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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 PROSE AND PARADISE REGAINED by KENNETH RICHARD ADAMS SIMPSON B. A., Wiltrid Laurier University, 1980 M. A., University of Toronto, 1982 B. Ed., University of Toronto, 1984 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming eqires  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December, 1994 © Kenneth Richard Adams Simpson,  1994  _________  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or  by  his  or  her  representatives.  It  is  understood  that  copying  or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department  of  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6 (2/88)  Z.(  1 LL  1l1L/  ABSTRACT  This dissertation argues that Milton develops a coherent and consistent literary ecclesiology throughout his prose works and Paradise RgainecL The authority, ministry, discipline, and jurisdiction of the church are all transformed by Milton’s literary humanism. Chapter one shows that because the textual and christological domains are analogous and sometimes identical in Milton’s prose, reading scripture and writing in response to it are sacramental and liturgical events performed for the universal church. Chapter two outlines the assumptions about reading and writing which make the Word a sacrament, the cornerstone of Milton’s literary ecciesiology. Chapter three describes Milton’s view that the ministry and liturgy of the church consist in acts of authentic creation by inspired authors. Chapter four discusses Milton’s idea that church discipline is the culmination of a rational process of edification and education within each individual rather than an external standard of behaviour or government for the church. Chapter five shows that in Paradise Regaine, Milton not only argues on behalf of the spiritual kingdom of Christ against the intrusion of the state in religious matters 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 literary ecclesiology.  —‘‘‘  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgements  .  Chapter One:  Introduction: Liturgy, Church, and Sacrament in Milton’s Literary Ecclesiology Notes  ii iii iv  1 32  Chapter Two:  The Sacrament of the Word Notes  36 109  Chapter Three:  The Ministry of the Word Notes  120 201  Chapter Four:  The Discipline of the Word Notes  211 274  Chapter Five:  The Kingdom of the Word Notes  281 390  Appendix A:  Rhetorical Theology Notes  403 405  Appendix B:  The Theology of the “Logos” Notes  406 409  Appendix C:  “Sermo” and “Logos” Notes  410 412  Bibliography:  Outline Primary Sources Secondary Sources  413 414 434  -ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  I would like to thank all of my friends and family, especially my wife Joanne, for their patience and support during the process of writing this work. I also acknowledge the financial support of The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada from 1989-1993. Finally, my thanks to Dr. P. G. Stanwood for his patience, wisdom, and insight.  —1— CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Liturgy, Church, and Sacrament in Milton’s Literary Ecclesiology  From 1641 to 1660, John Milton, England’s greatest epic poet, dedicated himself to writing prose in defence of church reform. Even during this period of tremendous upheaval in English culture, when Milton engaged in fierce polemical battles against his enemies, the poetic talent which we admire in the late poems manifests itself: his soaring visions, supple management of voice and rhythm, and use of poetic genres in the prose works all anticipate the epic style of Paradise Lost. The poet influenced the prose writer in more subtle and lasting ways, however. Milton’s literary training and poetic calling shaped the theology of the church, or ecciesiology, which he defended so passionately throughout his prose. Dedicated as a young man to writing verse, Milton did not deny his literary imagination when he was called to reform the church; rather, he responded by creating a literary theology of the church. In this literary ecclesiology, the sacrament of the Word is inseparable from rhetorical invention; 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 of the Word is created by a textual community of readers and writers united over time and space by the Word. For Milton, the Word, and human words devoted to the Word, are essential acts of worship; thus, he worships God at the same time as he reforms and  -2addresses the church in his prose. Critics of Milton’s prose, however, have emphasized the occasional, polemical nature of his ecclesiology, at the expense of its internal coherence and development within his worshipping tradition. For D. M. Wolfe, Arthur Barker, and Michael Fixler, Milton’s ecclesiology is a disconnected series of reactions to authority in religious matters. The Laudian Church of England, the Westminster Assembly, and the state Independency of Cromwell prompted increasingly radical attempts to protect Christian liberty, but the result was a doctrine of the church which was undeveloped, contradictory, and self-destructive. 1 While Wolfe, Barker, and Fixler rightly insist on the importance of Christian liberty for Milton, they also reduce his doctrine of the church to anti-clericalism. On the other hand, Christopher Hill, Joan S. Bennett, and David Loewenstein have argued that Milton’s ecclesiology is consistent, but they have failed to 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 withdrawal from all churches.2 Milton, according to Hill, “believed in God because he believed in inequality, 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 which Milton 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  -3transformation of Hooker’s view of right reason and natural law.4 Finally, for Loewenstein, Milton is an iconoclastic activist who transforms social and cultural values, but Loewenstein never clarifies what the social or religious purpose of iconoclasm is. 5 For Hill, Bennett, and Loewenstein, Milton’s desire for the reformation of the church and state is treated as an end in itself, much as it is in the twentieth century, rather than as a consequence of “the chief end of man” which is, according to Milton, “the service of God and of truth” (Areopagitica, CPW 2.531).6 More recently, Stephen Honeygosky, unlike Hill, Bennett and Loewenstein, has argued that Milton does not reject the visible church but defines it in the image of redeemed individuals rather than external patterns of worship and government to which individuals must conform.7 For Honeygosky, “kenosis” is a method used by Milton to “empty” ecclesiological concepts such as “church,” “sacrament,” and “scripture” of their traditional meanings in order to redefine them within the context of his own individualist ecclesiology. Although Honeygosky’s book represents the most thorough, imaginative, and detailed study of Milton’s ecclesiology so far, it too is limited in several respects. First, Honeygosky ignores the function of the Word as a sacrament which unites all Christians, and he assumes that Milton defends a “church of one.” Secondly, he assumes, with many critics, that Milton rejects the church in favour of the “temple of the heart” following the Restoration. In fact, the inner Word is always present in Milton’s ecclesiology and never implies withdrawal from public worship. Finally, Honeygosky’s use of “kenosis” in a metaphorical sense to account for  -4Milton’s radicalism is arbitrary; not only does Milton follow the sense of “kenosis” found in Phillipians 2.7 where it denotes Christ’s servanthood, but Milton’s redefinition of ecclesiological concepts can be explained in a more precise historical context. Milton redefines ecclesiological concepts in literary terms and makes writing and reading the central acts of his worship. Trained from an early age to celebrate God in verse, Milton continued his vocation in prose, turning writing into a form of worship and reshaping the church into a textual community. The failure to acknowledge the imperative of worship in Milton’s prose, and also 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 old without any visible worship  .  .  .  8 Writing [and] omitting public prayers, he omitted all.”  over one hundred years after the poet’s death, Johnson was repeating the speculation of John Toland who, in 1698, attached his biography to the first collected edition of Milton’s prose. According to Toland, “in the latter part of his Life, he [Milton] was not a profest Member of any particular Sect among Christians, he frequented none of their Assemblies, nor made use of their Rites in his Family,” in spite of evidence that not only his third wife, Elizabeth Minshul, but also his daughters attended church.9 Toland is honest enough to admit that he does not know why Milton failed to worship in a particular, visible church, but this admission also casts doubt on his account, for if he knew what he claimed to know about Milton’s devotional life, he likely would have had an explanation for Milton’s avoidance of public worship as well. In addition, despite  -5following the previous four biographies of Milton closely in most other respects, Toland clearly adds this detail on his own. Neither John nor Edward Phillips in their independent biographies mention anything about their uncle’s patterns of worship, a curious omission if there were anything irregular or unusual about Milton’s worship, or lack of it. More than likely, Toland found in Milton a kindred spirit and amplified into fact what was at best unverifiable, for Toland’s portrait of Milton is more like Toland than Milton. The deist author of Christianity not Mysterious illustrates his own thesis that a disinterested and rational Christianity is possible without the church by carefully selecting and embroidering details from Milton’s life, but especially by emphasizing his disinterested search for Truth and his avoidance of all sects and parties. Thus, although we cannot conclude from the evidence of the early biographies that Milton worshipped in a particular church or followed a particular rite, neither can we conclude that Milton wgrew old without any visible worship. More serious evidence of Milton’s rejection of visible church worship comes from his own works, but this testimony is also dubious. In De Doctrina Christiana he claims to “follow no.  .  .  heresy or sect,” but this refers to his reliance on scripture alone  rather than his abandonment of the visible church (CPW 6.123;  QE 14.11). Milton also  argues that people who cannot join a correctly instituted church “conveniently, or with good conscience” are not destitute of the blessings bestowed upon the churches, but this 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  -6worship against one’s conscience.l° Although Milton likely did not worship in a particular church in the conventional sense after the Restoration, this does not mean that he rejected public worship altogether; solitary, family, and nonconformist worship of various kinds were viable alternatives to the Presbyterian, Independent, or Anglican worship which would have offended his conscience. Finally, Milton’s belief that the church 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 Paradise Lost, however, where Milton describes the progressive degeneration of the church, he also celebrates the eventual triumph of those “who in the worship persevere! Of Spirit and Truth.  .  .(EL 12.532-33). In his religion of the Spirit,N then, Milton does not exclude  public worship or the church, but neither does he adopt traditional forms of worship or ecclesiology without adapting them to suit what he finds in scripture. Rather than assume from scant evidence that Milton rejected the visible church and, therefore, that patterns of worship had no influence on his writing, we should understand what Milton meant by the church and then assess the extent to which his worship 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 both prose and poetry is a liturgical event, a sacrament of the Word in which the whole church is addressed as a textual community of readers and writers stretching from the beginning to the end of time. Milton’s literary ecclesiology is based on Christian literary pragmatics; that is, the “doctrinal and literary practice dedicated to bringing human  -7beings to a knowledge and love of God” which includes “relations between the Christian writer, his own texts, the text of the Bible, and other Christian men and 12 Once we realize that, for Milton, the church is a textual condition, a women.” relationship between the author of scripture and his readers, and between readers and 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 of argumentation he uses; that his audience is always the community of believers, or the church of the past, present and future, called to hear God’s Word delivered; that his text is always a liturgical event, repeating biblical images and forms to redeem particular acts in a more universal organization of time. Milton’s prose, then, is not only about the church, it is the central office f the church; it is not only about the liturgy, it is the principal rite f the liturgy; it is not only about the sacrament, it is the primary administration f the sacrament--the sacrament of the Word. If, as I am suggesting, the coherence of Milton’s ecclesiology emerges once we assess his prose within its context 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 “people work,” from “leos” and “ergon,” and referred to public duties of any kind. Milton surely had 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  -8public worship and, sometimes, the essence of that worship--the eucharist. Liturgical prose, then, refers to any written work used in a particular church for divine worship including, for example, the Book of Homilies, English translations of the Bible, the offices of the church in formularies such as the Book of Common Prayer, and manuals of prayer derived from the form ularies such as John Cosin’s A Collection of Private Devotions. As I show in more detail in chapter three, Milton attacked prescribed liturgies of all kinds because they were “idolatrous”: they seemed to violate the second commandment by adding human inventions to God’s worship and to deny the unique gift 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 a model or pattern of prayer. The apostles did not impose their services on other churches, unlike the Roman church which foisted its liturgy upon Christians to eradicate heresy and consolidate political power four hundred years after Christ. In England, King Edward VI and Thomas Cranmer both admitted that The Book of Common Prayer was “no other than the old Mass-Book don into English” which, for Milton, 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 any of these conventional ways. At the same time, the definition of liturgical prose which includes only works prescribed in a formulary and repeated during public worship in the church is far too narrow. It excludes the central rite of many protestant churches and probably the most  -9popular form of religious literature in the seventeenth century--the sermon. Moreover, 3 and as the “Savoy Liturgy” and the works of Milton (Eikon, CPW 3.5O5), John Owenl John 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 of predictability is usually about as high as in other traditions of worship. But it often means that published liturgies are considered superfluous at best and idolatrous at worst. If God’s word is clear to anyone who reads, each Christian community can discern what is God’s will by itself and must be free to act 15 accordingly. This tradition of worship includes the Baptist and Independent churches and hasthree distinctive features, each of which Milton supported: first, worship is based on scripture alone; second, patterns of worship are determined by each separate congregation; and third, the separation of church and state authority is necessary. A definition of liturgical 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 and conversion in this worshipping tradition. A revised definition of the genre, then, might be as follows: liturgical prose comprehends all forms of written, public worship including those works delivered orally but made public in print following divine service. In addition to the ecclesiastical definition of liturgy which forms the basis of the genre of liturgical prose, there is a metaphorical sense of liturgy which is equally  -1016 important.  In this sense of the word, the primary function of the liturgy--public  communion with God through repeated patterns of worship--is generalized and applied to all actions which advance this purpose or share its characteristics. As I have already indicated, hearing and reading the Word constitute the central liturgical rites in Milton’s worshipping tradition. As a means of grace, the Word is a sacrament in Milton’s church and, by metaphorical extension, so are words about the Word whenever a reader picks up a book to contemplate Christ and his kingdom. Other general characteristics of the liturgy are also extended metaphorically: when the convergence of the personal and public, the past and present, and the eternal and temporal which occur within the liturgy are identified in actions outside of the liturgy in the strict sense, these events must also be called “liturgical.” For example, when Milton compares England and Israel, he is not only using the authority of the Bible for political purposes; he is also demonstrating the continuation of the past in the present by raising temporal events to a universal and eternal level which unites his readers in a textual communion with the Word. In short, Milton is writing liturgical prose. By writing as a member of the priesthood of saints to his church, he provides the sacrament through which his community will be transformed into the kingdom of Christ, surely one 17 References to “sacrament’ and “church,” however, bring of the goals of the eucharist. us to two other terms which need explanation. Although it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to pinpoint in what particular church 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 to identify him with the free church tradition of worship. This tradition tolerated a wide variety of practices: the administration of adult baptism, the practise of lay preaching in the ministry, the application of spiritual discipline, the use of the church covenant in the admission of new members, the pursuit of worthy communication and administration of the Lord’s Supper, and the reform of the church calendar to include only the Sabbath and days of thanksgiving and humiliation were all issues which each church had to resolve because each congregation, guided by the consciences of its members, was an authority unto itself, independent not only of the state but also of other churches. Despite many differences, however, particular congregations in the free church tradition shared the belief that the Word of God was “the supreme liturgical criterion.”lB As 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, who recognized these problems were confident that agreement would eventually be reached and that charity was the rule until that time. First and foremost among the patterns of worship in Milton’s church, then, was the reading and hearing of the Word of God. By the “Word” Milton means simultaneously the incarnate Son of God, the Word of scripture, and the words spoken and written by ministers of the church. In this profoundly incarnational and revelational view of scripture, Milton turns the protestant view of salvation by faith, grace and scripture alone into a rhetorical doctrine of the Word as the Father speaks to all people in his Word and persuades them by his divine art. In Milton’s theory of scriptural  -12accommodation, the metaphorical level of the text j the literal level; figures of the scriptural text should not be explained away by allegorical interpretation or reduced to literal 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 double scripture, in which the internal Word written by the Holy Spirit in the heart seems to cancel the authority of the external Word written by the prophets, apostles and evangelists, the christological and revelational emphasis is felt. The Spirit confirms the Word since both emphasize charity, while the internal Word is the basis of a progressive revelation which began with creation and continues until the Second Coming of Christ. Even though they lacked the infallibility of inspired writers of scripture, pre-Christian authors were granted illumination just as Christians were. Moreover, truths in the process of being revealed should be tolerated because “the daily progress of the light of truthcontinues until Christ gathers incomplete manifestations of the Spirit into himself at the Second Coming. Thus, Milton’s view of each believer’s possession of the Holy Spirit is quite unlike George Fox’s. For Fox, the father of Quakerism, the atonement and the Word were equally unnecessary because the immediate revelation of the Spirit eradicated original sin and external authority. For Mifton, however, people are fallen and possess the Spirit only to a limited extent; therefore, the Word must be searched and each interpretation debated and tolerated until Christ comes again and reveals the truth.20  -13Because the christological and textual domains are analogous in Milton’s doctrine of the Word, I have called this principle of worship “the Word as sacrament.” It is an appropriate description of the role of the Word in Milton’s prose for another reason also: as I will show in chapter three, Milton considers himself a member of the priesthood 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 “Word as sacrament,” however, also entails more than this metaphorical sense. Although the sacraments were technically defined by Milton as external seals of the covenant of grace, he also transferred aspects of sacramental theory to the practice of the Word. This was encouraged because both the Word and the sacraments were means of grace. The presence of Christ in the Word of scripture paralleled the incarnation of the eternal. Word in the human Christ, the presence of Christ in the signs of the Lord’s Supper, and the “incarnation” of invisible, inaudible ideas in script or speech. Not only was the relationship between believers and God depicted in the Bible as a Father speaking to his children through his Word, but the Word was “opened” and administered by the preacher and writer at the same time as the understanding of the reader and listener was “opened” to receive the Word, the model for this process being Luke 24.44-5: And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and jj the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that  -14they might understand the scriptures. Supported by centuries of Christian literature in which metaphors of writing and speaking expressed God’s revelation in nature and history,21 encouraged by Erasmus’s translation of Logosu as “Sermon in the Johannine prologue of his New Testament of 1519,22 implied in Ficino’s “theologia rhetorica” and his view that “the entire Holy Scriptures speaking of Christ through the Holy Spirit is as if it is Christ Himself,”23 and extended by lay and ordained Christians to include a sacramental function for words about the Word, the Word itself became a “de facto sacrament,” while words and verbal relationships became sacramental symbols.24 Symbols of the sacrament of the Word abound in Milton’s prose and demonstrate that, for him, writing is a form of worship. The delivery of the Word as sacrament, however, also implies a worshipping community which receives the Word. When Archbishop Richard Bancroft advised the translators of what was going to be the King James Version of the Bible that “the old Ecclesiastical Words [are] to be kept, viz, the Word Church [is] not to be translated Congregation & C.,” he was not only making a political statement against the puritans and the Geneva Bible; he was also acknowledging a troublesome feature of the Biblical text. The Latin word “ecclesia,” a rendering of the Greek word which referred to any public assembly, could be translated as “congregation” or “church” and could refer to a particular gathering of 25 The two senses of “ecclesia” also imply believers or the whole Christian community. two contrasting ecclesiologies--each of which is incomplete without the other--  -15described by James E. Leslie Newbiggin in The Household of God. In sacramental ecclesiology, the church and its sacraments are necessary for salvation, but the Word and Spirit are identical to church tradition and authority, reducing lay participation to ritual acts. On the other hand, in kerygmatic ecciesiology, the Word is necessary for salvation, but the church is not, reducing the church to the congregation isolated from historical tradition. 26 The two ecciesiologies described by Newbiggin also correspond to the ecciesiologies of the Church of England and the puritans, the church “party” devoted to further church reforms than were allowed by the Elizabethan Settlement, or the Canons of 1604 and 1640.27 In the late Elizabethan period, Hooker defined the church by unity of doctrine, summed up in the Commandments, Creeds, and early councils of the church, but especially in the baptismal vows. Details of polity and worship, Hooker argued, were “adiaphora,” or things indifferent to salvation since they were not prescribed in scripture; therefore, issues of church government and liturgy should be decided by church tradition and reason rather than by scripture alone. The English church, then, was a “politic society” inseparable from the nation and its past. It retained its medieval parish system, sacramental life, episcopal government, and doctrine of scriptural authority, at the same time as it remained subject to the royal supremacy through the “consent of the Commonwealth.”28 Hooker’s view that the sacrament is the essence of the church was reinforced by Archbishop Laud and the Arminian party from 1625-1640, even though Laud insisted on the divine right of bishops and kings  -16rather than their convenience and usefulness. Because the eucharist j the church, one needs an episcopal hierarchy, a sacerdotal priesthood, and a liturgy of splendor to celebrate Christ’s presence correctly. For Laud, the eucharist is ‘greater than the pulpit; for there it is Hoc est Corpus meum, ‘This is my Body’; but in the pulpit it is at most but Hoc est verbum meum, “This is my Word.” And a greater reverence no doubt is due to the Body than to the Word of Our Lord.”29 The puritans, on the other hand, at least before the formation of the Westminster Assembly in 1643, were united in opposition to Hooker’s and Laud’s views of the church. Cartwright, Hooker’s main opponent in the late Elizabethan period, insisted that worship and polity were not “adiaphora” but prescribed in the Bible. According to the puritans, the king was subject to the church, and the ministry consisted of preachers elected by the congregation. The church was a gathering of individuals called by God, governed by lay presbyters, and organized by presbyteries, classes, 30 and synods into a national institiution grounded upon the Word alone. By the Jacobean period, however, alternatives to presbyterian polity were already manifesting themselves in “Independent,” “Baptist,” “separatist,” and  -  “gathered” congregations of many different kinds, although their oppostion to the presbyterians, and to each other, was minimized at this early stage by their opposition to Rome and the Church of England. These churches emphasized the invisible over the visible church. Even though the actual participants in God’s communion of saints were elected from the beginning of time and unknown to people on earth, including  -17those who participated in the visible church, it became imperative to make the visible church as much an image of the invisible church as possible. Some gathered churches created visible communions of the saints by requiring public testimonyof conversion and adult baptism, but all congregations demanded strict Christian discipline. The idea of a national church, shared by both presbyterians and defenders of the Church of England, was rejected because it allowed the unregenerate to mix with the saints, while the existence of an ecclesiastical authority above the congregation was discarded because God alone called the congregation to worship. In addition, in some congregations the office of the clergy was abandoned because Christ was the sole head of the church, but more often than not it was the charisma of 31 Some of the minister and the zeal of church elders which maintained church unity. these religious communities separated from England completely: Francis Johnson, Henry Ainsworth, and John Smyth led congregations in Amsterdam; John Robinson’s congregation in Leyden eventually landed at Plymouth, and John Cotton was leading the Boston church by the early 1630s. At the same time, by 1631 there were at least ten Independent, gathered congregations in England, and by 1648 there were ten times that number.32 Theologians like William Ames, and pastors such as Henry Jacob and Thomas Helwys led semi-separatist congregations--churches which did not insist upon absolute separation from the national church--ensuring the continuing presence of congregational churches in England until ecclesiastical control of worship was loosened with the beginning of the Long Parliament.  -18The traditions of worship which developed from these different ecciesiologies are summed up in Laud’s view cited earlier: for him, Christ’s real presence in the eucharist is the essence of the church, while for most puritans Christ’s presence in the Word is most important. A custodian of the sacraments given directly by Christ, the Church of England and its offices are necessary for salvation. The sacramentals of the church--those “indifferent” aspects of worship not necessary for salvation, but established by tradition and useful for advancing the “beauty of holiness”--although not prescribed by Christ, were important for worship also. They created a visual language of praise and sacrifice which reinforced the message of the eucharist and helped to elevate the community as a whole. The puritans sought a different ideal, the ideal of apostolic simplicity based on the Word alone. Since God revealed in the Bible how he wished to be worshipped, the scriptures were searched for proper models of worship; any human addition was denounced as idolatrous. Moreover, the sacraments were less important than the Word preached because the sacraments sealed and confirmed the grace already promised and delivered in the gospel. For the puritans, Christ’s presence in the eucharist was either spiritual or idolatrous: since Christ has ascended and sits at the right 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 up human inventions where only God’s Word should prevail. Kneeling at communion, the sign 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  -19unacceptable because they were not prescribed in scripture. They were human traditions; as such, they were Popish abominations, not “things indifferent.” Instead, simple meeting houses, plain sermons, inspired prayer, firm discipline, and pastoral ministry brought the sufficiency of the Word into the lives of each believer. The real presence of Christ was felt not so much in the “ordinances,” but in the Word opened by the 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, out drops the kernel. The devil, quoting scripture, used the letter of it; but the apostles, when they quote it, allege not so much the words as the meaning. And therefore, 1 Cor. 116, we are said to ‘have the mind of Christ;’ that is, what he meant in his word when he revealed it. Now, preaching in a more special manner reveals God’s word. And so it is the spiritual meaning of the word let into the heart which converts it and turns it to God.33 .  Although for moderate Independents like John Owen and Thomas Goodwin the church remained necessary for salvation, since Christ is present in the preached Word, many radical puritans from 1640 onward denied the necessity of public worship, dispensed with the ordained clergy and the sacraments and, finally, abandoned the scriptures altogether. Owen himself stated that Christians themselves were temples, that worship was inward, and that true worship occurred only in heaven.34 Lay preaching and prophesying, in which the congregation openly debated a sermon and challenged the minister’s exposition of Biblical texts, were practiced by several Baptist congregations and defended by Sidrach Simpson, John Saltmarsh, Samuel Petto,  -2035 On the other hand, John Robinson, John Bunyan, Walter Craddock and many others. 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 the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts.. and we obeyed the Light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure spirit. 36 .  .  .  Finally, William Erbery, a Ranter, believed the church to be in apostasy since Christ’s baptism of the Spirit; as a result, no sacraments, no scriptures, and no public worship were necessary: if men If the Saints could stay a while, and wait for the Spirit. onely, live in behold God God could be content with God alone, dwelling in them and they in God: they had not run sofast into the Church, nor the Churches hastened to send forth their Ministers to baptize: these being no Gospel Order, nor Ordinance among them.37 .  .  It was within the context of gathered church ecciesiology challenged by radical sectarianism, and the liturgies of the Word and silence which both groups inspired that Milton developed his literary ecciesiology in which he performed the central rite of the church at the same time as he defended it. Milton’s view of the church changes very little throughout his career. Even though parts of the complete ecclesiology are outlined in other prose works, only in Doctrina Christiana are those parts brought together into an inter-related whole.38 Many distinctions in the ecciesiology of the treatise reflect the influence of the independent, 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 are called,” and can be identified by “pure doctrine, the true external worship of God, true evangelical charity.  .  .  and the correct administration of the seals” (CPW 6.563;  E  16.219-21). The visible church is also either universal, in which everyone participates who “worships God the Father in Christ,” or particular, in which a self-contained congregation 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 calls individuals through the Word, no ecclesiastical body has authority over the individuals of the congregation, although separate churches can meet for mutual edification (CPW 6.603;  QE 16.311). The self-sufficiency of Independent ecclesiology is also apparent in the  membership, discipline, and sacraments of the church cited by Milton. Each church is literally created by the words of the covenant, while members are admitted by publicly professing the covenant in their baptismal vows, by publicly reciting a new covenant if they join another church, or by presenting letters of recommendation from their previous church (CPW 6.608;  E 16.323). Each particular church holds the “power of  the keys,” the authority of spiritual discipline used to maintain a pure communion by encouraging, 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 place in the church (CPW 6.611-13;  E 16.327-35). Finally, both church membership and  discipline are tied to the sacraments since only adults can take and understand baptismal vows to enter the church, and since the Lord’s Supper should be avoided  -22altogether if the proper discipline has not been maintained to receive it worthily (CPW 6.544, 559;  Q 16.171, 211).  The offices and government of Milton’s church are alsotypical of the free church tradition, 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 the people; the ministers, in turn, are ordinary, an office open to anyone “so long as he is endowed with certain gifts,” or extraordinary, an office for those “sent and inspired by God 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, also called bishops in the New Testament, are in charge of teaching or discipline, and sometimes 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 Independent  churches, doctors, or professionally trained theologians, were unnecessary, since knowledge of the sciptures was everyone’s responsibility and since they were not prescribed in the New Testament (CPW 6.570;  Q 16.255). Milton further emphasizes  the dependence of the minister on the congregation by maintaining that they should be elected and confirmed in their office by the elders and by suggesting that they follow the apostolic example and “serve without pay.” Rather than demanding tithes, the clergy should either not accept remuneration and support themselves through a trade or, failing that, accept what the congregation voluntarily gives them (CPW 6.599, 597; CE 303, 297).  -23Although his ecclesiology is developed within an Independent framework, Milton’s attitude toward the order and offices of the ministry suggests that he also departed from orthodox Independent views of the church. For Milton, mystical union with Christ in the invisible church is the goal of each believer, but it is so far removed from the visible church in definition and in its place in the organization of De Doctrina Christiana that they appear to have little to do with each other. For William Ames, on the other hand, reflecting a more orthodox predestinarian theology, the invisible and visible churches are simply different aspects of the same subject--the manner by which the elect are justifed--and are discussed in close proximity in the structure of his widely read treatise, The Marrow of Sacred Divinity. 39 Milton, however, is less certain about knowledge of election and, therefore, about a view of the church as an exclusive gathering of saints. Since everyone is fallen and able to apprehend truth only in a limited way, the church must include the tares with the wheat: Not that I can think well of every light separation, or that all in a Church is to be expected gold and silver and Dretious stones: it is not possible for man to sever the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the other frie; that must be the Angels Ministery at the end of mortall things (Areopagitica,CPW 2.563). For Milton, God’s offer of salvation is made to all men, not just the elect, and because God’s offer is accepted with various degrees of faith and assurance, and since all men are limited by sin until they are glorified in Christ at the end of time, the church must include people of various degrees of spiritual understanding and tolerate all “heresies” which are discovered in good faith.  -24Milton also subverts Independent ecclesiology when he claims that worship within a private house is acceptable to God. Because each congregation can perform all of God’s worship in one place, everything “that is necessary to constitute a church may be performed in a correct and properly ordered way.  .  .  within the walls of a  private 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 only necessary mark or “note” of the church is charity, while it is “not the visible church but the hearts of believers which, since Christ’s ascension, have continually constituted the pillar and ground of truth. They are the real house and church of the living God, 1 Tim. iii 15” (CPW 6.565, 589;  E 16.227, 269). Thus, membership in the universal  church, the only membership which is essential and necessary, does not depend upon a particular church. Members may worship God through Christ “either individually or in conjuction with others,” while those who cannot join a particular church because of inconvenience or conscience are not excluded from the blessings bestowed upon the church (CPW 6.568;  E 16.233-35). “Any man who does not belong to it” [a particular  church] can enjoy the benefits of “the scriptures and promises, the presence of Christ and the guidance of the Spirit” as much as those who obtain them “by communal prayer” (CPW 6.601;  QE 16.307).  Milton’s definition of the church as charity, the temple of the heart, had implications 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  -25address his fellows public. As in the prophesyings of the Baptists, each member may TM prophesy, teach, or exhort. Even the weakest of the brethren should have an opportunity to interrogate or to ask advice from the older and more learned of those present (CPW 6.572, 558, 608;  16.255, 209, 325). Sacraments are not intrinsically  necessary because they are only symbols or seals of the grace already promised in the gospel, and just as anyone with the proper gifts can preach the gospel, so anyone properly educated, especially “the head of a family, or anyone appointed by him,” can administer the Lord’s Supper (CPW 6.558;  QE  16.209). Moreover, if a believer cannot  receive communion conveniently, his spiritual life is not in peril because “he can give thanks to God and commemorate the death of Christ in many other ways every day of his life” (CPW 6.557; CE i.205). The sacramental life expressed in writing devoted to God is such a thanksgiving and commemoration for Milton. Thanksgiving and commemoration through the Word are the foundations of Milton’s literary ecclesiology just as they are the central rites of his worship. In this sense, 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 and winnow any doctrine, but also openly to give their opinions of it and even to write about it according to what each believes” (CPW 6.122;  QE 14.11).  Such confidence in  each individual’s authority to perform the rites of the church is possible because God speaks plainly, clearly, and sufficiently in the Word. At the same time, Milton is aware that the Word is obscure and corrupt in some places. For the magisterial reformers, the clergy and the traditions of the church provided authoritative interpretations in such  -26cases, but for Milton authority consists of the rule of charity and conscience as each individual is illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Since there is “no autograph copy,” “no indisputable word of God,” it is possible that God “committed the contents of the New Testament to such wayward guardians.  .  .  [to] convince us that the Spirit which is  given to us is a more certain guide than scripture and that we ought to follow it” (CPW 6.589;  E 16.277). The internal scripture written on the heart by the Holy Spirit is “the  individual possession of each man” and “the pre-eminent and supreme authority”; as a result, all doctrines derived from it or promoting it must be tolerated in the church until Christ 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 “double scripture.” 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 illuminate believers. Secondly, because the Spirit is granted to everyone, no civil or ecclesiastical power can enforce the individual conscience in spiritual matters since to do so is to bind the Holy Spirit itself (CPW 6.590;  E 16.281), the gift of Christ to the  church at Pentecost. Finally, because the Word and Spirit are God’s “divine communication” to us, true religious worship exists only when “God is worshipped sincerely by rites and methods which he himself has prescribed” (CPW 6.666;  QE  17.75). The rites and methods of worship are not only prescribed in the Word; they are verbal 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 other hand, Milton argued, like some Baptists of the period, that silent prayer is acceptable and sufficient to God, and that adult baptism by full immersion in a running stream is prescribed 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 “less important than preaching the gospel”; moreover, the Lord’s Supper is a prescribed rite but 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 in order 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 is more 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 a result, verbal repetitions and allusions arising from the minister’s zeal take the place of repeated rites in creating an order of sacred time appropriate for worship. Prayers of petition and thanksgiving, inspired by the Holy Spirit rather than prescribed by the church, 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 in public and empty verbiage should be avoided, but repetitiveness showing zeal can be effective (CPW 6.672;  17.91). Cursing God’s enemies is acceptable in private or  public, while taking oaths and vows, and sanctifying God’s name, especially in public confession, 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  -28internal disposition of the believer is as important as the prayer itself--good works toward God or man are accceptable only when they originate in thoughts and hearts cleansed by the Holy Spirit (CPW 6.637;  E 17.5). Thus, for Milton, by “consecrating  anything we use to his glory” through verbal ritual, we live a sacramental life (CPW 6.700;  E 17.161) Because of this unwavering belief in each individual’s ability to be saved by the  Word alone, a sufficiency which reduces the particular church to the “temple of the heart” and the assembly of believers to a textual relationship between God and the fallen reader through the double scripture of the Word and the Spirit, and between human authors and readers through words inspired by the Spirit, the phrase “Word as sacrament” accurately describes Milton’s “literary ecclesiology.” Since Christ is present from the beginning to the end of time for every member of the priesthood of believers who reads the internal and external scriptures, the church is continually entered and transformed in the act of reading, writing, hearing and speaking which is consecrated 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; and Christian liberty, especially as Milton formulates it as literary activity in Areopagitica. is its first principle. Milton’s ecclesiology is literary not only because each individual is saved by the Word, or because the Word is the central rite of a constantly reforming church; it is also literary because concepts derived from the “studia humanitatis” modify traditional ecclesiological ideas in his work. Milton transforms the orthodox formulation of the  -29Trinity, 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 primarily an author/creator who embodies his decrees/intentions in his Word, the proper reading of which is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, the Son must always be temporally and essentially subordinate to the Father. In addition, Milton transforms the sacerdotal priesthood, in which priests are mediators of God’s will and custodians of the sacraments, into a priesthood of believers, in which the office of the inspired prophet is open to anyone who has the appropriate literary gifts to administer words to the church of readers or listeners. Milton also reinterprets the liturgy of the Word, in which common prayers, sermons, homilies, and readings from the lectionary prepare the congregation for the eucharist, and creates his own liturgy of the Word in which inspired prayers, classical and Christian genres, and biblical expositions prepare the reader for the Word. Milton redefines the orthodox protestant doctrine of discipline as well: the purity of the community of faith maintained by spiritual law becomes selfdiscipline, in which each Christian, but especially the author, is edified and educated to become “a true Poem.” Finally, for Milton, the kingdom of God, or the church is a textual relationship between readers of the Word and God, and between Christian writers and their audiences rather than a gathering of the elect or a mixed “politic society.” Milton’s literary ecciesiology, then, is shaped not only by the Word as sacrament, but also by the assumptions about literary activity that he shared with many of his contemporaries. Each chapter which follows outlines one feature of Milton’s literary ecciesiology.  -30In the second chapter I explain Milton’s doctrine of the Word as sacrament in Doctrina Christiana and Areopaçiitica. The analogy of textuality underlying Milton’s accounts 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 that each individual can participate in the verbal sacrament as revelation unfolds from the beginning of time until the Second Coming. In the following three chapters I show how Milton’s doctrine of the Word and other literary influences condition the ministry, discipline, and kingdom of the church respectively, creating a coherent literary ecclesiology. In chapter three I argue that Milton’s ministry of the Word, especially in The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, Eikonoklastes and the anti-episcopal tracts, is best understood through an analysis of Milton’s own extraordinary, prophetic ministry to reform the church and state. How the prophet of the church writes constitutes the liturgy of the Word. Oaths, vows, prayers, curses, and writing as a whole will be examined as specific expressions of Milton’s liturgy since literary activity is both prophetic and liturgical in Milton’s church. The purpose of the liturgy is to recreate the reader in the image of Christ, to build a temple of God in each believer’s heart so that the visible church can become a community consecrated to God. Church discipline, the subject of the fourth chapter, is concerned with this process of church building. Through edification and education, the Word and words, believers achieve self-discipline or 9ikeness to God, the measure and proportion of action as it is attuned to God’s Word. In Of Education and Considerations Touching the Likeliest 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 the church. When the whole nation adopts the discipline of the Word, the kingdom of God on earth is complete. Such perfection is impossible, however, until the Second Coming. Until then, the church renews itself through literary activity which answers to no king but Christ. This dynamic view of the church constituted by literary activity is presented in the final chapter on the kingdom of the Word, and is most evident in Areopagitica, but also in A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, Hirelings, and Of True Religion. Heresy. Schism and Toleration. Paradise Regained, however, is the most complete expression of Milton’s ecclesiology: as the incarnate Word who embodies divinity and humanity, silence and the Word, Jesus, by overcoming Satan in hermeneutic combat, demonstrates how the will of God will be done on earth in the heart of each believer and reveals Milton’s commitment to a holy community constituted by individuals who freely choose God’s service through the Word as sacrament. In addition, the ministry, liturgy, and discipline of the Word outlined in Milton’s early prose are also important themes in Paradise Regained as Milton worships God and presents an image of the true church at the same time. Thus, Milton asserted his radical, literary ecciesiology, in which the church is a textual community unified across time and space by the religious feast of the Word as sacrament, both before and after the Restoration, a fact which should dispell all notions of his “quietism” in the last decade of his life.  -32Notes  Arthur Barker, Milton and the Puritan Dilemma (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1. 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; Michael Fixler, “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 will be to the Yale edition. The abbreviated title of the edition (CPW), as well as the volume and page number will follow the abbreviated title of the work in my text as in the following example: (Q, CPW 6.121). Where necessary, references to The Works of John Milton, ed. F. A. Patterson et al., 20 vols. (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 19311940) (Q) will follow the CPW reference. Milton’s poetry is quoted from Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (Indianapolis: Odyssey Press, 1957). Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (London: Faber and Faber, 2. 1977), 264, 463-4. 3.  Ibid., 244.  Joan Bennett, Reviving Liberty: Radical Christian Humanism in Milton’s Great 4. Poems (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard Univ. Press, 1989), 1-30 passim. David Loewenstein, Milton and the Drama of History (Cambridge: Cambridge 5. Univ. Press, 1990), 2. See also Philtip Schaff, ed., “The Westminster Shorter Catechism” in fl 6. Creeds of Christendom, 4th ed. (New York: Harper, 1870), 3:676. Here the chief end of man is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Stephen R. Honeygosky, Milton’s House of God: The Invisible and Visible 7. Church (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1993). Samuel Johnson, “Milton” in Lives of the English Poets (London: Dent, 1925), 8. 1:92. John Toland, “The Life of John Milton” in The Early Lives of Milton, ed. Helen 9. Darbishire (London: Constable, 1932), 195. For evidence that Milton’s family attended a particular church see W. P. Parker, Milton: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 1:651, 2:1091. William Ames, “Conscience With the Power and Cases Thereof” in The Workes 10. of the Reverend and Faithful Minister of Christ William Ames (London, 1643), 4:39, 7-8, 62.  -3311. See Timothy C. Miller, “Milton’s Religion of the Spirit and ‘the state of the Church’ in Book XII of Paradise Lost,” Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture 13 (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. “  John Owen, Works, ed. W. Goold, 16 vols. (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 13. 1850-53), 9:56. John Goodwin, Pleroma to Pneumatikon. or A Being Filled With the Spirit 14. (London, 1670), 455. 15. James F. White, Protestant Worship: Tradition in Transition (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989), 81. See P. G. Stanwood, The Sempiternal Season: Studies in Seventeenth16. Century Devotional Writing (New York: Peter Lang, 1992), 3-4, 21-2. William R. Crockett, Eucharist: Symbol of Transformation (New York: Pueblo, 17. 1989), 251. Horton Davies, The Worship of the English Puritans (Westminster: Dacre Press, 18. 1948), 49. For a similar view by a contemporary Lutheran theologian see Eberhard Jungel, 19. Theological Essays, trans. and ed. J. B. Webster (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989). See especially the chapters “Metaphorical Truth” (16-71), “Anthropomorphism” (71-94), and “The World as possibility and actuality” (95-123). For the influence of radical pneumatology on the theology of the atonement see 20. G. 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. Marjorie O’Rourke Boyle, Erasmus on Language and Method in Theology 22. (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1977), 5-6. 23. Cited in Charles Trinkaus, In Our Image and Likeness: Humanity and Divinity in Italian Humanist Thought, 2 vols. (London: Constable, 1970), 2:745.  -34Georgia Christopher, Milton and the Science of the Saints (Princeton: Princeton 24. Univ. 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 Bible see F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 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. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-76), 1:382. James E. Leslie Newbiggin, The Household of God (London: SCM, 1964), 26. passim. The bibliography on the definition of “puritan” continues to grow. For recent 27. discussions and overviews of the scholarship see the following: John Morgan, Godly Learning (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 9-22; Stephen Brachlow, flj Communion of Saints (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), 5. For Hooker’s definition of the church as those people united by “one baptisme” 28. 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 Christian Church: 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: Essays Preliminary to an Edition of His Works. ed. W. Speed Hill (Cleveland: Press of Case Western Reserve Univ., 1972), 3-76. 29.  William Laud, Works, 7 vols. (Oxford: J. H. Parker, 1847-60), 6:56.  Thomas Cartwright, A Replye to An Answer Made of M. Doctor Whitgifte Against 30. the Admonition (Wandsworth?, 1574), passim. For overviews of gathered church ecclesiology see the following: Murray 31. Tolmie, 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.-  -3535.  Cited in Nuttall, Holy Spirit, 77-9, 82-7.  E. Burrough, “To the Reader” in George Fox, The Great Mistery of the Great 36. Whore (London, 1659); cited in Nuttall, Holy Spirit, 69. 37.  William Erbery, The Testimony of William Erbery (London, 1658), 272.  Despite intriguing circumstantial evidence, Hunter’s thesis that Milton did not 38. write De Doctrina Christiana is unconvincing. There are simply too many close parallels in tone and doctrine between the treatise and other works by Milton to cast serious doubt upon Milton’s authorship. My own research indirectly confirms Milton’s authorship. As I show throughout this study, De Doctrina Christiana summarizes Milton’s earlier views of the church. In addition, the date of composition (1655-1660) corresponds to a period during which the Independents gained ecclesiastical authority through the Triers Commission established by Cromwell in March 1654. The “triers” of the commission, including John Owen, examined the doctrine of public preachers before they were allowed to preach; as a result, the Independents were condemned by sectarians, especially Baptists and Quakers, for enforcing consciences. The literary ecclesiology of De Doctrina Christiana reflects this sectarian critique of the Independents during the 1650s Although his emphasis is quite different, Milton, like the sectarians, developed his ecclesiology within an Independent framework while being critical of the Independent view of the ministry and church/state relations. For Hunter’s thesis see “The Provenance of the Christian Doctrine.” Studies in English Literature 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 of Salisbury,” SEL 33 (1993): 191-207, as well as the rebuttals of Maurice Kelley and Christopher Hill and Hunter’s response to them in “Forum II: Milton’s Christian Doctrine,” SEL 34 (1994): 153-203. 39.  William Ames, The Marrow of Sacred Divinity (London, 1643), 137.  -36CHAPTER TWO The Sacrament of the Word  As I have argued in the previous chapter, critics of Milton’s ecciesiology have failed to assess his vision of the church as a textual community united by the presence of Christ in the Word. In the epistolary preface to De Doctrina Christiana, a work he addressed to the universal, visible church (CPW 6.117; E 14.3), Milton summarizes the principles upon which this literary ecciesiology is based.. Foremost among these principles is his belief that the Bible is “God’s self-revelation” (CPW 6.118; E 14.5).1 Because God has “adjusted his word to our understanding” in the scriptures (CPW 6.136;  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 the text” (CPW 6.132, 120;  14.31, 7). Historical principles of exegesis, therefore, are  closely related to Milton’s doctrine of salvation by faith and scripture alone.2 Attending to words, contexts, and authorial intentions is crucial since the Holy Spirit has divinely inspired the human authors of the Word to write what God has chosen to reveal. The clarity and sufficiency of God’s self-revelation, however, led Milton to the second underlying principle of De Doctrina Christiana; namely, that all Christians, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, are authorized by God not only to “sift and winnow any doctrine but  -37also openly to give their opinions of it” (CPW 6.122;  14.11). Because everyone is  fallible, since each person possesses only part of the spirit of Truth, all interpretations based 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 consistently from Milton’s hermeneutics: each believer can receive Christ and participate in the church through the vernacular Bible because in his Word God speaks clearly and 3 Milton held this position sufficiently to readers about all matters of salvation. throughout his career and grounded his literary ecciesiology on the foundation of the textual, spiritual presence of Christ in the body of believers unified in the Word. When Luther, Zwingli and Calvin attacked the Roman. church, they too proclaimed salvation by scripture alone, but for them the interpretation of the Word was a 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 is a text or ‘speech-event” which discloses as much of his presence as is necessary for salvation in the literal sense of the Word, each reader is an equal member of the priesthood of believers. Such individualism profoundly shifted the foundations of church unity. “Free discussion and enquiry,” once associated only with “academic circles” (CPW 6.121; E 14.9), is now the essence of the gospel and the foundation of the church. Heresy refers only to wilful contradictions of apostolic doctrine, while all ideas, as unconventional as they appear, should be openly debated and tolerated as long as they are derived from the scriptures in good faith. Such debate will fill the church with “the daily increase of the light of truth” (CPW 6.121; Q 14.9) until the  -38Second Coming. In his attempt to find the rational basis of Christian unity, then, Milton grounds the church in a textual condition. Not only is the Word the only mode of Christ’s presence available to Christians since the ascension, but the visible church is unified by Christian literary production, whether spoken or written. Words and verbal relationships in Milton’s prose, therefore, do more than signify; they are eucharistic symbols of God’s original communication to readers and listeners through the Word. By synecdoche, the Christian writer expresses, in individual utterance, the experience of the whole church, thereby performing a liturgical function in the Christian community. When the conditions are examined which make possible Milton’s view of scripture as uGods self-revelation, the unity and coherence of his doctrine of the Word as sacrament become apparent: the pre-existent, incarnate, scriptural, and inner Word are all forms of God’s speech and self-revelation to the church. The features of textuality which underlie the Word in all of its manifestations are threefold: the author is a “real presence” who holds ideas which precede and shape the text without being identical with it; the text embodies the author’s intentions in words accommodated to the understanding of the reader; the reader receives the author’s message by clarifying linguistic and historical contexts, but because the reader is fallen, Truth can never be fully recovered, authorizing multiple, though not unlimited, interpretations until the Second Coming. This rhetorical theology of revelation, grounded in Milton’s rational exegesis of the biblical image of God speaking to man in and through the Word, unifies the four ontological levels upon which the Word acts, and Jeads to  -394 Since the Author’s intentions or decrees precede their heterodoxy in each case. vocalization in the Word of Creation and Incarnation, the pre-existent and incarnate Word cannot be equal to the Father. Moreover, because the incarnate Word sits at the right hand of the Father and since the signified Christ is not identical to his representation in sacramental signs, the scriptural and inner Word supersede the visible words” of the sacraments and the written words of the scriptures as the pre 11 eminent modes of Jesus’s presence in the church. Finally, since the word of reason and conscience is written by God on the heart of every human being, revelation is progressive, resulting in a church which tolerates all doctrines and disciplines based on scripture, a lay ministry and liturgy of the Word which includes orations and poems in its canon as much as sermons and scriptural exegeses, and a discipline of the Word which emphasizes self-government and edification rather than external compulsion. By following to a logical conclusion the literal implications of the biblical and rhetorical image of God speaking to the church, Milton articulates a coherent theology of the Word, creates a pattern of eucharistic symbols based on words and verbal relationships, expresses a rationale for Christian literary production and reveals a literary ecciesiology grounded in the sacrament of the Word. In order to show that Milton’s literary ecclesiology is conditioned by the textuality of 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. The first section outlines the scriptural roots of Milton’s belief that revelation is primarily rhetorical because God speaks through the authors of scripture to believers who, once  -40persuaded, respond to the call. The second section shows how two formative figures in Milton’s worshipping tradition--Zwingli and Calvin--interpreted the scriptural fact that God 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 together by the reformers, became polarized during the political and religious conflict leading up to and following the Civil War. For Anglicans like Laud, the Word was less important than the sacraments, but for puritans like Thomas Cartwright, the Word became a source of immutable law governing all aspects of life. For radical puritans, like William Erbery, 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 always rational, never ecstatic or mystical. The final section shows that, although he shared many assumptions about the Word with Calvin and other figures of the evangelical, protestant tradition, Milton’s rational explication of the biblical image of God speaking to 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 liberty that most protestants denied. This view of textuality makes the sacrament of the Word in Christian liberty, especially as it is expressed in Areopagitica, the christological foundation of the church. In fact, each chapter which follows develops in detail one area of Milton’s ecclesiology, and each area parallels one aspect of the textuality of the Word as sacrament developed in this chapter: chapter three, the ministry and liturgy 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 the church, or the audience of the Word. When taken together, these chapters contribute to our understanding of Milton’s literary ecclesiology as the body of the church united to Christ in the production and reception of the Word. II  The Mearing of “the Word of God” in the Bible  Since Milton, with the protestant tradition generally, assumes that scripture is the Word of God on the basis of scripture’s own testimony, it is first necessary to outline what that testimony is, first in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament, because the meaning of the “word of God” undergoes considerable development throughout 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 its verbal equivalent in which God speaks to Israel generally or to a specific prophet 6 Indeed, “in the most (“dibber yhvh”; Isa. 8.5; Amos 3.8), its occurrences are countless. varied literary contexts the OT says of God: “dibber,” “he speaks.”7 The overwhelming variety of references to “the word of God,” however, can be simplified by considering its three main functions: the prophetic, salvational and creative functions of the word. Despite the difficulty of distinguishing between the redactions of Deuteronomic editors and the authentic, early prophetic narratives of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and  -42Micah, by the time of Jeremiah “the word of God” had become “a technical term for the 8 In the “Word-Event formula” and the vocation narratives prophetic word of revelation.” which account for many uses of the phrase, the prophet encounters the word as a distinct entity having power of its own, a power and authority arising from its origin in God (Jer.1.1, 4-9) and from its power to create the reality it names (Isa. 55.10-11).9 No distinction 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 text which 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 compelled to utter the word because of its power--it is fire (Jer. 20.9; Isa. 6.6-7) or a hammer that crushes rocks (Jer. 23.29)--and because it is the means by which God shapes Israel’s history through the covenant (Exod. 6.4-8), the law (Exod. 20.1-21) and the prophets (1 Kings 17.1). As a result, the salvational content of the word received and delivered by the prophets is inseparable from the law. Not only was it given by God to Moses, the first 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 and his prophets. Thus, before “dabhar” was applied to specific prophetic utterances, it was used to decribe the salvational content of the message; that is, the law, including the decalogue (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  -43the 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.11 The 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 efficacious in its relationship to the creation. In each case, as J. L. Mackenzie states, “the word of Yahweh may be called sacramental in the sense that it effects what it signifies.”12 The prophetic, salvational, and creative activity of the word is also emphasized by 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.13 Like the prophets, the apostles are inspired (2 Tim. 3.15) and continue to proclaim God’s word in their ministry, but the prophetic formula “the word [“logos”] of God,” is now 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 fulfilled in the words (John 8.43, 55; 17.8) and person (John 1.1-14) of Jesus, whose pre existent unity with the Father gives him closer access to God and, therefore, more authority, and whose being, as the Word made flesh, fulfills the merely spoken words of 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 word of 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 new beginning in Christ. The prologue of the fourth Gospel deliberately echoes Genesis.  -441.1, while the efficacy of the creative word, as a distinct entity which accomplishes what 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 in the church: the word written and preached by the apostles is the same, in  its message  and Spirit, as the Word who was crucified and raised from the dead. Just as the Word recreated 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 is this encounter with the active presence of the Word in the Word which Milton endorses throughout his career and which underlies the protestant emphasis on scripture alone as a means of grace. By returning to this biblical and apostolic view of the Word, the early reformers sought to sweep aside metaphysical commentaries on scripture and make the Word itself, in all its saving power, available to all members of the church so that God could speak and persuade believers in his own words.  III  “Sola Scriptura” and the Authority of the Church for Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin  The certainty and infallibility of the Word in all matters of salvation is the hermeneutic 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-  5 Despite differences in worship, the magisterial should be superior to all opinion.” reformers were united in their belief that divine grace is communicated to believers in the clear words of scripture just as the Divine Word is spoken in Jesus. Verbal relationships replaced ritual actions and visual symbols as the primary modes of sacramentality in the church, turning Jesus into a “Heavenly Teacher”: “just as in men speech is called the expression of thought, so.  .  .  He expresses Himself to us through  His Speech or Word.”16 Moreover, because the minister is God’s representative, his words are virtually identified with God’s, making sacramental union between believers and God possible through the Word of human ministry. The reformers’ emphasis on the Word as a means of grace, however, also led to the separation of church tradition from revelation in their doctrine of authority. While the medieval church claimed that the continuing revelation of the Holy Spirit was inseparable from the liturgy, law, and theology of church tradition, Luther emphasized scripture alone, making tradition and reason at best, secondary, and at worst, 7 Luther went on to free the church from its idolatrous appeals to human sufficiency.1 “Babylonian captivity” on the basis of scripture alone. Because a true sacrament receives its authority from an explicit scriptural promise, only Baptism and the Eucharist remained from the seven sacraments of the Roman church. In addition, faith made 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,  -4618 By separating revelation in the Word concrete language of evangelical preaching. from church tradition and reason, Luther took the first step toward a genuine priesthood of believers, but by granting the interpretation of the Word to the professional ministry, he effectively granted church tradition--his own, this time, rather than 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’s doctrine of scriptural authority. Since tradition and reason were no longer valid grounds of authority, and since, according to the “new philology” authority should be granted only to the author of a text, it was left to the Holy Spirit to turn people to faith, to persuade them that the scriptures were God’s Word, and to guide them to valid interpretations of the Word.19 Unlike the “giddy men” who claim authority from immediate revelation, and unlike the Roman church, which identifies its human interpretations with the Holy Spirit apart from the authority of the Word, Calvin asserts 20 that “the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit.” What 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 Power of the Word by God, the clarity of the Word arises from the inward illumination and verification of the Word by the Holy Spirit rather than by scholarship, human reason, or church tradition. Zwingli’s appeal to the Word is “not merely an appeal to the text of the Bible correctly interpreted and understood,” and therefore to another external authority; he appeals to the “living and effective Word” which is authOritative “not  -47because its authority can be outwardly demonstrated but because it is inwardly 1 The Word, then, should not be confused with the letter of scripture. If apprehended. 2 M words and the Word, signs and things signified were identical, anyone who listened to ex opere a sermon or read the Bible without understanding it would receive grace TM operato.” On the contrary, the Word of God refers primarily to the meaning or reference of words--the “voice of God,” or Christ--while the words of scripture have meaning only when they are illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The power and clarity of the Word does not derive from the correspondence between the words of the text and a state of affairs in the world; rather, it derives from the assurance it produces as a consequence of the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. Clarity, then, is a function of the faithful reader of the 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 the  22 words of the text. Zwingli’s emphasis on the activity of the Holy Spirit in both the text and the reader enables him to hold together what later became mutually exclusive views of the Bible. On the one hand, the Spirit speaks the Word through the mediating signs of scripture and converts the reader and listener to Christ; on the other hand, because of this sacramental function, the Bible also becomes the source of God’s revealed will regarding laws governing all forms of worship, church government, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The conflict between the evangelical and legal views of God’s scriptural revelation and the extent of its application to religious affairs is reflected in Zwingli’s  -48emphasis on the converting ministry of preaching on the one hand, and his use of the Word as a standard for all matters of discipline, on the other. For Zwingli, there are virtually 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 be illustrated from the works of Calvin, the reformer who, with Zwingli, is most responsible for shaping the worshipping tradition which Milton both challenged and adopted. in his theology of revelation and representation, Calvin attempts to bridge the gap between God’s majesty and human sinfulness. Because immediate knowledge of God’s nature is impossible, the burden of revelation is placed upon signs such as Jesus conceived as the speech of God.23 God’s essence transcends human understanding even when his beauty and glory are implanted in the human mind and declared in Creation;24 nevertheless, God has left signs which accommodate his presence to human capacity, embrace what it pleases God... to witness of himself.”25 As a allowing his people to TM result, Calvin’s theory of signs and all modes of God’s mediation, including the incarnate Word, the scriptural Word, the sacraments, and the words of preachers, refer God veils Himself in order to reveal simultaneously to God’s absence and presence: TM Himself,’ as Moses discovered.26 Speech is the paradigmatic form of accommodation achieved by God’s 27 in the opens his own most hallowed lips”; decorum”: in the scriptures, God TM sacraments, God speaks to us in visible words;28 in the pre-existent Word, God speaks  -49n”; in the incarnate Word, God “expresses himself to 29 “in his individual acts of creatio Nas if he us through his speechN;3O and in the words of his ministers God speaks himself spoke.31 In each act of God’s communication, the Holy Spirit also helps to bring the signified and the sign, the absence and the presence, God’s inexpressible essence and the incarnate Word into meaningful relationship. The Holy Spirit helpGd create the world, inspired the writers of the Old and New Testament, and persuades believers of the Bible’s authenticity. In addition, the Holy Spirit consecrates the sacramental elements and guides ministers and laymen in the interpretation of the Word. In each act of revelation, from the creation of the world to the preaching of a sermon, God’s absence and presence are joined in the signs chosen by God for his accommodation and communication of himself to his creatures. Within the context of this general theology of revelation, Calvin develops his view of the Bible as both an object of personal, internal witness and a source of collective authority for the church. On the one hand, in the Word God speaks as directly as possible to believers, the authority of the Word deriving from subjective experience; on the other hand, only God’s ministers are called to preach in public, not those who think “they can profit enough from private reading” or those who “despise all .”3 The internal witness of the Spirit authenticates the Word as a whole while 2 reading individual passages receive authority from the ministers of the church since when they preach, “the very Word of God is preached and received of the faithful.”33 The dual authority of the Word and Spirit not only underlies Calvin’s view of the  -50Bible; his historical approach to the interpretation of specific texts and his use of scripture 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 rather than by allegorical interpretations which substitute human speculation for God’s revelation. Since God is the author of scripture and since all authority derives from him, ‘the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.”34 He rejects both grammatical literalism and allegorical exegesis in favour of an historical method in which the sense of a text is explicated by collecting proofs from other passages of 35 His attention to original languages and scripture to establish the author’s intention. stylistic features of the text, such as figurative language, are especially important in his sacramental theology. The copula ‘is’ in ‘this is my body’ does not denote the identity of the bread and Christ’s body, or the doctrine of Christ’s ubiquitous body as followers of Luther suggested; rather, it denotes a figurative and metonymic relationship between the sign and the thing signified, between the bread and Christ’s body.36 Christ’s body has ascended, but through the sign of bread this absence becomes a spiritual presence in the body of believers, or the church. Since sacramental signs are symbols of God’s corporal absence but spiritual presence in the faithful, with the Holy Spirit’s help they are capable of lifting the heart to the exalted Christ, transforming the 37 church in his presence. Several other implications arise from Calvin’s view of the Bible as both the living, 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 office of the ministry is not “to coin any new doctrine, but.  .  .  to cleave to that doctrine to  which God has subjected all men without exception.” 38 Thus, Calvin avoids the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy at the same time as he asserts the unity and infallibility of God’s Word. Although known obscurely through the prophets of the Old Testament and before the law was written, Christ is revealed clearly in the gospel, even if the text 39 Moreover, Calvin admits the authority of no other canon itself is fraught with errors. but the Bible in the church; prophetic and poetic vocations should not be confused since poetic inspiration often leads to false doctrine, superstition, and human additions to the word of God.40 Since revelation was completed at the time of the apostles, the Bible is the only guide in religious matters. Finally, despite including “everything applicable to the perfect rule of the good life,” the Bible does not prescribe all matters of discipline and worship. Knowing that customs of worship would change in time, God left it to each Christian community guided by standards of decency, charity and 41 edification to choose which ceremonies and church governments are appropriate. Although he himself advises against the “empty pomp” of “the Romanist masters” and prefers the simplicity of apostolic Worship grounded in the Word alone, especially in John 4.23, he also warns against being “overscrupulous” in matters indifferent to 2 In the decades following his death, Calvin’s advice went unheeded by 4 salvation. English puritans who clamoured for change in worship and discipline on the basis of the Word alone and, in the process, often overlooked the evangelical, sacramental  -52Word in their zeal for proof texts and authoritative commands. For Calvin and Zwingli, then, scripture was the only external authority capable of replacing that of the medieval church, but it was also much more. God accommodated himself to human understanding in the clarity and certainty of the scriptural 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 of original languages, the preference for rhetoric rather than logic, the use of historical contexts, and the location of interpretive authority in the author’s intentions embodied in the authoritative texts--to a theology of God’s sovereignty in all areas of life and proclaimed that the Bible was “the Word of God” not the word of man. By inward illumination, however, Christians could return “ad fontes” in a way not foreseen in humanist methodology. The authority of classical texts is established by restoring the authors intentions, but the authorityof scripture was placed on the most certain foundation possible--the internal witness of the writer of scripture, the Holy Spirit. The early reformers avoided verbal inerrancy in a similar way. Since the Holy Spirit could not err, and since textual corruptions were plainly evident, the Holy Spirit did not dictate the words of the text but the Word of the text--the message, sense or reference of the words--leaving the actual writing of the words to divinely inspired authors and the existence of variant readings, emendations, and errors in detail to the weakness of transcribers of the Bible.43 Despite textual corruptions, by his Word, God rendered faith unambiguous forever, a faith that should be superior to all opinion.” Several inconsistencies developed, however, when Zwingli and Calvin began  -53to reform the churches of Zurich and Geneva by the Word alone. The first inconsistency regards the role of the ministry while the second concerns the nature of things indifferent to salvation, or the adiaphora,” but both have a common origin in TM the reformers’ attitudes toward the Bible. On the one hand, the internal witness of the Spirit as well as the clarity and certainty of the Word, both necessary doctrines in the establishment of authority against the Roman church, appears to make all believers equal priests in Christ through the sacrament of the Word, and to validate personal religious experience. On the other hand, “because he [Christ] does not dwell among us in his visible presence.  .  .  he uses the ministry of men to declare openly his will to  4 Public exegesis in speech or writing by a professional ministry trained us by mouth.”4 in theology, philology and rhetoric, is equal to the “very Word of God,” and is clearly commanded 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 things necessary for salvation, which everyone could learn from the Word, and “things indifferent,” those aspects of ceremony and government which are not prescribed or are unclear in scripture and are left to the Christian liberty of the church to decide.45 Once again, according to Calvin, the church, rather than the layman, was authorized to determine the nature and extent of the Word’s authority. Only. doctors of the church were qualified to unravel textual obscurities in matters of doctrine, while church tradition was authoritative when explicit commands could not be found in the Bible for  -54ceremonies practiced in the church. The result was a church united by a confession of faith determined by the ministry, maintained by a code of discipline enforced by the ministry, and gathered by the Word of God interpreted by the ministry despite the authority given to individual interpreters in the doctrines of internal witness and the clarity of scripture. The Bible, originally God’s living, transformative speech, by political and liturgical necessity became the source of ecclesiastical law as the protestant churches 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 stronger lay presence in the church. When heretical doctrines were expressed, excommunication was recommended by ecclesiastical law; when obscurities in the scriptures were acknowledged, clarification was provided by the clergy; when arguments about “things indifferent” arose, civil power was used to enforce the church’s authority. Milton rejected each of these compromises, maintaining from the beginning to the end of his career that the clarity and certainty of the Holy Scriptures was such that the Word, when opened by the Holy Spirit, was the only indispensable sacrament 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 the Word 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 and sufficiency of scripture for salvation. As an educated, lay prophet guided in the  -55interpretation of scripture by the light of reason illuminated by the Holy Spirit, Milton rejects the separation of the professional ministry from the laity and insists upon the unity of the church in the Word as sacrament. Before turning to this doctrine and its importance in Milton’s theology of revelation as a whole, however, I must first outline the ecclesiastical context in which Milton develops his doctrine of the Word.  Iv The Word and the Puritan Challenge in the English Church  The Bible’s authority in matters of doctrine was a common assumption of diverse protestant worshipping communities in England during the sixteenth century. The English reformers of Elizabeth’s reign readily gave their assent to the first clause of the sixth article of The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion (1571 )--“Holy Scripture conteyneth all things necessarie to salvation”--even if the following clause, which may be proved thereby,” allowed considerable room for 4 included doctrines which ‘ 46. Most English Christians, again within a broad protestant flexibility in interpretation consensus, would also have shared the attitude toward the Bible expressed in the homily, “A Fruitfull Exhortation To the Reading and Knowledge of Holy Scripture”: “the wordes of holy Scripture he calleth words of everlasting life: for they bee GODS instrument, ordayned for the same purpose. They have power to turn [convert] through GODS promise, and.. are lively quicke, and mighty in operation. .  .  .  .  Christ calleth  him a wise builder, that buildeth upon his word, upon his sure and substantiall  -5647 God is here portrayed as the master rhetorician whose words foundation.” accomplish his will in the act of being spoken. Reflected in the Hebrew word Ndabhar,N which means “a word, or work, and thing,” and illustrated in passages such as Genesis 1.3, Psalms 33.6, John 1.1-3, and Isaiah 55.10-13, God’s Word is such that it creates 48 In the metaphors of growth the world and recreates those people who hear his voice. and structure describing the activity of the Word, the protestant emphasis on the unity of the Word and Spirit as well as the unity of the Bible as both an authoritative foundation of the church and a sacramental medium of grace can also be 49 Finally, the systematic reading of the Bible throughout the church year recognized. and 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 by the early English church. The fragmentation of the unity of the liturgy and of the Word’s authority by the pressures of Jacobean and Caroline ecclesiastical politics was partly responsible for the polarization of views which marked the outbreak of the Civil War in the 1640s. Before the Caroline period, however, there existed a broad consensus not only on 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 and 1630s especially between 1580 and 1620, Calvin’s or, more accurately, Beza’s ,  ° 5 doctrine of predestination was “the prerequisite of English Protestant unity.” Calvinist doctrines were held by many archbishops, including John Whitgift and  -57George Abbott, by most professors of divinity, including Sebastian Benefielci at Oxford and William Perkins at Cambridge, by the English delegates to the Synod of Dort in 1619 and, most importantly, by the King himself. Even those who separated from the church of England and emigrated to Amsterdam or New England, shared predestinarian 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 of church worship and government were accommodated in the church, since episcopacy, for example, was “indifferent to salvation,” while preaching was the means of grace by which those people “foreknown of God from all eternity, and predestined to life of God’s pure favour, are effectually called from the state of servitude to liberty.”52 This fusion of Calvinist theology and English church tradition resulted in less persecution of puritan preachers, less theological controversy and more toleration of non-separatist, 53 The doctrinal congregational churches than had existed in Elizabeth’s reign. consensus, however, was challenged during the reign of Charles I when the Arminian party gained power in the church, securing its position by associating Calvinism with Puritanism, by insisting that predestination was incompatible with The Book of Common Prayer and by gaining the favour of the King. Through its broad doctrinal consensus between 1580 and 1625, the English church avoided serious conflicts with those of the puritan party who wanted further 54 The source of the reformation of liturgy and government along Genevan lines. Bible’s authority in the unity of Word and Spirit and the unity of the Word and  -58sacrament in the liturgy were two other shared beliefs which enabled this consensus to persist. In the opening years of Charles’s reign, however, doctrinal and liturgical unity were threatened, resulting in the fragmentation of the church. By associating Calvinism with Puritanism--a strictly ecclesiastical and liturgical position, not a theological one--and by suggesting that the doctrine of predestination was incompatible with the Book of Common Prayer, Arminians like Richard Mountague began the process of polarization which resulted in the elevation of the sacraments above the Word in the liturgy, reflected in Archbishop Laud’s emphasis on the unity of church ceremony and worship.55 On the other hand, by emphasizing the literal inerrancy of scripture, and elevating the Word above the sacraments, prominent presbyterians such as William Prynne alienated both Arminians and radical members of the puritan party who eventually joined Independent churches and asserted the authority of the Spirit rather than the Word. Thus, while the fragmentation of doctrinal and liturgical unity was the result of pre-War conflict, the erosion of church authority was the result of conflict during the Commonwealth period as the unity of the Word and Spirit became separated. The authority of the Word interpreted and enforced by the church was emphasized by the presbyterian party while the authority of the Spirit manifested in each gathered congregation was emphasized by the independent party and its many congregations. There were, of course, churchmen who opposed the Calvinist orthodoxy of the church before the reign of Charles I. Hooker’s defense of the church of Rome as a true but corrupt church, Bishop Neile’s placement of the communion table at the east end  -59of Durham cathedral in 1617, and Lancelot Andrewes’s practice of the sacramental life all look forward to ecclesiastical and liturgical Arminianism, if not its theological 56 The first stage in the reaction to Calvin’s theology of grace, however, was principles. liturgical. Concerned that the doctrine of predestination contradicted the offer of universal redemption embodied in the liturgy, and convinced that the emphasis on grace delivered by the Word alone diminished the sacramental life, especially the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, a small but powerful group of Jacobean church leaders, including frequenters of Durham House in London such as William 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 Arminian and favourite of the King’s, the liturgical argument against predestination came to the forefront. While Bishop Morton, a Calvinist, rejected the exclusive association of grace with the sacraments, Dean White of Carlisle argued that the doctrine of limited atonement associated with the Synod of Dort contradicted the liturgy when the priest says “to all communicants whatever, The Body of our Lord which was given for thee.”58 The breakdown of liturgical unity accelerated in the 1630s. When John Cosin published A Collection of Private Devotions (1627), a handbook of private prayers appropriate for each canonical hour for receiving the sacrament, and for other liturgical occasions, 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 Arminianism and Popery into the church by reinstating seven sacraments, urging the observance of 9 Finally, when Archbishop Laud 5 seven canonical hours, and abusing scripture. attempted to guarantee the “Settlement of the External Worship of God in the Church” Canons and Constitiutions of 1640--a document which prescibed by enforcing the TM the railing and placement of the altar, defended the divine right of bishops and kings, and emphasized the usefulness of church ceremony--the liturgical reaction to predestinarian teaching reached its peak.60 Once a source of doctrinal consensus but increasingly seen by Caroline church leaders 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 and Sacrament in the prayer book of 1559. As the practice of the church before Laud proves, not to mention Calvin’s own “high” eucharistic practice, there is no intrinsic or necessary relationship between the church’s Calvinist heritage and a denial of sacramental grace, but in reaction to those puritan extremists who stressed “hearing of Sermons onely,” Laud and others identified Calvinism in general with the Word only, and became extremists themselves in their emphasis on the sacraments, rather than 61 The Laudian church came to emphasize on the equality of both means of grace. sacramental grace, the sacerdotal function of the priest, and continuity with the historic church while the presbyterian and gathered churches emphasized salvation by the  -61Word, the preaching ministry, and the confessional church. The result was the impoverishment of each branch of the church as it divided along liturgical as well as political lines in the years leading up to and following the outbreak of Civil War. As effective as the liturgical argument was against predestinarian doctrines, a more subtle attack on the doctrinal orthodoxy of the church was advanced in 1625 by Richard Mountague in Appello Caesarem (1625). Mountague suggested that Calvinist doctrines were not held by the church nor could they be inferred from The Thirty-Nine Articles.62 In addition, he identified all Calvinists as puritans, that party within the church 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 banishment in January 1629, and later, to the suggestion that works by Montague and Cosin be burned and the authors punished.63 Parliament’s reaction prefigured the later divisions which preceded the Civil War. When issues of parliamentary jurisdiction arose in the 1640s, the alignment of theological Calvinists and liturgical puritans with the 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 Calvinist doctrine as the source of unity between episcopalians and puritans, two very different views of the church and of the role of the Word in the church had developed. By 1640 the English church increasingly associated itself with the episcopacy of the apostolic church, the doctrine of grace freely available to all baptized Christians in the  -6264 sacraments, and the use of scripture, reason and tradition in theological controversy. On the other hand, the puritan reformers increasingly identified themselves with the presbyterian 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 to the church in the gospel, puritans defined the church as the assembly of those called by the Word, and since this was an inward act conferred on the elect and known only by 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 all baptized members of each parish into its fold, and emphasized the need for the faithful reception of the sacraments administered by a ministry delegated for this purpose by Christ. Richard Hooker clearly summarizes the differences in ecclesiology which developed between the Roman, Reformed, and English churches.65 The Roman church 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 have considered the gathered churches to be grounded on the confusion of the universal church with the congregation. Moreover, each major division of the church, whether Roman or Reformed, represented an inadequate or imbalanced approach to biblical authority. For Hooker, scripture, reason and tradition, in descending order of importance, were all valid authorities in different circumstances. Scripture is the source  -63of saving doctrine; reason and tradition are authoritative when aspects of discipline 66 Thus, the emphasis on tradition unsupported by are not prescribed in scripture. scripture in matters of doctrine by the Roman church is unacceptable, as is the imposition of church discipline upon particular churches which have established their own traditions by virtue of the indifferency of discipline and worship and of the equality of bishops among different national, particular churches. At the same time, the Reformed church placed too much emphasis on the authority of scripture in “things indifferent’ to salvation such as church government. Thomas Cartwright’s argument that the absence of explicit authority in the Bible for episcopacy and aspects of ceremonial, such as the sign of the cross at baptism, was enough to exclude them on the grounds that they would violate the second commandment was easily swept aside by Hooker. Calvin himself included aspects of worship that were not prescribed, while if we took Cartwright’s argument seriously, we would be unnaturally anxious and 67 With a more strident precise as we searched scripture for justification of every action. antiCalvinist emphasis, a more scriptural basis for the divine right of episcopacy, and a more ceremonial focus on worship, William Laud continued Hooker’s emphasis on the continuity of the church from the apostolic period and the balanced interplay of scripture, reason and tradition in doctrine and discipline, a view of the church which clashed sharply with that of both presbyterian and congregational puritans who claimed to be acting from the Word alone. The exaggerated emphasis on ceremony and the association of Puritanism with  -64Calvinism by Arminians like Laud were only partly responsible for the breakdown of the liturgical unity and doctrinal consensus of the church from the reign of Edward VI to Charles I. The exclusive concern for the Word by some puritans played an equally important role in the polarization of the church prior to the Civil War and in the breakdown of the dual authority of the Word and Spirit in the Nnonconformistu church from 1640 to 1660. As I have already shown, The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion state that matters of doctrine and salvation are determined by scripture alone; aspects of discipline, however, are decided by each particular, visible church.68 Despite Calvin’s agreement with this principle, his followers in England were determined to reduce discipline as well as doctrine to “the puritie of the word” alone, resulting in the addition of discipline to the marks of a true church, in addition to the true preaching of the Word 69 Especially after the decline of the. and the administration of the sacraments. presbyterian movement in the 1590s, the doctrinal consensus to which I have alluded enabled the toleration of all but a few puritans, such as Henry Barrow and John Greenwood, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James. As the Arminian party gained power in Charles l’s reign, however, puritans became alienated, persecuted, and increasingly contentious. Alexander Leighton, in 1628, and Prynne, Burton and Bastwick throughout the 1630’s, revived the earlier Carwrightian theory of presbyterian church government, used harsh rhetoric to condemn the Arminian doctrines of the bishops, and associated sacramental life with Arminianism and popery. Deriving their views from “the word of God alone” and “the freedome of the Spirit,” they claimed to be  -65setting Christ free from his bondage by Arminians who suppressed the preaching of the Word.7° During the 1630s, those like Prynne and Burton who sought reformation of church government and worship according to the Word alone were united in opposition 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 of Parliament in 1640. It became especially obvious that the Word was not clear in matters of discipline. As early as 1643, the ‘dissenting brethren’ of the Westminster Assembly submitted their “Apologeticall Narration” to Parliament, in which, guided like the presbyterians by the Word alone, they outlined a form of church government consistent with the patterns of the primitive church and the testimony of New England churches, but different from presbyterianism in that complete ecclesiastical jurisdiction was given to each congregation.7l In addition, the freedom of the spirit of prayer against set forms was urged, resulting in the compromises of uThe Westminster Directory” (1644), which gave only suggestions to the minister rather than a source of common worship. In many ways, the dissenting brethren were formally acknowledging what had been a fact of English ecclesiastical life for twenty years: that gathered churches of saints considered themselves a consistent and viable alternative to the ecclesiology of national religion, whether enforced by discipline in presbyterianism or accepted by tradition as in the parish society of the English church.  -66More importantly, biblical scholars and theologians were increasingly uncertain about what “the word of God” meant, leading to increasing emphasis on the authority of the Spirit rather than both the Spirit and the Word and resulting in further division of authority from the national church to each congregation, from each congregation to individuals reading the Word, and finally, from the Word to the Spirit manifested in the 72 John Goodwin, defending himself against the charge that he denied the divine heart. authority of scripture, argued that because textual corruptions, different translations, and varieties of interpretations often obscure “the sense of the originals,” the word of God, to be available to each reader and not just readers of Hebrew and Greek, must refer 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 previous spoken agreement to which script gives form, while “the sense or meaning.  .  .  of a  73 In this way, Goodwin writing, or book, [is] a part, yea the most material part” of a text. resolves the conflict between the corruption of the biblical text, the immediate inspiration of the biblical authors, and the protestant claim that the word of God is sufficient in all matters of doctrine for the whole congregation. Even though the biblical authors and subsequent translations may have erred in some details, the word of God is still authoritative because it survives intact. John Owen, the most prominent Independent clergyman of the Commonwealth period, argued differently. Unlike Goodwin, Owen insists upon the divine authority of  -67the written word. The prophets and apostles “invented not words themselves..  .  but  74 He defends the literal infallibility of only expressed the words that they received.” scripture in two ways: on the one hand, in Of the Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew and Greek Text of the Scripture, Owen defends his view that the word of God “is preserved unto us entire in the original languages  .  .  .  as also in all translations” against the  suggestions of Goodwin, and especially Brian Walton.75 According to Owen, by publishing parallel texts of scripture in his Biblia Sacra Polyçilotta (1655-57), especially in the appendix of volume six where numerous textual variants from fifteen authoritative texts are collected, Walton implies that “the same fate attended the Scripture in its transcription as hath done other bookes.” Walton unwittingly supports “the Papists,” claims Owen, since the multiplication of textual corruptions encourages the dependence of individuals upon the infallibility of the church rather than the Bible.76 In Pro Sacris Scripturis Exercitationes Adversus Fanaticos, Owen attacks the Quakers--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 light from Christ. Owen argues that both are called the Word because scripture derives from 77 Samuel Fisher, one of the few Christ, reveals his will, and records his words. academic Quakers, answered Owen by suggesting that what Owen meant by “the word of God” was vague. Does he refer to the manuscripts of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, or the spoken word preceding the writing? Does he refer to the first copies of the scriptures or later transcriptions of them and, if so, does he also refer to  -68translations of the transcriptions? The Quakers, according to Fisher, are at least consistent. 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 of  authority leads to a belief in universal salvation, the corollary doctrine of the atonement, for if each individual has Christ within him, each individual is saved who acknowledges this presence. This doctrine is easily transformed into a justification of the rule of the saints, as William Erbery testifies. The mystery of the gospel is that 79 Christ’s death liberated the Spirit, making God present in the flesh of his saints. When Milton began writing religious prose in 1641, the unity of the liturgy as well as the unity of doctrine in the English church was already well in the past. To take their 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 becoming increasingly uncertain: how could the existence of textual corruption, especially in the New Testament, be compatible with God’s clear and inerrant Word? From the unity of the Word and Spirit in Calvin’s doctrine of authority, to the English Presbyterian and Independent emphasis on literal inerrancy in doctrine and discipline, to the Quaker and Ranter emphasis on the Spirit alone, the Word, though clear and infallible, was understood in a variety of ways in the seventeenth century. It was in this context of unrest and uncertainty that Milton developed his view of scripture in De Doctrina Christiana. Like the reformers, Milton proclaimed that the Word 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 argued that the inner law of reason helped believers interpret God’s revelation, but unlike them, he believed tradition was not a significant factor in interpretation. Like the Presbyterians, Milton asserted that the Word was sufficient in matters of discipline as well as doctrine, but unlike them, he believed the Word granted each individual the freedom to worship as he chose. Like the Independents, Milton assumed that the Word was the central liturgical activity of the church, but unlike them, Milton believed the clergy should be independent of state sponsorship. Like the Quakers, Milton viewed the Spirit as the final authority in religious matters, but unlike them, he believed the Spirit enlightened a rational process rather than an ecstatic moment. This unique synthesis was made possible by Milton’s rational exegesis of the biblical image of God’s self-revelation in speech through the pre-existent, incarnate, scriptural, and indwelling Word. It is to a discussion of this doctrine in De Doctrina Christiana and Areopagitica that I now turn. V The Sacrament of the Word: the Rhetorical Structure of the Pre-existent, Incarnate, Scriptural, and Indwelling Word In De Doctrina Christiana and Areopagitica  Milton’s essential agreement with the rhetorical theology of the reformers and their emphasis on God speaking to fallen mankind in the clear and sufficient, though accommodated Word, is most evident in the doctrine of revelation implicit throughout  -70De Doctrina Christiana. Like Calvin, Milton believed that God is simultaneously absent and present, transcendent and immanent, silent and speaking in the accommodated language of scripture. The Word of scripture and the incarnate Word are analogous for both Calvin and Milton as well. The letter of the text corresponds to Christ’s body while the meaning of the text corresponds to his Spirit, an analogy which ensures the pre eminence of the Word in the sacramental life of the church. Milton, however, pursues the logical implications of the metaphor of God’s speech to an extent unimagined by the early reformers. Not only are the scriptural and incarnate Word linked, but the pre-existent and inner Word share the same rhetorical structure as well, resulting in two doctrines which distinguish Milton from most Christians of his day: the inequality of the Son and Father and the authority of interpretation granted to all members of the church. Because God is constructed primarily as a transcendent Creator/Author whose final intention is beyond human comprehension, neither his full presence nor his complete intention can be represented in his revelation, or Word; therefore, the intention and expression, the speaker and the speech, the Author and his Word cannot be regarded as the same in essence. In addition, every believer is free to approach Christ in the Word because the the inner Word is written upon the heart, the Holy Spirit consecrating what Milton called “the meere element of the Text” (ODD, CPW 2.382). Because readers and listeners do not receive grace or understanding “ex opere operato”--that is, simply by the act of reading or hearing--since the sign and the signified, the letter and the Word are diff