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created thing can be finally annihilated." 38 God's plans would be frustrated by the destruction of his work:

God is neither willing, nor, properly speaking, able to annihilate anything altogether. He is not willing, because he does everything with a view to some end, but nothing can be the end neither of God nor of anything whatever. . . . Again, God is not able . . . because by creating nothing he would create and not create at the same time, which involves a contradiction.39 the covenant with God is not dissolved by death.40

And Milton adds the (to be) Kantian argument of practical reason:

... were there no resurrection, the righteous would be of all men the most miserable, and the wicked who have a better portion in this life, most happy; which would be altogether inconsistent with the... justice of God."1

Resurrection is indeed the only hypothesis left. Death is a sleep. And Milton adds the further consolation that, in the state of death, time does not exist, because time "is the measure of motion " "2 and in death there is no motion. Therefore the interval between death and resurrection, however long the living may consider it, does not exist for the dead:

If... it be true that there is no time without motion, which Aristotle illustrates by the example of those who were fabled to have slept in the temple of the heroes, and who, on awaking, imagined that the moment in which they awoke had succeeded without an interval to that in which they fell asleep; how much more must intervening time be annihilated to the departed, so that to them to die and to be with Christ will seem to take place at the same moment? 48

Therefore, at the end of the place the resurrection of the

38 Treatise, IV, 181.
39 Ibid., IV, 181-82.
40 Ibid., IV, 480-81.

world there will take dead, proved by "testi

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid., IV, 185.
43 Ibid., IV, 280.

monies from Scripture" and "several arguments from reason." 44

Thus the plans of God and the destiny of individual beings will be accomplished-beings formed of divine matter and rising gradually by a progressive scale, reaching a consciousness of their Unity with God," of their communion with the whole of Being. Thus will be realized fully those possibilities that were latent in the Infinite before creation, and which God made conscious by making them free. Those possibilities first formed matter, then all things and beings made of it, rising to life and intelligence, reaching perfection "in their kind" in this mortal life, and disappearing, washed of all their faults and failings, in death; but the covenant was not broken, God had created them in order to add them to himself; in the day of final glorification, he rouses them from that sleep of death into which each being had fallen in his turn and unites them all, in the total, perfect, and endless life which replaces the solitary and latent life of the Pre-Creation.

44 Ibid., IV, 480.

45 Ibid. See also IV, 276, and the whole of Chapter XXXIII.




HE conception of the Fall comes into Milton's cosmology as disturbing the order established

by God. In Milton's psychology, the Fall is the dominant conception, and this part of our study will be an analysis of the state of Fall and of the normal or regenerated state opposed to it. Milton's conception of man—and and his consequent conception of ethics-are organized around these two ideas.


The origin of evil is a redoubtable problem for the deist, and still more for the pantheistic deist, Milton. For everything comes from God. Therefore Milton dared to say:

Evil into the mind of God or man

May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind.1

Evil exists as a possibility in God himself. This allows us to understand that when God "retires," abandons certain parts of himself to their latent impulses, evil is expressed, owing to free will.

What does this "evil" consist in?

The study of the Fall teaches us that for Milton man is a double being, in whom co-exist desire and intelligence or passion and reason. The two powers ought to be in

1 P. L., V, 117-19.

harmonious equilibrium, desire being normally expressed, but remaining under the leadership of reason. Evil appears, the Fall takes place, when passion triumphs over




A. The Fall in general: the triumph of passion

over reason

Michael explains thus to Adam what the Fall consists

Since thy original lapse, true liberty

Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being:
Reason in man obscured, or not obeyed,

Immediately inordinate desires

And upstart passions catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce
Man till then free.2

Passion triumphant over reason-such is the source of all evil: moral evil, physical evil (the consequence of moral evil), and political evil. That is what Milton calls "evil concupiscence." The state of Fall is thus analyzed:


They sat them down to weep; nor only tears
Rained at their eyes, but high winds worse within
Began to rise-high passions, anger, hate,
Mistrust, suspicion, discord—and shook sore
Their inward state of mind, calm region once
And full of peace, now tost and turbulent:
For understanding ruled not, and the will
Heard not her lore, both in subjection now
To sensual appetite, who from beneath
Usurping over sov'reign reason claimed
Superior sway.*

Before the Fall, Raphael had warned Adam:

2 P. L., XII, 83-90. 8 Treatise, IV, 259.

4 P. L., IX,#21–31.

take heed lest passion sway

Thy judgment to do ought which else free will

Would not admit."

The dualism so clearly marked in the poems, of which it constitutes the symbolic basis (the Son being Reason, and Satan Passion), plays an equally important part in the prose works, in which Milton applies it to politics. It is a principle which had slowly crystallized through his private and public experience into the very essence of his thought. From it endless consequences extend into all the regions of his philosophy.


Milton thus addresses his contemporaries:

Unless you will subjugate the propensity to avarice, to ambition, and sensuality, and expell all luxury from yourselves and your families, you will find that you have cherished a more stubborn and intractable despot at home, than you ever encountered in the field. . . . You, therefore, who wish to remain free, either instantly be wise, or, as soon as possible, cease to be fools; if you think slavery an intolerable evil, learn obedience to reason and the government of yourselves. . . .?

And the first pamphlet against monarchy begins as follows:

If men within themselves would be governed by reason, and not generally give up their understanding to a double tyranny, of custom from without, and blind affections within, they would discern better what it is to favour and uphold the tyrant of a nation. But, being slaves within doors, no wonder that they strive so much to have the public state conformably governed to the inward vicious rule by which they govern themselves. For, indeed, none

Ibid., VIII, 635-37.

• This, I must repeat, is in no way in contradiction with the fact that the idea existed outside him, before it came to him, in authors whom he knew perfectly well. Every thinker has to rediscover for himself truths which belong to all, and there is all the difference between an idea thus adopted through personal experience, and one borrowed merely to fill up a gap in mental equipment.

↑ Second Defence, in Prose Works, I, 295, 299.

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