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 should be defined outdoors the context of the shared Anglo-American traditions and practices of millennial expectation and apocalyptic angst--whether expressed via early colonists, Milton, Blake, Miller or the Continental Congress. during this chronologically direct and thematically diverse quantity, 5 students operating in 3 targeted disciplines (Religion, English literature, and background) strategy millennialism and apocalypticism within the British and Anglo-American contexts, making extraordinary contributions either to the examine of non secular, literary and political tradition within the English-speaking ecumene, and, at the very least implicitly, to the critique of disciplinary exclusivity. basically 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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Extra resources for Anglo-American Millennialism, from Milton to the Millerites (Studies in the History of Christian Thought)

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No, rather than simple confidence their theology allows them to perceive the future as an earthly opportunity, one that they may succeed or fail to grasp. Implicit in this notion of earthly opportunity is a conception of history as both predetermined (Christ will come no matter what) and human-made (local effort may or may not manage to center Christ’s kingdom in England). Put another way, millenarianism produces an effect similar to the modern dialectic of historical progress, an oscillation between inevitable improvement and human effort.

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.

The end of temporal existence must also mean the end of earthly values, such as national identity. The Apocalypse will certainly be a cosmic triumph, but Foxe remains uncertain what role his nation will play in this triumph. We can see an apt example of the effect of postmillennial foreclosure by placing two sentences from Acts and Monuments side by side. Much as the 1563 preface addressed to Queen Elizabeth had prayed that her rule continue “in long prosperity” (B2v), the 1570 preface likewise hopes Elizabeth will continue “with long reign, perfect health, and joyful peace” (*1r)—in itself, a perfectly typical and unremarkable Elizabethan hope that the reign will flourish as long as possible.

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