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Milton’s divorce tracts : a declaration of independence Bradley, Alasdair Ross Maclennan 2004

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MILTON'S DIVORCE T R A C T S : A DECLARATION O F INDEPENDENCE by ALASDAIR ROSS M A C L E N N A N BRADLEY B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1980 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE O F D O C T O R O F PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES D E P A R T M E N T O F ENGLISH W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY O F BRITISH COLUMBIA O C T O B E R 2004 © Alasdair Bradley, 2004 ii This thesis deals with an aspect of the divorce argument not previously addressed in Milton scholarship - Milton's hermeneutics, and how they change over the course of his divorce tracts. Though his hermeneutics remain fundamentally the same throughout the argument, in the final tract, Tetrachordon, certain principles come to dominate. Milton's combination, and subsequent application, of specific principles warrants particular attention, for through them he would not only justify divorce scripturally but also hypothesize a legal independence which permitted him to defy Parliament's legal authority and to act according to his own polygamous concepts of matrimony. This thesis also studies the considerable influence of John Selden on Milton's thought. Selden's work on natural and Hebraic law was pivotal in the development of Milton's own theories on law, and on marriage and divorce in particular. Such a study of Milton's hermeneutics, and of his subsequent legal theories, has implications for the reading of Paradise Lost. Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. and for the political tracts justifying regicide. The period of 1643-5 was a tumultuous one for Milton, with his disastrous marriage, with the negative reaction of both Parliament and pulpit to his arguments and, finally, with the onset of his blindness. He entered this period with the confident flush of his success with the anti-episcopal tracts but suffered continuous opposition on virtually all fronts, emerging a very changed man. This thesis examines the stages of that change through close textual analysis of the divorce tracts, and draws conclusions which bear upon the remainder of Milton's life and work. Ill ' T H A T which is the only discommodity of speaking in a cleer matter, the abundance o f argument that presses to bee utter'd, and the suspense o f judgement what to choose, and how in the multitude of reason, to be not tedious, is the greatest difficulty which I expect heer to meet with." John M i l t o n , Tetrachordon T A B L E OF CONTENTS Abstract .' ii Table of Contents .... iv General Introduction : 1 CHAPTER I The Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce: The Harmony of Moses and Christ...21 1.1 Introduction 22 1.2 The Argument and the First Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce 28 1.3 The Exegetical Principles of the First Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce 35 1.4 Milton, his Contemporaries, and the Westminster Confession 41 1.5 Where Milton Deviates 47 1.6 The Second Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce 55 i . Book I of the Second Edition: Setting out Moses's Law 59 i i . Book II of the Second Edition: Reconciling Christ to Moses 61 1.7 The Critics 67 1.8 Conclusions 73 1.9 Appendix: The Six Central Scriptural Passages.. 75 CHAPTER II The Judgement of Martin Bucer: The Cause of Truth 77 2.1 Introduction 78 2.2 Hermeneutics 82 i . Historical Hermeneutics: Augustine 85 i i . The Orthodoxy of Bucer's own Hermeneutics 88 2.3 The Bipolarity of Martin Bucer 103 2.4 Milton's Prophetic Sense 108 2.5 Conclusions 115 CHAPTER III Colasterion: Radical Hermeneutics as Prophetic Castigation 117 3.1 Introduction: The Place and Nature of Colasterion 118 3.2 The Relationship of Colasterion and Tetrachordon 126 3.3 Explaining the Tone of Colasterion 129 3.4 The Four Great Directors 133 i . Charity 135 i i . Reason 139 i i i . Human Nature 141 iv. Good Example : 146 3.5 Other Exegetical Discussions 148 3.6 The Matter of Hebrew.. 151 3.7 The Impact of An Answer to a Book. Intituled The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, and the Implications of Colasterion 156 3.8 Conclusion 161 3.9 Appendix: An extract from Herbert Palmer's sermon to Parliament 164 CHAPTER IV Tetrachordon: A Declaration of Independence , 165 4.1 General Introduction 166 4.2 The Structure of Tetrachordon 171 i . The Preface 171 ii . Genesis 1: 27-8 and 2: 18, 23-4 , 178 i i i . Deuteronomy 24: 1-2 186 iv. Matthew 5: 31-2 and 19: 3-11 190 v. I Corinthians 7: 10-16 198 vi. Milton's Authorities and his Concluding Remarks 202 4.3 The Hermeneutics 203 4.4 The Necessity to Treat of Law 206 4.5. JohnSelden 208 4.6 Grotius, Selden, and Natural Law Theory 220 4.7 Milton's Mental State 231 CONCLUSIONS 234 Bibliography 260 1 INTRODUCTION The mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness; this power arises from within, like the color of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our natures are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure. Could this influence be durable in its original purity and force, it is impossible to predict the greatness of the results; but when composition begins, inspiration is already on the decline, and the most glorious poetry that has ever been communicated to the world is probably a feeble shadow of the original conceptions of the poet. (Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry) 2 Richard Helgerson opens the introduction to his study Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser. Jonson. Milton, and the Literary System with a quotation from Thomas Mann: I take it for a rule, that the greatest works were those of the most modest purpose. Ambition may not stand at the beginning; it must not come before the work but must grow with the work, which will itself be greater than the blithely astonished artist dreamed; it must be bound up with the work and not with the ego of the artist. There is nothing falser than abstract and premature ambition, the self-centered pride independent of the work, the pallid ambition of ego.1 Helgerson then goes on to deny such gradual ambition to each of his three subjects. A l l , says Helgerson, fostered the ambition for greatness from the beginning, from their youth. This may have been the case with Spenser and Jonson, but they are the business of others. With respect to Milton, Helgerson is wrong. Certainly Milton hoped, at one time, to write of great things, of "kings and queens and heroes old" as "wise Demodocus" had done at the feast of Alcinous,2 but, as Milton's own interests developed and matured, and as unforeseen misfortunes intervened, these intentions changed. He became less concerned with the grand sweep of human history and of conventional heroic figures as subjects for his great poem, and more critically concerned with the pressing argument for individual liberty as a product of, and necessary to, each individual's relationship with God. Earlier aspirations, "'prematurely' announced" (as Helgerson puts it), were derailed by a number of setbacks, all of which interrupted Milton's life shortly after his marriage to Mary Powell in July of 1642. The desperation arising from these circumstances was sufficient to distract Milton completely, to put from his mind any thoughts of self-promotion, any "ambition 1 Thomas Mann, "Voyage with Don Quixote," in Essays of Three Decades, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (New York: Knopf, 1947), p. 460. As quoted in Richard Helgerson, Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser. Jonson. and Milton, and the Literary System (Berkeley: U of California P, 1983) 1-2. (Hereafter referred to as "Helgerson".) 2 "At a Vacation Exercise," II. 47-9. (1628) 3 not only to write great poems but also to fill the role of the great poet."3 His reaction to these setbacks (one of which was the first dimming of his eyesight) was to fight back, and this involved a battle to instigate changes in his life, such as divorce, which would rectify his situation, despite the proscriptions of civil and ecclesiastical law. Milton's battle for liberty was a reaction to what he considered attempts to oppress him personally. He feared the loss of his ability to worship as his conscience led him, and so he engaged in the anti-episcopal controversy; he feared the galling prison of a miserable and separated marriage, which inspired his divorce tracts; he feared civic impotence as the subject of oppressive statecraft, and wrote in support of regicide. His eventual goal, though it was only during the trials of the divorce controversy that he realized this, was to guide his fellow Englishmen out of the traps of tradition and error, and toward a better state, holy before God, and characterized by spiritual, domestic, and civic harmony. The eventual result of these "wars" was Paradise Lost, a poem designed as much to justify the ways of men to men as "to justify the ways of God to men." Another product of these wars (and more important, for Milton, at least), in the course of whose evolution the campaign for divorce is crucial, was his self-identification as a prophet, though not as a fantastical visionary, such as John of Patmos, who speaks in grand and apocalyptic riddles and images. Milton saw himself instead as God's pedagogue, chosen and trained up to remind mankind of what had already been revealed but, through error or evil, had been forgotten or ignored. The first and most important battle in this long war was for personal liberty. Yet this first stage was not a theoretical choice, so much as the answer to an overpowering urge to rebel against the circumstances of his life. Once chosen, however, such a battle required justification: 3 Helgerson, 2. 4 how dare this one man defy the authority of both C h u r c h and State? Herein lay the second battle, valorization of the rights o f the individual before G o d above obedience to institutionalized authority. T h e final battle would come after the period o f the divorce tracts, the battle for a new c iv ic and ecclesiastical structure, built on the collective o f free and informed Christian individuals. T h e argument for liberty d id not appear fully formed: the process o f its birth is a long agony whose nature, breadth, and progressive expansion best represent the final majesty of Milton's creative offerings. T h e first step was, o f course, to establish a voice, a voice not only heard, but one with the right and authority to speak. Milton's voice was heeded, early in his career, when expedient, and ignored or attacked when in opposition to the dominant political faction: 4 hence, his political success with the anti-episcopal tracts and, shortly thereafter, his struggle with the divorce tracts. M i l t o n , not arguing from political motive, but f rom genuine belief in a cause, d id not receive such opposition well . Severe disappointments and frustrations during the earlier half o f the 1640s convinced h im not to rely on the State or the C h u r c h for individual liberty. Not , o f course, that forms of liberty do not depend, for their extended function, on the sanction of the State and/or the C h u r c h , but liberty must begin with the individual . Nor , M i l t o n argues, may one trust in another individual for safety or happiness; the security for these must arise from a relationship with G o d . Ult imately, Milton's argument joins a panoply of other seventeenth-century arguments in defense of individual potential: T h o m a s Hobbes's Leviathan, for example, argues that the fundamental unit in society is an individual's right to defend, before everything else, his personal safety; 5 Rene Descartes argues that all philosophy must depend on an 4 See William Parker Riley's introductory essay to his Milton's Contemporary Reputation (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1940) 14. 5 Prof. Stephen Fallon finds my inclusion of Hobbes in this list odd, as Hobbes' individual, "once out of the state of nature, has given up almost all right of self-determination in political terms." Hobbes, however, 5 individual's irrevocable ability to reason; John M i l t o n brings to these arguments his belief that inalienable individual liberty derives f rom a relationship with G o d like that first instituted with A d a m . In the process, however, M i l t o n faced severe opposition which forced h i m into full emotional retreat. Later in life, he was to paint these battles with a heroic brush, but at this point, his defensiveness and suffering are starkly evjdeht in the pages of the divorce tracts; these "unwarranted" attacks and a sense of isolation forced h im to a reliance on none but himself and G o d . There is evidence of Milton's friendships in his biographical details, 6 but the divorce tracts themselves mention only one contemporary influence, John Selden. T h e philosophical allies w h o m M i l t o n cites in his work are all historic; for those of his own time, he seems to have had, for the most part, contempt. T h e liberty for which M i l t o n argues is timeless and serves the political ambitions of no one. It is not a freedom to do as one wants, when one wants, to whomever one chooses. Rather, it is a responsible right o f judgment over one's own affairs, led by the Spirit o f G o d , taught by Scripture, and by the book of human nature. "Honest" liberty is the opposite o f that license commonly confused with liberty. What though the blood of Be l ia l , the draffe o f men, to w h o m no liberty is pleasing, but unbridl 'd and vagabond lust without pale or partition, wi l l laugh broad perhaps, to see so great a strength of Scripture mustering up in favour, as they suppose, o f their debausheries; they wi l l know better, when they shall hence learne, that honest liberty is the greatest foe to dishonest l icence. 7 champions not only an individual's natural ability and right of self defence to the extent of killing those who pose threats, but he also extends quite significantly those aspects of life which are defensible in such an extreme manner. Further, an individual only relinquishes such a right to extreme self defence voluntarily. 6 David Masson, The Life of John Milton. 6 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1873) III. 3-186. (Hereafter referred to as "Masson".) William Parker Riley, Milton: A Biography. 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1968) I. 226-299. (Hereafter referred to as "Parker".) A.N. Wilson, The Life of John Milton (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983) 94-148. (Hereafter referred to as "Wilson".) 7 The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. (Hereafter referred to as "The Doctrine and Discipline".) This paper uses the edition of The Doctrine and Discipline as edited by Ernest Sirluck and reprinted in the 6 Liberty , painted in such colours, is reminiscent o f the righteousness o f Moses , descending from M t . Sinai with G o d ' s Commandments to face the Hebrews with their G o l d e n Ca l f , and such liberty, based upon the authority of a higher law, would place an individual outside what M i l t o n sees as the c o m m o n mass of humanity. M o s t scholars who discuss M i l t o n concentrate on Paradise Lost ; yet. this magnificent poem is the eventual product o f Milton's life and studies, and is greatly enhanced by his vast prose corpus. Paradise Lost . Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes are the final result o f Milton's struggle with a variety o f opponents, and they represent the f inal expression o f his personal philosophy. T h e subject matter of Paradise Lost — the nature of man's identity and place in creation, and how and why man's place in creation has changed from its initial, more favoured state — when all taken together, underpins Milton's opinions on liberty, and is a direct reflection of theories developed during the long period of his prose controversies. Often, in the prose, these opinions are not explicitly stated, and they must be extracted as they lie implicit to the arguments through which M i l t o n approaches the controversies. H i s many prose works, as noted above, may be grouped under a few headings (i.e., anti-episcopacy, divorce, regicide), but at the core of each man's social relations is his relationship with G o d . In his 1656 A Second Defense of the Engl i sh People. M i l t o n writes o f his earlier prose period as an examination of three forms o f liberty, domestic, c iv i l , and spiritual or religious. W h e n [the bishops] had at last fallen and troubled us no more, I directed m y attention elsewhere, asking mysel f whether I could in any way advance the cause of true and substantial liberty, which must be sought, not without, but within, and which is best achieved, not by the sword, but by a life rightly undertaken and rightly conducted. Since, then, I observed that there are, in all , three varieties o f liberty without which c ivi l ized life is scarcely possible, namely ecclesiastical liberty, domestic or personal liberty, and c iv i l liberty, and since I had already Complete Prose Works of John Milton. 8 vols. (New Haven: Yale UP, 1959) 220-356. (Hereafter referred to as "CPW II".) This quotation is from CPWII, 225. 7 written about the first, while I saw that the magistrates were vigorously attending to the third, I took as my province the remaining one, the second or domestic kind. This too seemed to be concerned with three problems: the nature of marriage itself, the education of the children, and finally the existence of freedom to express oneself. Hence I set forth my views on marriage.8 It is rather as though Milton is preparing to draft the great documents on civil liberty which characterize the eighteenth century. Milton does not talk, however, about the more crucial study of his own identity (to the end of clarifying an ultimate source of authority) in relation to the three fronts which mirror these three "liberties," namely, toward himself (domestic), toward others (civil), and toward God (religious). Ultimately, while he mentions personal liberty when discussing domestic liberty, he is including under the heading of the personal those faculties of ecclesiastical and civil liberty. One cannot move freely in the Church or in society, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually, without a degree of personal autonomy. Milton's focus on autonomy results from a philosophical tendency to division. Divorce itself is a division of unhappy parties, but the anti-prelatical tracts were also based on a divisive premise, removing the bishops from their offices and abolishing the episcopacy altogether. Indeed, some of the tracts which followed the divorce tracts are even more radically divisive, separating the king not only from his kingdom but from his head as well. The significance of this branching pattern in Milton's strategies of critique may be beyond the scope of this study of the divorce tracts, but the growth, nature, and final result of Milton's belief in autonomy is very much the outcome of his involvement in the divorce controversy. What might have been its motivation? How does Milton justify it? What sort of a voice does it present him with? CPW IV.i. 624. (Hereafter referred to as "Second Defense".) 8 T h e period o f 1642-1645, during which he composed his four divorce tracts, as well as O f Education and Areopagit ica. is the period during which M i l t o n realized his need for, and right to, an authoritative, autonomous voice. H e underwent a series o f attacks, disappointments, and frustrations, against which he would battle heroically, and which would ultimately change h im, precipitating an independence of thought, and a belief in his role as a chosen and isolated voice for G o d , a prophet. Milton's divorce works are replete with evidence of how he saw himself as the most recent defender in a long line o f advocates, "called" as teachers and leaders o f his country to a forgotten truth. A few examples: A n d now the duty and the right o f an instructed Christ ian cals me through the chance of good or evil l report, to be the sole advocate of a discount'nanc't truth: a high enterprise Lords and C o m m o n s , a high enterprise and a hard, and such as every seventh Son o f a seventh Son does not venture o n . 9 T h i s chosen one wi l l suffer ignominiously at the hands o f "the blood of Bel ia l , the draffe of men," for, while T r u t h is as impossible to be soi l 'd by any outward touch, as the Sun beam, [and though] . . . this i l l hap wait on her nat iv i ty , . . . shee never comes into the world, but like a Bastard, to the ignominy of h im that brought her forth: till T i m e the M i d w i f e rather then the mother of Truth , have washt and salted the Infant, declar'd her legitimat, and Churcht the father of his young Minerva, f rom the needlesse causes of his purgation. 1 0 God's chosen servant is equal to the task, for G o d , it seems, intended to prove me, whether I durst alone take up a rightful cause against a world of disesteem, & found I durst. 1 1 In a long line of God's teachers, and like Bucer before h im, M i l t o n believed himself to have been chosen and led by G o d : 9 CPW II. 224. 1 0 Ibid. 1 1 The Judgement of Martin Bucer as edited by Arnold Williams and reprinted in CPW II, 421-79. (Hereafter referred to as "Martin Bucer".) This quotation is found on page 434. 9 If therefore G o d in the former age found out a servant, and by w h o m he had converted and reform'd many a citie, by h im thought good to restore the most needfull doctrine of divorce from rigorous and harmfull mistakes on the right hand, it can be no strange thing i f in this age he stirre up by whatsoever means w h o m it pleases h i m , to take in hand & maintain the same assertion. 1 2 G o d , that I may ever magnifie and record this his goodnes, hath unexpectedly rais'd up as it were from the dead, more then one famous light o f the first reformation to bear witnes with me, and to doe me honour in that very thing, wherin these men thought to have blotted m e . 1 3 M i l t o n believed himself to be in a long line o f chosen teachers, from the patriarch Moses to the reformer Bucer , singled out by G o d , gifted with greater abilities, arid raised up to expound eternal truths to the rest o f mankind: G o d made h i m a prophet. Where , then, does this amazing process begin? T h e first o f the divorce tracts, T h e Doctrine and D i s c i p l i n e 1 4 is a brilliant capitulation o f the fundamental principles upon which matrimony is based, with an examination of the customs arid errors which had resulted in the Engl i sh Church's, position against divorce. T h e C h u r c h inherited and maintained the beliefs o f the R o m a n C h u r c h regarding divorce, doctrines in place for centuries, which had yet to receive the scrutiny characteristic o f the Protestant Reformation. M i l t o n provides this examination, re-evaluating the scriptural bases, as well as weighing the institution itself in relation to that crucial Protestant tenet, the centrality o f the relationship between an individual and G o d . M i l t o n argues that a husband and wife, the only persons capable of deciding whether their marriage should be dissolved, are supported in their right to do so by Scripture, and that traditional C h u r c h opposition to divorce is an error instigated by the R o m a n 1 2 CPWII. 433. 1 3 CPWII. 437. 1 4 The first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline appeared on August 1, 1643. 10 Church more than a millennium earlier. Milton's argument, therefore, devolved from both the Church and the State decisions regarding divorce to those specific individuals involved. This movement of authority from the great institutions of government, ecclesiastical and civil, to the individual, even in the isolated instance of divorce, was not new. It is, perhaps, more rebellious than revolutionary, for the abilities and rights of the individual had been the specific focus of both Renaissance and Reformation thinkers. The nature of Milton's argument is nevertheless radical: God's behaviour toward mankind remains motivated as it was in the beginning, in Eden, by love, or "charity"; whatever, therefore, makes an honest, faithful Christian miserable is contrary to God's will ; only the sufferer knows the true nature of his misery, so only he may determine God's will toward him (i.e., what will alleviate his misery, in accordance with God's will); that individual has, therefore, the authority to make decisions which will rectify those miserable circumstances. There are obvious restrictions to this argument, best seen through Milton's tripartite definition of a man's relationships: an individual's authority over his personal circumstances pertains in his domestic and spiritual capacities, but not in the arena of civic affairs. In fact, Milton says very little about the impact of his divorce argument on the civic arena, until the last of his tracts, Tetrachordon. wherein he relates the origin and nature of law to the rights of the individual. He does state in The Doctrine and Discipline that a healthy commonwealth must be built upon a collective of harmonious family situations, so the relationship between the two was obvious to him from early on, though yet nascent. 11 T h e model for this individualistic theory of domestic and spiritual authority lies in the original relationship between G o d and man in prelapsarian E d e n . 1 5 In the beginning, man was at peace with G o d and was, with one very specific restriction, free to make all decisions regarding his own existence. In E d e n , the c iv ic structure is the domestic structure, because human society comprised one man and one woman only, and they in intimate relation with each other. God's intention in E d e n was that man should be happy, provided he was obedient and, since G o d does not change, neither has that original intention. A c c o r d i n g to M i l t o n , man's disobedience o f God's prohibition does not change the fundamental relationship between G o d and man: G o d remains in goodwil l toward man, and obedience to God's wishes remains a requirement of man. Obedience is the critical issue, and obedience wi l l reap its rewards. A s M i l t o n explains, the fall did not so change man as to alter his ability to enjoy a life virtually identical to that o f A d a m and E v e in E d e n (save for the severe intrusions of mortality and o f an altered natural world), provided he remain obedient to God's wi l l . Milton's theory of originalism depends, therefore, upon the relationship between obedient man and loving G o d . What is the nature of this obedience, as M i l t o n develops it for his divorce argument? E a c h individual is separately responsible for the obedient and faithful nature of his relationship with G o d . A l l suffer the pleadings of a fallen nature, yet all are able, given faithfulness to that internal guiding voice which Chris t delivered in the H o l y Spirit, to deny or resist these temptations. T h e chaotic separation f rom G o d which characterizes the fallen state has dimensions, a breadth, a height, and a depth, s imply bridged by obedience; those o f greater ability are responsible, M i l t o n believes, to explore the dimensions o f this chaotic separation, at least insofar as their abilities permit. A s each individual is different in natural abilities, each 1 5 This aspect of Milton's argument, namely, that the basis for his claims regarding marriage, divorce, authority, etc., must be examined at their earliest, or "original," Scriptural appearance, will be termed "originalist" and "originalistic." 12 individual's obedience is, therefore, different. Those of greater intellectual competence are responsible for the questions and doubts which their greater capacity inevitably raises. M i l t o n saw himself as one of elevated intellectual capacity, and was not only driven to search out the ways of G o d , but desired to do so. H e was an elitist, but the elevation and authority of a prophet requires hierarchy: Le t the statutes o f G o d be turn'd over, be scann'd a new, and consider'd; not altogether by the narrow intellectuals o f quotationists and c o m m o n placers, but (as was the ancient right o f Counsels) by men of what liberall profession soever, of eminent spirit and breeding j o y n ' d with a diffuse and various knowledge of divine and human things; able to ballance and define good and evi l l , right and wrong, throughout every state of life; able to shew us the waies of the L o r d , strait and faithfull as they are, not full o f cranks and contradictions, and pit fal l ing dispenses, but with divine insight and benignity measur'd out to the proportion of each mind and spirit, each temper and disposition, created so different each from other, and yet by the skill o f wise conducting, all to become uniform in vertue. 1 6 These searchings and studies are endemic to the faith of all to w h o m G o d gives such fuller abilities. M i l t o n believed that his apologetical work, based on dutiful and searching studies o f both Scripture and his own human nature, and guided by the Spirit, warranted heeding by all . H e was communicat ing no more, though no less, than God's evident wi l l , as revealed to one whose abilities and studies granted him authority to judge such a matter. G o d had reached out to h im and exalted h im; he answered this call with a lifetime of study and prayer. T h i s relative proximity, this closeness to G o d was, M i l t o n believed, the source of his authority, yet he d id not rest here, for others had not been so blessed, and would not understand as he did. H e laid out the progressive steps and the findings of his study for all who were wi l l ing and able to comprehend. H e wrongly assumed that Parliament would be wi l l ing and able. CPW II, 230. 13 Milton's divorce argument was not well received, nor did Parliament act on it. 1 7 It was "new" and "innovative," a "pernicious paradox,"18 and the pulpit declared it anti-Church, anti-Scripture, and anti-Christian.19 Milton did not, however, relent or repent, but published the second edition of his argument six months later on February 2, 1644. Nor could Milton relent or repent, for, as much as the argument was in favour of divorce, it was also in defense of fundamental principles which, Milton believed, underlie all Scripture and which determine each individual to carry the final responsibility for his own domestic, civic, and spiritual affairs. This authority was established "in the beginning," with the original relationship between man and God. Larger social responsibilities have no prelapsarian referent, and while a man is responsible to God for his social behaviour, his responsibilities to God for his personal spirituality take precedence. The hermeneutic principles which underpin his argument must not have been, Milton believed, clearly enough explained in the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline; he would clarify them for the second edition. The second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline, in many ways a defence of the first edition, exhibits two significant characteristics: first, the strategy of Milton's response to his detractors is an appeal to Scripture itself, with a recapitulation of the hermeneutic principles which buttress his argument; second, Milton's response to the attacks, not only on his argument but on his personal character, is vigorously emotional, and characterized by sarcasm and insult. Milton, already deserted domestically, was now deserted not only by the Church, the spiritual institution from which he had hoped for support, but by the political institution, Parliament, which he had hoped would accept and implement his argument. In each of the three arenas, the 1 7 The official reception, when there was one, was confrontational. At one point, Milton was summoned to explain his disobedience of the recent licensing bill in simply publishing his divorce work, without government sanction. See Masson, 265-275 and Parker, 264-5. 1 8 CPW II. 435. 1 9 See the Appendix to Chapter III for an excerpt from Herbert Palmer's 1644 sermon. 14 domestic, the civic, and the ecclesiastical, which his Second Defense would claim to have ultimately benefitted by his arguments for liberty, Milton was first betrayed. In the face of these betrayals, his refuge was his hermeneutics. The hermeneutic system or technique which Milton employs for his divorce argument comprises a group of fundamental interpretive principles, each of which has precedents in the history of scriptural analysis, yet whose combination is unique to this application. As Milton declares in The Doctrine and Discipline, his basic hermeneutics have "four great directors," "[God] gave us reason, charity, nature, and good example to bear us out."20 "Charity," the foremost, arises from Scripture itself; "reason" is the intellective means by which we comprehend all things, and which needs no apologist; "nature" is human nature, as God created humankind, capable and free;21 "good example," finally, is the source book of history, sacred and secular, which aids casuistically in clarifying a situation, though scriptural examples take precedence. The locus of origin for these four is not a few scriptural verses, as is the case with divorce, but Scripture itself, all at once and for all time. In Milton's interpretive technique, these four are the purpose and manner of Scripture's delivery distilled, and are available only to the diligent and persistent student. The originalist logic which unifies and binds Milton's argument typifies the unprecedented character of his approach. Over the course of his four tracts, Milton takes each of the four "directors" back to the beginning, to the book of Genesis and the initial relationship between God and man, irrevocably establishing their essential nature in God's creative intentions. The charity 2 0 CPW II. 229. 2 1 Milton's conception of natural law will be discussed in Chapter 4 of this dissertation. It would seem that Milton was unaware of the on-going theorizing over natural law before reading John Selden's work in general, and De iure naturali et gentium (1640) in particular, but Selden provided Milton with a new aspect of the work of scholars from Roger Bacon to Grotius, Francis Bacon, Fluud, Copernicus and Herbert of Cherbury. For his own purposes, though, Milton's use of the term "nature" here refers to specifically to human nature, that is, how a person behaves instinctively. 15 which God eternally intends toward mankind is that same love with which he first formed man in Eden. Reason is the gift of God bestowed on mankind at creation, through which he might comprehend and regulate his existence; reason enables Adam, for example, to name the animals. Nature, in this case human nature, another gift of God, provides the innate drives, among which are those toward obedience (to God) and independence (from all else, in order to best obey God). Good Example, illustrative precedent, is, in this case, quite simply the provision of a creation account through which is apprehended God's original creative will for mankind. Historical developments, or changes in the reception of these four directors, are the responsibility, or "fault," of mankind alone; God's will, and the four directors, are eternal and unchanging. That which occurred "in the beginning" is therefore the clearest statement of God's will to, and for, mankind. Man was created and remains good and able, and his human nature is "faultless", "sufficient to stand, though free to fall". The creation account itself and the events in the Garden are the original and most authoritative resource from which to judge debates or controversies, regardless of when or how they might erupt. While Milton's larger argument for individual authority is "originalistic," component elements of the argument itself are also "originalistic," for, to best understand anything at all, a student must grasp the first state, not only of the argument itself, but of its constituent proofs. For example, the divorce argument involves not only marriage, which necessarily precedes divorce, but the institution of the first marriage, between Adam and Eve. The source text is Scripture, and to best understand Scripture, a student needs the language of the first text, Genesis, the Hebrew book of rPtt?X"Q, "in, or at, (the) beginning." Discussion of the New Testament must in turn be approached in the Greek, but based on the precedent Hebrew, for 16 while it is full of hebraisms, the earliest texts are in Greek. A l l disputation arising from these writings must also return to the Hebrew and Greek. Further elaboration and defense of his argument involved Milton for the next two years: the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline was, as mentioned, greatly expanded for the second edition, and was followed by three further tracts on divorce. On August 6,1644, Milton published Martin Bucer, a selection of passages from Bucer's De regno christi. this sixteenth century reformer's writings on, among many things, marriage and divorce. Martin Bucer. while much shorter than the second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline, continues in much the same strategic direction, with the same basic argument and the same fundamental hermeneutic principles, and another prefatory appeal to Parliament. Milton claims not to have read Bucer prior to formulating his argument for The Doctrine and Discipline, so the De regno christi was quite a find, retro-peating, as it does, so many of Milton's points. In this, Martin Bucer is a perfect instance of Milton's principle of "good example." Further, the prefatory appeal to Parliament provides a valuable insight into Milton's senses of persecution and isolation, for he draws a parallel between resistence to his own arguments for divorce, and Bucer's fate of posthumous disinterment and burning.22 Milton's last two tracts on divorce were published together on March 4,1645; yet, despite the simultaneity of their appearance, they could not be more different. Colasterion is far shorter, a sarcastic and scornful diatribe against those who had published the most lengthy reply to The 2 2 Ironically, on Tuesday, 13 August, just one week after Martin Bucer became available, Herbert Palmer of the Westminster Assembly preached before both Houses of Parliament a sermon boldly rebuking the legislators for permitting an ungodly toleration under the pretence of liberty of conscience. To illustrate the results of laxity, he cited seven examples, one of which was a reference to Milton's divorce pamphlets: "If any plead.. .for divorce for other causes than Christ and His apostles mention (of which a wicked book is abroad and uncensured, though deserving to be burnt, whose author hath been so impudent as to set his name to it and dedicate it to yourselves).... will you grant a toleration for all this?" For more of this sermon, see the Appendix to Chapter III of this paper. 17 Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , unimaginatively titled A n A n s w e r to a B o o k intituled T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine o f D i v o r c e 2 3 . Colasterion is stark witness to the sense of embattled isolation under which M i l t o n suffered, and the ferocity o f its scorn hints at the emotional toll o f the two previous years. Tetrachordon, which accompanied Colasterion to the press, is a much longer and more dignified offering which , m u c h as the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine gathers, organizes, and buttresses the first edition, once again gathers and structures the larger argument by systematically re-examining the four pertinent scriptural passages from Genesis to I Cor inth ians . 2 4 T h e primary focus of Tetrachordon is the nature of law, as revealed in Scripture, to the end of demonstrating that the most fundamental and abiding, and hence critical, o f God's legal "statements" was made in Eden , with the relationship which H e created between H i m s e l f and mankind. T h i s original law is the basis for Noachide law, designed to guide f r o m the period of the fall until the declarations of M o s a i c law. F r o m the time of its delivery, M o s a i c law obtains, in conjunction with Christ's teachings, down to the present day. In the midst o f these, M i l t o n published O f Education (June 4, 1644) and the monumental Areopagit ica (November 23, 1644) the latter bearing particularly on the argument for the personal nature of fundamental authority. Mi l ton ' s argument for autonomy was nascent in his first polemical tracts. H i s work prior to that on divorce, dealing with the question of bishops, while rooted in its own specific cultural and temporal relevance, also sought answers originalistically. M i l t o n looked to the political structure of the first churches after Christ , whether certain individuals enjoyed ascendency over B Hereafter referred to as "An Answer." 2 4 For these texts, see the appendix to Chapter I of this paper. 18 others, whether the apostles established a larger governing institution for which chosen persons served as representatives, or whether authority lay with the presbyters and their choice of elders or leaders. T h e divorce question looks to beginnings as well , to the institution o f marriage, for without that, there is no divorce. Eternal and unchanging truths are precedent, and from the beginning; they are not constructed and eventual . 2 5 Opposit ion to Milton's arguments focussed on this: his adversaries fought to keep the matters based in current political contexts, while M i l t o n argues that the "current" is completely dependent on the "original." Resistance to Milton's work had, at its core, his challenge to the structure of current c iv i l and ecclesiastical authority. H i s opponents were outraged that anybody should oppose a received and traditional judgment of the C h u r c h . M i l t o n acknowledges his opponents in the preface to the second edition of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , terming their views "custom" and "error," the two o f which have always been in league. M i l t o n holds that C h u r c h opposition to his views, and the R o m a n C h u r c h from which the proscription on divorce had arisen, are not only self-interested but rife with error, and need review under the light o f protestant Reformation. Further, it is the business of all individuals, within or without the C h u r c h , clergy or laymen, to perform such examinations and, when necessary, to express their findings. M i l t o n had done no less, fulf i l l ing what he saw as his responsibility, to G o d , to himself, and to his country. T h e most obvious difficulty with Milton's argument for personal authority in matters domestic and spiritual, and specifically in those concerning divorce, was putting it into practice. Regardless o f its theory, right or wrong, it needed the approval and action of c ivic authority for legal implementation. E a c h tract, f rom the second edition of T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine onward, is addressed specifically to Parliament. Theoretically, Parliament could have 2 5 Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Book II of the second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline are devoted to dispensations, or temporary exceptions, with the conclusion that special circumstances never replace fundamental principles or laws. 19 implemented the suggestions, but they did not, largely because of bad timing: Parliament was in the midst of a civil war, and various divines, recently appointed to the Westminster Assembly's review of Church orthodoxy, stated firm opposition to Milton's arguments. Milton had no choice but to recognize the practical authority of Parliament, but he would not trust it; despite a few respected friends in Parliament, including John Selden, Milton saw the body as hamstrung by the influence and errors of the Church. Milton sought another authority, one allied to his own personal authority, with a power equal or greater to the civic power of Parliament. The alternative was obvious, and had always been readily at hand — God. Parliament and the divines may have had the power of the law in their corner, but Milton had a higher court, through whom he proceeded in Tetrachordon to re-write the concept of law, based not on social or ecclesiastical, but on natural law theory, influenced by Selden's own De Jure naturali et gentium of 1640. From this theorizing, Tetrachordon embodies Milton's final statements on the right of an individual, under certain circumstances, to independence from civil authority. Milton's personal interest in the divorce argument had to begin somewhere, but its exact origin is a chicken or egg argument: did Milton's studies lead him (as he claims later in the Second Defense) to consider the domestic sphere of liberty as subsequent to the arguments for spiritual liberty in anti-episcopal tracts of 1640-1642, or did he contrive an argument for divorce for his own purposes, once his own marriage had failed in 1642? Scholars have argued the matter ever since, as though to establish a conflict of interest, and thereby corrupt the veracity and viability of his argument. Nevertheless, as noted above, Milton argues a far more fundamental cause than simple divorce: he attempts to wrest from the State a large part of its power to control the domestic and spiritual rights and actions of the individual by pleading an 20 authoritative alliance with God himself, established from the beginning, which precedes and supersedes all other authority, civil or ecclesiastical. The means by which he justifies the claim is his hermeneutics, his interpretation of Scripture. In combination, the "four directors," developed originalistically, justify Milton's argument for individual liberty in domestic and spiritual decisions by predating and, thereby, superseding institutionalized authority. His argument for divorce draws on each of these four "directors" as exemplars of God's will regarding liberty, yet the argument must, eventually, account for the effects of human history since Eden. This account is provided with the introduction of natural law theory, an historical framework for individual autonomy which extends from the beginnings in Eden through to Milton's own time. While the focus of this study is the period of Milton's divorce tracts, certain conclusions present themselves for an interpretation of the remainder of Milton's continuing, and greater, career. For example, Tetrachordon re-defines the relationship between Noachide and Mosaic law, both of which have significant impact on the traditional Christian interpretation of Scripture, and which may contribute to the anti-trinitarian De doctrina Christiana. Further, while the initial argument is coherent and self-sustaining, the inertia of its logic led Milton to certain theological conclusions which he could hardly have foreseen, yet which are ultimately responsible for the heretical views of De doctrina Christiana, and speculation regarding the orthodoxy of Paradise Lost. The divorce tracts are the furnace, therefore, within which were first smelted the finest and most controversial components of the Milton corpus. Chapter I: The Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce The Harmony of Moses and Christ F o r either H e never shall f ind out fit Mate , but such A s some misfortune brings h im, or mistake, O r w h o m he wishes most shall seldom gain T h r o u g h her perversness, but shall see her gaind B y a fair worse, or i f she love, withheld B y Parents, or his happiest choice too late Shall meet, alreadie linkt and Wedlock-bound T o a fell Adversarie , his hate or shame: W h i c h infinite calamitie shall cause T o Humane life, and houshold peace confound: Paradise Lost . X . 898-908. (1674) 22 INTRODUCTION On August 1, 1643, John Milton published the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,2 6 the first of four tracts which draw on a myriad of sources, including the Bible and Continental scholarship, to counter the prohibitions against divorce currently sanctioned by the Church of England. On first reading, the pamphlet appears largely reactive, though such a tone is common to much of the polemical work of the day. The first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline is a combination of two elements, an impassioned plea for the relaxation of Canon divorce law, and an intense re-examination of the scriptural passages pertinent to the controversy. These two aspects of the argument interfere with each other and, as a result, the tract seems to wander, as though distracted with the passion of its own argument. It does not readily lend itself to a structural analysis, either of the logic of its argument, or of its rhetorical organization. With regard to simple structure, it is an undivided statement of some forty-nine octavo pages, save for the separated first section of the Preface, and, while the occasional paragraph division appears, they often seem rather arbitrary. The Doctrine and Discipline gives, therefore, every indication of a pamphlet hastily composed and rushed to the press. Critics' favourite rationale, that of Milton's separation from his recent bride, Mary Powell, 2 7is circumstantial and irrelevant here. Milton's arguments rest on 2 6 Most of Milton's prose is cited from The Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. Don M. Wolfe et al., 8 vols. (New Haven: Yale UP, 1953-82). (Hereafter referred to as "CPW".) Works originally composed in latin, such as De doctrina Christiana will be cited from The Works of John Milton, ed. F. A. Patterson, et al., 18 vols. (New York: Columbia UP, 1931-1938). (Hereafter referred to as "Works".) 2 7 Milton, born December 9,1608, would have been thirty-three years of age when he married the seventeen year old in July of 1642. Mary left him within a month for her father's home, not returning for two years. Hence, the inevitable topical link between The Doctrine and Discipline and Milton's biography. Yet little more is known of the story than these few details, and Milton does not once specifically mention his own experiences in the tracts. Halkett is wise therefore to say, "It is probable ... that Milton's objectivity of purpose exceeds the concessions of his biographers. The tenacity of Milton's effort, the number of his tracts on divorce, and the frequent shift in the details of his argument all indicate a commitment to his cause; but Milton was deeply concerned in every cause he supported, and there is little reason to treat the divorce tracts as a special case of personal implication. If he had really been more interested in divorcing Mary Powell than in arguing the cause of divorce generally, it is unlikely that he 23 the proposition, not that an irremediable marriage is unhappy, but that it is, first, unprofitable to the spiritual and psychological well-being of its participants and, second, contrary to the intention of Scripture and, therefore, the wi l l o f G o d . In other words, Milton's argument is never made from personal circumstances. Milton's rhetorical strategy is to hypothesize an unhappy marriage within the larger framework of life, contextualizing marriage as one in the long series of elements necessary to the pleasing and fulfi l led life o f an obedient and thankful Christ ian. A n irremediable marriage does not serve this greater purpose, and is therefore to be dispensed with. T h e inductive logic o f such a scheme must work f rom the particular o f the marriage institution outward to the general o f the fulfi l led and obedient Christian life, but M i l t o n needed a logical template to follow: this template lies pre-constructed in Milton's own hermeneutics, a system for biblical analysis which holds the individual biblical text as ultimately comprehensible only within the larger pattern o f a series o f interrelated principles. These principles totalize the apparent diversity o f biblical subjects, synthesizing them into a grand yet simple schema which explains the relationship between men and G o d . T h i s great purpose, as it affects the subject matter o f divorce, was not immediately apparent to M i l t o n as he wrote; hence, the inadequate structure of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine . H i s first edition inspired eventual and vociferous opposition, especially among the c lergy , 2 8 and in order to galvanize his argument, the second edition displays not only a more developed argument but also a protreptic structure designed to orient the divorce argument more proximally to its hermeneutic template. T h i s process would prove a long one, and T h e Doctrine and Disc ip l ine but the first o f four installments, each of would have rested his argument — and rested it long after he might have modified it to his advantage — on the idiosyncratic grounds he chose." John G. Halkett, Milton and the Question of Matrimony (New Haven: Yale UP, 1970) 2-3. (Hereafter referred to as "Halkett".) 2 8 Milton himself writes, a year later, in The Judgement of Martin Bucer: "When I was told, that the stile, which what it ailes to be so soon distinguishable, I cannot tell, was known by most men, and that some of the Clergie began to inveigh and exclaim on what I was credibly inform'd they had not read, I took it then for my proper season both to shew them a name that could easily contemn such an indiscreet kind of censure, and to reinforce the question with a more accurat diligence." CPW II, 434. 24 whose structure and rhetorical strategy differs markedly from the last; yet this opening tract is a giant first step toward a theology which would finally realize Milton's self-conception as a prophet, sufficient to justify the ways of G o d to men. It is possible, o f course, that M i l t o n thought himself capable o f arguing Parliament into revising divorce law, with the sole purpose of freeing himself f rom what had quickly become an onerous marriage. M i l t o n was certainly not unambitious of nature. H i s most recent polemics had argued for a revision of the very episcopal structure of the C h u r c h of E n g l a n d . 2 9 Powerful , with at times florid terminology, and rarely guilty o f the tediousness typical o f prose overly-determined to make its point, the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine is nevertheless not well presented, at least by today's standards. A rhetorical analysis must, therefore, rely not on M i l t o n himself but on a careful dismantling and reconstruction of the various scattered elements of the argument, re-arranged into an artificial, but more coherent, logical sequence. A s we shall see, what might be hoped to unfold in a f luid, determined logical process, is, in fact, a series o f scattered assertions based on larger principles, these principles distilled into a few keywords and/or phrases. Milton's manipulation o f scriptural evidence is, however, the locus of true fascination: herein he is most ingenious, employ ing standard, recognized tools o f exegesis to specific texts, then m o v i n g with his localized findings beyond the conclusions of previous expositors. T h e conclusions which he draws from the texts traditional to the divorce controversy are then placed in context to theological principles which arise f rom an examination of the " For the standard biographies of Milton, see David Masson, The Life of John Milton. 6 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1873) (Hereafter referred to as "Masson") and William Riley Parker, Milton: A Biography. 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1968) (Hereafter referred to as "Parker"). These two works examine Milton's life in the context of his times. See also Early Lives of Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire (London: Constable, 1932) (Hereafter referred to as "Darbishire") and Barbara Lewalski, The Life of John Milton (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003) (Hereafter referred to as "Lewalski"). 25 greater corpus of all Scripture.30 Finally, a heretofore unrecognized concinnity is noted between all of these elements, dissolving traditional contradictions between texts "distant" from each other, particularly those of Deuteronomy 24:1-2 and Matthew 19:3-11.31 Milton's tendency to labour for years at grand, comprehensive works is evident from his De doctrina Christiana and Paradise Lost. Each of these are vast endeavours, only possible through a virtually superhuman capacity for sustained intellectual focus. Such a capacity is also evident in the divorce tracts, though not quite as clearly. The process of creating such grand schemata involves another, less obvious, element: while Milton is developing a grand strategy relating the nature of the marriage institution to the relationship between men and God, he is also developing a conception of the relationship between himself and his fellow men, an identity which would permit him to construct grand theologies. Milton develops for himself a persona which combines elements of both the philosopher and the prophet, a persona with the authority to address not only the "how" of things, but also to comment on why God wants them this way. Milton's strategy is to imagine himself above his subject, epistemologically and temporally, to look down with an all-encompassing eye, and to explain not only what he sees, but why it is the way it is. The various minor points of his argument are, finally, validated by their inclusion in a totalized logical structure. His is the mind which seeks out the grand unifying theory. Examination of this grand strategizing must begin, however, at the beginning. Milton's divorce work is roughly midway in his intellectual career (composed between his thirty fourth and thirty sixth, of sixty five years) and, while the totalizing, synthesizing tendency is not yet 3 0 Many before Milton had argued for the theological and hermeneutic viability of divorce, as he himself notes. For comprehensive histories of the divorce controversy, see Chilton Powell, English Domestic Relations. 1487-1653 (New York: Columbia UP, 1917) and Roderick Phillips, Putting Asunder: A History of Divorce in Western Society (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988) (Hereafter referred to as "Powell" and as "Phillips".) 3 1 All scriptural texts, including those of the appendix at the close of this chapter, are from the Authorized Version, published as The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments. Translated out of the Original Tongues (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1975). 26 realized when he sets to work in 1643, the next two years and five tracts increasingly display this strategic technique. T h e argument of the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine is unfortunately scattered, in part due to the nascent character of this tendency. Nevertheless, three elements form the whole o f Milton's polemic/discursive strategizing, f rom top to bottom; the particular points o f evidence around which the argument circulates; the structured argument itself, which represents a gathering of the evidential particulars into a useful order; and, the fundamental principles upon which the methodology of that gathering is based. Literary critics have generally focussed on the second or middle aspect o f this triad — the structure of the argument, its flaws, and the isolated aspects o f its justification. It wil l be more profitable, however, to bring the larger picture into focus, as M i l t o n himself might do. T o do so, we must identify, in Milton's own words, the fundamental principles upon which his reasoning is founded, for these principles are the final justification for each and every one of Milton's points, they are the aspects o f the hermeneutic system which M i l t o n claims no exegete can be without, and they are the one place in the whole divorce controversy where M i l t o n is unique. In order to justify his hermeneutics, M i l t o n looks backwards toward origins and beginnings. M i l t o n claims the principles of his hermeneutics to be eternal, established from the beginning, and unchangingly essential to the nature of the relationship between G o d and men. A l l things for M i l t o n stem from G o d and Scripture, but what differentiates Milton's approach is that he looks for the first example in order to justify anything which occurs later. A n y controversy must look back to, and be consistent with, the first principles upon which G o d created mankind. H i s logic is that, if G o d is infallible and unchanging, his wi l l for mankind must also be unchanging. Further, the first occurrence of mankind, A d a m and E v e , was the best, nearest, as unsullied by the effects o f the fal l , to God's intended wil l for mankind. T h e nature of man today is derivative 27 from the first times, and while affected by the course of history, remains fundamentally unchanged from Eden and the Creation, by God in His own image. According to Milton, marriage was established in Eden when Eve was created for Adam, and any controversy over the nature of marriage (or of its dissolution) must look to that beginning. Everything is defined as it pertains to that relationship between God and Man, which had its origins in Eden. That relationship has evolved, but in fits and starts, with a myriad of transgressions on the part of mankind, and with an equal number of concessions and corrections on the part of God. Scripture itself begins in Eden and builds historically to the time of Christ. Any question of current law must devolve, therefore, to scriptural principles established by God in the beginning. Again, God is infallible and unchanging: were laws to change from their first institutions, God could be seen to be changing his mind, and therefore fallible. Accordingly, any reading of Scripture must be consistent with Scripture as a whole, and this consistency arises from the beginnings, from the first relationship established by God between Himself and mankind in Eden. For the sake of clarity, the minor exegetical rules which Milton employs will be examined separately from his larger and more abstract hermeneutics. In exegesis, Milton is orthodox, by Puritan standards, and he is careful to accentuate this technical orthodoxy, so we shall look at it briefly. After this, we shall consider the more innovative aspect of his argument, the inductive application of the exegetical conclusions to the larger fundamental principles, for these principles, at times, alter the apparent, literal meaning of Scripture, and it is in this alteration that Milton's opponents find confusion and fault. Our best strategy for unpacking his argument is, therefore, to focus on the simple, base argument first, including the scriptural evidence common to both Milton and his opponents, and then to examine Milton's hermeneutic technique, for it is the application of this technique which is responsible for the innovation of Milton's outlook. 28 A s the goal of this whole project is to track and analyze the evolvution of a progressively atavistic tendency in Milton's hermeneutics, we must begin where the tracks are first laid down, in principio rerum, with the 1643 first edition. T h i s examination wi l l be short, however, as the essence of his argument does not change with the clearer and more complex second edition, for, eight months later, on February 2 ,1644 , Milton's argument was "much revised and augmented." Careful collation of the two editions reveals a full 85% expansion, with new portions added, virtually no deletions, and many more authorities solicited. Milton's argument was evolving, though along the same lines. It is the purpose of this chapter to examine the particulars and principles o f his 1643 argument, and then to show how these contributed to, and expanded for the second edition. F ina l ly , after an initial re-statement of the 1643 argument, the next stage o f our examination wil l be to compare the first and second editions with an eye to this development, watching for changes in the simple argument as traces o f refinement in hermeneutic technique. 2. The Argument of the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline Prior to the Reformation, divorce in England was determined by canon law. T r u e marriage was judged a sacrament, so there could be no divorce a vinculo matrimonii, in the sense of a real dissolution of marriage with right to remarry. Divorce was only a mensa et thoro, separation f rom bed and board, and even this only by permission o f an ecclesiastical court. C o u l d it be proven that a condition pre-existed the marriage which interferred with its validity as defined by the canon law (e.g., consanguinity, impotence, precontract, etc.), the union could be annulled. E v e n more restrictive than elsewhere, however, the Engl i sh church l imited the grounds of judicial separation to adultery and cruelty. 29 T h e Reformation reinstated divorce a vinculo by denying marriage to be a sacrament. In cases of divorce for adultery, virtually all Protestant states legalized remarriage for the innocent party, and many after divorce for desertion. E d w a r d V P s Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum o f 1552 incorporated this position. W i t h the opposition of the D u k e o f Northumberland, and the death of E d w a r d in the summer of 1553, it ceased to be possible to proceed with the Reformatio, yet an independent sanction provided for its clause permitting remarriage for the innocent party after divorce for adultery: in 1548 a commiss ion under Archbi shop Cranmer had approved the remarriage of the divorced Northampton, and in 1552 this was confirmed by A c t o f Parliament. After M a r y , it became customary to regulate divorce by this provision. In the uncertain state of the canon law, however, its legality was very dubious. In 1597, under pressure of opposition from the Episcopal hierarchy, Convocat ion declared that there was no legal basis for remarriage after divorce. W h i l e Elizabeth did not sanction the Canons of 1597, the limitation of divorce to judicial separation was repeated in those of 1604, and these received the approval o f the more conservative James I. Puritans resisted this reaction wherever possible. M a n y ministers presided over the remarriage o f the innocent parties in divorces for adultery or desertion, even while L a u d was at the height o f his power and, later, when the Westminster Assembly met it approved this practice. 3 2 Milton's demands in T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine go very much further. H e urges the recognition of divorce a vinculo with the right o f remarriage for both parties, innocent or guilty of adultery. H e argues for the liberalization of grounds for divorce, and, particularly, that these grounds include divorce for incompatibility. Further, he supports the removal o f divorce from public jurisdiction, whether ecclesiastical or c iv i l , to private. 12 Phillips, 71-126. 30 In Mi l ton ' s Eng land , all arguments over divorce must begin, o f course, with Scripture. T w o of the dominant texts are the pronouncements o f Moses (Deut. 24:1-2) and of Chris t (Matt. 19:3-9). T o these, M i l t o n adds Genesis 2:18, o f equal importance to his argument. Milton's case for l iberalizing the strictures governing divorce begins with Deuteronomy, but this starting point involves the problem of the relation between the O l d and N e w Testaments. M i l t o n had taken a position in T h e Reason of C h u r c h Government (1642) which would have precluded his exploiting the M o s a i c permission of divorce: F o r the imperfect and obscure institution of the L a w , which the Apost les themselves doubt not oft-times to vil if ie, cannot give rules to the compleat and glorious ministration of the Gospe l l , which lookes on the L a w , as on a childe, not as on a tutor. . . . H o w then the ripe age of the Gospel l should be put to schoole againe, and learn to governe her selfe f r o m the infancy of the L a w . . . wi l l be a hard undertaking to evince . . . T h e whole Judaick law is either politicall , and to take pattern by that, no Christian nation ever thought it selfe oblig'd in conscience; or moral l , which containes in it the observation of whatsoever is substantially, and perpetually true and good, either in religion, or course of life. That which is thus moral l , besides what we fetch from those unwritten lawes and Ideas which nature hath ingraven in us, the Gospe l l , as stands with her dignity most, lectures to us from her own authentick hand-writing, and command, not copies out from the borrow'd manuscript o f a subservient scrowl, by way of imitating. 3 3 T h e first edition of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine abandons this view. M i l t o n states that the "political" content o f the O l d Testament is subdivided into the merely political (that which was made specifically, and is relevant only, for the Jews) and the judic ia l , which, "being conversant, as it is, about vertue or vice" ( C P W II, 318), remains, along with the moral law, unabrogated, and is, despite the view previously taken of what behooves the dignity of the gospel, available for the guidance of Christians. CPW 1,762-64. 31 While the moral law of the Old Testament may be available to Christians, it cannot, of course, take precedence over the commands of Christ. Any apparent contradiction between the words of the Gospel and those of Deuteronomy must be resolved. Milton accomplishes this by "recovering" the "long-lost meaning" of the original institution of marriage, established in Eden, to which Christ refers his questioners. " A l l sense and reason and equity reclaimes that any Law or Cov'nant how solemn or strait soever, either between God and man, or man and man, though of Gods joyning, should bind against a prime and principall scope of its own institution."34 What is the "prime and principall scope" of marriage? God's own words are that "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." That "meet help" providing against solitude means, therefore, that "a meet and happy conversation is the chiefest and the noblest end of mariage."35 Canon law dissolves marriage for impotence, yet such a ruling addresses only the carnal end of marriage. Were the prime end of marriage, this "meet and happy conversation," frustrated by incompatibility, how much more reasonable would dissolution of such a union be? Refusal to divorce two incompatible individuals violates Christ's "supreme dictate of charitie." An individual denied the necessary solace of love in lawful wedlock will be driven to seek it outside, "even against Law." Should he, or she, find the strength to resist this temptation, a worse temptation may arise, "to despair in vertue and mutin against divine providence." In either case, salvation is imperilled. Incompatibility is analogous with another cause for dissolving marriage, and one more obviously authoritative than impotence, for it is not implied, but directly expressed in Scripture. This cause is idolatry in one partner, imperilling the salvation of the other, and the object of this 3 4 CPW II. 245. 3 5 Ibid, 246. 32 idolatry is the inviolability of the marriage institution itself. Some counter that Paul abolished this ground of divorce in his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 7, but they misinterpret the text. The Jews were commanded to divorce idolaters for two reasons, ceremonial uncleanness and danger to faith. The first of these, the ceremonial law, is removed by the Gospel, and Paul teaches that therein is the unbeliever sanctified. Paul does not remove the second reason, however, nor could he, for it is "morall and perpetual! in the rule of Christian faith,"36 even though the Gospel renders it a "permission" rather than a command. Paul advises against the dissolution of a successful marriage for difference of religion, but he also advises that this is no more than "his counsell in a thing indifferent": "To the rest speak I, not the Lord." Those who take his words as any more than advisory "outface him," for it is only in this sense that "the Apostle may interpose his judgement in a case of Christian libertie without the guilt of adding to Gods word." 3 7 A Christian remains therefore free to divorce for idolatry, and, by extension, for incompatibility. Despite this reasoning, Christ's own words apparently prohibit divorce, except for the case of fornication, and Christ's words may not be superseded by those of either Moses or of Paul. The exception of fornication here is commonly taken to mean adultery, and he who divorces for other reasons, and remarries, commits adultery. Yet what would such an interpretation imply? Christ must be seen, first, to violate his own promise that he would abrogate no jot or tittle of the judicial law, and second, to accuse divine law of being the author of sin, of having prescribed Jewish divorce for grounds other than adultery, and subsequent adulterous remarriage. Such an interpretation of the text must be wrong, for these consequences are unthinkable.38 CPW II, 262. Ibid, 266. Ibid, 249,284. 33 Where, then, have the traditional expositors erred? M i l t o n explains two fundamental exegetical principles "as thing|s) not to be deny'd," that the meaning o f an obscure text is to be "expounded by considering upon what occasion every thing is set down: and by comparing other Texts ." 3 9 Christ d id not mean "to inform [the Pharisees'] proud ignorance what Moses did in the true intent of the L a w , " 4 0 but rather, as these licentious men came to tempt h im, to give "a sharp and vehement answer," and to "lay a bridle upon [their] bold abuses" by being as overstrict as they were overtax. M o s e s made no law on behalf o f wicked men ("God forbid"!) but gave permission to divorce for the necessary relief o f good men. Further, as the law is no excepter of persons, a general permission must be generally available, and so, while Moses knew that wicked men would abuse this permission for evil ends, such "hardnes of heart" "he held it better to suffer as by accident, where it could not be detected, rather then good men should loose their just and lawfull privilege of remedy." 4 1 T h e proper understanding of these words is to take Christ 's "you" as referring to the Pharisees and other licentious men, and not to all listeners, or readers, generally. " Y o u " may put away "your" wives for "your" hardness o f heart, but this is not the general intention of the permission. "For it was seasonable that they should hear their own unbounded licence rebuk'd, but not seasonable for them to hear a good mans requisit liberty explained." 4 2 A s further proof that Chris t was pointing to an unavoidable but accidental consequence o f the law of divorce, rather than to its cause, M i l t o n cites his reference to the original institution of marriage. "Therefore shall a man cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh." "Therefore" implies, however, a reason, and "this is a solid rule that every command giv'n with a reason, 3 9 CPW 11.282. 4 0 Ibid, 307. 4 1 Ibid, 307. 4 2 Ibid, 307. 34 binds our obedience no otherwise then that reason holds ." 4 3 T h e reason for the inseparability o f a marriage can only be the remedy of man's loneliness with a "meet help." Y e t , i f a wife is no "meet help," the reason is gone, and the union becomes separable. T h e M o s a i c law was given later, divinely adapted to the fallen condition of mankind ("with due and wise regard had to the premises and reasons of the first command" 4 4 ) , and Christ intended neither to rebuke nor to abrogate this M o s a i c law. T o say that Christ gave no such command is not, however, to say that he gave no command at all. H e d id , and it is binding. Yet , when understood correctly, as M i l t o n explains, it wil l be seen to clarify, and in no way to contradict, the law o f Moses . M o s e s al lowed divorce on the grounds of "natural annoyance, defect, or dislike, whether in body or mind , (for so the Hebrew words plainly note)," 4 5 for what is natural is permanent. T h e Pharisees depraved these permissions and divorced for any cause, however temporary. Christ declares that "no accidental, temporary, or reconciliable offence" 4 6 o f the sort only the Pharisees were prone to recognize, can justify divorce, but to this he makes one exception — fornication. H i s c o m m a n d therefore leaves divorcive effect in all natural and permanent causes of displeasure. M i l t o n provides, then, not only the reasons for the M o s a i c permission o f divorce for incompatibility, and the right o f remarriage, but also the evidence that Christ , in accordance with "his fundamental and superiour laws of nature and charitie," 4 7 left that permission intact. Papal superstition substituted divorce a mensa et thoro for true divorce, and papal tyranny usurped jurisdiction over divorce to its own courts and defined the grounds as it pleased. G o d , in the beginning, placed the power of divorce, however, in the conscience of the individual , and thither 4 3 CPW II, 308. 4 4 Ibid, 311. 4 3 Ibid, 331. 4 6 Ibid, 331. 4 7 Ibid, 325. 35 it must be restored. The magistrate ought to protect the property rights of each party, but neither he nor the church may interfere in the divorce itself. 3. The Exegetical Principles of the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline Support for the points of Milton's argument is drawn firstly from Scripture, then from his own reasoning, and finally from the work of other writers, contemporary and ancient. Scripture provides the textual groundwork for his divorce argument, and six passages are central: Genesis 1. 27-8, Genesis 2. 18-24, Deuteronomy 24. 1-4, Matthew 5. 31-2, Matthew 19. 3-11, and I Corinthians 7. 10-16.48 These passages comprise the earliest biblical statements on the purpose of God's creation of womankind, a Mosaic judgement concerning divorce, Christ's words to the Pharisees' queries about the Mosaic injunction on divorce, and Paul's advice to early Christians regarding these matters. Milton peppers his argument with other scriptures as well (see Appendix to the Parallel Edition.) The whole of his argument hinges on proving that the laws prohibiting divorce, laws which demanded that married couples remain married except when separation is justified by very specific circumstances, were laws which did not support, as their first priority, a love for mankind. Milton reasons that if a married couple is unhappy, irredeemably dissatisfied with each other, retention of that marriage is tantamount to a sentence of lifelong misery, and therefore completely counter to the principle of love, or Charity. The law needs immediate revision, therefore, despite the fact that it has been in place for centuries, and more critically, despite the apparent support of Christ's own words in Matthew, chapters 5 and 19. These passages appear at the end of this chapter, drawn from the Authorized Version of 1611. 36 Before proceeding to the hermeneutics of Milton's argument, a few points should be noted. Firstly, Milton is at pains to make clear that he brings nothing to this argument which has not been present from the beginning, either in the nature of matrimony itself, or in the Scripture itself. His reading of Scripture is not "innovative," but results from the application of fundamental exegetical principles in a manner which any Christian might and should perform. Ignorance of, or blindness to, these principles has waylaid other mistaken exegetes and is responsible for the current abuse of God's divorce laws. Milton's argument begins at the beginning, in Genesis, and proceeds chronologically to his own time. Marriage was originally provided to mankind by God, as a refuge from loneliness. True marriage is the joining of a man and a woman in a manner like that which bound Adam and Eve, in a communion of fit minds, with the secondary aspects of marriage, such as the carnal, taking a place of lesser importance. Postlapsarian man suffers certain weaknesses, and the obedient worship of God, despite these weaknesses, is the purpose of the Mosaic law. Allowing for the chance of error in a choice of marriage partners, Moses provides his Deuteronomic law of divorce, not as a wide gate through which any and all might pass at the slightest whim, but as a means by which to correct the miserable errors to which postlapsarian man is inevitably subject and occasionally submits. Christ's words do not prohibit divorce; rather, they are an admonishment against the pharisaic abuse of the law in general and the Mosaic divorce law in particular, an abuse which focusses on miniscule technical points while ignoring the moral principle causal to the law. The current reading of Christ's words on divorce is the error, fault, and responsibility of the Church alone, both of the Roman Church and (in that they do not correct but reiterate the Roman error) of all Reformed Churches which lag behind true reformation. Canon law is the creation of 37 man, quite separate from Scripture, and not to be trusted. Neither are traditional practices to be trusted, for custom and error are each other's help meet, and the opponents of wisdom and truth. In order to validate his argument, Milton is battling on two fronts, the scriptural and the traditional: he needs to justify a re-reading of those passages which appear overtly to contradict him, as well as to counter traditional misreadings of those passages. The means to this end is an application of basic exegetics, most of which were established centuries earlier by Augustine and the other church fathers. Occasionally, in The Doctrine and Discipline, when the argument shifts from a discursive tone to the more simply pedagogical, Milton pauses to state the principles or rules upon which he bases his conclusions. 1. A literal reading of Scripture is a beginning but not the end, especially in the case of apparently contradictory passages and/or principles. On which relying, I shall not much waver to affirm that those words which are made to intimate, as if they forbad all divorce but for adultery (though Moses have constituted otherwise) those words tak'n circumscriptly, without regard to any precedent law of Moses or attestation of Christ himself, or without care to preserve those his fundamental and superiour laws of nature and charitie, to which all other ordinances give up their seals, are as much against plain equity, and the mercy of religion, as those words of Take, eat, this is my body, elementally understood, are against nature and sense.49 2. The words of Christ, rarely sufficient unto themselves, require further interpretation through comparison with other places in Scripture. Thus at length wee see both by this and by other places, that there is scarse any one saying in the Gospel, but must be read with limitations and distinctions, to be rightly understood; for Christ gives no full comments or continu'd discourses, but scatters the heavnly grain of his doctrin like pearle heer and there, which requires a skilfull and laborious gatherer; who must compare the words he finds, with other precepts, with the end of every ordinance, and with the general analogy of Evangelick doctrine: otherwise many particular sayings would be but strange CPW II, 325. 38 repugnant riddles; & the Church would offend in granting divorce for frigidity, which is not heer excepted with adultery, but by them added.50 3. Scripture does not contradict itself. Let such remember as a thing not to be deny'd, that all places of Scripture wherin just reason of doubt arises from the letter, are to be expounded by considering upon what occasion every thing is set down: and by comparing other Texts. 4. Doctrines, derived from Scripture, must be consistent with each other, as Scripture is consistent with itself. Besides the incoherence of such a doctrin, cannot, must not be thus interpreted, to the raising of a paradox never known till then, only hanging by the twin'd thred of one doubtfull Scripture, against so many other rules and leading principles of religion, of justice, and purity of life. 5 2 The righteous and all wise judgements and statutes of God; ... are not variable and contrarious,... but are most constant and most harmonious each to other.53 5. Elements of faith, derived from Scripture, when embodying the majority of evidence, must outweigh single contradictory instances, even when these last compose an apparently obvious, literal reading of the words of Christ. How can wee therfore with safety thus dangerously confine the free simplicity of our Saviours meaning to that which meerly amounts from so many letters, whenas it can consist neither with his former and cautionary words, nor with other more pure and holy principles, nor finally with the scope of charity, commanding by his expresse commission in a higher strain.54 6. The moral principles which underlie all Scriptural laws are consistent with themselves, and support comparison each with the others. Doubtles our Saviour had applauded their just answer. For then they had expounded this command of Paradise, even as Moses himself expounds it by his CPW II. 338. 5 1 Ibid, 282. 5 2 Ibid, 285. These lines appeared at the end of the first edition in noted errata. The editor for the CPW has incorporated them into the body of his text. 5 3 Ibid, 321. 5 4 Ibid, 286. As in n. 10, these lines appeared at the end of the first edition in noted errata, and are incorporated into the CPW text. 39 laws of divorce, that is, with due and wise regard had to the premises and reasons of the first command.55 7. The two testaments, old and new, must be understood as consistent with, and complementary to, each other. This therfore is the true scope of our Saviours will, that he who looks upon the Law concerning divorce, should look also back upon the institution, that he may endeavour what is perfectest: and he that looks upon the institution should not refuse as sinful I and unlawfull those allowances which God affords him in his following Law; lest he make himself purer then his maker; and presuming above strength, slip into temptations irrecoverably.56 the righteous and all wise judgements and statutes of God; ... are not variable and contrarious,... but are most constant and most harmonious each to other.57 8. Knowledge of the languages in which Scripture was originally written is essential. And this Law the Spirit of God by the mouth of Salomon, Pro. 30. 21. 23. testifies to be a good and a necessary Law; by granting it, that to dwell with a hated woman (for hated the hebrew word signifies) is a thing that nature cannot endure.58 Yea the Apostle himself in the forecited 2 Cor. 6. 14. alludes from that place of Deut. to forbid mis-yoking mariage; as by the Greek word is evident, though he instance but in one example of mis-matching with an Infidell.59 9. When the moral principle which underpins a law does not apply, neither does the law. For this is a solid rule that every command giv'n with a reason, binds our obedience no otherwise then that reason holds.60 10. The over-arching principle for interpretation of Scripture is charity. Charity is the high governesse of our belief, and ... wee cannot safely assent to any precept writt'n in the Bible, but as charity commends it to us.61 11. God helps those exegetes who help themselves. CPW II. 311. Ibid, 320. Ibid, 321. Ibid, 301. Ibid, 270. Ibid, 308. Ibid, 340. 40 G o d sends remedies, as well as evills; under which he who lies and groans, that may lawfully acquitt himself, is accessory to his own ruin: nor wi l l it excuse h im, though he suffer, through a sluggish fearfulnes to search throughly what is lawfull , for feare of disquieting a secure falsity of an old o p i n i o n . 6 2 Within these eleven points, the first eight seem quite orthodox, while any deviance seems to rest in the last three alone. T h e eleventh, for example, overtly promotes individual interpretative freedom and hints at the dangerous saw (in this case, anyway) "Necessity is the mother of invention." T h e ninth and tenth suggest that we need not heed the words of Scripture themselves when they do not conform to certain "reasons" or "charity." T h e first and fourth, in fact, teach that Scripture requires careful perspicuity, lest the apparent, literal reading of a passage mislead against "other more pure and holy principles"(5), the "fundamental and superiour laws of nature and charitie"(l), and "so many other rules and leading principles o f religion, o f justice, and purity o f life"(4). What are these principles, these laws and rules, other than the stated "nature and charity"; how are they determined, and how can they overrule the simple readings of Scripture? These questions point to the crux of Milton's hermeneutics, for Milton's hermeneutics are directed backwards, away f rom present times and C h u r c h teachings, to the original written word, away from the community to the individual . Wi th in Milton's system, the oldest scriptural reference is the most authoritative, for God's principles come f rom the beginning o f his dealings with man. A s far as the written word is concerned, the oldest form of the language is the most reliable. Everything with M i l t o n is back to the original form and the earliest times. Milton's logic is not divisive, subsecting in the scholastic manner, but synthesizing and unifying. H e brings the question back to basics and origins, to moral and rational principles in place f rom the beginning. F o r an authoritative answer to the contemporary problem of divorce, refer back to Scripture; for 6 2 CPW II. 341. 41 an authoritative answer to contradictions in Christ's and Paul's teachings, refer back to the Mosaic law; for an authoritative answer to difficulties in clarifying Mosaic law, refer to the original Hebrew. Such preferences, of the individual over the church, the earliest over the contemporary, and the original languages over the translated, breathe the purest pneuma of the Reformation (and of Humanism) and find support among many biblical scholars of Milton's own time.63 4. Milton, his Contemporaries, and the Westminster Confession Milton's basic exegetics are orthodox, and follow the common practice of liberal Puritans of his time. His most pragmatic statement of hermeneutics occurs in the De doctrina Christiana.64 The requisites are linguistic ability, knowledge of the original sources, consideration of the overall intent, distinction between literal and figurative language, examination of the causes and circumstances, and of what comes before and after the passage in question, and comparison of one text with another. It must always be asked, too, how far the interpretation is in agreement with faith.65 Each of these seven points is fundamental to Protestant exegetics and would have been an early part of Milton's education.66 (The "analogy of faith" dictates that difficult passages are to be 6 3 "Now once again by all concurrence of signs, and by the generall instinct of holy and devout men, as they daily and solemnly expresse their thoughts, God is decreeing to begin some new and great period in his Church, ev'n to the reforming of Reformation it self: what does he then but reveal Himself to his servants, and as his manner is, first to his English-men." (Areopagitica. CPW II, 553.) 6 4 While the De doctrina Christiana was not published in Milton's lifetime, scholarship is consistent in dating its composition as later than the divorce controversy; nevertheless, though Milton's hermeneutic techniques develop over time, the principles stated here are fundamental, and would have been in place from an early date. The controversy over Milton's authorship of De doctrina Christiana should be noted, and can be traced from its beginning with William B. Hunter's "The Provenance of the Christian Doctrine" SEL 32 (Winter 1992) 129-142. 6 5 CPW VI, 582. 6 6 An explanation of these principles is available in Bernard Ramm's Protestant Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1956). For a perhaps more scholarly handling of how these rules of interpretation were established as the groundwork of Protestant hermeneutics, see Frederic W. Farrar, History of Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1961) (Hereafter referred to as "Farrar") and Jack B. Rogers and Donald K. McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible (San Francisco: 42 explicated through comparison with other passages dealing with the same matter. In The Doctrine and Discipline. Milton calls it the "the general analogy of Evangelick doctrine."67) George Conklin's very useful work on Milton's hermeneutics in the De doctrina Christiana' begins with the basic principles of Milton's hermeneutics, linking him to various Protestant contemporaries. From the Reformation hermeneutics of Martin Luther, whose chief tenet was Scripture above ecclesiastical authority and whose principle of scriptural interpretation by Scripture advanced Biblical supremacy in all matters of doctrine, came the basic Protestant theory of the absolute sufficiency of Scripture in Christian theology. The extreme practice of this tenet is to be found amongst the later Puritans, but it was definitely set forth in the Westminster Confession and most ably propounded earlier by the Anglican William Chillingworth.6 9 Most of the individual points of exegesis which Milton argues had adherents among both earlier and later eminent Puritans.70 A number of good basic guides appeared during Milton's time, each attempting to lay down exegetical fundamentals. John Ball writes in 1635, The means to find out the true meaning of Scripture, are conference of one place of Scripture with another, diligent consideration of the scope and circumstances of the place, as the occasions, and coherence of that which went before^ with that which followeth after; the matter whereof it doth intreat, and circumstances of persons, times and places, and consideration, whether the words are spoken figuratively or simply; for in figurative speeches, not the outward shew of words, but the sense is to be taken and knowledge of the arts and tongues wherein the Scriptures were originally written.71 Harper and Row, 1979) (Hereafter referred to as "Rogers and McKim"). For the history of the earlier parts of Milton's education, see Masson and Parker, as well as Harris Francis Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton. 2 vols. (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1956). 6 7 CPW II. 338. 6 8 George Newton Conklin, Biblical Criticism and Heresy in Milton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949). (Hereafter referred to as "Conklin".) Conklin, like many scholars, tends to locate the origin of protestant exegetics in the work of major protestant writers, as in the passage above. "Scriptural interpretation by Scripture," however, had been around for some time. See Augustine's De doctrina Christiana 11.15 (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995). 6 9 Conklin, 25. 7 0 Conklin notes Chillingworth, John Ball, John Goodwin, and John Owen. 7 1 John Ball, A Short Treatise Containing All the Principall Grounds of Christian Religion (London: E.G. for H. Overton, 1635) 39. Cited in Conklin, p. 27. 43 Milton subscribed to each of these principles and finds need to argue for them in The Doctrine and Discipline, for though they had already appeared in the work of Ball and other respected Puritan scholars, they were not necessarily practised by all those, Puritan or otherwise, who criticized The Doctrine and Discipline. Puritans believed in the simplicity of the holy text, arguing against more obscure methodologies which had grown up out of the analytical writings of Jerome and Augustine, teachings which culminated in the work of Aquinas and Lombard who taught the fourfold method of literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical exegesis.72 The task of these Puritans, as with all reformers from Luther onwards, (and a task which Milton proclaims for himself), was to undo the authority of the established Church, a human institution which had, over the centuries since Christ, worked to absorb authority over all matters of faith into its ecclesiastical laws and structure. With the Reformation, however, recognition of the self-sufficient nature of Scripture, and of the unique and critical relationship between each individual and Scripture, relegated the Church to a secondary, almost dependant position. Such intensive redefinition of relationships inevitably led to sectarianism, and in an effort to re-unify the faithful, the English Parliament appointed, in October 1642, the Westminster Assembly, to reform the English Church. The work of this synod continued from July of 1643, through 1163 sessions, to February of 1649 when they produced the Westminster Confession. The Church of England developed separately from the Continental reformed Churches. It comprised two basic parties, the Puritans, with a Calvinistic doctrinal bent, and the Anglicans, who tended more to an Aristotelian-Thomistic theology. As these two parties gravitated toward the political turmoil which led to the English civil wars, and as a myriad of minor sects preached their own doctrines, the Puritans and their Parliamentarians convened the Westminster 7 2 See Beryl Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1941); Henri de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis: The Four Senses of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdman's, 1998); Christopher Ocker, Biblical Poetics Before Humanism and Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002). 44 Assembly. When Parliament's military fortunes declined, they called on the Scots for support, but a condition of Scottish alliance was inclusion of their Presbyterian divines in the Westminster Assembly, all working towards a uniform confession of faith. The final Westminster Confession is a compilation and a unification of basic Protestant doctrines, including principles fundamental to hermeneutics.73 The work of the Westminster Assembly, whether or not they so intended, was to recalcify doctrine, to re-establish a solid unified creed of faith from the muddiness which was mid-seventeenth century English Protestant doctrine. The Confession is a point by point statement of the essentials of Presbyterian faith, revising the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England in a Puritan direction. The document is as close a statement of orthodox doctrine as we have from this period, representing a mainstream statement in a time notorious for its doctrinal divergence. The following three passages from the Confession are relevant for their concern with hermeneutics.74 Scripture is the revealed word of God, and therein the final and authoritative source of truth in Christian life. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the word of God. (IV) A l l information necessary to the interpretation of Scripture is contained in Scripture. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. (IX) The Holy Spirit is the final judge of controversies arising from Scripture. 7 3 Rogers and McKim, chapter 4. 7 4 Quoted here as printed in Conklin, p. 99. The full Confession is available in a multitude of places, perhaps most readily on the internet at "http://w\vvv.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html" 45 The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit, speaking in the Scripture. (X) The first point, that the Bible is the revealed word of God, virtually nobody in Milton's day would deny. Nevertheless, this most obvious point is the cornerstone upon which his argument is based, for he must prove, from Scripture, that received Canon law is divergent from God's will as revealed in Scripture. That is, Milton argues for the disparity between human religious authority and God's will, and then allies his argument with God's will; it may seem obvious, but this tactic is the brilliant tour deforce which underpins the Protestant Reformation. The second point, that the Bible must be interpreted according to itself, is critical in that it opens up to Milton the whole of Scripture, investing the Mosaic divorce laws with an authority equal in weight to the words of Christ, therein providing him with the armature on which to hang the various qualifications of Christ's words cited above, "What therefore God hath put together, let not man put asunder" (AV), the words which the Church had for ages cited against divorce. The third point is the most apparently innocuous claim, for a basic tenet of the Christian faith is that God is with the individual believer daily, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Yet this guidance, when allied with an individual's attempt to interpret Scripture, can feasibly support the claims of all manner of variant theological perspectives, and this was never so clear as during the religious furor of the mid-seventeenth century. Milton, however, subscribed to the safeguard attitude common among leading and respected Puritan writers of his times, an attitude of respect for the humble, scholarly, and focussed application of reason to Scripture. Comparison with the eleven points from the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline illustrates that Milton is in agreement with the above fundamentals of the Confession. Milton's work, like the Confession, is reforming, but, unlike the Confession, opposes doctrinal 46 calcification: Milton understood that the relationship between an individual and God is paramount, and that this relationship is governed by decisions made by that individual and no other, not even Church authority. This places Milton squarely in opposition to the work of the Westminster Assembly, for that body was convened to promote doctrinal unity from diversity, to the end of ecclesiastical solidarity. As decisions about individual faith must be subject to individual conscience (as each individual reads his own peculiar situation and is guided, as an individual, by the Holy Spirit), no governing body may decide for any individual, unless invited to do so by that individual. This theory maintains the dissolving quality of the Reformation: the first reformers had taken apart the armature of the Roman Catholic Church by dissolving its structure in a caustic bath of individualism. Milton sought to maintain the purifying nature of that bath against tendencies in the reformed church, despite itself, to reconstruct ecclesiastical authority. Milton's orthodoxy, at least in the basics, is not in question here, but his advocacy of an individual's authority in Scriptural interpretation shifts the grounds for orthodoxy from the Church to Scripture. True orthodoxy lies, therefore, in the relationship (for the word "orthodoxy" implies accordance with some accepted standard, and therein, a relationship) between Scripture, the guiding Holy Spirit, and the individual. The De doctrina Christiana clearly states this same principle: Every believer is entitled to interpret the scriptures; and by that I mean interpret them for himself. He has the spirit, who guides truth, and he has the mind of Christ. Indeed, no one else can usefully interpret them for him, unless that person's interpretation coincides with the one he makes for himself and his own conscience.75 CPW VI. 583^. 47 Such orthodoxy may well give rise to disagreements between an individual's views and those of the majority, yet these divergent voices are to be respected, for they have historically been the source of reformation. This onely is desir'd of them who are minded to judge hardly of thus mantaining, that they would be still and heare all out, nor thinke it equall to answer deliberate reason with sudden heat and noise; remembring this, that many truths now of reverend esteeme and credit, had their birth and beginning once from singular and private thoughts; while the most of men were otherwise possest; and had the fate at first to be generally exploded and exclaim'd on by many violent opposers. William Chillingworth, holds the same view: If you mean by discourse right reason grounded on divine revelation, and common notions written by God in the hearts of all men, and deducing, according to the never-failing rules of logic consequent deductions from them; — if this be it which you mean by discourse, it is very meet and reasonable and necessary that men ... should be left unto it; and he that follows this in all his opinions and actions follows always God. 7 7 The potential for deviation from opinions held, even by Reformation churches, to be traditional is rife in Milton's hermeneutics and the degree of opposition which he incurred with his argument for divorce clearly evidences some sort of deviation. The fact is not so important as the nature of this divergence for this second is symptomatic of Milton's growing dissatisfaction with contemporaries and a resultant isolationism. 5. Where Milton deviates The eleven exegetic points listed above outline a strategy of scriptural interpretation. Firstly, the scriptures are read word for word. Some passages are difficult, however, and need comparison with other passages for clarification. Odd passages must conform with the majority CPW II. 240-41. 7 7 From The religion of protestants a safe way to salvation, or an answer to a booke entituled. mercy and truth (1638) in The Works of William Chillingworth. M.A. (Oxford, 1742) I, 14-15. Quoted in Conklin, p. 26. 48 of Scripture, for all scriptural doctrine is consistent with itself. Scriptural consistency is the agreement of a series of principles which have been in place from the beginning, principles found in both Old and New Testaments. The traditional doctrinal gap which held that the New Testament is a more mature and complete revelation of God's plan does not invalidate the older writings, for it is from these older writings, chronologically closer as they are to Creation, that the original statements about God's will for man arise. In order to best understand Scripture, and to avoid the historical mistakes of the Church, the original languages of both Testaments, Hebrew and Greek, must be studied. Milton chooses not to use, where he might, the conventional terminology of Puritan hermeneutics, but speaks instead of principles upon which the work of interpretation relies, such as the moral principle of Charity, and the design of human nature. "Charity," is that quality in Paul's great hymn to love in I Corinthians 13, ayam], or caritas, God's love for mankind and the reciprocal love of man for God, as well as that love owed to ourselves and our neighbours as objects of God's love. Milton does not apply human nature as a separate element so much as a means by which to ground the arguments of reason and charity. Milton states his thesis succinctly just the one time, and the passage warrants decompression, for, in Milton's typically compact prose, it encompasses a great deal. That indisposition, unfitnes, or contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangable, hindring and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugall society, which are solace and peace, is a greater reason of divorce then naturall frigidity, especially if there be no children, and that there be mutuall consent.78 "That indisposition, unfitnes, or contrariety of mind," is fairly straightforward, though each of the three phrases indicate three different conditions: "indisposition" means that the couple simply no longer wish to remain married; "unfitness" means that they should never have married in the 7 8 CPW II. 242. 49 first place, though they were likely too young to have judged this at the time; "contrariety of mind" means that, over time, the couple have found themselves to be of two different and incompatible qualities o f intellect, and that this difference somehow disrupts the potential for a happy communion of minds. T h i s last o f the three is the crucial qualification, for M i l t o n focusses much of his later discourse on the effects o f an unhappy mental state in marriage. E a c h of these three conditions is sufficient, in Milton's argument, to warrant divorce. Next: "arising f rom a cause in nature unchangable" refers to human nature, a quality imbued by G o d f rom the earliest times, ineluctable, and fundamental to all healthy decisions regarding man's condition during this life. Such a quality cannot be ignored, for its profundity is evident from early on in the tract: It was for many ages that mariage lay in disgrace with most o f the ancient Doctors, as a work of the flesh, almost a defilement, whol ly deny'd to Priests, and the second time disswaded to all , as he that reads Tertullian or Jerom may see at large. Afterwards it was thought so Sacramentall , that no adultery could dissolve it; yet there remains a burden on it as heavy as the other two were disgracefull or superstitious, and of as much iniquitie, crossing a L a w not onely writt'n by Moses, but character'd in us by nature, o f more antiquitie and deeper ground then mariage it selfe; which L a w is to force nothing against the faultles proprieties o f nature. 7 9 Against these opinions of the early fathers, M i l t o n argues a much more ancient law, namely, that individuals be permitted to read their own "nature" like a fingerprint, a mark placed in them by G o d , unique to themselves, f rom which their primary drives arise, and upon which no external powers may impinge. Elsewhere in the first edition o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ip l ine . M i l t o n expands on this quality o f "nature," when he refers to "the venerable & secret power of natures impression" (p. 238), "natures unalterable working" (p. 249), "the faultless innocence of nature" (p. 251), "the reverend secret of nature" (p. 270), and "the fundamental! law book of nature" (p. 272). Such a quality is radical, for it valorizes the right and ability o f each individual to make CPW II, 236-7. 50 judgements and to take action best suited to that individual's happiness, regardless of either State or Church. Which is to say, Milton is arguing a condition not seen in Christian society to date, that in certain situations, the rights of the individual must supersede the wishes of either the State or the Church, whether or not the State or Church deem themselves best served by that individual's decision. Further, the individual must obey the dictates of his own nature, for it cannot be resisted (p. 306); these are the dictates of a force working in concord not only with reason (pp. 317-18) but also with God's own will (p. 322). Man's nature teaches him what to love and what to hate (Milton talks of an irresistible natural sense of either sympathy or antipathy) and works as an internal guiding law (pp. 272, 313). This law of nature has been with mankind from the beginning, and has left its mark with all wise societies, including that of the Jews, traceable in their judicial, or deuteronomical, laws. Divorce, allowed by the Jews when two people could not find common ground in their marriage, accordingly complies with the irresistible law of nature. Had [prohibition of divorce] bin the law of nature, either the Jews, or some other wise and civil Nation would have pres't it: or let it be so; yet that law Deut. 24. 1. wherby a man hath leave to part, whenas for just and natural cause discover'd he cannot love, is a law ancienter, and deeper ingrav'n in blameles nature then the other.80 The next phrase, "the main benefits of conjugall society, which are solace and peace," has its own impact on the conventional view of marriage. As mentioned above, marriage was an institution integral to the fabric of society, infiltrating and influencing all levels from simple domesticity to that of the grandest international diplomacy. Further, marriage was the means to ensure legitimacy of generation, and security of patrimony. The goods, lands, and, where applicable, titles of a family were passed from one generation to that member of the next who CPW II, 330. 51 fulfilled strict rules of legitimacy, representing the eldest surviving offspring of a legally and religiously sanctioned marriage. That a marriage's main benefits might be "solace and peace," rather than its social, familial, or carnal aspects, permits married individuals, the only true judges of "solace and peace," to make the first judgements regarding the continuing viability, or dissolubility, of their union. The last series of phrases refer to divorce laws, not only civil and canon, but the Mosaic law as well. " A greater reason of divorce, than naturall frigidity, especially if there be no children, and that there be mutuall consent": natural frigidity, the inability or unwillingness to perform the marital duty of coitus, is not a cause of divorce according to the canonical laws of Milton's own time, but a condition drawn from Mosaic law (Exod. 21:10); that children might be threatened by a divorce was only discussed outside of Scripture, for instance, in the Talmud — neither Christ nor Paul mention this; that there be mutual consent was another similar matter for extrascriptural discussion. Milton draws upon a multitude of writers from both within and without the Judaeo-Christian tradition of discussion, including Plato, David Kimchi, and Hugo Grotius. The position of Charity in Milton's argument is paramount, more important even than the individual scriptures with which he supports his points, for Charity is the fundamental principal or law against which all controversies of Scripture must be decided.81 No interpretation of Scripture may contradict the basic precept that God loves his creation, and that mankind ought to accept, reflect, and exercise that love. Charity is the grand unifying principle to which all biblical exegesis must answer, for an obedient love of God is the precept which underpins the first table of the Old Testament decalogue, and Christ's message of salvation in the New 8 1 Milton is not, of course, original in this: Augustine teaches the same thing in his De doctrina Christiana. I, 95: "So when someone has learnt that the aim of the commandment is 'love from a pure heart, and good conscience and genuine faith', he will be ready to relate every interpretation of the holy scriptures to these three things and may approach the task of handling these books with confidence." 52 Testament. No scriptural text, regardless of how obvious, or obscure, may contradict this fundamental principle. Milton holds that nothing which fails the scrutiny of love can suit God's intention for his faithful, and this includes refusal by any authority, ecclesiastical or otherwise, to grant the complete separation of two persons whose marriage has proven irremediably miserable. To conclude, as without charity God hath giv'n no commandment to men, so without it, neither can men rightly beleeve any commandment giv'n. For every act of true faith, as well that wherby we beleeve the law, as that wherby wee endeavour the law is wrought in us by charity: according to that in the divine hymne of St. Paul, I Cor. 13. Charity beleeveth all things: not as if she were so credulous, which is the exposition hitherto current, for that were a trivial praise, but to teach us that charity is the high governesse of our belief, and that wee cannot safely assent to any precept writt'n in the Bible, but as charity commends it to us. Which agrees with that of the same Apostle to the Ephes. 4. 14, 15. where he tels us that the way to get a sure undoubted knowledge of things, is to hold that for truth, which accords most with charity.82 The concept that no interpretation of Scripture can stand against the basic commandment of Charity becomes, then, the cornerstone of Milton's hermeneutic argument. As canon law forbidding divorce, save in the most particular of circumstances, is based on the verses from Matthew's gospel, Milton must directly address this text, reformulating the import of the words to his own cause. His argument is not a long, convoluted procedure unwinding centuries of compounded logic, but a series of principles, including Charity, against whose crush the conflicting literal reading crumbles. This is the crux of Milton's hermeneutic technique: he believes that there exist fundamental, Scripturally revealed principles which govern God's eternal treatment of mankind. As single instances of history must be understood within the greater scope of God's eternal plan, so must single passages of Scripture be accommodated to the greater unity of Scripture as a whole. Scripture may at times appear to present mysteries, concepts which defy explication, but these are to be either dismissed as erroneous if they oppose the CPW II, 340. 53 fundamental principles, or relegated to the inexplicable "high and secret past finding out" providence of God 8 3 . At base, Milton's 1643 argument is against the literal reading of Christ's words in Matthew, those which apparently say that marriages should not be dissolved, save for the reason of fornication. A first reading of these verses invariably results in the understanding which the Church had always propounded, that Christ was actually forbidding divorce, regardless of any Mosaic allowance. The prima facie impression of these passages and the long history of canon law stand against Milton's assertion of divorce for incompatibility. His strategy is to remove both of these impediments. Human invention and divine authority dispense with Canon law and C tradition by associating the errors of the Church with the former and misreadings of Scripture with the latter. Canon law may have been in place for centuries, but it is nevertheless a human fabrication and frequently, as in this case, stands squarely opposed to Scripture. Milton holds that the words of Christ cannot be read literally, that they need considerable explication, especially in those places where they are the least bit obscure. He either contextualizes the words of Christ historically, or invokes the larger scope of a vast and self-consistent Scripture, unified by fundamental principles, such as Charity and the inalienable rights of God-created human nature. Milton's work resembles that of a detective, explaining what appears to have happened as not the case at all: once the apparently obvious but misleading evidence is set against the larger picture, its true significance will be made clear. 8 3 Clarifying the unfathomable aspect of God's providence is not necessary for man's salvation or obedience; all which mankind needs to know in order to please and obey God is to be found in the law of the Old Testament, summed up, but never opposed, by Christ's teachings. 54 The larger picture, while including all things, has a higher and a lower aspect, with the earlier being elevated and the later, or current, being lower. The highest, the most authoritative, lies at the beginning, as Christ himself demonstrates when invoking the institution of matrimony: Therfore we must look higher, since Christ himself recalls us to the beginning, and we shall finde that the primitive reason of never divorcing, was that sacred and not vain promise of God to remedy mans lonelines by making him a help meet for him, though not now in perfection, as at first.84 Now fallen, mankind has recourse to divorce, but before the institution of matrimony, there was Charity, in God's will to remedy man's loneliness, and there was nature, in that man was lonely in the first place. These two principles not only take precedence but determine the purpose and design of the institution of matrimony itself. When the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline was released, it met with a storm of protest, and both aspects of Milton's argument (that canon law was wrong, and that Scripture had been misread for centuries) were vehemently opposed.85 Milton revised The Doctrine and Discipline, expanding it to almost twice its original length, and published the second edition just six months after the first. The argument for divorce on grounds of incompatibility remained, but attention to hermeneutic proof was increased, with a focus on concepts of personal liberty, in both the individual and civil senses. CPW II. 301. 8 5 William Riley Parker's Milton's Contemporary Reputation (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1940) collects most of the contemporary allusions to the divorce tracts. These are amplified by J. Milton French, The Life Records of John Milton. 5 vols. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Gordian, 1949-1958). Ernest Sirluck includes several more on pp. 142-43, 506, and Appendix C of CPW II. 6. The Second Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline 55 Among the faithless, faithful only hee; Among innumerable false, unmov'd, Unshak'n, unseduc'd, unterrifi'd His Loyaltie he kept, his Love, his Zeale; Nor number, nor example with him wrought To swerve from truth, or Change his constant mind Though single. Paradise Lost. V.898-904. (1674) The structure of the tract was altered radically for the second edition. Where the first edition had been a long, rambling diatribe, divided only once, in the middle by a paragraph indentation, the argument of the second edition is arranged in two books with multiple chapters, each with its own summary heading, and a lengthy prefatory appeal to Parliament.86 In its most basic form, the argument for divorce remains the same, with the over-all rational argument taking up the first book of the 1644 edition, while the second book provides a more comprehensive network of support for the scriptural hermeneutics. Much new material has been added, however, inserted into the revised text not only as additional phrases and sentences, but as, in this structured format, whole new chapters. The final result is a work of over eighty pages (the 1643 edition is fifty pages) which reads much more smoothly, easing through logical transitions more gracefully, and allowing for regular breaks. The effect of the re-structuring is a more confident sense of solidity and authority not only to the argument, but to its presentation as well. We will look briefly at the first book (for one change in particular is a great reliance on hermeneutic justification of the argument) and more extensively at the hermeneutical argument of the second, 8 6 If there was input from the printer regarding this design for the text, the major biographers give no evidence of it. The most obvious explanation is that Milton was systematizing his argument for the sake of clarity. 56 but the preface warrants our first attention for the intensely personal nature of its appeal, betraying the emotional depth with which Milton presented this work. The prefatory appeal to Parliament adds, more than anything else, a personal element to the whole tract. The 1643 argument had appeared unsolicited, his own opinions freely expressed, but Milton now faced vigorous opposition, and his preface identifies not only the source and nature of these attacks but also the critical danger which they pose to the State. Milton goes on in the preface to identify not only the social need for reform of the divorce laws, but also his own position as an enlightened, reforming thinker and the need for Parliament to rely on just such reforming thinkers (and him in particular) in this time of civil and religious upheaval. According to Milton, those who stand against his proposed revisions to the divorce laws are representative of dangerous, narrow-minded, uneducated men, with which both the Church and the State are riddled. In this time of civil and religious reformation, the battle between the evils of the fall (such as ignorance and political prejudice) and the teachings of God is ongoing, and only enlightened teachers, sensitive to, and led by, the Spirit of God and extensive education can be relied upon to light the way to reformation. Milton's opponents are "common climbers" who adhere to customary practices rather than pursue the hard work of reformation, because their poor education allows them to "swallow down" the "glib and easy" "sudden book of implicit knowledge";87 Milton is, however, one called only occasionally by God and deputed to "work off the blots" and "repress the encroachments" of error and custom. The belief in his exclusive mission elicits, in the preface, two statements very pertinent to Milton's hermeneutic principles, and to their atavistic nature. The first concerns "Truth" — she C P W II, 222. 57 has a "teeming" womb, giving birth to more truths. She reveals herself not at a steady pace but in bursts, for God calls together those "prudent and Religious counsels" who are competent to receive her teachings only "once in many ages." These gifts of God, truth and wisdom, oppose the purely human work of error and custom. Error supports Custome, Custome count'nances Error. And these two betweene them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdome out of humane life, were it not that God, rather then man, once in many ages, cals together the prudent and Religious counsels of Men, deputed to represse the encroachments, and to worke off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our mindes by the suttle insinuating of Error and Custome; Who with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chiefe designe to envie and cry-down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humor, and innovation; as if the womb of teeming Truth were to be clos'd up, if shee presume to bring forth ought, that sorts not with their unchew'd notions and suppositions.88 Truth is the daughter of Heaven, from the beginning, a Minervan warrior-goddess, whose teachings Time midwifes forth in a catenic series of intermittent revelations. Further, though God gives Truth to mankind processionally, she is always consistent with herself — one new teaching never replaces any aspect of God's truth from ancient times. Such a process requires constant care and study, lest mankind lose sight of Truth's consistency and continuity and begin to supplement her teachings himself. Truth may not be immediately obvious: Though this ill hap wait on her nativity, that shee never comes into the world, but like a Bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her forth: till Time the Midwife rather then the mother of Truth, have washt and salted the Infant, declar'd her legitimat, and Churcht the father of his young Minerva, from the needlesse causes of his purgation.89 Milton is one of a select few whose "study and true labour" have made him worthy of Truth's immediate teaching. He has an exclusive gift and mission, to expound this truth of divorce which has been from the beginning but has suffered for ages at the abusive hands of custom and CPW II, 223-24. Ibid, 225. 58 human error. The "duty and right of an instructed Christian" has called him to be "the sole advocate of a discountenanced truth"90 and, judging by the vigour of his opposition, to his personal ignominy. The second crucial statement regards the principles upon which Milton bases his hermeneutic techniques. He numbers together what he spoke of disparately in the first edition, grouping them as "the four great directors." To resist the highest Magistrat though tyrannizing, God never gave us expresse allowance, only he gave us reason, charity, nature, and good example to bear us out; but in this economical misfortune, thus to demean our selves, besides the warrant of those foure great directors, which doth as justly belong hither, we have an expresse law of God, and such a law, as wherof our Saviour with a solemn threat forbid the abrogating.91 It is not the warrant of any individual to oppose the Church or the State. If, however, the magistrate, of whatever earthly authority (including, presumably, a King or Archbishop) is "tyfannizing," God gives each man the four directors of reason, charity, human nature, and good example with which to seek guidance from Scripture. In this case of divorce, the "expresse law of God'' is that of Deuteronomy 24.1. These principles also represent the means by which Milton would recommend pursuit of "true Reformation in the state." Milton lays out, then, in the prefatory appeal to Parliament, the architecture of the communicative process between God and mankind. God expresses his truth to single individuals, chosen in times of great need, and specially qualified, both spiritually and intellectually; these individuals reveal this "Truth" to "prudent and religious councils," such as Parliament; the responsibility then passes to these councils to broadcast over mankind the fullnesses of God's new-revealed Truth. Moses had been God's chosen instrument for revealing CPW II, 224. Ibid, 229. 59 the first truth regarding divorce, found in Deuteronomy 24.1, and now Milton is repeating the work of Moses. i. Book I of the Second Edition: Setting out Moses's Law Book I of the second edition, developed from the Preface and the first twenty-two pages of the 1643 edition, is the less revised of the two books. There are, however, major points to be noted: Chapter I opens with the citation of the Deuteronomic text, missing from the 1643 edition, and refers specifically to the manner in which the Hebrew differs from the commonly received English translation. Milton explains "unclean thing" as a deficiency or inadequacy of mind or body, connecting the two elements of the physical and intellectual, which will be significant later in his argument. His focus on the original language reinforces the hermeneutic principle noted earlier (point 8, page 20, above.) In Chapters II and VI , Milton expands the range of his authoritative citations to include the reformers Calvin, Fagius, Paraeus, and Rivetus, as well as the twelth-century Spanish rabbi and Talmudist, and author of The Guide of the Perplexed. Moses Maimonides. Maimonides asserts that divorce preserves peace in the institution of marriage. Why then, asks Milton, should such peace be available to Jews and not to Christians? In Chapter X , based on the workings of human nature, Milton refines his discussion of individual rights. While man is fallen, he still retains his basic created human essence; decisions not subject to the will, but arising from created human nature, are therefore sacrosanct, and not to be discounted. Our individual nature involves a combination of inviolable sympathies and antipathies, differently mixed in each person. We naturally seek others with a like combination 60 of sympathies and antipathies. Occasionally, error, or "some evil Angel," maliciously joins two persons who should never have been joined, and it is only reasonable, given the ineluctable quality of our natural sympathies and antipathies, that such a mismatch should be separated. In Chapter VI , Milton had cited the allegory of Eros and Anteros as proof that discovery of an ideal mate takes considerable searching and time, and, perhaps, trial and error. A "help meet" for a man does not mean simply any woman; rather, it refers to a woman who embodies a combination of sympathies and antipathies fitting and agreeable to his own. God himself set an example for the separation of unlike elements when he divided darkness from light at Creation; from this we learn that a mismatched couple is against God's design and their union is analogous to Chaos. Individual identity is critical to this argument, and to the architecture of prophecy outlined by Milton in the prefatory appeal to Parliament. Should the individual be forced to conform with received and traditional customs and laws, the created nature of man will be violated (and, therein, God disobeyed), and the conduit of God's prophecies will be plugged and thwarted. The sacrosanct and inviolable rights of the individual are critical, therefore, to the workings of God's will. The main yield of Book I is to re-state the non-scriptural arguments of the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline, as well as to reiterate the force of Moses's Deuteronomic statements as law. Negative reaction to the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline, largely from the clergy, had not specified the exact place of offense: the simple permission of divorce, and the audacity of challenging Church law were anathema enough. In Milton's own view, though, the deficiency of the first edition lay in its explanation of Christ's own apparent proscription of divorce in the Matthew text. For Book II of the second edition, Milton focusses on this problem. 61 ii. Book II of the Second Edition: Reconciling Christ to Moses The revisions of Book II are more extensive than those of Book I, and more significant for our examination of Milton's hermeneutic evolution, for he resolves here the most difficult anomaly of his whole argument. As he himself states from the very beginning of Book II, Chapter I: Hitherto the Position undertak'n hath bin declar'd, and prov'd by a Law of God; that Law prov'd to be moral, and unabolishable for many reasons equal, honest, charitable Just, annext therto. It follows now that those places of Scripture which have a seeming to revoke the prudence of Moses, or rather that mercifull decree of God, be forthwith explain'd and reconcil'd. For what are all these reasonings worth, will some reply, when as the words of Christ are plainly against all divorce, except in case of fornication.92 In other words, Book I was about the Mosaic, Old Testament passages regarding divorce, and Book II will be about the apparent New Testament contradictions with the Old. Book I, in fact, deals much more extensively with the unreasonableness of maintaining an ill-matched marriage than with anything to do with the law, but the basic points listed in the quotation above are discussed, namely, that Moses's declaration is God's law, and that it is charitable and irrevocable. More importantly, though, as Ernest Sirluck notes in his introduction to the divorce tracts93, Milton has now to face down those who discount the Mosaic law, or, as Sirluck puts it, "to accommodate Christ to Moses." The means to this end are Milton's hermeneutics, as delineated in the eleven points from the 1643 edition, listed above, and as expanded upon here in the following six points from Book II of the second edition.94 1. God has only one will, which supports and necessitates the hermeneutic principle of the "analogy of faith" (that Scripture is self-consistent, and the meaning of difficult passages must be found by the use of less difficult texts dealing with the same matter). 9 2 CPW II. 281. 9 3 Ibid, 150-51. 9 4 The following list is not Milton's, but is provided here for the sake of clarifying his hermeneutic points. 62 Yet we must know that God hath not two wills, but one will, much lesse two contrary. II.iii.37 9 5 2. While some of God's ways are incomprehensible, we should not speculate upon them, for all which is required for obedience is revealed in the Law. The hidden wayes of his providence we adore & search not; but the law is his reveled will, his complete, his evident, and certain will, l l . i i i .38 9 6 3. As God's law is revealed, it is unacceptable that we plead ignorance with regard to the ways or reasons for God's law or dispensations. Rivetus ... thinks it best to conclude that God certainly did dispence, but by some way to us unknown, and so to leave it. But to this I oppose, that a Christian by no meanes ought rest himselfe in such an ignorance; whereby so many absurdities will strait reflect both against the purity, justice, and wisdome of God, the end also both of Law and Gospel, and the comparison of them both together. II.iv.41 9 7 4. God's laws are to be obeyed in accordance with the dictates of individual human nature and social equity, and not only obeyed but also studied as perfect examples of justice and goodness. God indeed in some wayes of his providence, is high and secret past finding out: but in the delivery and execution of his Law, especially in the managing of a duty so daily and so familiar as this is wherof we reason, hath plainly anough reveal'd himself, and requires the observance therof not otherwise then to the law of nature and of equity imprinted in us seems correspondent. And hee hath taught us to love and to extoll his Lawes, not onely as they are his, but as they are just and good to every wise and sober understanding. II .iv.41 9 8 5. God's ways are based on principles whose comprehension is requisite to our obedience. God hath created a righteousnesse in right it selfe, against which he cannot doe ... land] ... He often pleads with men the uprightnesse of his ways by their own principles. I I . iv .4 l" 6. Christ's teaching style is frequently obscure, and can only be clarified through the principles which inform the law. There is no inconsistency between Christ's teachings and the law. CPW II, 292. Ibid, 292. Ibid, 297. Ibid, 297-8. Ibid, 298. 63 If we examine over all his sayings, we shall find him not so much interpreting the Law with his words, as referring his owne words to be interpreted by the Law, and oftner obscures his mind in short, and vehement, and compact sentences, to 100 blind and puzzle them the more who would not understand the Law. II.vi.43 , As the statements of Moses and of Christ are God's declarations, they must be harmonious with each other, for God does not have two wills on one subject(l) It is our duty to study until God's laws make sense, for they are comprehensible and his gift to us.(2) We must not surrender to ignorance at the risk of God's justice and wisdom.(3) God's laws are to be implemented as they were designed, as servants to God-given human nature and social equity.(4) Further, God's laws are comprehensible as they conform to the fundamental principles which underpin them, such as righteousness and charity.(5) Christ's words, then, must not be studied literally, but in conformity with God's principles and laws, for he did not abolish any law, but taught obedience to them.(6) Similarities exist between these points and those made for the first edition, but the primary difference is an accentuation here upon the unity and infallibility of God's will, and the implications these hold for scriptural consistency. The apparent denial by Christ of Moses's permission of divorce cannot be a denial, therefore, nor can there be a simple contradiction between the texts, for either of these would imply that God is in error, which is impossible. A means to reconciliation must be found, and this means lies in a re-examination of the textual and cultural contexts of Christ's statement, to the end of exposing his intentions in relation to the fundamental principles of God's behaviour toward mankind. The particulars of this reconciliation have been discussed in the review of the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline. The major difference between Milton's handling of the argument in the first and second editions lies in his increasing focus on the role and function of the Law. 1 0 0 CPW II. 301. 64 W h i l e the ceremonial aspects o f the M o s a i c L a w remain applicable to the Jews alone, the moral aspects have always applied to al l , Christ ian and Jew alike. T h e traditional attitude of the C h u r c h may have been to discount the weight of M o s a i c law in favour of the more recent Gospe l teachings, but Christ himself stated his intention to respect the L a w in all his teachings, not to change the L a w one "jot or tittle." M i l t o n had, not long before, held a different opinion. H i s statements regarding the L a w for T h e Reason of Church Government (1642) were drastically different f rom those which he developed for T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine. F o r the imperfect and obscure institution of the L a w , which the Apostles themselves doubt not oft-times to vil if ie, cannot give rules to the compleat and glorious ministration of the Gpspe l l , which lookes on the L a w , as a childe, not as on a tutor. . . . H o w then the ripe age of the Gospe l l should be put to schoole againe, and learn to governe her selfe f rom the infancy of the L a w . . . wi l l be a hard undertaking to evince. . . . T h e whole Judaick law is either politicall , and to take pattern by that, no Christian nation ever thought it selfe oblig'd in conscience; or moral l , which containes in it the observation of whatsoever is substantially, and perpetually true and good, either in religion, or course o f life. That which is thus moral l , besides what we fetch f r o m those unwritten lawes and Ideas which nature hath ingraven in us, the Gospe l l , as stands with her dignity most, lectures to us f r o m her o w n authentick hand-writing, and command , not copies out from the borrow'd manuscript o f a subservient scrowl, by way of imitat ing. 1 0 1 Consider, in contrast, this f rom the third chapter of B o o k II o f the 1644 T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine: T h e law is his reveled wi l l , his complete, his evident, and certain wi l l ; herein he appears to us as it were in human shape, enters into cov'nant with us, swears to keep it, binds himself like a just law-giver to his own prescriptions, gives himself to be understood by men, judges and is judg 'd , measures and is commensurat to right reason; cannot require lesse of us in one cantle o f his L a w then in another, his legall justice cannot be so fickle and so variable, sometimes like a devouring fire, and by and by connivent in the embers, or, i f I may so say, oscitant and supine. T h e vigor of his L a w could no more remit, then the hallowed fire upon CPW I, 762-64. 65 his altar could be let goe out. The Lamps that burnt before him might need snuffing, but the light of his Law never. (II.iii.38) 1 0 2 For illustration of how to read Christ's teachings in light of this valorization of the Law, Milton opens the first chapter of Book II with Christ's discussion of the Sabbath; riStt?, Shabat, the day of rest, is to be observed, but one may work on that day without breaking the commandment, provided this is work of "charity." Further, this example of Christ's flexible, rather than literal, interpretation must be followed by latter-day opponents of divorce: "Shall we be more severe in paraphrasing the considerat and tender Gospel, then he was in expounding the rigid and peremptory Law?" 1 0 3 Finally, one of the most significant of Milton's hermeneutic statements comes in the prefatory appeal to Parliament, wherein he lists the means of God's guidance for every Christian as four: [God] gave us reason, charity, nature, and good example to bear us out; but in this economical misfortune, thus to demean our selves, besides the warrant of those foure great directors, which doth as justly belong hither, we have an expresse law of God, and such a law, as wherof our Saviour with a solemn threat forbid the abrogating. For no effect of tyranny can sit more heavy on the Common-wealth, then this houshold unhappines on the family. 1 0 4 (A3-A3v) Not just in this question of divorce, this "economical misfortune," are these four directors available, but in all matters requiring interpretation. Our reason assists us in examining texts and situations, with an eye to charity, in conformity with our created human nature, and with reference to the good example left for us in human history. These four hermeneutic guides, good enough for Parliament in the time of England's greatest peril, will suffice in all Christian difficulties. 1 0 2 CPW II, 292. 1 0 3 Ibid, 281. 1 0 4 Ibid, 229. 66 Milton's central innovation, at this point in the controversy, lies in his extraction of the divorce question from the social contexts of tradition, as well as of civil and ecclesiastical law. The political reality of these contexts may have dictated the opinions of his opponents, but Milton would subject himself to principles, not personalities or profit. As William Parker puts it, "In advocating a good cause, every man must start somewhere; and Milton's advocacy of causes usually started from the wall into which he had unexpectedly bumped."105 If the wall in this case was Mary Powell's desertion, Milton was not working hard to avoid the devastation of that event permeating his work. This (perhaps self-defensive) ability of Milton's to distance himself, to objectify and theorize, permitted his rational approach to this most vexed of controversies, analyzing the problem in relation to rarified principles of Scripture. The rationale of Milton's opponents was that Christ had forbidden divorce. Milton's approach permitted him to re-interpret not only the words of Christ (including the pregnant "fornication"), but the reasoning behind the words, to assign to Christ specific motivation, and to examine the social contexts within which Christ was living. In other words, Milton ignored the constraints of contemporary civil and ecclesiastical law, as well as what he called the slavish "literalism" of his opponents. Authority lay not with the nabobs of his day but with God himself, and with the principles upon which God's laws were based. These innovations would eventually lead back to the social realities of his own time and place, however, for his opponents would not consider his arguments, nor would they relent. Parker, I. 236. 67 7. The Cri t ics Recent criticism has not recognized Milton's tendency to unify and to return to basics. In the first half of the twentieth century, criticism of the divorce tracts was dominated by those few, most notably Saurat and Fletcher, who focussed on links between Milton and Jewish authorities. Fletcher published repeatedly on Milton's Hebrew, and the majority of that scholar's work remains undisputed today. Saurat tried to link Milton with the Kabbalah, unsuccessfully. Critics of the last sixty years have attempted to dissect Milton's argument, focussing on specific aspects either to show where the argument fails, or to explain why Milton was making his argument in the first place: Arthur Barker, in 1942, declared that Milton was valorizing reason and conscience in response to his political environment. As Barker puts it, the need to divorce is inevitably a matter of conscience, based as it is on knowledge which only an individual can have of himself (a point which Milton held anyway), and Milton was forced "by sheer ratiocination to reconcile Christ's statement with what seemed to him the sense of the Mosaic Law and the original institution."106 Barker is not so much criticizing or discounting Milton's argument as emphasizing the single aspect of reason within an historicist strategy of justifying the nature of a literary piece through the politico-cultural influences to which it is subject. Barker's work inspired Kenneth Kirby's "Milton's Biblical Hermeneutics in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," which appeared in the Milton Quarterly in 1984.107 Unfortunately, the title promises more than Kirby actually delivers. Kirby takes Barker's point about reason being 1 0 6 Arthur Barker, Milton and the Puritan Dilemma. 1641-1660 (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1942) 71. Barker's learned and useful discussion of this period in Milton's literary career extends through three chapters of his book. His discussion of the divorce pamphlets, however, focusses on their position in, and indebtedness to, the political climate and particulars of Milton's situation rather than on their hermeneutics. Barker is also more interested in the Areopagitica than the divorce tracts, and with the former's focus on the matter of liberty. 1 0 7 R. K. Kirby, "Milton's Biblical Hermeneutics in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," Milton Quarterly 18 (1984): 116-25. (Hereafter referred to as "Kirby") 68 the driving force behind Milton's argument and tries to prove that Milton's reason becomes somehow irrational in attempting to prove what cannot be proven. As he puts it, Milton was forced to find ways of making the Scripture say what his mind and heart told him was true.... He came up with the 'rule of charity,' whereby nothing in the Gospel could be more strict in the regulation of earthly happiness than it had been in the Old Testament. Then after inventing this new principle, he had to subordinate all other hermeneutical principles to it, and in doing so he found it necessary to bend and even break some of these principles in his effort to wrest from Scripture the pronouncement on divorce that his reason demanded. The result is Biblical exegesis that is frequently strained and vulnerable to the attacks that his opponents made on it. 1 0 8 Kirby is not reading Milton accurately. Firstly, the principle which recognizes the consistency of Scripture with itself regulates the agreement of Old and New Testaments, strict or otherwise. Milton "came up with" the rule of Charity from the words of Christ himself and of Paul, as the whole of the twentieth chapter of Book II of The Doctrine and Discipline explains. Kirby, however, has his own understanding of strictness and charitability, as when he notes later in his piece that to keep one's wealth rather than give it to the poor, and to punish a transgressor an eye for an eye rather than to "turn the other cheek," are both instances wherein the former is less strict and more charitable than the latter. Kirby's use of Barker is, at times, simply flawed in its logical protocol,109 and in at least one instance he commits that very convenience of proof of which he accuses Milton. 1 1 0 Despite his conclusion that Milton was a creative genius, and 1 0 8 Kirby, 117. 1 0 9 While criticizing Milton's reasoning in The Doctrine and Discipline. Kirby makes points (p. 117) which Barker made in his work on Tetrachordon. a later tract, and therefore inapplicable to the argument of The Doctrine and Discipline. 1 1 0 Kirby accuses Milton of ignoring an ambiguity in the Hebrew of Deuteronomy 24.1, and therein "not being completely true to his hermeneutical principles" (p. 120). According to Kirby, Milton knew of the ambiguity because he himself refers to it in Chapter 10 of Book II of The Doctrine and Discipline. What Milton is referring to in this place is not the ambiguity of the Hebrew but what he believes to be an error in Calvin's logic regarding Deuteronomy 24.1. Indeed, Kirby notes this passage not by chapter and book but by the page of the Yale edition (p. 313) edited by Ernest Sirluck, and Sirluck himself footnotes Milton's objection to Calvin with a direction to the earlier passage (p. 257, n. 16 of the Yale) wherein Milton gives lengthy treatment to an "ambiguity" in the Hebrew of Malachi 2.16, a passage to which Calvin himself is indebted for his understanding of Deuteronomy 24.1. 69 therefore prone to a "radical self-confidence" which blinded him to "all the liberties he was taking with his principles," Kirby's article makes it clear that, in an effort to prove Milton wrong, he is himself guilty of abuses which he attributes to the poet. Considering the amount of critical interest which Milton's divorce tracts generate, very little of that interest has been turned to the matter of Milton's hermeneutics. The example of Kirby is quite typical, though, of what attention Milton's exegetical practices do garner. Critics seem determined, inexplicably, not to examine but to discount Milton's argument, as well as his technique. His work is described as idiosyncratic111, unorthodox.112 John G. Halkett follows, in large, the line of Barker: "In [the divorce tracts] Milton raises human reason to the level of sole arbiter of moral issues and the individual to a position of eminence over institutions, as though particular men could both see and want their own good.""3 Halkett's book argues that Milton's attitudes regarding divorce must be read within the context of contemporary Puritan attitudes toward marriage. His ultimate conclusion is that "the history of the divorce tracts is the history, in little, of Milton's disillusionment with men's willingness to listen to the voice of unassisted reason — hence [the tracts] decline in appeals to reason as such.""4 Amy McCready's analysis differs from her critical predecessors' attribution of Milton's interpretative technique to pure reason. In a long, intelligent, and useful article in which she equates Milton's techniques with those of both Catholic and Protestant casuistry, she holds the deciding element in Milton's "rationale" to be not reason but conscience. With regard to conscience, McCready is quite accurate, but with regard to the business of naming Milton a 1 1 1 Halkett, 3. 1 , 2 Amy R. McCready, "Milton's Casuistry: The Case of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce" Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 22:3 (Fall 1992): 393-428. P. 393. (Hereafter referred to as "McCready".) 1 1 3 Halkett, 6. 1 , 4 Ibid, 139. 70 casuist, she is perhaps less so. According to the OED, "casuistry" is "the science, art, or reasoning of the casuist; that part of Ethics which resolves cases of conscience, applying the general rules of religion and morality to particular instances in which "circumstances alter cases," or in which there appears to be a conflict of duties. Often (and perhaps originally) applied to a quibbling or evasive way of dealing with difficult cases of duty; sophistry." If Milton is arguing a "particular" instance, it must be that of his own marriage, but he does not mention his own situation once."5 He is arguing the larger matter of marriage and divorce in general. McCready qualifies, however, by claiming that "the divorce tracts may be identifed as casuistry because they contain the set of characteristics of casuistry.""6 In fact, they may contain some of the characteristics of casuistry, but so does any discussion of the application of law to a particular set of circumstances. With law, however, and with Milton's discussion of divorce, there is a critical distinction to be made: in a legal judgement, underlying principles of law are brought to bear upon each particular case; with casuistry, the particular circumstances of a case manipulate the interpretation of the underlying principles of law. It is that manipulative quality which provoked Protestant criticism of Catholic casuistry in the first place. Milton was, therefore, no casuist, but in her article McCready raises a number of valuable points with regard to Milton's hermeneutics. She attempts to locate the place from which Milton judges his situation, and she disagrees with Barker, et al., that that place is "reason." McCready calls the place "conscience." Conscience is as good a word as any, and better than "reason". More 1 1 5 It should be noted that Annabel Patterson's essay, "No Meer Amatorious Novel?," Politics. Poetics, and Hermeneutics in Milton's Prose, ed. David Loewenstein and James Grantham Turner, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990) does pursue the occasions of what she calls 'psychobiography' in the divorce tracts. (Hereafter referred to as "Patterson".) Milton is no more biographical in his work than John Locke is in his Treatises on Government At some level, any author must derive his opinions from personal experience, but Milton is doing his best to isolate the abstract argument from personal exigencies, and to base his opinions on detached reason and texts imbued with a universally recognized authority. 1 1 6 McCready, p. 423. 71 importantly, Milton argues that the dictates of his work, what McCready is calling his "conscience," are matters which apply to all society, not to himself alone.117 Lana Cable's useful essay, "Coupling Logic and Milton's Doctrine of Divorce," 1 1 8 explains the basic structure of Milton's logic to be one which reconciles apparent opposites, often using one side of such a pairing to explain the other."9 Thus, Milton uses divorce to explain the true nature of marriage. Further, Cable explains that this concept of opposites dwelling in necessary and complementary unions has, in Milton's philosophy, existed from the beginning and may be seen not only in marriage and divorce, but also in the most basic elements, such as light and darkness, liberty and bondage, and health and sickness. Neither can either element, positive or negative, be understood without the presence of its opposite. Cable's thesis also explains why many have such difficulty penetrating Milton's logic: "Milton does not compose his tract as a carefully reasoned persuasion, classically aimed at winning the confidence and ultimately the convictions of his audience. Rather, his strategy is to marshal his arguments into tactical preparedness and then demonstrate, point by point, their prowess."120 That is to say, Milton's 1 1 7 As opposed to McCready's argument that Milton's is a casuistic cause, for his sake alone. In the first half of her article, McCready dissusses the roles of the confessor and confessee. McCready herself betrays this 'place' in herself when, in a footnote near the end of her article she explains, "In Short, my analyses of conscience throughout Milton's writings lead me to interpret the primay force behind the divorce tracts as Milton's conscience, not his desire to be freed from his wife. If his conscience had told him that his misery was a trial to be endured, I think that Milton would have obeyed it" (p. 426. n.105). McCready's casuistic scholarship may have found Milton a casuist, but her conscience dictates that she declare it a belief ("I think that...") rather than a truth. 1 1 8 Lana Cable, "Coupling Logic and Milton's Doctrine of Divorce," Milton Studies XV (1981): 143-159. (Hereafter referred to as "Cable.") 1191 do not agree with many of Cable's secondary conclusions. She mistakenly equates "the Law of God" with "that holy seed," and the "mariagebed" with Scripture in the quotation on page 150, and from such mistakes she extrapolates an unfortunate set of assumptions about the nature of Milton's vision of God. "To the ineffable workings of the Supreme Being, Milton ascribes precisely that copulative act which the pharisees idolize, and Milton himself debunks, as the prime end of marriage." Further, she falls short on Milton's use of "fornication," analyzing the English word, rather than beginning from the Greek, jtopveia, which is Milton's stated intention. Nevertheless, her conclusions regarding the pairing of opposites in order to attain complete definitions are, as discussed above, I think, accurate. 1 2 0 Cable, 144. 72 logic, and his principles, are in place before the beginning of his printed argument. Indeed, the argument arises from the principles, not vice versa. Cable demonstrates how this principle of complementary opposites underpins Milton's argument, without Milton ever explicitly stating so. He teaches by demonstration rather than by simple statement. We have found, in exactly the same manner, Milton's unstated reliance on the concept of beginnings and origins as justification for the principles upon which his divorce argument is built. Milton also holds, as Cable argues, that the only way men can demonstrate their worthiness of a truth is to "expound" that truth. They must make the truth or reason, of a law, doctrine, or principle work by demonstrating it as it was originally intended, just as Milton himself has explained the true nature of marriage by demonstrating its critical reliance upon divorce, as it has existed from the beginning. The deed matters, not the word; worthiness lies in textual demonstration, not in mere statement. Nor does Cable miss Milton's example of the divorsive principle preceding the coupling principle, when God separated the "unfitly" combined elements of Chaos, prior to creation, before recombining them in the original creative act. Milton's hermeneutics, both in general and as they appear in the divorce tracts, need more critical attention. Much of the recent academic focus on these tracts has related to issues of gender, or to Milton's views regarding the marital institution.121 These matters are, I believe, derivative rather than central to the tracts. Ostensibly Milton is discussing divorce; fundamentally, he is debating the origins and role of law, and the interpretability of Scripture. 1 2 1 For example, Charles Hatten, "The Politics of Marital Reform and the Rationalization of Romance in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," and Olga Lucia Valbuena, "Milton's 'Divorsive' Interpretation and the Gendered Reader," both in Milton Studies XXVII. ed. James D. Simmonds (Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1992). John G. Halkett, Milton and the Idea of Matrimony: A Study of the Divorce Tracts and Paradise Lost (New Haven: Yale UP, 1970). Joseph Wittreich, Feminist Milton (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987). As Annabel Patterson says, "With the advent of feminist criticism there is renewed interest in [the two editions of The Doctrine and Discipline. |" Patterson, 85. 73 Proof of this, as the subsequent chapters will show, is that the divorce argument remains basically the same through the remainder of the tracts, but the arguments relating to law and individual liberty, arguments which could not have evolved without the hermeneutic work of The Doctrine and Discipline, develop radically. 8. Conclusions With the publication of the second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline, Milton completed the presentation of an argument whose essence would not change. The logical elements had all been laid out, as had the basic principles which underlay the sorting and presentation of those elements. The purely exegetical tools are orthodox, but Milton's hermeneutics depend upon a set of fundamental principles which he finds have been in place from the beginning of God's revelation of Himself to mankind, but which have sadly been lost, now to be "restored to the good of both sexes." Milton himself, however, problematizes this understanding of hermeneutics. He may espouse a theory in which the judgement of the individual exegete is paramount, but he also declares that not all exegetes are created equal, and that there are very few who are worthy to perform the hermeneutic process reliably, especially in difficult instances. Milton is, of course, considering himself one of those few. There is no malice in this declaration; it is simply a reaction to the ferocity and apparent ignorance of his opposition, despite what seemed to him the reasonable and obvious nature of his thesis. Nevertheless, the second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline did not prove a sufficiently clear demonstration of Milton's hermeneutic principles, either for his audience or for himself. 74 Hermeneutic ability may be a gift from God, but the worthiness of such a gift lies in its demonstration, and so Milton continued on in his own demonstrations with three more divorce tracts, as though proving his argument worthy not only to his audience but to himself as well. In these subsequent tracts, the principles which underpin his argument may not change, but his understanding of them deepens and broadens. 75 9. APPENDIX: The Six Central Scriptural Passages So G o d created man in his own image, in the image of G o d created he h im; male and female created he them. A n d G o d blessed them, and G o d said unto them, B e fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every l iv ing thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1.27-28) A n d the L O R D G o d said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I wi l l make him an help meet for h im. A n d out o f the ground the L O R D G o d formed every beast o f the f ield, and every fowl o f the air; and brought them unto A d a m to see what he would call them: and whatsoever A d a m called every l iv ing creature, that was the name thereof. A n d A d a m gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl o f the air, and to every beast o f the field; but for A d a m there was not found an help meet for him. A n d the L O R D G o d caused a deep sleep to fall upon A d a m , and he slept: and he took one o f his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; A n d the rib, which the L O R D G o d had taken f rom man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. A n d A d a m said, T h i s is now bone o f my bones, and flesh o f my flesh: she shall be called W o m a n , because she was taken out o f M a n . Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2.18-24) W h e n a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let h im write her a bil l o f divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out o f his house. A n d when she is departed out o f his house, she may go and be another man's wife. A n d i f the latter husband hate her, and write her a bil l o f divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out o f his house; or i f the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; H e r former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the L O R D : and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the L O R D thy G o d giveth thee for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 24.1-4) It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let h im give her a writing of divorcement: B u t I say unto you , T h a t whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause o f fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced cofnmitteth adultery. (Matt 5:31-32) T h e Pharisees also came unto h im, tempting h im, and saying unto h im, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? A n d he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, A n d said, F o r this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore G o d hath joined together, let not man put asunder. T h e y say unto h im, W h y did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? H e saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness o f your hearts suffered y o u to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. A n d I say unto you , Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, 76 committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. (Matthew 19. 3-11) A n d unto the married I command, yet not 1, but the L o r d , Le t not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. B u t to the rest speak I, not the L o r d : If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with h im, let h im not put her away. A n d the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and i f he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave h im. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let h im depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but G o d hath called us to peace. F o r what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? (I Corinthians 7:10-16) CHAPTER II: The Judgement of Martin Bucer The Cause of Truth Servant of God, well done, well hast thou fought The better fight, who single hast maintaind Against revolted multitudes the Cause Of Truth, in word mightier then they in Armes; And for the testimonie of Truth hast born Universal reproach, far worse to beare Then violence: for this was all thy care To stand approv'd in sight of God, though Worlds Judg'd thee perverse: the easier conquest now Remains thee, aided by this host of friends, Back on thy foes more glorious to return Then scornd thou didst depart, and to subdue By force, who reason for thir Law refuse, Right reason for thir Law, and for thir King Messiah, who by right of merit Reigns. Paradise Lost. VI , 29-42 (1674) 1. Introduction 78 The second of Milton's divorce pamphlets, The Judgement of Martin Bucer, 1 2 2 was published on August 6th, 1644, a year and a week after the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. 1 2 3 and just six months after the much revised second edition. This new and independent tract on divorce does little to advance Milton's divorce argument, per se, for it is little more than selections from Bucer's De regno christi which Milton has chosen to translate into English as a reiteration of conclusions already argued in The Doctrine and Discipline. Nevertheless, Bucer's work on marriage and divorce has an amazing congruence with Milton's own views, despite the fact that Bucer's work was published some eighty years prior to Milton's, and despite the fact that Milton's work was developed (according to Milton) with complete independence from Bucer's views. Milton's point in re-presenting Bucer in English is that there are eminent and highly learned reformers who have historically agreed with his claims concerning divorce, yet the body of the Christian church in general, and of the English church in particular, has continued in a short-sighted, self-limiting, and disobedient stance which refuses divorce to couples unhappily wed. Ultimately, the tract is a skillful rhetorical manipulation, not of the particulars of the argument, but of the forum of the whole controversy: through using Martin Bucer as a means to justify his own argument on divorce, the tract opens up the examination of Milton's hermeneutics to historical sources; it contributes toward our understanding of Milton's vision of himself as a prophet; finally, it illustrates more clearly than The Doctrine and Discipline the effect which his critics had on his sense of suffering and isolation. By the end of its forty pages, Martin Bucer 1 2 2 The chosen text of The Judgement of Martin Bucer is that of the first edition as available in the Yale Complete Prose Works of John Milton. Volume II, 421-479 (Hereafter referred to as "Martin Bucer" and "CPW" respectively). 1 2 3 References to The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce in this chapter will be to the text reprinted in CPW 11,221-356 (Hereafter referred to as "The Doctrine and Discipline"). 79 situates the divorce argument in the eternity of God's great truth, and places Milton shoulder to shoulder with the greatest advocates and defenders of this truth, in this age or any other. Why Milton, a polemicist who constantly proclaims his independence of thought, bothered to send Martin Bucer to press is, initially, hard to determine. The tract does very little to advance his argument, or to answer any of his critics. Perhaps the best answer to the conundrum is multi-faceted. One facet seems to lie simply in timing, for Milton was busy with other projects (his short tract Of Education went to press two months earlier, on June 4th). Six months had passed between the two editions of The Doctrine and Discipline, and another six months later, Martin Bucer was published. Perhaps Milton had been advised by a friend, or by his printer, Matthew Simmons, to maintain a "six month cadence" between polemical releases, lest he allow the public's attention to wane. After all, Milton's intention was not simply to state his case, but to force Parliament to change the divorce laws. The very fact that Martin Bucer is a translation from Latin into English has its own significance. Latin may have been the language of scholarly discussion, but Milton chose English for an audience comprised not only of the better-educated Parliament, but the much larger body of the less-educated public whose collective voice could, ideally, sway Parliament. The form of Martin Bucer bespeaks the intense pressure and haste under which Milton was writing. The tract is not an analect of all those authors who had written over the centuries in support of divorce, but a carefully selected translation of a single author, an effort which involves much less time. Excepting the preface and postscript, Milton follows Bucer's own path, reproducing, as he goes along, Bucer's own chapter divisions and, when sufficient, replacing Bucer's own text with a single summarizing sentence. Portions of Bucer's work which may be at 80 odds with Milton's argument are elided, as are whole chunks of text deemed less relevant. In other words, Martin Bucer has all the marks of careful haste.124 Such haste was certainly necessary if Milton's work was to remain visible amidst the incessant political and military upheaval of the early to mid 1640s. Martin Bucer was, therefore, an effort not only to shore up his own argument with eminent support, but to fan the flames of controversy. Further, its audience was not only Parliament (to whom the tract is dedicated) but the general reading public as well, whose attention would have been constantly drawn away by the ongoing battle between Parliament and Royalist armies. Already, by July of 1644 alone, the Scottish army had crossed the border, Fairfax had defeated the Irish Royalists at Nantwich, Royalists had defeated Waller at Cropredy Bridge, York had surrendered to Parliament, and Cromwell had defeated Prince Rupert's army at the pivotal battle of Marston Moor. Despite Milton's claim that a healthy commonwealth can only be built on a foundation of happily married households, the unfanned flames of so domestic a question as divorce threatened to pale next to such alarming military matters. Both Masson and Parker point out another possible motive for Milton's tract: a desire to impress his divorce argument even more firmly on the divines of the Westminster Assembly by noting that, while they frequently express admiration for both Bucer himself and for his opinions, they have failed to recognize his position with regard to divorce, and that this failure points up a hypocrisy which should shame them into a reconsideration of Milton's own offerings on the The work of translating was difficult in itself, for Bucer's De regno christi is "written in the Latin style common to most of the divines of the sixteenth century,... which is substantially that of the great scholastics of the thirteenth century, and quite different from the compressed periods of a Cicero or a Tacitus. ... Milton must have found the style of Bucer often prolix, loose, and graceless." See Arnold Williams's essay, "Milton as Translator," CPW II, Appendix D, 808. 81 matter.125 The title page of the second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline addresses the tract to Parliament and the Westminster Assembly, while the title page of Martin Bucer honours only Parliament; the two biographers read this as Milton's intentional slighting of the Westminster Assembly, when combined with the title page's scriptural passage, John 3:10: "Art thou a teacher of Israel, and know'st not these things?" Although the infamous sermon of Herbert Palmer126 (a member of the Westminster Assembly) would not be delivered for another week, by the time of the publication of Martin Bucer, Milton had obviously been forced to bear both written and vocal abuse for his views. This, then, an atmosphere of growing controversy, is the forum into which Milton released his next divorce tract. Favourable reception has been sparse, whereas opposition has been rife. Reflecting this situation, Milton does not attempt to expand the conflict but remains focussed on the single question of divorce; and with regard to divorce, his basic argument does not change from The Doctrine and Discipline to Martin Bucer. Situating himself so closely to an historical figure, however, shifts his position from one of a purely contemporary controversialist to one of more historical significance. Milton posits that the question of divorce has been misconceived in the Christian Church at large for millennia, that a few good men, including himself, have recognized this and have spoken to the question, and that it is best for all that he illustrate the 1 2 5 There is another irony which both Masson and Parker miss. Bucer is a very apt choice for Milton in his case for matrimonial flexibility, and for more than his divorce arguments or his hermeneutics. Bucer himself had a colourful marital history, something Milton could not have known. While Bucer did not suffer marital collapse, he did marry twice, (and was one of the first Catholic priests to do so in defiance of Rome.) His first marriage ended only when his wife (and mother of at least thirteen) died of the plague in 1542. Before her death, Elizabeth urged him to marry again, even naming her successor. Bucer acceded to her wishes and married Wibrandis Rosenblatt, the former wife of both Johannes Oecolampadius and, later, Wolfgang Capito (Capito married her at Bucer's urging) making this rather remarkable woman the successive wife of three of the reformation's most prominent thinkers. Bucer was her last husband and she travelled to England with him, was with him at his death, and survived him by only two years. 1 2 6 See Appendix A. 82 historical context not only of his argument but also of the principles which underlie that argument. 2. Hermeneutics As noted, Milton presents no new hermeneutic principles in Martin Bucer. Perhaps this is to be expected, as he was looking to Bucer for support through reiteration rather than through elaboration. Bucer's work does nothing to advance the argument per se, and while Milton must have been delighted to have uncovered agreement with his own views in so eminent a reformer, the lack of focus on hermeneutics reveals important attitudes relating to Milton's hermeneutic "archaism."127 Milton selected passages from the De regno christi which he deemed pertinent and most advantageous, and rendered them directly into English from Bucer's notoriously difficult Latin, 1 2 8 or gave a paraphrastic translation. Nevertheless, while the chosen passages seem almost to echo his own words, they do little to clarify or expand any of his points. Other than that of divorce in general, they do not delve into any of the most controversial points of The Doctrine and Discipline: Bucer does not discuss, at least in the selection which Milton presents, the disputed passage in Malachi, or Milton's assertion that Christ in Matthew 19 is teaching only the Pharisees and not the divorce question in toto. The chosen passages do repeat many of the same conclusions at which Milton arrives, however, as well as re-affirming the basic hermeneutic 1 2 7 Milton's originalism, or reversion to beginnings for authority or justification, while "atavistic," or temporally backwards, in direction, aims at concepts rather than simple ancestors, (atavism derives from "avus," Latin for grandfather, or "atavus" great-grandfather's grandfather). The terms "protologism" and "archaism" will now be used to indicate "first word or reason," and "protologistic" and "archaic" as the direction or intention toward originalism. 1 2 8 Consider, for example, this comment by Wilhelm Pauck, translator of portions of the De regno christi for Melanchthon and Bucer (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969). "It may here be remarked that Bucer, who worked hastily and produced much in an astonishingly short time, wrote in an extraordinarily prolix, wordy, and repetitious style, thus causing considerable difficulty for his modern translators." 83 premises upon which these points depend. The implication is that Milton has no quibbles with Bucer's own hermeneutics and that he subscribes to the Reformed protestant hermeneutic tradition of which Bucer considered himself a part. Bucer does assert that the unity of scriptural instruction must supersede the authority of any apparently divergent passage, and that what Christ was teaching in Matthew must be read in conjunction with all other scriptural passages relevant to that question. As well, without using the same particular terminology as Milton's regarding the principle of Charity, Bucer asserts that God's goodwill must win out when one interprets Scripture on such difficult matters as divorce: Now what the Lord permitted to his first-borne people, that certainly he could not forbid to his own among the Gentils, whom he made coheires and into one body with his people, nor could he ever permit, much lesse command ought that was not good for them, at least so us'd, as he commanded.129 Milton's choice of passages from the De regno reiterates other, more fundamental hermeneutic principles which he himself had espoused in The Doctrine and Discipline. The most obvious, and that most frequently voiced by Bucer, is of scriptural consistency, or the "analogy of faith": despite the apparent literal meaning of Matthew 19. 8-9, God would not have declared divorce permissible in Deuteronomy and impermissible in Matthew. This basic point is affirmed in what Milton terms Bucer's "four axioms": 1. Christ could not condemn for adultery that practice of divorce which he had already permitted. What was allowed to the Hebrews in Deuteronomy must be allowed in Matthew to the Christians, for Christ did not abolish any part of the law that was given to the Hebrews, but taught us, rather, to understand its true intent. 2. Christ did not intend to make new laws or to modify the laws of the nations, so far as these laws are righteous, fair-minded, and promote public decency. 1 2 9 CPW II, 455. 84 3. 'That it is wicked to strain the words of Christ beyond thir purpose." I.e., one must not draw conclusions from the words of Christ which he did not intend when he spoke them. 4. " A l l places of Scripture about the same thing are to be joyn'd, and compar'd, to avoid contradictions." The analogy of faith obtains.130 There is nothing herein which expands on what Milton had already argued in The Doctrine and Discipline. The third point roughly asserts what Milton had said in his complaints against literalism, and in the need for students to read Christ's words with interpretive flexibility. What then is Milton saying about hermeneutic principles, and what may be gleaned which will enlighten our hermeneutic search? Only one of the principles which we have examined receives mention in Milton's own Preface, that of the "analogy of faith," or the need to compare all pertinent scriptures before passing judgment: Next, there being yet among many, such a strange iniquity and perversnes against all necessary divorce, while they will needs expound the words of our Saviour not duly by comparing other places, as they must doe in the resolving of a hunder'd other Scriptures, but by persisting deafely in the abrupt and Papistical way of a literal apprehension against the direct analogy of sense, reason, law and Gospel, it therfore may well seem more then time to apply the sound and holy persuasions of this Apostolic man.131 Exposition of one text requires comparison with all other areas in Scripture which discuss the same matter: this principle is fundamental, though "perversely" ignored by his opponents. The last phrase of the quotation echoes the four "great directors" of The Doctrine and Discipline. The argument can be made that "sense" must represent the reactions of some internal voice, which is basically how Milton describes "faultles proprieties of [humanj nature" in the second edition of The Doctrine and Discipline. 1 3 2 By the same logical plasticity, "law" corresponds to "good example" in that laws are based on, and buttressed by, historical precedent. True to the 1 3 0 CPW II. 454-7. 1 3 1 Ibid, 431. 1 3 2 Ibid, 237. 85 meaning of "analogy," the words do not match literally, and the relationship is more one of proportion than exactitude, but the point is obvious: his opponents' argument, "papistical" rather than reformed, is "unsound" and "unholy", and against "Apostolic" teachings, for it is constructed in ignorance of ancient principles intrinsic to the "sound and holy persuasions" of the messengers of God. i. Historical Hermeneutics: Augustine From the beginning of his involvement in the divorce controversy, Milton removed himself from his own religious community, or climate, when he protested against the errors of custom and tradition. He also demanded, even earlier in 1641, a divorce from the greater part of that exegetical community whose influence had spanned the centuries since the establishment of a Christian hermeneutic tradition. Whatsoever time, or the heedlesse hand of blind chance, hath drawne down from of old to this present, in her huge dragnet, whether Fish, or Sea-weed, Shells, or Shrubbs, unpickt, unchosen, those are the Fathers. Seeing therfore some men, deeply conversant in Bookes, have had so little care of late to give the world a better account of their reading, then by divulging needlesse tractats stuff t with specious names of Ignatius, and Polycarpus, with fragments of old Martyrologies, and legends, to distract, and stagger the multitude of credulous readers, & mislead them from their strong guards, and places of safety under the tuition of holy writ, it came into my thoughts to perswade my selfe, setting all distances, and nice respects aside, that I could do Religion, and my Country no better service for the time then doing my utmost endeavour to recall the people of GOD from this vaine forraging after straw, and to reduce them to their firme stations under the standard of the Gospell: by making appeare to them, first the insufficiency, next the inconvenience, and lastly the impiety of these gay testimonies, that their great Doctors would bring them to dote on. 1 3 3 Unfortunately for Milton, such a divorce was not entirely possible, for hermeneutic principles which he embraced had been valorized from almost the beginning of the Christian tradition. One Of Prelatical Episcopacy (1641). CPW I. 626-7. 86 need look no further than Augustine's De doctrina Christiana for hermeneutic principles which Milton would later espouse. For instance, as regards the consistency of Scripture, Augustine says in Book I: It often happens that by thoughtlessly asserting something that the author did not mean an interpreter runs up against other things which cannot be reconciled with that original idea. If he agrees that these things are true and certain, his original interpretation could not possibly be true, and by cherishing his own idea he comes in some strange way to be more displeased with scripture than with himself.134 In Book II of his De doctrina Christiana. Augustine reiterates the same point more positively: It is a wonderful and beneficial thing that the Holy Spirit organized the holy scripture so as to satisfy hunger by means of its plainer passages and remove boredom by means of its obscurer ones. Virtually nothing is unearthed from these obscurities which cannot be found quite plainly expressed somewhere else.135 Regarding the use of original scriptural languages, Milton again agrees with Augustine, who holds that not only is meaning lost in translation, but that a plethora of translations, while useful in some ways, nevertheless muddies the semantic waters. An important antidote to the ignorance of literal signs is the knowledge of languages. Users of the Latin language — and it is these that I have now undertaken to instruct — need two others, Hebrew and Greek, for an understanding of the divine scriptures, so that recourse may be had to the original versions if any uncertainty arises from the infinite variety of Latin translators. ... There are certain words in particular languages which just cannot be translated into the idioms of another language. ... But it is not because of these few words, which it is easy enough to note down and ask other people about, but because of the aforementioned diversity of translators that a knowledge of languages is necessary. Translators of scripture from Hebrew into Greek can be easily counted, but not so translators into Latin, for in the early days of the faith any person who got hold of a Greek manuscript and fancied that he had some ability in the two languages went ahead and translated it. 1 3 6 Milton asserts that "good examples" are a useful hermeneutic tool, and his use of "examples" extends outside Christian history to secular sources. Such illustrations are Augustine. De doctrina Christiana, ed. R.P.H. Green, (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995) 51. Ibid, 63. Ibid, 73. 87 acceptable because the principles which underlie the individual situations are identical with the principles upon which the Christian argument is based. Augustine had espoused secular exemplarism many centuries earlier. We were not wrong to learn the alphabet just because they say that the god Mercury was its patron, nor should we avoid justice and virtue just because they dedicated temples to justice and virtue and preferred to honour these values not in their minds, but in the form of stones. A person who is a good and a true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature.137 Milton argues no more than what Augustine himself had asserted when he says that Charity is the fundamental hermeneutic principle upon which all interpretations of Scripture must be based, that Charity was in place from the beginning, when God created mankind, and that Charity, as an eternal principle, stands outside the temporal aspects of Scripture. There is this important difference between temporal things and eternal things: something temporal is loved more before it is possessed, but will lose its appeal when attained, for it does not satisfy the soul, whose true and certain abode is eternity. The eternal, on the other hand, is loved more passionately when obtained than when desired. ... Therefore a person strengthened by faith, hope, and love, and who steadfastly holds on to them, has no need of the scriptures except to instruct others. That is why many people, relying on these three things, actually live in solitude without any texts of the scriptures. By these devices (so to speak) such an edifice of faith, hope, and love has been built in [those believers] that they do not seek what is imperfect, for they hold what is perfect. ... This is why scripture says, 'there remain faith, hope, and love, these three; the greatest of these is love'. ... So when someone has learnt that the aim of the commandment is 'love from a pure heart, and good conscience and genuine faith', he will be ready to relate every interpretation of the holy scriptures to these three things and may approach the task of handling these books with confidence.138 The basic hermeneutic principles of scriptural exegesis are ancient, and those which Milton involves in his own analysis of scriptural texts have varied little over the centuries. Rather than the principles themselves, their application has been the source of error, and nowhere more so than in the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, the body responsible for England's current Augustine, De doctrina Christiana. 91. Ibid, 53. 88 divorce laws. Milton does not, however, acknowledge the fact that the principles of hermeneutics are timeless, nor should he. Indeed, to argue hermeneutics would be to make them an active element of the controversy, and they are not. These principles are unchanging, irrefutable, and derived from Scripture. Derived from the inspired word of God himself, they have been donated to mankind by God and are above repute. Careless exegetes have forgotten or ignored these timeless hermeneutic principles, and have been misled in their application of Scripture to the divorce question. Milton notes this deficiency on Martin Bucer's title page when he cites the words of Christ to the Pharisee Nicodemus: "Art thou a teacher of Israel, and know'st not these things?" Christ was explaining basic principles to a doubting or confused audience, as was Bucer, and as Bucer's knowledge of Scripture was beyond question, so were his hermeneutics. Milton has based his argument on these same hermeneutic principles and endeavours to establish here an identity in concert with Bucer's which will lend him authority by historical association. ii: The Orthodoxy of Bucer's own Hermeneutics The hermeneutics of Martin Bucer himself warrant examination, for, were they irregular, Milton would be guilty of a careless choice. With regard to hermeneutic principles in particular, there is a surprizing, though not complete, agreement between Milton's and Bucer's views. Many of Bucer's writings on divorce were not available to Milton, being either unpublished, or available only as tracts in very limited numbers in and around Strasbourg (which Milton never visited), and so Milton may not have been aware of the fullness of this agreement, having access 89 to only (so far as we know) the De regno christi. 1 3 9 Like Milton, Bucer takes the Bible as "his starting point and norm."1 4 0 Bucer's studies, true to reformed Protestant scholarly principles, intend not to justify earlier, traditional positions, but to carefully search Scripture for what it alone says, and to suggest from these discoveries where a reformation of public or church life is needed. Milton says the same thing in The Doctrine and Discipline, defying the errors of custom and temporal authority in favour of the eternal truths of God's word.1 4 1 Milton and Bucer oppose both literalism (Selderhuis calls it "biblicism") and allegoric interpretation, advising that when the text is difficult, the problem is not with the text but with the student.142 Such a view may seem self-contradictory: how can one be both anti-allegorical and anti-literal? Their anti-literalism is not tacit agreement with allegorical interpretation, for they do not hold with the four-fold scholastic division of meaning into the allegorical, tropological, anagogical and literal. A^Tvyopia, in Heraclitus's Ouaestiones Homericae. is defined as "description of a subject under the guise of some other subject of aptly suggestive resemblance." (OED) For Milton, a word means what it means, and not "some other subject." The context of a word's utterance may, however, be critical to discovery of that meaning, and, when a word or passage is obscure, comparison with other passages discussing the same or 1 3 9 For much of what follows I am indebted to H. J. Selderhuis's Marriage and Divorce in the Thought of Martin Bucer (Kirksville: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies. 1999). (Hereafter referred to as "Selderhuis"). 1 4 0 Selderhuis, 272. 1 4 1 "To persue the Allegory, Custome being but a meer face, as Eccho is a meere voice, rests not in her unaccomplishment, untill by secret inclination, shee accorporat her selfe with error, who being a blind and Serpentine body without a head, willingly accepts what he wants, and supplies what her incompleatnesse went seeking. Hence it is, that Error supports Custome, Custome count'nances Error. And these two betweene them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdome out of humane life, were it not that God, rather then man, once in many ages, cals together the prudent and Religious counsels of men, deputed to represse the encroachments, and to worke off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our mindes by the suttle insinuating of Error and Custome: Who with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chiefe designe to envie and cry-down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humor, and innovation; as if the womb of teeming Truth were to be clos'd up, if shee presume to bring forth ought, that sorts not with their unchew'd notions and suppositions." CPW II, 223-4. 1 4 2 For a summary of the hermeneutic aspects of Bucer's divorce arguments, see Selderhuis, 272-87. 90 similar matters is therefore necessary. The allegorical plasticity of scholastic hermeneutics ventured into the fanciful or fantastical, and this was too far afield for Bucer and Milton. When textual obscurity requires interpretative flexibility, they teach that a reader resort to the basic Protestant principles which underlie all Scripture, such as scriptural consistency, the "analogy of faith," and God's eternal and unchanging wi l l . 1 4 3 The point is not, therefore, that the absolute letter of the law be followed, but that its intent be realized. If Christ says, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," the words must be understood in their semantic context, relative to the time, the place, and the audience of Christ's speaking. On this point, Bucer agrees with Milton, that Scripture must be read with appreciation for the customs, the character, and the circumstances of the specific textual situation.144 By this means, Milton could argue that Christ spoke in Matthew 19. 8-9 only to the Pharisees and to pharisaic hypocrisy. Despite the prevailing perspicuity of the Bible, therefore, students must apply themselves to secondary, scholarly studies in order that they be able, like Bucer and Milton, to resort, for example, to the original Hebrew and Greek texts.145 Selderhuis lists three rules which he has derived from Bucer's writings, each of which agrees closely with what Milton has already discussed in The Doctrine and Discipline. The first says that specific words and specific situations in Scripture must be understood to apply to that particularity first, and may not be intended to apply generally to all Scripture. The second of Selderhuis's points is more important for our purposes, and will therefore be cited verbatim: 1 4 3 Another good discussion of these principles, to complement those of Farrar and Rogers & McKim, is in Christopher Ocker's Biblical Poetics Before Humanism and Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002). 1 4 4 While this "distinction of times" had already been observed by Augustine, among others, Selderhuis notes (p. 274) that Bucer took these criteria from Erasmus, who in his annotations on I Cor. 7 says: "Excutiamus, quando, quibus, qua occasione dictum sit, ac fortassis veram germanamque sententiam deprehendemus." Erasmus, Opera Omnia. (Leiden edition) 1704,6:695F. 1 4 5 For comments on Bucer's strengths with the Hebrew language, and with rabbinic scholarship, see pp. 73-74 of G. Lloyd Jones, The Discovery of Hebrew in Tudor England (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1983). 91 2. In interpreting a passage the interpreter must bear in mind the focus of the teaching (scopus doctrince). A s we saw earlier, the goodness of G o d , i.e. the conviction that G o d is the highest good (summum bonurri), comes to expression in his words and laws. T h e purpose of God's word, accordingly, is the advancement of a pious and honorable life. A l l God's ordinances a im at the well-bring and salvation of humanity and, by implication, at combating and preventing the sins which bring a person into judgment. In the interpretation of texts on marriage and divorce this [principle] means that a given statement in Scripture can never be intended to bring about seduction or even coercion into sin. E v e r y commandment is meant for the good of humans so that it can never be properly construed to mean that marriage is denied to a person who really needs it to live an honorable l i f e . 1 4 6 Whi le Selderhuis does refer very briefly to Milton's work near the end of his book, he does not seem to have read Mart in Bucer . or he would undoubtedly have emended his last sentence to have read, "so that it can never be properly construed to mean that marriage or divorce is denied to a person who really needs it to live an honourable life." T h i s second point agrees succinctly with that critical hermeneutic principle o f Milton's , Charity , and needs only to expand from declaring God's word to intend the good of mankind, to declaring G o d to intend the good of mankind; this is, however, more a point o f semantics, for G o d has expressed himself to mankind through, among other means, Scripture. T h e third point deals with the "analogy o f faith" and Selderhuis again cites Bucer's agreement with Erasmus in stating that one must not stop one's exegesis at the letter o f the text, but continue into the sensus germanus: "In his omnibus i l lud oportet perpetuum esse Concionatoris et votum et studium, ut germanum sensum adsequatur. . ." 1 4 7 W h e n the student is unsure of God's intention in a specific passage, Bucer draws again on Erasmus, stating that the Selderhuis, 275. Erasmus. Opera Omnia (Leiden). 1704,5:1019D-E. 92 answer can only be found by consulting all pertinent scriptural data: "Ut sint scripturae loca interpretanda, nempe, ut nequaquam elementis inhaeremus, sed consultis et locis aliis." 1 4 8 In order to more fully examine Bucer's hermeneutics as they find development in the entire range of his views on marriage and divorce, Selderhuis trisects his analysis into an examination of their theological, christological, and pneumatological aspects, noting, cleverly, that this will best accommodate the specifically "trinitarian" nature of Bucer's theology. Each of these three aspects coincides with a vital aspect of Milton's hermeneutics, despite Milton's later denial of the Trinity. Selderhuis's theological analysis of Bucer's hermeneutics (corresponding to God the Father in his tripartite examination) reveals the most important aspect of Milton's own argument for divorce, the unity of Scripture. God is one and unchanging through all time, and so his rulings are also unchanging. He would not, therefore, have permitted divorce in Moses's times, and forbidden it in Christ's, or in our own. This very understanding demands both Bucer's and Milton's re-evaluation of Christ's words in Matthew, for while various texts may seem to contradict each other, this is only a seeming and not an actual condition. The unity of God and of his laws brings Selderhuis to his christological analysis (corresponding to the Son), in which Bucer states, as does Milton, that Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to illuminate the law. Provisions made for the Hebrews are, therefore, also made for Christians, especially when they concern civil laws. Bucer holds, however, that the law which Christ will not abolish is the law which he himself gave to the people of Israel. Milton does not assert that Christ provided the Mosaic law, and in this repect differs significantly from Cited by Selderhuis as, "[Bucer,] Enarrationes perpetuae in sacra quatuor Evangelia (Bibl., no. 17)." Strasbourg, 1530. 93 Bucer. Milton's only assertion with regard to Christ and the law is that Christ did not come to change one "jot or tittle" of that law. Selderhuis's pneumatological analysis (corresponding to the third aspect of the Trinity) examines Bucer on the role of the Holy Spirit in relation both to the student and to the text itself. With regard to the former, Bucer and Milton agree completely. The Spirit guides a student to an understanding of Scripture, but this does not obviate a need for scholarship; no student with the Spirit guiding, but without study, can completely interpret Scripture. Original languages and an understanding of the world from which Scripture arises are both necessary to the exegetical process. As well, a student must be competent in the technique of scriptural comparative analysis. With regard to the relationship between the Spirit and the text, Bucer rejects Erasmus's views favouring an allegorical interpretation of difficult texts, holding instead that a meaning lies within a text, rather than behind: "Allegoricas igitur istas nugas, ut optarim nullum prorsus locum in Ecclesiis habere, ita nullas uspiam adhibui."1 4 9 The Spirit vivifies the text, and without it the text is merely a collection of dead letters. This understanding of meaning lying always "within" a text, rather than sometimes "behind," parallels another external/internal relationship which has specific bearing on Milton's own arguments regarding divorce. Like Milton, Bucer holds that the true nature of marriage lies in the private and internal love relationship between the conjoined couple, not in that relationship which is alone apparent to external observers, that of a legal nature. Once the love between a couple has broken down, a marriage has collapsed and, in essence, ceases to exist. As we saw in The Doctrine and Discipline. Milton repeatedly contends this very point, holding that only when the love in a marriage has dissolved can adultery, or any 1 4 9 Martin Bucer, Preface to Enarrationes perpetuus in sacra quatuorEvangelia... (Strasbourg, 1530), p. 19. For Erasmus's hermeneutical theory, see Manfred Hoffman, Rhetoric and Theology: The Hermeneutics of Erasmus. (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1994). 94 other violations to the bond, occur. With this dissolution, divorce is a legal formality, rather than a radical alteration.150 Milton and Bucer are not in complete agreement on all points regarding divorce. For example, Bucer holds that divorce is the recourse of Christians whose faith is somehow deficient. As we have shown earlier it is the case, to be sure, that Christians who have a true marriage (that is to say, who have a marriage partner who is both able and willing to do the things for which God instituted marriage) must never again think of divorce. Unfortunately, however, there are also many people who, though they pass for Christians, are not really Christians at heart or belong to the category of very weak Christians. Now the government, whose task it is to govern over the whole population, the majority of whom are still under the law, must deal with such non-Christians and weak Christians in such a way that this disease (their unchristian lifestyle) will do the least possible damage to the community and give a minimal amount of offense. In order to achieve this goal, a government must on occasion permit divorce in order that marriage will be maintained all the better. For God himself has given this order to his people, from whom he desired that it should pursue a holy and wholesome lifestyle.151 Milton would adamantly oppose any such view which would call in question the integrity of his own faith. In The Doctrine and Discipline, he states that a "most sanctify'd" Christian may be in faultless error when choosing a spouse, only to discover the mistake once the union has been instituted; this applies, as well, to both the man and the woman. Lest the soul of a Christian which is inestimable, should be over-tempted and cast away, considering also that many properties of nature, which the power of regeneration it self never alters, may cause dislike of conversing even between the most sanctify'd, which continually grating in harsh tune together may breed some jarre and discord, and that end in rancor and strife, a thing so opposite both to mariage and to Christianitie, it would perhaps be lesse scandal to divorce a natural disparity, then to link violently together an unchristian dissention, committing two ensnared souls inevitably to kindle one another, not with the fire of love, but with a hatred inconcileable.'52 1 5 0 Milton and Bucer are also similar in that they both examine a subject for the principles which subtend the apparent. This is true here, and harkens back to the point made in Chapter I that Milton's divorce argument itself is patterned after the interdependence of his hermeneutic principles. The strength of any argument, indeed the structure of any argument, is only as valid as the principles upon which it is based. Likewise, a marriage can only be as successful as the "private and internal love relationship" on which it depends. 1 5 1 Martin Bucer, Von der Ehe und Ehescheidung. quoted as translated in Selderhuis, 271-2. 1 5 2 CPW II, 279-80. 95 Another point of disagreement arises when Bucer states that every Bible text has as much authority as any other, for all of the Bible has but one divine author, the Holy Spirit. Bucer refers specifically to I Corinthians 7.12, a passage of interest to Milton as well. 1 5 3 Bucer discounts Paul's claim that what he is about to say is not a command but a recommendation, for, as Bucer puts it, "The Holy Spirit, not Paul, wrote this entire letter. The Spirit only used Paul as his instrument."154 Milton argues in The Doctrine and Discipline that Paul is to be taken at his word. But what shall we say then to St. Paul, who seems to bid us not divorce an Infidell willing to stay? We may safely say thus; that wrong collections have been hitherto made out of those words by modern Divines. His drift, as was heard before, is plain: not to command our stay in mariage with an Infidel, that had been a flat renouncing of the religious and morall Law; but to inform the Corinthians that the body of an unbeleever was not defiling, if his desire to live in Christian wedlock shewd any likelihood that his heart was opening to the faith: and therefore advises to forbear departure so long, till nothing have bin neglected to set forward a conversion: this I say he advises, and that with certain cautions; not commands: If we can take up so much credit for him, as to get him beleev'd upon his own word; for what is this els but his counsell in a thing indifferent, to the rest speak I, not the Lord; for though it be true that the Lord never spake it, yet from St. Pauls mouth wee should have took it as a command, had not himself forewarn'd us, and disclaim'd; which, notwithstanding if we shall still avouch to be a command, he palpably denying it, this is not to expound St. Paul, but to out-face him. 1 5 5 Bucer's influence on Milton is noted by Selderhuis in the penultimate paragraph of his study, a passage typical of recent scholarly attitudes toward Milton's divorce work. So as to promote the reading of the book Milton made a rather free translation and omitted certain passages that, in his opinion, could be dispensed with and added a translation of the lengthy passage on divorce from Bucer's commentary on Matthew 5. ... Noteworthy is that where others thought that Bucer would have reconsidered his proposals had he lived longer, Milton assumes the position that if from his place in heaven Bucer was aware of the things that go on here on earth he would certainly not be sorry if his views were put into practice in England. See the text as reprinted as an appendix to Chapter I. De regno christi. 202, in Selderhuis, 273. CPW II, 265-66. 96 Milton had no difficulty agreeing with Bucer's views, mainly, however, because his own marriage could be dissolved only on the grounds mentioned by Bucer! 1 5 6 "Milton had no difficulty agreeing with Bucer's views" because they agreed with his own, and Milton's marriage could only be dissolved if Parliament declared Milton's arguments valid and passed the laws permitting divorce. Milton claims in his Preface to Martin Bucer that the work of The Doctrine and Discipline was his own, and was not the result of another's prior research or speculation. Nevertheless, such agreement of views between the two authors suggests, regardless of Milton's protests to the contrary, some acquaintance with Bucer's work prior to the composition of The Doctrine and Discipline. 1 5 7 Short of relying on pure coincidence, rarely the resort of good scholarship, the reader must acknowledge the contradiction somehow. Unless one is willing, therefore, to accuse Milton of either plagiarism or of fabrication, the remarkable agreement of Bucer's and Milton's hermeneutic principles must be attributed to some other factor. Both Bucer and Milton, for example, express admiration for, and indebtedness to, Erasmus, which must explain some similarities; but then, how many other such authors might they share? Ernest Sirluck's notes to his edition of The Doctrine and Discipline for the CPW repeatedly cite William Perkins, the Cambridge-educated Puritan divine and author of An Exposition of the Lord's Prayer (1592) and 1 5 6 Selderhuis, 372. 1 5 7 The matter of the "Postscript" to the Smectymnuan An Answer needs further research. Milton had no idea, of course, that his work would be as carefully scrutinized as history and his literary merit have deemed necessary. Some believe he is responsible for the "Postscript" (March, 1641) as discussed in Don M. Wolfe's preface and notes to Appendix B, "A Postscript," CPW 1.961. If, however, Milton wrote "A Postscript," then he had acquaintance not only with Bucer's work, but with De regno christi in particular, for herein is not only a reference to Martin Bucer, but a translation from Bucer's work. The short translated passage makes no reference to divorce, but nevertheless requires the question, how could Milton have known of this passage without having read De regno christi. and the passages on divorce? There are obvious explanations, such as that he knew of this passage in Bucer from another author's reference to it, and only translated it because the Smectymnuan piece is in English. The Smectymnuan piece precedes the first of Milton's divorce work by more than two years, and Martin Bucer by more than three: could Milton have forgotten? If one accepts, however, the arguments of Masson, Hale, Wolfe, et al., regarding Milton's composition of "A Postscript", profound questions follow. 97 Reformed Catholike (1597) who, as Selderhuis notes,158 seems influenced by Bucer. In short, the web of secondary influence is ultimately untraceable, but an undeniable influence, albeit at one remove. There is no complete account of Milton's hermeneutic training, and it would make no sense to apply what he himself says in the De doctrina Christiana to this case, for we must search for a verification external to Milton's own words, and for something earlier than the De doctrina Christiana. Fletcher lists a number of works which Milton would have read prior to and during his stay at Cambridge, any combination of which could have given rise to Milton's hermeneutic views, for these texts were absolutely fundamental to Protestant religious education.159 Among them are copies of the Bible in various languages, and of the Hebrew scriptures, of various catechisms, including the Calvinist and the Ursinian, and of religious or devotional books, perhaps the most important of which were Lewis Bayly's The Practise of Pietie (1613) and Richard Rogers's The Practise of Christianity (1618). Milton was not simply absorbing his readings verbatim, for these readings contradict each other at points (for example, the whole episcopal question was raging at the time, and would become the focus of Milton's first polemic flurry). More importantly, he was developing the ability to think for himself, to examine conflicting points of view and to decide which, if any, he favoured, based on principles which he felt lay at the core of each question. On points less hermeneutic, such as the belief that a marriage is broken as soon as the love between its occupants dissolves, Bucer simply asserts what Milton came to learn first through sad experience, and then through scriptural examination. Milton and Bucer were capable of independent thought, of weighing their intellectual options and of choosing whatever best suited the logic of the situation, or of deriving an alternate 1 5 8 Selderhuis, 371. 1 5 9 Harris Francis Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton. 2 vols. (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1961) 11.89-114. 98 solution, if necessary. Thinking for oneself, while admirable, necessitated care, for the subject matter at hand was no less than Scripture itself. Such patterns of problem solving demand anti-literalist views, for while the scope of Scripture is the only parameter whose bounds apply, within those bounds is tremendous variety not only of time and place, but of culture and interest. Great flexibility is necessary, however, for while orthodox doctrine states that Scripture arises from one source only, divine inspiration, the historic interpretation of Scripture has proven notoriously inconsistent. To access the unified, consistent nature of scriptural revelation, both Milton and Bucer understood the need to view the whole canon as one, to recognize and respect its diversity, but to interpret according to a set of principles whose attribution was God's eternal authority. These hermeneutic principles must reflect God's unchanging intention for mankind, authoritarian yet beneficent, and they must clarify the consistency of Scripture, and arise from, yet not be shackled by, the literal text of Scripture. As interpreters, therefore, both Milton and Bucer saw themselves as standing outside the religious and political "envelope" of their own times, floating, as it were, in the truth of hermeneutic eternity. So Milton's "independent" interpretative techniques are not original, nor coujd such a thing be reasonably expected. So long as students of Scripture have been attempting to come to grips with the difficult aspects of their readings, the basic principles which contextualize a passage within the larger body of a work have been recognized as essential. Jerome, more pragmatic than Augustine, asserts many of the same principles, though with less emphasis on the allegorical aspect of exegesis which Augustine inherited from, among others, Origen. Clement and Origen freely borrowed from the exegetical work of Philo Judaeus and of Josephus, Jewish exegetes roughly contemporary with Christ, and who, in turn, were the product of earlier Jewish 99 traditions, and to both of whom Milton refers in his divorce work.1 6 0 Either way, the essential point is one which Milton himself makes in his preface to Martin Bucer, that not only the basic principles of Scriptural exegesis are relevant; an expositor's motives too must remain true to Scripture, and not be seduced by the politics of custom or tradition. It was the early Roman church which reversed divorce laws, in place from much earlier and, in Milton's version, re-interpreted Scripture in order to twist God's laws into "human Canons." No wise Nation ever wanted, till the Popery and superstition of some former ages attempted to remove and alter divine and most prudent Laws for human and most imprudent Canons; wherby good men in the best portion of thir lives, and in that ordinance of God which entitles them from the beginning to most just and requisite contentments, are compell'd to civil indignities, which by the law of Moses bad men were not compell'd to.1 6 1 The Roman abuse of Scripture turns history on its head, for where church tradition portrays the Jews as barbaric persecutors of Christ, as the arch-antichristians, truth would have it that Jewish antiquity supports Christian law (analogia fidei, the principle of scriptural consistency applies from Genesis to the Revelation) and the actual antichristians are the Papists. Be not bound about... by the scanty and unadequat and inconsistent principles of such as condemn others for adhering to traditions, and are themselvs the prostrate worshippers of Custom; and of such a tradition as they can deduce from no antiquitie, but from the rudest, and thickest barbarism of Antichristian times.162 Bucer may have said already many of the same things which Milton argues in The Doctrine and Discipline, but this should surprise nobody, for what both men speak of is a "truth linkt inseparably with the most fundamental rules of Christianity."163 Only by ignoring these rules can an exegete mistake the truth about divorce. A humble and faithful application of these rules or principles would, therefore, lead any student to the same conclusions, and Milton can therefore 1 6 0 Philo is spoken of in The Doctrine and Discipline. CPW II, 288, and in Tetrachordon. CPW II, 593 and 646. Josephus is spoken of in tandem with Philo in the second of the Tetrachordon passages. 1 6 1 CPW II, 438-9. 1 6 2 Ibid, 439. 1 6 3 Ibid, 435. 100 c la im he is no fol lower of Bucer , but a student who walks shoulder to shoulder in eternal time with another student, or, as he puts it, a "collateral teacher." So as I may justly gratulat mine own mind, with due acknowledgement of assistance f rom above, which led me, not as a lerner, but as a collateral teacher, to a sympathy of judgment with no lesse a man then Mart in Bucer. A n d he, i f our things heer below arrive h i m where he is, does not repent h i m to see that point of knowledge which he first, and with an uncheckt freedom preacht to those more knowing times of Eng land , now found so necessary, though what he admonisht were lost out o f our memory, yet that G o d doth now again create the same doctrin in another unwritt'n table, and raises it up immediatly out o f his pure oracle to the convincement of a pervers age, eager in the reformation of names and ceremonies, but in realities as traditional and as ignorant as their forefathers. 1 6 4 Both men are instruments o f G o d , led to teach the same doctrine, but, because the Engl i sh ignored Bucer, M i l t o n now serves as God's second teacher of this first truth. W e r e a critic to accuse h im of plagiarism (and this self-justificatory passage is quite long, indicating that he is concerned to exonerate himself o f any suspicion), M i l t o n points out that he came across Grotius's views first, before Bucer's, and cites them openly four times in the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine. After Grotius , he also uncovered Fagius, w h o m he cites four times for the second edition. None of these three men, Grotius , Fagius , and Bucer, agree exactly with each other, though each may be understood as having been led in varying degrees by G o d ; yet the two closest in thought, Fagius and Bucer , though friends, and fellow exiles to Eng land , companions at Cambridge , do not mention each other in their works on divorce, despite their congruence of opinions. So close were the teachings of these two men, indeed, that four years after the R o m a n Catholics gained the upper hand with the coronation of M a r y in 1553, the bodies o f both Bucer and Fagius were disinterred f rom their separate graveyards and taken to a c o m m o n site for public burning, surrounded with sequestered heaps of their condemned writings. Nevertheless, though Bucer and Fagius may well have discussed with each other their views on marriage and divorce, CPW II, 435-6. 101 Milton, separated by the better part of a century, could only have shared in their thoughts through their texts. Even so, as Milton pointedly attests, he disagrees with Bucer at least in form, and has the courtesy not to mention the various points of disagreement discussed above. I soon perceav'd, but not without amazement, in the same opinion, confirm'd with the same reasons which in that publisht book without the help or imitation of any precedent Writer, I had labour'd out, and laid together. Not but that there is some difference in the handling, in the order, and the number of arguments, but still agreeing in the same conclusion.165 Milton uses the sad event of Bucer's and Fagius's disinterment and burning for some very peculiar humour at the end of his preface. Should his detractors still condemn his argument after reading Martin Bucer, they must accept that they have not only defaced, in opposing his views, the reputations of these two eminent reformers once again, but they are guilty of the same disgusting and macabre behaviour (by our present standards, at least) which characterized the persecutors of the two earlier reformers. Nor that I think to win upon your apprehensions with numbers and with names, rather then with reasons, yet certainly the worst of my detracters will not except against so good a baile [the opinions of Bucer and Fagius] of my integritie and judgement, as now appeares for me. They must els put in the fame of Bucer and of Fagius, as my accomplices and confederals into the same endightment; they must dig up the good name of these prime worthies (if thir names could be ever buried), they must dig them up and brand them as the Papists did thir bodies; and those thir pure unblamable spirits, which live not only in heaven, but in thir writings, they must attaint with new attaintures which no Protestant ever before aspers't them with. 1 6 6 By their opposition, Milton's reputation would be forced into conjunction with those of Bucer and Fagius in indictment and, if condemned* they would be "branded," or stigmatized, all together, making his, with theirs, a martyr to the cause. Therefore, in order to enhance his reputation and his argument, Milton retroactively thrusts himself into the flames beside Bucer and Fagius. CPW II, 435. Ibid, 440. 102 This martyr identity, while ironically linked with that "Papistical" sort against whom Milton has historically opposed himself167, has its own place of honour in the Reformed camp, of which Milton now partakes with the invocation of Bucer. Milton quotes in Martin Bucer none other than John Foxe, the central figure of Renaissance English martyrology. Foxe's own relation of Bucer's and Fagius's persecution (Milton's excerpt is a blend of Foxe's with that of Conradus Hubertus) is worth inclusion here, for Milton's audience would certainly have been familiar with The Acts and Monuments. The Vicechancellor therefore taking with him Marshall the common Notarie, went first to St. Michaels Church where Phagius was buried. There he called forth Andrew Smith, Henrie Sawyer, and Henrie Adams, men of the same Parish, and bound them with an oath, to dig up Phagius bones, and to bring them to the place of execution. Marshall took their oaths, receiving the like of Roger Smith and William Hasell the Town Sergeants, and of J. Caper, Warden of the same Church, for doing the like with Bucer. Smith the Maior of the Town, which should be their executioner (for it was not lawfull for them to intermeddle in cases of blood,) commanded certain of his Towns-men to wait upon him in harnesse, by whom the dead bodies were guarded, and being bound with ropes, and laid upon mens shoulders (for they were enclosed in Chests, Bucer in the same that he was buried, and Phagius in a new,) they were born into the midst of the Market stead, with a great train of people following them. This place was prepared before, and a great post was set fast in the ground to binde the carkases to, and a great heap of wood was laid ready to bum them withall. When they came thither, the Chests were set up on end with the dead bodies in them, and fastned on both sides with stakes, and bound to the post with a long iron chain, as if they had been alive. Fire being forthwith put to, as soon as it began to flame round bout, a great sort of books that were condemend with them, were cast into the same. There was that day gathered into the Town a great multitude of countrey folke (for it was Market day) who seeing men born to execution, and learning by inquirie that they were dead before, partly detested and abhorred the extreme crueltie of the Commissioners toward the rotten carkasses, and partly laughted at their folly in making such preparative. For what needeth any weapon, said they? As though they were afraid that the dead bodies, which felt them not, would do them some harme: Or to what purpose serveth that Chaine wherewith they were 1 Consider again the quotation from Of Prelatical Episcopacy (1641, CPW 1,626-7) wherein Milton attacks his opponents for their manipulation of their audience "by divulging needlesse tractats stuff t with specious names of Ignatius, and Polycarpus, with fragments of old Martyrologies, and legends, to distract, and stagger the multitude of credulous readers." 103 tyed, since they might be burnt loose without perill? for it was not to be feared that they would run away. Thus, everie bodie that stood by found fault with the cruelnesse of the deed, either sharply or else lightly, as everie mans minde gave him. There were very few that liked their doing therein.168 The gruesome act was witnessed by crowds of "country folk" come to market, whose common sense protested against the vanity of burning men already deceased. The authorities were, of course, burning not to kill the men but to destroy their reputations by treating their bodies as the remains of heretics. Milton's strategy is to point up once again the horror and foolishness of such persecution, and to share in some of their honour and fame by standing shoulder to shoulder in opinion with these "martyrs," writing not in the Latin of the academies, but to all England in the vernacular, the language of both Parliament and of the "country folk." 3. The Bipolarity of Martin Bucer There is a curious ambivalence to Martin Bucer. for while Milton takes pains to buttress his divorce argument and his hermeneutics through an appeal to the opinions of one of the Reformation's most respected writers, much of his focus is also directed at his contemporary audience, with whom he is openly disillusioned. Despite all of his hard work, they are not taking his points. The most interesting contributions of Martin Bucer are, therefore, the fact that Milton bothered to publish the tract at all, and what he has to say to Parliament in the Preface which, considering the length of the tract itself, is disproportionately long. Milton has allied himself with historical pedagogues, such as Bucer and Fagius, despite the agonies of their temporal sufferings. Their truths, including their arguments in favour of divorce, are of paramount 1 6 8 John Foxe. Acts and Monuments. 3 vols. (London: The Company of Stationers, 1641) 111,771. 104 importance, far more so than the woes of this life. With such an alliance, Milton also manages to bifurcate his audience into the eternal audience which recognizes the validity of the divorce argument (which must be imagined to include not only God himself, but Bucer and Fagius, as well as all of like mind who will eventually read his work), and the contemporary audience, misinformed and misled. His aim, like Bucer's, is to bring the mistaken contemporary audience to the enlightened eternal audience, and this bipolarity is reflected in the bicipitous structure of the tract itself. The tract takes up only forty octavo pages, of which eight are devoted to the Preface, and another two to a Postscript; Milton's two personal offerings, therefore, total 25% of the whole. Bucer is honoured, on the other hand, with 75% of the tract's content. The most intense prose of the tract occurs in Milton's own writings, however, for these sections intend to give impetus and specific direction to the translations of Bucer. The intended contemporary audience of Martin Bucer is Parliament. Considering the actual makeup of this highest political body, which in his preface Milton refers to as the "Supreme Court of Parlament," "that house of justice and true liberty," and whose deliberations he calls "the prosperous issue of your noble and valorous counsels," he could hardly have been so deluded as to believe that this patchwork of political representation could have effected his proposed reforms. A . N . Wilson describes the truncated body of Parliament at the end of 1643: By the end of [1643] the legislation of the country was being determined, in effect, by a dozen peers (most days no more than five sat in the House), perhaps a hundred MPs and the sixty or eighty Presbyterian divines, many of them Scotch, who sat in the nearby Jerusalem Chamber as a consequence of the so-called Westminster Assembly. This motley collection of people, only half of whom had been elected to speak for their fellow-Englishmen (and nearly all of whose members were dispersed in their constituencies, never to return to Westminster) was the body which Milton was to address.169 A.N. Wilson, The Life of John Milton (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983) 124-5. 105 Despite the address to Parliament, Milton's intended audience also included the general populace (and of that, of course, the literate and educated portion) out of whom would eventually be elected large parts of the complete parliamentary body, once the turmoil of civil discord had settled. Whether or not the tract is addressed to the highest political body in the land, therefore, Milton is also re-presenting his argument, a case more fully and eloquently developed in his previous tracts, to specific criticisms of his opponents. The address to Parliament is, functionally, no more than a statement that the matter is worthy of the highest council, even though the opinions of Parliament were deeply influenced by the Westminster Assembly of Divines, a body appointed by Parliament and which had so far vehemently opposed Milton's divorce work. The fact that both Parliament and Church opposed Milton forced upon him a sense of isolation, and impressed upon him that he was, in fact, another member of the powerless mass of the general populace who could debate all they wanted, but who had no real power to implement their opinions. Milton was unhappy with this idea, for he knew himself not to be, at least intellectually, another member of the great mass of the "common" people. His arguments on divorce had not only merit but the authority of Scripture, and as Scripture is an eternal authority, Milton believed that it was Parliament which would have to change its position. Milton was not alone in his views, as this translation of Bucer's opinions proves, but, if the reception of The Doctrine and Discipline was any means by which to gauge his audience, he appeared to be, by and large, alone in his own time and place. He had, then, to resort to a position of intellectual exile, or solitude, cast out by his non-conformity, and Martin Bucer represents the working out of this resolution. His refusal to accept the apparent will of Parliament and Church regarding divorce left but one alternative identity — one akin to that of a prophet whose very isolation 106 reinforces, rather than diminishes, the authority and power of his voice, "crying," as it were, "in the wilderness." How, then, did Milton pattern his cry? The Preface may be broken down, by and large, into clearly delineated sections of three basic sorts: there are portions of justification, either of Milton himself or of Bucer; there are portions which identify the role and responsibility of the Parliament, while offering encouragement; and there are portions of attack against adversaries. The justifications take up the vast majority of the Preface, and those involving Milton himself provide very interesting biographical material. Milton explains that he had almost finished composing the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline before he came across the opinions of Hugo Grotius, the first of his major non-scriptural supports. Grotius dealt with the question "reasonably," but there was more: "somthing he whisper'd rather then disputed about the law of charity, and the true end of wedlock," both of which points, "the law of Charity," and "the true end of wedlock," are central to The Doctrine and Discipline argument. Grotius's opinions were incorporated and Milton sent the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline to the printer, rather than pursue any further extra-scriptural evidence, "for God, it seems, intended to prove me, whether I durst alone take up a rightful cause against a world of disesteem, & found I durst."170 The pulpit railing against his pamphlet drove him to prepare a rebuttal, in the form of a second edition, during which preparation Milton discovered the further supporting opinions of Fagius. Believing that Parliament was populated by learned, reasonable, and good men, Milton did not endeavour to over-justify his argument with names and citations, but sent the second edition to press armed with little more than his own learning, reason, and good cause. There were those, he notes cryptically, who supported him, CPW II, 434. 107 and eased the attack of others' "odious inferences" and "indiscreet censure": "Nor doth the event hitherto, for some reasons which I shall not heer deliver, faile me of what I conceiv'd so highly." Only after the second edition had been available nearly three months did Milton "come to hear" of the opinions of Martin Bucer on marriage and divorce, and, while already satisfied with his own argument, he now set forth Bucer's thoughts, that "I may be fully justify'd also in the eyes of men."171 The timing is interesting, but the concept of like-minded help is more so. No names are named, but there is the coincidence that the help found in Parliament, and the help which led him to the work of Bucer are mentioned in such close textual quarters. Neither Masson nor Parker mentions John Selden, but other critics note the possibility that Selden, whom Milton himself refers to in The Doctrine and Discipline, had a strong influence on Milton's later divorce argument.172 Selden certainly knew of Grotius's divorce work, and so could well have pointed Milton in that direction or recommended specific texts. As well, though Selden's own great work on marriage and divorce, the Uxor ebraica. would not be published until 1646, it was, by his own testimony, finished in manuscript by 1640. Milton may, or may not, have had direct guidance while in preparation of his own writings (he categorically denies any such thing) but he was certainly aware of the Parliamentarian Selden, to whom he had twice referred specifically in The Doctrine and Discipline, and who may well have mentioned a thing or two in passing. Unfortunately, there is no record or evidence of their meeting, but then, there is no record, despite exhausting research, of the majority of events in the lives of even the most eminent seventeenth-century figures. The coincidences of their both having written on marriage and divorce, and of Milton referring to Selden repeatedly, coax cautious speculation. 1 7 1 CPW II. 435. 1 7 2 The first to note a connection seems to be Eivion Owen, in his "Milton and Selden on Divorce," Studies in Philology 43 (1946): 237-257. 108 4. Milton's Prophetic Sense Such a peculiar handling o f the matter, as we see in the combination o f Mi l ton ' s deferential tone to Parliament with his admonitory citation o f the posthumous fate o f Bucer's and Fagius's bodies, extends our understanding of Milton's vision of himself as a prophet. In the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , M i l t o n speaks o f himself suffering ignominiously while offering up the truth to "the draffe o f men." T h i s vision continues in Mart in Bucer: F o r G o d , it seems, intended to prove me, whether I durst alone take up a rightful cause against a world o f disesteem, & found I durst . 1 7 3 A retreat f rom the approbation of contemporary opinion to a position allied historically with righteous, though persecuted, figures necessitated a psychical fragmentation, a setting aside for sacrifice o f a part o f his self-image. T h i s part o f the self, resigned to the flames with Bucer and Fagius, fulfil led the need for a prophet to suffer. T h e process is also indicative of an increasing autospecularism 1 7 4 in M i l t o n , a trait which would develop to signature status for the invocations of Paradise Lost . T h u s with the Y e a r Seasons return, but not to me returns D a y , or the sweet approach of Ev 'n or M o m , O r sight of vernal b loom, or Summers Rose, O r flocks, or heards, or human face divine; B u t c loud in stead, and ever-during dark Surrounds me, from the chearful wayes of men C u t off, and for the B o o k of knowledg fair Presented with a Universal blanc O f Nature's works to mee expung'd and ras'd, A n d wisdome at one entrance quite shut out. So much the rather thou Celestial light Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers 1 7 3 CPW II, 434. 1 7 4 'auto' (selO + 'speculor -ari' (watch, observe). Milton not only practises narcissism, but manipulates the self-vision, as in the case above where he places himself in the persecutory branding fire with Bucer and Fagius. 109 Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist f rom thence Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell O f things invisible to mortal s ight . 1 7 5 M i l t o n is separated from all things visible to his fellow man, but in replacement for this loss he requests, and is presumably granted, sight somewhere within himself o f other things denied to all but the chosen prophet. T h e technique of this separation is quite clever for, while M i l t o n is a l ly ing himself with the suffering of these eminent "martyrs," he is suffering no real cost . 1 7 6 T h e fires o f his own martyrdom are imaginary; it is only his self-image which burns in the eyes of his detractors while his esteem soars, he hopes, in the eyes of eternity. T h i s fragmented vis ion, this second self, is an heroic character, God's own instrument of teaching, prophetic, floating supratemporally in the eternity o f God's truth, f ighting shoulder to shoulder with the likes o f Bucer and Fagius against those their persecutors who have bound this divorce matter to controversy. Certainly i f it be in mans discerning to sever providence f rom chance, I could allege many instances, wherein there would appear cause to esteem o f me no other then a passive instrument under some power and counsel higher and better then can be human, working to a general good in the whole cours o f this matter. 1 7 7 I would ask now the foremost o f m y profound accusers, whether they dare affirm that to be licentious, new and dangerous, which Mart in Bucer so often, and so urgently avoucht to be most lawfull , most necessary, and most Christ ian, without the lest blemish to his good name, among all the worthy men o f that age, and since, who testifie so highly of him? If they dare, they must then set up an arrogance o f their own against all those Churches and Saints who honour'd h im without this exception: 1 7 8 1 7 5 Paradise Lost. III. 40-55. (1674) 1 7 6 The technique is clever, but time-honoured. Consider, for example, the explanation for the term "Azazel", ("scapegoat" in Leviticus 16:8,10,26) as provided by the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, van der Toorn, Becking, and van der Horst, eds. (Leiden: Brill, 1995) 240-48. It is the process of fragmentation for sacrifice which I wish to note here, not the function of a scapegoat, for, despite the frequent culpability of the biblical Hebrews and the potential for identifying their faults with those of his own opponents, Milton gives no hint of accessing the scapegoat identity for himself. 1 7 7 CPW II, 433. 1 7 8 Ibid, 436. 110 Self-distancing is increasingly characteristic o f Milton's treatment o f his role in the controversy. In the preface to Mart in Bucer . he repeatedly refers to himself in the third person. A n d he, [Bucer] i f our things heer below arrive h im where he is, does not repent h im to see that point o f knowledge which he first, and with an uncheckt freedom preacht to those more knowing times o f Eng land , now found so necessary, though what he admonisht were lost out o f our memory, yet that G o d doth now again create the same doctrin in another unwritt'n table, and raises it up immediatly out o f his pure oracle to the convincement of a pervers age, eager in the reformation of names and ceremonies, but in realities as traditional and as ignorant as their forefathers. 1 7 9 (my italics) Mi l ton ' s mind , or at least his argument, is this "unwritten table," this tabula rasa, on which G o d inscribes his doctrine, which he "raises up immediately out o f his pure oracle" for all peoples. H e does not refer to himself as "me," or "the unwritten table which is me," but as "another," a companion not only to Bucer's "unwritten table" but to Milton's temporal self as well . Bucer is, at the moment o f Milton's writing, floating free o f time, presumably in Heaven, but at least somewhere supratemporal; and further, there is a possibility o f communicat ion with h i m , for Milton's argument may well be speeding to h im, A n d he, i f our things heer below arrive h i m where he is, does not repent h i m to see that point o f knowledge which he first, and with an uncheckt freedom preacht to those more knowing times o f E n g l a n d . 1 8 0 Later in the preface, M i l t o n extends the analogy of himself as a virgin fertility on which G o d may demonstrate his doctrines. T h i n k not that G o d rais'd up in vain a man [Bucer] o f greatest autority in the C h u r c h to tell a trivial and licentious tale in the eares of that good Prince, and to bequeath it as his last wi l l and testament, nay rather as the testament and rpyall law of Christ to this Nat ion, or that it should of it self after so many yeares, as it were in a new fei ld where it was never sow'n, grow up again as a vitious plant in the minde o f another, who had spoke honestest things to the Nation; though he knew not that what his youth then reason'd without a pattern, had bin heard already, and well a l low'd from the gravity and worth of Martin Bucer. till CPW II, 436. Ibid, 436. I l l meeting with the envy of men ignorant in thir own undertak'n calling, God directed him to the forgott'n Writings of this faithfull Evangelist, to be his defence and warrant against the gross imputation of broaching licence.181 (my bold text) This is Milton's own text, from the preface to Martin Bucer. yet each of the bolded pronouns refer to Milton himself, in the third person, as though when writing his divorce argument he envisioned himself as two separate entities, the one who suffers and the other who bears witness to these sufferings. What he did through Bucer's testimony to Edward VI, God is doing again with Milton, for, as noted in the above quotation, "what he admonisht were lost out of our memory." The terminology echoes not only the Old Testament fate of God's words at the hands of the forgetful Hebrews, but also God's faithful and frequent offering of prophets who would repeat for him warnings and teachings, despite the faithlessness of their intended object. Milton is "a new field ... never sown"182 in which God plants his seed of doctrine. Once grown to maturity, this "plant" composed The Doctrine and Discipline, completely innocent of Bucer's having already addressed the same matters to the nation. Suffering the persecution of ignorant ecclesiastics, God led his servant to Bucer's writings, that from these he might buttress his role as God's defence and warrant. Milton thrice refers to himself in the above quotation with the third-person pronouns, "he," "his," and "him," and once with the relative pronoun "who." The Milton who writes this preface has separated and thrust off into the eternity of events a portion of himself as an heroic character, a willing instrument, patterned on those few who precede him in the service of God's CPW II, 438. The adjective 'vitious' is negated by the second word of the quotation. 112 truth, such as Bucer, or o f Sulpitius Severus and his Chronic le , to which M i l t o n refers in O f Reformat ion . 1 8 3 One more time, near the end o f the preface, M i l t o n refers to himself at a distance: "there lives yet w h o . . . " (i.e., Mi l ton) , a scholar to serve as the defence and warrant o f Bucer himself. there livs yet who wi l l be ready, in a fair and christianly discussive way, to debate and sift this matter to the utmost ounce of l eming and religion, in h im that shall lay it as an error, either upon Martin Bucer, or any other o f his o p i n i o n . 1 8 4 (my bold text) T h i s higher, separate self which M i l t o n has imagined, an heroic alter ego who shall fight for the principles and persons associated with truth, now "lives," and shall remain prepared beyond the time frame of this (or, presumably, any other) controversy, defending the embattled adherents o f truth. T h e aspect o f Milton's heroic alter ego, this aspect o f self offered up on an altar as a sacrifice for truth, is l inked with hermeneutic principles through its supratemporality. A l l four "great directors" f rom T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine , discussed in the previous chapter, Reason, H u m a n Nature, G o o d Example , and Charity , are part o f an eternal "big picture." T h e y are part o f God's plan for mankind, at least as it pertains to Scripture. T h e y stand above the errors o f custom and tradition, for these two are firmly rooted in temporality. Reason is the means by which the thoughts o f men o f all ages may speak together. H u m a n nature is the manner in which G o d molded us f rom the beginning, and is the aspect which links our behaviour sympathetically to Others, from the beginning to the present, f rom A d a m to our own brother. G o o d examples are no 1 8 3 CPW 1,543. Milton's research taught him that, for the sake of self-respect and integrity, he would have to divorce himself from the examples of his own times, as indeed the coincidence of these two authors, Sulpitius and Bucer teach him. The quotation of Sulpitius to which Milton refers in Of Reformation praises the quality of penury in fifth century bishops, the exact opposite of that quality in sixteenth century bishops which Bucer derides in the quotation translated, possibly by Milton, in the "Postscript". For more on Sulpitius, see G. K. van Andei's The Christian Concept of History in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1976). 1 8 4 CPW II, 440. 113 more than the instances o f that human behaviour which our reason may f ind in any historical time to illustrate, clarify, and validate our own behaviour. Last ly , Charity is the attitude which G o d exhibits toward mankind, and which, emanating f rom the eternal divine, is itself eternal. Milton's "big picture" extends from the beginning to the end o f time, f rom creation to the apocalypse and beyond. It is the over-arching, unchanging, ever-present state of affairs, includes everything, and is coordinated by God's truth. Historical events are no more than the working out o f God's plan and have no effect on the "big picture." A s far as mankind is concerned, the only thing which has undergone permanent change in this "big picture" is human nature, which suffers the effects o f mortality introduced by the fal l . Nevertheless, wherever possible, this fallen nature is not an absolute loss, but a good thing constantly threatened; most o f what existed prelapsarially still exists. M i l t o n hearkens back constantly to the beginning of a thing in order to f ind its true nature, as he does with mankind. T h e true nature of marriage is to be found in E d e n , when it was first instituted by G o d . T h e true meaning of Scripture is to be found in the original languages, and especially Hebrew which was given by G o d to mankind as his first language. T h e true meaning of any particular passage in Scripture must be found in its consistency with other like passages, but it must be sought out most carefully in those passages which are earliest in Scripture. Truth is eternal and is to be found in the earliest form o f anything, for it is here that God's influence is clearest. F o r example, M i l t o n refers constantly to the "first reformers" as having had the clearest vision for the protestant C h u r c h . T h e y publisht this doctrine of divorce, as an article o f their confession, after they had taught so eight and twenty years, through all those times, when that Cit ie flourisht, and excel l 'd most, both in religion, lerning, and good goverment, under those first restorers o f the Gospel there, Zel l ius , H e d i o , Capi to , Fagius, and those who incomparably then govern'd the Common-wea l th , Farrerus and Sturmius . 1 8 5 CPW II. 433. 114 There wi l l be due to them for this their unadvised rashnes . . . a round reproof . . . to be so unacquainted in the writings of Bucer , [and] . . . to condemn that for lewd . . . and for new, that which was taught by these almost the first and greatest authors of reformation, who were never taxt for so teaching . . . and confest in the public confession of a most orthodoxall C h u r c h & state in G e r m a n y . 1 8 6 G o d , that I may ever magnifie and record this his goodnes, hath unexpectedly rais'd up as it were from the dead, more then one famous light o f the; first reformation to bear witnes with m e , 1 8 7 God's intention, "from the beginning," was that men have happy lives, upon which this prohibition against divorce obtrudes. G o o d men in the best portion of thir lives, and in that ordinance of G o d which entitles them from the beginning to most just and requisite contentments, are compel l 'd to c iv i l indignities, which by the law o f Moses bad men were not compel l 'd to . 1 8 8 N o t surprisingly, Bucer implies the same principle in those texts which M i l t o n translates, namely, that what was established first, in the beginning, is God's wi l l . O u r Saviour came to preach repentance, and remission; . . . he recall 'd them to a right interpretation, and taught that the woman in the beginning was so j o y n ' d to the man, that there should be a perpetual union both in body and spirit: where this is not, the matrimony is already b r o k e . 1 8 9 W h i l e technically Bucer and Fagius were not themselves burned at the stake, their reputations and their ideas were certainly martyred at the hands of the Mar ian Catholics . M a r t y r d o m , a death of highest honour for the sake of one's faith, propels its sufferer into a pantheon of Christ ian heroes catalogued by John Foxe in his A c t s and Monuments . These figures serve as eternal proponents o f the Christ ian faith, and it is that eternal nature of truth, that voice of prophecy, to which M i l t o n aspires with his martyr identity. CPW II, 436. Ibid, 438. Ibid, 438-9. Ibid, 456. 115 5. Conclusions T h e main accomplishment of Mart in Bucer is to clarify the process by which M i l t o n re-affirms his hermeneutic principles. These principles are a necessary tool of every faithful reading of Scripture and a part o f the eternal truth o f Scripture. Granted, the principles arise f rom a long and intense education, but M i l t o n has personalized them by imbuing them, as Bucer d id , with the qualities o f "reason" and o f "human nature". M i l t o n also eternalizes those few individuals, including himself, w h o best exemplify the studious, faith-driven advocates o f God's truths. There is a degree o f psychological fragmentation in this process, which itself may be the first indication o f damage, not only at the hands of his detractors, but also as a reaction to his deteriorating physical state, and the intense stress o f his political isolation and marital separation. M i l t o n believes himself to be chosen by G o d , and that his writings serve as a "defence and warrant" of God's truths. H e separates from the performance of his everyday functions and misfortunes another self who struggles in the eternal course o f God's truth against the inevitable troop o f adversaries. W i t h Mart in Bucer . Mi l ton appeals to an audience much greater temporally than those who wil l not listen to h im in his own time. H e executes this appeal by two means: the first is through the occasional inclusion o f biographical materials; the second, and far more striking, is by identifying himself with the martyrs. W h e n an author suffers death for unbending beliefs or principles, this fate imbues his writings with an eternal sense o f that individual's honour and conviction. M i l t o n attempts to access all o f these qualities for himself and his writings, without suffering any of the martyr's misfortunes, when he associates the posthumous burning of Bucer and Fagius with his own reputation and work. H e states that a "good name" cannot, in fact, be "dug up" or "branded," yet by associating his writings with theirs, through a demonstration o f 116 their c o m m o n opinions on divorce, and by invoking the fact that the actual books containing Bucer's and Fagius's writings were piled against the pyre of their corpses, M i l t o n extrapolates the suffering of these two across eighty years, pi l ing, as it were, their burning books against that o f Milton's own which the reader holds in his hands. Mart in Bucer serves a number of purposes. One's initial impression is that it is no more than a simple gathering and translation of the "good example", the opinions, o f an eminent reformer, opinions on divorce which just happen to be in agreement with those of M i l t o n . Appearances can be deceiving, however, for the tract also, secondly, reiterates those very hermeneutic principles, the reasonability, which underlie these opinions, and for which M i l t o n had suffered abuse at the hands of his detractors. T h i r d l y , the tract performs one of those acts o f virtual theatre characteristic o f the best rhetoric, wherein the audience is emotionally manipulated, the veracity of their human nature is appealed to, under the guise of the purely intellectual. F ina l ly , and most importantly, Mart in Bucer displays the strategy by which John M i l t o n develops his separated, eternal persona: he refers to himself in the third person, in terms reminiscent o f some prophets and martyrs, and reminds us that he speaks in the face of persecution of the eternal matters o f Charity , o f G o d , and of his Scripture. Ult imately, the "four directors" of this appeal, an appeal to principles which were established f r o m the beginning, justifies M i l t o n , bringing all time and all truth to this one locus, converting Milton's larger argument and this small tract from a forty page pamphlet on divorce into a testament of the contemporaneity and immediacy of eternity. 117 CHAPTER III Colasterion: Radical Hermeneutics as Prophetic Castigation What a Boarish Adject ive you joyne with a Polititian. Polititian is a title worthie o f honour and respect, and why you should so disgrace it with this homely language, I cannot imagine; except it be, because Polititians ordinarily differ f rom you in this your opinion. F o r although its l ikely some Polititians sometimes at a time of need are content to make use o f others then their own wives, yet to be divorced from their own upon a little contrariety of mindes or dispositions, Polititians wi l l not easily agree to it. ( A n A n s w e r to a B o o k , intituled. T h e Doctrine and Disc ip l ine o f Divorce , p. 17) 118 1. Introduction: The Place and Nature of Colasterion T h e first thing which strikes a reader about Colasterion, M i l t o n ' s third divorce tract, is the language. Interspersed among discussions of C h u r c h doctrine, ancient languages, and legal precedent are words and expressions one might expect to hear f lung about in the street between contending fishmongers. A passage from the tract to which M i l t o n is replying, chosen as this chapter's title page quotation, shows his opponent is worthy o f such abuse. Mi l ton ' s two final divorce pamphlets were published together on M a r c h 4, 1645, yet while both address the same subject matter, they could not be more different in tone and focus. Where Tetrachordon is a long, careful re-examination o f the four scriptural passages central to the divorce question, Co las ter ion 1 9 0 is a much shorter tract o f forty pages, and is the fullest representation of the anger and despair which had been building in John M i l t o n throughout this period. W h i c h tract was composed when is an important issue only to bibliographers. Tetrachordon. is, for the purely hermeneutic quest, the more important o f the two tracts and wil l be dealt with in the next chapter, yet a close reading of Colasterion retrieves valuable materials not found in any o f the other three divorce tracts. Colasterion is one o f the most startling documents in the Mi l ton ic corpus, radiating anger and disdain in virtually unremittent streams. If M i l t o n failed to maintain an intellectual distance and dignity during a period of what was never less than crushing emotional turmoil , it is here in Colasterion. H i s protracted separation f rom M a r y 1 9 0 Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992). Liddell and Scott list this substantive form as: KoA,aoTr)piOV, "house of correction, or chastisement, or punishment" and "instrument of correction, chastisement, or punishment" as in KoXaoxr|pia Qalnaor\q. The traditional role of the prophet is certainly one who chastises, and offers corrected alternatives to the errors of his audience. The punishing aspect of KoA,aO"rr)ptOV is less traditional, but one which the furious "prophet" Milton might have chosen to assume in response to his detractors. 119 Powel l and fear for his eyesight awoke with h im each morning and went to bed with h i m each evening, constantly eroding any possible sense of well-being; such invincible companions inevitably took their toll on his temper. T h e objects o f his wrath, as is so often the case in similar circumstances, may not have been, then, the true source o f his pain, but bystanders o f a sort, though hardly innocent. T h e co-authors of A n A n s w e r to a B o o k . Intituled. T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine of D i v o r c e . 1 9 1 the "serving-man" and his more learned successor, Joseph C a r y l , are opponents to Mi l ton ' s cause , 1 9 2 granted, but there were many: M i l t o n had railed against textual "literalists" in T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , and against short-sighted divines o f the Westminster Assembly in Mart in Bucer . yet against neither with such vitriol. M i l t o n could hardly have remained unaffected by the emotional intensity o f the subject matter; 1 9 3 indeed, history has spent far more ink on his personal motivation, the separation from M a r y Powel l in 1642, than on his argument itself. Curious ly , Colasterion has been left virtually untouched by scholarly inquiry, and yet it alone provides explicit evidence o f M i l t o n ' s eventual and inevitable explosive reaction to the controversy. T h e vehemence with which M i l t o n repudiates the authors of A n A n s w e r is not seen in either of the two prior divorce tracts, or in any of the other writings which he composed during this same period (including O f Educat ion. [June, 1644] and Areopagi t ica [November, 1644]), yet in Colasterion. his ferocity and scorn is astonishing. "In the Colasterion 1 9 1 An, Answer to a Book. Intituled. The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce London, 1644. (Hereafter referred to as "An Answer"). The text quoted in this chapter is from the microfilm copy of the University Microfilms International holdings at U. B. C. (Early English Books, 1641-1700; 7:4,231:E.17[12].) 1 9 2 Reference to these persons will generally be to the "author," or to the "servingman". Which parts of the tract were actually composed by Caryl is impossible to tell, though Milton does give hints as to where he believes Caryl is involved. 1 9 3 Speaking of this aspect of Milton's prose in the divorce tracts, Barbara Lewalski writes, "He wrote nothing so charged with unconscious self-revelation as his passionate descriptions of loneliness, courtship, and incompatible wives, and of the wife he wanted but did not get. ... He describes the pain of loneliness, disappointment, and despair so feelingly that he must have exerpienced it acutely." The Life of John Milton. Rev. ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003) 155. 120 M i l t o n is abusive, incoherent, i l logical , and very, very angry ." 1 9 4 Ultimately, the purgative effect of Colasterion served its purpose, but Mi l ton ' s pride and intellectual dignity could not remain unshaken by such a violent reaction and its impact would force a critical re-evaluation of both his argument and, more importantly, his role in the greater forum o f Christ ian controversy. A n A n s w e r was not originally finished, but set aside by the "servingman," only to be taken up shortly thereafter by Joseph C a r y l , a member of the influential Westminster A s s e m b l y of D i v i n e s , 1 9 5 and he whose name appears as licenser, with the fo l lowing short and unnecessary note of approval for the tract's contents: T o preserve the strength of the Mariage-bond and the Honour of that estate, against those sad breaches and dangerous abuses of it, which c o m m o n discontents (on this side Adultery) are l ikely to make in unstaied mindes and men given to change, by taking in or grounding themselves upon the opinion answered, and with good reason confuted in this Treatise, I have approved the printing and publishing o f i t . 1 9 6 It was not the duty o f a licenser to state the reasons for approving a work for publication, but s imply to permit or to deny that publication. C a r y l ' s statement is an abuse o f his office, and an outright act o f bul lying, no doubt politically motivated, and imply ing , by the very appearance of such a statement opposite the title page, that the political body w h o m he serves shares his views regarding Mi l ton ' s work. Colasterion swings as far from the pure argument for divorce as M i l t o n was to go during the progress o f his four tracts. T h e language is often colourful , i f not outright rude and disdainful, and this derogates f rom any sense of the tract as a serious contribution to the divorce 1 9 4 William Riley Parker, Milton's Contemporary Reputation (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1940) 21. 195The nature and impact of the work of this body is explained succinctly in the three entries, "Westminster Assembly," "Westminster Catechisms," and "Westminster Confession," in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Cross and Livingstone, eds. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997). 1 9 6 Referring to the transcription of An Answer provided with this chapter will show this passage's location on the page facing the title page. As it is written by Caryl, one of the authors of the tract itself, it can be considered part of the actual text of An Answer. 121 argument. 1 9 7 M i l t o n acknowledges this at the close of the piece, and he pleads that he was left without choice because his adversary was an unlearned foo l , abusive and crude, even declaring that the best end of T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine would be consignment to the hangman's flames. That his argument might be condemned by so unworthy a judge, and that this condemnation might be trotted out into the public forum under the imprimatur of an official licencer, irked M i l t o n very badly. T h e reader senses, at one point, that he is ready not s imply to leave off preparing an answer to A n Answer , but to retire from the whole divorce controversy in abject disgust. A n d for this, for I affirm no more then Bucer, what censure doe you think, Readers he hath condemn'd the book to? T o a death no less infamous then to be burnt by the hangman. . . . But now your turn is, [ M r . Licencer, ] to hear what your own hand hath earn'd ye, that when you suffer'd this nameles hangman to cast into public such a despightfull contumely upon a name and person deserving of the C h u r c h and State equally to your self, and one who hath don more to the present advancement of your own T r i b e , then y o u or many of them have don for themselvs, you forgot to bee either honest, Religious, or discreet. . . . But as to this brute L i b e l , so much the more impudent and lawless for the abus'd autority which it bears, I say again, that I abominat the censure o f Rascalls and their Licencers. W i t h difficulty I return to what remains of this ignoble task, for the disdain I have to change a period more with the filth and venom of this gourmand, swell 'd into a confuter. Y e t for the satisfaction of others, I endure all th i s . 1 9 8 1 9 7 The "colour" of Milton's language in Colasterion is certainly not unique. Political tracts of the early 1640s in particular are rife with insult and indecorous language, ranging from the simply abusive to the scatalogical. Indeed, Bishop Hall himself had called for restraint in the eleventh rule of his Christian Moderation (1640), asking "To refrayne from all rayling termes, and spightfull provocations in differences of Religion." (p. 151.) Earlier, Richard Hooker had appealed, "Who seeth not how full gorged they are with virulent, slanderous, and immodest speeches, tending to the disgrace, to the disproofe of nothing of that cause, which they endeavour to overthrow?" Certain Briefe Treatises. Written by Diverse Learned Men (Oxford, 1641) p. 4. Milton was, therefore, working within a convention of sorts which, as John K. Hale points out, extends back to classical times. (See John K. Hale, "Milton and the Rationale of Insulting," Milton and Heresy. Ed. Stephen B. Dobranski and John P. Rumrich Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998) 159-175. Other useful work on the language and style of Milton's prose include: Thomas Kranidas, The Fierce Equation: A Study of Milton's Decorum (The Hague: Mouton, 1965); John A. Via, "Milton's Antiprelatical Tracts: The Poet Speaks in Prose," Milton Studies 5 (1973): 87-127; K. G. Hamilton, "The Structure of Milton's Prose," Language and Style in Milton: A Symposium in Honour of the Tercentenary of Paradise Lost. Ed. Ronald David Emma and John T. Shawcross (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1967) 304-332; Henry S. Limouze, "Joseph Hall and the Prose Style of John Milton," Milton Studies 15 (1981): 121-142. 1 9 8 CPW II, 753. 122 T h e suggestion that the book be burned refers back directly, as M i l t o n notes, to the fate o f Mart in Bucer and Paulus Fagius who, while they had died and been buried peacefully, were later disinterred and what remained of their bodies public ly burned, along with a gathering of thejr writings. T h e mere suggestion o f such a fate for his o w n book horrified M i l t o n , yet that his adversary might suggest burning materials which had arisen in what M i l t o n presumed to be an open forum of Protestant ideas, free of the "papistical" narrowness o f "superstitious" condemnation, horrified M i l t o n more, and threw, once again, burning faggots on the memory of the laudable reformers Bucer and Fagius. A s we saw in the previous chapter, however, threats o f temporal condemnation or punishment propelled M i l t o n in three directions: an appropriate retort must be launched, and this took the form of Colasterion; as well , a reiteration of the original divorce argument would be prepared, taking the form of Tetrachordon; and he developed his identity as G o d ' s prophet in the cause of eternal truth. M i l t o n ' s use of Engl i sh , searingly abusive, would seem to work against the spiritual nature of the self-identification as G o d ' s chosen teacher and prophet. Quite the contrary is true, however, for prophets always condemn mankind's errors; witness the rhetoric o f Isaiah or Jeremiah, or, for that matter, o f John the Baptist, "crying in the wilderness." T h e n he said to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of h im, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee f rom the wrath to come? T h e axe is laid unto the root o f the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the f i r e . 1 9 9 Colasterion may be the most extreme example of Mi l ton ' s polemical abuse, but it is not the first; the anti-prelatical tracts are also warm with censure. Indeed, M i l t o n had written in A n A p o l o g y an explanation for such language. Luke 3:7-9. 123 A n d this I shall easily averre though it may seeme a hard saying, that the Spirit o f G o d who is purity it selfe, when he would reprove any fault severely, or but relate things done or said with indignation by others, abstains not f rom some words not c iv i l l at other times to be spok'n. . . . W e may finde in Deuteronomy and three of the Prophets, where G o d denouncing bitterly the punishments o f Idolaters, tels them in a terme immodest to be utter'd in coole blood, that their wives shall be defi l 'd openly . . . . G o d who is the author both o f purity and eloquence, chose this phrase as fittest in that vehement character wherein he spake. Otherwise that plaine word might have easily bin forborne. . . . A n d thus I take it to be manifest, that indignation against men and their actions notoriously bad, hath leave and autority oft times to utter such words and phrases as in c o m m o n talke were not so mannerly to use . 2 0 0 Mil ton ' s language has, then, even in its most abusive form, he believes, close affinity to examples o f G o d ' s own. M i l t o n , toward the end o f Colasterion. states the purpose of his tract to have been distasteful, but necessary, for he has been attacked by persons who deserve no respect, and yet must, in the course o f things, be dealt with. T h e paltry nature o f his opponent, however, and the tiresome task of putting h im in his place, would not remove M i l t o n from the pantheon of his heroes. T o w a r d the end o f Colasterion. he inserts an analogy comparing his ignominious task to the humiliation of the greatest mythic hero. I have now don that, which for many causes I might have thought, could not l ikely have bin m y fortune, to bee put to this under-work of scowring and unrubbishing the low and sordid ignorance of such a presumptuous lozel. Y e t Hercules had the labour once impos 'd upon h im to carry dung out o f the Augean T h e focus of Colasterion is, then, the tract A n A n s w e r . . . or. A Plea for Ladies and G e n d e w o m e n . and all other M a r i e d W o m e n against D ivorce , published anonymously on November 19, 1644, three and one half months after T h e Judgement o f Mart in Bucer. and four 2 0 0 CPW I, 901-2. 2 0 1 CPW II, 756. 124 days before A r e o p a g i t i c a . 2 0 2 If the calibre o f one's opponent determines the tone o f one's response, Mi l ton ' s opponents were o f the lowest order, for Colasterion maintains throughout an unremitting, base excoriation against what M i l t o n saw as an unintelligent, i l l - informed, and vicious attack. T h e structure of Colasterion is clear to fol low, for it refutes A n A n s w e r point by point, whose author had himself, in turn, serially attacked what he considered the main flaws in the arguments of the first edition of the Doctrine and Disc ipl ine of Divorce . W h a t might have been a purely rational exercise, however, is coloured with the rhetoric o f scorn and disgust. T o the best o f Mi l ton ' s knowledge, and o f scholarship since, the two authors o f the anonymously published tract were a "servingman" and the tract's licenser, Joseph C a r y l , though C a r y l never claims credit. That the only comprehensive response to his divorce arguments might come from such a pair, and in so poor a form, dismayed M i l t o n . W h i l e C a r y l was L inco ln ' s Inn preacher, had published some sermons, and was known to be engaged in a long exposition of the B o o k of Job, and while he had been appointed to the Westminster Assembly , none of the learning which might justify such distinguished posts was to be found in A n Answer . F o r that matter, M i l t o n accuses C a r y l o f hypocrisy after discovering that the c lergyman had, in a very short period, been the minister o f three different L o n d o n parishes. Shall a man o f your own coat, who hath espous'd his f lock; and represents Christ more, in beeing the true husband of his Congregation, then an ordinary man doth in beeing the husband o f his wife, and yet this representment is thought a cheif cause why Mariage must bee inseparable; shall this spiritual man ordnarily for the increase of his maintenance, or any slight cause forsake that wedded cure o f souls, that should bee dearest to h im, and marry another, and another, and shall not a person wrongfully afflicted, and persecuted eevn to extremity, forsake an unfit, injurious, and pestilent mate, ty 'd only by a c iv i l and fleshly covnant? If y o u bee a man so much hating change, hate that other change; i f your self bee not guilty, counsel your brethren to hate it; and leav to bee the supercilious judge of other - For the dating of Milton's tracts, and of the various events in his life, I have followed the timeline provided by Gordon Campbell in his A Milton Chronology (London: Macmillan, 1997). 125 mens miseries and changes, that your own bee not judg'd . T h e reasons of your licenc't pamflet, you say are good; they must bee better then you own then, I shall wonder els how such a trivial fellow was accepted and commended, to bee the confuter of so dangerous an opinion as yee give out m i n e . 2 0 3 Despite his lower station, the "servingman" bears the brunt of the abuse. H e had composed the majority o f A n Answer . M i l t o n states, for purely selfish motives, believing Mi l ton ' s work an easy target, and that refutation of such "unsound" reasoning would advance his career aspirations. T h e chief [author], by circumstance, was intimated to mee, and since ratifi'd to bee no other, i f any can hold laughter, and I am sure none wi l l guess h im lower, then an actual Serving-man. T h i s creature, for the Story must on, (and what though hee bee the lowest person o f an interlude, hee may deserv a canvasing,) transplanted himself, and to the improvment of his wages, and your better notice of his capacity, turn'd Sol l ic i ter . 2 0 4 O n the evidence of the pamphlet itself, he seems a very insignificant person, not worth Mi l ton ' s while, but his words were long-awaited and unfortunately brash, and M i l t o n wanted, no doubt, to toss and gore somebody publicly for a whole hour, i f only to deter any others. T h i s man's prose is "dull and plodding," his punctuation ill accustomed to the task. F r o m the frequent use of attorney's phrases and illustrations, one soon conjectures that the pamphlet was written by someone "in a small way of law-business." 2 0 5 T h i s "basest and hungriest inditer," this "rank petti-fogger," "this odious fool ," "unswilled hogshead," and "cock-brained solicitor" is a "barbarian, the shame o f all honest attorneys" and "a serving-man both by nature and function, an idiot by breeding, and a solicitor by presumption." 2 0 6 T h e language is astonishing and vitriolic and evidences greater emotional turmoil than scholars generally recognize, when they do acknowledge it. CPW II, 728. Ibid, 726. This last phrase, and some of the former vocabulary are borrowed from Masson III, 317. CPW II, 743; II, 743; II, 751; 11.755; 11.754; 11.741. 126 2. The Relationship between Colasterion and Tetrachordon G i v e n the elevated tone o f Tetrachordon. the contemporaneity o f Colasterion's openly distraught display is very inconsistent. Y e t Colasterion was not a fit o f pique, isolated and unique, temperamentally tossed off between the magnificent Areopagit ica and the erudite Tetrachordon. T h o u g h M i l t o n states that the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine had been out for "a whole year, with many Arguments added, and the former ones better'd and conf irm'd" before A n A n s w e r appeared f r o m the press, i f Thomason ' s dates are correct for the appearance o f the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine (Feburary 2, 1644), 2 0 7 it is more likely that M i l t o n read A n A n s w e r and began his reply sometime in November of 1644. A s Cool idge , editor o f Colasterion for the C P W notes, there is clear intertextual evidence that at least part o f Tetrachordon had been composed prior to Colasterion. T h e first of these occurs on page 11. A s ignorantly, and too ignorantly to deceav any Reader but an unlerned, hee talks of Justin Martyrs A p o l o g y , not telling us which o f the twain; for that passage in the beginning of his first, which I have cited els-where, plainly makes against h im. T h e only reference in the whole o f the M i l t o n corpus to this passage in Justin M a r t y r appears in the Tetrachordon. on page 81. T h e second place in Colasterion referring specifically to work found only in Tetrachordon is on page 20. O f Malachy I have spok'n more in another place; and say again that the best interpreters, all the ancient, and most o f the modern translate it, as I cited, and very few otherwise, wherof perhaps Junius is the cheif. Campbell relies for many of his publication dates on Thomason. The Thomason Tracts, named for their punctilious gatherer, George Thomason, are a collection of books, manuscripts, broadsides, and newspapers collected during the English Civil War and Interregnum, 1640-1661, which reflect the political tumult of the times. The collection is now in the British Library, London. 127 M i l t o n had discussed, at length, the significance o f the M a l a c h i passage in the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , but there is no mention of Junius. In Tetrachordon. on the other hand, Junius is mentioned in close proximity to M a l a c h i . Y e t som there be who fol low [Vatablus], not only against the current o f all antiquity, both Jewish and Christ ian, but the evidence of Scripture also, M a l a c h . 2. 16. Let him who hateth put away saith the Lord God of Israel. A l though this place also hath bin tamper'd with, as i f it were to be thus render'd, The Lord God saith, that hee hateth putting away. B u t this new interpretation rests only in the authority o f Junius; for neither Calvin, nor Vatablus himself, nor any other known D i v i n e so interpreted before. T h e discussions in Colasterion and Tetrachordon deal with materials quite specifically similar to each other in two other p laces , 2 0 8 but not again with the exact same words or references. Quite clearly, then, M i l t o n was composing the two tracts alternatingly, i f not simultaneously. Perhaps he had already begun work on Tetrachordon. read A n A n s w e r on its appearance in November , was so enraged that he dropped Tetrachordon completely for a while, wrote his reply, Colasterion. and then returned to Tetrachordon. T h e highly charged tone of Colasterion is non-existent in Tetrachordon. however, which leads us to believe that M i l t o n was swinging widely on an emotional pendulum. A s we shall see, the steadying influence of John Selden had much to do with the far more level tone of Tetrachordon. but not until the invocation to B o o k III o f Paradise Lost were Mi l ton ' s tones to be so plangent again as they are here in the opening to Colasterion. I stood a while and wonder'd, what wee might doe to a mans heart, or what anatomie use, to finde in it sincerity; for all our wonted marks every day fail us, and where wee thought it was, wee see it is not, for alter and change residence it cannot sure. A n d yet I see no good of body or of minde secure to a man for all his past labours without perpetual watchfulnes, and perseverance. 2 0 9 The first of these places occurs in the Colasterion and Tetrachordon discussions of Marcion (CPW II, 736 and CPW II, 694-5); the second instance occurs in the Colasterion and Tetrachordon discussion of Augustine (CPW II, 739-40 and CPW II, 596). 2 0 9 CPW II. 722-3. 128 T h e sadness of this passage betrays Mi l ton ' s sense o f isolation, yet his solitude could only be intellectual, for he continued on with a busy home life. H e maintained close ties with his father and siblings, with a home in the bustle o f L o n d o n . 2 1 0 Y e t in the environment of his studies and writings, his intellectual and philosophical stance was one o f growing isolation, a position more resigned to, no doubt, than adopted, in response to the series o f disappointments and frustrations which would assault h i m before and during his involvement in the divorce controversy. D u r i n g the spring of 1645, M i l t o n was perhaps most alone, or so it must have seemed. H i s wife had left h i m little more than a month after their nuptials in June of 1642, and, while he had often pleaded for her return, no resolution to the separation was yet in sight. H i s Presbyterian affiliations had betrayed h im with their scathing and public opposition to his divorce argument. H i s Parliamentary politics were as insecure as Parliament itself, repeatedly threatened by the exigencies of the C i v i l War , and this body continued resistance, or turned a deaf ear, to his arguments. In some ways, the most devastating of all these misfortunes would have been his fai l ing eyesight. M i l t o n had produced seven tracts in just twenty months, a staggering feat o f publication in itself, but when the vast reading for this work is considered, as well as the fact that he laboured without electric light, few today could imagine the time invested, or the strain placed on the eyes. In 1654, he wrote to Leonard Philaras, a friend serving in the Parisian court, describing his recollections of the onset o f blindness ten years prior to the letter. Decennium, opinor, plus minus est, exquo debilitari atque hebescere v isum sensi, eodemque tempore l ienem, visceraque omnia gravari, flatibusque vexari: & mane quidem, siquid pro more legere ccepissem, oculi statim penitus dolere, lectionemque refugere, post mediocrem deinde corporis exercitationem recreari; quam aspexissem lucernam, Iris quaedam visa est redimire: haud ita multo post Parker, like A. N. Wilson, places great emphasis on a long list of Milton's friends and acquaintances, as though Milton were some gregarious socialite. The volume of his publications at this point, the intensity of his prose, and the depth of his thought argue otherwise. See Parker I, 753 and Wilson, 129. 129 sinistra in parte oculi sinistri (is enim oculus aliquot annis prius altera nubilavit) caligo oborta, quae ad latus i l lud sita erant, omnia eripiebat. 2 " M i l t o n was not completely bl ind in 1645, but that there was something drastically wrong with his eyes would have been obvious. N o r did he have, at this point, daughters to read to h im in the various languages o f his study. Mi l ton ' s growing sense of isolation has already been associated with his self-identification as a prophet, and this identity is completely contingent upon an "originalistic" hermeneutic philosophy whose first principles are based not upon c iv i l , ecclesiastical, or famil ial relations but on the solitary, "original," A d a m i c relationship between man and G o d . These principles do not change in Colasterion. despite the caustic and retaliatory nature of the prose; allusions to them do arise, but must be watched for amid the general roi l ing muck of the language. H o w could M i l t o n risk the clarity o f his argument to this imbrogl io? G i v e n his increasing dismay with the judgment of his larger audience, fear that A n A n s w e r might actually sway influential opinions left h i m no choice. 3. Explaining the Tone of Colasterion M i l t o n had discussed, in T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , the right and duty of a Christ ian man to think for himself and the obligation, i f competent, to publish these thoughts for the benefit o f all . Not all men are competent, though, nor are all the disciples o f truth. In a striking metaphor, the masculine, headless (and serpentine!) body of Error , capitates himself with the feminine face of C u s t o m and sets out to mislead mankind, opposed by those w h o m G o d "deputes to repress the 2 1 1 "It is ten years, I think, more or less, since I noticed my sight becoming weak and growing dim, and at the same time my spleen and all my viscera burdened and shaken with flatulence. And even in the morning, if I began as usual to read, I noticed that my eyes felt immediate pain deep within and turned from reading, though later refreshed after moderate bodily exercise; as often as I looked at a lamp, a sort of rainbow seemed to obscure it Soon a mist appearing in the left part of the left eye (for that eye became clouded some years before the other) removed from my sight everything on that side." This is the translation of W. Arthur Turner and Alberta T. Turner for the CPW IV. ii , 867-70. 130 encroachments" o f these "subtle insinuations." There is a continuous battle between this Error /Custom hybrid and those of Mi l ton ' s party. Custome being but a meer f a c e , . . . accorporat[s | her selfe with error, who being a bl ind and Serpentine body without a head, wil l ingly accepts what he wants, and supplies what her incompleatnesse went seeking. Hence it is, that Error supports Custome, Custome count'nances Error . A n d these two betweene them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdome out o f humane life, were it not that G o d j rather then man, once in many ages, cals together the prudent and Religious counsels o f M e n , deputed to represse the encroachments, and to worke off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our mindes by the suttle insinuating of Error and Custome; W h o with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chiefe designe to envie and cry-down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humor, and innovation. . . . Against which notorious injury and abuse of mans free soule to testifie and oppose the utmost that study and true labour can attaine, heretofore the incitement of men reputed grave hath led me among others; and now the duty and the right o f an instructed Christian cals me through the chance o f good or evil l report, to be the sole advocate o f a discount'nanc't truth: a high enterprise Lords and C o m m o n s , a high enterprise and a hard, and such as every seventh Son of a seventh Son does not venture on. T h e seventh son of a seventh son is uncommon enough, yet M i l t o n claims his voice to be even rarer (which itself bespeaks an increasing sense of philosophic isolation.) Regardless, he carried on with his same goal, despite opposition, and with the same convictions. Those w h o m he had hoped would recognize the justice o f his arguments, and perhaps support h i m in print, had not appeared. Fair ly early on in the divorce period, then, he must have felt himself to be, at least in the world of L o n d o n ' s recent publications, a voice crying in the wilderness. O f course, unrelenting criticism could only serve to isolate M i l t o n further, and to convince h i m that one individual could be right, despite the apparent opposition of the majority. In the prefatory address to Parliament i n Mart in Bucer . M i l t o n noted he had been "lavishly traduc't," made the v ict im o f "odious inferences," of "blind reproaches and surmises," but nobody had yet taken the pains to answer h im either in print or in person. T h e clergy "inveigh and excla im on CPW II, 224. 131 what I a m credibly inform'd they had not read." T h i s "inadvised rashnes" and "indiscreet k ind of censure" provoked M i l t o n to accuse the ministers o f envy and ingratitude. H i s prelatical tracts had "done good service to the C h u r c h by their own confession." Those "of whose profession and supposed knowledge I had better hope" had waited almost a "whole year c lamouring a farre off," before pronouncing the divorce argument to be "licentious, new and dangerous," "a new and pernicious paradox," even "Libert inism." In the latter part o f 1644, after the publication of Mart in Bucer . the Presbyterian group in Parliament actually considered censuring M i l t o n . T h e Westminster A s s e m b l y had been agitating about the increase o f heresy and schism in the output o f the popular press, and the whole society of booksellers was so threatened by these rumours, and by Herbert Palmer's sermon before Parliament on August 13 , 2 1 3 that, on August 24, the Stationers's C o m p a n y delivered a petition to the House of C o m m o n s , attempting to exonerate them "from all responsibility in the growing evi l , and pointing out that the blasphemous and pernicious opinions complained o f were ventilated in unlicensed and unregistered pamphlets, grievous to the soul o f the regular book-trade, injurious to its pockets, and contrary to the express ordinance of Parl iament ." 2 1 4 Parliament responded, on the 26th, with instructions to prepare a more comprehensive ordinance for licensing, and '"diligently to inquire out' the authors, printers, and publishers o f the Divorce Pamphlet, and o f another, then in circulation, against the Immortality o f the S o u l . " 2 1 5 Historical ly, M i l t o n was as guilty o f a casual attitude toward registering his writings as was any other "author, printer, and publisher": his five anti-episcopal tracts were unlicensed and unregistered, though printed by Stationers's printers; a new and much more elaborate Ordinance 2 1 3 An excerpt from this sermon is appended to this chapter, the text of which is taken from Masson, III. 263. 2 1 4 Masson III, 265. 2 1 5 Ibid, 266. 132 for Printing had appeared on June, 1643, but M i l t o n had ignored it and published the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine unlicensed and unregistered, as he d id the second editon, six months later. 2 1 6 It is understandable, however, that he should do so, in the case of the divorce pamphlets, for seven o f the twelve men appointed by Parliament to oversee these matters were members of the Westminster Assembly , and unlikely to approve. O n September 18, the C o m m o n s sent up a revised ordinance concerning printing, but this was eventually lost in the works. T h e Stationers, l ikely at the behest o f the A s s e m b l y , submitted another complaint on December 28, and M i l t o n was called to appear before the Lords . T h e fo l lowing is f rom an anonymous, manuscript life o f the poet, which Helen Darbishire conjectures to have been written by his nephew, John Phill ips. T h e A s s e m b l y o f Div ines then sitting at Wesminster, though formerly obl iged by his learned Pen in the defense of Smectymnyus, and other thir controversies with the Bishops, now impatient o f having the Clergies Jurisdiction, as they reckon'd it, invaded, instead of answering, or disproving what those books had asserted, caus'd h im to be summon'd for them before the Lords: B u t that house, whether approving the Doctr in , or not favoring his Accusers , soon dismiss'd h i m . 2 1 7 Prior to that "meeting" with the Lords , however, A n A n s w e r had finally appeared, the only comprehensive attempt to match Mi l ton ' s argument, and he had a concrete target for his anger. If he had had, to this point, reason for disgust and frustration with the glancing mentions and opportunistic sermons which condemned h im, this little pamphlet gave good cause for full fury. Colasterion has no prefatory material: Mi l ton ' s addresses to Parliament and the Assembly had been protests against detractors as much as they had ever been requests for consideration; in Colasterion. the requests for consideration have been forgotten, for the object o f his fury is self-evidently pathetic, while the protests, sharpened to stridency, have bled completely into the body 2 1 6 Of Education (June, 1644) and The Judgement of Martin Bucer (July, 1644) were both duly licensed and registered. The former is innocuous, but the latter, dealing with the divorce matters, must have passed by the licenser, Mr. Downham, as Masson says, "either off his guard or very good-natured" (Masson III, 272). 2 1 7 Helen Darbishire. The Early Lives of Milton (London: Constable, 1932) 24. 133 o f the tract. T o this point, the valve through which M i l t o n vented his frustrations and anger had been only partially open, mitigated by the diffused image of his general opponents. N o w the image was in clear view, the valve opened, and the full force of his excoriations poured forth. T h e excessive tone o f Colasterion. often grating and occasionally offensive, and certainly inconsistent with the traditional view of M i l t o n as a deeply learned, deeply spiritual, and supremely gifted poet, is our clearest indicator o f the psychological stresses which he faced during this period. T h e experience may well have left regrets, but it reaffirmed a need for the philosophical support to his identity which only his particular brand of hermeneutics could provide. Colasterion is, therefore, far more useful for our immediate purposes than its overtly polemic nature might imply. There is, unfortunately, a gaping vo id in M i l t o n crit icism regarding Colasterion. yet the tract most warrants study, perhaps, for the manner in which Mi l ton ' s mental state applied his "four directors" to a specific opponent. A m o n g s t the anger and the f lorid and gritty prose, M i l t o n makes refinements to his hermeneutic principles which reflect a need to protect himself f rom an intellectual climate which not only failed to adopt his argument, but also chose to attack both his philosophy and his theology. 4. The Four Great Directors T h e hermeneutic contributions of Colasterion. while virtually overpowered by the rhetoric o f the tract, both reiterate and elaborate on what had been said regarding the "four great directors" in T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine. E a c h o f the four is mentioned, but only as they apply to the specific and disagreeable occasion of the "servingman," an inadequate scriptural commentator. 134 There is none o f the abstract discussion o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , and little sense of goodwil l to mankind. T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine lists its hermeneutic first principles as "Charity," "Reason," "Nature," and " G o o d Example ." "Charity" is the love not only o f G o d for mankind , but also that which conditions the faithful's obedience to G o d ' s wi l l : firstly, in return to G o d ; next, in all self-governance; and lastly, toward his fellow man. "Reason" is the G o d - g i v e n intellectual means by which to examine all those sites o f instruction through which G o d reveals himself to man. "Nature" is human nature, the innate good state in which man was created, in the image of G o d yet distinct f rom G o d , with needs and drives peculiar to his created state. " G o o d example" is the teaching of history, replete with lessons on how best to obey G o d ' s wi l l . T h e prime source of instruction in these principles is Scripture, as revealed in its original languages, Hebrew and Greek. These four principles underpin Mi l ton ' s examination of Scripture during each aspect o f his argument for divorce. In turn, his argument champions the rights and needs of the individual in marriage, rather than the role o f marriage in society. That is, Mi l ton ' s emphasis is on the service of the institution to the individual , rather than the service of the individual , through marriage, to the greater community o f mankind. Pre -eminence o f the one over the many is characteristic o f a reversion to originalist principles, for man began as a single being subservient in obedience to his creator G o d , and not as a member of the larger, fallen community of mankind. 135 i. Charity It comes as no surprise that Charity is the most extensively discussed of the four directors in Colasterion. M i l t o n felt little charity for this disputant and such animosity helped to refine his definition o f the principle. Whereas both T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine and Mart in Bucer begin their discussions of Charity almost immediately in the prefatorial materials, the word does not appear in Colasterion until page 7 o f the 1645 text. Charity indeed bids us forgive our enemies, yet doth not force us to continue freindship and familiarity with those freinds who have bin fals or unworthy toward us; but is contented in our peace with them, at a fair distance. Charity commands not the husband to receav again into his bosom the adulterous W i f e , but thinks it anough, i f hee dismiss her with a beneficent and peacefull dismission. N o more doth Charity command, nor can her rule compel l , to retain in neerest union of wedloc, one whose other grossest faults, or disabilities to perform what was covnanted, are the just causes o f as much greevance and dissention in a F a m i l y , as the private act o f adultery. Let not therfore under the name o f fulf i l l ing Chari ty , such an unmerciful l , and more then legal yoke, bee padlockt upon the neck of any C h r i s t i a n . 2 1 8 Charity is not to be exercised as a naive, all-blanketing balm for the world's evils, for despite being the first and most profound gift o f G o d to mankind, not even Chari ty can alter the fact that mankind is f lawed and limited. A n unrepentant enemy, or an incompatible spouse, may, or must, be forgiven, but then avoided or divorced. Charity may never alter its recipient's character, so while a husband or wife can treat their difficult spouse with continual kindness, there may be yet no change in that person's demeanour or "heart." Such Charity , at first glance, seems almost strained, or constrained, and self-serving, certainly convenient to the situation, and distant from the grand Charity o f G o d to mankind. Y e t it is much closer to G o d ' s own Charity than might at first appear. A s G o d the Father himself declares in Paradise Lost . CPW II, 731-2. 136 F o r man wil l heark'n to his g lozing lyes, A n d easily transgress the sole C o m m a n d , Sole pledge of his obedience: So wi l l fal l , Hee and his faithless Progenie: whose fault? W h o s e but his own? ingrate, he had of mee A l l he could have; I made h im just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall . (III.93-9) T h e manner in which one expresses Charity must not be in conflict with G o d ' s wi l l , for Chari ty is G o d ' s wi l l expressed; Charity , therefore, requires an act o f obedience in its expression, in order that G o d , and no individual creature, be recognized as the first mover o f Charity . Otherwise, we are doomed to impress E v e and repeat A d a m ' s error ad aiternitatem, as M i l t o n illustrates when A d a m chooses a fallen state over obedience to G o d . So saying, she embrac'd h im, and for joy Tender ly wept, much won that he his L o v e H a d so enobl 'd, as o f choice to incurr D iv ine displeasure for her sake, or Death. (IX.990-3) Coupled with an individual's responsibility to behave charitably toward his fellow man is that individual's reasonable right to expect responsible behaviour f rom others, and, i f such behaviour is wanting, to express charitable regret and, i f one's spiritual welfare appears imperil led, to withdraw. If one's spouse behaves badly, and refuses to relent f rom such behaviour, and to repent, one may withdraw to a position of divorce. M i l t o n himself displays such behaviour when he repeatedly requests the opponents o f his position on divorce to debate with h im, or to expound a better, scripturally-based way of managing the situation. Unfortunately, Colasterion also displays in M i l t o n the uncharitable response of abusive condemnation characteristic o f A n A n s w e r to a Book . In his defence, M i l t o n ' s loss o f restraint was two years coming . Charity , then, is by nature l imited, both in G o d and man, and not the seemingly al l -forgiving, self-sacrificing pattern of behaviour espoused by Christ in his maxims on the Mount . 137 Y e have heard that it hath been said, A n eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you , That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to h i m the other also. A n d i f any man wil l sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let h i m have thy cloke also. A n d whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile , go with h im twain. G i v e to h i m that asketh thee, and f r o m h i m that would borrow o f thee turn not thou away. Y e have heard that it hath been said, T h o u shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you , L o v e your enemies, bless them that curse you , do good to them that hate you , and pray for them which despitefully use you , and persecute 219 you. Charity is a gentle and forgiving response, not a suicidal tendency. If they smite you , take it; i f they wish your cloak, give it wi l l ingly; but i f they draw the blade, do not stand passively against the thrust. Chris t may teach us to love our enemies, but he does name evil for what it is. Charity is not a passive withdrawal from action or judgement. M i l t o n holds that G o d intended man to be active in the exercise o f his faith, and that activity begins with self-control and self-preservation. For seeing love includes Faith, what is ther that can fulfill every commandment but only love? A n d I meant, as any intelligent Reader might apprehend, every positive, and c iv i l commandment, wherof Christ hath taught us that man is the Lord. It is not the formal duty of worship, or the sitting still, that keeps the holy rest o f Sabbath; but whosoever doth most according to charity, whether hee work, or work not; hee breaks the holy rest o f Sabbath least. So Mariage beeing a c ivi l Ordinance made for man, not man for it; hee who doth that which most accords with charity, first to himself, next to w h o m hee next ows it, whether in mariage or divorce, hee breaks the Ordinance o f mariage least. A n d what in Rel igious prudence, can bee charity to himself, and what to his W i f e , either in continuing, or in dissolving the mariage knot, hath bin already oft anough discours'd . . . mariage is nothing, and divorce is nothing, but faith, which worketh by love.220 "First to himself, next to w h o m hee next ows it": Charity , literally, begins at home. A s "man is the L o r d , " so must he care for himself first. Others, including his spouse, come second, after himself. G o d ' s institutions, o f the Sabbath and of marriage, were designed and created for the Matthew 5.38-44. All quotations from Scripture are from the Authorized Version. CPW II, 750. 138 individual man, to enhance his existence. A n argument which demands that anybody remain in a bad marriage merely for the sake of that marriage puts the ox before the cart, valuing the form of the institution before the purpose of its creation. M i l t o n had already made this point in the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine . F o r what are all these reasonings worth, wi l l some reply, when as the words of Christ are plainly against all divorce, except in case of fornication. T o w h o m he whose minde were to answer no more but this, except also in case of charity, might safely appeal to the more plain words o f Christ in defence o f so excepting. Thou shalt doe no manner ofworke saith the commandment of the Sabbath. Y e s saith Christ works o f charity. A n d shall we be more severe in paraphrasing the considerat and tender Gospe l , then he was in expounding the rigid and peremptory L a w ? What was ever in all appearance lesse made for man, and more for G o d alone then the Sabbath? yet when the good o f man comes into the scales, we hear that voice of infinite goodnesse and benignity that Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath. What thing ever was more made for man alone and lesse for G o d then mariage? 2 2 1 Mil ton ' s final question here is curious, as though the interests o f man and o f G o d could be different. Yet , in Mi l ton ' s philosophy, mankind stands as an entity independent from G o d ' s wi l l , free to choose, though defined by an active and responsible obedience to G o d ' s wi l l , not subsumed, unthinkingly, in a passive dependence on G o d ' s wi l l and guiding Spirit. Such inactivity, such passivity, such an unwillingness to think things through, to examine laws merely in their wording rather than through the principles which underpin them, is the literalism against which M i l t o n argued so vigorously in T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine. Nevertheless, the "rigid and peremptory L a w " no longer depended on mankind, but not because G o d had removed, through the work of his Son , the "rigid and peremptory" part o f the equation; he had s imply redefined the " L a w " part, exempting mankind from obedience to ceremonial and dietary restrictions o f the M o s a i c dispensation. T h e "rigid and peremptory" aspect o f the relationship between mankind and G o d still pertains, but individual man is now CPW II. 281. 139 required to examine himself for the manner of his obedience, as the primary relationship is now between the individual and G o d . , W i t h the individual privileges o f redemption and salvation come the individual responsiblities o f obedience: hence, the Sabbath becomes a day not for sitting back, inactive according to fastidiously regulated strictures o f rest, but a day for exercising individually regulated rest, a rest which may include, as Christ taught, acts o f Charity. Marriage is therefore an institution within which an individual may determine how best to serve his spouse in Charity , even if that involves a divorce for irreparable differences. Were marriage made for G o d , mankind would have received a series o f "rigid and peremptory" rules and regulations for performance within the institution; because marriage was not made for G o d , mankind did not receive these rules, but principles a l lowing flexible, interpretative judgment. ii. Reason M i l t o n has little to say in Colasterion about the hermeneutic principle o f Reason, perhaps because he sees so little o f the rational capacity exercised by the two authors o f A n Answer . T h e authors o f the tract are against all reason, not only in their style o f delivery, but in the structure o f their arguments as well . N o r was the stile flat and rude, and the matter grave and solid, for then ther had bin pardon, but so shallow and so unwary was that also, as gave sufficiently the character of a gross and sluggish, yet a contentious and overweening pretender. 2 2 2 T h i s " d o u l t . . . as sad and obtuse as any mallet" 2 2 3 is o f an inferior intellect to start with, but then that author abuses the reasoning of those about h im, including M i l t o n in T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , bel ieving himself to be more clever than all . CPW II. 725. Ibid, 736. 140 O n l y in the passage fo l lowing, I cannot but admire the ripenes, and the pregnance o f his native trechery, endeavouring to bee more a F o x then his wit wi l l suffer h im. Wheras I breifly mention'd certain heads o f Discours , which I referr'd to a place more proper according to my method, to bee treated there at full with all thir Reasons about them, this Bra in -worm against all the L a w s of Dispute, wi l l needs deal with them heer. 2 2 4 Mil ton ' s protests against the irrationality o f A h Answer ' s arguments are legion, peppering every page, but the "servingman" and Joseph C a r y l are not the only objects of his irritation. W i l l i a m Prynne had referred to the thesis o f T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine as "divorce at pleasure" in his T w e l v e Considerable Serious Questions, published on September 16, 1644. M i l t o n respected Prynne and was dismayed that reason could so inexplicably desert h im. W h e n as one above others who hath suffer'd much and long in the defence of Truth , shall after all this, give her cause to leav h i m so destitute and so vacant o f her defence, as to yei ld his mouth to bee the c o m m o n road of Truth and Falshood, and such falshood as is j o y n ' d with a rash and heedles calumny o f his neighbour. 2 2 5 Prynne had published repeatedly for Puritan causes, and had suffered considerable persecution at the hands of authorities. H e had stood f irmly against the bishops when M i l t o n wrote his anti-episcopal tracts and, again like M i l t o n , opposed the ornamentation of the C h u r c h and its officers. Prynne had been imprisoned and degraded from his O x f o r d degrees, yet continued his struggles. Despite his many publications and the lessons of these trials, Prynne was inexplicably obtuse here. W h e n it came to the matter of divorce, M i l t o n could only conclude that G o d creates those of greater and lesser rational capacities and, while Prynne may be a shining example o f the former, reason can, at times, desert even the most competent and learned, regardless o f their devotion to truth. Later in the tract, M i l t o n obliquely explains more about his conception of reason while discussing another matter. CPW II, 743. Ibid, 722. 141 If therfore the minde cannot have that due society by mariage, that it may reasonably and humanly desire, it can bee no human society, and so not without reason divorcible, heer hee falsifies, and turnes what the position requir'd of a reasonable agreement in the main matters o f society, into an agreement in all things, which makes the opinion not mine, and so hee leavs i t . 2 2 6 Reason is an essential ingredient in marriage, for a happy union is chiefly seated in agreement and unity of minds. Further, a mind "reasonably and humanly desire[s]" due society. " H u m a n " desire refers to human nature, another of the "four great directors," which, according to this reference, M i l t o n considers a co-habitant o f the mind , with reason. Reason also "desires" (an attribute conventionally associated with emotion) but only as a string of logic "desires" the next step in its progression, as 4 fol lows 1, 2, and 3. M i l t o n constantly berates A n A n s w e r for arguing outside the obvious logic o f his argument. W h e n its authors depart in an i l logical direction, disregarding reason in favour o f custom and literalism, Colasterion cites the place and manner o f this dissent in an effort to reunite the reader with his argument, as in the above quotation. iii. Human Nature Colasterion's discussion o f human nature is occasioned by A n Answer ' s comments on the thesis statement in the second edition of T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine. That indisposition, unfitnes, or contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangable, hindring and ever likely to hinder the main benefits ofconjugall society, which are solace and peace, is a greater reason of divorce then naturall frigidity, especially if there be no children, and that there be mutuall consent™ A n Answer , having quoted the above almost verbatim, replies by breaking Mi l ton ' s thesis into four "propositions": CPW II, 754-5. CPW II, 242. 142 1. That there is in some men and women a disposition, unfitnesse, or contrariety of minde, arising from a cause unchangeable in nature. 2. That such a contrariety o f disposition hinders the main benefit o f mariage or conjugall society. 3. That solace and peace are the main and chiefe ends of mariage or conjugall society. 4. That such a contrariety o f minde or dispositon is a greater cause o f divorce then naturall f r ig id i ty . 2 2 8 A n A n s w e r then elaborates on each of the points. T o the first, "that there is no such disposition in nature as is unchangeable, so teacheth Philosophy: That by the carefull use o f diet and the help of Physick, there is no disposition or constitution but may be altered, i f not altogether, yet in a great measure." "That by the grace of the Gospe l , the L i o n i s h dispositions shall so be changed that they shall be fit for the society of milder natures; and i f so, it wi l l fol low, that i f the disagreeing dispositions of a man & his W i f e are from their own corrupt ion." 2 2 9 T o the second, "If . . . you mean a sordid filthy sullen disposition, or other crabbed qualitie, kindled . . . after mariage, and increased by each mutuall provocation; this is not naturall: no contrarietie in Nature, but a sinfull and corrupt aberration from G o d s law and their owne duties, which they are bound to purge away . . . not being naturall or o f nature, but corruption wilful ly nourished." 2 3 0 T o the third, "Solace and peace . . . is not the main end o f mariage or conjugall society, . . . for then would it have been . . . more content and solace to Adam; and so consequently to every man, to have had another man made to h im of his R i b in stead o f Eve: this is apparent by experience, which shews, that man ordinarily exceeds woman in naturall gifts of minde, and in delectablenesse o f converse." 2 3 1 An Answer, p. 10. Ibid, p. 10. Ibid, p. 11 . Ibid, p. 12. 143 T o the fourth, "If contrariety of minde or disposition be not so great a cause to have maried persons to burning in lust towards others, as naturall frigidity is, in the one maried partie, to leave the other to burn in lust to others, then is it not so great a cause of divorce as naturall frigiditie i s ." 2 3 2 "Burn in lust," which M i l t o n does not use in the passage which A n A n s w e r is examining, occurs only in Romans 1.27 in the A V , but A n A n s w e r is probably al luding to I Corinthians 7.9, "it is better to marry than to burn," for M i l t o n addresses this passage on page 9 of the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine . Indeed, he mocks the author of A n A n s w e r for repeating the phrase "burn in lust" so frequently, six times on pages 12-13, and nine times on pages 30-32. T o M i l t o n , this indicates a deeply l ibidinous character barely disguised by self-righteousness. M i l t o n answers each of these four objections in turn, but the topic of human nature arises only in his answer to the first. I mean not to dispute Philosophy with this Pork, who never read any. B u t I appeal to all experience, though there bee many drugs to purge those redundant humors, and circulations that commonly impair health, and are not natural, whether any man can with the safety o f his life bring a healthy constitution into physic with this designe, to alter his natural temperament, and disposition o f minde. H o w much more vain, and ridiculous would it bee, by altering and rooting up the grounds of nature, which is most l ikely to produce death or madnes, to hope the reducing of a minde to this or that fitnes, or two disagreeing mindes to a mutual sympathy. . . . But lastly, whether these things bee changeable, or not, experience teacheth us, and our Position supposes that they seldom doe change in any time commensurable to the necessities o f man, or convenient to the ends of mariage. . . . F o r his freinds and followers . . . I send them by his advice to sit upon the stool and strain, till their cross dispositions and contrarieties o f minde shall change to a better correspondence, and to a quicker apprehension of c o m m o n sense, and thir own g o o d . 2 3 3 M i l t o n holds that there is a medicable body, and a God-g iven , immedicable human nature. Whereas drugs may be used on "redundant humors" and bad "circulations," any attempt to "alter [the] natural temperament, and disposition of minde" with drugs would threaten the very life o f An Answer, p. 12. CPW II, 737-8. 144 the patient. Indeed, to medicate the body so severely, to "alter and root up the grounds of nature" would likely cause death or madness. H u m a n inventions forcibly applied to G o d ' s design can only work harm. E v e n were a routine of medicines to effect an alteration of moods, the eventual result would arrive too late to be "commensurable to the necessities o f man, or convenient to the ends of mariage." T h e n , as is often characteristic of this tract, M i l t o n rudely sends the author of A n Answer , and his friends, off to the toilet to strain themselves back to good c o m m o n sense. Perhaps the human disposition is more l ikely to benefit f rom purgation than by the infusion o f any medicines. In 1642, M i l t o n had argued that various human dispositions or combinations o f humours were created in each man by G o d , and that they were the means by which G o d ensured that all men were touched by the message o f Christ . Chris t himself was all in a l l , but "what was all in h i m , was divided among many others the teachers o f his C h u r c h . " 2 3 4 T h e Apost les and various other teachers o f the C h u r c h , each of a different temperment, taught individualistically in order that the nature o f each future man might be reached by a teacher suited to h i m particularly. T h i s variety of teachers was sent, some to be severe and ever o f a sad gravity, that they may win such, and check sometimes those who be of nature over-confident and jocond; others were sent more chearful, free, and still as it were at large, in the midst o f an untrespassing honesty; that they who are so tempered, may have by w h o m they might be drawn to salvation, and they who are too scrupulous, and dejected of spirit, might be often strengthen'd with wise consolations and revivings: no M a n being forc 'd whol ly to dissolve that ground-work o f nature which G o d created in h im, the sanguine to empty out all his sociable liveliness, the choleric to expel quite the unsinning predominance of his anger; but that each radical humour and passion wrought upon and corrected as it ought, might be made the proper mould and foundation o f every M a n ' s peculiar gifts and virtues . 2 3 5 An Apology Against A Pamphlet. 21; CPW. I. 900. (Hereafter referred to as "An Apology".) CPW 1.900. 145 Var ious dispositions o f human nature are "peculiar gifts and virtues" here, quite contrary to A n Answer ' s elaboration on the second divis ion of Mi l ton ' s thesis, which terms some as "sordid filthy sullen disposition[s]." M i l t o n is not, o f course, asserting that all persons are obedient to G o d and faithful to their own G o d - g i v e n nature. H e would agree that there are those of a "sordid filthy sullen disposition," both men and women, but these are persons outside of G o d ' s grace, and as l ikely to change their unpleasantness as a "Blackamore changes his colour, or the Leopard his spots, Jer. 13 .23 . , , 2 3 e O n c e a person comes under G o d ' s grace, there is no reason to remain married to a spouse still outside of G o d ' s grace, o f an unpleasant mien who proves, over time, an unrepentant, unyielding character. W h y "dwell in torment all his life, for the ungracious?" 2 3 7 O n e would think from the fo l lowing reply that M i l t o n had a specific c lergyman in mind. W e e see that holiest precepts, then which ther can no better physic bee administerd to the minde of man, and set on with powerfull preaching, cannot work this cure, no not in the family , not in the wife o f h im that Preaches day and night to her. What an unreasonable thing it is that men, and Clergy-men especially, should exact such wondrous changes in another mans house, and are seen to work so little in thir o w n ? 2 3 8 If, then, there is a diet or regimen of exercise sufficient to remedy ailments o f disposition, it is Scripture, but Scripture was never meant to alter human nature, only to cure the misbehaviour of those still outside of G o d ' s wi l l . 2 3 6 CPW II, 738. 2 3 7 Ibid, 738. 2 3 8 Ibid, 738. If this is a personal "stab" at Caryl, it must be in reply to Caryl's own impropriety noted below, on page 35. 146 iv. Good Example A s the best exercise of Charity may be to turn away f rom one's enemies, as Reason's arguments turn irrational when tainted with a "brain-worm," and as G o d - g i v e n H u m a n Nature may be saddled in the "ungracious" with an ugly disposition, so may the value o f G o o d E x a m p l e be mitigated by improper application. N o w follows the Chapla in with his Antiquities , wiser i f hee had refrain'd, for his very touching ought that is lemed, soiles it, and lays h im still more and more open a conspicuous g u l l . 2 3 9 Not all historical examples are "good," whether applied rightly or not. W h i l e an example may seem to support an argument, the tenets and conditions o f its particulars must agree with their application, or risk opposition in principle. F o r example, the first C h u r c h C o u n c i l which A n A n s w e r cites against M i l t o n is the twelfth of T o l e d o , held in 681. A s Coo l idge notes, this was hardly a counci l o f historical importance, and, as M i l t o n himself notes, the conclusions o f this counci l (that marriage is indissoluble except for fornicat ion) 2 4 0 contradict what A n A n s w e r itself states two pages earl ier. 2 4 1 G o o d E x a m p l e must work in concern with Reason to support an argument, not to dis-assemble it. W h i l e reference to the twelfth Toledan C o u n c i l may have authority when rightly applied, though in this case it fails to do so, the C o u n c i l next cited by A n A n s w e r (the first o f the Engl i sh provincial councils , the Synod of Hertford, convened in 668), as far as M i l t o n is concerned, does not. T h i s "Saxon C o u n c i l " is, according to M i l t o n , tainted, for the man under whose authority it 2 3 9 CPW II, 735. 2 4 0 "Preceptum Domini est, ut excepta causa fornicatipnis, uxor a viro dimitti non debeat." Canon 8, as cited by Coolidge, CPW II, 735. n. 57. 2 4 1 Milton, mistakenly, says one page, but he is quite correct in the assertion of contradiction. The "servingman": "If the Husband and Wife be by the Ordinance of God one flesh, then may they not separate or be separated from one another, except it be for some cause which either in it selfe or by consequence may justly be thought to be a just cause of dissolving the union of being one flesh. Only as I intimated, such other causes may be allowed or as dissolves this union of being one flesh, either directly, or by consequence." An Answer, p. 7. 147 was convened had already proven himself morally corrupt. "Theodorus, the Canterbury B ishop, a Grec ian M o n k of Tarsus, revolted f rom his own C h u r c h to the Pope ." 2 4 2 T h e inference is that such a man may not be relied upon to lead the C h u r c h in spiritual matters. Perhaps Mi l ton ' s argument for careful research in the use o f historical examples is even stronger than he had intended, and at his own expense, for he was later to reverse his own opinion o f this " M o n k of Tarsus." A t 70 years o f age, Theodore was ordained Archbi shop of Canterbury by Pope Vi ta l ian in 668. H i s C o u n c i l at Hertford was convened to solve the problem of a lack of bishops and general abuses in the Engl i sh C h u r c h . H e promoted studies, introduced Gregorian Chant, and reorganized the dioceses. U n d e r h im, the C h u r c h in E n g l a n d gained a more unified and established structure. 2 4 3 In Kent, Ercombert expiring, was succeeded by his Son Ecbert. In whose fowrth year, by means o f Theodore, a learned Greekish M o n k o f Tarsus, w h o m Pope Vitalian had ordain'd Archbi shop of Canterbury, the Greek and Lat in Tongue , with other liberal Arts , Ari thmet ic , M u s i c , Astronomie , and the l ike; began first to flourish among the Saxons; as did also the whole L a n d , under potent and religious K i n g s , more then ever before, as Bede affirms, till his own days . 2 4 4 In contradiction to the tone of Colasterion's reference to Theodore , M i l t o n ' s History of Britain (1670) discusses Theodore with praise. M i l t o n is as guilty, then, as the "servingman" of eventual self-contradiction, even if, at this point, the error is not as blatant as that in A n Answer . G o o d Example is not as obvious or as easy as many scholars seem to think: historical examples which consistently agree with one's argument are much scarcer than initial research might seem to indicate. T h e principles o f one's argument supersede the opinions of others and the Christ ian scholar must think for himself. Further, the spiritual principles o f one's own argument also supersede the opinions o f others: i f historical examples, even C h u r c h Counc i l s , 2 4 2 CPW II. 735-6. 2 4 3 "Theodore of Canterbury," in Berardino and Walford, eds., Encyclopaedia of the Early Church (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1992) II, 824. 2 4 4 CPW V . i . , 216. 148 contradict prescribed spiritual principles, human precedent must be the least authoritative of the "four great directors." M i l t o n values hermeneutics above historical precedent, as is evident in his anger with "tradition": the logic o f an argument is more important than the fact that somebody before you said the same thing. A Christ ian scholar must, therefore, assemble the principles o f his argument first, and then search out congruent opinions. 5. Other Exegetical Discussions Orig inal i sm, the principle that the oldest precedent in a case is the most authoritative, enters into Mi l ton ' s argument with A n Answer . T h e first instance is that cited above, wherein the "servingman" mentions the twelfth C o u n c i l o f T o l e d o , and the Synod o f Hertford. M i l t o n s imply notes that there are "both Fathers and Councels more ancient, wherwith to have serv'd his purpos better." 2 4 5 Not that the C o u n c i l o f T o l e d o does not carry weight, for, as M i l t o n notes jestingly, their testimony cuts across prior points o f A n Answer: I would not undervalue the depth of his notion, but perhaps he had heard that the men of Toledo had store of good blade-mettle, and were excellent at cuttling; who can tell but it might bee the reach o f his pol icy, that these able men o f decision, would doe best to have the prime stroke among his testimonies in deciding this cause. T h i s seventh century C o u n c i l is "ancient," yet not all authorities are so T — some are "modem". W h e n , six pages later, M i l t o n refutes the crit icism of his reading o f Deuteronomy 24.1, he claims his to be the same understanding o f the Hebrew as that held by all learned men. T h e exposition of Deut. which I brought, is the receav'd Exposit ion both ancient and modern, by all lemed men, unless it bee a M o n k i s h Papist heer and there. 2 4 6 2 4 5 CPW II. 735. 2 4 6 Ibid, 744. 149 Learning is not confined to ancient writers, though when discussing the translation of M a l a c h i , M i l t o n seems to infer that it is more prevalent among the ancient. O f Malachy I have spok'n more in another place; and say again that the best interpreters, all the ancient, and most o f the modern translate it, as I cited, and very few otherwise, wherof perhaps Junius is the chei f . 2 4 7 In a gathering of "best interpreters" of M a l a c h i , all o f the ancients are attendant, but not all o f the modern. O n c e again, older is better. In T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , M i l t o n explains that the words of Christ are, often, not to be taken literally, but must be understood within the context o f their utterance, accounting for their audience, and for any hebraisms in the language. Colasterion reiterates this point. H i s Explanation don, hee charges mee with a wicked gloss, and almost blasphemy, for saying that Christ in teaching meant not always to bee tak'n word for word; but like a wise Physic ian administring one excess against another, to reduce us to a perfet mean. Certainly to teach thus, were no dishonest method: Christ himself hath often us'd hyperbolies in his teaching. 2 4 8 M i l t o n uses secular authorities at this point to illustrate his argument, as he had in T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine when he wrote that a scholar, drawing on " G o o d Examples ," might access both the sacred and the secular. [The] gravest Authors , both Aristotle in the second of his Ethics to Nichomachus, and Seneca in his seventh De Beneficiis, advise us to stretch out the line of precept oft times beyond measure, that while wee tend furder, the mean might bee the easier attain'd. 2 4 9 Extending an argument beyond its obvious bounds provides greater room for the middle ground, and therein permits clearer expression of an argument's principles. H e had argued the same in T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine . CPW II, 749. Ibid, 745. Ibid, 745. 150 What middle way can be tak'n then, may some interrupt, i f we must neither turne to the right nor to the left, and that the people hate to be reform'd: M a r k then, Judges and Lawgivers , and yee whose Off ice it is to be our teachers, for I wi l l utter now a doctrine, i f ever any other, though neglected or not understood, yet o f great and powerfull importance to the governing of mankind. H e who wisely would restrain the reasonable Soul o f man within due bounds, must first himself know perfectly, how far the territory and dominion extends o f just and honest liberty. A s little must he offer to bind that which G o d hath loosn'd, as to loos 'n that which he hath b o u n d . 2 5 0 Aristotle's words f rom the Nichomachaean Ethics, to which M i l t o n is referring in the above quotation f rom Colasterion are, S o much, then, makes it plain that the intermediate state is in all things to be praised, but that we must incline sometimes towards the excess, sometimes towards the deficiency; for so shall we most easily hit the mean and what is r ight . 2 5 1 Mil ton ' s citation of Seneca in the same passage of Colasterion refers to the fo l lowing sentence: Qucedam prcecipimus ultra modum, ut ad verum et suum redeant. " W e overstate some rules in order that in the end they may reach their true value." 2 5 2 Hyperbole is a rhetorical technique of considerable tradition, both secular and sacred. F o r Colasterion. M i l t o n applies these authors to Christ 's teachings. A n d who-ever comments that fifth of Matthew, when hee comes to the turning of cheek after cheek to blows, and the parting both with cloak and coat, i f any please to bee the rifler, wi l l bee forc't to recommend himself to the same Exposi t ion, though this catering Law-monger bee bold to call it wicked?3* A s M i l t o n points out, Christ teaches the principle o f excess, that violence must be defeated through active passivity, and that poverty must be salved by charitable excess. T h e points o f the argument are less important to us here than that M i l t o n has once again used secular examples to conf irm sacred arguments. CPW II, 227. 2 5 1 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, ed. Jonathan Barnes, trans. W.D. Ross, rev'd. J. O. Urmson, 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991) II, 1752. 2 5 2 "De Beneficiis" VH.xxii.l. In, Seneca III: Moral Essays III (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1989) 508-509. 2 5 3 CPW II, 745. 151 6. The Matter of Hebrew T h e translation of the Hebrew texts is a prime point o f controversy between M i l t o n and A n Answer . M a n y twentieth century critics have written on Mi l ton ' s Hebrew, developing a fascinating and discordant forum, and, while most o f our treatment of this topic occurs in the next chapter on Tetrachordon. either the "servingman" or C a r y l , or both, demand a brief discussion here, for Mi l ton ' s Hebrew abilities are challenged in two places in A n Answer . M u c h of Mi l ton ' s argument hinges on his translation of Deuteronomy 24.1, for, as has been noted in Chapter I, Hebrew is the first language o f the text and the key to an accurate understanding of Moses ' s law. T o attack his translation of this verse would be to shatter the very foundation of his scriptural case for divorce. T h e Hebrewes themselves expound this Text , to be understood of a woman of evill condition, who is not modest according to the honest Daughters o f Israel. So that here seems to be no ground for your understanding the Tex t to speak of any unpleasing naturall quality, when as indeed it speaks of uncleannesse: so that as we conceive, the maine Pil lar o f your B o o k is not able to hold up it self, much lesse wil l it serve for a prop to hold up the rest o f your discourse . 2 5 4 T h e discussion o f Hebrew in A n A n s w e r is frustrating, however, for, as M i l t o n notes, the authors' knowledge o f the language is obviously min imal , i f not non-existent. 2 5 5 Where Mi l ton ' s reading is contended against, A n A n s w e r prints an inaccurate transliteration, disclosing that the Hebrew was probably strained through, letter by letter, against a learner's guide. T h e resultant roman letters render, unfortunately, a pronunciation completely different f r o m that o f the actual Hebrew. "IDT mil?, the T o r a h text for the "some uncleanness" o f the Author ized V e r s i o n , An Answer. 19-20. See pages 1-2 and 19 of An Answer. 152 transliterates as erath davar,236 not "Gueruath Dabhar," as A n A n s w e r prints repeatedly. Were the authors of A n A n s w e r conversant with Hebrew on any level, this would not have happened. Further, there cannot be any veracity to their discussion of Deuteronomy 24:1, on the level o f Hebrew, at least. T h e i r analysis o f Deuteronomy arises, obviously, f rom use of marginal notes, a comparison of texts, and from what appears to be some knowledge of N e w Testament Greek. A l l o f these are legitimate exegetical tools, but they are no substitute for actual knowledge of the original language. Contentions such as these regarding the original text must always revert to a translation of the original languages (as M i l t o n noted in T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine) , in which the author of A n A n s w e r has just proven himself incompetent. 2 5 7 M i l t o n does not bother to argue the points regarding Hebrew, for there is no argument. H e simply notes that the author o f A n A n s w e r cannot even spell the language 2 5 8 and that his reading is "meerly new, and absurd, presuming out o f [their] utter ignorance in the Ebrew, to interpret those words of the T e x t . . . against all approved Wri t er s ." 2 5 9 T h e author of A n A n s w e r is confused about languages generally, though he sets himself up as a polyglot. A t one point, he accuses M i l t o n of "count ing] no woman to due conversation access ib le , . . . except she can speak Hebrew, Greek, Lat in , & F r e n c h . " 2 6 0 Ironically, it is he himself that uses all four of these languages. Not once in the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine , or in any of the other divorce tracts, does M i l t o n use the French language or the 2 5 6 Authority for this rendering is from, J. Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: OUP, 1959). 2 5 7 These judgements are a reflection of Milton's own criticisms. As Prof. Paul Mosca has noted, however, the transliteration of certain hebrew letters to roman script is difficult, and the "gueruath dabhar" rendering of An Answer is, in his view, no more or less valid than Milton's own "erath davar". 2 5 8 CPW II, 724. As Coolidge notes, "The errors [in the Greek] consist in the substitution of short vowels for long ... (e for r\ in coro3ro(XJtn, o for co in CUKMI£HJKO), and in the general omission of accents" (n. 14). 2 5 9 CPW II, 744. 2 6 0 An Answer, p. 16. 153 French B i b l e , 2 6 1 nor do they have anything to do with Mi l ton ' s treatment of the divorce controversy. T h e references to his relations with women is a veiled and rather cruel reference to his marital misfortunes. 2 6 2 Another point o f confusion in A n Answer , the counter to which clarifies one more aspect o f Mi l ton ' s hermeneutics, is its identification of "the main pillar" of Mi l ton ' s argument. Initially, "the main pillar" is c laimed to be Mi l ton ' s original thesis, that, undisposition, unfitnesse, or contrariety of minde, arising f rom a cause in nature unchangeable, hindring and ever l ikely to hinder the main benefits o f conjugall society, which are solace and peace, is a greater reason of divorce then naturall fr ig id i ty . 2 6 3 Later, "the maine Pillar which he trusts in to hold up his whole B o o k " becomes the text o f Deuteronomy 24.1, as the "servingman" claims twice, once on page 19, and again on page 2 0 . 2 6 4 Apparently , the contention that two incompatible persons should be permitted to divorce, and the text of Deuteronomy 24.1, are the same thing. M i l t o n himself notes this conflict but takes the opportunity to clarify rather than to rail. T h e two "pillars," his thesis and the Deuteronomy text, are those pillars upon which he builds his argument. Concerning that place Deut. 24.1. which hee saith to bee the main pillar of my opinion, though I rely more on the institution then on that. These two pillars I doe indeed confess are to mee as those two in the porch of the T e m p l e , Jachin and Boaz, which names import establishment, and strength; nor doe I fear, who can shake t h e m . 2 6 5 2 1 An Answer compares the French to an English biblical translation on page 19, as though the French were to be thought an authoritative text. The author also uses Latin in this way, a practice not found in Milton (that is, as a means to establish meaning), as Latin is not an original language of Scripture. Milton's use of Latin as a comparative is to prove the consistency of learned and ancient translators. 2 6 2 Ironically, the stab is itself untimely, for, as Masson notes, Milton was now interested in "a very handsome and witty gentlewoman," the daughter of a "Dr. Davis" who may have seen fit to reciprocate Milton's attentions, for talk of a marriage was underway. Knowledge of this put a panic into the Powell family and a "chance" meeting between Milton and the estranged Mary was shortly contrived (Masson, III, 436-9). 2 6 5 An Answer, p. 10. This is a fairly accurate reproduction of Milton from The Doctrine and Discipline. 2 6 4 The text of one of these appears above. 2 6 5 CPW II. 744. 154 T h e divis ion o f the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Discipl ine into two books is intended to reflect this bipartite focus. T h e first half deals with the "institution," or what M i l t o n believes to be the true nature of marriage, as established first in Eden , the abuse o f whose conditions would warrant divorce. T h e second half o f the second edition o f T h e Doctrine and Disc ip l ine deals with the more scripturally based, hermeneutically developed aspects of the argument, deriving clarity and definition from specific scriptural passages. T h e use of "Jachin and Boaz" as the two pillars o f his temple porch is another oblique strike at A n Answer ' s lack of Hebrew, for while the names could be found in any Eng l i sh B i b l e , 2 6 6 the meaning of the Hebrew names, which only M i l t o n gives, could not. A s he notes, the name of the one, TI72, Boaz , which stands on the left or north of the porch, denotes strength, and the name of the other, ] ^ \ , Jakin, the pillar on the right or south, signifies establishment. T h e y correlate to the two aspects o f his argument, the principle o f the institution of marriage, and the meaning of Moses ' s Deuteronomic text, though he does not say which he sees as which. Were he asked, he would say, presumably, that is for the institution "established" in E d e n , and for the text which permits divorce, therein "strengthening" the institution. 2 6 7 T h e temple itself is Solomon's temple, the great building on M o u n t M o r i a h in Jerusalem. T h e porch, supported by the two pillars, was not outside, at the entrance to the greater temple, but well inside, at the entrance to the , the main hall , within which was kept the O^Tpn ttnp, the "holy of holies," the final sanctuary which housed the A r k of the Covenant. T h e "porch," then, is much closer to the centre of the most holy of buildings, as M i l t o n ' s case for 2 6 6 The names of the pillars appear twice, in I Kings 7.21 and in II Chronicles 3.17. 2 6 7 Definitions for the Hebrew are drawn from The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Koehlerand Baumgartner, eds., (Leiden: Brill, 1994-1999). 155 divorce is close to, or illustrative of, the most central o f hermeneutic principles, the key to G o d ' s intentions for mankind, Charity. That M i l t o n considers the institution of marriage to be the more significant o f the two pillars, that he relies more on the institution than on the text, is significant. Despite the better part o f two years working away at the defense o f his argument, his heart remains with the principle o f the matter. M i l t o n is no pragmatic polemicist, determined to win a debate at all costs. H e is, rather, a man with a mission, and that to defend against all comers the sanctity o f the institution of marriage as a union founded on the free and lov ing "conversation" of both consenting parties. " A l l comers" includes not only opposing polemicists themselves, but also those who would teach that the Christ ian religion is dictated to, and bound by, the literal words of Scripture alone, rather than a composing union o f Scripture with the guidance of the Spirit o f G o d , in conjunction with human reason. T h e "human element" is critical to M i l t o n , for his personal opinions arise, he believes, f rom the most sincere workings o f his heart, his reason, that place where the Spirit o f G o d teaches the individual . G o d engraved in men's nature, as he wrote in T h e Reason of C h u r c h Government in 1641, laws and ideas. That which is thus moral l , besides what we fetch f rom those unwritten lawes and Ideas which nature hath ingraven in us, the Gospe l l . . . lectures to us f r o m her own authentick hand-wri t ing . 2 6 8 H e who strays least f rom his own God-g iven nature is therein closest to understanding these "unwritten lawes and Ideas." Indeed, as he wrote the next year in A n A p o l o g y Against a Pamphlet, nature leads through reason. F o r doubtlesse that indeed according to art is most eloquent, which returnes and approaches neerest to nature f r o m whence it came; and they expresse nature best, who in their lives least wander from her safe leading, which may be ca l l 'd regenerate reason. 2 6 8 CPW 1,764. 2 6 9 Ibid, 874. 156 Mi l ton ' s own reason is to be included in the category of "all comers" as wel l , as the intense revisions which his argument undergoes, both in form and content, indicate. T h e two editions of T h e Doctrine and Disc ip l ine . Mart in Bucer . and Colasterion have little in c o m m o n , save their central argument. What first appeared with the first edition of T h e Doctrine and Disc ipl ine has been extensively elaborated, supported, and defended. Mi l ton ' s opinions have remained unshaken f rom the beginning of the controversy, as have his hermeneutics, most clearly expressed in the principles of his argument, the "four great directors." W h e n he asserts, in the above passage, that Deuteronomy 24.1 does not form the main pillar o f his opinion, he is c la iming as much, for the logical aspects o f his argument are mere exegetics, the nuts and bolts of the machine, which must not be idealized above the purpose for which the machine was assembled in the first place. G o d instituted marriage in E d e n as an expression of his "Charity," his love for mankind, as a means to alleviate the loneliness o f A d a m . T h e two pillars must co-exist and be seen to support the "temple porch" equally. T o over-value the pragmatics o f exegesis, a concession to reason, is to lose sight o f the forest for the trees, as Mi l ton ' s "literalist" opponents so frequently do. 7. The Impact of An Answer and the Implications of Colasterion T h e "four great directors" comprise the driv ing principle o f G o d ' s wi l l for mankind, Charity , and the means by which to comprehend H i s wi l l , but the nature of this relationship to G o d has an ominous side as well . T h i s relationship depends upon, on the part o f man, responsible and active obedience. Ignorance of such responsibility is terrible, for once a man relinquishes his active and thinking obedience in exchange for a passive dependence upon another's thoughts and 157 actions, not only has he relegated himself to the condition of "original blindness," as M i l t o n describes it in the second edition of T h e Doctrine and D i s c i p l i n e , 2 7 0 he has exempted himself from this very relationship with G o d . Under the o ld L a w , a man could rest assuredly in the belief that he obeyed G o d by obeying the laws and regulations as explained to h i m by the priests. Such is no longer the case for the Christ ian; now each individual is responsible for his own obedience, and this according not to laws but to principles taught by Scripture. T h e flagrant violation of this fundamental relationship on the part o f his accusers is what eventually drove M i l t o n to the ferocity o f Colasterion — that and the temerity with which they justify such error. Freedom to choose divorce is merely the obverse o f the coin of responsibility: an individual who exercises his responsibility to obey G o d thoughtfully and actively also exercises a freedom to determine for himself, guided by the Spirit, the best manner in which to obey G o d ; that is, each individual has the God-g iven opportunity to exercise autonomy in the judgment of his own thoughts and actions. Responsibil ity and freedom are inseparable. M a n y of Mi l ton ' s writings make the case for personal liberty, on either the religious, the c iv i l , or, as is the case with the divorce tracts, the domestic level. Years later, in the oft-quoted Defensio Secunda of 1654, M i l t o n would himself enumerate these three aspects o f liberty, explaining that he had had a larger agenda of sorts in mind while working on each of them individually. W h e n [the bishops] . . . had at last fallen . . . I directed my attention elsewhere, asking mysel f whether I could in any way advance the cause of true and substantial liberty, which must be sought, not without, but within, and which is best achieved, not by the sword, but by a life rightly undertaken and rightly conducted. Since, then, I observed that there are, in all , three varieties o f liberty without which c iv i l ized life is scarcely possible, namely ecclesiastical liberty, domestic or personal liberty, and civi l liberty, and since I had already written - CPW II, 222. See also the discussion on regenerate reason in the De doctrina Christiana I, xii (CPW VI, 394-8). and De doctrina Christiana I, xviii. (CPW VI, 461). 158 about the first, while I saw that the magistrates were vigorously attending to the third, I took as m y province the remaining one, the second or domestic k i n d . 2 7 1 T h e artificiality o f such retrospective method is apparent, yet M i l t o n cannot but be accurate in recollecting his desire at this point in his life to pursue freedom o f all sorts. Perhaps the most magnificent o f all his prose works, the Areopagit ica. immediately precedes Colasterion and Tetrachordon . 2 7 2 and argues in impassioned tones the case not only for freedom o f publication, but for freedom o f thought as well . M i l t o n had already expressed, in Mart in Bucer . his abhorrence of the l icensing of publications, as that had been most extremely displayed in burning the writings of Bucer and Fagius beside their exhumed bodies. T h e matter o f l icensing had long been contentious, as witnessed by, for example, the lack of names on title pages. Nevertheless, despite M i l t o n ' s efforts to l ink l icensing to a suppression of the truth, he had himself been called before an examining board to defend his divorce work. H e was dismissed, but what mattered to M i l t o n , as in all other things, was not the pragmatics but the principles which underlie the business at hand. T h e result o f his experience was the protesting Areopagit ica . yet even this ageless testimony had failed to alter the situation. Opposit ion did not so much bother M i l t o n (he closes Colasterion with yet another invitation to a reasonable and learned response), as did the nature of that opposition — both A n A n s w e r and Palmer's sermon are arrogant and ignorant. Further, the nature of the opposition offended h i m , for rather than come to h i m with reasoned rebuttals, his accusers chose to address his arguments with il l-chosen counter-arguments, and that in his absence. O n e comment by the author(s) o f A n A n s w e r was far too excessive for M i l t o n ' s pride. T h i s frothie discouse, were it not sugred over with a little neat language, would appear so immeritous and undeserving, so contrary to all humane learning, yea, 2 7 1 CPW IV. i., 623-4. 2 7 2 Areopagitica was published oh November 23, 1644. 159 truth and c o m m o n experience it self, that all that reade it must needs count it worthie to be burnt by the H a n g m a n . 2 7 3 A n A n s w e r does not mention Bucer , but M i l t o n had heard o f Palmer, reacting to his divorce argument, making similar comments from the pulpit, which precipitated his defensive comments in Mart in Bucer. Perhaps this one comment was enough to enflame M i l t o n to that degree of wrath which characterizes Colasterion: after al l , the very name of the tract derives f rom the Greek for "punishment" or "correction." A s Colasterion closes, both offending authors receive a w h i p p i n g , 2 7 4 yet, while it was the "servingman" who made the "burning" comment, C a r y l receives most o f the strokes. A n d for this, for I affirm no more then Bucer, what censure doe you think, Readers he hath condemn'd the book to? T o a death no less infamous then to be burnt by the hangman. M r . Licencer , for I deal not now with this caitif, never worth m y earnest, & now not seasonable for m y jest, you are reputed a man discreet anough, religious anough, honest anough, that is, to an ordnary competence in all these. B u t now your turn is, to hear what your own hand hath earn'd ye, that when you suffer'd this nameles hangman to cast into public such a despightfull contumely upon a name and person deserving of the C h u r c h and State equally to your self, and one who hath don more to the present advancement o f your own Tr ibe , then you or many of them have don for themselvs, you forgot to bee either honest, Rel igious, or discreet. . . . But as to this brute L i b e l , so much the more impudent and lawless for the abus'd autority which it bears, I say again, that I abominat the censure of Rascalls and their L i c e n c e r s . 2 7 5 M i l t o n is the one "deserving o f the C h u r c h and State," who in his anti-prelatical tracts had "don more to the present advancement of [Caryl's] T r i b e , then y o u or many of them have don for themselvs," yet he has received no recognition, only abuse. Further, C a r y l , as a member o f the Westminster A s s e m b l y "Tr ibe ," an ecclesiastical body appointed by Parliament itself, represents both C h u r c h and State. T h e underlying tone of bitterness is unmistakable, for it is to both the An Answer, p. 41. 2 7 4 CPW II, 729. Milton equates himself, metaphorically, with Ajax who, enraged because the arms of Achilles had been awarded to Ulysses, binds and whips a sheep, under the delusion that it is Ulysses himself. Milton's "servingman" adversary is unworthy, but all he has for now, until he meets with "this RammefsJ... Ulysses." 2 7 5 CPW II, 753. 160 C h u r c h and to the State that M i l t o n has appealed throughout this campaign, and while the preface to Mart in Bucer may have jettisoned the Assembly , Parliament has always been the anchor point for Mi l ton ' s hopes. Here in C a r y l , though, C h u r c h and State unite, and ineptly, in opposition to the whole case for divorce. Clear ly , M i l t o n doubts his arguments wi l l persuade Parliament, even in the long run, to change the divorce laws. That body seems generally prejudiced against this "matter to expect evil l f rom," even though he hopes "to meet among them with wise, and honourable, and knowing m e n . " 2 7 6 Despite the majority of "clowns and vices," these wise and honourable men, however few they might be, are Mi l ton ' s last hope for reform. Nevertheless, M i l t o n has lately been labouring alone in a distasteful cause. I have now don that, which for many causes I might have thought, could not l ikely have bin my fortune, to bee put to this under-work of scowring and unrubbishing the low and sordid ignorance o f such a presumptuous lozel. . . . A t any hand I would bee ridd of him: for I had rather, since the life o f man is l ikn 'd to a Scene, that all m y entrances and exits might mixe with such persons only, whose worth erects them and their actions to a grave and tragic deportment, and not to have to doe with Clowns and Vices.277 T h i s l ikely allusion to A s Y o u L i k e It 2 7 8 may intimate hope on Mi l ton ' s part, for, while Mi l ton ' s "entrances and exits" to and from the world's stage are finite, and best not wasted, he may nonetheless mix with those of "erect and active deportment." Preceding Shakespeare's "all the world's a stage" speech, there occurs, albeit faint, encouragement f rom D u k e Senior to Jaques. T h o u seest we are not all alone unhappy: T h i s wide and universal theatre Presents more woeful pageants than the scene Where in we play i n . 2 7 9 2 7 6 CPW II, 753. 2 7 7 Ibid, 756-7. 2 7 8 Mark Vessey has observed that this commonplace has long currency in Greek and Latin literature as well, not to mention its appearance in Erasmus's Praise of Folly, itself a prophetic work of clowning. 2 7 9 As You Like It. II.vii.135-8, as printed in The Norton Shakespeare (New York: Norton, 1997) 1122. 161 Perhaps M i l t o n is not entirely alone in his frustration. T h e sense of isolation increases, mortality is mentioned, and the circle o f preferred association is c losing to include only a few, the "wise, and honourable, and knowing," those of "grave and tragic deportment." T h e influence o f one such man, John Selden, a member of Parliament, a legally trained orientalist and historian, and considered by many the most learned man of his times, who authored the U x o r Ebraica and the D e jure naturali et gentium, the first on divorce and the second on the natural rights o f men, shall be discussed in the next chapter, on Tetrachordon. 8. Conclusion W h i l e there is relatively little new hermeneutic material in Colasterion. there is a great deal of elaboration. Charity , the prime aspect o f