[Milton-L] had removd one more
jfleming at sfu.ca
Mon Apr 7 12:20:19 EDT 2014
Sent that last message before it was done. Wanted to add: No doubt we will find much of Arminius in Calvin and vice versa. Prevenient grace, without doubt, being one of the salmons in both. But you claimed that "only Pelagians" would fail to place Milton's emphasis on this doctrine. I would certainly be interested to see passages from period Catholic authorities that support your claim. JDF
----- Original Message -----
From: "alan horn" <alanshorn at gmail.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Sunday, 6 April, 2014 20:54:32
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] had removd
“[R]emov’d / The stonie from thir hearts” is an echo of the Father’s decree on the subject of grace in Book III:
Man shall not quite be lost, but sav'd who will,
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely voutsaft; once more I will renew
His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthrall'd
By sin to foul exorbitant desires;
Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
On even ground against his mortal foe,
By me upheld, that he may know how frail
His fall'n condition is, and to me ow
All his deliv'rance, and to none but me.
Some I have chosen of peculiar grace
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warnd
Thir sinful state, and to appease betimes
Th' incensed Deitie while offerd grace
Invites; for I will cleer thir senses dark,
What may suffice, and soft'n stonie hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To Prayer, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endevord with sincere intent,
Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
“[S]av’d who will”--salvation requires an act of will (and will not be denied to those who make it). “Yet not of will in him, but grace in me”--it is not the will of fallen man that ultimately saves him (that would be a Pelagian teaching); God must “renew / His lasped powers” to turn away from sin (compare: “and made new flesh / Regenerate grow instead”). Leaving aside the admittedly vexed question of who receives “peculiar grace” and what it might entail, everyone else at least is promised sufficient grace (“[w]hat may suffice”) that has the power to “soft’n stonie hearts / To pray, repent, and bring obedience due,” which sincere repentance will not be for naught. This unhardening of hearts, then, is not a violation of human freedom, but rather a restoring of the freedom to avoid sin that man once enjoyed before the fall. In his fallen state, he needs God’s help to do so (he cannot be saved “of will in him” alone). But it takes an act of will to avail himself of this aid. Heart-softening is what enables fallen man in his state of total depravity to repent, but to be effective that repentance must be “endevord with sincere intent.”
As for the other matter, I still do not understand how a teaching that is Calvinist can't be called Calvinist, whatever else it is. And yeah--that kind of pointless harrumph is indeed pedantic.
I’m sorry you didn’t see the point of my insistence that the need for prevenient grace is not a specifically Calvinist doctrine. Let me try again. You seemed to be making the assumption that prevenient grace is necessarily irresistible, as Calvin would have it. I was concerned to remind you that the need for prevenient grace is held by all Christians who accept the doctrine of total depravity, which includes a lot more than just Calvinists. It includes those, like Milton, who believe that while grace is needed for repentance and salvation it can also be rejected at will. Thus, as it says in some lines I quoted earlier today in a different thread, salvation is available to all those, and ONLY those, “as offered life / Neglect not, and the benefit embrace / By faith not void of works” (XII, 425-7).
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J ames Dougal Fleming
Department of English
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby -- British Columbia -- Canada.
Upstairs was a room for travelers. ‘You know, I shall take it for the rest of my life,’ Vasili Ivanovich is reported to have said as soon as he had entered it.
-- Vladimir Naboko v , " Cloud, Castle, Lake'
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