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LINE 91. If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert. The poet considers man's apostacy as worse than his destruction would have been, because he became by it involved in the guilt of his enemy, and a partaker of his rebellion. LINE 96.
O inhabitant of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" LINE 129. The first sort by their own suggestion fell.
By the first he means the angelic sort, and gives the most probable reason, why man was considered as an object of mercy, while it was denied to the apostate angels. LINE 134. But mercy first and last.
The words first and last may either refer to the promise of a Saviour given in the garden, and to the consummation of all things, or they may respect the original purpose of God to show mercy, and the subse quent application of it.
We have in this speech, not the divinity of the schools, but that of the Scripture. Here are no subtleties to puzzle the reader, no webs of sophistry to entangle him. The fore-knowledge of God in Milton's opinion of it, fetters not the will of man. Man is not represented here as the blind and impotent slave of an irresistible destiny, but as endowed with that high and rational privilege of option, which alone renders him an accountable creature, and which is therefore the very basis of God's right to judge him.
With respect to the composition of this speech, it is as unexceptionable as the matter of it! The expressions are nervous, and notwithstanding the abstruseness of the subject, beautifully clear. The lines are also harmonious, nor is the great poet less apparent in such a passage as this, than in the most flowery description. Let it be tried by Horace's rule; divest it of measure, cast the words into their natural order, do what you please with it, you can never make it prose.
It is impossible to close this short comment upon it, without adverting for a moment to a line of Mr. Pope's which for the fleppancy of it, considering whom it censures, it might be wished that he never had written; that line in which he charges Milton with making
God the Father turn a school divine.
The doctrines here agitated, and in the other speeches which Milton ascribes to the two first
persons in the Trinity (as Mr. Addison well observes) naturally grow up in a poem on the fall of man, and Mr. Pope must have been very little acquainted with the schoolmen, to have asserted that in Milton's manner of handling those doctrines, there is any thing that resembles theirs.
LINE 142. Love without end, and without measure
grace. The former half of the verse has a near affinity to that expression in Jeremiah-I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and the latter half of it to that of the apostle Paul-Where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded. We are pretty well acquainted with the abundance of sin, and therefore can easily conceive that if grace has abounded still more, it must be without measure.
The reader may observe how judiciously this speech is accommodated to the character of the Son of God, as the advocate and intercessor of our fallen race. From beginning to end, it reasons, pleads, and argues on the side of man, and has in it much of the spirit and manner of the intercession used by Moses to avert the wrath of God from the people, when they murmured at the report of the Spies. See Numbers chap. 14.
LINE 174. Yet not of will in him.
So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Romans c. 9. v. 16.
LINE 183. Some I have chosen of peculiar grace, &c.
It is not very easy to see how this opinion (the Editor is speaking of Dr. Newton's note) becomes entitled to the honourable appellation of moderate Cal
vinism. It supposes as much partiality to be shown in the distribution of grace, as is usually charged on Calvinism of any description ; some to be saved infallibly, and others to be left to a peradventure. But the Scripture, when it speaks of those, who shall be saved, and of the means, by which their salvation shall be accomplished, holds out the same hope to every man, and asserts the same communications of light and strength to
I be necessary in all cases equally.
LINE 196. Light after light.
The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs, 4. 18.
LINE 200. But hard be harden'd.
" Yet they would not hear-Rut the word of the Lord was unto them, precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little ; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Isaiah, 28. 12, 13.
LINE 210. Die he, or justice must.
That such a propitiation was indispensably necessary to make the salvation of man consist with the honour of God's justice, is evident from Romans 3.25,6.
Whom God hath set forth to be propitiation :: that he might be just, and the justifier of him, which believeth in Jesus.”
The reader, however, since all are not conversant VOL. II.
enough with Scripture to know it, is to be admonished, that the ensuing reference of this arduous enterprise to the angels, is a mere poetical fiction. Christ is always mentioned there, as the only possible substitute, because he alone was worthy.
-he her aid Con never seek. “ I was found of them, that sought me not, I was made manifest unto them, that asked not after me.' Rom. 10. 20.
It is certain that, till assisted by grace, there is nothing, about which the heart of man concerns itself so little, as how he shall obtain it.
The very prayer for grace, if it be sincere and fervent, implies the previous communication of it. LINE 245.
and am his due. Due by voluntary stipulation to stand in the offender's place, not otherwise. LINE 260. Then with the multitude of ry redeem'd.
“ Behold I and the children, whom the Lord hath given me." Isaiah 8. 18.
Which words the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews expressly gives to the Redeemer. See Hebrews 11, 13.
LINE 276. My sole complacence!
In whom alone I am well pleased. Whose obedience unto death is the sole efficient cause of
my reconcilernent to guilty man.