A Morning Hymn (from Paradise Lost)

A short prayer: Hail universal Lord, be bounteous still [ 205 ]
To give us onely good; and if the night
Have gathered aught of evil or conceald,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark.

A longer version: These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almightie, thine this universal Frame,
Thus wondrous fair; thy self how wondrous then! [ 155 ]
Unspeakable, who sitst above these Heavens
To us invisible or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works, yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and Power Divine:
Speak yee who best can tell, ye Sons of Light, [ 160 ]
Angels, for yee behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, Day without Night,
Circle his Throne rejoycing, yee in Heav’n,
On Earth joyn all ye Creatures to extoll
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end. [ 165 ] Continue reading “A Morning Hymn (from Paradise Lost)”

The Meaning of the Circumcision of Christ

The circumcision of Christ may seem like an odd topic, but it is an event that the church has remembered and celebrated as the 8th day of Christmas. Right after the famous Christmas passage about the shepherds, we have the less famous passage about the circumcision of Christ: “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived” (Luke 2:21). This was the time in which Jesus was officially inducted into the people of God and given the name Jesus.

This event has a much greater significance for Jesus and for us. John Milton has captured in a beautiful poem the abiding significance of this event for Christians. Here it is:

Upon the Circumcision

Ye flaming Powers, and wingèd Warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful Shepherds’ ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along,
Through the soft silence of the listening night,—
Now mourn; and if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distill no tear, Continue reading “The Meaning of the Circumcision of Christ”

Satan’s Doubts

In Book I of Paradise Lost, Milton envisions the self-vindication of Satan and his host. You can read a summary of it here. It is a forceful and specious defense of Satan’s rebellion. How should we answer it?

In Book IV, Milton provides a rebuttal to Satan’s self-vindication. It comes from the mouth of Satan himself. After he falls to earth, he expresses doubt about his rebellion.

Satan considers all that God had given him and how little he asked in return:

“He deserved no such return from me, whom he created what I was in that bright eminence, and with his good upbraided none: nor was his service hard. What could be less than to afford him praise, the easiest recompense, and pay him thanks, how due!” (4.42–48).

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Fulfilling Our Created Purpose in Everyday Life

God is not just for Sunday mornings, church or Bible reading. Life with God is an all day, every day affair. But how do we learn to see God’s presence in every day life?

We go back to creation. We see that God created culture and work life as the way in which Adam and Eve would live for him in this world. Understanding that, we can see our own work and play as glorifying to God.

In his magnificent poem, Paradise Lost, John Milton imagines how Adam might have seen the life of working, sleeping, and eating in light of His created purpose to live for God every moment. With a little imagination, we can apply this poem to our own eating, sleeping, and working. Here is a section from Book 4 of Paradise Lost. Here Adam describes the work they have to do and all the pleasures they can experience, noting that God’s one prohibition is not hard at all and surrounded by so many good things.

Sole partner and sole part of all these joys,
Dearer thy self then all; needs must the Power
That made us, and for us this ample World
Be infinitely good, and of his good
As liberal and free as infinite, [ 415 ] Continue reading “Fulfilling Our Created Purpose in Everyday Life”

The Father’s Plan of Redemption

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is clear that Satan can do what he does only because God permits it. Why does God permit Satan to enter earth and successfully tempt Eve? In order to show God’s glory in the work of redemption. Milton’s description of God’s decree of redemption a beautiful statement of God’s love.

The Father’s Decree of Redemption
After this determination to fight “war then war,” Satan comes up with a plan to find the new planet of which they had heard rumors. The goal is to disrupt “the Enemy’s” plan. The Father in heaven sees what Satan is doing, decrees to permit the fall, and then decrees to redeem the world through His Son. I found the conversation of the Father and the Son particularly moving.

Milton attempts to describe the glory of the Son as that of the glory of the divine Father:

Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance filled all heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect sense of new joy ineffable diffused. Beyond compare the Son of God was seen most glorious; in him all his Father shone substantially expressed; and in his face divine compassion visibly appeared, love without end, and without measure grace; which uttering, thus he to his Father spake (3.135–143).

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