Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




The purpose of this study is to show that John ilton and his contemporaries (such as John Goodwin and Roger Williams) never had in mind a broad conception of religious toleration to be extended to persons of all faiths, whether they were Christians, Jews, Turks, or the like, but, because of their conceptions of Christian liberty, advocated a theory of religious toleration to be extended only to Protestant Christians who were entitled to Christian liberty--e.g., the regenerate. The basis Milton and his contemporaries used for drawing their conclusions developed logically from the gospel of Paul through St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, to seventeenth century England.

This study of John Milton's theory of religious toleration is made necessary for two reasons: there is no separate study of Milton's theory of religious toleration; and the few cursory treatments of Milton's ideas of religious liberty extant usually consider Milton's conception of religious liberty to be much more broad than it actually was. This study is an attempt to supply the lack stated in the above first reason and to show that the idea that Milton advocated a broad extension of religious liberty is an incorrect one.

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