[Milton-L] Poslapsarian Liberty

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 26 12:30:10 EST 2005

I asked:

>>When, exactly, do Milton's Adam and Eve receive
"prevenient grace"?<<

Carl Bellinger replied:

>Why do you want an "exact" moment?<

Just the way my mind works, I guess, always looking
for specificity. Prevenient grace may be a process,
but even so, I'd want to know when the process began.

Carl elaborated:

>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, 10.1087ff,
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."<

Thanks for all of this. It's helpful. I had a similar
opinion about 10.220-223, that the Son has merely
covered Adam and Eve with a shield of righteousness
rather than extending any grace (whether prevenient or
saving) to have an effect on their hearts.

But I wonder if something of grace doesn't begin
there. The shield is a gift, after all, undeserved.
Any by 10.1087ff, even though Adam is only penitent in
mind, it seems that Adam differs from Satan who also
contemplates repentance but never even quite accepting
it intellectually.

Adam and Eve who awaken from their rough sex seem to
me to be totally depraved in the Calvinist sense, by
which I mean that they are unable to turn spiritual
eyes onto their own faults but ever blame the other.
This continues up to the scene of judgement by the
son, who then extends them the cover of righteousness.
The scene then shifts away from Adam and Eve for some
500 lines.

When we next meet Adam, in 10.720ff, he is blaming not
only Eve but also himself. Eve, in turn, blames
herself. Her appeal to Adam in 10914ff that he not
reject her and his compassionate response in 10.937ff
set the stage for their common appeal to God for
forgiveness (cf. Mt. 5:23-24) but also imply, along
with the self-blame mentioned, that some good
alteration has already taken place in their hearts.

Isaiah 61:10-11 perhaps stands behind the "robe of
righteousness" of PL 10.222:

10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being
shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the
garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe
of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a
garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her
jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring
up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and
praise to spring up before all the nations. (Isaiah
61:10-11 (AV))

Since the robe of righteousness here in Isaiah
61:10-11 doesn't just cover but also causes
righteousness and praise to spring up, then similarly
the robe of righteousness mentioned in PL 10.222 may
thus have a more intimate effect than simply that of
covering. Perhaps it initiates the process of grace
and could thus be seen as the moment that prevenient
grace begins to have effect.

Perhaps this is the moment when postlapsarian free
will comes.

Jeffery Hodges

University Degrees:

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

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com



Office Address:

Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
Department of English Language and Literature
Korea University
136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
South Korea

Home Address:

Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Sehan Apt. 102-2302
Sinnae-dong 795
Seoul 131-770
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