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trine was consonant, in his own opinion to that gospel, which he had sedulously made not only the favorite study, but the constant guide of his life. With this view he published, in 1645, his Tetrachordon, expositions upon the four chief places of scripture, which speak of marriage. Heintroduces this work by a third Address to the Parliament, and, speaking of their justice and candour in disdaining to think of persecuting him for his doctrine, according to the instigation of his enemies, he expresses his gratitude in the following animated terms: “ For which uprightness and incorrupt refusal of what ye were incensed to, lords and commons (though it were done to justice, not to me, and was a peculiar demonstration how far your ways are different from the rash vulgar) besides those allegiances of oath and duty, which are my public debt to your public labors, I have yet a store of gratitude laid up, which cannot be exhausted, and such thanks, perhaps they may live to be, as shall more than whisper to the next ages.” This sentence is remarkable in va
rious points of view, but chiefly as it shews us that the peculiar eagerness and energy with which Milton, at a future period, defended the parliament, originated not only in his passionate attachment to freedom, but in his ardent sense of personal gratitude to the legislature of his country.
He was however, too magnanimous to wish for shel. ter under any authority, without vindicating his innocence and the merit of his cause; he therefore says to the parliament, in speaking of an antagonist who, in their presence had traduced him from the pulpit, “ I shall take licence by the right of nature, and that liberty wherein I was born, to defend myself publicly against a printed calumny, and do willingly appeal to those judges to whom I am accused.”
The preacher had represented the doctrine of divorce as a wicked book, for allowing other causes of divorce than Christ and his Apostles mentioned, and the parliament as sinners for not punishing its authors.
This induces Milton to exclaim with devotional spirit, which seems predominant in
his mind on every occasion, “first, lords and commons, I pray to that God, before whom ye then were prostrate, so to forgive ye those omissions and trespasses, which ye desire most should find forgiveness, as I shall soon shew to the world how easily ye absolve yourselves of that, which this man calls your sin, and is indeed your wisdom and nobleness, whereof to this day ye have done well not to repent.'
The scope of Milton, in his doctrine of divorce, is thus explained by himself: " This shall be the task and period of this discourse to prove, first that other reasons of divorce besides adultery were by the law of Moses, and are yet to be allowed by the Christian magistrate, as a piece of justice, and that the words of Christ, are not hereby contraried ; next that, to prohibit absolutely any divorce whatsoever, except those which Moses excepted, is against the reason of law.''
This doctrine he first delivered as the result of his own diligent study of the scripture. He afterwards found and declared it consonant to what many emilient divines of the
reformed church, particularly Martin Bucer and Erasmus, had maintained; lastly to grace his opinions with the highest human support, he asserts, “they were sanctioned by the whole assembled authority of England, both church and state, and in those times which are on record for the purest and sincerest that ever shone yet on the Reformation of this land, the time of Edward the Sixth. That worthy prince, having utterly abolished the canon law out of his dominions, as his father did before him, appointed by full vote of parliament, a committee of two and thirty chosen men, divines and lawyers, of whom Cranmer the archbishop, Peter Martyr, and Walter Haddon, not without the assistance of Sir John Cheek, the king's tutor, a man at that time accounted the learnedest of Englishmen, and for piety not inferior, were the chief to frame anew some ecclesiastical laws, that might be instead of what was abrogated. The work with great diligence was finished, and with as great approbation of that reforming age was received, and had been doubtless, as
the learned preface thereof testifies, established by act of parliament, had not the good king's death so soon ensuing arrested the farther growth of religion also from that season to this. Those laws, thus founded on the memorable wisdom and piety of that religious parliament and synod, allow divorce and second marriage, not only for adultery and desertion, but for any capital enmity, or plot laid against the other(s life, and likewise for evil and fierce usage. Nay, the twelfth chapter of that title, by plain consequence declares, that lesser contentions, if they be perpetual, may obtain divorce,which is all one really with the position by me held in the former treatise published on this argument herein only differing, that there the cause of perpetual strife was put, for example, in the unchangeable discord of some natures ; but in these laws, intended us by the best of our ancestors, the effect of continual strife is determined no unjust plea of divorce, whether the cause be natural or wilful.”
The author exults so much in this au