the atoms could foresee every possible event in the future. Again Milton declares: 52

It is absurd to separate the decrees or will of the Deity from his eternal counsel and foreknowledge, or to give them priority of order. For the foreknowledge of God is nothing but the wisdom of God. . . or that idea of everything which he had in his mind, to use the language of men, before he decreed anything.

Again in Tetrachordon,53 Milton comments on the words of God at the time of creation, and shows clearly that creation was with God the result of Reason, not arbitrary will:

God here presents himself like a man deliberating; both to shew us that the matter is of high consequence, and that he intended to found it according to natural reason, not impulsive command; but that the duty should arise from the reason of it, not the reason be swallowed up in a reasonless duty.


As from the idea of the relative importance in human nature of the two characteristics, will and reason, there rose Milton's theory of choice, so, from the relation between the characteristics in divine nature, rises Milton's doctrine of free-will. If Reason is Choice, the governing power of the Will, and if Reason-the Light of Nature-is given to all men by God, man's will is free, since that which constitutes freedom is the power of working in accord with Reason:

But God left free the Will; for what obeys
Reason is free; and Reason he made right.55

As the fall of man came about because man followed will rather than reason, so the fall of Satan-a macrocosmic sense of the same

52 Ibid., p. 30.

53 Prose Works, III, 329.

54 In the passage which follows, I purposely limit myself to that aspect of Milton's doctrine of free-will in which he is particularly in opposition to Hobbes. The problem of free-will in Milton is a difficult one, and does not seem to me to have been satisfactorily expained. I hope, in a later study, to offer some suggestions in regard to an apparent contradiction in Milton's doctrine and a possible reason for it, in connection with some contemporary theologians.

55 IX, 351.

problem-came about likewise from the following of will (in both cases, be it noticed, pride plays an important part), for to Milton, as we have seen, Sin consists in a conscious reversal of the natural order of the faculties, the lower being allowed to triumph over the higher; but God has left it-or, rather, in the nature of things it has been left-in the power of man to rule his passions by means of his reason.


This idea of the rational relation between faculties in the human and the divine nature is fundamental to Milton's defense of God in Paradise Lost. Take it away, allow the Will of God the supremacy, and the argument becomes meaningless. If God could have made the nature of man other than it is, and did consciously, with his infinite foreknowledge, make him to fall, then he is not God, but devil-or the bored deity of Bertrand Russell's Free Man's Worship. The nature of a thing, to Milton, is in the thing; this appears clearly in his account of creation in the seventh book. What is it that God does through Christ-the Supreme Reason?

Let th' Earth

Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed,
And fruit-tree yielding fruit, after her kind,
Whose seed is in herself upon the earth.

So through the process of creation; the nature of each thing is in it; God's Reason sees those things which are in their nature good, chooses them, and gives them existence through his creative power; ultimately there is brought forth man who was "made in the image of God, and had the whole law of nature so implanted in him thai he needed no precept to enforce its observances." 57

This is not to deny the will of God in Milton's conception; far from it. Unlike many of his predecessors and contemporaries, Milton clearly shows that he does not minimize the power of the will in order to exalt the reason; both capacities are important 58;

56 Cf. Christian Doctrine, Chaps. III and IV; also pp. 267 ff. 57 Christian Doctrine, 1, 222.

58 Possibly the reason for the emphasis which Milton lays on the will both in the human and the divine nature-it was certainly no mere scholastic problem to him-is to be found, as M. Saurat finds it, in the constant struggle which Milton recognized in himself; his autobiography, sa M. Saurat has pictured it, is a living embodiment of the classic ThomistScotist controversy!

but they are complementary, not supplementary or antagonisticwhen properly understood. The will of God, in Milton's scheme, operates constantly, and may work upon and change anything except the essence, the nature. It was, for instance, the will of God that Satan should continue on his work of temptation, though at the particular time, as Milton shows, God might have stayed him; but the Supreme Reason knew that, such was the nature of man and the nature of Satan, ultimately the Fall must come. This Milton implies in the familiar lines: 59

Nor ever thence


Had risen or heaved his head, but that the will

And high permission of all-ruling Heaven

Left him at large to his own dark designs

That with reiterated crimes he might

Heap on himself damnation, while he sought

Evil to others, and enraged might see

How all his malice served but to bring forth

Infinite goodness.

So, too, God, pondering upon the Fall of the angels, says:60

They therefore as to right belonged

So were created, nor can justly accuse

Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,

As if Predestination overruled

Their will, disposed by absolute decree

Or high foreknowledge.

The omnipotence of God is more than balanced, always, in Milton's scheme, by his omniscience; the perfection of Deity-toward which man in his weak way should strive-consists in the harmonious adjustment of these qualities. It must be realized that the Reason of God, in Milton's mind, acts not simply as restraint but as guide a point on which he disagrees with some of his contemporaries; "a certain immutable and internal necessity of acting rightly, independent of all extraneous influence whatever, may exist in God conjointly with the most perfect liberty, both which principles in the divine nature tend to the same point."

" 61

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If we return, then, to the soliloquy from which we started, we find its full significance. God cannot "make deathless death" because his Reason will not permit the creation of contradictions, that were to extend

His sentence beyond dust and Nature's law,

By which all causes else, according still

To the reception of their matter act.

The Supreme Reason is self-restrained from arbitrary and wilful creation by the law of Nature, a law to Milton inherent in the universe, a law arising from the nature of the essences of things. Thus Milton's law of nature, upon which his justification of God is founded, is" that general law which is the origin of everything and under which everything acts." 62

Such is Milton's theology; such his justification of God and his explanation of the fall of Satan and of man; such is his reply to Hobbes; and there can be little doubt that, if we read Paradise Lost with the eyes of its own generation, in terms of its own philosophy of nature, we must conclude that Milton did magnificently" justify the ways of God to men." No man, it has already been said, was ever greater in his antagonists than was Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; the whirligig of time may bring in its revenges to such extent that the historian of ideas will see in him no more than a man who first vaguely perceived the method of modern psychology and ethics; yet if he is slighted as philosopher, his will still rank with great names as that of the Atheist and the Arch-Heretic whose works gave rise both to the greatest poetry and the greatest prose of his day. For if, like the Satan of the Book of Job, this seventeenth-century Adversary brought from the lips of John Milton his confession of faith, he stirred to no lesser heights Milton's great contemporary, Sir Thomas Browne; as we hear the idealist's reply to Hobbes throughout Paradise Lost and in the choruses of Samson Agonistes, we hear it equally in such sentences as these: "Let intellectual tubes give thee a glance of things which visive organs reach not. . . . Have a glimpse of incomprehensibles, lodge immaterials in thy heart, ascend into invisibles, fill thy mind with spirituals."

Smith College.

62 Ibid., p. 14.




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Swift, the master of irony among the moderns, has achieved no greater ironic masterpiece than the posthumous reputation of Gulliver's Travels. Written to vex the world, not to divert it, hiding within its cloak of wit and romantic invention the savage indignation of a lifetime, the fiercest indictment of the pride of man yet penned in our language, it has become, forsooth, a children's book-an example, so Goethe thought, of the failure of allegory to make an idea prevail.1 Types and Fables," so runs a passage in The Tale of a Tub 2 which could be applied prophetically to Gulliver's Travels," the writer having been perhaps more careful and curious in adorning, than was altogether necessary, it has fared with these Vehicles after the usual Fate of Coaches, over-finely painted and gilt; that the transitory Gazers have so dazzled their Eyes, and fill'd their Imaginations with the outward lustre, as neither to regard or consider the Person or the Parts of the Owner within."

The failure of posterity to appreciate the philosophical thesis of Gulliver's travels, is not, however, due solely to the triumph of Swift's art. The year of our Lord 1726, when Gulliver appeared, was in no mood to put a proper value upon a work which spoke of homo sapiens as "the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” We need only remind ourselves that the very year previous there had appeared, in Swift's own Dublin, Hutcheson's first panegyric essay on the soundness of man's benevolent instincts, a classic expression for the century of the new optimistic creed, and itself the resultant of a respectable tradition. No, neither the eighteenth century


1 Goethe, Werke, Weimar, 1901, XL, 220: "Gulliver hat mehr als Mährchen gereizt, als seine Resultate unterrichtet und moralisch gebessert haben."

2 Tale of a Tub, ed. Guthkelch, Oxford, 1920, p. 66.

* As republished in 1726, Hutcheson's two first essays bore the titles: Inquiry concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, and Design, and Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil.

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