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The Word as sacrament: literary ecclesiology in Milton’s prose and Paradise regained Simpson, Kenneth Richard Adams 1994

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THE WORD AS SACRAMENT:LITERARY ECCLESIOLOGY IN MILTON’S PROSEAND PARADISE REGAINEDbyKENNETH RICHARD ADAMS SIMPSONB. A., Wilt rid Laurier University, 1980M. A., University of Toronto, 1982B. Ed., University of Toronto, 1984A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of EnglishWe accept this thesis as conformingeqiresTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIADecember, 1994© Kenneth Richard Adams Simpson, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of_________________The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate Z.( LL1 1l1L/DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThis dissertation argues that Milton develops a coherent and consistent literaryecclesiology throughout his prose works and Paradise RgainecL The authority,ministry, discipline, and jurisdiction of the church are all transformed by Milton’s literaryhumanism. Chapter one shows that because the textual and christological domainsare analogous and sometimes identical in Milton’s prose, reading scripture and writingin response to it are sacramental and liturgical events performed for the universalchurch. Chapter two outlines the assumptions about reading and writing which makethe Word a sacrament, the cornerstone of Milton’s literary ecciesiology. Chapter threedescribes Milton’s view that the ministry and liturgy of the church consist in acts ofauthentic creation by inspired authors. Chapter four discusses Milton’s idea thatchurch discipline is the culmination of a rational process of edification and educationwithin each individual rather than an external standard of behaviour or government forthe church. Chapter five shows that in Paradise Regaine, Milton not only argues onbehalf of the spiritual kingdom of Christ against the intrusion of the state in religiousmatters throughout the Restoration, but also brings together his views of the authority,ministry, and discipline of the Word to present a unified image of his literaryecclesiology.—‘‘‘TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract.iiTable of Contents iiiAcknowledgements ivChapter One: Introduction: Liturgy, Church, and Sacramentin Milton’s Literary Ecclesiology 1Notes 32Chapter Two: The Sacrament of the Word 36Notes 109Chapter Three: The Ministry of the Word 120Notes 201Chapter Four: The Discipline of the Word 211Notes 274Chapter Five: The Kingdom of the Word 281Notes 390Appendix A: Rhetorical Theology 403Notes 405Appendix B: The Theology of the “Logos” 406Notes 409Appendix C: “Sermo” and “Logos” 410Notes 412Bibliography: Outline 413Primary Sources 414Secondary Sources 434-iv-ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank all of my friends and family, especially my wife Joanne, fortheir patience and support during the process of writing this work. I also acknowledgethe financial support of The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council ofCanada from 1989-1993. Finally, my thanks to Dr. P. G. Stanwood for his patience,wisdom, and insight.—1—CHAPTER ONEIntroduction: Liturgy, Church, and Sacrament inMilton’s Literary EcclesiologyFrom 1641 to 1660, John Milton, England’s greatest epic poet, dedicatedhimself to writing prose in defence of church reform. Even during this period oftremendous upheaval in English culture, when Milton engaged in fierce polemicalbattles against his enemies, the poetic talent which we admire in the late poemsmanifests itself: his soaring visions, supple management of voice and rhythm, and useof poetic genres in the prose works all anticipate the epic style of Paradise Lost. Thepoet influenced the prose writer in more subtle and lasting ways, however. Milton’sliterary training and poetic calling shaped the theology of the church, or ecciesiology,which he defended so passionately throughout his prose. Dedicated as a young manto writing verse, Milton did not deny his literary imagination when he was called toreform the church; rather, he responded by creating a literary theology of the church. Inthis literary ecclesiology, the sacrament of the Word is inseparable from rhetoricalinvention; the ministry of the Word is identical to Milton’s own poetic/prophetic office;the discipline of the Word is achieved by education and edification; and the kingdom ofthe Word is created by a textual community of readers and writers united over time andspace by the Word. For Milton, the Word, and human words devoted to the Word, areessential acts of worship; thus, he worships God at the same time as he reforms and-2-addresses the church in his prose.Critics of Milton’s prose, however, have emphasized the occasional, polemicalnature of his ecclesiology, at the expense of its internal coherence and developmentwithin his worshipping tradition. For D. M. Wolfe, Arthur Barker, and Michael Fixler,Milton’s ecclesiology is a disconnected series of reactions to authority in religiousmatters. The Laudian Church of England, the Westminster Assembly, and the stateIndependency of Cromwell prompted increasingly radical attempts to protect Christianliberty, but the result was a doctrine of the church which was undeveloped,contradictory, and self-destructive.1While Wolfe, Barker, and Fixler rightly insist on theimportance of Christian liberty for Milton, they also reduce his doctrine of the church toanti-clericalism. On the other hand, Christopher Hill, Joan S. Bennett, and DavidLoewenstein have argued that Milton’s ecclesiology is consistent, but they have failedto address the context of worship in which Milton’s theory of the church takes place.For Hill, Milton was a “leisure class intellectual” who rejected radical Quaker, Seeker,and Ranter ecclesiologies because of social prejudices, resulting in his withdrawalfrom all churches.2 Milton, according to Hill, “believed in God because he believed ininequality, in social hierarchy, in heaven as on earth. He had to assert providence,law, justice, had to cling on to the Bible, in order to save himself from Ranterism,nihilism and chaos.”3 Bennett also fails to address the context of worship in whichMilton develops his ecclesiology, but rejects Hill’s secular view of Milton’s faith,arguing that Milton’s church is a radical Christian “politic society” based on the-3-transformation of Hooker’s view of right reason and natural law.4 Finally, forLoewenstein, Milton is an iconoclastic activist who transforms social and culturalvalues, but Loewenstein never clarifies what the social or religious purpose oficonoclasm is.5 For Hill, Bennett, and Loewenstein, Milton’s desire for the reformationof the church and state is treated as an end in itself, much as it is in the twentiethcentury, rather than as a consequence of “the chief end of man” which is, according toMilton, “the service of God and of truth” (Areopagitica, CPW 2.531).6More recently, Stephen Honeygosky, unlike Hill, Bennett and Loewenstein, hasargued that Milton does not reject the visible church but defines it in the image ofredeemed individuals rather than external patterns of worship and government towhich individuals must conform.7 For Honeygosky, “kenosis” is a method used byMilton to “empty” ecclesiological concepts such as “church,” “sacrament,” and“scripture” of their traditional meanings in order to redefine them within the context ofhis own individualist ecclesiology. Although Honeygosky’s book represents the mostthorough, imaginative, and detailed study of Milton’s ecclesiology so far, it too islimited in several respects. First, Honeygosky ignores the function of the Word as asacrament which unites all Christians, and he assumes that Milton defends a “churchof one.” Secondly, he assumes, with many critics, that Milton rejects the church infavour of the “temple of the heart” following the Restoration. In fact, the inner Word isalways present in Milton’s ecclesiology and never implies withdrawal from publicworship. Finally, Honeygosky’s use of “kenosis” in a metaphorical sense to account for-4-Milton’s radicalism is arbitrary; not only does Milton follow the sense of “kenosis” foundin Phillipians 2.7 where it denotes Christ’s servanthood, but Milton’s redefinition ofecclesiological concepts can be explained in a more precise historical context. Miltonredefines ecclesiological concepts in literary terms and makes writing and reading thecentral acts of his worship. Trained from an early age to celebrate God in verse, Miltoncontinued his vocation in prose, turning writing into a form of worship and reshapingthe church into a textual community.The failure to acknowledge the imperative of worship in Milton’s prose, andalso in his poetry, is largely due to an assumption, based on the slenderest evidence,that almost every Milton critic accepts--that Milton, according to Dr. Johnson, “grew oldwithout any visible worship . . . [and] omitting public prayers, he omitted all.”8 Writingover one hundred years after the poet’s death, Johnson was repeating the speculationof John Toland who, in 1698, attached his biography to the first collected edition ofMilton’s prose. According to Toland, “in the latter part of his Life, he [Milton] was not aprofest Member of any particular Sect among Christians, he frequented none of theirAssemblies, nor made use of their Rites in his Family,” in spite of evidence that notonly his third wife, Elizabeth Minshul, but also his daughters attended church.9 Tolandis honest enough to admit that he does not know why Milton failed to worship in aparticular, visible church, but this admission also casts doubt on his account, for if heknew what he claimed to know about Milton’s devotional life, he likely would have hadan explanation for Milton’s avoidance of public worship as well. In addition, despite-5-following the previous four biographies of Milton closely in most other respects, Tolandclearly adds this detail on his own. Neither John nor Edward Phillips in theirindependent biographies mention anything about their uncle’s patterns of worship, acurious omission if there were anything irregular or unusual about Milton’s worship, orlack of it. More than likely, Toland found in Milton a kindred spirit and amplified into factwhat was at best unverifiable, for Toland’s portrait of Milton is more like Toland thanMilton. The deist author of Christianity not Mysterious illustrates his own thesis that adisinterested and rational Christianity is possible without the church by carefullyselecting and embroidering details from Milton’s life, but especially by emphasizing hisdisinterested search for Truth and his avoidance of all sects and parties. Thus,although we cannot conclude from the evidence of the early biographies that Miltonworshipped in a particular church or followed a particular rite, neither can we concludethat Milton wgrew old without any visible worship.More serious evidence of Milton’s rejection of visible church worship comesfrom his own works, but this testimony is also dubious. In De Doctrina Christiana heclaims to “follow no. . . heresy or sect,” but this refers to his reliance on scripture alonerather than his abandonment of the visible church (CPW 6.123; QE 14.11). Milton alsoargues that people who cannot join a correctly instituted church “conveniently, or withgood conscience” are not destitute of the blessings bestowed upon the churches, butthis is a common argument advanced by orthodox theologians such as William Ames,who admits that silent prayer is sufficient for God and that it is a sin to participate in-6-worship against one’s conscience.l° Although Milton likely did not worship in aparticular church in the conventional sense after the Restoration, this does not meanthat he rejected public worship altogether; solitary, family, and nonconformist worshipof various kinds were viable alternatives to the Presbyterian, Independent, or Anglicanworship which would have offended his conscience. Finally, Milton’s belief that thechurch exists wherever there is charity has led some critics to conclude that, for Milton,all earthly churches pervert the true church of the Spirit.ll Even in Book XII of ParadiseLost, however, where Milton describes the progressive degeneration of the church, healso celebrates the eventual triumph of those “who in the worship persevere! Of Spiritand Truth.. .(EL 12.532-33). In his religion of the Spirit,N then, Milton does not excludepublic worship or the church, but neither does he adopt traditional forms of worship orecclesiology without adapting them to suit what he finds in scripture.Rather than assume from scant evidence that Milton rejected the visible churchand, therefore, that patterns of worship had no influence on his writing, we shouldunderstand what Milton meant by the church and then assess the extent to which hisworship affected his literary career. When we do this, it becomes obviàus that Milton,far from rejecting public worship, never ceases his praise of God, for writing in bothprose and poetry is a liturgical event, a sacrament of the Word in which the wholechurch is addressed as a textual community of readers and writers stretching from thebeginning to the end of time. Milton’s literary ecclesiology is based on Christian literarypragmatics; that is, the “doctrinal and literary practice dedicated to bringing human-7-beings to a knowledge and love of God” which includes “relations between theChristian writer, his own texts, the text of the Bible, and other Christian men andwomen.”12Once we realize that, for Milton, the church is a textual condition, arelationship between the author of scripture and his readers, and between readersand writers in the past, present, and future, we will see that Milton is always a prophet,or minister of the church, regardless of the particular “ethos,” genre, or method ofargumentation he uses; that his audience is always the community of believers, or thechurch of the past, present and future, called to hear God’s Word delivered; that histext is always a liturgical event, repeating biblical images and forms to redeemparticular acts in a more universal organization of time. Milton’s prose, then, is not onlyabout the church, it is the central office f the church; it is not only about the liturgy, it isthe principal rite f the liturgy; it is not only about the sacrament, it is the primaryadministration f the sacrament--the sacrament of the Word. If, as I am suggesting, thecoherence of Milton’s ecclesiology emerges once we assess his prose within itscontext of worship, then an exposition of what is meant by “liturgy,” “sacrament,” and“church” is needed since he rarely described his work in these terms.In ancient Greek, the word we transliterate as “liturgy” literally meant “peoplework,” from “leos” and “ergon,” and referred to public duties of any kind. Milton surelyhad this general sense of “liturgy” in mind when he described true worship as the“eagerness to do good works” regardless of time or place (Q,CPW 6.637; CE 17.3).“Liturgy” acquired its more specific meaning, however, by the time of the Septuagint,where it signified services of the Temple. In English it eventually denoted all forms of-8-public worship and, sometimes, the essence of that worship--the eucharist. Liturgicalprose, then, refers to any written work used in a particular church for divine worshipincluding, for example, the Book of Homilies, English translations of the Bible, theoffices of the church in formularies such as the Book of Common Prayer, and manualsof prayer derived from the form ularies such as John Cosin’s A Collection of PrivateDevotions.As I show in more detail in chapter three, Milton attacked prescribed liturgies ofall kinds because they were “idolatrous”: they seemed to violate the secondcommandment by adding human inventions to God’s worship and to deny the uniquegift of the gospel--the gift of the spirit of liberty in prayer given to each human being.According to Milton, there is no liturgy in scripture since even the Lord’s Prayer is just amodel or pattern of prayer. The apostles did not impose their services on otherchurches, unlike the Roman church which foisted its liturgy upon Christians toeradicate heresy and consolidate political power four hundred years after Christ. InEngland, King Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer both admitted that The Book ofCommon Prayer was “no other than the old Mass-Book don into English” which, forMilton, was reason enough for its complete rejection (Q, CPW 6.670; Eikon 3.504-5,507-8, 504). It would seem that Milton’s prose cannot be regarded as liturgical in anyof these conventional ways.At the same time, the definition of liturgical prose which includes only worksprescribed in a formulary and repeated during public worship in the church is far toonarrow. It excludes the central rite of many protestant churches and probably the most-9-popular form of religious literature in the seventeenth century--the sermon. Moreover,as the “Savoy Liturgy” and the works of Milton (Eikon, CPW 3.5O5), John Owenl3andJohn Goodwinl4 indicate, true prayer is spontaneous and should j be prescribed.As J. F. White suggests,Free Church worship is basically liturgical congregationalism.This does not mean liturgical chaos; indeed, the degree ofpredictability is usually about as high as in other traditions ofworship. But it often means that published liturgies are consideredsuperfluous at best and idolatrous at worst. If God’s wordis clear to anyone who reads, each Christian community candiscern what is God’s will by itself and must be free to actaccordingly.15This tradition of worship includes the Baptist and Independent churches and hasthreedistinctive features, each of which Milton supported: first, worship is based on scripturealone; second, patterns of worship are determined by each separate congregation;and third, the separation of church and state authority is necessary. A definition ofliturgical prose, then, must include those works produced for the free church liturgies,even though they are difficult to discover since they are mainly oral. More importantly,the genre should include the sermon, since it is the principal means of grace andconversion in this worshipping tradition. A revised definition of the genre, then, mightbe as follows: liturgical prose comprehends all forms of written, public worshipincluding those works delivered orally but made public in print following divineservice.In addition to the ecclesiastical definition of liturgy which forms the basis of thegenre of liturgical prose, there is a metaphorical sense of liturgy which is equally-10-important.16 In this sense of the word, the primary function of the liturgy--publiccommunion with God through repeated patterns of worship--is generalized andapplied to all actions which advance this purpose or share its characteristics. As I havealready indicated, hearing and reading the Word constitute the central liturgical rites inMilton’s worshipping tradition. As a means of grace, the Word is a sacrament inMilton’s church and, by metaphorical extension, so are words about the Wordwhenever a reader picks up a book to contemplate Christ and his kingdom. Othergeneral characteristics of the liturgy are also extended metaphorically: when theconvergence of the personal and public, the past and present, and the eternal andtemporal which occur within the liturgy are identified in actions outside of the liturgy inthe strict sense, these events must also be called “liturgical.” For example, when Miltoncompares England and Israel, he is not only using the authority of the Bible for politicalpurposes; he is also demonstrating the continuation of the past in the present byraising temporal events to a universal and eternal level which unites his readers in atextual communion with the Word. In short, Milton is writing liturgical prose. By writingas a member of the priesthood of saints to his church, he provides the sacramentthrough which his community will be transformed into the kingdom of Christ, surely oneof the goals of the eucharist.17 References to “sacrament’ and “church,” however, bringus to two other terms which need explanation.Although it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to pinpoint in what particularchurch or churches Milton worshipped from 1640 until his death in 1674, enough can—11—be inferred from his work and from comparisons with other writers of the period toidentify him with the free church tradition of worship. This tradition tolerated a widevariety of practices: the administration of adult baptism, the practise of lay preaching inthe ministry, the application of spiritual discipline, the use of the church covenant in theadmission of new members, the pursuit of worthy communication and administration ofthe Lord’s Supper, and the reform of the church calendar to include only the Sabbathand days of thanksgiving and humiliation were all issues which each church had toresolve because each congregation, guided by the consciences of its members, wasan authority unto itself, independent not only of the state but also of other churches.Despite many differences, however, particular congregations in the free churchtradition shared the belief that the Word of God was “the supreme liturgical criterion.”lBAs I will show in chapter two, there were differences about what the “Word of God”meant and what was prescribed there for worship, but even those, like Milton, whorecognized these problems were confident that agreement would eventually bereached and that charity was the rule until that time.First and foremost among the patterns of worship in Milton’s church, then, wasthe reading and hearing of the Word of God. By the “Word” Milton meanssimultaneously the incarnate Son of God, the Word of scripture, and the words spokenand written by ministers of the church. In this profoundly incarnational and revelationalview of scripture, Milton turns the protestant view of salvation by faith, grace andscripture alone into a rhetorical doctrine of the Word as the Father speaks to all peoplein his Word and persuades them by his divine art. In Milton’s theory of scriptural-12-accommodation, the metaphorical level of the text j the literal level; figures of thescriptural text should not be explained away by allegorical interpretation or reduced toliteral truth, but taken as God’s chosen mode of self- revelation. The Biblical text, then,is a vehicle of grace, a “speech event” in which the Holy Spirit reveals the Word and“opens” the reader’s mind to the truth.19 Even in Milton’s mature view of the doublescripture, in which the internal Word written by the Holy Spirit in the heart seems tocancel the authority of the external Word written by the prophets, apostles andevangelists, the christological and revelational emphasis is felt. The Spirit confirms theWord since both emphasize charity, while the internal Word is the basis of aprogressive revelation which began with creation and continues until the SecondComing of Christ. Even though they lacked the infallibility of inspired writers ofscripture, pre-Christian authors were granted illumination just as Christians were.Moreover, truths in the process of being revealed should be tolerated because “thedaily progress of the light of truthcontinues until Christ gathers incompletemanifestations of the Spirit into himself at the Second Coming. Thus, Milton’s view ofeach believer’s possession of the Holy Spirit is quite unlike George Fox’s. For Fox, thefather of Quakerism, the atonement and the Word were equally unnecessary becausethe immediate revelation of the Spirit eradicated original sin and external authority. ForMifton, however, people are fallen and possess the Spirit only to a limited extent;therefore, the Word must be searched and each interpretation debated and tolerateduntil Christ comes again and reveals the truth.20-13-Because the christological and textual domains are analogous in Milton’sdoctrine of the Word, I have called this principle of worship “the Word as sacrament.” Itis an appropriate description of the role of the Word in Milton’s prose for anotherreason also: as I will show in chapter three, Milton considers himself a member of thepriesthood of believers; and his delivery of the Word parallels and, at times,supersedes the delivery of the Word by the ordained priesthood. My use of the “Wordas sacrament,” however, also entails more than this metaphorical sense.Although the sacraments were technically defined by Milton as external seals ofthe covenant of grace, he also transferred aspects of sacramental theory to thepractice of the Word. This was encouraged because both the Word and thesacraments were means of grace. The presence of Christ in the Word of scriptureparalleled the incarnation of the eternal. Word in the human Christ, the presence ofChrist in the signs of the Lord’s Supper, and the “incarnation” of invisible, inaudibleideas in script or speech. Not only was the relationship between believers and Goddepicted in the Bible as a Father speaking to his children through his Word, but theWord was “opened” and administered by the preacher and writer at the same time asthe understanding of the reader and listener was “opened” to receive the Word, themodel for this process being Luke 24.44-5:And he said unto them, These are thewords which I spake unto you, while I was yetwith you, that all things must be fulfilled,which were written in the law of Moses, and jjthe prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.Then opened he their understanding, that-14-they might understand the scriptures.Supported by centuries of Christian literature in which metaphors of writing andspeaking expressed God’s revelation in nature and history,21 encouraged byErasmus’s translation of Logosu as “Sermon in the Johannine prologue of his NewTestament of 1519,22 implied in Ficino’s “theologia rhetorica” and his view that “theentire Holy Scriptures speaking of Christ through the Holy Spirit is as if it is ChristHimself,”23 and extended by lay and ordained Christians to include a sacramentalfunction for words about the Word, the Word itself became a “de facto sacrament,”while words and verbal relationships became sacramental symbols.24 Symbols of thesacrament of the Word abound in Milton’s prose and demonstrate that, for him, writingis a form of worship. The delivery of the Word as sacrament, however, also implies aworshipping community which receives the Word.When Archbishop Richard Bancroft advised the translators of what was going tobe the King James Version of the Bible that “the old Ecclesiastical Words [are] to bekept, viz, the Word Church [is] not to be translated Congregation & C.,” he was notonly making a political statement against the puritans and the Geneva Bible; he wasalso acknowledging a troublesome feature of the Biblical text. The Latin word“ecclesia,” a rendering of the Greek word which referred to any public assembly, couldbe translated as “congregation” or “church” and could refer to a particular gathering ofbelievers or the whole Christian community.25The two senses of “ecclesia” also implytwo contrasting ecclesiologies--each of which is incomplete without the other---15-described by James E. Leslie Newbiggin in The Household of God. In sacramentalecclesiology, the church and its sacraments are necessary for salvation, but the Wordand Spirit are identical to church tradition and authority, reducing lay participation toritual acts. On the other hand, in kerygmatic ecciesiology, the Word is necessary forsalvation, but the church is not, reducing the church to the congregation isolated fromhistorical tradition.26The two ecciesiologies described by Newbiggin also correspond to theecciesiologies of the Church of England and the puritans, the church “party” devoted tofurther church reforms than were allowed by the Elizabethan Settlement, or theCanons of 1604 and 1640.27 In the late Elizabethan period, Hooker defined the churchby unity of doctrine, summed up in the Commandments, Creeds, and early councils ofthe church, but especially in the baptismal vows. Details of polity and worship, Hookerargued, were “adiaphora,” or things indifferent to salvation since they were notprescribed in scripture; therefore, issues of church government and liturgy should bedecided by church tradition and reason rather than by scripture alone. The Englishchurch, then, was a “politic society” inseparable from the nation and its past. It retainedits medieval parish system, sacramental life, episcopal government, and doctrine ofscriptural authority, at the same time as it remained subject to the royal supremacythrough the “consent of the Commonwealth.”28 Hooker’s view that the sacrament is theessence of the church was reinforced by Archbishop Laud and the Arminian party from1625-1640, even though Laud insisted on the divine right of bishops and kings-16-rather than their convenience and usefulness. Because the eucharist j the church,one needs an episcopal hierarchy, a sacerdotal priesthood, and a liturgy of splendorto celebrate Christ’s presence correctly. For Laud, the eucharist is ‘greater than thepulpit; for there it is Hoc est Corpus meum, ‘This is my Body’; but in the pulpit it is atmost but Hoc est verbum meum, “This is my Word.” And a greater reverence no doubtis due to the Body than to the Word of Our Lord.”29The puritans, on the other hand, at least before the formation of the WestminsterAssembly in 1643, were united in opposition to Hooker’s and Laud’s views of thechurch. Cartwright, Hooker’s main opponent in the late Elizabethan period, insistedthat worship and polity were not “adiaphora” but prescribed in the Bible. According tothe puritans, the king was subject to the church, and the ministry consisted ofpreachers elected by the congregation. The church was a gathering of individualscalled by God, governed by lay presbyters, and organized by presbyteries, classes,and synods into a national institiution grounded upon the Word alone.30By the Jacobean period, however, alternatives to presbyterian polity werealready manifesting themselves in “Independent,” “Baptist,” “separatist,” and -“gathered” congregations of many different kinds, although their oppostion to thepresbyterians, and to each other, was minimized at this early stage by their oppositionto Rome and the Church of England. These churches emphasized the invisible overthe visible church. Even though the actual participants in God’s communion of saintswere elected from the beginning of time and unknown to people on earth, including-17-those who participated in the visible church, it became imperative to make the visiblechurch as much an image of the invisible church as possible. Some gatheredchurches created visible communions of the saints by requiring public testimonyofconversion and adult baptism, but all congregations demanded strict Christiandiscipline. The idea of a national church, shared by both presbyterians and defendersof the Church of England, was rejected because it allowed the unregenerate to mixwith the saints, while the existence of an ecclesiastical authority above thecongregation was discarded because God alone called the congregation to worship.In addition, in some congregations the office of the clergy was abandoned becauseChrist was the sole head of the church, but more often than not it was the charisma ofthe minister and the zeal of church elders which maintained church unity.31 Some ofthese religious communities separated from England completely: Francis Johnson,Henry Ainsworth, and John Smyth led congregations in Amsterdam; John Robinson’scongregation in Leyden eventually landed at Plymouth, and John Cotton was leadingthe Boston church by the early 1630s. At the same time, by 1631 there were at leastten Independent, gathered congregations in England, and by 1648 there were tentimes that number.32 Theologians like William Ames, and pastors such as Henry Jacoband Thomas Helwys led semi-separatist congregations--churches which did not insistupon absolute separation from the national church--ensuring the continuing presenceof congregational churches in England until ecclesiastical control of worship wasloosened with the beginning of the Long Parliament.-18-The traditions of worship which developed from these different ecciesiologiesare summed up in Laud’s view cited earlier: for him, Christ’s real presence in theeucharist is the essence of the church, while for most puritans Christ’s presence in theWord is most important. A custodian of the sacraments given directly by Christ, theChurch of England and its offices are necessary for salvation. The sacramentals of thechurch--those “indifferent” aspects of worship not necessary for salvation, butestablished by tradition and useful for advancing the “beauty of holiness”--althoughnot prescribed by Christ, were important for worship also. They created a visuallanguage of praise and sacrifice which reinforced the message of the eucharist andhelped to elevate the community as a whole.The puritans sought a different ideal, the ideal of apostolic simplicity based onthe Word alone. Since God revealed in the Bible how he wished to be worshipped, thescriptures were searched for proper models of worship; any human addition wasdenounced as idolatrous. Moreover, the sacraments were less important than theWord preached because the sacraments sealed and confirmed the grace alreadypromised and delivered in the gospel. For the puritans, Christ’s presence in theeucharist was either spiritual or idolatrous: since Christ has ascended and sits at theright hand of God, he cannot be physically present in the elements of the eucharist,while additional sacrifices demean the first, sufficient sacrifice of the cross and set uphuman inventions where only God’s Word should prevail. Kneeling at communion, thesign of the cross at baptism, the placement and railing of the altar along the east wall,the government of the church by bishops, the cope and surplice of the priest were all-19-unacceptable because they were not prescribed in scripture. They were humantraditions; as such, they were Popish abominations, not “things indifferent.” Instead,simple meeting houses, plain sermons, inspired prayer, firm discipline, and pastoralministry brought the sufficiency of the Word into the lives of each believer. The realpresence of Christ was felt not so much in the “ordinances,” but in the Word opened bythe preacher and experienced by the listener:It is not the letter of the word that ordinally doth convert,but the spiritual meaning of it, as revealed and expounded. .There is the letter, the husk; and there is the spirit, the kernel,and when we by expounding the word do open the husk, outdrops the kernel. The devil, quoting scripture, used the letter ofit; but the apostles, when they quote it, allege not so much thewords as the meaning. And therefore, 1 Cor. 116, we are saidto ‘have the mind of Christ;’ that is, what he meant in his wordwhen he revealed it. Now, preaching in a more special mannerreveals God’s word. And so it is the spiritual meaning of the wordlet into the heart which converts it and turns it to God.33Although for moderate Independents like John Owen and Thomas Goodwin thechurch remained necessary for salvation, since Christ is present in the preachedWord, many radical puritans from 1640 onward denied the necessity of public worship,dispensed with the ordained clergy and the sacraments and, finally, abandoned thescriptures altogether. Owen himself stated that Christians themselves were temples,that worship was inward, and that true worship occurred only in heaven.34 Laypreaching and prophesying, in which the congregation openly debated a sermon andchallenged the minister’s exposition of Biblical texts, were practiced by several Baptistcongregations and defended by Sidrach Simpson, John Saltmarsh, Samuel Petto,-20-John Robinson, John Bunyan, Walter Craddock and many others.35 On the other hand,the radical Quaker tradtion rejected the scriptures, and adopted a liturgy of silence:We met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence,from our own words, and all mens words, and hearkened to thevoice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts.. . and we obeyedthe Light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’spure spirit. . . 36Finally, William Erbery, a Ranter, believed the church to be in apostasy sinceChrist’s baptism of the Spirit; as a result, no sacraments, no scriptures, and no publicworship were necessary:If the Saints could stay a while, and wait for the Spirit. . . if mencould be content with God alone, live in God onely, behold Goddwelling in them and they in God: they had not run sofast intothe Church, nor the Churches hastened to send forth their Ministersto baptize: these being no Gospel Order, nor Ordinance among them.37It was within the context of gathered church ecciesiology challenged by radicalsectarianism, and the liturgies of the Word and silence which both groups inspired thatMilton developed his literary ecciesiology in which he performed the central rite of thechurch at the same time as he defended it.Milton’s view of the church changes very little throughout his career. Eventhough parts of the complete ecclesiology are outlined in other prose works, only inDoctrina Christiana are those parts brought together into an inter-related whole.38Many distinctions in the ecciesiology of the treatise reflect the influence of theindependent, gathered churches. The invisible church is an elect body of believers,unrestricted by time and space, in mystical communion with Christ (CPW 6.499-500;-21-QE 16.61-3), while the visible church is a non-parochial “assembly of those who arecalled,” and can be identified by “pure doctrine, the true external worship of God, trueevangelical charity. . . and the correct administration of the seals” (CPW 6.563; E16.219-21). The visible church is also either universal, in which everyone participateswho “worships God the Father in Christ,” or particular, in which a self-containedcongregation is formed when each member affirms a covenant (CPW 6.568, 593;16.233, 323). Because Christ is the head of the church and because he callsindividuals through the Word, no ecclesiastical body has authority over the individualsof the congregation, although separate churches can meet for mutual edification (CPW6.603; QE 16.311).The self-sufficiency of Independent ecclesiology is also apparent in themembership, discipline, and sacraments of the church cited by Milton. Each church isliterally created by the words of the covenant, while members are admitted by publiclyprofessing the covenant in their baptismal vows, by publicly reciting a new covenant ifthey join another church, or by presenting letters of recommendation from theirprevious church (CPW 6.608; E 16.323). Each particular church holds the “power ofthe keys,” the authority of spiritual discipline used to maintain a pure communion byencouraging, admonishing, and excommunicating wayward members (CPW 6.610;E 16.327). This power is persuasive only; civil law and the use of force have no placein the church (CPW 6.611-13; E 16.327-35). Finally, both church membership anddiscipline are tied to the sacraments since only adults can take and understandbaptismal vows to enter the church, and since the Lord’s Supper should be avoided-22-altogether if the proper discipline has not been maintained to receive it worthily (CPW6.544, 559; Q 16.171, 211).The offices and government of Milton’s church are alsotypical of the free churchtradition, although he allows the laity more influence than most and is often sarcastic,even bitter, toward the clergy. The universal church consists of ministers and thepeople; the ministers, in turn, are ordinary, an office open to anyone “so long as he isendowed with certain gifts,” or extraordinary, an office for those “sent and inspired byGod to set up or to reform the church by preaching and by writing” (CPW 6.573, 570;Q 16.247, 239). The ordinary ministry of a particular church consists of two offices,both of which are open to all members, all being equal in Christ. Presbyters, alsocalled bishops in the New Testament, are in charge of teaching or discipline, andsometimes both, while deacons care for new members as well as the poor and sick(CPW 6.593-94; 16.287-89). Although they were approved by Independentchurches, doctors, or professionally trained theologians, were unnecessary, sinceknowledge of the sciptures was everyone’s responsibility and since they were notprescribed in the New Testament (CPW 6.570; Q 16.255). Milton further emphasizesthe dependence of the minister on the congregation by maintaining that they shouldbe elected and confirmed in their office by the elders and by suggesting that theyfollow the apostolic example and “serve without pay.” Rather than demanding tithes,the clergy should either not accept remuneration and support themselves through atrade or, failing that, accept what the congregation voluntarily gives them (CPW 6.599,597; CE 303, 297).-23-Although his ecclesiology is developed within an Independent framework,Milton’s attitude toward the order and offices of the ministry suggests that he alsodeparted from orthodox Independent views of the church. For Milton, mystical unionwith Christ in the invisible church is the goal of each believer, but it is so far removedfrom the visible church in definition and in its place in the organization of De DoctrinaChristiana that they appear to have little to do with each other. For William Ames, onthe other hand, reflecting a more orthodox predestinarian theology, the invisible andvisible churches are simply different aspects of the same subject--the manner by whichthe elect are justifed--and are discussed in close proximity in the structure of his widelyread treatise, The Marrow of Sacred Divinity.39 Milton, however, is less certain aboutknowledge of election and, therefore, about a view of the church as an exclusivegathering of saints. Since everyone is fallen and able to apprehend truth only in alimited way, the church must include the tares with the wheat:Not that I can think well of every light separation, orthat all in a Church is to be expected gold and silverand Dretious stones: it is not possible for man to severthe wheat from the tares, the good fish from the otherfrie; that must be the Angels Ministery at the end ofmortall things (Areopagitica,CPW 2.563).For Milton, God’s offer of salvation is made to all men, not just the elect, and becauseGod’s offer is accepted with various degrees of faith and assurance, and since all menare limited by sin until they are glorified in Christ at the end of time, the church mustinclude people of various degrees of spiritual understanding and tolerate all “heresies”which are discovered in good faith.-24-Milton also subverts Independent ecclesiology when he claims that worshipwithin a private house is acceptable to God. Because each congregation can performall of God’s worship in one place, everything “that is necessary to constitute a churchmay be performed in a correct and properly ordered way. . . within the walls of aprivate house where no great number of believers are assembled” (Q, CPW 6.602;CE 16.309). What constitutes the church and its members is redefined also. The onlynecessary mark or “note” of the church is charity, while it is “not the visible church butthe hearts of believers which, since Christ’s ascension, have continually constitutedthe pillar and ground of truth. They are the real house and church of the living God, 1Tim. iii 15” (CPW 6.565, 589; E 16.227, 269). Thus, membership in the universalchurch, the only membership which is essential and necessary, does not depend upona particular church. Members may worship God through Christ “either individually or inconjuction with others,” while those who cannot join a particular church because ofinconvenience or conscience are not excluded from the blessings bestowed upon thechurch (CPW 6.568; E 16.233-35). “Any man who does not belong to it” [a particularchurch] can enjoy the benefits of “the scriptures and promises, the presence of Christand the guidance of the Spirit” as much as those who obtain them “by communalprayer” (CPW 6.601; QE 16.307).Milton’s definition of the church as charity, the temple of the heart, hadimplications for the offices and discipline of the church as well. Not only does the word“clergy” refer to all of God’s people, but since “we are all equally priests in Christ,”each believer, following the patterns of apostolic worship, can interpret scripture in-25-public. As in the prophesyings of the Baptists, each member may TMaddress his fellowsprophesy, teach, or exhort. Even the weakest of the brethren should have anopportunity to interrogate or to ask advice from the older and more learned of thosepresent (CPW 6.572, 558, 608; 16.255, 209, 325). Sacraments are not intrinsicallynecessary because they are only symbols or seals of the grace already promised inthe gospel, and just as anyone with the proper gifts can preach the gospel, so anyoneproperly educated, especially “the head of a family, or anyone appointed by him,” canadminister the Lord’s Supper (CPW 6.558; QE 16.209). Moreover, if a believer cannotreceive communion conveniently, his spiritual life is not in peril because “he can givethanks to God and commemorate the death of Christ in many other ways every day ofhis life” (CPW 6.557; CE i.205). The sacramental life expressed in writing devoted toGod is such a thanksgiving and commemoration for Milton.Thanksgiving and commemoration through the Word are the foundations ofMilton’s literary ecclesiology just as they are the central rites of his worship. In thissense, the church is inseparable from the sacrament of the Word. All believers,according to Milton’s doctrine of the Word as sacrament, are “free not only to sift andwinnow any doctrine, but also openly to give their opinions of it and even to writeabout it according to what each believes” (CPW 6.122; QE 14.11). Such confidence ineach individual’s authority to perform the rites of the church is possible because Godspeaks plainly, clearly, and sufficiently in the Word. At the same time, Milton is awarethat the Word is obscure and corrupt in some places. For the magisterial reformers, theclergy and the traditions of the church provided authoritative interpretations in such-26-cases, but for Milton authority consists of the rule of charity and conscience as eachindividual is illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Since there is “no autograph copy,” “noindisputable word of God,” it is possible that God “committed the contents of the NewTestament to such wayward guardians. . . [to] convince us that the Spirit which isgiven to us is a more certain guide than scripture and that we ought to follow it” (CPW6.589; E 16.277). The internal scripture written on the heart by the Holy Spirit is “theindividual possession of each man” and “the pre-eminent and supreme authority”; as aresult, all doctrines derived from it or promoting it must be tolerated in the church untilChrist comes again to reveal the truth once and for all (CPW 6.587; 16.275).There are several important consequences of Milton’s doctrine of the “doublescripture.” First, the inner scripture guarantees that revelation is progressive. Even“though he was not known by that name from the beginning” (CPW 6.126; LE 14.17),Christ revealed truth to authors before the incarnation and continues to illuminatebelievers. Secondly, because the Spirit is granted to everyone, no civil orecclesiastical power can enforce the individual conscience in spiritual matters since todo so is to bind the Holy Spirit itself (CPW 6.590; E 16.281), the gift of Christ to thechurch at Pentecost. Finally, because the Word and Spirit are God’s “divinecommunication” to us, true religious worship exists only when “God is worshippedsincerely by rites and methods which he himself has prescribed” (CPW 6.666; QE17.75).The rites and methods of worship are not only prescribed in the Word; they areverbal in form as well. The time, place, dress, posture, and audience of prayer and-27-worship cannot be enforced because they are not prescribed in scripture; on the otherhand, Milton argued, like some Baptists of the period, that silent prayer is acceptableand sufficient to God, and that adult baptism by full immersion in a running stream isprescribed in the Bible (CPW 6.714, 704, 673, 674, 672, 668, 544; QE 17.191, 167, 91,92, 89, 79, 16.169). The external seal of the sacrament of baptism, however, is “lessimportant than preaching the gospel”; moreover, the Lord’s Supper is a prescribed ritebut uthat living bread which, Christ says, is his flesh and the true drink which, he says,is his blood, can only be the doctrine which teaches us that Christ was made man inorder to pour out his blood for us” (CPW 6.573, 553; 16.247, 195, my emphasis).Once again, the verbal presence of Christ in the doctrine of the New Testament ismore important than the physical presence of Christ in the elements of the eucharist.Verbal, spontaneous prayer is the primary form of the liturgy for Milton; as aresult, verbal repetitions and allusions arising from the minister’s zeal take the place ofrepeated rites in creating an order of sacred time appropriate for worship. Prayers ofpetition and thanksgiving, inspired by the Holy Spirit rather than prescribed by thechurch, are offered reverently with “a pure and penitent heart” (CPW 6.669-70, 671;Q 17.81, 85). The style of prayer is important also: the vernacular should be used inpublic and empty verbiage should be avoided, but repetitiveness showing zeal can beeffective (CPW 6.672; 17.91). Cursing God’s enemies is acceptable in private orpublic, while taking oaths and vows, and sanctifying God’s name, especially in publicconfession, are apostolic forms of worship and, therefore, can be admitted in the liturgy(CPW 6.675, 700; QE 17.99, 161). It is characteristic of Milton, however, that the-28-internal disposition of the believer is as important as the prayer itself--good workstoward God or man are accceptable only when they originate in thoughts and heartscleansed by the Holy Spirit (CPW 6.637; E 17.5). Thus, for Milton, by “consecratinganything we use to his glory” through verbal ritual, we live a sacramental life (CPW6.700; E 17.161)Because of this unwavering belief in each individual’s ability to be saved by theWord alone, a sufficiency which reduces the particular church to the “temple of theheart” and the assembly of believers to a textual relationship between God and thefallen reader through the double scripture of the Word and the Spirit, and betweenhuman authors and readers through words inspired by the Spirit, the phrase “Word assacrament” accurately describes Milton’s “literary ecclesiology.” Since Christ ispresent from the beginning to the end of time for every member of the priesthood ofbelievers who reads the internal and external scriptures, the church is continuallyentered and transformed in the act of reading, writing, hearing and speaking which isconsecrated to God’s glory. Wherever two or three are gathered in Christ’s name,whether in the flesh or across the ages in reading and writing, there is the church; andChristian liberty, especially as Milton formulates it as literary activity in Areopagitica. isits first principle.Milton’s ecclesiology is literary not only because each individual is saved by theWord, or because the Word is the central rite of a constantly reforming church; it is alsoliterary because concepts derived from the “studia humanitatis” modify traditionalecclesiological ideas in his work. Milton transforms the orthodox formulation of the-29-Trinity, in which God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit exist in the same essence,by an analogy of humanist, intentional textuality: for Milton, because God is primarilyan author/creator who embodies his decrees/intentions in his Word, the properreading of which is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, the Son must always betemporally and essentially subordinate to the Father. In addition, Milton transforms thesacerdotal priesthood, in which priests are mediators of God’s will and custodians ofthe sacraments, into a priesthood of believers, in which the office of the inspiredprophet is open to anyone who has the appropriate literary gifts to administer words tothe church of readers or listeners. Milton also reinterprets the liturgy of the Word, inwhich common prayers, sermons, homilies, and readings from the lectionary preparethe congregation for the eucharist, and creates his own liturgy of the Word in whichinspired prayers, classical and Christian genres, and biblical expositions prepare thereader for the Word. Milton redefines the orthodox protestant doctrine of discipline aswell: the purity of the community of faith maintained by spiritual law becomes self-discipline, in which each Christian, but especially the author, is edified and educatedto become “a true Poem.” Finally, for Milton, the kingdom of God, or the church is atextual relationship between readers of the Word and God, and between Christianwriters and their audiences rather than a gathering of the elect or a mixed “politicsociety.” Milton’s literary ecciesiology, then, is shaped not only by the Word assacrament, but also by the assumptions about literary activity that he shared with manyof his contemporaries.Each chapter which follows outlines one feature of Milton’s literary ecciesiology.-30-In the second chapter I explain Milton’s doctrine of the Word as sacrament inDoctrina Christiana and Areopaçiitica. The analogy of textuality underlying Milton’saccounts of revelation, from creation and the pre-existent Word to the incarnate,scriptural, and indwelling Word, as well as the words of human authors, ensures thateach individual can participate in the verbal sacrament as revelation unfolds from thebeginning of time until the Second Coming. In the following three chapters I show howMilton’s doctrine of the Word and other literary influences condition the ministry,discipline, and kingdom of the church respectively, creating a coherent literaryecclesiology. In chapter three I argue that Milton’s ministry of the Word, especially inThe Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, Eikonoklastes and theanti-episcopal tracts, is best understood through an analysis of Milton’s ownextraordinary, prophetic ministry to reform the church and state. How the prophet ofthe church writes constitutes the liturgy of the Word. Oaths, vows, prayers, curses, andwriting as a whole will be examined as specific expressions of Milton’s liturgy sinceliterary activity is both prophetic and liturgical in Milton’s church. The purpose of theliturgy is to recreate the reader in the image of Christ, to build a temple of God in eachbeliever’s heart so that the visible church can become a community consecrated toGod. Church discipline, the subject of the fourth chapter, is concerned with thisprocess of church building. Through edification and education, the Word and words,believers achieve self-discipline or 9ikeness to God, the measure and proportion ofaction as it is attuned to God’s Word. In Of Education and Considerations Touching theLikeliest Means of Removing Hirelings out of the Church, but especially in the anti--31 -episcopal tracts, Milton shows how education and edification work together to build thechurch. When the whole nation adopts the discipline of the Word, the kingdom of Godon earth is complete. Such perfection is impossible, however, until the SecondComing. Until then, the church renews itself through literary activity which answers tono king but Christ. This dynamic view of the church constituted by literary activity ispresented in the final chapter on the kingdom of the Word, and is most evident inAreopagitica, but also in A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, Hirelings,and Of True Religion. Heresy. Schism and Toleration. Paradise Regained, however, isthe most complete expression of Milton’s ecclesiology: as the incarnate Word whoembodies divinity and humanity, silence and the Word, Jesus, by overcoming Satan inhermeneutic combat, demonstrates how the will of God will be done on earth in theheart of each believer and reveals Milton’s commitment to a holy communityconstituted by individuals who freely choose God’s service through the Word assacrament. In addition, the ministry, liturgy, and discipline of the Word outlined inMilton’s early prose are also important themes in Paradise Regained as Miltonworships God and presents an image of the true church at the same time. Thus, Miltonasserted his radical, literary ecciesiology, in which the church is a textual communityunified across time and space by the religious feast of the Word as sacrament, bothbefore and after the Restoration, a fact which should dispell all notions of his “quietism”in the last decade of his life.-32-Notes1. Arthur Barker, Milton and the Puritan Dilemma (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press,1942), 41; D. Wolfe, “Introduction” to The Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. D.Wolfe et al., 8 vols. (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1953-1982), 1:109-112; MichaelFixler, “Ecclesiology” in A Milton Encyclopedia, ed. W. B. Hunter et al. (Lewisburg, Pa.:Bucknell Univ. Press, 1978), 2:190-203. Hereafter, all references to Milton’s prose willbe to the Yale edition. The abbreviated title of the edition (CPW), as well as the volumeand page number will follow the abbreviated title of the work in my text as in thefollowing example: (Q, CPW 6.121). Where necessary, references to The Works ofJohn Milton, ed. F. A. Patterson et al., 20 vols. (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1931-1940) (Q) will follow the CPW reference. Milton’s poetry is quoted from CompletePoems and Major Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (Indianapolis: Odyssey Press, 1957).2. Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (London: Faber and Faber,1977), 264, 463-4.3. Ibid., 244.4. Joan Bennett, Reviving Liberty: Radical Christian Humanism in Milton’s GreatPoems (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard Univ. Press, 1989), 1-30 passim.5. David Loewenstein, Milton and the Drama of History (Cambridge: CambridgeUniv. Press, 1990), 2.6. See also Philtip Schaff, ed., “The Westminster Shorter Catechism” in flCreeds of Christendom, 4th ed. (New York: Harper, 1870), 3:676. Here the chief end ofman is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”7. Stephen R. Honeygosky, Milton’s House of God: The Invisible and VisibleChurch (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1993).8. Samuel Johnson, “Milton” in Lives of the English Poets (London: Dent, 1925),1:92.9. John Toland, “The Life of John Milton” in The Early Lives of Milton, ed. HelenDarbishire (London: Constable, 1932), 195. For evidence that Milton’s family attendeda particular church see W. P. Parker, Milton: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press,1968), 1:651, 2:1091.10. William Ames, “Conscience With the Power and Cases Thereof” in The Workesof the Reverend and Faithful Minister of Christ William Ames (London, 1643), 4:39, 7-8,62.-33-11. See Timothy C. Miller, “Milton’s Religion of the Spirit and ‘the state of theChurch’ in Book XII of Paradise Lost,” Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture13 (Spring, 1989): 7-16.12. Mark Vessey, “Conference and Confession: Literary Pragmatics in Augustine’s‘Apologia Contra Hieronymum,’ “ Journal of Early Christian Literature 1 (1993): 176,177.13. John Owen, Works, ed. W. Goold, 16 vols. (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter,1850-53), 9:56.14. John Goodwin, Pleroma to Pneumatikon. or A Being Filled With the Spirit(London, 1670), 455.15. James F. White, Protestant Worship: Tradition in Transition (Louisville:Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989), 81.16. See P. G. Stanwood, The Sempiternal Season: Studies in Seventeenth-Century Devotional Writing (New York: Peter Lang, 1992), 3-4, 21-2.17. William R. Crockett, Eucharist: Symbol of Transformation (New York: Pueblo,1989), 251.18. Horton Davies, The Worship of the English Puritans (Westminster: Dacre Press,1948), 49.19. For a similar view by a contemporary Lutheran theologian see Eberhard Jungel,Theological Essays, trans. and ed. J. B. Webster (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989). Seeespecially the chapters “Metaphorical Truth” (16-71), “Anthropomorphism” (71-94),and “The World as possibility and actuality” (95-123).20. For the influence of radical pneumatology on the theology of the atonement seeG. F. Nuttall, The Holy Spirit in Puritan Faith and Experience (Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1946), 145, 157.21. Ernst R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. W. R.Trask (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1953; reprint, 1990), 302-47.22. Marjorie O’Rourke Boyle, Erasmus on Language and Method in Theology(Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1977), 5-6.23. Cited in Charles Trinkaus, In Our Image and Likeness: Humanity and Divinity inItalian Humanist Thought, 2 vols. (London: Constable, 1970), 2:745.-34-24. Georgia Christopher, Milton and the Science of the Saints (Princeton: PrincetonUniv. Press, 1982), 6.25. For Bancroft’s rules see Olga S. Opfell, The King James Bible Translators(Jefferson and London: McFarland, 1982), 139. For the use of hlecclesiaN in the Biblesee F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the ChristianChurch. 2d. ed. (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1983), 286-87; and G. Kittel, ed.,Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. G. W. Bromiley, 10 vols. (GrandRapids: Eerdmans, 1964-76), 1:382.26. James E. Leslie Newbiggin, The Household of God (London: SCM, 1964),passim.27. The bibliography on the definition of “puritan” continues to grow. For recentdiscussions and overviews of the scholarship see the following: John Morgan, GodlyLearning (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 9-22; Stephen Brachlow, fljCommunion of Saints (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), 5.28. For Hooker’s definition of the church as those people united by “one baptisme”see Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: Preface. Books I to IV, ed.Georges Edelen (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 1977),196. My outline is based on the following: Paul Avis, Anglicanism and the ChristianChurch: Theological Resources in Historical Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,1989); J. P. Somerville, Politics and Ideology in England. 1603-1640 (London:Longman, 1986); W. D. J. Cargill Thompson, NThe Philosopher of the ‘Politic Society’:Richard Hooker as a Political Thinker, in Studies in Richard Hooker: EssaysPreliminary to an Edition of His Works. ed. W. Speed Hill (Cleveland: Press of CaseWestern Reserve Univ., 1972), 3-76.29. William Laud, Works, 7 vols. (Oxford: J. H. Parker, 1847-60), 6:56.30. Thomas Cartwright, A Replye to An Answer Made of M. Doctor Whitgifte Againstthe Admonition (Wandsworth?, 1574), passim.31. For overviews of gathered church ecclesiology see the following: MurrayTolmie, The Triumph of the Saints (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1977);Brachiow, Communion of the Saints.32. Tolmie, TriumDh of the Saints, 10.33. Thomas Goodwin, Works, 16 vols. (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1861-66), 11:364.34. Owen, Works, 9:76-7.--35-35. Cited in Nuttall, Holy Spirit, 77-9, 82-7.36. E. Burrough, “To the Reader” in George Fox, The Great Mistery of the GreatWhore (London, 1659); cited in Nuttall, Holy Spirit, 69.37. William Erbery, The Testimony of William Erbery (London, 1658), 272.38. Despite intriguing circumstantial evidence, Hunter’s thesis that Milton did notwrite De Doctrina Christiana is unconvincing. There are simply too many closeparallels in tone and doctrine between the treatise and other works by Milton to castserious doubt upon Milton’s authorship. My own research indirectly confirms Milton’sauthorship. As I show throughout this study, De Doctrina Christiana summarizesMilton’s earlier views of the church. In addition, the date of composition (1655-1660)corresponds to a period during which the Independents gained ecclesiastical authoritythrough the Triers Commission established by Cromwell in March 1654. The “triers” ofthe commission, including John Owen, examined the doctrine of public preachersbefore they were allowed to preach; as a result, the Independents were condemned bysectarians, especially Baptists and Quakers, for enforcing consciences. The literaryecclesiology of De Doctrina Christiana reflects this sectarian critique of theIndependents during the 1650s Although his emphasis is quite different, Milton, likethe sectarians, developed his ecclesiology within an Independent framework whilebeing critical of the Independent view of the ministry and church/state relations. ForHunter’s thesis see “The Provenance of the Christian Doctrine.” Studies in EnglishLiterature 32 (1992): 129-66. For rebuttals by John Shawcross and Barbara Lewalski,see “Forum: Milton’s Christian Doctrine,” Ei 32 (1992): 143-62. See also W. B.Hunter, “The Provenance of the Christian Doctrine: Addenda from the Bishop ofSalisbury,” SEL 33 (1993): 191-207, as well as the rebuttals of Maurice Kelley andChristopher Hill and Hunter’s response to them in “Forum II: Milton’s ChristianDoctrine,” SEL 34 (1994): 153-203.39. William Ames, The Marrow of Sacred Divinity (London, 1643), 137.-36-CHAPTER TWOThe Sacrament of the WordAs I have argued in the previous chapter, critics of Milton’s ecciesiology havefailed to assess his vision of the church as a textual community united by the presenceof Christ in the Word. In the epistolary preface to De Doctrina Christiana, a work headdressed to the universal, visible church (CPW 6.117; E 14.3), Milton summarizesthe principles upon which this literary ecciesiology is based.. Foremost among theseprinciples is his belief that the Bible is “God’s self-revelation” (CPW 6.118; E 14.5).1Because God has “adjusted his word to our understanding” in the scriptures (CPW6.136; 14.37), each Christian is capable of receiving “the word or message of God”--that is, the textual presence of Jesus himself--by being “scrupulously faithful to thetext” (CPW 6.132, 120; 14.31, 7). Historical principles of exegesis, therefore, areclosely related to Milton’s doctrine of salvation by faith and scripture alone.2 Attendingto words, contexts, and authorial intentions is crucial since the Holy Spirit has divinelyinspired the human authors of the Word to write what God has chosen to reveal. Theclarity and sufficiency of God’s self-revelation, however, led Milton to the secondunderlying principle of De Doctrina Christiana; namely, that all Christians, illuminatedby the Holy Spirit, are authorized by God not only to “sift and winnow any doctrine but-37-also openly to give their opinions of it” (CPW 6.122; 14.11). Because everyone isfallible, since each person possesses only part of the spirit of Truth, all interpretationsbased on scripture must be tolerated. To enforce an interpretation is to “yoke the Spirit”and to abrogate God’s authority. The sacrament of the Word, then, follows consistentlyfrom Milton’s hermeneutics: each believer can receive Christ and participate in thechurch through the vernacular Bible because in his Word God speaks clearly andsufficiently to readers about all matters of salvation.3Milton held this positionthroughout his career and grounded his literary ecciesiology on the foundation of thetextual, spiritual presence of Christ in the body of believers unified in the Word.When Luther, Zwingli and Calvin attacked the Roman. church, they tooproclaimed salvation by scripture alone, but for them the interpretation of the Word wasa collective activity, an office prescribed by Christ for the professional ministry. Milton,on the other hand, interprets “sola scriptura” quite literally. Because God’s revelation isa text or ‘speech-event” which discloses as much of his presence as is necessary forsalvation in the literal sense of the Word, each reader is an equal member of thepriesthood of believers. Such individualism profoundly shifted the foundations ofchurch unity. “Free discussion and enquiry,” once associated only with “academiccircles” (CPW 6.121; E 14.9), is now the essence of the gospel and the foundation ofthe church. Heresy refers only to wilful contradictions of apostolic doctrine, while allideas, as unconventional as they appear, should be openly debated and tolerated aslong as they are derived from the scriptures in good faith. Such debate will fill thechurch with “the daily increase of the light of truth” (CPW 6.121; Q 14.9) until the-38-Second Coming. In his attempt to find the rational basis of Christian unity, then, Miltongrounds the church in a textual condition. Not only is the Word the only mode ofChrist’s presence available to Christians since the ascension, but the visible church isunified by Christian literary production, whether spoken or written. Words and verbalrelationships in Milton’s prose, therefore, do more than signify; they are eucharisticsymbols of God’s original communication to readers and listeners through the Word.By synecdoche, the Christian writer expresses, in individual utterance, the experienceof the whole church, thereby performing a liturgical function in the Christiancommunity.When the conditions are examined which make possible Milton’s view ofscripture as uGods self-revelation, the unity and coherence of his doctrine of the Wordas sacrament become apparent: the pre-existent, incarnate, scriptural, and inner Wordare all forms of God’s speech and self-revelation to the church. The features oftextuality which underlie the Word in all of its manifestations are threefold: the author isa “real presence” who holds ideas which precede and shape the text without beingidentical with it; the text embodies the author’s intentions in words accommodated tothe understanding of the reader; the reader receives the author’s message byclarifying linguistic and historical contexts, but because the reader is fallen, Truth cannever be fully recovered, authorizing multiple, though not unlimited, interpretationsuntil the Second Coming. This rhetorical theology of revelation, grounded in Milton’srational exegesis of the biblical image of God speaking to man in and through theWord, unifies the four ontological levels upon which the Word acts, and Jeads to-39-heterodoxy in each case.4 Since the Author’s intentions or decrees precede theirvocalization in the Word of Creation and Incarnation, the pre-existent and incarnateWord cannot be equal to the Father. Moreover, because the incarnate Word sits at theright hand of the Father and since the signified Christ is not identical to hisrepresentation in sacramental signs, the scriptural and inner Word supersede the11visible words” of the sacraments and the written words of the scriptures as the preeminent modes of Jesus’s presence in the church. Finally, since the word of reasonand conscience is written by God on the heart of every human being, revelation isprogressive, resulting in a church which tolerates all doctrines and disciplines basedon scripture, a lay ministry and liturgy of the Word which includes orations and poemsin its canon as much as sermons and scriptural exegeses, and a discipline of the Wordwhich emphasizes self-government and edification rather than external compulsion.By following to a logical conclusion the literal implications of the biblical and rhetoricalimage of God speaking to the church, Milton articulates a coherent theology of theWord, creates a pattern of eucharistic symbols based on words and verbalrelationships, expresses a rationale for Christian literary production and reveals aliterary ecciesiology grounded in the sacrament of the Word.In order to show that Milton’s literary ecclesiology is conditioned by the textualityof the Word as sacrament, a doctrine which is inseparable from the revelatory,communicative function of the Word, I have divided this chapter into four sections. Thefirst section outlines the scriptural roots of Milton’s belief that revelation is primarilyrhetorical because God speaks through the authors of scripture to believers who, once-40-persuaded, respond to the call. The second section shows how two formative figuresin Milton’s worshipping tradition--Zwingli and Calvin--interpreted the scriptural fact thatGod speaks to believers in his Word. On the one hand, the Word is subjective,devotional and evangelical; on the other hand, the Word is objective, ecclesiastical,and legal. The third section demonstrates that these views of the Word, held togetherby the reformers, became polarized during the political and religious conflict leadingup to and following the Civil War. For Anglicans like Laud, the Word was less importantthan the sacraments, but for puritans like Thomas Cartwright, the Word became asource of immutable law governing all aspects of life. For radical puritans, like WilliamErbery, the Word was subordinate to the experience of the Holy Spirit, while for Milton,the Word was confirmed by the Spirit, or inner Word, but the inner Word was alwaysrational, never ecstatic or mystical. The final section shows that, although he sharedmany assumptions about the Word with Calvin and other figures of the evangelical,protestant tradition, Milton’s rational explication of the biblical image of God speakingto believers in the Word, which underlies his theology of the Word in its pre-existent,incarnate, scriptural and internal presence, is carried to extremes of Christian libertythat most protestants denied. This view of textuality makes the sacrament of the Wordin Christian liberty, especially as it is expressed in Areopagitica, the christologicalfoundation of the church. In fact, each chapter which follows develops in detail onearea of Milton’s ecclesiology, and each area parallels one aspect of the textuality ofthe Word as sacrament developed in this chapter: chapter three, the ministry andliturgy of the Word, emphasizes authorship; chapter four, the discipline of the Word,-41-stresses the individual reader; chapter five, the kingdom of the Word, portrays thechurch, or the audience of the Word. When taken together, these chapters contribute toour understanding of Milton’s literary ecclesiology as the body of the church united toChrist in the production and reception of the Word.IIThe Mearing of “the Word of God” in the BibleSince Milton, with the protestant tradition generally, assumes that scripture isthe Word of God on the basis of scripture’s own testimony, it is first necessary to outlinewhat that testimony is, first in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament,because the meaning of the “word of God” undergoes considerable developmentthroughout the Bible as a whole.5 The noun phrase, “the word of God” (“debhar yhvh”),occurs approximately 240 times in the Old Testament, but when it is considered with itsverbal equivalent in which God speaks to Israel generally or to a specific prophet(“dibber yhvh”; Isa. 8.5; Amos 3.8), its occurrences are countless.6Indeed, “in the mostvaried literary contexts the OT says of God: “dibber,” “he speaks.”7 The overwhelmingvariety of references to “the word of God,” however, can be simplified by consideringits three main functions: the prophetic, salvational and creative functions of the word.Despite the difficulty of distinguishing between the redactions of Deuteronomiceditors and the authentic, early prophetic narratives of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and-42-Micah, by the time of Jeremiah “the word of God” had become “a technical term for theprophetic word of revelation.”8In the “Word-Event formula” and the vocation narrativeswhich account for many uses of the phrase, the prophet encounters the word as adistinct entity having power of its own, a power and authority arising from its origin inGod (Jer.1.1, 4-9) and from its power to create the reality it names (Isa. 55.10-11).9 Nodistinction is made between the reception, proclamation and transmission of the word(Isa. 7.10) because God speaks through the prophet (Jer. 37.2) and dictates the textwhich the prophet gives to Israel (Jer. 36.2-4). Although the prophet is unworthy (Jer.1.6; Isa. 6.5) and reluctant to accept his calling (Jer.1.6; 20.8; Isa. 6.5), he is compelledto utter the word because of its power--it is fire (Jer. 20.9; Isa. 6.6-7) or a hammer thatcrushes rocks (Jer. 23.29)--and because it is the means by which God shapes Israel’shistory through the covenant (Exod. 6.4-8), the law (Exod. 20.1-21) and the prophets (1Kings 17.1). As a result, the salvational content of the word received and delivered bythe prophets is inseparable from the law. Not only was it given by God to Moses, thefirst prophet, but whether or not the nation obeyed the “words of the law” (Deut. 12.32)determined whether it was blessed (Deut. 30.15) or cursed (Deut. 30.18) by God andhis prophets. Thus, before “dabhar” was applied to specific prophetic utterances, it wasused to decribe the salvational content of the message; that is, the law, including thedecalogue (Deut. 4.10, 13), specific laws (Deut. 15.15), and the Mosaic law in general(Deut. 4.2).1O In both its prophetic and salvational forms, however, the word is creative;the word creates the nation through the law and the prophets. The creative power of-43-the word also extends to the natural world: God creates (Gen. 1; Ps. 33.6), maintains(Ps. 147.15-18), and commands (Ps. 148.8) the order of creation simply by speaking.11The word of the Old Testament, then, is inspired in its proclamation by the prophets,salvational through its manifestations in the law and history of Israel, and efficaciousin its relationship to the creation. In each case, as J. L. Mackenzie states, “the word ofYahweh may be called sacramental in the sense that it effects what it signifies.”12The prophetic, salvational, and creative activity of the word is also emphasizedby the New Testament writers, but their experience of the word is transformed by the“Christ-event” and the effort to extend Christ’s presence in time through the church.13Like the prophets, the apostles are inspired (2 Tim. 3.15) and continue to proclaimGod’s word in their ministry, but the prophetic formula “the word [“logos”] of God,” isnow applied to the gospel (Mark 2.2) and to preaching the gospel in the church (2 Cor.4.2; Titus 1.3). This is possible because the words of the prophets have been fulfilledin the words (John 8.43, 55; 17.8) and person (John 1.1-14) of Jesus, whose preexistent unity with the Father gives him closer access to God and, therefore, moreauthority, and whose being, as the Word made flesh, fulfills the merely spoken wordsof earlier prophets (Matt. 5.17). The salvational content of the word is not the law,which leads to sin (Rom. 3.20), but the grace of God in Jesus, and the indwelling wordof the Holy Spirit which is written upon the heart (2 Cor. 3.3-6; James 1.21). Moreover,the creative activity of the Old Testament word is fulfilled in the new creation, the newbeginning in Christ. The prologue of the fourth Gospel deliberately echoes Genesis.-44-1.1, while the efficacy of the creative word, as a distinct entity which accomplisheswhat God says, is evident also: the word grows (Acts 19.20), resounds (1 Thess. 2.8),runs (2 Thess. 3.1), pierces and discerns (Heb. 4.12) and judges (Rev. 19.13-16).Thus, the creative, prophetic and salvational word performs a sacramental function inthe church: the word written and preached by the apostles is the same, in its messageand Spirit, as the Word who was crucified and raised from the dead. Just as the Wordrecreated humanity in his satisfaction of divine justice, so the words of his ministers,and the words of scripture, convey the Word and recreate members for the church. It isthis encounter with the active presence of the Word in the Word which Milton endorsesthroughout his career and which underlies the protestant emphasis on scripture aloneas a means of grace. By returning to this biblical and apostolic view of the Word, theearly reformers sought to sweep aside metaphysical commentaries on scripture andmake the Word itself, in all its saving power, available to all members of the church sothat God could speak and persuade believers in his own words.III“Sola Scriptura” and the Authority of the Church for Luther, Zwingli, and CalvinThe certainty and infallibility of the Word in all matters of salvation is thehermeneutic principle upon which the protestant doctrine of Nsola scripturaN is based.14“By his word,” wrote Calvin, uGod rendered faith unambiguous forever, a faith that-45-should be superior to all opinion.”5Despite differences in worship, the magisterialreformers were united in their belief that divine grace is communicated to believers inthe clear words of scripture just as the Divine Word is spoken in Jesus. Verbalrelationships replaced ritual actions and visual symbols as the primary modes ofsacramentality in the church, turning Jesus into a “Heavenly Teacher”: “just as in menspeech is called the expression of thought, so. . . He expresses Himself to us throughHis Speech or Word.”16 Moreover, because the minister is God’s representative, hiswords are virtually identified with God’s, making sacramental union between believersand God possible through the Word of human ministry.The reformers’ emphasis on the Word as a means of grace, however, also led tothe separation of church tradition from revelation in their doctrine of authority. Whilethe medieval church claimed that the continuing revelation of the Holy Spirit wasinseparable from the liturgy, law, and theology of church tradition, Luther emphasizedscripture alone, making tradition and reason at best, secondary, and at worst,idolatrous appeals to human sufficiency.17Luther went on to free the church from its“Babylonian captivity” on the basis of scripture alone. Because a true sacramentreceives its authority from an explicit scriptural promise, only Baptism and theEucharist remained from the seven sacraments of the Roman church. In addition, faithmade everyone ‘who comes out of the waters of baptism . . . a consecrated priest,bishop, and pope.” Since uthe Holy Spirit is greater than Aristotle,” the abstract,philosophical language of scholasticism had to be replaced by the conversational,-46-concrete language of evangelical preaching.18 By separating revelation in the Wordfrom church tradition and reason, Luther took the first step toward a genuinepriesthood of believers, but by granting the interpretation of the Word to theprofessional ministry, he effectively granted church tradition--his own, this time, ratherthan the Roman hierarchy--at least as much authority as it previously held.It was left to Zwingli and Calvin to systematize what was only implicit in Luther’sdoctrine of scriptural authority. Since tradition and reason were no longer validgrounds of authority, and since, according to the “new philology” authority should begranted only to the author of a text, it was left to the Holy Spirit to turn people to faith, topersuade them that the scriptures were God’s Word, and to guide them to validinterpretations of the Word.19 Unlike the “giddy men” who claim authority fromimmediate revelation, and unlike the Roman church, which identifies its humaninterpretations with the Holy Spirit apart from the authority of the Word, Calvin assertsthat “the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit.”20What Calvin and Zwingli mean by the certainty and clarity of the Word, however,needs further clarification. In Zwingli’s sermon, “Of the Clarity and Certainty or Powerof the Word by God, the clarity of the Word arises from the inward illumination andverification of the Word by the Holy Spirit rather than by scholarship, human reason, orchurch tradition. Zwingli’s appeal to the Word is “not merely an appeal to the text of theBible correctly interpreted and understood,” and therefore to another externalauthority; he appeals to the “living and effective Word” which is authOritative “not-47-because its authority can be outwardly demonstrated but because it is inwardlyapprehended.M21The Word, then, should not be confused with the letter of scripture. Ifwords and the Word, signs and things signified were identical, anyone who listened toa sermon or read the Bible without understanding it would receive grace TMex opereoperato.” On the contrary, the Word of God refers primarily to the meaning or referenceof words--the “voice of God,” or Christ--while the words of scripture have meaning onlywhen they are illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The power and clarity of the Word doesnot derive from the correspondence between the words of the text and a state of affairsin the world; rather, it derives from the assurance it produces as a consequence of theinternal testimony of the Holy Spirit. Clarity, then, is a function of the faithful reader ofthe Word, not of the text itself; consequently, Zwingli encourages the reader to “listen”to the written Word in order to hear the living Word of God speaking in and through thewords of the text.22Zwingli’s emphasis on the activity of the Holy Spirit in both the text and thereader enables him to hold together what later became mutually exclusive views of theBible. On the one hand, the Spirit speaks the Word through the mediating signs ofscripture and converts the reader and listener to Christ; on the other hand, because ofthis sacramental function, the Bible also becomes the source of God’s revealed willregarding laws governing all forms of worship, church government, and ecclesiasticaljurisdiction. The conflict between the evangelical and legal views of God’s scripturalrevelation and the extent of its application to religious affairs is reflected in Zwingli’s-48-emphasis on the converting ministry of preaching on the one hand, and his use of theWord as a standard for all matters of discipline, on the other. For Zwingli, there arevirtually no things indifferentu in religion.The rhetorical theology of the Word which makes the Bible the living, active,speech of God as well as the foundation and authority of the church can also beillustrated from the works of Calvin, the reformer who, with Zwingli, is most responsiblefor shaping the worshipping tradition which Milton both challenged and adopted. in histheology of revelation and representation, Calvin attempts to bridge the gap betweenGod’s majesty and human sinfulness. Because immediate knowledge of God’s natureis impossible, the burden of revelation is placed upon signs such as Jesus conceivedas the speech of God.23 God’s essence transcends human understanding even whenhis beauty and glory are implanted in the human mind and declared in Creation;24nevertheless, God has left signs which accommodate his presence to human capacity,allowing his people to TMembrace what it pleases God... to witness of himself.”25 As aresult, Calvin’s theory of signs and all modes of God’s mediation, including theincarnate Word, the scriptural Word, the sacraments, and the words of preachers, refersimultaneously to God’s absence and presence: TMGod veils Himself in order to revealHimself,’ as Moses discovered.26Speech is the paradigmatic form of accommodation achieved by God’sdecorum”: in the scriptures, God TMopens his own most hallowed lips”;27 in thesacraments, God speaks to us in visible words;28 in the pre-existent Word, God speaks-49-“in his individual acts of creation”;29 in the incarnate Word, God “expresses himself tous through his speechN;3O and in the words of his ministers God speaks Nas if hehimself spoke.31 In each act of God’s communication, the Holy Spirit also helps tobring the signified and the sign, the absence and the presence, God’s inexpressibleessence and the incarnate Word into meaningful relationship. The Holy Spirit helpGdcreate the world, inspired the writers of the Old and New Testament, and persuadesbelievers of the Bible’s authenticity. In addition, the Holy Spirit consecrates thesacramental elements and guides ministers and laymen in the interpretation of theWord. In each act of revelation, from the creation of the world to the preaching of asermon, God’s absence and presence are joined in the signs chosen by God for hisaccommodation and communication of himself to his creatures.Within the context of this general theology of revelation, Calvin develops hisview of the Bible as both an object of personal, internal witness and a source ofcollective authority for the church. On the one hand, in the Word God speaks asdirectly as possible to believers, the authority of the Word deriving from subjectiveexperience; on the other hand, only God’s ministers are called to preach in public, notthose who think “they can profit enough from private reading” or those who “despise allreading.”32The internal witness of the Spirit authenticates the Word as a whole whileindividual passages receive authority from the ministers of the church since when theypreach, “the very Word of God is preached and received of the faithful.”33The dual authority of the Word and Spirit not only underlies Calvin’s view of the-50-Bible; his historical approach to the interpretation of specific texts and his use ofscripture to interpret itself are also grounded in the presence and absence of the Word,for obscure texts are best understood by passages in which God speaks clearly ratherthan by allegorical interpretations which substitute human speculation for God’srevelation. Since God is the author of scripture and since all authority derives fromhim, ‘the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.”34 He rejects bothgrammatical literalism and allegorical exegesis in favour of an historical method inwhich the sense of a text is explicated by collecting proofs from other passages ofscripture to establish the author’s intention.35 His attention to original languages andstylistic features of the text, such as figurative language, are especially important in hissacramental theology. The copula ‘is’ in ‘this is my body’ does not denote the identityof the bread and Christ’s body, or the doctrine of Christ’s ubiquitous body as followersof Luther suggested; rather, it denotes a figurative and metonymic relationshipbetween the sign and the thing signified, between the bread and Christ’s body.36Christ’s body has ascended, but through the sign of bread this absence becomes aspiritual presence in the body of believers, or the church. Since sacramental signs aresymbols of God’s corporal absence but spiritual presence in the faithful, with the HolySpirit’s help they are capable of lifting the heart to the exalted Christ, transforming thechurch in his presence.37Several other implications arise from Calvin’s view of the Bible as both theliving, rhetorical word of God and the foundational authority of the church. First of all,-51 -because the prophets and apostles were “genuine scribes of the Holy Spirit,” the officeof the ministry is not “to coin any new doctrine, but. . . to cleave to that doctrine towhich God has subjected all men without exception.”38Thus, Calvin avoids thedoctrine of scriptural inerrancy at the same time as he asserts the unity and infallibilityof God’s Word. Although known obscurely through the prophets of the Old Testamentand before the law was written, Christ is revealed clearly in the gospel, even if the textitself is fraught with errors.39 Moreover, Calvin admits the authority of no other canonbut the Bible in the church; prophetic and poetic vocations should not be confusedsince poetic inspiration often leads to false doctrine, superstition, and human additionsto the word of God.40 Since revelation was completed at the time of the apostles, theBible is the only guide in religious matters. Finally, despite including “everythingapplicable to the perfect rule of the good life,” the Bible does not prescribe all mattersof discipline and worship. Knowing that customs of worship would change in time, Godleft it to each Christian community guided by standards of decency, charity andedification to choose which ceremonies and church governments are appropriate.41Although he himself advises against the “empty pomp” of “the Romanist masters” andprefers the simplicity of apostolic Worship grounded in the Word alone, especially inJohn 4.23, he also warns against being “overscrupulous” in matters indifferent tosalvation.42In the decades following his death, Calvin’s advice went unheeded byEnglish puritans who clamoured for change in worship and discipline on the basis ofthe Word alone and, in the process, often overlooked the evangelical, sacramental-52-Word in their zeal for proof texts and authoritative commands.For Calvin and Zwingli, then, scripture was the only external authority capableof replacing that of the medieval church, but it was also much more. Godaccommodated himself to human understanding in the clarity and certainty of thescriptural text; as a result, everyone can be saved by hearing God’s voice in the Word.Humanists by training, they adapted principles of humanist scholarship--the study oforiginal languages, the preference for rhetoric rather than logic, the use of historicalcontexts, and the location of interpretive authority in the author’s intentions embodiedin the authoritative texts--to a theology of God’s sovereignty in all areas of life andproclaimed that the Bible was “the Word of God” not the word of man. By inwardillumination, however, Christians could return “ad fontes” in a way not foreseen inhumanist methodology. The authority of classical texts is established by restoring theauthors intentions, but the authorityof scripture was placed on the most certainfoundation possible--the internal witness of the writer of scripture, the Holy Spirit. Theearly reformers avoided verbal inerrancy in a similar way. Since the Holy Spirit couldnot err, and since textual corruptions were plainly evident, the Holy Spirit did notdictate the words of the text but the Word of the text--the message, sense or referenceof the words--leaving the actual writing of the words to divinely inspired authors andthe existence of variant readings, emendations, and errors in detail to the weakness oftranscribers of the Bible.43 Despite textual corruptions, by his Word, God renderedfaith unambiguous forever, a faith that should be superior to all opinion.”Several inconsistencies developed, however, when Zwingli and Calvin began-53-to reform the churches of Zurich and Geneva by the Word alone. The firstinconsistency regards the role of the ministry while the second concerns the nature ofTMthings indifferent to salvation, or the adiaphora,” but both have a common origin inthe reformers’ attitudes toward the Bible. On the one hand, the internal witness of theSpirit as well as the clarity and certainty of the Word, both necessary doctrines in theestablishment of authority against the Roman church, appears to make all believersequal priests in Christ through the sacrament of the Word, and to validate personalreligious experience. On the other hand, “because he [Christ] does not dwell amongus in his visible presence. . . he uses the ministry of men to declare openly his will tous by mouth.”44Public exegesis in speech or writing by a professional ministry trainedin theology, philology and rhetoric, is equal to the “very Word of God,” and is clearlycommanded by the same Holy Spirit who instructs by inward illumination (Mark 16.15,Rom. 10. 14-17) and warns the church about private interpretation (2 Pet. 1.20).Moreover, obscurities in scripture made it necessary to distinguish between thingsnecessary for salvation, which everyone could learn from the Word, and “thingsindifferent,” those aspects of ceremony and government which are not prescribed orare unclear in scripture and are left to the Christian liberty of the church to decide.45Once again, according to Calvin, the church, rather than the layman, was authorized todetermine the nature and extent of the Word’s authority. Only. doctors of the churchwere qualified to unravel textual obscurities in matters of doctrine, while churchtradition was authoritative when explicit commands could not be found in the Bible for-54-ceremonies practiced in the church. The result was a church united by a confession offaith determined by the ministry, maintained by a code of discipline enforced by theministry, and gathered by the Word of God interpreted by the ministry despite theauthority given to individual interpreters in the doctrines of internal witness and theclarity of scripture. The Bible, originally God’s living, transformative speech, by politicaland liturgical necessity became the source of ecclesiastical law as the protestantchurches sought the authority to discipline their members and regulate their worship.The response of the magisterial reformers to these challenges to the doctrine of“sola scriptura” was uniform, despite differences in degree. In each case,inconsistencies led to a more authoritative professional ministry rather than a strongerlay presence in the church. When heretical doctrines were expressed,excommunication was recommended by ecclesiastical law; when obscurities in thescriptures were acknowledged, clarification was provided by the clergy; whenarguments about “things indifferent” arose, civil power was used to enforce thechurch’s authority. Milton rejected each of these compromises, maintaining from thebeginning to the end of his career that the clarity and certainty of the Holy Scriptureswas such that the Word, when opened by the Holy Spirit, was the only indispensablesacrament of the church. For him, the unity of the Spirit rather than external conformity,the ministry of believers rather than professional theologians, and the liturgy of theWord rather than human invention were the goals of a thoroughly biblical reformation.In his reform of the reformers, Milton consistently follows the doctrine of the clarity andsufficiency of scripture for salvation. As an educated, lay prophet guided in the-55-interpretation of scripture by the light of reason illuminated by the Holy Spirit, Miltonrejects the separation of the professional ministry from the laity and insists upon theunity of the church in the Word as sacrament. Before turning to this doctrine and itsimportance in Milton’s theology of revelation as a whole, however, I must first outlinethe ecclesiastical context in which Milton develops his doctrine of the Word.IvThe Word and the Puritan Challenge in the English ChurchThe Bible’s authority in matters of doctrine was a common assumption ofdiverse protestant worshipping communities in England during the sixteenth century.The English reformers of Elizabeth’s reign readily gave their assent to the first clauseof the sixth article of The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion (1571 )--“Holy Scriptureconteyneth all things necessarie to salvation”--even if the following clause, whichincluded doctrines which ‘4may be proved thereby,” allowed considerable room forflexibility in interpretation.46Most English Christians, again within a broad protestantconsensus, would also have shared the attitude toward the Bible expressed in thehomily, “A Fruitfull Exhortation To the Reading and Knowledge of Holy Scripture”: “thewordes of holy Scripture he calleth words of everlasting life: for they bee GODSinstrument, ordayned for the same purpose. They have power to turn [convert] throughGODS promise, and.. . are lively quicke, and mighty in operation. . . . Christ callethhim a wise builder, that buildeth upon his word, upon his sure and substantiall-56-foundation.”47God is here portrayed as the master rhetorician whose wordsaccomplish his will in the act of being spoken. Reflected in the Hebrew word Ndabhar,Nwhich means “a word, or work, and thing,” and illustrated in passages such as Genesis1.3, Psalms 33.6, John 1.1-3, and Isaiah 55.10-13, God’s Word is such that it createsthe world and recreates those people who hear his voice.48 In the metaphors of growthand structure describing the activity of the Word, the protestant emphasis on the unityof the Word and Spirit as well as the unity of the Bible as both an authoritativefoundation of the church and a sacramental medium of grace can also berecognized.49Finally, the systematic reading of the Bible throughout the church yearand the prominence of the Word in the liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer (1559)indicate that both means of grace--the Word and the sacraments--were emphasized bythe early English church. The fragmentation of the unity of the liturgy and of the Word’sauthority by the pressures of Jacobean and Caroline ecclesiastical politics was partlyresponsible for the polarization of views which marked the outbreak of the Civil War inthe 1640s.Before the Caroline period, however, there existed a broad consensus not onlyon the Bible’s authority and on the Word’s rhetorical power in turning people to Christ,but also on its central doctrines. Nicholas Tyacke has shown that until the 1 620s and1630s , especially between 1580 and 1620, Calvin’s or, more accurately, Beza’sdoctrine of predestination was “the prerequisite of English Protestant unity.”5°Calvinist doctrines were held by many archbishops, including John Whitgift and-57-George Abbott, by most professors of divinity, including Sebastian Benefielci at Oxfordand William Perkins at Cambridge, by the English delegates to the Synod of Dort in1619 and, most importantly, by the King himself. Even those who separated from thechurch of England and emigrated to Amsterdam or New England, sharedpredestinarian doctrines with the leaders of the Jacobean church.51 At the same time,by virtue of this doctrinal unity, moderate Puritans who sought further reformation ofchurch worship and government were accommodated in the church, since episcopacy,for example, was “indifferent to salvation,” while preaching was the means of grace bywhich those people “foreknown of God from all eternity, and predestined to life ofGod’s pure favour, are effectually called from the state of servitude to liberty.”52 Thisfusion of Calvinist theology and English church tradition resulted in less persecution ofpuritan preachers, less theological controversy and more toleration of non-separatist,congregational churches than had existed in Elizabeth’s reign.53 The doctrinalconsensus, however, was challenged during the reign of Charles I when the Arminianparty gained power in the church, securing its position by associating Calvinism withPuritanism, by insisting that predestination was incompatible with The Book ofCommon Prayer and by gaining the favour of the King.Through its broad doctrinal consensus between 1580 and 1625, the Englishchurch avoided serious conflicts with those of the puritan party who wanted furtherreformation of liturgy and government along Genevan lines.54 The source of theBible’s authority in the unity of Word and Spirit and the unity of the Word and-58-sacrament in the liturgy were two other shared beliefs which enabled this consensusto persist. In the opening years of Charles’s reign, however, doctrinal and liturgicalunity were threatened, resulting in the fragmentation of the church. By associatingCalvinism with Puritanism--a strictly ecclesiastical and liturgical position, not atheological one--and by suggesting that the doctrine of predestination wasincompatible with the Book of Common Prayer, Arminians like Richard Mountaguebegan the process of polarization which resulted in the elevation of the sacramentsabove the Word in the liturgy, reflected in Archbishop Laud’s emphasis on the unity ofchurch ceremony and worship.55 On the other hand, by emphasizing the literalinerrancy of scripture, and elevating the Word above the sacraments, prominentpresbyterians such as William Prynne alienated both Arminians and radical membersof the puritan party who eventually joined Independent churches and asserted theauthority of the Spirit rather than the Word. Thus, while the fragmentation of doctrinaland liturgical unity was the result of pre-War conflict, the erosion of church authoritywas the result of conflict during the Commonwealth period as the unity of the Word andSpirit became separated. The authority of the Word interpreted and enforced by thechurch was emphasized by the presbyterian party while the authority of the Spiritmanifested in each gathered congregation was emphasized by the independent partyand its many congregations.There were, of course, churchmen who opposed the Calvinist orthodoxy of thechurch before the reign of Charles I. Hooker’s defense of the church of Rome as a truebut corrupt church, Bishop Neile’s placement of the communion table at the east end-59-of Durham cathedral in 1617, and Lancelot Andrewes’s practice of the sacramental lifeall look forward to ecclesiastical and liturgical Arminianism, if not its theologicalprinciples.56The first stage in the reaction to Calvin’s theology of grace, however, wasliturgical. Concerned that the doctrine of predestination contradicted the offer ofuniversal redemption embodied in the liturgy, and convinced that the emphasis ongrace delivered by the Word alone diminished the sacramental life, especially thedoctrine of the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, a small but powerful group ofJacobean church leaders, including frequenters of Durham House in London such asWilliam Laud, Francis White, Richard Mountague, John Buckeridge and John Cosin,began to restore ceremonial in the church.57 Later, during the York House conference,convened in February, 1626, to debate the works of Richard Mountague, an Arminianand favourite of the King’s, the liturgical argument against predestination came to theforefront. While Bishop Morton, a Calvinist, rejected the exclusive association of gracewith the sacraments, Dean White of Carlisle argued that the doctrine of limitedatonement associated with the Synod of Dort contradicted the liturgy when the priestsays “to all communicants whatever, The Body of our Lord which was given for thee.”58The breakdown of liturgical unity accelerated in the 1630s. When John Cosinpublished A Collection of Private Devotions (1627), a handbook of private prayersappropriate for each canonical hour for receiving the sacrament, and for other liturgicaloccasions, it was immediately and violently condemned by William Prynne as“Arminian and Popish” in A Briefe Survay and Censure of Mr. Cozens his Couzening-60-Devotions (1628). Cosin’s book, according to Prynne, was introducing Arminianismand Popery into the church by reinstating seven sacraments, urging the observance ofseven canonical hours, and abusing scripture.59 Finally, when Archbishop Laudattempted to guarantee the “Settlement of the External Worship of God in the Church”by enforcing the TMCanons and Constitiutions of 1640--a document which prescibedthe railing and placement of the altar, defended the divine right of bishops and kings,and emphasized the usefulness of church ceremony--the liturgical reaction topredestinarian teaching reached its peak.60Once a source of doctrinal consensus but increasingly seen by Caroline churchleaders as irreconcilable with the “reformed Catholic” nature of the English church,Calvin’s theology of grace became associated not only with doctrine but also worship,and this association led to the fragmentation of the original unity of Word andSacrament in the prayer book of 1559. As the practice of the church before Laudproves, not to mention Calvin’s own “high” eucharistic practice, there is no intrinsic ornecessary relationship between the church’s Calvinist heritage and a denial ofsacramental grace, but in reaction to those puritan extremists who stressed “hearing ofSermons onely,” Laud and others identified Calvinism in general with the Word only,and became extremists themselves in their emphasis on the sacraments, rather thanon the equality of both means of grace.61 The Laudian church came to emphasizesacramental grace, the sacerdotal function of the priest, and continuity with the historicchurch while the presbyterian and gathered churches emphasized salvation by the-61-Word, the preaching ministry, and the confessional church. The result was theimpoverishment of each branch of the church as it divided along liturgical as well aspolitical lines in the years leading up to and following the outbreak of Civil War.As effective as the liturgical argument was against predestinarian doctrines, amore subtle attack on the doctrinal orthodoxy of the church was advanced in 1625 byRichard Mountague in Appello Caesarem (1625). Mountague suggested that Calvinistdoctrines were not held by the church nor could they be inferred from The Thirty-NineArticles.62 In addition, he identified all Calvinists as puritans, that party within thechurch seeking further reform of church discipline according to the Word of God alone.The swift and violent reaction of Parliament to Montague’s work led to its banishmentin January 1629, and later, to the suggestion that works by Montague and Cosin beburned and the authors punished.63 Parliament’s reaction prefigured the laterdivisions which preceded the Civil War. When issues of parliamentary jurisdictionarose in the 1640s, the alignment of theological Calvinists and liturgical puritans withthe House of Commons, and theological Arminians and liturgical “reformed Catholics”with the King paved the way for open conflict.As a result of the polarization in the church caused by the removal of Calvinistdoctrine as the source of unity between episcopalians and puritans, two very differentviews of the church and of the role of the Word in the church had developed. By 1640the English church increasingly associated itself with the episcopacy of the apostolicchurch, the doctrine of grace freely available to all baptized Christians in the-62-sacraments, and the use of scripture, reason and tradition in theological controversy.64On the other hand, the puritan reformers increasingly identified themselves with thepresbyterian discipline of the apostolic church, the doctrine of grace through the Word,and the use of the Word alone in doctrine and discipline. Because Christ is present tothe church in the gospel, puritans defined the church as the assembly of those calledby the Word, and since this was an inward act conferred on the elect and known onlyby God, the true church was invisible and mystical, although it was adumbrated in the“visibly godly.” Apologists of the Church of England, on the other hand, admitted allbaptized members of each parish into its fold, and emphasized the need for the faithfulreception of the sacraments administered by a ministry delegated for this purpose byChrist.Richard Hooker clearly summarizes the differences in ecclesiology whichdeveloped between the Roman, Reformed, and English churches.65 The Romanchurch erred by confusing the particular or national church with the universal one,while the Reformed church erred. by confusing the invisible, elect church with the“politic society” of the visible church. We can also speculate that Hooker would haveconsidered the gathered churches to be grounded on the confusion of the universalchurch with the congregation. Moreover, each major division of the church, whetherRoman or Reformed, represented an inadequate or imbalanced approach to biblicalauthority. For Hooker, scripture, reason and tradition, in descending order ofimportance, were all valid authorities in different circumstances. Scripture is the source-63-of saving doctrine; reason and tradition are authoritative when aspects of disciplineare not prescribed in scripture.66Thus, the emphasis on tradition unsupported byscripture in matters of doctrine by the Roman church is unacceptable, as is theimposition of church discipline upon particular churches which have established theirown traditions by virtue of the indifferency of discipline and worship and of the equalityof bishops among different national, particular churches. At the same time, theReformed church placed too much emphasis on the authority of scripture in “thingsindifferent’ to salvation such as church government. Thomas Cartwright’s argumentthat the absence of explicit authority in the Bible for episcopacy and aspects ofceremonial, such as the sign of the cross at baptism, was enough to exclude them onthe grounds that they would violate the second commandment was easily swept asideby Hooker. Calvin himself included aspects of worship that were not prescribed, whileif we took Cartwright’s argument seriously, we would be unnaturally anxious andprecise as we searched scripture for justification of every action.67 With a more stridentantiCalvinist emphasis, a more scriptural basis for the divine right of episcopacy, anda more ceremonial focus on worship, William Laud continued Hooker’s emphasis onthe continuity of the church from the apostolic period and the balanced interplay ofscripture, reason and tradition in doctrine and discipline, a view of the church whichclashed sharply with that of both presbyterian and congregational puritans whoclaimed to be acting from the Word alone.The exaggerated emphasis on ceremony and the association of Puritanism with-64-Calvinism by Arminians like Laud were only partly responsible for the breakdown ofthe liturgical unity and doctrinal consensus of the church from the reign of Edward VI toCharles I. The exclusive concern for the Word by some puritans played an equallyimportant role in the polarization of the church prior to the Civil War and in thebreakdown of the dual authority of the Word and Spirit in the Nnonconformistu churchfrom 1640 to 1660. As I have already shown, The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion statethat matters of doctrine and salvation are determined by scripture alone; aspects ofdiscipline, however, are decided by each particular, visible church.68 Despite Calvin’sagreement with this principle, his followers in England were determined to reducediscipline as well as doctrine to “the puritie of the word” alone, resulting in the additionof discipline to the marks of a true church, in addition to the true preaching of the Wordand the administration of the sacraments.69Especially after the decline of the.presbyterian movement in the 1590s, the doctrinal consensus to which I have alludedenabled the toleration of all but a few puritans, such as Henry Barrow and JohnGreenwood, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James. As the Arminian party gainedpower in Charles l’s reign, however, puritans became alienated, persecuted, andincreasingly contentious. Alexander Leighton, in 1628, and Prynne, Burton andBastwick throughout the 1630’s, revived the earlier Carwrightian theory of presbyterianchurch government, used harsh rhetoric to condemn the Arminian doctrines of thebishops, and associated sacramental life with Arminianism and popery. Deriving theirviews from “the word of God alone” and “the freedome of the Spirit,” they claimed to be-65-setting Christ free from his bondage by Arminians who suppressed the preaching ofthe Word.7°During the 1630s, those like Prynne and Burton who sought reformation ofchurch government and worship according to the Word alone were united inopposition to Arminianism, the “worldly” bishops of the church, and the enforcement of‘indifferent’ ceremonies. The unity based on the common enemy soon disappeared,however, when Erastian presbyterians took control of the religious agenda ofParliament in 1640. It became especially obvious that the Word was not clear inmatters of discipline. As early as 1643, the ‘dissenting brethren’ of the WestminsterAssembly submitted their “Apologeticall Narration” to Parliament, in which, guided likethe presbyterians by the Word alone, they outlined a form of church governmentconsistent with the patterns of the primitive church and the testimony of New Englandchurches, but different from presbyterianism in that complete ecclesiastical jurisdictionwas given to each congregation.7l In addition, the freedom of the spirit of prayeragainst set forms was urged, resulting in the compromises of uThe WestminsterDirectory” (1644), which gave only suggestions to the minister rather than a source ofcommon worship. In many ways, the dissenting brethren were formally acknowledgingwhat had been a fact of English ecclesiastical life for twenty years: that gatheredchurches of saints considered themselves a consistent and viable alternative to theecclesiology of national religion, whether enforced by discipline in presbyterianism oraccepted by tradition as in the parish society of the English church.-66-More importantly, biblical scholars and theologians were increasingly uncertainabout what “the word of God” meant, leading to increasing emphasis on the authorityof the Spirit rather than both the Spirit and the Word and resulting in further division ofauthority from the national church to each congregation, from each congregation toindividuals reading the Word, and finally, from the Word to the Spirit manifested in theheart.72 John Goodwin, defending himself against the charge that he denied the divineauthority of scripture, argued that because textual corruptions, different translations,and varieties of interpretations often obscure “the sense of the originals,” the word ofGod, to be available to each reader and not just readers of Hebrew and Greek, mustrefer to what is contained in the letters of the Bible, rather than the letters themselves.The glorious Truth of the scriptures “asserts their royal Parentage,” but the Word itself“is not inke and paper, not any book, or books”; rather, writing assumes a previousspoken agreement to which script gives form, while “the sense or meaning. . . of awriting, or book, [is] a part, yea the most material part” of a text.73 In this way, Goodwinresolves the conflict between the corruption of the biblical text, the immediateinspiration of the biblical authors, and the protestant claim that the word of God issufficient in all matters of doctrine for the whole congregation. Even though the biblicalauthors and subsequent translations may have erred in some details, the word of Godis still authoritative because it survives intact.John Owen, the most prominent Independent clergyman of the Commonwealthperiod, argued differently. Unlike Goodwin, Owen insists upon the divine authority of-67-the written word. The prophets and apostles “invented not words themselves.. . butonly expressed the words that they received.”74 He defends the literal infallibility ofscripture in two ways: on the one hand, in Of the Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew andGreek Text of the Scripture, Owen defends his view that the word of God “is preservedunto us entire in the original languages . . . as also in all translations” against thesuggestions of Goodwin, and especially Brian Walton.75 According to Owen, bypublishing parallel texts of scripture in his Biblia Sacra Polyçilotta (1655-57),especially in the appendix of volume six where numerous textual variants from fifteenauthoritative texts are collected, Walton implies that “the same fate attended theScripture in its transcription as hath done other bookes.” Walton unwittingly supports“the Papists,” claims Owen, since the multiplication of textual corruptions encouragesthe dependence of individuals upon the infallibility of the church rather than theBible.76 In Pro Sacris Scripturis Exercitationes Adversus Fanaticos, Owen attacks theQuakers--the other critics of the authority of the Word--who claim that “the word of God”should not be applied to scripture since scripture is neither Christ himself nor the lightfrom Christ. Owen argues that both are called the Word because scripture derives fromChrist, reveals his will, and records his words.77 Samuel Fisher, one of the fewacademic Quakers, answered Owen by suggesting that what Owen meant by “theword of God” was vague. Does he refer to the manuscripts of Moses, the prophets, andthe apostles, or the spoken word preceding the writing? Does he refer to the firstcopies of the scriptures or later transcriptions of them and, if so, does he also refer to-68-translations of the transcriptions? The Quakers, according to Fisher, are at leastconsistent. The outward text is subordinate to uthe Light of Christ in the conscience...the only firm Foundation of the Churches Faith.’78 Fisher also indicates that this view ofauthority leads to a belief in universal salvation, the corollary doctrine of theatonement, for if each individual has Christ within him, each individual is saved whoacknowledges this presence. This doctrine is easily transformed into a justification ofthe rule of the saints, as William Erbery testifies. The mystery of the gospel is thatChrist’s death liberated the Spirit, making God present in the flesh of his saints.79When Milton began writing religious prose in 1641, the unity of the liturgy aswell as the unity of doctrine in the English church was already well in the past. To taketheir place, the Word alone was used as a means of grace, a source of church law,and a handbook of worship. At the same time, the authority of the Word was becomingincreasingly uncertain: how could the existence of textual corruption, especially in theNew Testament, be compatible with God’s clear and inerrant Word? From the unity ofthe Word and Spirit in Calvin’s doctrine of authority, to the English Presbyterian andIndependent emphasis on literal inerrancy in doctrine and discipline, to the Quakerand Ranter emphasis on the Spirit alone, the Word, though clear and infallible, wasunderstood in a variety of ways in the seventeenth century.It was in this context of unrest and uncertainty that Milton developed his view ofscripture in De Doctrina Christiana. Like the reformers, Milton proclaimed that theWord was a vehicle of grace, but unlike them, he believed its authority rested in the-69-conscience of each believer rather than the church. Like the Anglicans, Milton arguedthat the inner law of reason helped believers interpret God’s revelation, but unlikethem, he believed tradition was not a significant factor in interpretation. Like thePresbyterians, Milton asserted that the Word was sufficient in matters of discipline aswell as doctrine, but unlike them, he believed the Word granted each individual thefreedom to worship as he chose. Like the Independents, Milton assumed that the Wordwas the central liturgical activity of the church, but unlike them, Milton believed theclergy should be independent of state sponsorship. Like the Quakers, Milton viewedthe Spirit as the final authority in religious matters, but unlike them, he believed theSpirit enlightened a rational process rather than an ecstatic moment. This uniquesynthesis was made possible by Milton’s rational exegesis of the biblical image ofGod’s self-revelation in speech through the pre-existent, incarnate, scriptural, andindwelling Word. It is to a discussion of this doctrine in De Doctrina Christiana andAreopagitica that I now turn.VThe Sacrament of the Word: the Rhetorical Structure of the Pre-existent,Incarnate, Scriptural, and Indwelling Word InDe Doctrina Christiana and AreopagiticaMilton’s essential agreement with the rhetorical theology of the reformers andtheir emphasis on God speaking to fallen mankind in the clear and sufficient, thoughaccommodated Word, is most evident in the doctrine of revelation implicit throughout-70-De Doctrina Christiana. Like Calvin, Milton believed that God is simultaneously absentand present, transcendent and immanent, silent and speaking in the accommodatedlanguage of scripture. The Word of scripture and the incarnate Word are analogous forboth Calvin and Milton as well. The letter of the text corresponds to Christ’s body whilethe meaning of the text corresponds to his Spirit, an analogy which ensures the preeminence of the Word in the sacramental life of the church.Milton, however, pursues the logical implications of the metaphor of God’sspeech to an extent unimagined by the early reformers. Not only are the scriptural andincarnate Word linked, but the pre-existent and inner Word share the same rhetoricalstructure as well, resulting in two doctrines which distinguish Milton from mostChristians of his day: the inequality of the Son and Father and the authority ofinterpretation granted to all members of the church. Because God is constructedprimarily as a transcendent Creator/Author whose final intention is beyond humancomprehension, neither his full presence nor his complete intention can berepresented in his revelation, or Word; therefore, the intention and expression, thespeaker and the speech, the Author and his Word cannot be regarded as the same inessence. In addition, every believer is free to approach Christ in the Word because thethe inner Word is written upon the heart, the Holy Spirit consecrating what Miltoncalled “the meere element of the Text” (ODD, CPW 2.382). Because readers andlisteners do not receive grace or understanding “ex opere operato”--that is, simply bythe act of reading or hearing--since the sign and the signified, the letter and the Wordare different, every interpretation based on scripture should be tolerated, granting-71-each believer the authority to transform the church through literary activity.Milton’s sacramental theology of the Word, then, consists of a thorough andconsistent explication of the biblical metaphor of revelation, of God speaking to thechurch. The Arian and subordinationist implications of such an emphasis on the Wordwere foreseen by the Council of Nicea in 325 when “Logos language” was excludedfrom the Creed in favour of the language of Father and Son to describe distinctionswithin the Godhead.80 Because he recognized the authority of scripture alone, andespecially valued the literal interpretation of God’s figurative language, Milton feltjustified in pursuing his interpretation. Essentially, revelation is a speech act in whichthe author, his text, and his audience each play an important part. God is atranscendent, silent Author whose self-presence, internal decrees and intentions cannever be identified with his expression, external decrees or Word. The external Wordof the Author is spoken in the generation of the Son, the creation of the world, theincarnation and preaching of the Word, and the inner word written by the Holy Spirit,and each shares the structure of absence and presence, signified and sign whichmark all of the Author’s revelations. The audience of God’s speech, or the church,receives the Word by the Holy Spirit and is authorized to return the gift in the form ofliterary activity of all kinds. Thus, preaching and reading the Word are more importantthan the eucharist, all church offices are open to qualified believers, church disciplineconsists of edification and self-government, and the state is forbidden to meddle inchurch affairs. The sacramentof the Word, then, in which Christ, as the Word of God, isboth absent and present, reflects the rhetorical structure of revelation as a whole and-72-provides the foundation of Milton’s ecciesiology.Milton’s theology of the Word can be understood better logically rather thanhistorically, since he never articulates his view completely in one text, except perhapsin De Doctrina Christiana. Even here, the formal demands of systematic theology inthe Reformed tradition divide the simplicity and unity of the biblical message thatMilton wishes to convey--that in the Word, God speaks to the church. My method, then,resembles Milton’s own and consists of “collecting together, as it were, into a singlebook, texts which are scattered here and there” (CPW 6.127; .QE 14.21). I will begin byshowing that Milton’s emphasis on God as a transcendent, self-sufficient, unnameableauthor whose internal decrees, or intentions, always transcend their externalefficiency, or expression, makes the unity of the Father and his Word a virtualimpossibility. I will then show that this rhetorical structure of God’s speech acts isreflected in each expression of the Word, beginning with the pre-existent Word andconcluding with the inner Word of each believer. Finally, I will conclude by outliningthe consequences of Milton’s theology of the Word for the church. Milton shows inAreopagitica that the church consists in the reception and production of the Word inthe lives and words of all of its members. Only then can the sacramental life of thekingdom of God be realized.It is significant that, before he turns to the nature of the divine author inDe Doctrina Christiana, Milton first discusses revelation in general and how God canbe known at all. In his conventional version of the teleological argument, Miltonsuggests that the skill of the Creator is such that even without revelation we can infer a-73-“supreme creative being” from the order and beauty of his creation as well as from the“signs” of that same order in the human mind (CPW 6.130; E 14.27). Nevertheless,natural knowledge is not enough; “the word, or message of God” is necessarybecause God’s divine glory is “far beyond man’s imagination, let alone hisunderstanding” (CPW 6.133; E 14.31). Even in the scriptures, however, God is silent,transcendent and incomprehensible in his essence; as a result, God “is alwaysdescribed or outlined not as he really is” but as accommodated to humanunderstanding in the figurative language of anthropomorphism (CPW 6.133;14.31). “Interpretive glosses” invented to resolve the personified image of God in theBible with philosophical concepts such as impassibility should be abandoned; instead,because God is the author of scripture, when he depicts himself as angry, repentant orgrieving, we should form ideas of him based on those images since he chose toexpress his intentions in that way. As Milton advises his readers, “they understand bestwhat God is like who adjust their understanding to the word of God, for he hasadjusted his word to our understanding, and has shown what kind of an idea of him hewishes us to have” (CPW 6.137; 14.37).81 God’s nature, then, is both concealedand revealed, absent and present, unspoken and spoken in the accommodated Word.The scriptural and incarnate Word share more than a title; they both mediateGod’s transcendence and human temporality, leading many fathers of the church,reformers of the sixteenth century, and contemporaries of Milton to make explicit whatis implicit in Milton’s doctrine of accommodation--that the word of God is a sacrament-74-and means of grace.82 The scriptural Word is analogous to the incarnate Word in threeways: first, just as the Divine Word emptied himself and adopted imperfection when heentered history, so the Word empties itself of timeless immediacy and adopts theimperfection of stylus and papyrus, pen and paper, type and page; secondly, just asthe preaching office of the incarnate Word mediates the Father’s will and voice, so dothe words of Jesus in the Word of scripture and the words of God’s prophets in theWord proclaimed to the church; thirdly, just as Jesus is body and spirit, human anddivine, so the scripture is letter and spirit, words and Word. Thus, Milton narrows thegap between God’s silent transcendence and man’s limited comprehension, for theidea of himself that God wishes us to have most often is that. of a speaker who, throughhis saving Word, reveals himself and transforms his readers and hearers.At the same time, the difference between humanity and divinity is still significant.For Milton, the presence of Christ is never identified with the meere element of thetext,” the Word with the words, because the text is both absence and presence,signified and sign, transcendence and accommodation. Just as Milton denies the realpresence of Christ in the sacraments and favours a symbolic or memorialist viewbecause the sign and signified--the bread and the body of Christ, for example--are notidentical, so the literal words of scripture, the script on the page, cannot be identifiedwith the Word (CPW 6.555; 15.199-201). The Word refers, not to the letter ofscripture, but to its Spirit; that is, the Word interpreted and consecrated by the Spirit’spresence in the word written on each believer’s heart.Thus, even though he is aware of textual corruptions and historical inaccuracies-75-in the scriptures, many of which are due to human errors in transmission and to God’spurpose in revealing the superior and incorruptible authority of the Spirit (CPW 6.587-88; 15.273), Milton still holds an incarnational view of the Word. When theunderstanding is “opened by the Spirit and the Word is received in faith, thesacrament of the Word, the “evangelic manna,” is truly received by readers even if theliteral word is not identical with the Word received. Even though rigorous methods ofhistorical exegesis are appropriate, since the literal Word of God is still the vessel ofGod’s accommodation, each passage must be read in the Spirit of the scriptures as awhole; that is, in the spirit of the love of God and others which is the fulfilment of theOld Testament and the essence of the New Testament. In this way, Milton resolves theconflict between the accommodated text, which reveals God’s intentions exactly as hewished, and the reality of textual variations in the Bible, while still holding asacramental view of the Word.Although in chapter two of De Doctrina Christiana Milton proceeds from hisdoctrine of accommodation to God’s nature revealed in scripture, leaving the doctrineof the Holy Scriptures to chapter thirty, it is appropriate to discuss the scriptural Wordhere because its textual conditions are implied in everything that follows, for if theaccommodated text of the Word is not “plain and sufficient” and delivered directly fromthe Father, the sacrament of the Word, in which readers receive the Word through, theWord, would not be possible. Milton emphasizes that such communication from theFather to believers through the Word and Spirit does take place by reiterating both thedivine authorship of scripture and the human reception of God’s Word. Milton is-76-convinced of the plenary inspiration of the scriptures; not only the Old Testament butalso the New Testament are “divinely inspired” (CPW 6.574; E 15.249). Divineauthorship, in which God places his words in the mouths of his human authors--theprophets, apostles and evangelists--is also the criterion by which the canonical booksof the Bible are established, even though oral tradition plays a minor role. Miltonadmits that ‘not all the instructions which the Apostles gave the churches were writtendown,” but instead of granting power to church tradition in these indifferent things, headvises Christians to to rely on the authority of the Holy Spirit (CPW 6.586; E15.271). The structure of the proof texts following most of the headings in De DoctrinaChristiana also shows, however, that the message of the scriptures is not as clear inthe Old Testament as it is in the New. Citations begin with the Old Testament, move toJesus’s own words and conclude with references to the apostles (CPW 6.574;15.249), reflecting Milton’s belief that the Word is proclaimed obscurely in the types ofthe Law and the Prophets, but clearly in the Word made flesh and the words of theWord.83As I have already noted in my discussion of his doctrine of scripturalaccommodation, Milton’s emphasis on the inspiration, clarity and sufficiency of theBible seems to be contradicted by the errancy and corruption of the text itself (CPW6.578, 580; QE 15.259, 261). The Old Testament has survived in an “uncorruptedstate” despite minor historical inaccuracies, but the New Testament, the collection ofbooks which bear witness to Christ, has been entrusted to ‘uncertain guardians” to theextent that no “autograph copy,” no “indisputable word of God” exists (CPW 6.587-89;-77.Q 15.275-79). To resolve this conflict Milton proposes four solutions: first, the divineinspiration of the scriptures is not contradicted by textual corruption because it is thehuman transmission of the Word, not its divine production or reception, which isresponsible for the introduction of errors; secondly, despite minor errors, the Wordremains clear in all matters of salvation; thirdly, our belief in the divine authorship ofthe Bible is based not only on manuscripts but also on the internal; self-interpretingconsistency of the scriptural message and, most importantly, on the inward witness ofthe Holy Spirit; and finally, the written Word itself confirms that the Holy Spirit is thefinal authority in matters of interpretation, resulting in a Ndouble scripture,” one externaland written, the other internal and unwritten (CPW 6.587; E 15.273). Thus, Miltonsaves the doctrines of accommodation and sufficiency from logical inconsistency byacknowledging the corruption of the written Word and emphasizing that the Word isspiritual and internal--the message of the Word illuminated by the Holy Spirit in everyreader. This view of scripture is consistent with the puritan tradition represented by“The Westminster Confession” and “The Savoy Declaration” except in one respect.Whereas for orthodox puritans the presence of the Spirit is inseparable from theauthority of the church, for Milton it is the individual possession of each man.84Because God really speaks in the scriptures, and because each person canunderstand what he says, there is no need for religious authority other than the Wordconfirmed by the SpiritWhat underlies Milton’s equation of the Word of scripture and the Wordincarnate, then, is the rhetorical structure of God’s revelation; that is, the address of-78-God to man and man’s .response to God, the drama of which constitutes the history ofIsrael and the struggle of faith. As I have shown, for Milton, God’s transcendence issuch that he cannot be represented in signs; nevertheless, God’s goodness is suchthat he speaks to his audience as a Father speaks to his children, using the principlesof ‘decorum” and accommodation to adjust his speech to the capacity of hislisteners.85 As a result of the author’s transcendence, the difference between absenceand presence, intention and expression, signified and sign, Word and words willcoexist in all of God’s revelations. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, however, the distancebetween the signified and the sign, the Word and the text, can be narrowed, and in themoment when the text is opened, the infinite can speak through the finite in Jesus’svoice. It is this biblical, devotional and personal experience of the Word, examples ofwhich abound in scripture and Christian literature, that underlies the theologicalaxioms and proof texts of De Doctrina Christiana.86Having outlined the “ontology of the texr of scripture and the extent to which Godis revealed there, Milton goes on, in chapter one of De Doctrina Christana, to give aconventional list of God’s attributes and names. The penultimate attribute of God is hisunity (CPW 6.146; E1 4.49) while his virtues culminate in his “divine glory. .. in so faras mortals can comprehend it” (CPW 6.151; QE 14.61). God’s nature as atranscendent, self-existent author has a profound effect upon the nature of the texts hecreates to reveal himself. Because of his transcendence, any representation of him willfall short of his glory, while beóause of his unity, when God speaks, we must assume-79-that only one person, not three, is speaking at any given time.It might be asked, however, as Milton must have asked himself, why, if God is selfexistent, did he create anything? After all, he was under no compulsion to do so, sincehe is perfect in himself. To answer this question it is necessary to note one othercharacteristic which, when taken with God’s transcendence and unity, constitutesMilton’s notion of the nature of the divine author--God’s goodness. I have alreadyalluded to the link between God’s revelation of himself and his goodness. in scripture,“God in his goodness has revealed to us in ample quantity those things which weneed to know about him for our salvation” (my emphasis; CPW 6.136; 14.37). Ifthere is a limit on Gods will, it is that he cannot create evil because creation derivesfrom him and he is inherently good. If God is the creator and creativity is inherentlygood, God cannot create evil since evil is, by definition, the lack of good. Thus, Miltonemphasizes God’s goodness as well as his sovereignty in the process of explainingthe relationship between God’s omnipotence and the existence of evil. In traditionaltheodicy, when emphasis is placed on God’s omnipotence, he is made the author ofsin; when emphasis is placed on God’s goodness, man is the author of sin through hisfree choice, but limits are placed on God’s omnipotence.87For Milton, however, God’swill is inseparable from his goodness because God’s will is inherently creative. Goddoes everything to express his loving purpose and one of these acts is the absoluteconditionality of his decree regarding man’s election--everyone will be saved if hebelieves and perseveres in the faith. Milton provides a similar solution in his rhetoricaltheology. He resolves the philosophical conflict between God’s sovereign will and the-80-existence of evil by showing that God’s will is inherently creative. God cannot be theauthor of evil because true authorship and evil are mutually exclusive terms: God isthe Author and creativity is inherently good; therefore, God cannot create evil.The inseparability of goodness and creativity which characterizes God’sauthorship is reiterated throughout De Doctrina Christiana but especially in Milton’saccounts of material creation and of the re-creation of man after the fall. The matter ofcreation, according to Milton, is essentially good because God created the world out ofhimself rather than from nothing (CPW 6.308; E 15.21). In the moral world of man,however, God does create out of nothing: “God always produces something good andjust out of these [evil acts] and creates, as it were, light out of darkness” (CPW 6.333;15.75). The images of growth and renewal so central to Milton’s description of theprocess of regeneration emphasize God’s creativity to the extent that grace should beseen as God’s creative work in believers, creating life out of death. Faith is a “firmpersuasion” “implanted” in us by God and arises from our response to God’s speech inChrist. After regeneration, itself a metaphor of natural growth and re-creativity, eachChristian is a “new creature,” “ingrafted in Christ” and raised from death to “new life.”Predestined reprobation, then, is impossible for Milton because “whatever Godcreated was originally good” (CPW 6.300; E 15.67) and he “