[Milton-L] Bk 3

Dennis Danielson danielso at mail.ubc.ca
Wed Oct 30 12:25:52 EDT 2013


Beautifully expressed, Steve! And true, too, imho.
Dennis D

On 13-10-30 8:57 AM, Steve Fallon wrote:
> On Oct 26, 2013, at 6:49 PM, Richard A. Strier wrote:
>
>> Jeffery:  "Did Milton hold that all mankind would find grace?"
>>
>> RS:  He should have, but didn't.  Alas!  If he had, he could have been
>> one of the heroes of D. P. Walker's wonderful /The Decline of Hell/.
>
> It all depends on what "all mankind" and "/find/ grace" mean. I do not
> recall that Milton in his discussions of grace and predestination
> handles the question of those who have not heard of Christ, but setting
> that question aside he is clear in his opposition to the Calvinist
> doctrines of limited atonement and irresistible grace.  In other words,
> he is clear that grace is offered not only to the elect, but generally.
>   If the offer of grace to all is synonymous with all "find[ing] grace,"
> then the answer would be that all do find grace.
>
> In the epic, the Father promises that "Man shall not quite be lost, but
> saved who will, / Yet not of will in him, but grace in me / Freely
> vouchsafed."  With this grace, "lapséd powes" are "renew[ed]."  This
> points to the partial undoing of the fall, so that "yet once more" man
> will "stand / On even ground against his foe."  After the race is
> enthralled to sin as a result of the fall, God will allow each to
> choose.  One might argue that God does not specify explicitly all
> persons, but given the general language the specification would seem
> more necessary if God meant to exclude anyone from this offered grace.
>
> Milton is explicit in the /Christian Doctrine/: "God foreknew those who
> would believe, that is, he decreed or approved that they alone would be
> those for whom in Christ he should have regard—/all, certainly, if they
> believed " /(the new Oxford edition, 8.1:87; my emphasis).  The point is
> clear in the Latin (/"omnes utique si credidissent/").  The passage is
> in the Yale edition at 6.181-82 and in the Modern Library
> edition—slipping in a plug here—on pp. 1164-65).  Milton emphasizes the
> universality of offered grace a few pages later: "[I]f God rejects no
> one except the disobedient and the unbeliever, surely he imparts
> grace—if not equal, yet sufficient—to all, by which they may be able to
> arrive at recognition of the truth and salvation.... The reason,
> therefore, why God does not deem all worthy of equal grace is his own
> supreme will; the reason, however, for his deeming */all/* worthy of
> sufficient grace is his justice" (my emphasis again, Oxford 8.1:101-03;
> in Yale, 6:192-93; in MLM 1168-69).
>
> So if to "find grace" means to accept it and believe, then the answer is
> clearly /no. /If it means to have the benefit of grace enabling one to
> believe and be saved, the answer seems clearly to be /yes./
>
> Steve F


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