Date of Award

Spring 1964

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


My thesis is that Milton did develop in his youth, mainly under the influence or Dr. Gill, a belief in his own reason as an arbitrator in theological disputes. It is this characteristic advanced Protestant view that transcends church and king together with his plea for toleration and his attack on the clergy in "Lycidas" that place him in this early period already somewhat in the tradition or deism suggested by Toland . When Thomas Paine, the revolutionary deist, wrote in The Age of Reason, "My mind is my own church," he was stating a basic belief of Milton. Thomas Jefferson, another famous deist, expressed that same thought in a different manner in a letter to Ezra Styles when he stated, "I am a sect by myself, as far as I know." The purpose of this paper is to show how Milton's childhood influences could have guided him to a philosophy of religion which would have made it possible for him to give utterance to the two statements quoted in the preceding paragraph.