[Milton-L] Free Will, Forgiveness

Michael Bryson michael.bryson at csun.edu
Fri Jul 28 17:28:30 EDT 2006

In response to Michael Grattan:

An excellent example of the ambivalent meaning you refer to can be found in Richard Baxter's *Aphorismes of Justification* (1649), where he defines justification as "the acquitting of us from the charge of breaking the Law,"  and goes on to argue that "Justification implyeth accusation" (135).  Now, this combination of accusation and acquittal is specifically in reference to the theological doctrine of justification, but I think Milton is taking this doctrine and turning it on its head, so to speak, applying it not to man, but to "the ways of God." I write about this at more length in *The Tyranny of Heaven* (Ch 4).

The resonances of justification as a printing term are interesting, especially as a metaphor for representation...

>Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 10:14:48 -0700 (PDT)
>From: mgrattan at ucsd.edu  
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Free Will, Forgiveness  
>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>Please allow a supposition from a neophyte in Milton studies. It’s my
>understanding that "to justify" had an ambivalent meaning in the sixteenth
>and seventeenth centuries.  In the act of justification one could be a
>critic of or an apologist for “the ways of God”. An intriguing possibility
>seems to me that Milton was both in the poem and his own life, which is to
>me much more satisfactory explanation of the often conflicted depiction of
>God in PL. A third possibility, and one I’ve been thinking on for a while,
>is justification as a printing term. In this sense Milton would be
>bringing the seemingly chaotic and incomprehensible ways of God into a
>form more accessible "to man", especially if, as Professor Herman notes,
>critics were beginning to critique God and the bible. I welcome
>justification of any kind to this my first post to the list.
>Michael J. Grattan

More information about the Milton-L mailing list