Paradise Lost

Milton's God: Divine Providence versus Free Will

In an attempt to defend both divine providence and free will, Milton’s God justifies the inherent discrepancy between destiny and free choice. Supporting the belief that Man is created with sufficient qualities to withstand on his own, Milton’s God effectively detaches himself from the implications of Man’s fall upon Adam and Eve’s eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Although Milton’s God foresees what the future will bring, he does not manipulate the fate of Man. Not only is free will compatible with the doctrine of Milton’s God, but also it serves as the epitome of God’s purity and uncorrupted nature.

By no means does Milton’s God predetermine the destinies of Man. In a seemingly defensive yet compelling speech, God claims that he “made [Man] just and right, / Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall” (III. 98 – 99). Man is created with distinctive characteristics that complement his virtue, and God gave him “All he could have” (III. 98). These characteristics can lead to either Man’s acceptance or rejection of obedience to God. Milton’s God convincingly defends the notion that Man’s virtue does not necessarily protect him from falling, but merely allows him to act freely. The plethora of archangels that falls from Heaven...

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