Anglo-American Millennialism, from Milton to the Millerites by Richard Connors

By Richard Connors

Neither the meliorist political tradition of the nascent American republic nor its later go with the flow towards apocalyptically tinged 'fundamentalist' Protestantism and dispensationalism may be defined outdoor the context of the shared Anglo-American traditions and practices of millennial expectation and apocalyptic angst--whether expressed through early colonists, Milton, Blake, Miller or the Continental Congress. during this chronologically direct and thematically assorted quantity, 5 students operating in 3 exact disciplines (Religion, English literature, and background) procedure millennialism and apocalypticism within the British and Anglo-American contexts, making striking contributions either to the learn of non secular, literary and political tradition within the English-speaking ecumene, and, not less than implicitly, to the critique of disciplinary exclusivity. purely in such combined corporation does the research of the millennial nexus in English and American faith, tradition, literature and politics, from the time of Milton to the time of the Millerites, come into concentration.

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752). 785). If we take the “Tiller” as a kind of apocalyptic Christ, as Thomas Corns suggests,64 then what does Milton believe this Christ will do at the end of time? We could read “rooting up” as the destruction of earthly existence, but “manuring hand” suggests cultivation as well as deracination. ” Millenarian writers often use the Summer image as a metaphor for end time, as Winstanley does in a reference to the Song of Solomon 2:11: “but now the Winter is past, the Summer is come, the flowers appear in the earth: that is, the glorious workings of the Anointing, in the spirit of the Saints.

Yet by placing statements like this one in the context of other millenarian writing, we can see that Milton’s fear of national failure is not simply a sign of apocalyptic reluctance but rather the element that brings human effort into play in the first place. He warns his fellow citizens in Animadversions that, if they hesitate to push on with reformation, 56 For introduction on this topic see Michael Fixler, Milton and the Kingdoms of God (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964) and C. A.

Their comments about historical change begin to resemble what Habermas describes as the dispensation of secular, modern time: “Whereas in the Christian West the ‘new world’ had meant the still-to-come age of the world of the future, which was to dawn only on the last day . . 71 Yet although Habermas opposes this new sense of time to Christian cosmology, apocalyptic thinking in fact helps English writers to conceive of novelty as a positive phenomenon in history. The notion of a future earthly paradise, one radically different from the present, provided a model of godly innovation.

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