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be stronger in proportion to the weight and importance of those opinions, or rather in proportion to the authority of Scripture, on the abundant testimony of which they rest. Without this liberty there is neither religion nor gospel-force alone prevails,-by which it is disgraceful for the Christian religion to be supported. Without this liberty we are still enslaved, not indeed, as formerly, under the divine law, but, what is worst of all, under the law of man, or to speak more truly, under a barbarous tyranny. But I do not expect from candid and judicious readers a conduct so unworthy of them,that like certain unjust and foolish men,o they should stamp with the invidious name of heretic or heresy whatever appears to them to differ from the received opinions, without trying the doctrine by a comparison with Scripture testimonies.?
6 Milton probably alludes to the numerous censures directed against him, after the publication of his treatises on Divorce. An ample notice of these attacks will be found in Todd's Account of the Life and Writings, &c. One of Milton's opponents, Herbert Palmer, B.D., in a sermon before the Parliament at Westminster, endeavoured to excite his audience to brand the author of the new opinions with some heavy mark of their displeasure. His address to them was as follows :— If any plead conscience for the lawfulness of polygamy, (or for divorce for other causes than Christ and his apostles mention ; of which a wicked booke is abroad and uncensured, though deserving to be burnt, whose author hath been so impudent as to set his name to it, and dedicate it to yourselves), or for liberty to marry incestuously, will you grant a toleration for all this? See the beginning of Tetrachordon, where an allusion is made to this discourse, and the eleventh and twelfth Sonnets, on the detraction which followed certain of the author's writings.
7. But we shall not carry it thus; another Greek apparition stands in our way, Heresy and Heretic; in like manner also railed at to the people as in a tongue unknown........ In apostolic time, therefore, ere the Scripture was written, heresy was a doctrine maintained against the doctrine by them delivered ; which in these times can be no otherwise defined than å doctrine maintained against the light, which we now only have, of the
According to their notions, to have branded any one at random with this opprobrious mark, is to have refuted him without any trouble, by a single word. By the simple imputation of the name of heretic, they think that they have despatched their man at one blow. To men of this kind I answer, that in the time of the apostles, ere the New Testament was written, whenever the charge of heresy was applied as a term of reproach, that alone was considered as heresy which was at variance with their doctrine orally delivered, -and that those only were looked upon as heretics, who according to Rom. xvi. 17, 18. “ caused divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” of the apostles...."serving not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly.” By parity of reasoning therefore, since the compilation of the New Testament, I maintain that nothing but what is in contradiction to it can properly be called heresy.
For my own part, I adhere to the Holy Scriptures alone-I follow no other heresy or sect. I had not even read any of the works of heretics, so called, when the mistakes of those who are reckoned for orthodox, and their incautious handling of Scripture.' Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, II. 527. And again, in The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. “As for those terrible names of sectaries and schismatics, which ye have got together, we know your manner of fight, when the quiver of your arguments, which is ever thin, and weakly stored, after the first brunt is quite empty, your course is to betake ye to your other quiver of slander, wherein lies your best archery. And whom you could not move by sophistical arguing, them you think to confute by scandalous misnaming; thereby inciting the blinder sort of people to mislike and deride sound doctrine and good Christianity, under two or three vile and hateful terms.' II. 464.
Yea, those that are reckoned for orthodox, began to make sad and shameful rents in the Church about the trivial celebration of feasts,' &c. Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, II. 379.
Scripture first taught me to agree with their opponents whenever those opponents agreed with Scripture. If this be heresy, I confess with St. Paul, Acts xxiv. 14. “ that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets”—to which I add, whatever is written in the New Testament. Any other judges or paramount interpreters of the Christian belief, together with all implicit faith, as it is called, I, in common with the whole Protestant Church, refuse to recognise.
For the rest, brethren, cultivate truth with brotherly love. Judge of my present undertaking according to the admonishing of the Spirit of God-and neither adopt my sentiments nor reject them, unless every doubt has been removed from your belief by the clear testimony of revelation. Finally, live in the faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Farewell.?
1. With good and religious reason, therefore, all Protestant Churches with one consent, and particularly the Church of England in her thirtynine Articles, Art. 6th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and elsewhere, maintain these two points, as the main principles of true religion ; that the rule of true religion is the word of God only; and that this faith ought not to be an implicit faith, that is to believe, though as the Church believes, against or without express authority of Scripture.? Of True Religion, &c. Prose Works, II. 510. And again, in the same treatise—“This is the direct way to bring in that papistical implicit faith, which we ali disclaim.' Ibid. 517.
2 To this preface are subjoined in the original the initials I. M. Symmons states that on the first publication of Lycidas, the author was indicated in the same manner.
CHAP. I.–OF THE DEFINITION OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE,
AND THE SEVERAL PARTS THEREOF.
THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE is that DIVINE REVELATION disclosed in various ages by CHRIST (though he was not known under that name in the beginning) concerning the nature and worship of the Deity, for the promotion of the glory of God, and the salvation of mankind.
It is not unreasonable to assume that Christians believe in the Scriptures whence this doctrine is derived—but the authority of those Scriptures will be examined in the proper place.
CHRIST. Matt. xi. 27. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." John i. 4. “ in him was life, and the life was the light of men.” v. 9. "that was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” 1 Pet. iii. 19. “ by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.
Under the name of CHRIST are also comprehended Moses
and the Prophets, who were his forerunners, and the Apostles whom he sent. Gal. iii. 24. " the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Heb. xiii. 8. “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” Col. ii. 17. “ which are a shadow of things to come : but the body is of Christ.” 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. “who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you : searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.” Rom. i. 1. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ :” in which manner he begins nearly all the rest of his epistles. 1 Cor. iv. 1. “let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ.” DIVINE REVELATION. Isai. li. 4. “a law shall proceed
Matt. xvi. 17. “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” John vi. 46.
they shall be all taught of God.” ix. 29. we know that God spake unto Moses." Gal. i. 11, 12. “ the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man.” 1 Thess. iv. 9. “ Ye yourselves are taught of God.”
This doctrine, therefore, is to be obtained, not from the schools of the philosophers, nor from the laws of man, but from the Holy Scriptures alone, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. . 2 Tim. i. 14. “that good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” Col. ii. 8. “lest any man spoil you through philosophy.” Dan. ii. 16. “we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” Acts iv. 19. “whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”
In this treatise, then, no novelties of doctrine are taught; but, for the sake of assisting the memory, what is dispersed throughout the different parts of the Holy Scriptures is conveniently reduced into one compact body as it were, and digested under certain heads. This method might be easily defended on the ground of Christian prudence, but it seems better to rest its authority on the divine command; Matt. xiii. 52. “every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man which is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” So also the Apostle says, 2 Tim. i. 13. “ hold fast the forni”