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

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MILTON'S DIVORCE TRACTS: A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by ALASDAIR ROSS MACLENNAN BRADLEY B.A., T h e University of British C o l u m b i a , 1980 M.A., T h e University of British C o l u m b i a , 1997  A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH  W e a c c e p t this thesis a s c o n f o r m i n g t o the required s t a n d a r d  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA OCTOBER  2004  © Alasdair Bradley, 2 0 0 4  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 antiepiscopal 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 w h i c h is the o n l y d i s c o m m o d i t y o f speaking i n a cleer matter, the abundance o f argument that presses to bee utter'd, and the suspense o f j u d g e m e n t what to c h o o s e , and h o w in the multitude o f reason, to be not tedious, is the greatest difficulty w h i c h I expect heer to meet w i t h . " John Milton, Tetrachordon  T A B L E OF CONTENTS Abstract  .'  ii  Table of Contents General Introduction CHAPTER I 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6  1.7 1.8 1.9  2.3 2.4 2.5  3.5  iv 1  The Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce: The Harmony of Moses and Christ...21  The Judgement of Martin Bucer: The Cause of Truth  Introduction Hermeneutics i. Historical Hermeneutics: Augustine ii. The Orthodoxy of Bucer's own Hermeneutics The Bipolarity of Martin Bucer Milton's Prophetic Sense Conclusions  CHAPTER III 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4  :  Introduction The Argument and the First Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce The Exegetical Principles of the First Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce Milton, his Contemporaries, and the Westminster Confession Where Milton Deviates The Second Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce i. Book I of the Second Edition: Setting out Moses's Law ii. Book II of the Second Edition: Reconciling Christ to Moses The Critics Conclusions Appendix: The Six Central Scriptural Passages..  C H A P T E R II 2.1 2.2  ....  Colasterion: Radical Hermeneutics as Prophetic Castigation  Introduction: The Place and Nature of Colasterion The Relationship of Colasterion and Tetrachordon Explaining the Tone of Colasterion The Four Great Directors i. Charity ii. Reason iii. Human Nature iv. Good Example : Other Exegetical Discussions  22 28 35 41 47 55 59 61 67 73 75 77 78 82 85 88 103 108 115 117 118 126 129 133 135 139 141 146 148  3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9  The Matter of Hebrew.. The Impact of An Answer to a Book. Intituled The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, and the Implications of Colasterion Conclusion Appendix: An extract from Herbert Palmer's sermon to Parliament  CHAPTER IV Tetrachordon: A Declaration of Independence General Introduction The Structure of Tetrachordon i. The Preface ii. Genesis 1: 27-8 and 2: 18, 23-4 iii. Deuteronomy 24: 1-2 iv. Matthew 5: 31-2 and 19: 3-11 v. I Corinthians 7: 10-16 vi. Milton's Authorities and his Concluding Remarks 4.3 The Hermeneutics 4.4 The Necessity to Treat of Law 4.5. JohnSelden 4.6 Grotius, Selden, and Natural Law Theory 4.7 Milton's Mental State  ,  4.1 4.2  ,  151 156 161 164 165 166 171 171 178 186 190 198 202 203 206 208 220 231  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 selfcentered 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, but, 2  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  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".) "At a Vacation Exercise," II. 47-9. (1628) 1  2  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  h o w dare this one m a n defy the authority o f both C h u r c h a n d State? H e r e i n lay the second battle, v a l o r i z a t i o n o f the rights o f the i n d i v i d u a l before G o d above obedience to institutionalized authority. T h e final battle w o u l d c o m e after the p e r i o d o f the d i v o r c e tracts, the battle f o r a new c i v i c a n d ecclesiastical structure, built o n the collective o f free and i n f o r m e d C h r i s t i a n individuals. T h e argument f o r liberty d i d not appear f u l l y f o r m e d : the process o f its birth is a l o n g a g o n y whose nature, breadth, a n d progressive expansion best represent the final majesty o f M i l t o n ' s creative offerings. T h e first step was, o f course, to establish a v o i c e , a v o i c e not o n l y heard, but one with the right and authority to speak.  M i l t o n ' s v o i c e was heeded, early in his career, w h e n  expedient, a n d i g n o r e d or attacked w h e n i n o p p o s i t i o n to the d o m i n a n t political f a c t i o n : hence, 4  his political success with the anti-episcopal tracts a n d , shortly thereafter, his struggle w i t h the d i v o r c e tracts. M i l t o n , not a r g u i n g f r o m political m o t i v e , but f r o m genuine b e l i e f in a cause, d i d not receive such o p p o s i t i o n w e l l . Severe disappointments and frustrations d u r i n g the earlier half o f the 1640s c o n v i n c e d h i m not to rely o n the State or the C h u r c h for i n d i v i d u a l liberty. N o t , o f course, that f o r m s o f liberty d o not d e p e n d , f o r their extended f u n c t i o n , on the sanction o f the State and/or the C h u r c h , but liberty must b e g i n w i t h the i n d i v i d u a l . N o r , M i l t o n argues, m a y one trust in another i n d i v i d u a l f o r safety or happiness; the security f o r these must arise f r o m a relationship with G o d . U l t i m a t e l y , M i l t o n ' s argument j o i n s a p a n o p l y o f other seventeenthcentury arguments i n defense o f i n d i v i d u a l potential: T h o m a s Hobbes's L e v i a t h a n , for e x a m p l e , argues that the fundamental unit in society is an individual's right to defend, before e v e r y t h i n g else, his personal safety; R e n e Descartes argues that all p h i l o s o p h y must d e p e n d o n an 5  See William Parker Riley's introductory essay to his Milton's Contemporary Reputation (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1940) 14. 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,  4  5  5  individual's irrevocable ability to reason; J o h n M i l t o n brings to these arguments his belief that inalienable i n d i v i d u a l liberty derives f r o m a relationship with G o d like that first instituted with Adam. In the process, however, M i l t o n f a c e d severe o p p o s i t i o n w h i c h f o r c e d h i m into f u l l emotional retreat. L a t e r i n life, he was to paint these battles with a heroic brush, but at this point, his defensiveness a n d suffering are starkly evjdeht in the pages o f the d i v o r c e tracts; these "unwarranted" attacks a n d a sense o f isolation f o r c e d h i m to a reliance o n none but h i m s e l f a n d G o d . T h e r e is e v i d e n c e o f M i l t o n ' s friendships in his b i o g r a p h i c a l details, but the d i v o r c e tracts 6  themselves mention o n l y one c o n t e m p o r a r y influence, J o h n S e l d e n . T h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l allies w h o m M i l t o n cites in his w o r k are all historic; f o r those o f his o w n time, he seems to have h a d , for the most part, contempt. T h e liberty f o r w h i c h M i l t o n argues is timeless a n d serves the political ambitions o f no one. It is not a f r e e d o m to d o as one wants, w h e n one wants, to w h o m e v e r one chooses. Rather, it is a responsible right o f j u d g m e n t o v e r one's o w n affairs, led by the Spirit o f G o d , taught by Scripture, and by the b o o k o f h u m a n nature. "Honest" liberty is the opposite o f that license c o m m o n l y confused with liberty. W h a t though the b l o o d o f B e l i a l , the draffe o f m e n , to w h o m n o liberty is pleasing, but u n b r i d l ' d and v a g a b o n d lust without pale or partition, w i l l laugh broad perhaps, to see so great a strength o f Scripture mustering up in f a v o u r , as they suppose, o f their debausheries; they w i l l k n o w better, w h e n they shall hence learne, that honest liberty is the greatest foe to dishonest l i c e n c e .  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. 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".) 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  7  6  L i b e r t y , painted in such c o l o u r s , is reminiscent o f the righteousness o f M o s e s , d e s c e n d i n g f r o m M t . S i n a i w i t h G o d ' s C o m m a n d m e n t s to face the H e b r e w s w i t h their G o l d e n C a l f , a n d s u c h liberty, based u p o n the authority o f a higher law, w o u l d place an i n d i v i d u a l outside what M i l t o n sees as the c o m m o n mass o f humanity. M o s t scholars w h o discuss M i l t o n concentrate o n Paradise L o s t ; yet. this magnificent p o e m is the eventual product o f M i l t o n ' s life a n d studies, and is greatly enhanced by his vast prose corpus. Paradise L o s t . Paradise R e g a i n e d , a n d S a m s o n A g o n i s t e s are the final result o f M i l t o n ' s struggle with a variety o f opponents, a n d they represent the f i n a l expression o f his personal philosophy.  T h e subject matter o f Paradise L o s t — the nature o f man's identity and place in  creation, and h o w and w h y man's place in creation has c h a n g e d f r o m its initial, m o r e f a v o u r e d state — w h e n all taken together, underpins M i l t o n ' s o p i n i o n s o n liberty, and is a direct reflection o f theories d e v e l o p e d d u r i n g the l o n g p e r i o d o f his prose controversies. O f t e n , in the prose, these o p i n i o n s are not e x p l i c i t l y stated, a n d they must be extracted as they lie i m p l i c i t to the arguments through w h i c h M i l t o n approaches the controversies. H i s m a n y prose w o r k s , as noted a b o v e , m a y be g r o u p e d under a few headings (i.e., anti-episcopacy, d i v o r c e , regicide), but at the core o f each man's social relations is his relationship with G o d . In his 1656 A S e c o n d D e f e n s e o f the E n g l i s h P e o p l e . M i l t o n writes o f his earlier prose p e r i o d as an e x a m i n a t i o n o f three f o r m s o f liberty, domestic, c i v i l , and spiritual or religious. W h e n [the bishops] h a d at last f a l l e n a n d troubled us n o m o r e , I directed m y attention elsewhere, a s k i n g m y s e l f whether I c o u l d i n any w a y a d v a n c e the cause o f true and substantial liberty, w h i c h must be sought, not without, but w i t h i n , and w h i c h is best a c h i e v e d , not b y the s w o r d , but by a life rightly undertaken a n d rightly c o n d u c t e d . S i n c e , then, I o b s e r v e d that there are, i n a l l , three varieties o f liberty without w h i c h c i v i l i z e d life is scarcely possible, n a m e l y ecclesiastical liberty, d o m e s t i c o r personal liberty, and c i v 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 p e r i o d o f 1642-1645, d u r i n g w h i c h he c o m p o s e d his f o u r d i v o r c e tracts, as well as O f E d u c a t i o n and A r e o p a g i t i c a . is the p e r i o d d u r i n g w h i c h M i l t o n realized his need for, and right to, an authoritative, a u t o n o m o u s voice.  H e underwent a series o f attacks, disappointments, a n d  frustrations, against w h i c h he w o u l d battle h e r o i c a l l y , and w h i c h w o u l d ultimately change h i m , precipitating an independence o f thought, and a b e l i e f in his role as a chosen a n d isolated v o i c e for G o d , a prophet. M i l t o n ' s d i v o r c e w o r k s are replete with e v i d e n c e o f how he saw h i m s e l f as the most recent defender in a l o n g line o f advocates, "called" as teachers a n d 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 C h r i s t i a n cals m e t h r o u g h the chance o f g o o d or e v i l l report, to be the sole advocate o f a discount'nanc't truth: a h i g h enterprise L o r d s and C o m m o n s , a h i g h enterprise a n d a hard, and s u c h as every seventh S o n o f a seventh S o n does not venture o n .  9  T h i s chosen one w i l l suffer i g n o m i n i o u s l y at the hands o f "the b l o o d o f B e l i a l , the draffe o f men," for, while T r u t h is as i m p o s s i b l e to be s o i l ' d by any o u t w a r d t o u c h , as the S u n b e a m , [and though] . . . this i l l hap wait o n her n a t i v i t y , . . . shee never c o m e s into the w o r l d , but like a B a s t a r d , to the i g n o m i n y o f h i m that brought her forth: till T i m e the M i d w i f e rather then the mother o f T r u t h , have washt a n d salted the Infant, d e c l a r ' d her legitimat, a n d C h u r c h t the father o f his y o u n g needlesse causes o f his p u r g a t i o n .  Minerva,  f r o m the  10  G o d ' s chosen servant is equal to the task, f o r G o d , it seems, intended to p r o v e m e , whether I durst alone take up a rightful cause against a w o r l d o f disesteem, & f o u n d I durst.  11  In a l o n g line o f G o d ' s teachers, and like B u c e r before h i m , M i l t o n believed h i m s e l f to have been chosen and led by G o d :  CPW II. 224. Ibid. 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  10 11  9 If therefore G o d i n the f o r m e r age f o u n d out a servant, and b y w h o m he had converted a n d r e f o r m ' d m a n y a citie, by h i m thought g o o d to restore the most needfull doctrine o f d i v o r c e f r o m rigorous a n d h a r m f u l l mistakes o n the right hand, it can be no strange thing i f in this age he stirre up by whatsoever w h o m it pleases h i m , to take i n h a n d & maintain the same a s s e r t i o n .  means  12  G o d , that I m a y ever magnifie a n d r e c o r d this his goodnes, hath unexpectedly rais'd up as it were f r o m the dead, m o r e then one f a m o u s light o f the first reformation to bear witnes with m e , and to doe m e h o n o u r i n that very thing, w h e r i n these m e n thought to have blotted m e .  1 3  M i l t o n b e l i e v e d h i m s e l f to be i n a l o n g line o f chosen teachers, f r o m the patriarch M o s e s to the reformer B u c e r , singled out b y G o d , gifted with greater abilities, arid raised up to e x p o u n d eternal truths to the rest o f m a n k i n d : G o d m a d e h i m a prophet. W h e r e , then, does this a m a z i n g process begin?  T h e first o f the d i v o r c e tracts, T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e  1 4  is a brilliant capitulation o f the  fundamental principles upon w h i c h m a t r i m o n y is based, with an e x a m i n a t i o n o f the customs arid errors w h i c h h a d resulted i n the E n g l i s h Church's, position against d i v o r c e . 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 r e g a r d i n g d i v o r c e , doctrines i n place f o r centuries, w h i c h h a d yet to receive the scrutiny characteristic o f the Protestant R e f o r m a t i o n . M i l t o n provides this e x a m i n a t i o n , re-evaluating the scriptural bases, as w e l l as w e i g h i n g the institution itself in relation to that crucial Protestant tenet, the centrality o f the relationship between an i n d i v i d u a l a n d G o d . M i l t o n argues that a husband and wife, the o n l y persons capable o f d e c i d i n g whether their marriage s h o u l d be d i s s o l v e d , are supported in their right to d o so by Scripture, a n d that traditional C h u r c h o p p o s i t i o n to d i v o r c e is an error instigated b y the R o m a n  12 13 14  CPWII. 433. CPWII. 437. 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 m o d e l f o r this i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c theory o f d o m e s t i c a n d spiritual authority lies in the original relationship between G o d and m a n i n prelapsarian E d e n .  1 5  In the b e g i n n i n g , m a n was at  peace with G o d a n d was, w i t h one very specific restriction, free to m a k e all decisions regarding his o w n existence. In E d e n , the c i v i c structure is the d o m e s t i c structure, because h u m a n society c o m p r i s e d one m a n a n d one w o m a n o n l y , a n d they i n intimate relation with each other. G o d ' s intention in E d e n was that m a n should be h a p p y , p r o v i d e d he was obedient a n d , 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 G o d ' s prohibition does not change the fundamental relationship between G o d a n d m a n : G o d remains in g o o d w i l l toward m a n , a n d obedience to G o d ' s wishes remains a requirement o f m a n . O b e d i e n c e is the critical issue, a n d obedience w i l l reap its rewards. A s M i l t o n explains, the fall d i d not so change m a n as to alter his ability to enjoy a life virtually identical to that o f A d a m and E v e i n E d e n (save f o r the severe intrusions o f mortality a n d o f an altered natural w o r l d ) , p r o v i d e d he remain obedient to G o d ' s w i l l . M i l t o n ' s theory o f o r i g i n a l i s m depends, therefore, u p o n the relationship between obedient m a n and l o v i n g G o d . W h a t is the nature o f this obedience, as M i l t o n d e v e l o p s it f o r his d i v o r c e argument? E a c h i n d i v i d u a l is separately responsible f o r the obedient a n d faithful nature o f his relationship with G o d . A l l suffer the pleadings o f a fallen nature, yet all are able, g i v e n faithfulness to that internal g u i d i n g v o i c e w h i c h C h r i s t delivered i n the H o l y Spirit, to deny o r resist these temptations.  T h e chaotic separation f r o m G o d w h i c h characterizes the f a l l e n state  has d i m e n s i o n s , a breadth, a height, and a depth, s i m p l y b r i d g e d by obedience; those o f greater ability are responsible, M i l t o n believes, to explore the d i m e n s i o n s o f this chaotic separation, at least insofar as their abilities permit. A s each i n d i v i d u a l is different i n natural abilities, each  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." 15  12 individual's obedience is, therefore, different. T h o s e o f greater intellectual competence are responsible f o r the questions a n d doubts w h i c h their greater capacity inevitably raises.  Milton  saw h i m s e l f as one o f elevated intellectual capacity, a n d was not o n l y d r i v e n to search out the w a y s o f G o d , but desired to d o so.  H e was an elitist, but the elevation and authority o f a prophet  requires hierarchy: L e t the statutes o f G o d be t u r n ' d over, be s c a n n ' d a new, a n d 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 C o u n s e l s ) by m e n o f what liberall profession soever, o f eminent spirit and breeding j o y n ' d with a diffuse a n d various k n o w l e d g e o f d i v i n e and h u m a n things; able to ballance a n d define g o o d and e v i l l , right a n d w r o n g , throughout every state o f life; able to shew us the waies o f the L o r d , strait and faithfull as they are, not f u l l o f cranks a n d contradictions, a n d pit f a l l i n g dispenses, but w i t h d i v i n e insight a n d benignity measur'd out to the proportion o f each m i n d a n d spirit, each temper and disposition, created so different each f r o m other, and yet by the skill o f wise c o n d u c t i n g , all to b e c o m e u n i f o r m in v e r t u e .  16  T h e s e searchings a n d studies are e n d e m i c to the faith o f all to w h o m G o d g i v e s s u c h f u l l e r abilities. M i l t o n b e l i e v e d that his apologetical w o r k , based o n dutiful a n d searching studies o f both Scripture a n d his o w n h u m a n nature, and g u i d e d b y the Spirit, warranted h e e d i n g b y a l l . H e was c o m m u n i c a t i n g n o m o r e , though n o less, than G o d ' s evident w i l l , as revealed to one w h o s e abilities and studies granted h i m authority to j u d g e such a matter. G o d had reached out to h i m and exalted h i m ; he answered this call with a lifetime o f study a n d prayer. T h i s relative p r o x i m i t y , this closeness to G o d was, M i l t o n b e l i e v e d , the source o f his authority, yet he d i d not rest here, f o r others had not been so blessed, a n d w o u l d not understand as he d i d . H e laid out the progressive steps and the findings o f his study f o r all w h o were w i l l i n g and able to c o m p r e h e n d . H e w r o n g l y assumed that P a r l i a m e n t w o u l d be w i l l i n g a n d able.  CPW II, 230.  13 Milton's divorce argument was not well received, nor did Parliament act on it.  17  It was "new"  and "innovative," a "pernicious paradox," and the pulpit declared it anti-Church, anti-Scripture, 18  and anti-Christian. Milton did not, however, relent or repent, but published the second edition 19  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 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. CPW II. 435. See the Appendix to Chapter III for an excerpt from Herbert Palmer's 1644 sermon. 17  18  19  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; "good example," finally, is the source book of history, sacred and 21  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 CPW II. 229. 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.  20 21  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 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. 22  17  D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e , u n i m a g i n a t i v e l y titled A n A n s w e r to a B o o k intituled T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e o f D i v o r c e . C o l a s t e r i o n is stark witness to the sense o f embattled isolation under 2 3  w h i c h M i l t o n suffered, a n d the ferocity o f its scorn hints at the emotional toll o f the two previous years. T e t r a c h o r d o n , w h i c h a c c o m p a n i e d C o l a s t e r i o n to the press, is a m u c h l o n g e r a n d more d i g n i f i e d o f f e r i n g w h i c h , m u c h as the s e c o n d edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e gathers, organizes, and buttresses the first edition, o n c e again gathers and structures the larger argument by systematically r e - e x a m i n i n g the f o u r pertinent scriptural passages f r o m G e n e s i s to I Corinthians.  24  T h e p r i m a r y f o c u s o f T e t r a c h o r d o n is the nature o f law, as revealed i n Scripture,  to the e n d o f demonstrating that the most fundamental a n d a b i d i n g , a n d hence critical, o f G o d ' s legal "statements" was made in E d e n , w i t h the relationship w h i c h H e created between H i m s e l f and m a n k i n d . T h i s o r i g i n a l law is the basis f o r N o a c h i d e l a w , designed to guide f r o m the period o f the fall until the declarations o f M o s a i c law. F r o m the time o f its d e l i v e r y , M o s a i c law obtains, in c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h Christ's teachings, d o w n to the present day. In the midst o f these, M i l t o n p u b l i s h e d O f E d u c a t i o n (June 4, 1644) a n d the m o n u m e n t a l A r e o p a g i t i c a ( N o v e m b e r 23, 1644) the latter bearing particularly o n the argument f o r the personal nature o f fundamental authority.  M i l t o n ' s argument f o r a u t o n o m y was nascent in his first p o l e m i c a l tracts. H i s w o r k prior to that o n d i v o r c e , d e a l i n g with the question o f bishops, w h i l e rooted i n its o w n specific cultural and temporal relevance, also sought answers originalistically. M i l t o n l o o k e d to the political structure o f the first churches after C h r i s t , whether certain i n d i v i d u a l s e n j o y e d ascendency o v e r  B 24  Hereafter referred to as "An Answer." For these texts, see the appendix to Chapter I of this paper.  18 others, whether the apostles established a larger g o v e r n i n g institution f o r w h i c h chosen persons served as representatives, or whether authority lay with the presbyters a n d their c h o i c e o f elders o r leaders. T h e d i v o r c e question looks to beginnings as w e l l , to the institution o f marriage, f o r without that, there is no d i v o r c e . Eternal a n d u n c h a n g i n g truths are precedent, and f r o m the b e g i n n i n g ; they are not constructed and e v e n t u a l .  25  O p p o s i t i o n to M i l t o n ' s arguments f o c u s s e d  on this: his adversaries fought to keep the matters based in current political contexts, w h i l e M i l t o n argues that the "current" is c o m p l e t e l y dependent o n the "original." Resistance to M i l t o n ' s w o r k h a d , at its core, his challenge to the structure o f current c i v i l a n d ecclesiastical authority. H i s opponents were outraged that a n y b o d y s h o u l d oppose a received and traditional j u d g m e n t o f the C h u r c h . M i l t o n a c k n o w l e d g e s his opponents in the preface to the second edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e , t e r m i n g their v i e w s "custom" and "error," the t w o o f w h i c h have a l w a y s been i n league. M i l t o n holds that C h u r c h o p p o s i t i o n to his v i e w s , a n d the R o m a n C h u r c h f r o m w h i c h the proscription o n d i v o r c e had arisen, are not o n l y  self-interested  but rife with error, a n d need review under the light o f protestant R e f o r m a t i o n . Further, it is the business o f all i n d i v i d u a l s , within or without the C h u r c h , clergy or l a y m e n , to p e r f o r m such examinations a n d , w h e n necessary, to express their findings. M i l t o n had done no less, f u l f i l l i n g what he saw as his responsibility, to G o d , to himself, a n d to his country. T h e most o b v i o u s difficulty with M i l t o n ' s argument f o r personal authority in matters domestic and spiritual, a n d specifically in those c o n c e r n i n g d i v o r c e , was putting it into practice. Regardless o f its theory, right or w r o n g , it needed the a p p r o v a l a n d action o f c i v i c authority f o r legal i m p l e m e n t a t i o n . E a c h tract, f r o m the s e c o n d edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e o n w a r d , is addressed specifically to Parliament. T h e o r e t i c a l l y , P a r l i a m e n t c o u l d have  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. 25  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 i n d out fit M a t e , but such A s s o m e misfortune brings h i m , or mistake, O r w h o m he wishes most shall s e l d o m gain T h r o u g h her perversness, but shall see her gaind B y a f a i r worse, or i f she love, withheld B y Parents, or his happiest c h o i c e too late S h a l l meet, alreadie linkt and W e d l o c k - b o u n d T o a fell A d v e r s a r i e , his hate or shame: W h i c h infinite calamitie shall cause T o H u m a n e life, and h o u s h o l d peace c o n f o u n d : Paradise L o s t . X . 898-908. (1674)  22 INTRODUCTION On August 1, 1643, John Milton published the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, the first of four tracts which draw on a myriad of sources, including the Bible and 26  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, is circumstantial and irrelevant here. Milton's arguments rest on 27  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".) 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 26  27  23 the p r o p o s i t i o n , not that an irremediable marriage is u n h a p p y , but that it is, first, unprofitable to the spiritual and p s y c h o l o g i c a l w e l l - b e i n g o f its participants a n d , s e c o n d , contrary to the intention o f Scripture a n d , therefore, the w i l l o f G o d . In other w o r d s , M i l t o n ' s argument is never made f r o m personal circumstances.  M i l t o n ' s rhetorical strategy is to hypothesize an unhappy  marriage within the larger f r a m e w o r k o f life, contextualizing marriage as one in the l o n g series o f elements necessary to the pleasing a n d f u l f i l l e d life o f an obedient and thankful C h r i s t i a n . A n irremediable marriage does not serve this greater purpose, a n d is therefore to be dispensed with. T h e i n d u c t i v e l o g i c o f s u c h a s c h e m e must w o r k f r o m the particular o f the marriage institution o u t w a r d to the general o f the f u l f i l l e d a n d obedient C h r i s t i a n life, but M i l t o n needed a l o g i c a l template to f o l l o w : this template lies pre-constructed in M i l t o n ' s o w n hermeneutics, a system for b i b l i c a l analysis w h i c h holds the i n d i v i d u a l b i b l i c a l text as ultimately c o m p r e h e n s i b l e o n l y within the larger pattern o f a series o f interrelated principles. T h e s e principles totalize the apparent diversity o f b i b l i c a l subjects, synthesizing them into a grand yet s i m p l e s c h e m a w h i c h explains the relationship between m e n a n d G o d . T h i s great purpose, as it affects the subject matter o f d i v o r c e , was not i m m e d i a t e l y apparent to M i l t o n as he wrote; hence, the inadequate structure o f T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e . H i s first edition inspired eventual and vociferous o p p o s i t i o n , especially a m o n g the c l e r g y ,  28  and i n order to galvanize his argument, the second  edition displays not o n l y a m o r e d e v e l o p e d argument but also a protreptic structure designed to orient the d i v o r c e argument m o r e p r o x i m a l l y to its hermeneutic template.  T h i s process w o u l d  prove a l o n g one, a n d T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e but the first o f f o u r installments, each o f  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".) 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. 28  24 whose structure and rhetorical strategy differs m a r k e d l y f r o m the last; yet this o p e n i n g tract is a giant first step toward a theology w h i c h w o u l d f i n a l l y realize M i l t o n ' s self-conception as a prophet, sufficient to justify the w a y s o f G o d to m e n . It is possible, o f course, that M i l t o n thought h i m s e l f capable o f a r g u i n g P a r l i a m e n t into r e v i s i n g d i v o r c e law, with the sole purpose o f freeing h i m s e l f f r o m what h a d q u i c k l y b e c o m e an onerous marriage. M i l t o n was certainly not unambitious o f nature. H i s most recent p o l e m i c s had argued f o r a revision o f the very episcopal structure o f the C h u r c h o f E n g l a n d .  2 9  Powerful,  with at times f l o r i d t e r m i n o l o g y , a n d rarely guilty o f the tediousness typical o f prose o v e r l y determined to m a k e its point, the first edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e is nevertheless not well presented, at least by today's standards. A rhetorical analysis must, therefore, rely not o n M i l t o n h i m s e l f but o n a careful d i s m a n t l i n g a n d reconstruction o f the various scattered elements o f the argument, re-arranged into an artificial, but m o r e coherent, l o g i c a l sequence. A s we shall see, what m i g h t be hoped to u n f o l d in a f l u i d , determined l o g i c a l process, is, in fact, a series o f scattered assertions based on larger principles, these p r i n c i p l e s distilled into a few k e y w o r d s and/or phrases.  M i l t o n ' s m a n i p u l a t i o n o f scriptural evidence is, however, the locus o f true  fascination: herein he is most ingenious, e m p l o y i n g standard, r e c o g n i z e d tools o f exegesis to specific texts, then m o v i n g with his l o c a l i z e d findings b e y o n d the c o n c l u s i o n s o f previous expositors.  T h e c o n c l u s i o n s w h i c h he draws f r o m the texts traditional to the d i v o r c e controversy  are then placed in context to theological principles w h i c h arise f r o m an e x a m i n a t i o n o f 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. Finally, a heretofore unrecognized concinnity is noted between 30  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 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".) 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). 30  31  26  realized w h e n he sets to w o r k in 1643, the next two years and f i v e tracts increasingly display this strategic technique.  T h e argument o f the first edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e is  unfortunately scattered, in part due to the nascent character o f this tendency.  Nevertheless, three  elements f o r m the w h o l e o f M i l t o n ' s p o l e m i c / d i s c u r s i v e strategizing, f r o m top to bottom; the particular points o f evidence a r o u n d w h i c h the argument circulates; the structured argument itself, w h i c h represents a gathering o f the evidential particulars into a useful order; a n d , the fundamental p r i n c i p l e s u p o n w h i c h the m e t h o d o l o g y o f that gathering is based.  Literary critics  have generally focussed o n the s e c o n d or m i d d l e aspect o f this triad — the structure o f the argument, its flaws, a n d the isolated aspects o f its justification.  It w i l l be m o r e profitable,  however, to bring the larger picture into focus, as M i l t o n h i m s e l f m i g h t do. T o d o so, we must identify, in M i l t o n ' s o w n w o r d s , the fundamental principles u p o n w h i c h his reasoning is f o u n d e d , for these principles are the final justification f o r each a n d every one o f M i l t o n ' s points, they are the aspects o f the hermeneutic system w h i c h M i l t o n c l a i m s no exegete c a n be without, a n d they are the one place in the w h o l e d i v o r c e 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 c l a i m s the principles o f his hermeneutics to be eternal, established f r o m the b e g i n n i n g , and u n c h a n g i n g l y essential to the nature o f the relationship between G o d a n d m e n . A l l things f o r M i l t o n stem f r o m G o d and Scripture, but what differentiates M i l t o n ' s a p p r o a c h is that he looks for the first e x a m p l e i n order to justify a n y t h i n g w h i c h o c c u r s later. A n y controversy must l o o k back to, a n d be consistent w i t h , the first principles u p o n w h i c h G o d created m a n k i n d . H i s l o g i c is that, if G o d is infallible and u n c h a n g i n g , his w i l l f o r m a n k i n d must also be u n c h a n g i n g . Further, the first o c c u r r e n c e o f m a n k i n d , A d a m a n d E v e , was the best, nearest, as u n s u l l i e d by the effects o f the f a l l , to G o d ' s intended w i l l f o r m a n k i n d . T h e nature o f m a n 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 o f this w h o l e project is to track a n d analyze the e v o l v u t i o n o f a progressively atavistic tendency in M i l t o n ' s hermeneutics, we must begin where the tracks are first l a i d d o w n ,  in principio rerum, w i t h  the 1643 first edition. T h i s e x a m i n a t i o n w i l l be short, however, as the  essence o f his argument does not change with the clearer a n d m o r e c o m p l e x second edition, for, eight months later, o n F e b r u a r y 2 , 1 6 4 4 , M i l t o n ' s argument was " m u c h revised and augmented." C a r e f u l c o l l a t i o n o f the two editions reveals a f u l l 85% e x p a n s i o n , with new portions a d d e d , virtually n o deletions, and m a n y more authorities solicited. M i l t o n ' s argument was e v o l v i n g , though a l o n g the same lines.  It is the purpose o f this chapter to e x a m i n e the particulars and  principles o f his 1643 argument, a n d then to show h o w these contributed to, a n d expanded f o r the second edition. F i n a l l y , after an initial re-statement o f the 1643 argument, the next stage o f our e x a m i n a t i o n w i l l be to c o m p a r e the first and s e c o n d editions with an eye to this d e v e l o p m e n t , w a t c h i n g f o r changes in the s i m p l e argument as traces o f refinement in hermeneutic technique.  2. The Argument of the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline P r i o r to the R e f o r m a t i o n , d i v o r c e in E n g l a n d was determined by c a n o n law. T r u e marriage was j u d g e d a sacrament, so there c o u l d be no d i v o r c e  a vinculo matrimonii, i n  dissolution o f marriage with right to remarry. D i v o r c e was o n l y  the sense o f a real  a mensa et thoro, separation  f r o m bed a n d b o a r d , a n d even this o n l y by p e r m i s s i o n o f an ecclesiastical court. C o u l d it be p r o v e n that a c o n d i t i o n pre-existed the marriage w h i c h interferred with its v a l i d i t y as defined b y the c a n o n law  (e.g.,  consanguinity, impotence, precontract, etc.), the u n i o n c o u l d be annulled.  E v e n more restrictive than elsewhere, however, the E n g l i s h c h u r c h l i m i t e d the grounds o f j u d i c i a l separation to adultery a n d cruelty.  29  T h e R e f o r m a t i o n reinstated d i v o r c e  a vinculo b y  d e n y i n g marriage to be a sacrament.  In  cases o f d i v o r c e f o r adultery, virtually all Protestant states legalized remarriage f o r the innocent party, a n d m a n y after d i v o r c e f o r desertion.  Edward V P s  Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum  of  1552 incorporated this position. W i t h the o p p o s i t i o n o f the D u k e o f N o r t h u m b e r l a n d , a n d the death o f E d w a r d i n the s u m m e r o f 1553, it ceased to be possible to proceed with the  Reformatio,  yet an independent sanction p r o v i d e d f o r its clause permitting remarriage f o r the innocent party after d i v o r c e f o r adultery: in 1548 a c o m m i s s i o n under A r c h b i s h o p C r a n m e r h a d a p p r o v e d the remarriage o f the d i v o r c e d N o r t h a m p t o n , a n d in 1552 this was c o n f i r m e d b y A c t o f Parliament. A f t e r M a r y , it became customary to regulate d i v o r c e by this p r o v i s i o n . In the uncertain state o f the canon law, h o w e v e r , its legality was very d u b i o u s . In 1597, under pressure o f o p p o s i t i o n f r o m the E p i s c o p a l hierarchy, C o n v o c a t i o n declared that there was no legal basis f o r remarriage after d i v o r c e . W h i l e E l i z a b e t h d i d not sanction the C a n o n s o f 1597, the limitation o f d i v o r c e to j u d i c i a l separation was repeated in those o f 1604, a n d these received the a p p r o v a l o f the m o r e conservative James I. Puritans resisted this reaction wherever possible.  M a n y ministers presided  o v e r the remarriage o f the innocent parties i n d i v o r c e s f o r adultery o r desertion, e v e n w h i l e L a u d was at the height o f his p o w e r a n d , later, w h e n the W e s t m i n s t e r A s s e m b l y met it a p p r o v e d this practice.  32  M i l t o n ' s demands in T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e go very m u c h further. H e urges the recognition o f d i v o r c e  a vinculo  with the right o f remarriage for both parties, innocent or guilty  o f adultery. H e argues f o r the liberalization o f grounds f o r d i v o r c e , a n d , particularly, that these grounds i n c l u d e d i v o r c e f o r i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y . Further, he supports the r e m o v a l o f d i v o r c e f r o m p u b l i c j u r i s d i c t i o n , whether ecclesiastical or c i v i l , to private.  12  Phillips, 71-126.  30  In M i l t o n ' s E n g l a n d , all arguments o v e r d i v o r c e must b e g i n , o f course, w i t h Scripture. T w o o f the d o m i n a n t texts are the pronouncements o f M o s e s (Deut. 24:1-2) a n d o f C h r i s t (Matt. 19:39). T o these, M i l t o n adds G e n e s i s 2:18, o f equal importance to his argument.  M i l t o n ' s case f o r l i b e r a l i z i n g the strictures g o v e r n i n g d i v o r c e begins with D e u t e r o n o m y , but this starting point i n v o l v e s the p r o b l e m o f the relation between the O l d a n d N e w Testaments. M i l t o n had taken a position in T h e R e a s o n o f C h u r c h G o v e r n m e n t (1642) w h i c h w o u l d have precluded his e x p l o i t i n g the M o s a i c permission o f divorce: F o r the imperfect a n d obscure institution o f the L a w , w h i c h the A p o s t l e s themselves doubt not oft-times to v i l i f i e , cannot g i v e rules to the c o m p l e a t a n d glorious ministration o f the G o s p e l l , w h i c h lookes o n the L a w , as o n a c h i l d e , not as o n a tutor. . . . H o w then the ripe age o f the G o s p e l l should be put to s c h o o l e againe, a n d learn to governe her selfe f r o m the infancy o f the L a w . . . w i l l be a hard undertaking to e v i n c e . . . T h e w h o l e J u d a i c k law is either p o l i t i c a l l , a n d to take pattern b y that, no C h r i s t i a n nation ever thought it selfe oblig'd in c o n s c i e n c e ; or m o r a l l , w h i c h containes in it the observation o f whatsoever is substantially, a n d perpetually true and g o o d , either in r e l i g i o n , or course o f life. T h a t w h i c h is thus m o r a l l , besides what we fetch f r o m those unwritten lawes and Ideas w h i c h nature hath i n g r a v e n in us, the G o s p e l l , as stands with her dignity most, lectures to us f r o m her o w n authentick h a n d - w r i t i n g , a n d c o m m a n d , not c o p i e s out f r o m the borrow'd m a n u s c r i p t o f a subservient s c r o w l , b y w a y o f imitating.  33  T h e first edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e abandons this v i e w . "political" content o f the O l d T e s t a m e n t is s u b d i v i d e d into the  M i l t o n states that the  merely  political (that w h i c h was  m a d e specifically, and is relevant o n l y , f o r the Jews) and the j u d i c i a l , w h i c h , "being conversant, as it is, about vertue or v i c e " ( C P W II, 318), remains, a l o n g with the m o r a l law, unabrogated, and is, despite the v i e w p r e v i o u s l y taken o f what b e h o o v e s the dignity o f the gospel, available for the guidance o f 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." What 34  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." A n 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  34 35  CPW II. 245. 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," even 36  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." A Christian remains therefore free to divorce for idolatry, and, by extension, for 37  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.  CPW II, 262. Ibid, 266. Ibid, 249,284.  38  33  W h e r e , then, have the traditional expositors erred? M i l t o n explains t w o fundamental exegetical p r i n c i p l e s "as thing|s) not to be deny'd," that the m e a n i n g o f an obscure text is to be "expounded by c o n s i d e r i n g u p o n what o c c a s i o n every thing is set d o w n : a n d b y c o m p a r i n g other Texts."  39  C h r i s t d i d not m e a n "to i n f o r m [the Pharisees'] p r o u d ignorance what  true intent o f the L a w , "  4 0  Moses d i d  i n the  but rather, as these licentious m e n c a m e to tempt h i m , to g i v e "a sharp  and vehement answer," a n d to "lay a bridle u p o n [their] b o l d abuses" by b e i n g as overstrict as they were overtax. M o s e s m a d e no law o n behalf o f w i c k e d m e n ( " G o d forbid"!) but gave p e r m i s s i o n to d i v o r c e f o r the necessary relief o f g o o d m e n . Further, as the law is no excepter o f persons, a general p e r m i s s i o n must be generally available, a n d so, w h i l e M o s e s knew that w i c k e d m e n w o u l d abuse this p e r m i s s i o n f o r e v i l ends, such "hardnes o f heart" "he held it better to suffer as by accident, where it c o u l d not be detected, rather then g o o d m e n s h o u l d loose their just and lawfull p r i v i l e g e o f r e m e d y . "  41  T h e proper understanding o f these w o r d s is to take  C h r i s t ' s " y o u " as referring to the Pharisees and other licentious m e n , a n d not to all listeners, or readers, generally. " Y o u " m a y put away " y o u r " w i v e s f o r " y o u r " hardness o f heart, but this is not the general intention o f the p e r m i s s i o n . " F o r it was seasonable that they should hear their o w n u n b o u n d e d licence rebuk'd, but not seasonable f o r them to hear a g o o d mans requisit liberty explained."  42  A s further p r o o f that C h r i s t was p o i n t i n g to an u n a v o i d a b l e but accidental c o n s e q u e n c e o f the law o f d i v o r c e , rather than to its cause, M i l t o n cites his reference to the o r i g i n a l institution o f marriage. "Therefore shall a m a n cleave to his w i f e , a n d they shall be one flesh." " T h e r e f o r e " i m p l i e s , however, a reason, a n d "this is a solid rule that every c o m m a n d giv'n with a reason,  39 40 41 42  CPW 11.282. Ibid, 307. Ibid, 307. Ibid, 307.  34  binds our obedience n o otherwise then that reason h o l d s . "  43  T h e reason f o r the inseparability o f a  marriage can o n l y be the remedy o f man's loneliness with a "meet help." Y e t , i f a w i f e is no "meet help," the reason is gone, and the union b e c o m e s separable. T h e M o s a i c law was g i v e n later, d i v i n e l y adapted to the fallen c o n d i t i o n o f m a n k i n d ("with due and wise regard had to the premises a n d reasons o f the first c o m m a n d " ) , a n d C h r i s t intended neither to rebuke nor to 44  abrogate this M o s a i c law. T o say that C h r i s t gave no such c o m m a n d is not, however, to say that he gave no c o m m a n d at all. H e d i d , a n d it is b i n d i n g . Y e t , w h e n understood correctly, as M i l t o n explains, it w i l l be seen to c l a r i f y , a n d i n n o w a y to contradict, the law o f M o s e s . M o s e s a l l o w e d d i v o r c e o n the grounds o f "natural a n n o y a n c e , defect, or d i s l i k e , whether in b o d y o r m i n d , (for so the H e b r e w words p l a i n l y n o t e ) , "  45  f o r what is natural is permanent. T h e Pharisees d e p r a v e d these  permissions and d i v o r c e d f o r any cause, h o w e v e r temporary. C h r i s t declares that "no accidental, temporary, or reconciliable o f f e n c e "  46  o f the sort o n l y the Pharisees were prone to recognize, can  justify d i v o r c e , but to this he makes one exception — f o r n i c a t i o n . H i s c o m m a n d therefore leaves d i v o r c i v e effect in all natural and permanent causes o f displeasure. M i l t o n p r o v i d e s , then, not o n l y the reasons f o r the M o s a i c p e r m i s s i o n o f d i v o r c e f o r i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y , a n d the right o f remarriage, but also the evidence that C h r i s t , in a c c o r d a n c e with "his fundamental a n d superiour laws o f nature and c h a r i t i e , " superstition substituted d i v o r c e  a mensa et thoro  47  left that p e r m i s s i o n intact. Papal  f o r true d i v o r c e , a n d papal tyranny usurped  j u r i s d i c t i o n o v e r d i v o r c e to its o w n courts a n d defined the g r o u n d s as it pleased.  G o d , in the  b e g i n n i n g , p l a c e d the p o w e r o f d i v o r c e , h o w e v e r , i n the c o n s c i e n c e o f the i n d i v i d u a l , a n d thither  43 44 43 46 47  CPW II, 308. Ibid, 311. Ibid, 331. Ibid, 331. 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. These passages comprise the earliest biblical statements on the purpose 48  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. 52  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. Ibid, 282. 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. Ibid, 321. 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.  51  52  53  54  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 w e l l as evills; under w h i c h he w h o lies a n d groans, that m a y l a w f u l l y acquitt himself, is accessory to his o w n ruin: nor w i l l it excuse h i m , though he suffer, t h r o u g h a sluggish fearfulnes to search throughly what is l a w f u l l , f o r feare o f disquieting a secure falsity o f an o l d o p i n i o n .  6 2  W i t h i n these eleven points, the first eight s e e m quite orthodox, while any deviance seems to rest in the last three alone. T h e eleventh, f o r e x a m p l e , overtly promotes i n d i v i d u a l interpretative f r e e d o m a n d hints at the dangerous saw (in this case, a n y w a y ) "Necessity is the mother o f invention." T h e ninth and tenth suggest that we need not heed the words o f Scripture themselves w h e n they d o not c o n f o r m to certain "reasons" or "charity." T h e first a n d fourth, i n fact, teach that Scripture requires careful perspicuity, lest the apparent, literal reading o f a passage m i s l e a d against "other m o r e pure a n d holy principles"(5), the "fundamental and superiour laws o f nature and c h a r i t i e " ( l ) , and "so m a n y other rules a n d leading principles o f r e l i g i o n , o f justice, a n d purity o f life"(4). W h a t are these p r i n c i p l e s , these laws and rules, other than the stated "nature and charity"; h o w are they determined, and how c a n they overrule the s i m p l e readings o f Scripture? T h e s e questions point to the crux o f M i l t o n ' s hermeneutics, f o r M i l t o n ' s hermeneutics are directed b a c k w a r d s , away f r o m present times a n d C h u r c h teachings, to the original written w o r d , a w a y f r o m the c o m m u n i t y to the i n d i v i d u a l . W i t h i n M i l t o n ' s system, the oldest scriptural reference is the most authoritative, f o r G o d ' s principles c o m e f r o m the b e g i n n i n g o f his dealings with m a n . A s f a r as the written w o r d is c o n c e r n e d , the oldest f o r m o f the language is the most reliable. E v e r y t h i n g with M i l t o n is b a c k to the o r i g i n a l f o r m and the earliest times.  M i l t o n ' s l o g i c is  not d i v i s i v e , subsecting in the scholastic manner, but synthesizing and u n i f y i n g . H e brings the question b a c k to basics and o r i g i n s , to m o r a l a n d rational p r i n c i p l e s i n place f r o m the b e g i n n i n g . F o r an authoritative answer to the c o n t e m p o r a r y p r o b l e m o f d i v o r c e , refer back to Scripture; f o r  62  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. (The "analogy of faith" dictates that difficult passages are to be 66  "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.) 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. CPW VI, 582. 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: 63  64  65  66  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. 69  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). CPW II. 338. 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). Conklin, 25. Conklin notes Chillingworth, John Ball, John Goodwin, and John Owen. 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. 67  68  69 70 71  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 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).  72  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) All 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.  Rogers and McKim, chapter 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\"  73  74  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. 77  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. 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.  77  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  78  CPW II. 242.  49  first place, t h o u g h they were l i k e l y too y o u n g to have j u d g e d this at the time; "contrariety o f m i n d " means that, o v e r time, the c o u p l e have f o u n d themselves to be o f t w o different and i n c o m p a t i b l e qualities o f intellect, a n d that this difference s o m e h o w disrupts the potential f o r a happy c o m m u n i o n o f m i n d s . T h i s last o f the three is the crucial qualification, f o r M i l t o n focusses m u c h o f his later discourse o n the effects o f an unhappy mental state in marriage. E a c h o f these three conditions is sufficient, i n M i l t o n ' s argument, to warrant d i v o r c e . Next: "arising f r o m a cause in nature unchangable" refers to h u m a n nature, a quality i m b u e d b y G o d f r o m the earliest times, ineluctable, a n d fundamental to all healthy decisions regarding man's c o n d i t i o n d u r i n g this life. S u c h a quality cannot be i g n o r e d , f o r its profundity is evident f r o m early o n i n the tract: It was f o r m a n y ages that mariage lay in disgrace with most o f the ancient D o c t o r s , as a w o r k o f the flesh, almost a defilement, w h o l l y d e n y ' d to Priests, a n d the s e c o n d time d i s s w a d e d to a l l , as he that reads  Tertullian  or  Jerom m a y  see at  large. A f t e r w a r d s it was thought so S a c r a m e n t a l l , that n o adultery c o u l d dissolve it; yet there remains a burden o n it as heavy as the other two were disgracefull or superstitious, and o f as m u c h iniquitie, crossing a L a w not onely writt'n by Moses, but character'd in us b y nature, o f m o r e antiquitie a n d deeper g r o u n d then mariage it selfe; w h i c h L a w is to force n o t h i n g against the faultles proprieties o f n a t u r e .  79  A g a i n s t these o p i n i o n s o f the early fathers, M i l t o n argues a m u c h m o r e ancient law, n a m e l y , that i n d i v i d u a l s be permitted to read their o w n "nature" like a fingerprint, a mark p l a c e d in them b y G o d , unique to themselves, f r o m w h i c h their primary drives arise, a n d u p o n w h i c h n o external powers m a y i m p i n g e . E l s e w h e r e in the first edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e . M i l t o n expands o n this quality o f "nature," w h e n he refers to "the venerable & secret p o w e r o f natures i m p r e s s i o n " (p. 238), "natures unalterable w o r k i n g " (p. 249), "the faultless i n n o c e n c e o f nature" (p. 251), "the reverend secret o f nature" (p. 270), a n d "the fundamental! law b o o k o f nature" (p. 272).  S u c h a quality is radical, f o r it valorizes the right a n d ability o f each i n d i v i d u a l 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 JudaeoChristian 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  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." 81  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 . 83  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 selfconsistent 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.  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. 83  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. 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.  85  55  6. The Second Edition of The Doctrine and Discipline  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,  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.  86  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"; Milton is, however, one called only 87  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  CPW  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" and, judging by the vigour of his opposition, to his 90  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 tracts , Milton has now to face down those who discount the Mosaic law, or, as Sirluck puts it, 93  "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). 92 93 94  CPW II. 281. Ibid, 150-51. 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 95  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, ll.iii.38 96  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  97  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 98  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 . i v . 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. , 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. 100  CPW II. 301.  64  W h i l e the c e r e m o n i a l aspects o f the M o s a i c L a w r e m a i n a p p l i c a b l e to the Jews alone, the m o r a l aspects have always a p p l i e d to a l l , C h r i s t i a n and Jew alike. T h e traditional attitude o f the C h u r c h m a y have been to discount the weight o f M o s a i c law in f a v o u r o f the more recent G o s p e l teachings, but C h r i s t h i m s e l f stated his intention to respect the L a w i n all his teachings, not to change the L a w one "jot or tittle." M i l t o n h a d , not l o n g before, held a different o p i n i o n . H i s statements regarding the L a w f o r T h e R e a s o n o f C h u r c h G o v e r n m e n t (1642) were drastically different f r o m those w h i c h he developed for T h e Doctrine and Discipline. F o r the imperfect a n d obscure institution o f the L a w , w h i c h the A p o s t l e s themselves doubt not oft-times to v i l i f i e , cannot g i v e rules to the c o m p l e a t and glorious ministration o f the G p s p e l l , w h i c h l o o k e s o n the L a w , as a c h i l d e , not as o n a tutor. . . . H o w then the ripe age o f the G o s p e l l s h o u l d be put to s c h o o l e againe, a n d learn to governe her selfe f r o m the infancy o f the L a w . . . w i l l be a hard undertaking to e v i n c e . . . . T h e w h o l e J u d a i c k law is either p o l i t i c a l l , a n d to take pattern by that, n o C h r i s t i a n nation ever thought it selfe oblig'd i n c o n s c i e n c e ; or m o r a l l , w h i c h containes i n it the observation o f whatsoever is substantially, a n d perpetually true a n d g o o d , either in r e l i g i o n , or course o f life. T h a t w h i c h is thus m o r a l l , besides what we fetch f r o m those unwritten l a w e s and Ideas w h i c h nature hath ingraven i n us, the G o s p e l l , as stands with her dignity most, lectures to us f r o m her o w n authentick h a n d - w r i t i n g , a n d c o m m a n d , not copies out f r o m the borrow'd manuscript o f a subservient s c r o w l , b y w a y o f imitating.  101  C o n s i d e r , i n contrast, this f r o m the third chapter o f B o o k II o f the 1644 T h e D o c t r i n e a n d Discipline: T h e law is his reveled w i l l , his complete, his evident, and certain w i l l ; herein he appears to us as it were i n h u m a n shape, enters into c o v ' n a n t with us, swears to keep it, binds h i m s e l f like a just l a w - g i v e r to his o w n prescriptions, gives h i m s e l f to be understood by m e n , j u d g e s a n d is j u d g ' d , measures a n d is c o m m e n s u r a t to right reason; cannot require lesse o f us i n one cantle o f his L a w then in another, his legall justice cannot be so f i c k l e a n d so variable, sometimes l i k e a d e v o u r i n g fire, and b y a n d b y c o n n i v e n t i n the embers, or, i f I m a y so say, oscitant a n d supine. T h e v i g o r o f his L a w c o u l d no m o r e remit, then the h a l l o w e d 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) 102  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?"  103  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. (A3-A3v) 104  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.  102  103 104  CPW II, 292. Ibid, 281. 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 Critics  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  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. 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") 106  107  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. 108  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, and in at least one instance he commits that very convenience of proof of 109  which he accuses Milton.  110  Despite his conclusion that Milton was a creative genius, and  Kirby, 117. 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. 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. 108  109  110  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 idiosyncratic , unorthodox. 111  John G. Halkett follows, in  112  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."" Halkett's book argues that Milton's 3  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  Halkett, 3. 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".) Halkett, 6. Ibid, 139. 111  1,2  113  1,4  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." He is arguing the larger matter of marriage and divorce in 5  general. McCready qualifies, however, by claiming that "the divorce tracts may be identifed as casuistry because they contain the set of characteristics of casuistry."" In fact, they may contain 6  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  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. McCready, p. 423. 115  116  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,"  118  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." Thus, Milton uses divorce to explain the true 9  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  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. Lana Cable, "Coupling Logic and Milton's Doctrine of Divorce," Milton Studies XV (1981): 143-159. (Hereafter referred to as "Cable.") 1 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. Cable, 144. 117  118  119  120  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.  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. 121  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  S o G o d created m a n i n his o w n i m a g e , in the i m a g e o f G o d created he h i m ; m a l e a n d female created he them. A n d G o d blessed them, a n d G o d said unto them, B e fruitful, and m u l t i p l y , a n d replenish the earth, a n d subdue it: a n d have d o m i n i o n o v e r the fish o f the sea, a n d o v e r the f o w l o f the air, and o v e r every l i v i n g t h i n g that m o v e t h u p o n the earth. ( G e n e s i s 1.27-28)  A n d the L O R D G o d said, It is not g o o d that the m a n s h o u l d be alone; I w i l l m a k e h i m an help meet f o r h i m . A n d out o f the g r o u n d the L O R D G o d f o r m e d every beast o f the f i e l d , a n d every f o w l o f the air; and brought them unto A d a m to see what he w o u l d call them: and whatsoever A d a m c a l l e d every l i v i n g creature, that w a s the n a m e thereof.  A n d A d a m g a v e n a m e s to all  cattle, and to the f o w l o f the air, a n d to every beast o f the field; but f o r A d a m there was not f o u n d an help meet f o r h i m . A n d the L O R D G o d caused a deep sleep to fall u p o n A d a m , a n d he slept: a n d he t o o k one o f his ribs, a n d c l o s e d up the flesh instead thereof; A n d the r i b , w h i c h the L O R D G o d had taken f r o m m a n , made he a w o m a n , and brought her unto the m a n . A n d A d a m said, T h i s is n o w bone o f m y bones, a n d flesh o f m y flesh: she shall be c a l l e d W o m a n , because she was taken out o f M a n .  T h e r e f o r e shall a m a n leave his father and his mother, and shall  cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. ( G e n e s i s 2.18-24)  W h e n a m a n hath taken a wife, and m a r r i e d her, and it c o m e to pass that she find n o f a v o u r in his eyes, because he hath f o u n d s o m e uncleanness i n her: then let h i m write her a bill o f d i v o r c e m e n t , a n d give it in her h a n d , and send her out o f his house. A n d w h e n she is departed out o f his house, she m a y g o a n d be another man's wife. A n d i f the latter h u s b a n d hate her, a n d write her a bill o f d i v o r c e m e n t , and giveth it in her h a n d , a n d sendeth her out o f his house; or i f the latter husband die, w h i c h took her to be his wife; H e r f o r m e r h u s b a n d , w h i c h sent her a w a y , may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is d e f i l e d ; f o r that is a b o m i n a t i o n before the L O R D : and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, w h i c h the L O R D thy G o d giveth thee f o r an inheritance. ( D e u t e r o n o m y 24.1-4)  It hath been said, W h o s o e v e r shall put a w a y his wife, let h i m g i v e her a w r i t i n g o f d i v o r c e m e n t : B u t I say unto y o u , T h a t w h o s o e v e r shall put a w a y his w i f e , s a v i n g f o r the cause o f f o r n i c a t i o n , causeth her to c o m m i t adultery: a n d w h o s o e v e r shall marry her that is d i v o r c e d cofnmitteth adultery. ( M a t t 5:31-32) T h e Pharisees also c a m e unto h i m , tempting h i m , and s a y i n g unto h i m , Is it l a w f u l f o r a m a n to put away his wife f o r every cause? A n d he answered a n d said unto t h e m , H a v e ye not read, that he w h i c h made them at the b e g i n n i n g made them male and female, A n d said, F o r this cause shall a m a n leave father and mother, a n d shall cleave to his wife: and they t w a i n shall be one flesh? W h e r e f o r e they are n o m o r e t w a i n , but one flesh. W h a t therefore G o d hath j o i n e d together, let not m a n put asunder. T h e y say unto h i m , W h y d i d M o s e s then c o m m a n d to give a w r i t i n g o f d i v o r c e m e n t , a n d to put her a w a y ? H e saith unto t h e m , M o s e s because o f the hardness o f y o u r hearts suffered y o u to put a w a y y o u r wives: but f r o m the b e g i n n i n g it was not so. A n d I say unto y o u , W h o s o e v e r shall put a w a y his wife, except it be f o r f o r n i c a t i o n , and shall marry another,  76  committeth adultery: and w h o s o marrieth her w h i c h is put a w a y doth c o m m i t adultery. (Matthew 19.  3-11)  A n d unto the married I c o m m a n d , yet not 1, but the L o r d , L e t not the wife depart f r o m her husband: B u t and i f she depart, let her remain u n m a r r i e d or be r e c o n c i l e d to her husband: and let not the husband put a w a y his wife.  B u t to the rest speak I, not the L o r d : If any brother hath a  w i f e that believeth not, a n d she be pleased to d w e l l with h i m , let h i m not put her away.  A n d the  w o m a n w h i c h hath an husband that believeth not, and i f he be pleased to d w e l l with her, let her not leave h i m . F o r the u n b e l i e v i n g husband is sanctified b y the w i f e , and the u n b e l i e v i n g wife is sanctified by the husband: else were y o u r c h i l d r e n u n c l e a n ; but n o w are they h o l y .  B u t i f the  u n b e l i e v i n g depart, let h i m depart. A brother o r a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but G o d hath called us to peace. F o r what knowest t h o u , O w i f e , whether thou shalt save thy husband? or h o w k n o w e s t thou, O m a n , whether thou shalt save thy wife? 16)  (I C o r i n t h i a n s 7:10-  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. V I , 29-42 (1674)  78 1. Introduction  The second of Milton's divorce pamphlets, The Judgement of Martin Bucer,  122  was published  on August 6th, 1644, a year and a week after the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.  123  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 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). 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"). 122  123  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 multifaceted. 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 Palmer  126  (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  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.) Hisfirstmarriage 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. See Appendix A. 125  126  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,  128  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  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. 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." 127  128  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.  129  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.  132  By the same logical plasticity, "law" corresponds to  "good example" in that laws are based on, and buttressed by, historical precedent. True to the 130 131 132  CPW II. 454-7. Ibid, 431. 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 G O D 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. 133  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. 136  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 Ibid, 53.  doctrina Christiana.  91.  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. starting point and norm."  140  139  Like Milton, Bucer takes the Bible as "his  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.  141  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  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"). Selderhuis, 272. "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. For a summary of the hermeneutic aspects of Bucer's divorce arguments, see Selderhuis, 272-87. 139  140 141  142  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 w i l l .  143  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:  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). 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. For comments on Bucer's strengths with the Hebrew language, and with rabbinic scholarship, see pp. 7374 of G. Lloyd Jones, The Discovery of Hebrew in Tudor England (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1983). 143  144  145  91  2. In interpreting a passage the interpreter must bear in m i n d the focus o f the teaching  (scopus doctrince). A s  we saw earlier, the goodness o f G o d , i.e. the  c o n v i c t i o n that G o d is the highest g o o d  (summum bonurri),  c o m e s to expression in  his words a n d laws. T h e purpose o f G o d ' s w o r d , a c c o r d i n g l y , is the a d v a n c e m e n t o f a pious and honorable life. A l l G o d ' s ordinances a i m at the w e l l - b r i n g and salvation o f humanity a n d , by i m p l i c a t i o n , at c o m b a t i n g and preventing the sins w h i c h b r i n g a person into j u d g m e n t .  In the interpretation o f texts o n marriage a n d  d i v o r c e this [principle] means that a g i v e n statement i n Scripture c a n never be intended to b r i n g about seduction o r e v e n c o e r c i o n into sin. E v e r y c o m m a n d m e n t is meant f o r the g o o d o f h u m a n s so that it c a n never be properly construed to mean that marriage is denied to a person w h o really needs it to live an honorable life.  146  W h i l e Selderhuis does refer very briefly to M i l t o n ' s w o r k near the end o f his b o o k , he does not seem to have read M a r t i n B u c e r . or he w o u l d undoubtedly have e m e n d e d his last sentence to have read, "so that it c a n never be properly construed to mean that marriage  or divorce  is denied  to a person w h o really needs it to live an honourable life." T h i s second point agrees succinctly with that critical hermeneutic p r i n c i p l e o f M i l t o n ' s , C h a r i t y , a n d needs o n l y to e x p a n d f r o m declaring G o d ' s w o r d to intend the g o o d o f m a n k i n d , to d e c l a r i n g G o d to intend the g o o d o f m a n k i n d ; this is, however, more a point o f semantics, f o r G o d has expressed h i m s e l f to m a n k i n d through, a m o n g other means, Scripture. T h e third point deals with the "analogy o f faith" a n d S e l d e r h u i s again cites B u c e r ' s agreement with E r a s m u s 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 o m n i b u s i l l u d oportet perpetuum esse  C o n c i o n a t o r i s et v o t u m et s t u d i u m , ut g e r m a n u m sensum a d s e q u a t u r . . . "  147  W h e n the student is  unsure o f G o d ' s intention in a specific passage, B u c e r draws again o n E r a s m u s , 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."  148  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."  149  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 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). 149  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  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. Martin Bucer, Von der Ehe und Ehescheidung. quoted as translated in Selderhuis, 271-2. CPW II, 279-80. 150  151  152  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.  153  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 outface him. 155  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!  156  "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.  157  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  Selderhuis, 372. 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. 156  157  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 Selderhuis, 371. Harris Francis Fletcher, The Intellectual Development of John Milton. 2 vols. (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1961) 11.89-114. 158  159  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 antiliteralist 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.  160  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, reinterpreted 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. 161  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 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. CPW II, 438-9. Ibid, 439. Ibid, 435. 160  161  162  163  100  c l a i m he is no f o l l o w e r o f B u c e r , but a student w h o w a l k s shoulder to shoulder i n eternal time with another student, or, as he puts it, a "collateral teacher." S o as I m a y justly gratulat m i n e o w n m i n d , with due a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t o f assistance f r o m above, w h i c h led m e , not as a lerner, but as a collateral teacher, to a sympathy o f j u d g m e n t with n o lesse a m a n then M a r t i n B u c e r . 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 k n o w l e d g e w h i c h he first, and with an uncheckt f r e e d o m preacht to those m o r e k n o w i n g times o f E n g l a n d , n o w f o u n d so necessary, though what he admonisht were lost out o f our m e m o r y , yet that G o d doth n o w again create the same doctrin in another unwritt'n table, and raises it up i m m e d i a t l y out o f his pure oracle to the c o n v i n c e m e n t o f a pervers age, eager i n the reformation o f names and ceremonies, but i n realities as traditional and as ignorant as their f o r e f a t h e r s .  164  B o t h m e n are instruments o f G o d , led to teach the same doctrine, but, because the E n g l i s h ignored B u c e r , M i l t o n n o w serves as G o d ' s second teacher o f this first truth. W e r e a critic to accuse h i m o f p l a g i a r i s m (and this self-justificatory passage is quite l o n g , i n d i c a t i n g that he is c o n c e r n e d to exonerate h i m s e l f o f any suspicion), M i l t o n points out that he c a m e across G r o t i u s ' s v i e w s first, before Bucer's, and cites them o p e n l y f o u r times in the first edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e . A f t e r G r o t i u s , he also u n c o v e r e d F a g i u s , w h o m he cites f o u r times f o r the s e c o n d edition. N o n e o f these three m e n , G r o t i u s , F a g i u s , a n d B u c e r , agree exactly with each other, though each m a y be understood as h a v i n g been led i n v a r y i n g degrees by G o d ; yet the two closest in thought, F a g i u s and B u c e r , t h o u g h friends, a n d f e l l o w exiles to E n g l a n d , c o m p a n i o n s at C a m b r i d g e , d o not mention each other in their w o r k s o n d i v o r c e , despite their congruence o f opinions.  S o close were the teachings o f these t w o m e n , indeed, that f o u r years after the R o m a n  C a t h o l i c s gained the upper hand with the coronation o f M a r y in 1553, the bodies o f both B u c e r and F a g i u s were disinterred f r o m their separate graveyards and taken to a c o m m o n site f o r p u b l i c b u r n i n g , surrounded with sequestered heaps o f their c o n d e m n e d writings. Nevertheless, t h o u g h B u c e r a n d F a g i u s m a y w e l l have discussed with each other their v i e w s o n marriage a n d d i v o r c e ,  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. 166  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 himself , has its own place of honour in the Reformed camp, of which 167  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 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." 1  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  168  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 nonscriptural 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. CPW II. 435. 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. 171  172  108  4. Milton's Prophetic Sense S u c h a peculiar h a n d l i n g o f the matter, as we see i n the c o m b i n a t i o n o f M i l t o n ' s deferential tone to Parliament w i t h his a d m o n i t o r y citation o f the posthumous fate o f B u c e r ' s and F a g i u s ' s bodies, extends our understanding o f M i l t o n ' s v i s i o n o f h i m s e l f as a prophet. In the second edition o f T h e D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e , M i l t o n speaks o f h i m s e l f suffering i g n o m i n i o u s l y while offering up the truth to "the draffe o f m e n . " T h i s v i s i o n continues i n M a r t i n B u c e r : F o r G o d , it seems, intended to p r o v e m e , whether I durst alone take up a rightful cause against a w o r l d o f disesteem, & f o u n d I d u r s t .  173  A retreat f r o m the approbation o f c o n t e m p o r a r y o p i n i o n to a position a l l i e d historically w i t h righteous, t h o u g h persecuted, figures necessitated a p s y c h i c a l fragmentation, a setting aside f o r sacrifice o f a part o f his self-image.  T h i s part o f the self, resigned to the flames with B u c e r a n d  F a g i u s , f u l f i l l e d the need f o r a prophet to suffer. T h e process is also indicative o f an increasing autospecularism  174  i n M i l t o n , a trait w h i c h w o u l d d e v e l o p to signature status f o r the invocations  o f Paradise L o s t . T h u s with the Y e a r Seasons return, but not to m e returns D a y , o r the sweet approach o f E v ' n or M o m , O r sight o f vernal b l o o m , or S u m m e r s R o s e , O r f l o c k s , o r heards, or h u m a n face d i v i n e ; B u t c l o u d i n stead, a n d e v e r - d u r i n g dark Surrounds me, f r o m the chearful w a y e s o f m e n C u t off, and f o r the B o o k o f k n o w l e d g fair Presented with a U n i v e r s a l blanc O f Nature's w o r k s to mee expung'd and ras'd, A n d w i s d o m e at one entrance quite shut out. S o m u c h the rather thou Celestial light S h i n e i n w a r d , and the m i n d through all her powers  CPW II, 434. '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. 173  174  109  Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist f r o m thence P u r g e a n d disperse, that I m a y see and tell O f things i n v i s i b l e to mortal s i g h t .  175  M i l t o n is separated f r o m all things v i s i b l e to his f e l l o w m a n , but in replacement f o r this loss he requests, and is p r e s u m a b l y granted, sight s o m e w h e r e w i t h i n h i m s e l f o f other things d e n i e d to all but the chosen prophet. T h e technique o f this separation is quite c l e v e r f o r , w h i l e M i l t o n is a l l y i n g h i m s e l f with the suffering o f these eminent "martyrs," he is suffering n o real c o s t .  176  T h e fires o f his o w n  m a r t y r d o m are i m a g i n a r y ; it is o n l y his self-image w h i c h burns in the eyes o f his detractors w h i l e his esteem soars, he hopes, i n the eyes o f eternity. T h i s fragmented v i s i o n , this s e c o n d self, is an heroic character, G o d ' s o w n instrument o f teaching, prophetic, f l o a t i n g supratemporally i n the eternity o f G o d ' s truth, f i g h t i n g shoulder to shoulder with the likes o f B u c e r and F a g i u s against those their persecutors w h o have b o u n d this d i v o r c e matter to controversy. C e r t a i n l y i f it be i n mans d i s c e r n i n g to sever p r o v i d e n c e f r o m c h a n c e , I c o u l d allege m a n y instances, w h e r e i n there w o u l d appear cause to esteem o f m e n o other then a passive instrument under s o m e p o w e r a n d counsel higher a n d better then c a n be h u m a n , w o r k i n g to a general g o o d i n the w h o l e c o u r s o f this m a t t e r .  177  I w o u l d ask n o w the foremost o f m y p r o f o u n d accusers, whether they dare a f f i r m that to be licentious, new a n d dangerous, w h i c h M a r t i n B u c e r so often, and so urgently a v o u c h t to be most l a w f u l l , most necessary, and most C h r i s t i a n , without the lest b l e m i s h to his g o o d name, a m o n g all the w o r t h y m e n o f that age, and since, w h o testifie so h i g h l y o f h i m ? If they dare, they must then set u p an arrogance o f their o w n against all those C h u r c h e s and Saints w h o h o n o u r ' d h i m without this e x c e p t i o n :  178  Paradise Lost. III. 40-55. (1674) 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. CPW II, 433. Ibid, 436. 175  176  177  178  110  Self-distancing is increasingly characteristic o f M i l t o n ' s treatment o f his role i n the controversy. In the preface to M a r t i n B u c e r . he repeatedly refers to h i m s e l f i n the third person. A n d he, [ B u c e r ] i f o u r things heer below arrive h i m where he is, does not repent h i m to see that point o f k n o w l e d g e w h i c h he first, a n d with an uncheckt f r e e d o m preacht to those more k n o w i n g times o f E n g l a n d , now f o u n d so necessary, t h o u g h what he a d m o n i s h t were lost out o f our m e m o r y , yet that G o d doth n o w again create the same doctrin  in another unwritt'n table,  and raises it up i m m e d i a t l y out  o f his pure oracle to the c o n v i n c e m e n t o f a pervers age, eager in the reformation o f names a n d ceremonies, but i n realities as traditional and as ignorant as their forefathers.  179  ( m y italics)  M i l t o n ' s m i n d , or at least his argument, is this "unwritten table," this  tabula rasa, o n  which G o d  inscribes his doctrine, w h i c h he "raises up i m m e d i a t e l y out o f his pure oracle" f o r all peoples. H e does not refer to h i m s e l f as "me," or "the unwritten table w h i c h is me," but as "another," a c o m p a n i o n not o n l y to Bucer's "unwritten table" but to M i l t o n ' s temporal self as w e l l . B u c e r is, at the m o m e n t o f M i l t o n ' s w r i t i n g , floating free o f time, p r e s u m a b l y in H e a v e n , but at least somewhere supratemporal; a n d further, there is a possibility o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n with h i m , f o r M i l t o n ' s argument m a y w e l l be speeding to h i m , A n d he, i f o u r things heer below arrive h i m where he is, does not repent h i m to see that point o f k n o w l e d g e w h i c h he first, a n d with an uncheckt f r e e d o m preacht to those m o r e k n o w i n g times o f E n g l a n d .  1 8 0  L a t e r in the preface, M i l t o n extends the a n a l o g y o f h i m s e l f as a v i r g i n fertility on w h i c h G o d m a y demonstrate his doctrines. T h i n k not that G o d r a i s ' d u p i n v a i n a m a n [ B u c e r ] o f greatest autority i n the C h u r c h to tell a trivial a n d licentious tale i n the eares o f that g o o d P r i n c e , a n d to bequeath it as his last w i l l and testament, nay rather as the testament a n d rpyall law o f C h r i s t to this N a t i o n , or that it s h o u l d o f it self after so m a n y yeares, as it were in a new f e i l d where it was never s o w ' n , grow up again as a vitious plant in the m i n d e o f another, who  had spoke honestest things to the N a t i o n ; though  k n e w n o t that what his y o u t h then r e a s o n ' d without a pattern, h a d b i n heard already, a n d well a l l o w ' d f r o m the gravity and worth o f  CPW II, 436. Ibid, 436.  Martin Bucer.  till  he  Ill 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. (my bold text) 181  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" in which God plants his seed of doctrine. Once grown to maturity, this "plant" 182  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, s u c h as B u c e r , o r o f Sulpitius Severus a n d his C h r o n i c l e , to w h i c h M i l t o n refers in O f Reformation.  183  O n e more time, near the e n d o f the preface, M i l t o n refers to h i m s e l f at a distance: "there l i v e s yet w h o . . . " (i.e., M i l t o n ) , a scholar to serve as the defence a n d warrant o f B u c e r himself.  there livs yet who  w i l l be ready, in a f a i r a n d christianly discussive w a y , to  debate and sift this matter to the utmost ounce o f l e m i n g and r e l i g i o n , in h i m that shall lay it as a n error, either u p o n  Martin Bucer, o r any  other o f his o p i n i o n .  1 8 4  ( m y b o l d text) T h i s higher, separate self w h i c h M i l t o n has i m a g i n e d , an heroic alter ego w h o shall fight f o r the principles a n d persons associated w i t h truth, n o w "lives," a n d shall r e m a i n prepared b e y o n d the time frame o f this (or, p r e s u m a b l y , any other) controversy, defending the embattled adherents o f truth. T h e aspect o f M i l t o n ' s heroic alter ego, this aspect o f self offered up o n an altar as a sacrifice for truth, is l i n k e d with hermeneutic principles through its supratemporality. A l l f o u r "great directors" f r o m T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e , discussed in the previous chapter, R e a s o n , H u m a n Nature, G o o d E x a m p l e , a n d C h a r i t y , are part o f an eternal " b i g picture." T h e y are part o f G o d ' s plan f o r m a n k i n d , at least as it pertains to Scripture. T h e y stand above the errors o f c u s t o m and tradition, f o r these t w o are firmly rooted in temporality. R e a s o n is the means by w h i c h the thoughts o f m e n o f all ages m a y speak together.  H u m a n nature is the m a n n e r in w h i c h G o d  m o l d e d us f r o m the b e g i n n i n g , a n d is the aspect w h i c h l i n k s o u r b e h a v i o u r sympathetically to Others, f r o m the b e g i n n i n g to the present, f r o m A d a m to o u r o w n brother. G o o d examples are n o  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). CPW II, 440. 183  184  113 m o r e than the instances o f that h u m a n behaviour w h i c h o u r reason m a y f i n d i n a n y historical time to illustrate, c l a r i f y , a n d validate our o w n behaviour. L a s t l y , C h a r i t y is the attitude w h i c h G o d exhibits toward m a n k i n d , and w h i c h , emanating f r o m the eternal d i v i n e , is itself eternal. M i l t o n ' s " b i g picture" extends f r o m the b e g i n n i n g to the e n d o f time, f r o m creation to the apocalypse a n d b e y o n d . It is the o v e r - a r c h i n g , u n c h a n g i n g , ever-present state o f affairs, includes e v e r y t h i n g , a n d is coordinated by G o d ' s truth. H i s t o r i c a l events are no more than the w o r k i n g out o f G o d ' s p l a n a n d have no effect o n the "big picture." A s far as m a n k i n d is c o n c e r n e d , the o n l y thing w h i c h has undergone permanent change in this "big picture" is h u m a n nature, w h i c h suffers the effects o f mortality introduced by the f a l l . Nevertheless, wherever possible, this fallen nature is not an absolute loss, but a g o o d thing constantly threatened; most o f what existed prelapsarially still exists. M i l t o n hearkens back constantly to the b e g i n n i n g o f a thing in order to f i n d its true nature, as he does with m a n k i n d . T h e true nature o f marriage is to be f o u n d i n E d e n , w h e n it was first instituted b y G o d . T h e true m e a n i n g o f Scripture is to be f o u n d in the o r i g i n a l languages, a n d especially H e b r e w w h i c h was g i v e n by G o d to m a n k i n d as his first language. T h e true m e a n i n g o f any particular passage in Scripture must be f o u n d i n its consistency with other like passages, but it must be sought out m o s t carefully i n those passages w h i c h are earliest in Scripture. T r u t h is eternal a n d is to be f o u n d i n the earliest f o r m o f a n y t h i n g , f o r it is here that G o d ' s influence is clearest.  F o r e x a m p l e , M i l t o n refers constantly to the "first reformers" as  h a v i n g had the clearest v i s i o n f o r the protestant C h u r c h . T h e y publisht this doctrine o f d i v o r c e , as an article o f their confession, after they had taught so eight a n d twenty years, through all those times, w h e n that C i t i e flourisht, and e x c e l l ' d most, both in r e l i g i o n , l e r n i n g , a n d g o o d goverment, under those first  restorers  o f the G o s p e l there, Z e l l i u s , H e d i o , C a p i t o , F a g i u s , and those  w h o i n c o m p a r a b l y then g o v e r n ' d the C o m m o n - w e a l t h , Farrerus a n d S t u r m i u s .  CPW II. 433.  185  114 T h e r e w i l l be due to them f o r this their unadvised rashnes . . . a r o u n d r e p r o o f . . . to be so unacquainted i n the writings o f B u c e r , [and] . . . to c o n d e m n that f o r l e w d . . . a n d f o r n e w , that w h i c h was taught b y these a l m o s t the first a n d greatest authors o f reformation, w h o were never taxt f o r so teaching . . . a n d confest i n the p u b l i c confession o f a most o r t h o d o x a l l C h u r c h & state in G e r m a n y .  1 8 6  G o d , that I m a y ever magnifie a n d record this his goodnes, hath unexpectedly rais'd up as it were f r o m the d e a d , m o r e then one f a m o u s light o f the; first reformation to bear witnes with m e ,  1 8 7  G o d ' s intention, " f r o m the b e g i n n i n g , " was that m e n have h a p p y lives, upon w h i c h this prohibition against d i v o r c e obtrudes. G o o d m e n i n the best portion o f thir lives, and i n that ordinance o f G o d w h i c h entitles t h e m f r o m the b e g i n n i n g to most just and requisite contentments, are c o m p e l l ' d to c i v i l indignities, w h i c h b y the law o f M o s e s bad m e n were not compell'd to.  188  N o t s u r p r i s i n g l y , B u c e r i m p l i e s the same p r i n c i p l e i n those texts w h i c h M i l t o n translates, n a m e l y , that what was established first, i n the b e g i n n i n g , is G o d ' s w i l l . O u r S a v i o u r c a m e to preach repentance, a n d r e m i s s i o n ; . . . he r e c a l l ' d t h e m to a right interpretation, a n d taught that the w o m a n in the b e g i n n i n g was so j o y n ' d to the m a n , that there s h o u l d be a perpetual u n i o n both in b o d y a n d spirit: where this is not, the m a t r i m o n y is already b r o k e .  1 8 9  W h i l e t e c h n i c a l l y B u c e r and F a g i u s were not themselves burned at the stake, their reputations a n d their ideas were certainly martyred at the hands o f the M a r i a n C a t h o l i c s . M a r t y r d o m , a death o f highest h o n o u r f o r the sake o f o n e ' s faith, propels its sufferer into a pantheon o f C h r i s t i a n heroes catalogued by J o h n F o x e in his A c t s and M o n u m e n t s . T h e s e figures serve as eternal proponents o f the C h r i s t i a n faith, a n d it is that eternal nature o f truth, that v o i c e o f p r o p h e c y , to w h i c h 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 m a i n a c c o m p l i s h m e n t o f M a r t i n B u c e r is to clarify the process by w h i c h M i l t o n reaffirms his hermeneutic principles. T h e s e p r i n c i p l e s are a necessary tool o f every faithful r e a d i n g o f Scripture and a part o f the eternal truth o f Scripture. G r a n t e d , the p r i n c i p l e s arise f r o m a l o n g a n d intense education, but M i l t o n has personalized them b y i m b u i n g t h e m , as B u c e r d i d , with the qualities o f "reason" a n d o f " h u m a n nature". M i l t o n also eternalizes those few i n d i v i d u a l s , i n c l u d i n g himself, w h o best e x e m p l i f y the studious, f a i t h - d r i v e n advocates o f G o d ' s truths. T h e r e is a degree o f p s y c h o l o g i c a l fragmentation in this process, w h i c h itself m a y be the first indication o f d a m a g e , not o n l y at the hands o f his detractors, but also as a reaction to his deteriorating p h y s i c a l state, a n d the intense stress o f his p o l i t i c a l isolation a n d marital separation. M i l t o n believes h i m s e l f to be chosen by G o d , a n d that his writings serve as a "defence a n d warrant" o f G o d ' s truths. H e separates f r o m the performance o f his e v e r y d a y functions a n d misfortunes another self w h o struggles in the eternal course o f G o d ' s truth against the inevitable troop o f adversaries. W i t h M a r t i n B u c e r . M i l t o n appeals to an audience m u c h greater t e m p o r a l l y than those w h o w i l l not listen to h i m in his o w n time. H e executes this appeal b y two means: the first is through the o c c a s i o n a l i n c l u s i o n o f b i o g r a p h i c a l materials; the s e c o n d , a n d far m o r e striking, is b y identifying h i m s e l f with the martyrs. W h e n a n author suffers death f o r u n b e n d i n g beliefs o r principles, this fate i m b u e s his writings with an eternal sense o f that individual's h o n o u r and c o n v i c t i o n . M i l t o n attempts to access all o f these qualities f o r h i m s e l f and his writings, without suffering any o f the martyr's misfortunes, w h e n he associates the posthumous b u r n i n g o f B u c e r and F a g i u s with his o w n reputation a n d w o r k . H e states that a " g o o d name" cannot, i n fact, be "dug u p " or "branded," yet b y associating his writings w i t h theirs, through a demonstration o f  116 their c o m m o n o p i n i o n s o n d i v o r c e , a n d by i n v o k i n g the fact that the actual b o o k s containing B u c e r ' s a n d F a g i u s ' s writings were p i l e d against the p y r e o f their corpses, M i l t o n extrapolates the suffering o f these t w o across eighty years, p i l i n g , as it were, their b u r n i n g b o o k s against that o f M i l t o n ' s o w n w h i c h the reader holds in his hands. M a r t i n B u c e r serves a n u m b e r o f purposes.  O n e ' s initial i m p r e s s i o n is that it is n o m o r e  than a s i m p l e gathering a n d translation o f the " g o o d example", the o p i n i o n s , o f an eminent reformer, o p i n i o n s o n d i v o r c e w h i c h just happen to be i n agreement with those o f M i l t o n . A p p e a r a n c e s c a n be d e c e i v i n g , h o w e v e r , f o r the tract also, s e c o n d l y , reiterates those very hermeneutic p r i n c i p l e s , the reasonability, w h i c h underlie these o p i n i o n s , a n d f o r w h i c h M i l t o n had suffered abuse at the hands o f his detractors. T h i r d l y , the tract performs one o f those acts o f virtual theatre characteristic o f the best rhetoric, wherein the audience is e m o t i o n a l l y manipulated, the veracity o f their h u m a n nature is appealed to, under the guise o f the purely intellectual. F i n a l l y , a n d most importantly, M a r t i n B u c e r displays the strategy b y w h i c h J o h n M i l t o n develops his separated, eternal persona: he refers to h i m s e l f i n the third person, in terms reminiscent o f s o m e prophets and martyrs, a n d reminds us that he speaks in the face o f persecution o f the eternal matters o f C h a r i t y , o f G o d , and o f his Scripture. U l t i m a t e l y , the "four directors" o f this appeal, an appeal to p r i n c i p l e s w h i c h were established f r o m the b e g i n n i n g , justifies M i l t o n , b r i n g i n g all time a n d all truth to this one locus, c o n v e r t i n g M i l t o n ' s larger argument and this s m a l l tract f r o m a forty page pamphlet o n d i v o r c e into a testament o f the contemporaneity and i m m e d i a c y o f eternity.  117  CHAPTER III Colasterion: Radical Hermeneutics as Prophetic Castigation  W h a t a B o a r i s h A d j e c t i v e y o u j o y n e with a Polititian. Polititian is a title worthie o f h o n o u r a n d respect, a n d w h y y o u s h o u l d so disgrace it with this h o m e l y language, I cannot i m a g i n e ; except it be, because Polititians o r d i n a r i l y differ f r o m y o u in this y o u r o p i n i o n . F o r although its l i k e l y s o m e Polititians sometimes at a time o f need are content to m a k e use o f others then their o w n w i v e s , yet to be d i v o r c e d f r o m their o w n u p o n a little contrariety o f m i n d e s or dispositions, Polititians w i 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 D o c t r i n e and D i s c i p l i n e o f D i v o r c e , p. 17)  118  1. Introduction: The Place and Nature of Colasterion T h e first t h i n g w h i c h strikes a reader about C o l a s t e r i o n , M i l t o n ' s third d i v o r c e tract, is the language.  Interspersed a m o n g discussions o f C h u r c h doctrine, ancient languages, a n d legal  precedent are w o r d s and expressions one might expect to hear f l u n g about in the street between contending fishmongers.  A passage f r o m the tract to w h i c h M i l t o n is r e p l y i n g , chosen as this  chapter's title page quotation, shows his opponent is worthy o f such abuse. M i l t o n ' s two final d i v o r c e pamphlets were p u b l i s h e d together o n M a r c h 4, 1645, yet w h i l e both address the same subject matter, they c o u l d not be m o r e different in tone and focus.  Where  T e t r a c h o r d o n is a l o n g , careful re-examination o f the f o u r scriptural passages central to the d i v o r c e question, C o l a s t e r i o n  190  is a m u c h shorter tract o f forty pages, and is the fullest  representation o f the anger and despair w h i c h had been b u i l d i n g in J o h n M i l t o n throughout this period. W h i c h tract was c o m p o s e d w h e n is an important issue o n l y to bibliographers. T e t r a c h o r d o n . is, for the purely hermeneutic quest, the more important o f the two tracts and w i l l be dealt with in the next chapter, yet a close reading o f C o l a s t e r i o n retrieves valuable materials not f o u n d in any o f the other three d i v o r c e tracts. C o l a s t e r i o n is one o f the most startling documents in the M i l t o n i c corpus, radiating anger and disdain i n virtually unremittent streams.  If M i l t o n f a i l e d to  maintain an intellectual distance and dignity d u r i n g a p e r i o d o f what was never less than c r u s h i n g e m o t i o n a l t u r m o i l , it is here in C o l a s t e r i o n . H i s protracted separation f r o m M a r y  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. 190  119  P o w e l l and fear for his eyesight a w o k e with h i m each m o r n i n g a n d went to bed with h i m each e v e n i n g , constantly e r o d i n g any possible sense o f w e l l - b e i n g ; such i n v i n c i b l e c o m p a n i o n s inevitably took their toll o n his temper. T h e objects o f his wrath, as is so often the case i n s i m i l a r circumstances, m a y not have been, then, the true source o f his p a i n , but bystanders o f a sort, though hardly innocent. T h e co-authors o f A n A n s w e r to a B o o k . Intituled. T h e D o c t r i n e a n d Discipline of D i v o r c e .  1 9 1  the " s e r v i n g - m a n " a n d his m o r e learned successor, J o s e p h C a r y l , are  opponents to M i l t o n ' s c a u s e ,  192  granted, but there were m a n y : M i l t o n h a d railed against textual  "literalists" in T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e , a n d against short-sighted divines o f the W e s t m i n s t e r A s s e m b l y in M a r t i n B u c e r . yet against neither w i t h s u c h vitriol. M i l t o n c o u l d hardly have remained unaffected b y the emotional intensity o f the subject m a t t e r ;  193  indeed, history has spent  far more ink on his personal m o t i v a t i o n , the separation f r o m M a r y P o w e l l in 1642, than o n his argument itself. C u r i o u s l y , C o l a s t e r i o n has been left virtually untouched b y scholarly i n q u i r y , and yet it alone provides e x p l i c i t evidence o f M i l t o n ' s eventual a n d inevitable e x p l o s i v e reaction to the controversy. T h e v e h e m e n c e with w h i c h M i l t o n repudiates the authors o f A n A n s w e r is not seen in either o f the two prior d i v o r c e tracts, or in any o f the other writings w h i c h he c o m p o s e d d u r i n g this same period ( i n c l u d i n g O f E d u c a t i o n . [June, 1644] and A r e o p a g i t i c a [ N o v e m b e r , 1644]), yet i n C o l a s t e r i o n . his ferocity and scorn is astonishing.  "In the C o l a s t e r i o n  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].) 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. 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. 191  192  193  120  M i l t o n is abusive, incoherent, i l l o g i c a l , and v e r y , very a n g r y . "  194  U l t i m a t e l y , the purgative effect  o f C o l a s t e r i o n served its purpose, but M i l t o n ' s pride a n d intellectual dignity c o u l d not r e m a i n unshaken by such a v i o l e n t reaction and its i m p a c t w o u l d force a critical re-evaluation o f both his argument a n d , m o r e importantly, his role i n the greater f o r u m o f C h r i s t i a n controversy. A n A n s w e r was not o r i g i n a l l y f i n i s h e d , but set aside b y the " s e r v i n g m a n , " o n l y to be taken up shortly thereafter by Joseph C a r y l , a m e m b e r o f the influential W e s t m i n s t e r A s s e m b l y o f Divines,  1 9 5  and he w h o s e n a m e appears as licenser, w i t h the f o l l o w i n g short a n d unnecessary  note o f a p p r o v a l f o r the tract's contents: T o preserve the strength o f the M a r i a g e - b o n d a n d the H o n o u r o f that estate, against those sad breaches a n d dangerous abuses o f it, w h i c h c o m m o n discontents (on this side A d u l t e r y ) are l i k e l y to m a k e in unstaied mindes a n d m e n g i v e n to change, b y t a k i n g i n or g r o u n d i n g themselves u p o n the o p i n i o n answered, and with g o o d reason confuted in this Treatise, I have a p p r o v e d the printing a n d publishing o f it.  196  It was not the duty o f a licenser to state the reasons f o r a p p r o v i n g a w o r k f o r p u b l i c a t i o n , but s i m p l y to permit o r to deny that p u b l i c a t i o n . C a r y l ' s statement is an abuse o f his office, and a n outright act o f b u l l y i n g , no doubt p o l i t i c a l l y motivated, and i m p l y i n g , by the very appearance o f s u c h a statement opposite the title page, that the political b o d y w h o m he serves shares his v i e w s regarding M i l t o n ' s w o r k . C o l a s t e r i o n s w i n g s as far f r o m the pure argument f o r d i v o r c e as M i l t o n was to go d u r i n g the progress o f his f o u r tracts. T h e language is often c o l o u r f u l , i f not outright rude a n d d i s d a i n f u l , and this derogates f r o m any sense o f the tract as a serious contribution to the d i v o r c e  William Riley Parker, Milton's Contemporary Reputation (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1940) 21. The 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). 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. 194 195  196  121 argument.  197  M i l t o n a c k n o w l e d g e s this at the close o f the piece, a n d he pleads that he was left  without c h o i c e because his adversary was an unlearned f o o l , abusive a n d crude, e v e n d e c l a r i n g that the best e n d o f T h e D o c t r i n e a n d D i s c i p l i n e w o u l d be c o n s i g n m e n t to the h a n g m a n ' s flames. T h a t his argument m i g h t be c o n d e m n e d b y so unworthy a j u d g e , a n d that this c o n d e m n a t i o n m i g h t be trotted out into the p u b l i c f o r u m under the i m p r i m a t u r o f an official licencer, i r k e d M i l t o n very badly. T h e reader senses, at one point, that he is ready not s i m p l y to leave o f f preparing an answer to A n A n s w e r , but to retire f r o m the w h o l e d i v o r c e controversy i n abject disgust. A n d f o r this, f o r I affirm n o m o r e then  Bucer, what  censure doe y o u think,  Readers he hath c o n d e m n ' d the b o o k to? T o a death n o less i n f a m o u s then to be  burnt by the hangman. . . .  B u t n o w y o u r turn is, [ M r . L i c e n c e r , ] to hear what y o u r  o w n hand hath earn'd ye, that w h e n y o u suffer'd this nameles h a n g m a n to cast into p u b l i c such a despightfull c o n t u m e l y u p o n a name a n d person d e s e r v i n g o f the C h u r c h a n d State e q u a l l y to y o u r self, a n d one w h o hath d o n m o r e to the present advancement o f y o u r o w n T r i b e , then y o u or m a n y o f t h e m have d o n f o r themselvs, y o u forgot to bee either honest, R e l i g i o u s , or discreet. . . . B u t as to this brute L i b e l , so m u c h the m o r e i m p u d e n t and lawless f o r the a b u s ' d autority w h i c h it bears, I say again, that I a b o m i n a t the censure o f R a s c a l l s a n d their L i c e n c e r s . W i t h difficulty I return to what remains o f this ignoble task, f o r the disdain I have to change a p e r i o d m o r e w i t h the filth a n d v e n o m o f this g o u r m a n d , s w e l l ' d into a confuter. Y e t f o r the satisfaction o f others, I endure all t h i s .  198  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 Paradi