Catalogue Entry: THEM00316

Book I: Chapter 16

Author: John Milton

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

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


It has not been questioned whether the soul of Christ descended into hell, (as seems to be implied in the words of Milton) which 'no Christian can deny,' says St. Augustin, 'it is so clearly delivered in this prophecy of the Psalmist (Psal. xvi. 8-10.) and application of the apostle (Acts ii. 25)' but the controverted point has been, what that hell was into which he descended. See the various opinions stated at large, in Burnet and Beveridge On the Third Article; Pearson, On the Creed, Fifth Article; see also Bp. Horsley's Sermon on 1 Pet. iii. 18-20 Vol. II. 145.


.....All power

I give thee; reign for ever, and assume

Thy merits. Paradise Lost, III. 317.


Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat

Second to thee. Paradise Lost, III. 408.

..... Who into glory him receiv'd

Where now he sits at the right of bliss.

Paradise Lost, VI. 891.


This alludes to the doctrine of the Ubiquitarians, who held the omnipresence of the human body of Christ. The opinion seems to have been first maintained by Brentius, one of the earliest reformers, in 1560. Luther favored it in his controversy with Zuingle, but subsequently acknowledged its difficulties, especially as connected with the corporal presence in the Eucharist. After his death it was again advanced by Brentius, supported by Chemnitius and Andræas. Curcellæus, Instit. V. 15. 9-15. argues against the doctrine.


Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt

With thee thy manhood also to this throne;

Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign

Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man.

Paradise Lost, III. 313.


Die he or justice must; unless for him

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Paradise Lost, III. 209.

..... So Man, as is most just,

Shall satisfy for man.

Ibid. 294. Compare also XII. 415-419.


The law of God exact he shall fulfil

Both by obedience and by love, though love

Alone fulfil the law. Paradise Lost, XII. 402.


Giving to death, and dying to redeem.

Paradise Lost, III. 299.

Which line is thus explained by Warburton. 'Milton's system of divinity taught, not only that man was redeemed, but likewise that a real price was paid for his redemption; dying to redeem therefore signifying only redemption in a vague uncertain sense, but imperfectly represents his system; so imperfectly, that it may as well be called the Socinian; the price paid (which implies a proper redemption) is wanting. But to pay a price implying a voluntary act, the poet therefore well expresses it by giving to death, that is, giving himself to death; so that the sense of the line fully expresses Milton's notion; heavenly love gave a price for the redemption of mankind, and by virtue of that price really redeemed them.'

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL -

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