Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

thus “written large” in “ New Presbyter,"—under this terrible New Presbyter, the fabric of the English Episcopal policy was shattered, and Deans and Chapters, surplices, square caps, the organ-loft, the choir and choristers, and even the impressive Liturgy, -and CHRISTIAN CHARITY itself, were, for a time, buried in the wreck.

I shall be more particular in speaking of that singular production called “Smectymnuus," as Calamy, one of its writers, had no hesitation to say, it

gave the most deadly blow to episcopacy, and as, moreover, this work occasioned the powerful arm of Milton to be raised in aiding the demolishment of the polity of the Episcopal Church.

Calamy, and the other writers who clubbed together to produce this work, had been all episcopally ordained ; and Calamy himself had in his youth received the protection and patronage of a learned and pious Bishop, Nicholas Felton, of Ely.

On his death, Milton, in his days of ingenuous youth, wrote that affecting and beautiful elegy “In obitum Præsulis Eliensis :"

Cessisse morti, et FERREIS SORORIBUS,

Te, GENERIS HUMANI DECUS !! The shade of this beneficent prelate might have addressed the ungrateful Calamy in the words of this elegy:

Cæcos furores pone, pone vitream

Bilemque, et irritas minas. “Smectymnuus” came out in the year 1641.

It is known to every reader of the ecclesiastical history of the period, that the work so called received its name in consequence of its being written, in partnership, by Stephen Marshall E. Calamy - T. Young Mat. Newcomen — W. Spurslowe; the initials of the names giving the name to the book, thus SM ( S. Marshall) EC (E. Calamy) TY (Thomas Young) MN (M. Newcomen) UUS (William Spurslowe). Thomas Young had been Milton's tutor before he went to St. Paul's school. Milton, through life, preserved the greatest veneration for him; he adopted his opinions, in opposition to his first ingenuous feelings of youth; and to him, afterwards pastor of a congregation at Hamburg, he addressed the first Latin prose letter in his works, and that beautiful and exquisite epistle in Latin verse, “Ad Thomam JUNIUM.” Curre per immensum subitò, mea littera, pontum.

Epistle 4. “ This Thomas Young," Warton says,

in his notes on this Epistle, “ appears to have returned to England in or before 1628, was a member of the Assembly of Divines, and one of the authors of a book called Smectymnuus, defended by Milton," &c.*

The ravings of Prynne may be seen in many books, Rushworth, &c. I have never seen this formidable Smectymnuus ; but I find it quoted in a scarce publication by Fowlis, (who was Fellow of Lincoln college,) printed at Oxford. Fowlis's book is called the “History of the wicked Plots and Conspiracies of our pretended Saints, 1672, Oxford.”

* Warton's Milton,

The extracts from Smectymnuus no doubt are faithful, as the book must have been at that time in many hands, and the page is quoted from whence the extracts are taken. These are a few of the flowers presented to such Bishops as Hall and Usher: that Episcopacy is “a stirrup for Antichrist to get into the saddle” — that “

that “corrupt Prelates oppose and BLASPHEME preaching !” that they “are sons of BeLIAL”

"guilty of intolerable oppressions and tyrannies, drunkenness, profaneness, superstition, and Popishness! — that it hath been the Bishops' GREAT DESIGN to hinder all farther reformation! to bring in Popery and libertinism to beat down the Preachers of THE WORD! to silence faithful Preachers ! to oppose and persecute the most zealous Professors, to turn all religion into pompous outside, and to tread down the power of godliness !” Did Andrews –

Felton Davenant Hall - Skinner, the Tutor of Chillingworth, deserve this dog-language? Did Hall deserve his “hard fare?"* except, indeed, by his encouraging that Calvinism which visited him so severely.

Bishop Hall had written, with equal temperance and soundness of argument, a book entitled, “ An humble Remonstrance to the High Court of Parliament," in defence of that reviled order to which

* “ Hard Fare," a book so called, by Hall, detailing his sufferings from his Calvinistic friends!

[ocr errors]

this eloquent writer and most exemplary man belonged. The King expressed himself much gratified by this work. Such a circumstance called forth the knot I have mentioned, and the result was, the farfamed, but now forgotten “Smectymnuus!”

In consequence of this joint publication, “a DeFENCE of the Humble Remonstrance” appeared, under the name of “the Author of the Remonstrance."

This defence of the “Humble Remonstrance" first called forth, indignant, in his stern habiliments of polemic warfare, John Milton !

Milton was first drawn forth in defence of that book in which his tutor Young had so great a share; for, as we have shown, Thomas Young was one of the writers the initials of whose names gave name to the book. The answer to the “Remonstrance" is a sarcastic and critical examination, in many parts sentence by sentence, which may be seen in the first volume of the folio edition of Milton's works.

I shall herë exhibit, as all other attacks on episcopacy at the period seem to me of far less consequence, a specimen of what he calls — “a certain grim laughter!"

No words, indeed, could better have described this answer, as the reader will see by the few first sentences relating to the combined authors of Smectymnuus. Milton and Hall, coming forward in favour of the contending armies of Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are like Milton's own clouds

described in Paradise Lost, that come

“ Rattling o'er the Caspian;" but truth and charity retire before brutal invective, however witty.

Hall.—“My single Remonstrance was encountered with a plural adversary” (the Smectymnuus).

Milton.—“ Did not your single Remonstrance bring along with it a hot scent of your more than singular affection to spiritual pluralities, your singleness would be less suspected of all good Christians than it is."

Hall.-" The name, persons, qualities, numbers, I care not to know.”

Milton.-“Their names are known to the Allknowing Power above; and, in the mean time, doubtless, they reck not whether you or your nomenclator know them or not.”

Hall.—“ But could they say my name is Legion, for they are many."

Milton.—“Wherefore shall you begin with the Devil's NAME, descanting upon the number of your opponents? Wherefore the conceit of Legion, with a bye-wipe? Was it because you would have men take notice how you esteem them, whom, through all your book, you so bountifully call your BRETHREN! We had not thought that Legion could have furnished Remonstrant with so many brethren!” (To such despicable buffoonery could the author of Paradise Lost descend !)

Hall.-My cause--yea, God's.”

« VorigeDoorgaan »