John Milton No 2 - RR135C5

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: John Milton No. 2
Course: Course - English History
Subject: Subject:History
Lesson#: 5
Length: 1:04:18
TapeCode: RR135C5
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Our Lord and our God, Who of Thy grace and mercy has set Thy seal upon us and made us Thy people in Jesus Christ; we gather together again to rejoice in Thee, to study the things of this world from the perspective of Thy kingdom. Bless us, Our Father, in Thy service, and strengthen us, that we may praise, magnify, and glorify Thee in all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We saw last week, as we studied the life of Milton, a personal tragedy that the restoration of the monarchy meant to him. We also had a glimpse into the conditions of England with the Restoration. The Restoration meant the return of monarchy. Monarchy is readily glamorized from a distance, and there is no question that there were some very powerful, great, and remarkable men who were kings in England and elsewhere over the centuries; but the fact also remains that monarchy was very often a very sorry thing, and especially as European history progressed. Because so much emphasis was placed upon royal blood, an excessive inbreeding developed, and the kings began to show some peculiar quirks. Earlier in English history, William the Conqueror was the son of a king by a servant girl, and illegitimate; but he had been made king, because it was clearly recognized he was a true son of his father, the ablest man in Normandy. And he was a very remarkable monarch, and essentially a very just monarch, who did much for both Normandy and England after he conquered it. There were many very powerful and brilliant monarchs in England and elsewhere. But by this time, the monarchy was very sadly reduced, and the kind of men who became kings showed the effects of a tainted heredity. They were outwardly often very elegant men, but personally were thoroughly contemptible persons. [00:03:27]

I’m going to read just a brief passage from Aubrey...[edit]

I’m going to read just a brief passage from Aubrey’s Brief Lives. John Aubrey, in the period of Milton, and thereafter, was a strong Royalist. He had nothing but dislike for Cromwell and the Puritans; and yet, as the editor of Aubrey’s “Lives” summarizes his point of view, he comments: “Even during these troubled times, the Court was still the cultural center of the nation, and the circle of poets and playwrights that usually clustered round the King was augmented by the very fact of war. Many men were in the same case as John Cleveland, the Cambridge poet, who, ‘being turned out of his Fellowship for a malignant, came to Oxford, where the King’s Army was, and was much caressed by them.’ And it was while the King was in residence –” this is Charles I –“at Christ Church that William Cartwright, the dramatist, was buried in the cathedral there at the early age of thirty-two. ‘Pity tis so famous a bard should lie without an inscription,’ Aubrey thought, for his contemporaries had expected great things of him: ‘Tis not to be forgot that King Charles I first dropped a tear at the news of his death.’ In view of this sensibility, it is astounding to find that the manners of the Court were so foul. For in the next reign, Anthony Wood was to write: ‘To give a further character of the Court, though they were neat and gay in their apparel, yet they were very nasty and beastly, leaving at their departure their excrements in every corner, in chimneys, studies, coalhouses, cellars. Rude, rough whoremongers; vain, empty, careless.’” This is Charles I, who was beheaded. “With this attack, Aubrey was in full agreement for he himself pointed out that it was the lascivious King Charles II, and not the elegant Charles I, who ‘was the pattern of courtesy, and first brought good manners into fashion in England’ and in 1670, he said, ‘Till this time the Court itself was unpolished and unmannered. King James’ Court was so far from being civil to women, that the ladies, nay the Queen herself, could hardly pass by the King’s apartment without receiving some affront.’” Now, of course, with Charles II, manners were emphasized; but the manners went hand in hand with a moral depravity. It was courtliness; it was an emphasis on the proper use of things in Court, but an utter contempt for moral considerations. [00:06:45]

Moreover, there was increasingly a moral indifference...[edit]

Moreover, there was increasingly a moral indifference. One of the most interesting indications of this is the Diary of Samuel Pepys. If you’ve never read it, it’s quite a treat. The diary of Pepys was only decoded about 1900; and, I believe, first published around 1909. And it is only now that the full diary is being published by the University of California at Berkeley Press. Pepys was a very important man in English history, because he was, in a sense, the founder of the modern British Navy. He was a hardheaded, realistic man in government affairs. King Charles II thought highly of him and relied on him. Pepys confided to his diary that the country never had it so good as when Old Oliver was alive, because, as a military man, he could see what happened to the international prestige and power of England. And yet, when you read Pepys’ diary—and I won’t go into some of these passages; some of them are quite amusing—he is endlessly philandering with other women; and then feels sorry for his wife and speaks of her: “my wife, poor wretch.” And he puts a price on his philandering, He figures that, well, this girl was young, and that it was worth so much to him in pleasure; so he will lean over backwards, let his wife spend a little more money, so that he figures he’s paid off for it by allowing her to have so much extra for spending money—a perfect Pharisee. [00:09:01]

To read a few of his comments...[edit]

To read a few of his comments: “25th Christmas Day. To church in the morning, and there saw a wedding in the church, which I had not seen many a day; and the young people so merry one with another; and strange, to see what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition, every man and woman gazing and smiling at them …. June 12th, 1667. Home, where all our hearts do now ache; for the news is true, that the Dutch have broken the chain stretched across the Thames to protect the idle British Fleet, and burned our ships, and particularly the Royal Charles”; (that’s how helpless England had become, when a few years before, it had never even lost a skirmish anywhere on the Continent or in England under Oliver) “other particulars I know not, but it is said to be so. And the truth is, I do fear so much that the whole kingdom is undone, and I do this night resolve to study with my father and wife what to do with the little that I have in money by me, for I give up all the rest that I have lost in the Kings’ hands for Tangier for lost. So God help us! And God knows what disorders we may fall into, and whether any violence on this office, or perhaps some severity on our persons is being reckoned by the silly people. Or perhaps maybe policy of state be thought fit to be condemned by the King and Duke of York, and so put to trouble, though God knows. I have in my own person done my full duty, I am sure. Home and to bed with a heavy heart …. July 29th. Cousin Roger and Creed to dinner with me, and very merry; but among other things, they told me of the strange, bold sermon of Dr. Creeton yesterday, before the King; how he preached again the sins of the Court, and particularly against adultery, over and over instancing how for that single sin in David, the whole nation was undone; and of our negligence in having our castles without ammunition and powder when the Dutch came upon us; and how we have no courage nowadays, but let our ships be taken out of our harbor. Among other discourse, my cousin Roger told us as a thing certain that the Archbishop of Canterbury” (this was Gilbert Sheldon) “that now is, do keep a wench, and that he is as very a wencher as can be; and tells us it is a thing publically known that Sir Charles Sedley has got away one of Archbishop’s wenches from him, and the Archbishop sent to him to let him know that she was his kinswoman, and did wonder that he would offer any dishonor to one related to him. Cousin Roger did acquaint me in private with an offer made of his marrying of Mrs. Elizabeth Wiles, whom I know; a kinswoman of Mr. Honiwood’s, an ugly old maid, but good housewife; and is said to have 2500 pounds to her portion; but I can find that she hath but 2000, which he prays me to examine, he says he will have her, she being one he hath long known intimately, and a good housewife, and discreet woman; though I am against it in my heart, she being not handsome at all; and it hath been the very bad fortune of the Pepyses that ever I knew, never to marry an handsome woman, except Ned Pepys …. The 30th. With Creed to White Hall; in our way, meeting with Mr. Cooling, my Lord Chamberlain’s secretary, on horseback, who stopped to speak with us, and he proved very drunk, and did talk, and would have talked all night with us, I not being able to break loose from him, he holding me so by the hand. But, Lord! To see his present humor, how he swears at every word, and talks of the King and my Lady Castlemayne in the plainest words in the world. And from him I gather that the story I learned yesterday is true—that the King hath declared that he did not get the child to which she is conceived by at this time. But she told him, (blank blank) ‘me, you shall own it!’ It seems, he is jealous of Jermin, and she loves him so, that the thought of his marrying of my Lady Falmouth puts her into fits of the mother; and he, it seems, hath been in her good graces from time to time, continually, for a good while; and now, as this Cooling says, the King had like to have taken him a-bed with her, but that he was fain to creep under the bed into her closet. I never heard so much vanity from a man in my life. So being weary of him, we parted, and I took coach and carried Creed to the temple, there sat him down unto my office till my eye began to ache; and there home to supper.” [00:14:11]

Then he goes on and on in this vein...[edit]

Then he goes on and on in this vein; and this, very typical. Now here is a man who is very upset at the licentiousness of the Court and how flagrant it is, and the drunkenness of people in high office so that nothing gets done. The Dutch declare war on them and sail right into the harbor, and burn up their Fleet; and everybody is too drunk to do anything about it; and he feels we’re in bad, immoral times. But notice this: now, this is one of the mildest episodes of his philandering, but I think it’s significant where it happens—in church. “August 18. Into St. Dunstan’s Church, where I heard an able sermon of the minister of the place; and stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labor to take hold by the hand; but she would not, but got further and further from me; and, at last, I could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again—which seeing I did forbear, and was glad I did espy her design. And then I fell to gaze upon another pretty maid in a pew close to me, and she on me; and I did go about to take her by the hand, which she suffered a little, and then withdrew. So the sermon ended, the church broke up, and my amours ended also. Took coach and home, and there took up my wife, and to Islington.” And so, on and on and on. He goes to church and listens to the sermon, and says it’s a very good one, and sometimes says it was a powerful sermon against adultery and a real indictment of the Court; and then he flirts with the girls in the church, and picks up one and heads for a nearby hotel. This was the morality of the day. [00:16:08]

Now, from a historian of the period, to give you something...[edit]

Now, from a historian of the period, to give you something more, because all of this ties in with Milton in Samson Agonistes, which we will come to very soon. Partly in reaction against Puritan repression now, this is by an English historian, who is not sympathetic to the Puritans: “Partly in obedience to their natural bent, a good many restoration Londoners went to excesses of drunkenness and lechery; and the actors were not the least of the sinners. The great mass of the English people were still sober and God-fearing. The wastrels and rakes were little more numerous in proportion to the total population than at any other period; but, because of lax law enforcement, they were more open in their wickedness. Also, they were the ruling elite now with the King. When young gentlemen heeded by wine ran riot in the streets at night, broke windows, beat up harmless pedestrians, skirmished with the watch, there were many indignant outcries, but few punishments. The King, himself, was given to hard drinking, and the popularity of the habit among his subjects is suggested by the words of a popular song: ‘Good store of good claret supplies everything, and the man that is drunk is as great as a king.’ The widespread addiction to lechery could be illustrated by hundreds of examples, from Pepys and his holes in a corner affairs with servant girls and workmen’s wives, to the King’s mistresses, flaunted in public to the rage of respectable people. Love and gaming were the two principle pastimes in the rambling galleries and chambers of White Hall.” (This is the palace.) “Consequently, both diversions, but particularly love, were indulged in by the gentlemen of the town. Keeping became so much a matter of fashion, that Francis North, Lord Wilford, a sober lawyer and courtier, was seriously urged to keep a whore, because his failure to do so made him look ill-looked upon at Court.” Now, it became so much the fashion that, even if you were not interested, you kept a mistress, although you never had anything to do with her, and you were faithful to your wife, because you wanted to keep up appearances; and you didn’t want to be frowned on by the world at large; and you would be looked down upon by everyone of any consequence in the government. This kind of thing continued on upper levels off and on into the last century. And Samuel Butler, who wrote Erewhon, kept such a mistress, with whom he never had anything to do; and he’d go once a week, dutifully. He supported her full-time and spent an hour chatting with her—although he didn’t enjoy the conversation—just so the world at large would think he was a proper English gentleman. “By the same token, many an amorous lady ventured her person and her reputation with a gallant; and the husband who resented his wife’s lewd conduct was considered a fool and a spoil sport. When the Earl of Chesterfield, fearing an entreat between his wife and the Duke of York,” (who later was James II) ”dragged the reluctant lady off to his country estate, the young blades of the Court such couple made, concurs as Lord Buckhurst, Sir Charles Sedley, the Earl of Rochester, and George Etheredge, diverted everybody with witty ballads at his extent” … and so on and on and on. [00:20:12]

This was the character of the Court...[edit]

This was the character of the Court. This was the character of those whose were ruling England. Now, into this picture, let us fit in Samson Agonistes, because it was written by a man who was blind, and who was deeply, deeply distressed by his blindness; a man who had been active as one of the high officials of government under Cromwell, and who, therefore, felt keenly what had happened to England. And so he wrote Samson Agonistes: Samson, in his agony, in his blindness. Now, very obviously, Milton felt like Samson: he, too, was blind; he was helpless, chained, as it were. He had been facing, possibly, execution not too long before, when Charles II had returned; but also, he knew that others were like him and were like Samson, in that they were helpless. They had been great and important men a few years before, under Cromwell; and now they were helpless, and had the sad fact of seeing, seeing with their eyes, the degradation of England, a country they had made great for a period; of seeing the Dutch fleet sail up, while drunkards couldn’t even do anything to defend it, and burned the English fleet. Then, too, he saw England as the blind Samson: helpless; a prisoner in a Philistine prison. So, Milton saw the Court, the rulers, as the Philistines; and the old godly element of himself and others like him, as Samson: eyeless in Gaza. But he begins Samson Agonistes by having Samson declare, “What have I to complain of, but myself.” After all, it was England, it was the English people, who had called Charles II back. And so, Samson begins his meditations at the very beginning: “A little onward lend thy guiding light to these dark steps, a little further on; for yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade. There I am wont to sit, when any chance relieves me from my task of servile toil, daily in the common prison else enjoined me, where I, a prisoner chained, scarce freely draw the air, imprisoned also, close and damp, unwholesome draught. But here I feel amends—the breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet, with day-spring born; here leave me to respire. [00:24:10]

And so, Samson meditates on what has happened...[edit]

And so, Samson meditates on what has happened. England had been strong; but he says very quickly, “But what is strength without a double share of wisdom? Vast, unwieldly, burdensome, proudly secure, yet liable to fall by weakest subtleties; not made to rule, but to subserve where wisdom bears command. God, when He gave me strength, to show withal how slight the gift was, hung it in my hair.” Samson’s gift was his hair, easily shorn; and his gift easily lost. And England’s strength had been great, the greatest power for the first time in its history in all of Europe. But what is strength, without a double share of wisdom. And England had thrown away its strength; and now had the indignity of being the joke of Europe. And had he but known how much more deeply, he would have been hurt, but its very ruler was in the pay of the enemy. And then his grief, his blindness, beginning in line 66: “O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies! O worse than chains, dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, and all her various objects of delight annulled, which might in part my grief have eased. Inferior to the vilest now become of man or worm, the vilest here excel me: they creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed to daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong, within doors, or without, still as a fool, in power of others, never in my own—scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, irrecoverably dark, total eclipse without all hope of day! O first-created beam, and Thou great Word, ‘Let there be light, and light was over all,’ why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree? The sun to me is dark and silent as the moon, when she deserts the night, hid in her vacant interlunar cave. But since light so necessary is to life, and almost life itself, if it be true that light is in the soul, she all in every part, why was the sight to such a tender ball as the eye confined, so obvious and so easy to be quenched, and not, as feeling, through all parts diffused, that she might look at will through every pore? Then had I not been thus exiled from light, as in the land of darkness, yet in light, to live a life half dead, a living death, and buried; but, O yet more miserable! Myself my sepulcher, a moving grave; buried, yet not exempt, by privilege of death and burial, from worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs; but made hereby obnoxious more to all the miseries of life, life in captivity among inhuman foes.” [00:28:24]

That’s a very moving and sad account of the agony of...[edit]

That’s a very moving and sad account of the agony of blindness—blindness to a man who had been a man of action, and who could feel an intense grief over the condition of his country. But there was grief also over his fall and over the fall of England: “How counterfeit a coin they are who ‘friends’ bear in their superscription ….” All those who had been friends earlier of the Commonwealth were now there dancing to the tune of a corrupt Court. And so, he goes on to say there is a love of bondage on the part of these people, a jealously of God’s servants, and in lines 268, following: “But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt, and by their vices brought to servitude, than to love bondage more than liberty—bondage with ease than strenuous liberty—and to despise, or envy, or suspect, whom God hath of His special favor raised as their deliverer? If he aught begin, how frequent to desert Him and at last to heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?” It galled Milton to see now men ready to tolerate anything the Court did, who a few years ago were ready to criticize Cromwell, and Milton, and Fairfax, and other men if they sneezed; nitpicking, straining every gnat with godly men; and now swallowing every camel with King Charles. [00:30:49]

And so, he declares in lines ...[edit]

And so, he declares in lines 410, following: “O indignity, O blot to honor and religion! Servile mine rewarded well with servile punishment! The base degree to which I now am fallen, these rags, this grinding, is not yet so base as was my former servitude, ignoble, unmanly, ignominious, infamous, true slavery; and that blindness worse than this, that saw not how degenerately I served.” Here, Samson is commenting on his slavery to sin—to Delilah—and he says this is worse than my blindness now. And he is saying, thereby, that the worst bondage is to sin, and the greatest bondage of England is its spiritual and moral bondage, the bondage to sin. And then he says a little later, lines 460: “This only hope relieves me, that the strife with me hath end. All the contest is now ‘twixt God and Dagon.” (Dagon, the god of the Philistines) “Dagon hath presumed, me overthrown, to enter lists with God, his deity comparing and preferring before the God of Abraham.” And he says perhaps it’s the best, for the best, God’s purpose: that Cromwell is dead and others are dead, and I am on the sidelines. The battle is now between God and Satan. They are seeing evil face to face. They are going to have to deal with it. They’re going to have to reckon with it. [00:33:03]

Now, as the poem goes on, and our time is limited tonight...[edit]

Now, as the poem goes on, and our time is limited tonight, Samson purposes to go along with the Philistines when they want him to go to their temple for their celebration. The story, of course, is familiar to all of you: how Samson wrapped his arms around the pillars of the temple and prayed to God that he might have his strength once again and topple them, and kill the Philistine leadership and himself, of course, with them. Now, of course, this incident is the heart of Samson Agonistes. The Huntington Library Journal, a quarterly, has an article in the May 1971 issue on Samson Agonistes. The title is, “No Power but of God: Vengeance and Justice in Samson Agonistes”; and what the author Anthony Low has to say is Samson Agonistes is very much criticized by many, many critics, because it is regarded as a rather bloodthirsty poem, a poem of vengeance; that Milton builds it up to the fact that Samson is going to do that which will destroy the Philistines. However, as the writer points out, what Milton here emphasizes is not personal vengeance. He makes it clear that God says, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” But God works only through his appointed servants. Therefore, vengeance cannot be personal, but God’s appointed men, officers of state, can take vengeance into their hands, because they do it as officers of law. And the point he makes and develops at great length is that Samson was a judge of Israel; and that the action Samson took was a part of his continuing warfare against the Philistines; and that God works through his appointed servants and appointed channels, not through revolutionary activities, to overthrow his enemies and to bring justice, His vengeance, upon them. [00:36:22]

Now, I want to take just a few minutes to deal with...[edit]

Now, I want to take just a few minutes to deal with this. This is a very important point. There will be a little bit about this in the April Chalcedon Report; but this ties in with something that is very much a part of the current scene. One of the things that characterizes the last hundred years is the extent of political assassination that the modern world has seen. Take our country, alone. We have had in a hundred years, about a hundred and … yes, within a hundred years, from 1864 to about 1963, four presidents assassinated. In that time, we’ve also had many other political figures assassinated: a mayor of New York, and many other public figures. In Europe, many, many prime ministers, at least one king that I … oh, several kings and czars, many high officials of state assassinated. What is behind this? Never in history have there been in Western Europe and the history of Christendom after the Roman Era as many assassinations as we’ve had in the last century. It is not likely that they’re going to abate. Everything points to more of this sort of thing. You have the Weathermen today dedicated to this sort of thing. Well, it is the philosophy, to use their own term, of direct action—direct action. Now, a philosophy of direct action is a denial of due process of law. It is a denial of the courts. It is a denial that God is on the throne; and He will, in due time, bring things to pass. The direct action people believe that if you see a wrong, you go after it and eliminate it in whatever way possible. So the Weathermen will blow up things. They will destroy, because this is direct action. [00:39:22]

Now, the philosophy of direct action is also the philosophy...[edit]

Now, the philosophy of direct action is also the philosophy, increasingly, of the government. What are executive orders, except a form of direct action, are they not? They bypass legislation. And what was Nixon’s demand that there be a moratorium by the courts on busing, but direct action? If he really wanted to oppose busing legitimately, the thing to do was to go through Congress, pass a law outlawing busing; and the law can, by act of Congress, be exempted from judicial review. But he didn’t do that, did he? Direct action, which is illegal. He instituted wage and price controls last August 15th, didn’t he? Direct action. Was Congress asked to do anything? Not until afterwards. They were instituted on his say so. Direct action. Now, this is precisely the kind of thing that Milton was writing against in Samson Agonistes. Milton, as much as anyone, was distressed and would like to have seen Charles II dropped into the bottom of the sea. He was a Puritan, through and through. He resented the debauchery of the Court. He regarded them as a pack of Philistines: depraved, degenerate men, Dagon worshippers; or Satan worshippers, we would say. What was the answer? Not direct action. In a sense, what they were getting was the work of God. He began by saying, “Just are the ways of God. We didn’t deserve what we had. We were in bondage to sin, before we became in bondage to Charles II. It was our sin that led us into this situation; and it’s only as magistrates become judges—rulers who will, themselves, raise the banner of law—that we have any right to do anything against Charles II. The vengeance of God, therefore, must be through appointed officers of law. God will, in due time, bring forth His judgment through his appointed men; and vengeance cannot be a personal thing.” Now, this is what he is saying. And this is the argument that he develops at great length in Samson Agonistes. [00:42:56]

And then he concludes...[edit]

And then he concludes—though he does not have that to point to in England. Samson did it to the Philistines. But here is Milton, not too far away from his last year; no one in sight; no prospect of anything like this happening in England—and what is his conclusion? The last lines of the chorus, lines 1745, following, the last lines of Samson Agonistes: “All is best, though oft we doubt what the unsearchable dispose of highest wisdom brings about, and ever best found in the close. Oft He seems to hide his face, but unexpectedly returns, and to His faithful champion hath in place bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns, and all that band them to resist His uncontrollable intent. His servants He, with new acquist of true experience from this great event, with peace and consolation hath dismissed, and calm of mind, all passion spent.” These are Milton’s last words: “All is best, though oft we doubt.” God in his sovereign wisdom is weaving together the strands; and we cannot see the final result, but he is bringing them together not to frustrate us; not because it’s God purpose to leave me—a blind Samson, so to speak—bitterly frustrated and unhappy for years, for decades, while my country goes from bad to worse. No, God has His purpose in this. He has brought judgment upon the land. He will bring judgment upon the Court and the Philistines; so that, in this confidence, we must do our duty and wait on the providence of God. Thus, Milton’s last word is one of an acceptance of God’s sovereign purpose, of confidence that God will prevail. The peacefulness with which the poem ends, we must remember, was one which Milton had without seeing the enemies of anyone destroyed, without seeing a corrupt Court brought down. It was, therefore, a confidence that God does that which is best, and makes all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called, according to His purpose. [00:46:46]

A few years after his death, of course, there was the...[edit]

A few years after his death, of course, there was the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It was nothing like that which Milton would have hoped for; but, at least, it drove out the Stuarts, and it was the beginning with William and Mary of a different kind of England. And we, too, in our day, as we see evil apparently prospering, as the psalmist said the wicked flourish as the green bay tree; we’re not thereby to become foolish, as the psalmist admitted he had become, as he looked at the lot of the wicked. If the wicked prosper, it is that they be destroyed, the psalmist says. God has His purpose; and the end, thereof, is that all things be reconstituted in terms of His sovereign purpose.

Let us pray. Our Lord and our God, we acknowledge in Thee that all is best, where oft we doubt what Thine unsearchable wisdom is accomplishing. Teach us, therefore, Father, day by day to be confident in Thee; and to know, our Father, the world is governed not by the things that are, but by Thy sovereign, unchanging and unchangeable purposes; that Thou canst not fail. Thy kingdom shall triumph, and ours is the victory in Jesus Christ. Bless us, our Father, unto Thy purpose and in Thy victory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are there any questions now? We have a little time for some questions, just a very brief time. [00:49:15]

[Questioner] Would you repeat what about Mr...[edit]

[Questioner] Would you repeat what about Mr. Lee, because …

[Rushdoony] Yes. We’re going to have an announcement of that in just a few minutes from Gloria Bazare; and I will add something about him, personally, at that time.

No questions? Yes?

[Questioner] Was does he {unclear} assassinations?

[Rushdoony] This direct action mentality. Just as one politician, Frank Haig, said some years ago: “I am the law.” So many people say, “I am the law, and it’s up to me to play God.” It’s tied in with abortion, with mercy killing, with a great many other things. People are going to play God over the lives of others; and their attitude is that the way to save the world is by killing, by death, as though eliminating some people is going to change the world. But murder has become the means of the salvation.

[Questioner] Well, in the Lincoln assassination, I read an article not too long ago—two days ago, I guess it was—that the history, you know, the new history of the United States, The Land of the Free, and which advances that Lincoln was assassinated by an actor—didn’t say who or what. And some years ago, I found several articles, in which it puts them all together, you know, and he finds that John Wilkes Booth was not a Southern sympathizer at all; that he was sent to England just a few months before … I mean, not to England, but to Canada; and the {unclear} prepared him for this assassination. Now, could there be a group, or some sort of a power that created this situation? [00:51:29]

[Rushdoony] Oh, there was no doubt a group behind the...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Oh, there was no doubt a group behind the assassination that planned it and had definite ideas as to what they would accomplish; but that type of a question … and I have, oh, four, five, six books on Booth and the background of the assassination, and so on. We’ll never really know, because the papers were largely destroyed by Lincoln’s son, who was politically ambitious. They do point to Stanton, the Secretary of War, to a great degree as having been a key figure in the assassination of Lincoln. But I think that a danger in this kind of thinking is very clearly apparent in the type of book that None Dare Call It Conspiracy is: you do end up with a theory that the world is governed by evil men, you see. And really, these direct action boys who assassinate are impotent men. Their answer to problems is death; and death never solves any problems. They have nothing to offer, but death. The communists, who began in the last century in Old Russia feeling they were going to create a paradise on earth … and how? Well, they were assassinating czars and prime ministers right and left. So when they took over the country, they started killing more. They killed tens of millions of Russians, trying to bring in paradise by murder. Now, these people are the epitome of stupidity and impotence. Their gospel is death; and you have to say people like that are stupid—utterly stupid. So that instead of being a great, powerful, intelligent group, they’re a stupid group. How are they triumphing? Well, I think Samson Agonistes gives us a reason: because men are in bondage—spiritual bondage; they’re in bondage to sin. No conspiracy can ever succeed, unless there are people who are spiritually, morally depraved, so that a false philosophy can take root among them. [00:54:15]

I mentioned some months ago in our Sunday morning class...[edit]

I mentioned some months ago in our Sunday morning class that there were more conspiracies and more foreign agents in the United States during Washington’s administration than this country has ever seen since. There were about 200 soldiers in the army; the army was down to nothing. There were French revolutionary agents being poured into this country with every ship arriving, and all kinds of money. The U.S. government had next to nothing. They were buying people right up into Washington’s cabinet. You’ve never had as much subversion in this country as you had in George Washington’s day. But they didn’t get anywhere. Why? Because with all that money that was being poured into this country, and all the men they were buying up into every little village all over the length and breadth of the land—they were wearing the red revolutionary caps—there was enough Christianity in the country that there was a moral resistance. That’s what made the difference. Now, that’s the key. So, you’re always going to have evil in the world: that’s not the key. The key is: what are the people doing with respect to God. [00:55:50]

This is why, in scripture, it is not a crime to bribe...[edit]

This is why, in scripture, it is not a crime to bribe a judge; but, it’s a very serious crime for a judge or a government official to take a bribe: he can lose his life for it, according to God’s Law. What’s the premise there? Well, the premise is this: it’s a sinful world. There will always be somebody in the most perfect situation … if you have 99% of the population practically angelic, they’re so holy, you’re still going to have enough bribes offered from the 1% to every public official, if they’re ready to take it. So, you assume the minute any man is a public official that there’s always going to be an attempt to bribe him. Now, that’s the assumption the Bible makes. And it states plainly there is no offense on the part of the person offering the bribe. It’s a sinful world. The offense is that a man who holds public office is supposed to be godly; and if he takes it, he is betraying God. The man who offers it isn’t betraying anybody; maybe it’s the only way he can get justice, in some situations. [00:57:22]

I was very interested ...[edit]

I was very interested … Saturday night, we had Sennholz Seminar at Santa Maria—a very, very telling one—and he got into a little personal reminiscing of his, which he did with difficulty, because he said it was hard for him to speak on what he went through without emotion. But after the war, when he returned to Germany after 7 years, he found he had no family. They had been bombed out of existence. The only relative he has is a cousin. They were all trying to get out, and the cousin was the only one who made it to this country. He’s in San Francisco now. He could find the graves of his father and mother. There was something of them to be buried. He tried to go and get food; there was rationing: “Oh, you can’t, unless you have your work permit.” When he went to get his work permit, they were going to assign him to early morning to late night work on the street cleaning up rubble; but he said, “I am applying as a student; I want to get back to the university.” “Well, you can’t have your food permit, unless you’ve been accepted as a student, or unless you are working.” Well, he was one of ten thousand young men returning from the armed forces in Germany, who had applied at that one university, Marburg. It was already filled up, and there were ten thousand applicants, and seven vacancies! He couldn’t get a food stamp, so he went to work on the black market; and he got enough money very quickly, and he went and bribed the dean. And he was one of the seven who got in. He said that was the only way you could get in. There was nothing wrong in what he did. It was the only way. What was wrong was what the dean did. And that’s Biblical. [00:59:44]

So, we have to say, as we face the situation today...[edit]

So, we have to say, as we face the situation today, that evil is on the part of us, more than the conspirators. There are conspiracies all over the world—always have been, always will be. The first conspiracy was in the Garden of Eden: Satan against Adam and Eve. And the Bible tells us it was Adam’s fault and Eve’s fault. They couldn’t blame the serpent. God didn’t accept that. And today, people are buying anything that’s human myth, and turning their back on the truth. This is the key issue; and it is not going to change, until men change in their relationship to God. I submit that, if tomorrow, you were to get the names of every communist agent in this country and every person who’s a leader of every conspiracy, and publish them in the daily paper, in two days it would be old hat. People would forget about it and go on about their business. And if anything would happen, it would be that those people would be frowned on by everyone. And they’d put out a movie like them, like the Godfather, to glorify them; and everybody would be envious of them.


[Questioner] Because of the {unclear} of today give them {unclear}, twenty years ago when at the time appeared to be McCarthy, you couldn’t trust that, and then … [01:01:28]

[Rushdoony] They did...[edit]

[Rushdoony] They did. Under McCarthy, most of the people didn’t go along with him. You don’t have to go to McCarthy. You can go back to the Lusk Committee in New York in 1923, which exposed the whole communist apparatus. There are four volumes that take up that much space on a shelf. You learn more there about what the communist were going to do, than anything that Congress has put out since. You have it all there spelled out in such detail that, I submit that if you really want to know what the communists are doing today, the best place to go is to the Lusk Committee Report. And yet, that was published, circulated all over the country, and the attitude of people was “so what?” That was given publicity at that time by almost every newspaper in the country. So, the people don’t want it. Spiritually, they are dead. They are spiritually anti-God in their outlook. They hate God. This is the outlook of the average American. He may talk about “oh, well, I’m for religion”; but he is anti-God. His whole life shows it. And I submit that nothing could be worse for us than if tomorrow, communism were suddenly to disappear into the ground, because then we would really decay morally. We wouldn’t have any challenge. We would decay totally. And this is why Rome fell. Rome had defeated all her enemies. Rome could go on with its decadence and degeneracies century after century, because it had defeated all the powers. So, finally, it was so corrupt, that with millions of soldiers that could have been a call to arms, small bands of barbarians went through and gutted everything. And the one army that got into the field, they executed the general—the Romans did, themselves—and nobody did anything about it.

Well, our time is up now, but … [01:03:45]