supported him in his travels, and for some time after. Then his pupils must have been of some advantage to him, and brought him either a certain ftipend or considerable presents at least; and he had scarcely any other method of improving his fortune, as he was of no profession. When his father died, he inherited an elder son's share of his estate, the principal part of which I believe was his house in Bread street: And not long after, he was appointed Latin Secretary with a falary of 200 l. a year ; so that he was now in opulent circumstances for a man, who had always led a frugal and temperate life, and was at little unnecessary expense besides buying of books. Tho' he was of the victorious party, yet he was far from sharing in the spoils of his country. On the contrary (as we learn from his second Defense) he sustained great losses during the civil war, and was not at all favored in the imposition of taxes, but sometimes paid beyond his due propor
tion. And upon a turn of affairs he was not only deprived of his place, but also loft 2000 l. which he had for security and improvement put into the Excise Office. He lost likewise another considerable fum for want of proper care and management, as persons of Milton's genius are seldom expert in money matters. And in the fire of London his house in Bread street was burnt, before which accident foreigners have gone out of devotion (says Woad) to see the house and chamber where he was born. His gains were inconsiderable in proportion to his losses; for excepting the thousand pounds, which were given him by the government for writing his Defense of the people against Salmasius, we may conclude that he got very little by the copies of his works, when it doth not appear that he received any more than ten pounds for Paradise Lost. Some time before he died he fold the greatest part of his library, as his heirs were not qualified to make a proper use of it, and as he thought that he could dispose of it to greater advantage than they could after his decease. And finally by one means or other he died worth one thousand five hundred pounds besides his houshold goods, which was no incompetent subsistence for him, who was as great a philofopher as a poet.
To this account of Milton it may be proper to add something concerning his family. We said before, that he had a younger brother and a sister. His brother Christopher Milton was a man of totally oppofit principles; was a strong royalist, and after the civil war made his composition thro' his brother's interest; had been entered young a student in