They themselves decreed
Their own revolt
Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III, 116-117
I formed them free, and free they must remain
Till they enthral themselves
Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III, 124-125
So what if I cast them out?
Why level accusations against me
That it is by my doing that they can defy me,
And my own acts that made them wish to do so?
They themselves decreed their own revolt,
Choosing freely to retaliate with scorn,
To ignore the love of I who raised them,
And to spit gratitude back at me.
Yes, I knew they would do so,
But they chose to do what I knew.
I did all that was required of me by my justice –
I formed them free, and free they must remain.
It is most unusual for me to try and speak with the words of God, and yet Milton’s opening of Book III does just that, with his usual impeccable style. God reveals that Man will fall from grace, but that God carries no blame for it, since Man chooses to do so, even though God knows his choice in advance. This is something that has led to countless theological debates, which I won’t discuss here (look up ‘the paradox of free will’ if you’re interested). However, God’s argument that he is not liable is interesting – as with the rest of the work, I’d recommend it.
The Hapless Neo-Romantic