Alan Johnson's Reviews > A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes: Shewing That It Is Not Lawful for Any Power on Earth to Compel in Matters of Religion. the Autho

A   Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes by John Milton
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Dec 13, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: history-british-pre-1702, philosophers

During the English revolutionary period (1640-60), three individuals who became close philosophical friends separately articulated principles of freedom of conscience and separation of church and state: Roger Williams, Sir Henry Vane the Younger, and John Milton. Williams had earlier founded the Town of Providence (which later evolved into the Colony and then State of Rhode Island) on the basis of these principles. Although religious liberty and separation of church and state took root in seventeenth-century Rhode Island and (eventually and partially) in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, the forces of religious conformity and persecution remained strong in England, even under the somewhat moderate Cromwellian Protectorate. Milton wrote A Treatise of Civil Power about a year before the Restoration of King Charles II and the reestablished Church of England. His purpose was to resist the efforts by Presbyterians and others to establish a more theocratic state under Richard Cromwell, the son and successor of Oliver Cromwell (who died in 1658).

Milton, like John Locke later, did not approve of freedom of conscience for Roman Catholics or for others, including Protestants, who would use force against those of contrary beliefs. Moreover, Milton seemed to approve of governmental prohibition of what he deemed to be idolatry. As explained in my book The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience, Williams, in contrast to Milton and Locke, advocated liberty of conscience for people of all religions and even for people of no religion.

This EEBO reprint is an excellent facsimile reproduction (photocopy) of the original 1659 edition.

(Originally posted 12/13/2013; as revised 8/23/2015)

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December 13, 2013 – Shelved
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March 18, 2014 – Shelved as: england-1640-60
March 18, 2014 – Shelved as: history-british-pre-1702
March 18, 2014 – Shelved as: england-17th-century
September 1, 2014 – Shelved as: england-early-modern
October 26, 2014 – Shelved as: philosophers

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