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to watch the planets, or the motion of the stars, but to do good. But good is done in various ways, according to opportunities offered and abilities conferred : a man whose natural disposition, or the circumstances of whose education lead to pursue astronomical discoveries, or the sublime speculations of geometry, is emphatically doing good to others, as he is extending the boundaries of knowledge, and to himself, as he is directing the energies of his mind to subjects of the most exalted contemplation.
But if the word 'good' is restricted to the performance of charitable actions, or the fulfilment of moral duties, we may ask, what opposition is there between the practice of virtue and the pursuit of science? Every man is bound by the laws of God, and the design of his creation, to do good; for this purpose was he placed here ; but are men of science therefore unfitted for the performance of their civil and religious duties? Are they, on account of their enlargement of mind or their sublime speculations, less virtuous, less self-denying, or less benevolent than others? Is not their occupation itself almost a school of virtue ? Lessons of civil wisdom and maxims of prudential conduct will be learnt by all; and is not a man eminently doing good, who is subduing the wild powers of nature under the dominion of skill, diminishing the extent of human suffering, or dissipating ignorance; like Franklin disarming the lightning of its fires, or like Watt binding an element of tremendous power into a safe and commodious form ; whose future effects on the social system of the world, even the eye of 'trembling Hope' dares not follow! The philosopher whose discoveries in science can facilitate the communication between distant nations, and carry the arts of civilized life into the bosom of the desert, may well be called the benefactor of mankind; and what fatal delusions may have been expelled by him, who could first calculate with precision the regularity of the comet's return? The most abstract and exalted departments of science are the foundation of those inventions, that are of practical benefit and vulgar nse 42
12 Johnson's Life of Milton is written with his usual vigour of thought and clearness of expression; it abounds with many just and striking observations; but it is deeply coloured with prejudice, and the reasoning is sometimes sophistical and incorrect. I am supported in this opinien by Mr. Hawkins; see Pref. to Newton's Milton, p. 25. ed. 1824. I do not approve of the spirit or manner of Archd. Blackburne's observations.
To a knowledge of the Greek and Latin writers, Milton added a cultivation of the eastern languages, the Chaldee, Syriack, and Hebrew : he made his pupils “ go through the Pentateuch and gain an entrance into the Targum :” “Nor were the best Italian and French authors forgotten. One part of his method, says Johnson, deserves general imitation ; he was careful to instruct his scholars in religion. Every Sunday was spent upon theology, of which he dictated a short scheme gathered from the writers that were then fashionable in the Dutch universities.' Pearce has observed, that Fagius was Milton's favourite annotator on the Bible.
Once in three or four weeks he relaxed from his spare diet and hard study, and passed a day of indulgence with some young sparks of his acquaintance, the chief of whom, his nephew says, 'were Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, the beaux of those times, but nothing near so bad as those now-a-days; with these gentlemen he made so far bold with his body, as now and then to keep a gaudy day.'
I am now to pass to that period of Milton's life, in which he first engaged in the controversies of the times; and published a Treatise on Reformation, in 1641, in two books, against the bishops 13 and Established Church; ‘being willing (he says) to help the Puritans, who were inferior to the prelates in learning;' in this, his earliest publication in prose, he throws out a hint of something like his great poem, that might hereafter be expected from him. Then amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of saints, some one may perhaps be heard offering at high strains, in new and lofty measures to sing, and celebrate thy divine mercies, and marvellous judgments in this land throughout all ages.'
43 Dr. Symmons considers Milton as the leader of the attack against the prelates ; his tutor Young had been one of the victims of the primate's intolerance; and Milton entered in his career, with the blended feeling of private and public wrong. v. Lire, p. 226. The fact was, the Puritans were totally unable to compete with such men as Usher, Hall, Bramhall, and others of the established religion in theological learning and knowledge of Ecclesiastical history, as may be seen by reading the controversy ; and they were glad even of Milton's eloquence; for that was all he brought them, and all the young scholar could be expected to bring. * Nec adhuc maturus Achilles'
In 1641, Hall, Bishop of Norwich, a learned, witty, and eloquent writer, at the request of Laud, published . An Humble Remonstrance in favour of Episcopacy.' Five ministers, under the title of Smectymnus14 (a word formed from the first letters of their names), wrote an answer, of which the learned and venerable Archbishop Usher 45 published a confutation, called “The Apostolical Institution of Episcopacy: to this confutation Milton replied in his Treatise of Prelatical Episcopacy. The point at issue was the divine or human origin of Episcopacy, as a peculiar order in the church, invested with spiritual rights and powers, distinct in kind, and preëminent in degree. He added to this reply another performance, called “The Reason of Church Government* urged against Prelacy.' Bishop Hall published a defence of the Humble Remonstrance, well written and closely argued; and Milton wrote animadversions upon it. These treatises were published in the year 1641.4 It was in his Reason of Church Government that he discovered, as Johnson observes, his high opinion of his own powers, and promised to undertake something that may be of service and honour to his country. This (he said) was not to be obtained but by devout prayer to the Eternal Spirit, that can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and send out his Seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases. To this must be added select reading, steady observation, and insight into all seemly and generous arts and affairs; till which in some measure be compassed, I refuse not to sustain this expectation. From a promise like this (says his biographer) at once fervid, pious, and rational, might be expected the Paradise Lost.'
44 Stephen Marshall, Edward Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow; the 'W' in whose name must be pronounced "U,' to form the word.
45 Usher, Gataker, and Reynolds, were the three Protestant divines in England, who had the greatest reputation on the continent for their learning; see Calomies' Mél. Curieux. p. 834. Their three rivals abroad, among the Protestants, for erudition, were Blondel, Petitus, and Bochart.
* See Symmons's Life, p. 234.
In 1642 he closed the controversy which I have mentioned, by an apology for Smectymnus, in answer to the confutation of his animadversions, written, as he supposed, by Bishop Hall or his son. His friendship for Young* probably led him into the field of controversy ; for he owns that he was not disposed to this manner of writing, wherein knowing myself inferior to myself, led by the genial power of nature to another task, I have the use, as I may account it, but of my left hand.' Weapons (says one of his biographers) more effectual than pens were now drawn against the church; and exposed by the injudicious conduct of some of its prelates, it fell under the assault. If argument and reason could have prevailed, the result would have been different. The learning of Usher, and the wit of Hall, certainly preponderated in the contest, and they seem to have been felt not only by the Smectymnan divines, but by Milton himself. If the church at this crisis could have been upheld by the ability of her sons, it would have been supported by those admirable prelates; but numbers, exasperation and enthusiasm were against them.°46
The main purpose which Milton had in view in these different publications, was to alter the Episcopal form of the church, and to assimilate it to the simpler, and, as he deemed, the apostolical model of the reformed churches in other countries; to join with them in exactness of discipline, as we do in purity of doctrine. But as, in these churches, the Presbyterian discipline was united to a republican form of government, he therefore attempts to prove that the existence of the hierarchy adds nothing to the security or the proper splendour of the throne ; that the
* Toland says of his “Reason for Church Government,'the eloquence is masculine, the method is natural, the sentiments are free, and the whole (God knows) appears to have very different force from what the nonconformist divines wrote in those days, or since that time, on the same subject.' v. Life, p. 31.
46 See Symmons's Life of Milton, p. 240.
fall of Prelacy could not shake the least fringe that borders the royal canopy. He denies the apostolical institution of bishops, and, as he argues for the greatest degree of honest liberty in religion, as in other institutions, he urges that Prelacy is the natural agent and minister of tyranny. He advocates the sweetest and mildest manner of paternal discipline, the independent ministry of each congregation; and he wishes the Angel of the Gospel to ride on his way, doing his proper business, conquering the high thoughts and proud reasonings of the flesh. 'As long as the church (he says), in true imitation of Christ, can be content to ride upon an ass, carrying herself and her government along in a mean and simple guise, she may be, as she is, a lion of the tribe of Judah, and in her humility all men will, with loud hosannahs, confess her greatness.' When his opponents urged the learning of the University and the clergy, he said, 'that God will not suffer true learning to be wanting, when true grace and obedience to him abounds; for if he give us to know him aright, and to practise this our knowledge in right established discipline, how much more will he replenish us with all abilities in tongues and arts, that may conduce to his glory and our good. He can stir up rich fathers to bestow exquisite education on their children, and to dedicate them to the service of the Gospel. He can make the sons of nobles his ministers, and princes to be his Nazarites.'
That Milton engaged in the heat and dust of these great controversial questions, from motives of conscience, and with intentions upright and pure, no one can reasonably doubt; but they were alien from his elegant and learned pursuits; they were scarcely congenial to his age; and himself, as well as his brethren whom he defended, were infinitely inferior to Bishop Hall in theological learning and in controversial skill; that learned prelate's victory over Smectymnus was complete.
Milton's father47 came now to reside in his son's house. Philips says of him; the old gentleman lived wholly retired to
47 Till the taking of Reading, in April, 1643, by the Earl of Essex, he had lived there, in the house of his son Christopher.