How is the licensing ordinance of 1643 used as a form of censorship, like killing reason, and thus like killing the image of God?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Parliamentary licensing order of June 14, 1643 forbade the printing, binding, stitching, or sale of any "Book, Pamphlet, paper, nor part of any such Book, Pamphlet, or paper" without first being approved and licensed. This was censure of printed material in reaction to and as a means of control of "abuses ... in Printing" that resulted in

many false forged, scandalous, seditious, libellous, and unlicensed Papers, Pamphlets, and Books to the great defamation of Religion and government.

John Milton asserts in Areopagitica that the licensing order of 1643 restricted and limited learning and therefore the ability to reason, since reasoning is directly dependent upon the ability to acquire truth and fact. He confirms this argument by asserting that the ancient Hebrew patriarchs and Christian apostle, namely Moses, Daniel and Paul, were well and widely read, including reading in the antithetical learned writings of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks (Michael Bryson).

The connection between reason and the image of God is made in Milton's third argument in which he connects reasoning to God's image through God’s creation of Adam. Milton asserts that God, in creating Adam in His image, gave humanity reason and the freedom of choice (Bryson). Milton asserts that without reason Adam must have been "a mere artificial Adam," meaning one not truly made in the image of God. It is thus that according to Milton's argument censorship kills reason thus also kills the image of God, since reason is one of God's own attributes and an attribute of Adam's creation in the image of God.