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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 803-907. THE LOYAL ANGEL

One angel interrupts indignantly. Abdiel cannot bear to hear God blasphemed as a tyrant. Who is Satan to dispute God about liberty? Because God has elevated one of the angels to become his coequal, he has honored all of them. Better to seek forgiveness while there is some chance of getting it.

Satan scorns the suggestion that the Son had anything to do with Satan's origins-as he must have if he is God. (You will remember from the note on the Christian Trinity that all three parts of God exist from the beginning, and therefore the Son, as part of God, must have created the angels, Lucifer among them.) "We know no time when we were not as now." Angels are "self-begot, self-raised," and therefore they owe their origin to no one else. Abdiel is told to take this defiance back to God before anything worse happens.



Abdiel seems like the good guy who stands up to the gang leaders. He knows what's right and will not put up with anything illegal. You can admire his courage when you think of someone being surrounded by an armed crowd of ruthless bullies.

Milton probably thought of himself as Abdiel, the lonely defender of the truth. Even during the republic, when the Puritans held power, he was an individualist whose views were regarded as extreme. When he wrote Paradise Lost, he felt utterly isolated among the Royalists who came in with King Charles II and restored not only the monarchy but religious ceremonies that Milton despised. "Among the faithless, faithful only he": this comes from Milton's heart.

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