[Milton-L] crucifixion

Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Sun Apr 6 13:04:40 EDT 2014


Jim, I think perhaps Ezekiel 33 sheds some light on the question of justice (what the law decrees) vs. equity (what is fair and right), a distinction made even in modern lawmaking:

10Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 11Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 12Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. 13When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 14Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.

God has already decreed that if Adam and Eve taste of the Fruit, they "will surely die." If he goes back on that proclamation (if you commit X act, then Y punishment will follow), justice as a principle (x action = y punishment) will collapse, and anarchy will result (as we see when parents continually *threaten* punishment for misbehavior, but never follow through). Ezekiel 33 provides *no remedy* for those who are unrepentant ("As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?") nor for those who (like the Adamites and Family of Man of Milton's time) trust in their own salvation and continue to sin on basis of what they perceive to be their predestined grace. Lucifer and the fallen angels are reprobate; they do not repent, and therefore do not find grace--but Adam and Eve both repent, and--since they can't very well "restore the pledge, give again that [they] had robbed"--are given the aid of a surrogate, a willing scapegoat, who, in his sacrifice, "taketh away the sins of the world." Christ "restores the pledge, giv[ing] again that [they] had robbed"--that is, Humankind's opportunity for eternal life.

The fallen angels aren't "deceived" until they arrive in Hell: they know that insurrection is wrong, but they believe (mistakenly, of course) that Lucifer has the power to defeat the Almighty--and the most "repentant" thing they say on the burning lake is Belial's Book 2

This is now
Our doom; which if we can sustain and bear,
Our Supream Foe in time may much remit [ 210 ]
His anger, and perhaps thus farr remov'd
Not mind us not offending, satisfi'd
With what is punish't; whence these raging fires
Will slack'n, if his breath stir not thir flames.

Eve says something similar right after her encomium to the Fruit in Book IX (and before she offers it to Adam):

And I perhaps am secret; Heav'n is high,
High and remote to see from thence distinct
Each thing on Earth; and other care perhaps
May have diverted from continual watch
Our great Forbidder, safe with all his Spies [ 815 ]
About him.

but the difference is that, with Adam's help, she turns from her sin, and offers to die for them both (i.e. become the scapegoat for him and their progeny that Christ will provide).

I don't see any inconsistency, on that basis, between the grace given mankind, and the withholding of it from the unrepentant devils.

Best to all,

Carol Barton


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