Catalogue Entry: THEM00305

Book I: Chapter 5

Author: John Milton

Source: A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Compiled from the Holy Scriptures Alone, vol. 1 (Boston: 1825).

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


'But I would show you the divers ways the Doctors of your Church do the principal and proper work of the Socinians for them, undermining the doctrine of the Trinity, by denying it to be supported by those pillars of the faith, which alone are fit and able to support it, I mean Scripture, and the consent of the ancient Doctors. For Scripture, your men deny very plainly and frequently that this doctrine can be proved by it. See if you please this plainly taught, and urged very earnestly by Cardinal Hosius, De Auctor. Sacr. lib. iii. p.53. by Gordonius Huntlæus, Tom. I. Controv. 1. De Verbo Dei, lib. x. by Gretserus and Tannerus, in Colloquio Ratisbon. and also by Vega, Possevin, Wickus, and others.' Chillingworth's Preface to the Author of Charity Maintained, a work published in 1630 by Matthias Wilson, a Jesuit, under the name of Edward Knott. 'Longe ergo sincerius facerent, et prout ingenuos disputatores decet, si cum Pontificiis faterentur istam distinctionem ex Scriptura non posse probari, sed tantum ex traditione.' Curcellæi Dissertatio Prima de vocibus Trinitatis, &c. 38. See also the passages quoted by Curcellæus from writers of the Romish Church.


The spirit of God, promis'd alike and given

To all believers.

Paradise Lost, XII. 519.


The sentence is thus written in the original —quid est æquius quam ut permittant alteri eandem atque ipsi ratione ac via veritatem indaganti —probably an error for eadem.


'Which, imploring divine assistance, that it may redound to his glory, and the good of the British nation, I now begin. History of Britain, B. I. Prose Works, IV. 3.


Thee next they sang of all creation first,

Begotten Son, divine Similitude,

In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud

Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,

Whom else no creature can behold; on thee

Impress'd, the effulgence of his glory abides,

Transfus'd on thee his ample Spirit rests.

Paradise Lost, III. 383.


Hear my decree, which unrevok'd shall stand;

This day have I begot whom I declare

My only son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold

At my right hand. Paradise Lost, V. 603.


...... Into thee such virtue and grace

Immense I have transfus'd, that all may know

In heaven and hell thy power without compare;

And this perverse commotion govern'd thus,

To manifest thee worthiest to be heir

Of all things; to be heir, and to be king

By sacred unction, thy deserved right.

Paradise Lost, VI. 703.


Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view

And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn

In what degree or meaning thou art call'd

The Son of God; which bears no single sense:

The Son of God I also am, or was;

And if I was, I am; relation stands:

All men are Sons of God; yet thee I thought

In some respect far higher so declar'd.

Paradise Regained, IV. 514.

'The people of God, redeemed and washed with Christ's blood, and dignified with so many glorious titles of saints, and sons in the gospel.' Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, I. 14.


Milton puts the same distinction into the mouth of Adam, speaking after his fall of the relation in which his sons stood to him:

...... what if thy son

Prove disobedient, and reprov'd retort,

'Wherefore didst thou beget me? I sought it not:'

Would'st thou admit for his contempt of thee

That proud excuse? yet him not thy election,

But natural necessity begot. Paradise Lost, X. 760.


...... No need that thou

Should'st propagate, already infinite,

And through all numbers absolute, though one. VIII. 419.


...... for glory done

Of triumph, to be styl'd great conquerors,

Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods.

Paradise Lost, XI. 696.


Down, reason, then; at least vain reasonings, down.

Sampson Agonistes, 322.


Seem I to thee sufficiently possess'd

Of happiness or not? who am alone

From all eternity; for none I know

Second to me or like, equal much less. Paradise Lost, VIII. 404.


'Res etiam singulæ, sive individua, quæ vulgo vocant, singulas sibique proprias formas habent; differunt quippe numero inter se, quod nemo non fatetur. Quid autem est aliud numero inter se, nisi singulis formis differre? Numerus enim, ut recte Scaliger, est affectio essentiam consequens. Quæ igitur numero, essentia quoque differunt; et nequaquam numero, nisi essentia, differrent. Evigilent hic theologi. Quod si quæcunque numero, essentia quoque differunt, nec tamen materia, necesse est formis inter se differant; non autem communibus, ergo propriis.' Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio. Prose Works, VI. 214. The hint thrown out to the theologians in this passage is very remarkable; but I am not aware that it has ever been noticed as affording a clew to the opinion of Milton on the important subject alluded to, which could scarcely have been expected to be found in a treatise on Logick.


'The best of those that then wrote (in the first ages of Christianity) disclaim that any man should repose on them, and send all to the Scriptures.' Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, I. 11.


This is true of the manuscripts of the old Syriac version, but the printed editions of the Syriac as well as of the Armenian versions contain the disputed clause. See Bishop Marsh's Letters to Archdeacon Travis. Preface, Notes 8, 9, 10, 11. With respect to the Greek manuscripts, Milton expresses himself cautiously. It now appears that the clause is not found in any Greek manuscript written before the sixteenth century, which has been yet collated. For an elaborate account of the arguments for and against its authenticity, see Horne's Introduction, &c. Part II. Chap. iv. Sect. 5 § 6. where references are given to the principal authorities.


'Annon illico poterunt tergiversari, de consensu dictum esse, non de eadem essentia?...... Nihil autem æque confirmat auctoritatem testimonii ut consensus. Itaque consentiunt in terra Spiritus aqua et sanguis. An hæc tria sunt unum, sicut Pater, Filius et Spiritus Sanctus unum sunt? Nemo dicit, opinor, sed testimonii consensu sunt unum; ita Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus sunt unum.' Erasmi Responsio ad Notationes novas Ed. Leid. Tom. IX. p. 278. Edit. Lug. Bat. 1703. 'Et hi tres unum sunt: id est, ita prorsus consentiunt ac si unus testis essent; uti re vera unum sunt si οὐσίαν spectes; sed de illa (ut mihi quidem videtur) non agitur hoc in loco.' Beza in loc.


'The form, by which the thing is what it is, is oft so slender and undistinguishable,' &c. &c. Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 140.


Τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Gr. of God, even of the Father, and of Christ. Macknight's Translation. See also Hammond and Whitby on the passage.


Father eternal, thine is to decree,

Mine, both in Heaven and Earth, to do thy will

Supreme. Paradise Lost, X, 68.


See Poole's Synopsis in loco. But Whitby explains it as signifying only a perfect conformity to His Father's will, without implying any defect in His own power. He quotes in support of this interpretation Luke xxii. 29. Rev. iii. 21. 1 Cor. xii. 5.


1 Ep. i. 90. He employs the same allusion in Paradise Lost:

..... call up unbound

In various shapes old Proteus from the sea. III. 603.


..... What he brings what needs he elsewhere seek?

Paradise Regained, IV.325.


Rhes. 264. Bacch. 1027. Edit. Beck.


Milton is fond of attributing the name of Godto angels, even in his Poem:

Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,

Nor God, nor man? Paradise Lost, V.59.

And again, in the same book,

Evil into the mind of God or man

May come and go, so unreprov'd. 117.

Where Newton properly remarks that God must signify Angel, for 'God cannot be tempted with evil,' as St. James says of the Supreme Being. So also in Paradise Regained, of the fallen angels,

..... led their march

From Hell's deep vaulted den to dwell in light,

Regents and potentates, and kings, yea Gods,

Of many a pleasant realm and province wide. I. 115.


Be not so sore offended, Son of God,

Though Sons of God both angels are and men,

If I, to try whether in higher sort

Than these thou bear'st that title

Paradise Regained, IV. 196.


καλέσουσι τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. 'Καλέσεις Steph. β. Cant. Euseb. sed exemplaria MSS. universim, Vulg. Hieron. Epiphan. Chrysost. Theophylact. Origen. Iren. Just. Martyr. (qui etiam habet καλέσετε) receptam lectionem retinent.' Mill, in loc.


In the list of various readings given in Bp. Wilson's Bible, it is stated that the reading of the Lord exists in one of the English Bibles printed by Whitchurch, which is probably the 'recent translation' alluded to by Milton. This printer published many editions of the Bible, separately or in conjunction with Grafton, about the middle of the sixteenth century. The library at St. Paul's contains ten editions published in different years between 1530 and 1560, but the reading alluded to appears in none of them. The libraries of the British Museum, Lambeth, and Canterbury (which latter collection contains about fifty ancient English Bibles and Testaments presented by the late Dr. Coombe), the Bodleian library at Oxford, the University library, and the libraries of Trinity and St. John's Colleges, Cambridge, have also been searched without success for a copy of the edition in question.


This is the reading of the Codex Passionæi, the date of which, however, is not earlier than the eighth or ninth century, and of sixty-three other MSS. none of which are among the most correct or authoritative. See Horne's Introduction, &c. Vol. II. 352, for an analysis of what Griesbach, Hale, Michaelis and others have written on the verse. The sum of the whole is, that ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ, Church of God, the received reading, 'is better supported than any of the other readings, and consequently we may conclude that it was the identical expression uttered by Paul, and recorded by Luke.'


'Sanctus Cyprianus adversus Judæos libro secundo, capite quinto, adduxit hunc locum, omissa Dei mentione. Itidem Hilarius enarrans Psalmum cxxii. quod incuria librariorum esse omissum videri potest.' Erasmi Annotationes ad Rom. ix. 5. See also his treatise entitled Responsio de Filii divinitate. Tom. IX. p. 849. Macknight in his notes on the passage of the Romans, answers Erasmus with regard to both the points which Milton mentions.


'Ambrosius et Vulgatus Interpres legerunt pro Θὲος, ὅ, id est, quod.' Erasmus ad 1 Tim. iii. 16. The Clermont MS. the Vulgate, and some other versions read ὅ, which. The Colbertine MS. reads ὅς who. All the other Greek MSS. have Θέος. For a defence of the latter reading see Mill and Macknight in loco, and Pearson On the Creed. See also Waterland, Works, II. 158.


On the importance of the Greek article, see Mr. Granville Sharp's Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article, &c.; Dr. Wordsworth's Six Letters to Mr. Sharp; Mr. Boyd's Supplementary Researches; and Bp. Middleton's Doctrine of the Greek Article.


The Ethiopia version reads αὐτοῦ. Mill omits Θέοῦ.


This is the interpretation of Benson, Wetstein, Schleusner, Macknight, &c. In support of the other construction, see Beza, Whitby, and particularly Waterland, Works, Vol. II. p.123.


'Dicam quid mihi videatur, ita ut quod sentio relinquam ecclesiæ atque adeo piis omnibus dijudicandum. Existimo hunc librum, eo negligentius habitum, quod non statim ab omnibus pro apostolico scripto censeretur, fuisse ab Ariano quopiam depravatum, qui Christum Deum non esse, nec proinde adorandum, sic confirmare vellet: idque exortis jam Anomœis post ipsius Arii tempora, alioqui hunc locum minime prætermissuris. Transpositos igitur fuisse arbitror hos versiculos, nempe 12 et 13,' &c. According to the order subsequently proposed by Beza, the verses would stand thus —14, 15, 16, 13, 12, 17, &c. Eusebius classes the Apocalypse among —the ἀντιλεγόμενα, or disputed books, and it is omitted in the catalogues of canonical books formed by Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (A. D. 340), and by the council of Laodicea (A. D. 364), and in one or two other early catalogues of the Scriptures; but this omission was probably not owing to any suspicion concerning its authenticity or genuineness, but because its obscurity and mysteriousness were thought to render it less fit to be read publicly and generally. Home's Introduction, &c. IV. 497. Bp. Tomline's Elements of Christian Theology, Vol. I. 500.


'Hominem, non angelum fuisse apparet, quod locus unde venerit exprimitur, neque disparuisse legitur, ut de aliis angelis narratur. Sic propheta angelus Dei vocatur Hagg. i. 3.' Junius in loc.


Milton attributes similar language to the Almighty, when he represents him as giving his great command concerning the Messiah in heaven:

Him who disobeys,

Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day

Cast out from God-, &c. Paradise Lost, V. 611.


'Let him try which way he can wind in his Vertumnian distinctions and evasions, if his canonical gabardine of text and letter do not sit too close about him, and pinch his activity. Tetrachordon, Prose Works, II. 201. 'Vertit rationes et "cannon rex cum optimatibus plus potestatis habeat" quæerit; iterum nego, Vertumne, si pro optimatibus proceres intelligas, quoniam accidere potest ut nemo inter eos optimatis no mine sit diguus.' Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio, Prose Works, V. 149.


Milton follows the version of Tremellius, who translates the passage thus —'Cujus nomen vocat Jehova, admirabilem,' &c.


Πατὴρ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος. Septuag. 'Pater futuri sæculi.' Vulg. 'The Father of the everlasting age.' Lowth. 'The Father of the world to come.' Douay Bible.


..... Thou hast given me to possess

Life in myself for ever; by thee I live,

Though now to Death I yield. Paradise Lost, III.243


..... hast been found

By merit, more than birthright, Son of God.

Paradise Lost, III. 308.

..... For their King

Messiah, who by right of merit reigns. VI. 42.

That all the angels and ethereal powers,

They now, and men hereafter, may discern

From what consummate virtue I have chose

This perfect man, by merit call'd my Son,

To earn salvation for the sons of men.

Paradise Regained, I. 163.


..... All power

I give thee. Paradise Lost, III. 317

Scepter and power, thy giving, I assume,

And gladlier shall resign, when in the end

Thou shalt be all in all-. VI. 730.


This observation is added, because in the Latin version used by Milton the clause is translated sustinens omnia verbo potentiæ suæ, not illius. Peirce (Notes on St. Paul's Epistles) refers the phrase his power, to God the Father; but nearly all the best commentators uniformly explain it as referring to the Son.


In the original, the sentence is as follows: —'xxxiii. 16. et hoc est quod vocabit eam (nempe ecclesiam, non ideireo essentia cum Deo unam) Jehovah justitia nostra; vel clariore syntaxi, Jehovam justitiam nostram; vel si quis mavult, hic qui vocabit eam; eodem pertinet.' I have omitted in the translation the latter clauses of the sentence, which could scarcely be made intelligible in a language without inflections.


But whom send I to judge them ? Whom but thee,

Vicegerent Son ? To thee I have transferre'd

All judgement, whether in Heav'n or Earth, or Hell.

Paradise Lost, X. 55.


Milton seems to have had the same idea in his mind in the following passage:

'Beyond compare the Son of God was seen

Most glorious; in him all his Father shone

Substantially express'd-'. Paradise Lost, III. 138.


.....'On his right

The radiant image of his glory sat,

His only Son.' Paradise Lost, III. 62.

'Son, thou in whom my glory I behold

In full resplendence, heir of all my might-.' V. 719.

'Effulgence of my glory, Son belov'd,

Son in whose face invisible is beheld

Visibly, what by Deity I am;

And in whose hand what by decree I do,

Second Omnipotence. VI. 680.

..... Unfolding bright

Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son

Blaz'd forth unclouded Deity: He full

Resplendent all his Father manifest

Express'd. X. 63.


O Father, O supreme of heavenly thrones,

First, Highest, Holiest, Best, thou always seek'st

To glorify thy Son, I always thee,

As is most just: This I my glory account,

My exaltation, and my whole delight, &c. VI. 723.

Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seek,

Oft not deserv'd? I seek not mine, but his

Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am.

Paradise Regained, II. 105.


'Opinio autem in Deum non cadit.' Milton uses the same words in his treatise on Logic, where he assigns the reason. 'Opinio tamen in Deum non cadit, quia per causas æque omnia cognoscit.' Prose Works, VI. 293. For, as he says in his Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, 'opinion is but knowledge in the making.' I. 322.

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