[Milton-L] Apostasy and Apology

Mike Streeter streetm at stthom.edu
Sun Dec 30 11:29:34 EST 2007

> What was [Milton's] distinction between Catholics and Papists?
I'm not sure he made a distinction, John.  To him, by detriment of  
being Catholic, you were also a Papist, since you pledged your loyalty  
to Rome, not England.  He feared that if England were to ever  
enfranchise Catholics again, they would perpetrate another act of  
treachery like the Gunpowder Plot.  Thus, England could no longer  
tolerate them/us.  Plus, even if we Catholics were to serve the Crown,  
we're allegedly idolaters anyway and so should continue to be  
suppressed.  As Milton reasons in his "Of True Religion, Heresy,  
Schism, Toleration...":

The pope...pretends right to kingdoms and states, especially to this  
of England..and now, since, we have shaken off his Babylonish yoke,  
[he] hath not ceased by his spies and agents, bulls and emissaries,  
once to destroy both king and parliament: perpetually to seduce,  
corrupt, and pervert as many as they can of the people...As for  
tolerating the exercise of their religion, supposing their state- 
activities not to be dangerous, I answer, that toleration is either  
public or private; and the exercise of their religion, as far as it is  
idolatrous, can be tolerated neither way: not publicly, without  
grievous and unsufferable scandal given to all conscientious  
beholders; not privately, without great offence to God, declared  
against all kind of idolatry, though secret.

Ironic that we have overtaken Anglicanism as the majority faith in  
England almost on Milton's quartercentenary (I thought Islam would  
have sooner predominated, since I read its rate of converts is  
outpacing all other religions in England--and perhaps the world--right  
now).  Now all English Parliament needs to do is repeal the Act of  
Settlement, and we'll be prepared to rule England again.

Vivat Ecclesia!

Mike Streeter
streetm at tamu.edu

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