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Milton and Toleration$
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Sharon Achinstein and Elizabeth Sauer

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199295937

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199295937.001.0001

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Milton, Marvell and Toleration

Milton, Marvell and Toleration

(p.86) 5 Milton, Marvell and Toleration
Milton and Toleration

Nicholas von Maltzahn

Oxford University Press

John Milton and Andrew Marvell have been celebrated as apostles of religious toleration, long seen as a defining value of liberalism. In their own lifetimes, they won some praise for what they wrote on behalf of toleration, praise that was renewed after the Revolution of 1688/9 and often since. The applause for Milton has been longer and louder. Yet it is Marvell's take on toleration that proved more normal in liberal tradition, where contending faiths might agree to disagree, with religion increasingly construed as a private practice tolerable within a secular state. Milton, by contrast, sees toleration as committing us to some collective discovery of Christian saving truth, as he insists on engagement with competing views, in a positive liberty requiring dialogue between believers. Both represent a strain of Puritan free-thinking, however, that might lead as far as Socinianism.

Keywords:   liberalism, negative liberty, positive liberty, Puritan, Socinianism

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