Paradise Lost Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve Got them new names, till wand'ring o'er the earth Through God's high suff'rance for the trial of man" (1.364-6).
This describes how Satan's associates were allowed to "wander" over the earth because of God's "suff'rance," or forbearance after the Fall. The most important word here is "trial," a word that comes up repeatedly in the poem and in Milton's other writings. It suggests something like a test of man's virtue, which is made manifest when he is tempted and refuses.
"So will fall He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault? Whose but his own? Ingrate! He had of Me All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall" (3.95-9).
God makes it clear that Adam will fall through his own "fault." Even though this sounds like predestination, it's actually foreknowledge. God sees all events – past, present, and future – as simultaneous or present, including Adam's fall, which hasn't happened yet (in the poem). Just because God knows it will happen though doesn't mean he makes it happen; He knows how Adam himself will make it happen.
"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" (3.111-6).
This passage picks up where the previous left off; things like "fate," "predestination," or "high foreknowledge" don't control one's destiny; in fact, God here places the onus on man's "will," which isn't subject to such external forces as "fate," etc.