[Milton-L] Poslapsarian Liberty
Horace Jeffery Hodges
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 25 15:23:54 EST 2005
Diane McColley's post reminds me of a query that I've
intended to raise here. When, exactly, do Milton's
Adam and Eve receive "prevenient grace"? In Paradise
Thus they in lowliest plight repentant stood
Praying, for from the mercy seat above
Prevenient grace descending had removed
The stony from their hearts, and made new flesh
Regenerate grow instead, that sighs now breathed
Unutterable, which the spirit of prayer
Inspired, and winged for heaven with speedier flight
Than loudest oratory.
They are able to pray because prevenient grace has
already removed the stoniness from their hearts. But
when did it descend?
Did it occur here, in Paradise Lost 10.220-223:
Nor he their outward only with the skins
Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much more.
Opprobrious, with his robe of righteousness,
Arraying, covered from his Father's sight.
The passage from Christian Doctrine that Diane
McColley provides us claims that free will is
completely restored through the regeneration of saving
grace that sanctifies body and soul.
But Adam and Eve in their prayer are not yet
regenerated but have some liberty restored, enough to
allow them to pray and repent (unlike Satan), so when
does the prevenient grace that enables this descend
Diane McColley wrote:
But "fallen" isn't the only postlapsarian state.
Whatever one thinks
about the authorship or collaboration of De Doctrina
I think this description of the regenerate state
applies to Milton and
his narrative voice:
>From Christian Doctrine I, Chapter 8:
Regeneration is that change operated by the Word and
the Spirit, whereby the old man being destroyed, the
inward man is regenerated by God after his own image,
in all the faculties of his mind, insomuch that he
becomes as it were a new creature, and the whole man
is sanctified both in body and soul, for the service
of God, and the performance of good works. Is
regenerated by God: namely, the Father, for no one
generates, except the Father. In all the faculties of
his mind; that is to say, in understanding and will.
This renewal of the will can mean nothing, but a
restoration to its former liberty.
Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
Department of English Language and Literature
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