Of True Religion. John Milton.

Of True Religion and John Milton.

February 7, 2010

Milton’s Cottage

John Milton’s Cottage, Chalfont St Giles

In 1673, a year before his death, John Milton published a pamphlet entitled “Of True Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and what the best means may be used against the Growth of Popery.” His great poems were all behind him, death before him. Oddly, this pamphlet is little known to the general reader of Milton. After looking through a number of textbook collections of Milton for university courses, published during the last several decades, I was surprised to discover none of them contained “Of True Religion,” yet it was the last piece the man ever wrote. All the more startling is that “Of True Religion” presents a portrait of John Milton significantly at variance with the Puritan caricature of him that is often promoted by scholars in the university. All too often Milton is torn out of his historical time and not seen to be in fact the liberal that he was, clearly headed toward the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which further limited the monarchy and prepared the way for the modern efflorescence of individual liberty and freedom. To distort Milton into a one-dimensional Puritan suppresses the complexity of his actual thinking and life….

Now available in

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.


Frederick Glaysher




Filed under Reviews, Universality

2 Responses to Of True Religion. John Milton.

  1. From eReading. Submitted on 2010/10/25 at 11:54 am

    I like what you have to say about *Of True Religion*; it does go a ways towards refuting a caricature of Milton that many people hold.

    But the text isn’t really that hard to come by. It’s admittedly not in Hughes’s anthology of Milton (published 1957 and still in print, though never revised), nor in the most recent Modern Library *Complete Poetry and Essential Prose*, but the whole of the pamphlet is reprinted in Roy Flannagan’s *Riverside Milton* (Houghton Mifflin 1998).

  2. FG

    From eReading. Submitted on 2010/11/02 at 12:54 pm


    I like your word “caricature.” It seems to me that so much literary treatment of him today comes down to that.

    I’m glad to hear “Of True Religion” is available in the 1998 Riverside Milton. I had Hughes at the University of Michigan decades ago, so I missed it, taking years to stumble on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.