A Treatise Against Two Letters Of The Pelagians (With Active Table of Contents)

Pelagius and Pelagianism
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Against Two Letters of the Pelagians

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Todd, from whom the following information respecting them is derived. One is entitled 'A Modell of a Democraticall Government, humbly tendered to consideration by a friend and well-wisher to this Commonwealth,' 4to. London, The title of the other is 'Idea Democratica, or a Commonweal Platform,' 4to.

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Both consist of a very few leaves only, and neither are enumerated by Wood among Harrington's pieces. Todd supposes with much probability, that as the chair was often taken by the ingenious young gentleman , as Wood terms Skinner, he was concerned in the publication of these antimonarchical curiosities.

Care however must be taken not to confound him with another individual of the same name, who likewise took a part against the crown in the politics of the day; viz. Augustine Skinner, one of the small Rump Parliament of ninety members in Harrington is the fifth in the list of the Committee, and 'Mr. Skinner' the twelfth. In the year , we learn from a letter addressed to Milton by his friend Andrew Marvell, and first published by Dr. Birch, that Skinner 'had got near' his former preceptor, who then occupied lodgings in Petty France, Westminster, probably for the sake of their contiguity to the Council.

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For documentation on the vehemently anti-Christian stance of spiritualism, cf. My purpose is to furnish ministers and intelligent laymen who have no access to the original texts, or are not sufficiently familiar with ecclesiastical Greek and Latin, with a complete apparatus for the study of ancient Christianity. After De immortalitate animae , Augustine never returned to his proof. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. He did not indeed enter a cloister, like Luther, whose conversion in Erfurt was likewise essentially catholic, but he lived in his house in the simplicity of a monk, and made and kept the vow of voluntary poverty and celibacy.

This was the house 'next door to the Lord Scudamore's, and opened into St. James's park,' where he is said to have remained eight years; namely, from till within a few weeks of the restoration of Charles the Second.

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By a comparison of dates, it may be conjectured that he removed into it when obliged to leave the lodgings in Whitehall, which, as is proved by the following curious extracts from the Council books, had been provided for him at the public expense, and fitted up with some of the spoils of the late King's property.

Milton may be accommodated with the Lodgings that he hath at Whitehall.

Milton shall have the Lodgings that were in the hands of Sir John Hippesley, in Whitehall, for his accommodation, as being Secretary to the Councell for Forreigne Languages. Milton shall have a warrant to the Trustees and Contractors for the sale of the King's goods, for the furnishing of his Lodgings at Whitehall with some Hangings. John Milton, or to whom hee shall appoint, such Hangings as shall bee sufficient for the furnishing of his Lodgings in Whitehall. Given at Whitehall 18 Junii April Ordered —That Mr.

Vaux bee sent unto, to lett him know that hee is to forbeare the removeing of Mr. June Alderman Allen, and Mr. Chaloner, or anie two of them, bee appointed a Committee to go from this Councell to the Committee of Parliament for Whitehall, to acquaint them with the case of Mr. Milton, in regard to their positive order for his speedie remove out of his Lodgings in Whitehall, and to endeavour with them that the said Mr. Milton may bee continued where he is, in regard of the employment hee is in to the Councell, which necessitates him to reside neere the Councell.

It appears from the title, that the work entrusted to Skinner's care was originally intended to be a posthumous publication. The reproaches to which its author had been exposed in consequence of opinions contained in his early controversial writings, may have induced him to avoid attracting the notice of the public during the ascendancy of his political opponents, by a frank avowal of his religious sentiments. But by what means, by whom, or at what time this interesting document was deposited in the State Paper Office, is at present not known with certainty; every trace of its existence having been lost for nearly a century and a half, till it was discovered by Mr.

Lemon in the manner above described. In the absence of all positive evidence on this subject, it is due to the sagacity of Mr. Lemon to state the satisfactory conjecture originally formed by that gentleman, which subsequent discoveries have almost converted into a moral certainty. From the decided republican principles which Cyriack Skinner was well known to have adopted, it is not improbable that he was suspected of participating in some of the numerous political conspiracies which prevailed during the last ten years of the reign of Charles the Second, and that his papers were seized in consequence.

It was at this time the custom for the Secretaries, on retiring from office, to remove with them the public documents connected with their respective administrations; but both these distinguished statesmen, from a conviction of the inconvenience of a practice which has since been disused, bequeathed their large and valuable collections of manuscripts to His Majesty's State Paper Office. It will be admitted that the above mode of accounting for the unexpected discovery of Milton's theological work among the neglected treasures of the State Paper Office, is at least plausible. It occurred, however, to Mr.

Lemon, that an accurate inspection of the papers relative to the plots of , , and , deposited in the same press with the manuscript, might perhaps afford some information respecting it. He has therefore recently examined the whole of this part of the collection, and in a bundle of papers containing informations and examinations taken in the year , the following letter was discovered from a Mr. Perwich, written at Paris, March 15, , and addressed to Mr. Bridgeman, Secretary to Sir Joseph Williamson, which appears to throw considerable light on the preceding conjecture.

I have delivered Dr. Barrow's letter to Mr. Skinner, before witnesse, as you desired. This is all I can say in that affaire. On this letter Mr.

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Lemon submits the following reasoning, which it is right to state in his own language:. Skinner, who at that period is thus proved to have had unpublished manuscripts of Milton in his possession, was a member of some Catholic religious order; and it is a very curious and interesting fact, which strongly corroborates the preceding conjecture, that in the original deposition of Titus Oates which actually lay on the parcel containing the posthumous work of Milton when it was discovered signed by himself, and attested by Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, on the 27th of September, , a few days only before his mysterious murder, and also signed by Dr.

There are, however, some reasons for doubting whether Skinner the Benedictine can have been Cyriack Skinner, the original depositary of Milton's work. It appears from the pedigree inserted in a preceding page, that letters of administration were granted in August to Annabella, daughter of Cyriack Skinner, in which he is described as of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Widower.

This is evidently inconsistent with the supposition that he was a member of a religious order. It is indeed barely possible that he may have assumed the Benedictine character in the year in which Perwich's letter is dated though it is most unlikely that such a change should have taken place in the principles of one who had been the intimate friend of Milton, and whose opinions had been so decidedly opposed to Popery during the Commonwealth. By the will of Edward, the eldest brother, dated 20th May , and proved the 10th of February following, Cyriack was nominated guardian of his son, in case his wife the daughter of Sir William Wentworth, who was killed at Marston Moor should re-marry or die; and in the same document a legacy of one hundred pounds is bequeathed to each of the brothers William and Cyriack.

On the whole, therefore, it seems most probable, that the Benedictine Skinner, if an immediate connexion of this family, was William, the second son of William and Bridget, and elder brother of Cyriack; a conjecture rendered more likely from the fact that no will of this individual is registered, nor is any record of him mentioned after , when his elder brother died. Cyriack, aware of the suspicion to which he was liable as the friend of Milton, as well as on account of his own political character, might naturally conceive that his papers would be safer in the hands of his brother, out of the kingdom, than in his own custody; and the government having been informed by Mr.

Perwich of their concealment in Holland, perhaps obtained possession of them through their emissaries, while Skinner was travelling in Italy, according to his design mentioned in the letter to Mr. There seems no reason, however, why the words ' Superiour of his Colledge ' should not apply with as much propriety to the head of a Protestant as of a Roman Catholic Society.

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Isaac Barrow, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, did not die till May , two months after the date of Perwich's letter, and in the register of that College the following entries occur: 'Oct. Daniel Skinner juratus et admissus in socium minorem. Daniel Skinner juratus et admissus in socium majorem. If he was the Skinner mentioned in Perwich's letter, it may be supposed that his contumacious absence retarded his rise in the College, and that his continuance in his fellowship, and subsequent election as major Fellow, is to be ascribed to the leniency of the Society.

That the Skinner alluded to was not a Catholic may be inferred from his having gone to Holland, which does not seem the most obvious place of refuge for a Catholic emigrant; as also from the manner in which he speaks of Milton's manuscript works, especially if, as is probable, in describing them as "no way to be objected against either with regard to royalty and government",he intended to have added, "or with regard to religion", "church polity", or something similar, which by an oversight was omitted; for he can hardly have meant to write "royalty or government", there being little or no difference between the terms, in the sense in which the writer would have used them.

Nor is it likely that a member of a Catholic religious order would have entertained the design of publishing such works. The manuscript itself consists of pages, closely written on small quarto letter paper. This portion of the volume, however, affords a proof that even the most careful transcription seldom fails to diminish the accuracy of a text; for although it is evident that extraordinary pains have been employed to secure its legibility and correctness, the mistakes which are found in this part of the manuscript, especially in the references to the quotations, are in the proportion of 14 to 1 as compared with those in the remaining three-fifths of the work.

The character is evidently that of a female hand, and it is the opinion of Mr. Lemon, whose knowledge of the hand-writings of that time is so extensive that the greatest deference is due to his judgement, that Mary, the second daughter of Milton, was employed as amanuensis in this part of the volume. In corroboration of this conjecture, it may be remarked that some of the mistakes above alluded to are of a nature to induce a suspicion that the transcriber was merely a copyist, or, at most, only imperfectly acquainted with the learned languages.

For instance, in p. This not only seems to fix the precise edition of the Bible from which the texts were copied, but, considering that the mistake is such as could hardly fail to be corrected by the most careless transcriber, provided he understood the sentence, affords a strong presumption that the writer possessed a very moderate degree of scholarship.

On the other hand, a great proportion of the errors are precisely such as lead to a supposition that the amanuensis, though no scholar, was to a certain degree acquainted with the language verbally; inasmuch as they generally consist, not of false combinations of letters, but of the substitution of one word for another of nearly similar sound or structure. Faults of this description, especially considering that very few occur of a different class, and taken in connexion with the opinion of Mr.

Lemon stated above, will perhaps remind the reader of a charge which, as Mr. Todd notices, has been brought against the paternal conduct of Milton; 'I mean his teaching his children to read and pronounce Greek and several other languages, without understanding any but English.

The remainder of the manuscript is in an entirely different hand, being a strong upright character, supposed by Mr. Lemon to be the hand-writing of Edward Philipps, the nephew of Milton. This part of the volume is interspersed with numerous interlineations and corrections, and in several places with small slips of writing pasted in the margin. These corrections are in two distinct hand-writings, different from the body of the manuscript, but the greater part of them undoubtedly written by the same person who transcribed the first part of the volume.

Hence it is probable that the latter part of the MS.