Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of mee
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all th’ Ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood and them who fail’d;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv’n sincere
Of true allegiance, constant Faith or Love,
Where only what they needs must do, appear’d,
Not what they would? what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When Will and Reason (Reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil’d,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not mee. They therefore as to right belong’d,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Thir maker, or thir making, or thir Fate;
As if Predestination over-rul’d
Thir will, dispos’d by absolute Decree
Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed
Thir own revolt, not I; if I foreknew
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less prov’d certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of Fate,
Or aught by me immutable foreseen,
They trespass, Authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge and what they choose; for so
I form’d them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves: I else must change
Thir nature, and revoke the high Decree
Unchangeable, Eternal, which ordain’d
Thir freedom: they themselves ordain’d thir fall.
[John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III, Lines 97-128]
I sat in my class today and listened while my professor read those lines out loud. Although her goal was to illustrate Milton’s dislike of Calvinism, something else captivated me.
Milton’s expression in those lines moved me emotionally, they way poetry should. I felt the weight of our rejected Maker; the burden of my choice to rebel.
But seeing a leak in the plumbing is not enough. The leak, the rebellion, needs to be fixed.
A friend of mine was recently worried because she felt like school was pushing her away from God. She spent so much time reading Chaucer and Boethius, she neglected to read her Bible. I’m in no way advocating abandoning the Word, but I do wonder if God does not reach out to us through other literature?
I don’t have a concrete answer to that question. How does someone argue with a belief that God speaks through different means?
I do hope though that all of us, made "Sufficient to have stood," find a way to survive our "freedom to fall."