[Milton-L] Postlapsarian Liberty

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 26 14:11:56 EST 2005

Re: [Milton-L] Poslapsarian LibertyA "homely" analogy here is helpful, I think: anyone who's ever been a parent knows that, even with out foreknowledge that the child will repent, we stand ready to forgive him or her before the fact of that repentance: the grace is "prevenient" because it comes before the child's actual recognition that he or she has transgressed, and *needs* to be forgiven. But that recognition and repentance ("true contrition") are as crucial to grace as the parents' agape (will to supply it), and though in a chronological sense the grace has already occurred before it is asked for, it must be asked for, to be received--that is, the obdurate child who refuses to acknowledge his or her error will remain "out of the parents' good graces" until and unless he or she admits the wrongdoing.

God has forgiven Adam and Eve in this sense before the idea of disobedience, or contrition, ever occurs to them. Therefore, the grace is "prevenient," because it comes before their recognition that it's there to be had.

But it must be *accepted* to be efficacious, and that is where the devils fail: God knows a priori that no "repentance" on the part of Satan and his cohorts will ever be entirely sincere, and so do they ("But say I could repent, and could obtain . . ."). Prevenient grace must have been there for them, too, at some point before the War in Heaven--but in their insurrection, which is their rejection of God, they destroy all possibility of its occuring--just as human suicides do. Their sin is not self-murder, but the rejection of the possibility of grace.

I hope that helps to elucidate, rather than further complicating, the issue?

Best to all,

Carol Barton
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