During the English Revolution, Westminster divines Cornelius Burges and Stephen Marshall resurrected the practice of preaching in Parliament in an attempt to articulate, without repair to kingship or Catholicism, what it meant to be free, godly, and English. Though scholars have acknowledged Areopagitica’s debt to the nation-forming biblical rhetoric of these sermons, in this study I argue that Milton commandeers that rhetoric—especially the application of the figure of Israel to the would-be commonwealth—in order to renovate his own public image, such that he and the nation cannot be thought apart. Milton projects an ethos that is at once representative and apostolic, Isocratean and Pauline. At the same time, he reworks the sermons’ figural depictions of England’s divine election, covenant, and religious conformity such that his nation could not exist without him. This imbrication of persona and patria reconciles contrasting theories about Milton’s self-understanding and extends our understanding of Milton’s nationalism in a time of revolution and religious upheaval.


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pp. 375-400
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