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« distant, and which is animated only " by faith and hope, will glide by de“grees out of the mind, unless it be in“ vigorated and reimpreffed by external “ ordinances, by stated calls to worship, “ and the falutary influence of exam“ple *."
The mere cant of every popish formalist, who sets himself to fhew that images are the books of the ignorant; and that without them the common people can have no religion. · We cannot admit even Dr. Johnson's experience to decide this matter for us ; who indeed hath immediately destroyed his own hypothesis, by acknowledging that Milton, who associated with no par* Life, p. 140.
ticular church, “ appears to have had “ full conviction of the truth of Christi• anity; to have regarded the holy scrip“ tures with the profoundest veneration; 6 to have been untainted with any here“tical peculiarity of opinion; and to " have lived in a confirmed belief of the “ immediate and occafional agency of “ Providence."
“ And yet, he grew old without any - visible worship.” Does it follow from hence, that Milton grew old without any worship at all?
Yes, truly, such is the conclufion. .« In the distribution of his hours there
« was no hour of prayer, either solitary “ or with his household ; omitting pub
« lic prayer, he omitted all.” And then he precedes to account for it. · But these particulars, wherever the Doctor got them, must have come from persons who had no more honest business in John Milton's closer than Dr. Johnson himself, who never came there, nor can possibly know what was done, or what was omitted in it. If “his studies and “ meditations were an habitual prayer," what occasion had he for a stated hour, which, being a circumstance in the visible worship of a private man, may as soon be a token of pharifaical ostentation or popish superstition as of cordial piety! :. Nor perhaps would Milton have accepted of Dr. Johnson's apology for his omisfion of family worship, or have ac
knowledged ] knowledged it to be a fault. Milton perhaps might think it sufficient to teach his family to pray for themselves; every one as he or she should know the plague of bis or her own heart. Milton had doubtless known, by experience, how incongruous it was to trust his own prayers to the mouth of another man; and he might think it equally improper in him to dictate to the individuals of his family prayers unsuitable, for aught he could know without auricular confession, to their several cases.
All this however is mere speculation on one side and the other. We learn from a tale of Richardson's, that one of his family at least attended public wor
thip; 112 ] Thip; and inore of them might, for any thing the Doctor knows to the contrary.
The Doctor next attacks Milton's political character.
“ His political notions were those of “ an acrimonious and surly republican.”
When an honest man has occafion to characterise his enemy, particularly in matters of opinion, he should keep a strict watch over himself, that his prejudices do not transport him to imputations which are either false, or may be retorted upon himself.
The world would have given Dr. Johnson credit for his inveterate hatred of republican notions, without his qualifying them with the epithets of acrimonious and surly, as exhibited by Milton,