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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: February 2015

4 - Prophets, priests, and kings of liberty: John Milton and the rights and liberties of Englishmen

Summary

For by natural birth, all men are equally alike born to like property, liberty, and freedom, and as we are delivered of God by the hand of nature into this world, everyone with a natural, innate freedom and property (as it were writ in the table of every man's heart, never to be obliterated) even so we are to live, everyone equally and alike to enjoy his birthright and privilege; even all where God by nature hath made him free … Every man by nature being a King, Priest, and Prophet in his own natural circuit and compass, whereof no second may partake, but by deputation, commission, and free consent from him whose right and freedom it is.

Richard Overton 1646)

God is decreeing to begin some new and great period in his Church, even to the reforming of [the] Reformation itself, [in order] to make a knowing people, a Nation of Prophets, of Sages, and of Worthies.

John Milton (1644)

We now under Christ [are] a royal priesthood, 1 Pet. 2:9, as we are co-heirs, kings and priests with him.

John Milton (1659)

In 1640, the English “world turned upside down.” For the first time in eleven years, King Charles called Parliament into session, and the members erupted in unprecedented fury against two decades of belligerent royal policies that had left the nation in disarray. Some of Parliament's fury was directed at Charles's religious policies.

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