John Milton No 1 - RR135B4
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Let us begin with prayer. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, enable us by these, our sessions, to prepare ourselves better day by day for Thy service, to know the direction of Thy workings and the direction of our calling, that we might do those things which are acceptable in Thy sight and which are necessary for Thy kingdom’s sake. Grant us this, we beseech Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tonight, we begin our study of John Milton. We saw last week that a very serious weak link in the situation in England and, indeed, everywhere in every country affected by the Reformation was education. Having said this, we should qualify it with a statement that education was greatly furthered by the Reformation. Because the Reformers felt so strongly about knowledge of scripture, they worked earnestly and intently to further education as much as possible. Puritanism, in particular, was most dedicated to intensive and extensive education, but the weakness was that education was not Reformed. It was not rethought in terms of theological principles through and through. The weakness of it is apparent in one of the great documents of the period, Milton’s study titled On Education. Milton said it better than any of the others, but he summarized, really, in his own perspective the weaknesses of the reformed Reformation perspective. He declared in the beginning, and I think this is as good a statement on education as you can find anywhere, and I quote, “The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” What he is simply saying is that the purpose of education must be to undo the work of the fall of man, and to start man on the path of virtue, of doing all those things which God requires of him. [00:03:38]
But the trouble then was that, as he began to outline...
But the trouble then was that, as he began to outline this education, it was simply the old classical education: a heavy diet of Greek and Roman authors and of classical humanism. And this was the weakness of all the reformers; and this was one of the reasons why very quickly the Reformation was undercut, because Protestantism emphasized education far more than Catholicism did. It always has. But it simply took over the old education and made it more extensive; and as a result, it was propagating humanism, when it was trying to propagate the faith. Now, Milton had some good things to say on education. He did say that the study of law should begin with a study of Moses; but he didn’t see the distinction between what Moses taught, and Greek and Roman law. He lumped it all together and said we’re going to study all of it. It was old, and therefore, it was good; and there are many people like that today, you see. Many conservatives assume if a thing was in practice a hundred years ago, it was good; or if it’s an old book, it has to be good; and, of course, this is not true. Humanism was just as rampant then. As a matter of fact, where our history is concerned, our history writing was almost immediately captured by Harvard and the Harvard Unitarians. We had one Christian history of America, published by Noah Webster, the author of our first dictionary; but then the Harvard historians took over. So, because a thing is old doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. Sin, after all, is almost as old as man. This was the weakness of their educational work. They went back to the old; and with the old, they incorporated the old sins. [00:06:25]
And this is why Milton, himself, because he was a product...
And this is why Milton, himself, because he was a product of such education, and a very intelligent product of it, absorbed so many conflicting strands. He had a brilliant mind; but he was at one and the same time in some of his writings Trinitarian and anti-Trinitarian, Arian and Orthodox, Calvinist and anti-Calvinist. You can make a case for almost any position out of some writing or other of Milton. Some people have said that the English have been poor as philosophers, because they are not logical. And it is true. There has not been as outstanding a philosophical tradition in England, as in Germany, or Scotland, or France, or other countries—although there have been two or three outstanding philosophers of the modern world in England: Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, in particular—and they ascribe it to something in the English mind. This is nonsense. The English mind is as capable of logic as the Scottish mind, or any other mind; but one of the problems in England was that it was an area where education progressed and was more intensive than elsewhere, and had a heavy classical orientation. As a result, this confusion, this eclectic smorgasbord-type of thinking—a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and a little bit of that—became very quickly ingrained in England. In Scotland, because so much education began with the Reformation, they were more consistent; until, of course, the same influences began to infiltrate them, also. [00:08:54]
Now all of this makes clear, first, one of the reasons...
Now all of this makes clear, first, one of the reasons why the Reformation did not accomplish as much as it should have accomplished; and, second, it makes clear the area the Reformation of today must work in, the direction it must take. We must have not only Christian schools, but a root and branch Christian philosophy—a Christian thinking—in order to command the future. Consistent systematic thinking is powerful. It is significant that today the most powerful philosophy in our world is Marxism, and after that, existentialism; and both of them are consistent, logical humanisms. They are not going to be defeated until they are opposed by a consistent systematic Christian faith; and this is where the work of Christian education will be so important for the future. [00:10:28]
Milton saw the failure...
Milton saw the failure. He was deeply distressed by it. The Commonwealth had failed; or rather, it had been renounced. It had been successful, and the people turned away from it. Milton, sometime before—years before it collapsed—wrote a poem on the temper of the people, in which he, in effect, expressed the problem: the problem that people found freedom and truth too difficult, too much responsibility. In 1646, fourteen years before Charles II came back, he wrote in Sonnet XII, “I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs by the known rules of ancient liberty, when straight a barbarous noise environs me of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs. As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs railed at Latona’s twin-born progeny which after held the sun and moon in fee. But this is got by casting pearls to hogs; that bawl for freedom in their senseless mood, and still revolt when truth would set them free. License they mean when they cried liberty; for who loves that, must first be wise and good; but from that mark how far they rove we see for all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood.” Now, his point is very well taken. It wasn’t liberty the people wanted: it was license; and who loves liberty, he said, must first be wise and good. And, of course, this was the problem that both Cromwell and Milton faced: how can you have a godly order with ungodly people; and there were too many who were in positions of power, who were ungodly. [00:13:24]
One of the most dramatic scenes in English history...
One of the most dramatic scenes in English history of the period, which you never find in the history books—or the words of that scene you never find in the history books—was when Cromwell dissolved the Rump Parliament. Now, the dissolving of the Rump Parliament is in the history books, but not what he told them and why he was getting rid of them. He felt they were too immoral to have the responsibility of rule, that they were corrupt men. And he walked in there to tell them they were finished; and if they didn’t clear out, he would bring in the army and chase them out. And, looking two of the men in the eye as he spoke, he said, “Some of you are whore masters.” And nobody opened their mouth to disagree with him. Now, that was the problem, you see. That was what concerned Cromwell and what concerned Milton. Can you have a virtuous country without virtuous people? And this was the thing that distressed Cromwell so intensely, and darkened his later years, because he saw that those who, with when the chips were down truly wanted to be virtuous and wanted a virtuous regime were limited. And he could say to members of parliament (and no one contradicted him because it was true): some of you are whore masters. This was a matter of deep concern, deep distress to Cromwell and to Milton. [00:15:42]
Now, how were they going to bring about a virtuous...
Now, how were they going to bring about a virtuous order? Well, their answer, Cromwell’s and Milton’s, because Milton was high up in Cromwell’s regime, was a very interesting one: they were going to have to withhold a great deal of political liberty, but grant as much liberty of press, as possible. In his Areopagitica, Milton wrote, and I quote, “Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets and statutes, and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broad cloth and our wool packs.” In other words, let’s have freedom of expression. Now, they had still some censorship. They hadn’t eliminated everything in the way of censorship that had existed in the previous regime; but the goal was as much liberty of press, so that the ideas could come out: there could be a clash of ideas, some thinking, some developing, the freedom to know. Milton further wrote, “There is yet behind of what I purpose to lay open, the incredible loss, and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to, more than if some enemy at sea would stop up all our havens and ports, and creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandize, truth: nay it was first then established and put in practice by anti-Christian malice.” So, we’re going to have to limit the political liberty, they say, but we are going to have to have as much freedom for ideas to come out in the open, so that we can argue against them; we can knock them down with the truth, and get people to see the truth. [00:18:10]
There was another problem, however...
There was another problem, however; and here, there was no agreement. It’s a problem that has still not been effectively answered. And both Milton and Cromwell did much thinking and much speaking on this subject: liberty of conscience. There were some who were against any kind of liberty of conscience; and, of course, that was commonplace in that day. None of the Catholic countries allowed liberty of conscience. Some of the Protestant countries definitely did not, and there were many who argued against it. William Prynne, a member of parliament who was somewhat Puritan, but later very pro-monarchist, in 1644, in his tract A Fresh Discovery of Some Prodigious New Wandering Blazing Stars said that if liberty of conscience were to prevail, then paganism, popery, and Judaism could not be excluded; and a man could also plead liberty of conscience, he said, for adultery, for drunkenness, for lying, for rebellion, and for treason. Anything could be justified in terms of liberty of conscience. [00:19:52]
Now, of course, modern scholars, when they deal with...
Now, of course, modern scholars, when they deal with Prynne’s tract treat it with contempt; but he did raise a very fundamental point. And, of course, this is precisely the kind of argument that is being made today by the Supreme Court, and by the Civil Liberties Union and other agencies, that in the name of liberty of conscience almost any type of practice, perversion, and anything else can be justified and must be tolerated. In fact, Justice William Douglas of our Supreme Court has said that, in terms of liberty of conscience, cannibalism must be allowed. Now, he hasn’t said “in the United States,” but he has said we shouldn’t be going with our missionaries to interfere with the liberty of conscience of cannibals. Where are you going to draw the line if you advocate liberty of conscience? You see, we have not answered the question they raised. In our day, we have simply treated the question as one to despise; but if you have full liberty of conscience, it means anarchism: anything is tolerable. The sentiment in America was that there is liberty of conscience for anything that is in conformity with common law Christianity and the morality of scripture. This is why they denied liberty of conscience to polygamists. When they said: If we grant it to you (when the Mormon issue went to the Supreme Court) we’ve got to grant it to those who believe they have a right to kill someone, or can practice human sacrifice or cannibalism, or almost any practice under the sun. Where will we then draw the line? And this is why, through the last century, they held that this is a Christian nation—not that any doctrine is thereby established—but that the Bible, as it were, is the common law basis of our country. Now that was an adequate answer; but we’ve dropped that answer. Now, because we have dropped it, we are moving into anarchism. [00:22:43]
But in that day, Milton and Cromwell were wrestling...
But in that day, Milton and Cromwell were wrestling with this problem; and their answer was fairly close to the one that America finally gave to the problem. As a result, because they saw these issues which most people did not see, theirs was a situation of no small frustration. Then came the death of Cromwell; then, within two years, the return of Charles II, as the people decided they didn’t want freedom. They didn’t want the problem of trying to decide these things for themselves. It’d be much simpler to have a king and take care of everything. The return was a real problem to Milton. He had to go into hiding. There were some in parliament who felt that he should be beheaded—Charles II was not of that opinion—but his income was virtually gone; and on top of that, he was blind. And it was then, or a little before, a few years before, that he wrote his famous sonnet on his blindness, which perhaps most of you know: “When I consider how my light is spent, ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, and that one talent which is death to hide lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent to serve therewith my Maker, and present my true account, lest he returning chide; ‘Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?’ I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent that murmur, soon replies, ‘God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts; who best bears his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed and post o’er land and ocean without rest: they also serve who only stand and wait.” [00:25:44]
As time went by with the Commonwealth lost, Milton...
As time went by with the Commonwealth lost, Milton expressed his thinking about it in Paradise Lost. The poem, of course, is about the Fall of Man; the Garden of Eden; Adam and Eve there and the temptation and their Fall; and being driven out of the Garden of Eden. But, naturally, as he wrote on this subject, he was thinking of what had happened in England. They had been so close; and yet, they had turned away from that; and now, England’s prestige was at an all time low. And they had a man as king, who was notorious for his immorality; a man who’s only distinction was that he was clever with witticisms. One of Charles II’s courtiers said of him—and Charles acknowledged that it was true—the courtier remarked that when he died, it could be written over his tomb: Here lies the king who never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one. He enjoyed being witty; but when it came to acting with wisdom, the kingdom went downhill under him; and he was in the pay of Louis XIV of France. [00:27:39]
These things were bitterness to Milton...
These things were bitterness to Milton. And so, when he wrote about Paradise Lost, he was thinking of what they had lost; and of the immorality that was taking place, when it was now a matter of pride for the young lords, who were the popular courtiers, to catch girls and women in the streets, and rape them publically and boast about it. He began Paradise Lost with these words: “Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe, with loss of Eden, till one greater Man restore us, and regain the blissful seat. Sing Heavenly Muse, that on the secret top of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire that Shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed, in the beginning how the heavens and earth rose out chaos. And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer before all temples the upright heart and pure, instruct me, for Thou knowest: Thou from the first wast present, and with mighty wings outspread, dove-like, satest brooding on the vast abyss, and madest it pregnant. What in me is dark, illumine; what is low raise up and support; that to the height of this great argument I may assert Eternal Providence, and justify the ways of God to men.” Now, of course, he was in the process, not only trying to explain why God had allowed the Commonwealth to fail; but also to think through for himself why it had happened. [00:30:01]
Now in the first book, of course, he begins with the...
Now in the first book, of course, he begins with the Fall of Satan; and he gives us quite a dramatic picture of Satan. There are many who say that Satan is Milton’s real hero. Well, of course, these writers are reading their own feelings into Milton, because for them Milton is a hero, because Milton portrays Satan speaking with all the grand eloquence of a humanist: I am the captain of my fate and master of my soul – that type of thing. And Satan, as they picked themselves up in hell, having been cast out of heaven, addresses all his cohorts, the fallen angels: “‘What though the field be lost? All is not lost; the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield: and what is else not to be overcome? That glory never shall His wrath or might extort from me; to bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee, and deify His power, who from the terror of this arm so late doubted his empire, that were low indeed, that were an ignominy and shame beneath this downfall; since by fate the strength of gods and this empire real substance cannot fail, since through experience of this great event in arms not worse, in foresight much advanced, we may with more successful hope resolve to wage by force or guile eternal war.’” And so, Satan pledges himself to eternal war. [00:32:02]
And then he declares, ...
And then he declares, “‘To do ought good never will be our task, but ever to do ill our sole delight, as being the contrary to His high will whom we resist. If then His providence out of our evil seek to bring forth good, our labour must be to pervert that end, and out of good still to find means of evil.’” Let’s make all good work together for evil: this is the principle of Satan. “‘Consult how we may henceforth most offend our enemy, our own loss how repair, how overcome this dire calamity, what reinforcement we may gain from hope, if not what resolution from despair.’” And then he goes on to say, “‘Is this the region, this the soil, the clime, this the seat that we must change for heaven, this mournful gloom for that celestial light? Be it so, since He Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid what shall be right: farthest from Him is best, whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme above His equals. Farewell happy fields where joy forever dwells: hail horrors, hail infernal world, and thou profoundest hell receive they new possessor—one who brings a mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. What matter whereby be still the same, and what I should be, all but less than He Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built here for His envy, will not drive us hence: here we may reign secure; and, in my choice, to reign is worth ambition though in hell: better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.’” [00:34:26]
Now, what Milton is saying is he looks at the political...
Now, what Milton is saying is he looks at the political situation round about him at the men of the court, and saying they’re not just playboys or misguided politicians; they’re Satanic. Men are either righteous, or they’re Satanic. And what is Satan’s purpose? It is a will to evil, to make all good work together for evil. Look at the politics of today. It helped Milton to explain what was going on around him. Doesn’t it help you to understand what’s going on today; and isn’t it a mistake not to have that perspective? You cannot say these men are blundering. Their answers come up too uniquely bad for that reason: it’s a will to evil. Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven: to reign, as against to serve. The ultimate in horror for Satan is to bow the knee to God. Everyone his own god: this is his principle. Thus, evil, Milton tells us, is not error. It is a will to disobey God; it is a hatred for God and righteousness. As a result of this, the temptation of man, he says, was inevitable. Evil wants to pervert, to degrade, to bring all down to its level. And so no sooner was Adam created than all hell began to plot their Fall, to make all good work together for evil: this was the goal. And, of course, then when he portrays the fall of man, first of all, and Eve, he portrays the same motive in Eve, because this is the essence of sin. Sin is intensely missionary-minded. So, when Eve eats of the forbidden fruit, she says, “‘This may be well; but what if God have seen, and death ensue? Then, I shall be no more; and Adam, wedded to another Eve, shall live with her enjoining, I extinct! A death to think! Confirmed, then, I resolve Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe.’” [00:37:44]
Then, she says again, to Adam now, ...
Then, she says again, to Adam now, “‘I have also tasted and have also found the effect to correspond-opener mine eyes, dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart, and growing up to Godhead; which for thee chiefly I sought, without thee can despise. For bliss, as thou has part, to me is bliss; tedious, if unshared with thee, and odious soon. Thou, therefore, also taste, that equal lot may join us, equal joy, as equal love; lest, thou not tasting, different degree disjoin us, and I then too late renounce deity for thee, when fate will not permit.’” I want you to be a god, like me. I’m so unselfish I don’t want to enjoy anything without you.
So Milton very clearly gives us this will to pervert, this will to make all good work together for evil. And, as a result, writing this after Charles II’s return, he was a very deeply distressed man; and his conclusion was not the happiest. At the end of Paradise Lost, he says, “Truth shall retire be stuck with slanderous darts, and works of faith rarely be found: so shall the world go on, to good malignant; to bad men benign, under her own weight groaning till the day appear of respiration to the just, and vengeance to the wicked, at return of him so lately promised to thy aid, the woman seed, obscurely then foretold, now ampler known thy Savior and thy Lord, last in the clouds from heaven to be revealed in glory of the Father, to dissolve Satan with his perverted world, then raise from this conflagrant mass, purged and refined, new heavens, new earth, ages of endless date founded in righteousness and peace and love to bring forth fruit of joy and eternal bliss.” So, his outlook when he ended the poem, Paradise Lost, the 12th book, was amil. He was very much overwhelmed by his pessimism, his sense of despair at the fact that men so readily adjusted to evil, that men a few years ago were so eloquent in praising Cromwell were now going out of their way to curry favor with Charles and praising a most degenerate man, as though he were the epitome of virtue. [00:41:37]
But sometime after ...
But sometime after Paradise Lost was published, a friend who was visiting Milton said: you have written about paradise lost, but what about paradise regained? Is that all there is to the world and the scripture? And this jolted Milton, so he wrote a shorter poem, Paradise Regained, which begins: “I who erewhile the happy garden sung, by one man’s disobedience lost, now sing recovered paradise to all mankind, by one man’s firm obedience fully tried through all temptation, and the tempter foiled in all his wiles, defeated and repulsed, and Eden raised in the waste wilderness.” Paradise Lost has its setting in the Garden of Eden. There, because man submits to Satan’s temptation, good is made to work into evil by Satan and man. But now, he takes up the wilderness, the place of the temptation; for because Christ, the second Adam, defeats Satan, Eden is raised in the waste wilderness. It’s the beginning of the new creation. [00:43:28]
Now Satan, as he speaks to the hosts of hell, concerning...
Now Satan, as he speaks to the hosts of hell, concerning Christ and His coming before the temptation, sees Christ as a threat against satanic rule: will the world be Christ’s realm, or Satan’s? And he addresses the hosts of heaven, thus: “‘O ancient powers of air and this wide world (for much more willingly I mention air, this our old conquest, than remember hell, our hated habitation), well ye know how many ages, as the years of men, this universe we have possessed, and ruled in manner at our will the affairs of earth, since Adam and his facile consort Eve lost paradise, deceived by me, though since with dread attending when that fatal wound shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve upon my head. Long the decrees of heaven delay, for longest time to Him is short; and now, too soon for us, the circling hours this dreaded time have compassed, wherein we must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound (At least, if so we can, and by the head broken be not intended all our power to be infringed, our freedom and our being in this fair empire won of earth and air) – for this ill news I bring: the woman’s Seed, destined to this, is late of woman born.’” [00:45:25]
Christ has come...
Christ has come. This is the showdown. He is to break our head; but is it possible, can we tempt Him as we tempted the first? Are we able somehow to turn Him to our cause? And so in due time, Satan presents himself to Christ when, after the baptism, He goes into the desert. He presents himself in disguise, at first; and then openly, as Christ recognizes him. But he declares himself to be the friend of man. This is Satan’s claim: I am the friend of man. Are you? And so, he challenges Christ: So you’ve come to be the new Adam, the savior of men. Well, are you a friend to men? Well, if you are, give them bread. Look at the hunger in the world. Look at all the economic problems. With all your miraculous problem, you’re letting men suffer? I’m a better friend to man, than you are. And give them miracles; to have all that power and not use it. You have power to do men good; and what stupidity it is, what evil. You call me evil, but you’re good. Think of the suffering it causes to men. And Satan says, “‘Though I have lost much luster of my native brightness, lost to be beloved of God, I have not lost to love, at least contemplate and admire, what I see excellent in good, or fair, or virtuous …’” In other words, he says: I know what men need. “‘… I should so have lost all sense. What can be then less in me than desire to see thee and approach thee, whom I know declared the Son of God, to hear attent Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds? Men generally think of me a foe to all mankind. Why should I? They to me never did wrong or violence. By them I lost not what I lost; rather by them I gained what I have gained, and with them dwell copartner in these regions of the world, if not disposer – lend them oft my aid, oft my advice by presages and signs, and answers, oracles, portents, and dreams, whereby they may direct their future life.’” So Satan says: I am man’s friend. He never comes out openly and says God is their enemy, but he puts the burden on Christ: if you’re going to be a friend of man, why don’t you do something for them? [00:49:02]
Then Satan tells Jesus there is no power in His way...
Then Satan tells Jesus there is no power in His way: His way of trying to win men by faith to get them to serve God. Man will only stumble long. He’ll never enjoy life. The easier way is to give man, to use a modern expression, cradle to grave security; then everybody will be happy, and the world will be sweetness and light, joy and plenty, and everyone will be happy. “‘Therefore, if at great things Thou wouldst arrive, get riches first, get wealth, and treasure heap – not difficult, if Thou hearken to me. Riches are mine, fortune is in my hand; they whom I favour thrive in wealth amain, while virtue, valour, wisdom, sit in want.’ To whom thus Jesus patiently replied: ‘Yet wealth without these three is impotent – ’” (virtue, valour, wisdom) “‘– is impotent to gain dominion, or to keep it gained –”’ There is no dominion your way. There may be power, there may be wealth, but no dominion. [00:50:59]
Then Satan tries another approach...
Then Satan tries another approach: “‘If kingdoms move Thee not, let move Thee zeal and duty.’” And he goes on to say, “‘You are, indeed, the King, the new Adam, the head of the new humanity, You have a duty to provide for Your people.’” And when Christ refuses him, Satan’s answer is: “‘Since neither wealth nor honour, arms nor arts, kingdom nor empire, pleases Thee, nor aught by me proposed in life contemplative or active, tended on by glory or fame, what dost
Thou in this world? The wilderness for Thee is fittest place: I found Thee there, and thither will return Thee. Yet remember what I foretell Thee; soon Thou shalt have cause to wish Thou never hadst rejected, thus nicely or cautiously, my offered aid, which would have set Thee in short time with ease on David’s throne, or throne of all the world, now at full age, fullness of time, Thy season, when prophecies of Thee are best fulfilled.’” And Satan says (this is when they’re on the pinnacle of the temple): I’ll take You back to the desert. You belong there, isolated from man. You have no interest in man. You are impractical. Your way will bring nothing to man. Accept Your own defeat, which You will find soon enough. And Satan is rejected by Christ, and departs. [00:53:05]
And then, we have an angelic choir hailing paradise...
And then, we have an angelic choir hailing paradise restored. And here we have a postmil perspective that comes out after the pessimism of Paradise Lost. They declare, “‘True image of the Father, whether throned in the bosom of bliss, and light of light conceiving, or, remote from heaven, enshrined in fleshly tabernacle and human form, wandering the wilderness – whatever place, habit, or state, or motion, still expressing the Son of God, with Godlike force endued against the attempter of Thy Father’s throne and thief of paradise! Him long of old Thou didst debel, and cast from heaven with all his army; now Thou hast avenged supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing temptation, hast regained lost paradise, and frustrated the conquest fraudulent. He never more henceforth will dare set foot in paradise to tempt; his snares are broken. For, though that seat of earthly bliss be failed, a fairer paradise is founded now for Adam and his chosen sons, whom Thou, a Savior, art come down to reinstall …’” And so, Christ’s victory in the wilderness, and then His cross, and His defeat of sin and death break the back of Satan; and a fairer paradise is founded now. But the way is not the way of Satan; and the way is a difficult one. It is a battle. But paradise, Milton concluded, has been regained. The beachhead has been established. The king has triumphed, and it is up to us now to follow Him and to establish His victory in one area after another. [00:55:40]
Let us bow our heads now in prayer...
Let us bow our heads now in prayer. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, indeed a fairer paradise was established by our Lord and Savior by his victory over Satan in the wilderness and on the cross. And we thank Thee that Thou hast called us to be citizens of this new creation. Empower us by Thy grace and by Thy Word that we may in one area after another conquer in His name; that we may learn by those defeats of the past how the war is to be won, and may set forth Christ’s dominion in every area of life. Grant us this, we beseech Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now, before we have questions, we have just a limited amount of time. There will be a Chalcedon prayer meeting and bible study held at the Gaschelem home next Saturday, March 25th, at 7:30. And those of you who do not know how to get there can find out from, I guess, uh, Vic and Gloria – do you know the way? And George, I guess, you know the way. So, check with him. Then, we will have one more meeting on Milton, possibly next week, and possibly the week after. We may have one or two meetings. Next week, Dr. Frances Nigel Lee of South Africa will be here. Now, I’m not entirely sure of the schedule yet, but it may be possible that we can have him speak to this group next Friday. You won’t know until you come here, in which case –
[Audience] You mean Wednesday?
[Rushdoony] – next week, Wednesday. Excuse me. Wednesday, a week from tonight: Wednesday. And, if he does speak, then we will conclude with Milton two weeks from tonight. Let me remind you also that a week from next Monday, the Chalcedon Guild will have a potluck dinner for Dr. Lee in, ah, what’s the name of the place? [00:58:29]
[Audience] La Casita Del Arroyo, in Pasadena, where...
[Audience] La Casita Del Arroyo, in Pasadena, where we had our Mexican dinner.
[Rushdoony] And please consult – whom do you consult on it?
[Audience] Well, you’re one of them.
[Rushdoony] All right – Sucora or Gloria on what to bring. This is a rare opportunity to hear a very fine speaker. I’ve never heard him, but I understand he’s quite an eloquent speaker. He has two Ph.D. degrees, a degree in law, is an ordained minister, as well as a Justice of South Africa, and a professor of philosophy.
Now, any questions on Milton? No questions on Milton? Yes?
[Questioner] Was his blindness congenital?
[Rushdoony] The question is: was his blindness congenital? Well, here there’s been a great deal of work trying to find out what was the reason for his blindness; and some have tried to say—a few years ago it was very popular to say—that it was congenital, and it was due to syphilis. So you may have read this at some place or other, because it was very popularly so stated. That idea has been thoroughly exploded by detailed studies. They don’t know what caused his blindness, and that’s all we can say. But it definitely was not of anything of the sort. Now, you see, in those days there were no means of diagnosing something, such as glaucoma and other such ailments, which could very quickly produce blindness; and as a result, blindness was often much more common in those days than it is now.
[Questioner] In my encyclopedia, it says that Milton was married three times, and it sure wasn’t very complimentary about him; it didn’t look like he was a good husband. And also, that his daughters weren’t well enough educated, because he was dictating Paradise Lost to them, and they had trouble with the words, and he was fussing at them about that. Now, was that accurate? [01:01:17]
[Rushdoony] Yes, and no...
[Rushdoony] Yes, and no. He’s been very unkindly treated, because people have been very hostile, basically, to him; and, as a result, they’ve gone overboard to try to give a very unfavorable opinion on everything in his life. Now, to take up the last matter first, his daughters had to take dictation; it was the only way he could write Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, and the other writings that he did. Now, naturally, they fretted at it. They would have preferred to do other things, but they weren’t that rebellious; and, all of us who have children know that at some time or other, they’ve fretted something we asked them. Now, if someone were to come along and take that fretfulness and say, “Ah ha! You see, he was not a good parent, or she was not a good parent, and there was not a good relationship,” it would be a misinterpretation, would it not? It would be a downright lie, even though they were reporting a fact that had a measure of truth to it. So you can take a fact which is true, and make a lie out of it. So, that story is really nonsense. Someone just took an expression of fretfulness from these girls, who naturally would have preferred to do other things than to take dictation on something from their father. And, second, he didn’t have much money, so there wasn’t too much he could do for them, but he did as well as he could; and he did fairly well.
Then, second, he was married three times. His first wife died in childbirth. And this is the marriage that so much fuss is made about, because they were separated; and it was something of a major scandal for awhile. They were married, just when the trouble between king and parliament was breaking out—Mary Powell; and they had not known each other too long. They were both quite young and very much in love; and when they had been married for less than a month, his wife left him and went home, because, while Milton had every appearance of being one of the courtiers and gentlemen of the day, he was a very serious-minded person. So, the fact that he was a gentleman was deceptive to the girl; and she was a rather—not frivolous—but she was a party girl and wanted a good, comfortable, easy life; not the very solemn and serious life that Milton’s disposition geared him to. Now, this was a real problem for Milton. There was no divorce in England in those days. Of course, Henry VIII had gotten them, but he was king. And, so, he came out with some tracts on divorce, which created quite a scandal, because he very openly discussed his case and his wife. However, things went badly for the king, and the Powell’s were Royalists. So they told Mary, “Get back to your husband. He’s a rising star on the English firmament, and we want to be on the winning side.” So they shipped her back to him, and she was glad to go back to him, because this was where the money was, in effect. So she went back to him, and she did come to feel a great deal of affection for him after she did go back; and they were quite happy. She died giving birth to their child; and he was quite broken about it. [01:05:49]
His second wife was very dear to him, and we have a...
His second wife was very dear to him, and we have a beautiful sonnet that he wrote when she died: “Methought I saw my late espoused saint, brought to me like Alcestis, from the grave, whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave, rescued from death by force, though pale and faint. Mine, as whom washed from spot of child-bed taint purification in the old Law did save, and such, as yet once more I trust to have full sight of her in heaven without restraint, came vested all in white, pure as her mind: her face was veiled; yet to my fancied sight love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined so clear, as in no face with more delight. But O, as to embrace me she inclined, I waked; she fled; and day brought back my night.” Well, it’s a beautiful poem, and it does show his very real love. And the third marriage was also a very happy one. So, the textbooks go out of their way to be unkind to Milton, at this point.
[Questioner] At what age did he die?...
[Questioner] At what age did he die?
[Rushdoony] I’m trying to think … he was born in 1608; and he died, I think, about 1678 or 1680, ’82. He was in his seventies when he died.
[Questioner] He lived out a full life.
[Rushdoony] He lived a full life, and he went blind about 25 to 30 years before he died; so it was not an easy thing for him.
Any other questions? Well, if not, then we are adjourned until …