Catalogue Entry: THEM00346

Book II: Chapter 13

Author: John Milton

Source: A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Compiled from the Holy Scriptures Alone, vol. 2 (Boston: 1825).

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


A scrupulous attention is paid throughout Paradise Lost to this duty and inferiors are generally represented as showing their respect to person ages of superior dignity in the manner here mentioned. Thus it is said of the fallen angels worshipping Satan:

... Towards him they bend

With awful reverence prone. II. 477.

Of the holy angels in heaven:

... Lowly reverent

Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground

With solemn adoration down they cast

Their crowns. III. 349.

Of the angels stationed to guard Paradise, at the appearance of Raphael:

... To his state

And to his message high in honour rise,

For on some message high they guessed him bound. V. 288.

Of Adam in presence of Raphael:

... Though not aw'd,

Yet with submiss approach and rev'rence meek,

As to superior nature bowing low,

Thus said. Ibid. 353.

Of the Messiah when leaving the Father to go against the rebel angels

... He o'er his sceptre bowing, rose

From the right hand of glory where he sat. VI. 746.

Of Eve before the tree of knowledge:

From the tree her step she turn'd;

But first low reverence done, as to the Pow'r

That dwelt within. IX. 834.

Thus also in his early poem of Arcades:

-The great mistress of yon princely shrine,

Whom with low reverence I adore as mine. 36.


'Dissimulavit enim, sod sine mendacio, et pia fraude intercepit Jahel hostem Domini, quam rem Spiritus Sanctus probat, infra cap. v, 4.' Junius in loc.


This appears to be a favourite allusion with Milton.

... All these, upwhirl'd aloft,

Fly o'er the backside of the world far off

Into a Limbo large and broad, since call'd

The Paradise of Fools. Paradise Lost. III. 493.

'That mysterious iniquity, provoked and troubled at the first entrance of reformation, sought out new Limboes and new Hells wherein they might include out books also within the number of their damned.' Aereopagitica Prose Works, I. 295. To which may be added Apology for Smectymus, Ibid. 262. Te Deum has a snatch in it of limbus patrum; as if Christ had not 'opened the kingdom of heaven, before he had over come the sharpness of death.'


Richardson says that Milton 'had a gravity in his temper, not melancholy, or not till the latter part of his life, not sour, morose, or ill-natured; but a certain severity of mind, a mind not condescending to little things.' Remarks, p. xv. 'In his whole deportment,' says Symmons, 'there was visible a certain dignity of mind, and a something of conscious superiority, which could not at all times be suppressed or wholly with drawn from observation. His temper was grave, without any taint of melancholy.' Vol. VII. p. 512.


Compare on this head, and with the three next paragraphs, the following passages from Symmons. 'Of this great man the manners are universally allowed to have been affable and graceful, the conversation cheerful, instructive and engaging. His youngest daughter ... affirmed that 'he was delightful company; the life of the conversation, not only on account of his flow of subject, but of his unaffected cheerfulneis and civility.' Isaac Vossius describes him as 'comem afabilem, multisque aliis? praeditum virtutibus.' Burmann. Syll. III. 618. So also N. Heiusius; 'Virum esse miti comique ingenio aiunt, quique aliam non habuisse se cansam profitetur Scribonium acerbe insectandi, quam quod ille et viros e maximis celeberrimisque multos nihil benignius, exceperit, et quod in universam Anglorum gentem conviciis atrocissimis injurius valde fuerit.' Burmann. Syll. III. 276. Salmasius is here alluded to under the name of Scribonius.


εὐτραπελία 'Nomen medium, proprie significat concinnam mutationem, et intra virtutes morales ah Aristotele numeratur, urbanitas. Sed in Novo Testamento in malam partem usurpatur pro scurrilitate. Eam vocem pro scurrilitate apostolus posuit, quod plerumque qui urbanitatem affectant, a medio virtutis aberrantes, ad scurrilitatem declinent. Qua in significatione etiam Pindarus poeta Graecam vocem usurpasse legitur. Itaque recte noster interpres scurrililatem vertit'. Estius in locum. See Leigh's Critica Sacra, Seblenser, Wetstein, Eisner, and Macknight.


'The Spirit of God, who is purity itself, when he would reprove any fault severely, or but relate things done or said with indignation by others, abstains not from some words not civil at other times to be spoken, &c. &c...... whereas God, who is the author both of purity and eloquence, chose this phrase as fittest in that vehement character wherein he spake, otherwise that plain word might have easily been foreborne: which the masoreths and rabbinical scholiasts not well attending, have often used to blur the margent with Keri instead of Ketiv, and gave us this inpulse rule out of their Talmud, 'that all words which in the law are written obscenely, must be changed to more civil words;' fools, who would teach men to read more decently than God thought good to write.' Apology for Smectymuus. Prose Works, I. 233. 'Ask a Talmudist what ails the modesty of his marginal Keri, that Moses and all the prophets cannot persuade him to pronounce the textual Ketiv. Areopagitica, Ibid. 300. 'Tu fortasse, ut sunt fere hypocritae, verbis tetrici, rebus obscoeni, ne ipsum quidem Mosen ista noxa immunem abs te dimiseris; cum alibi saepius, tum etiam ubi Phineae hasta qua parte mulierm transfixerit, si qua fides Hebraeis aperte narrat... Non te Salomonis Euphemismi censorum, non prophetarum scripta tuam turpiculi immo nonnunquem plane obscoeni censuram effugerint, quoties Masorethis et Rabbnia, pro eo quod diserte scriptum est, suum libet Keri adscribere. Ad me quod attinet, fateor malle uno cum sacris scriptoribus εὐθυ᾽ρ῾ρήμονα quem cum futilibus Rabbinis εὐσχήμονα. Auctoris pro se Defensio. V.299

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