[Milton-L] Poslapsarian Liberty

carl bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Sat Nov 26 12:32:32 EST 2005

Jeffery Hodges asks:
>When, exactly, do Milton's Adam and Eve receive "prevenient grace"?

Why do you want an "exact" moment?

I would say they receive it at 10.1100-1101 at the phrase, "and both 
confess'd humbly thir faults." This is just four lines previous to the 
11.1-8 passage you provided.  The passage at 10.220-223 which you also 
provided, is about the gift of a covering, both outward and, yes, inward, 
but nevertheless simply a sheild between the sinner and the "Father's 
sight."  The radical heart surgery takes place "exactly" when they confess. 
Of course the language at 10.1100 describing their confession, language 
whose source is Milton's narrative voice, is an almost exact duplicate --for 
five lines running-- of language Adam proposes a few lines earlier, 10.1087 
ff, when he suggests to Eve his plan of action. This duplication perhaps may 
provoke another question of regression [cf your query on the pun of 
"Eve-ill"]: how could Adam plan his confession in such precise and 
apparently appropriate terms if some sort of grace had not already been at 
work. But then, work in the mind --seeing the benefit of confession and 
planning to confess-- is not the same as work in the heart, and the 
prevenient grace described at 11.1-8 is work in the heart: the stony heart, 
and the heart of flesh.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Friday, November 25, 2005 6:23 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Poslapsarian Liberty

> 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
> Lost 11.1-8:
> 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
> upon them?
> Jeffery Hodges

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