On 'Thomas Young, M.A. (St Andrews)'
by Paula Jansen
Morgan dedicates the sonnet to "J.C.B", that is, John Bryce,
who was professor of English at Glasgow University and a specialist
on the seventeenth century; hence the connection to Milton.
By virtue of his wisdom God decreed the creation of angels and men as being gifted with reason and thus with free will. At the same time he foresaw the direction in which they would tend when they used this absolutely unimpaired freedom. What then? Shall we say that God's providence or foreknowledge imposes any necessity upon them? Certainly not: no more than if some human being possessed the same foresight. For an occurrence foreseen with absolute certainty by a human being will no less certainly take place than one foretold by God. For example, Elisha foresaw what evils King Hazael would bring upon the Israelites in a few years' time: 2 Kings 8: 12. But no one would claim that these happened inevitably as a result of Elisha's foreknowledge: for these events, no less than any others, clearly arose from man's will, which is always free. Similarly, nothing happens because God has foreseen it, but rather he has foreseen each event because each is the result of particular causes which, by his decree, work quite freely and with which hae is thoroughly familiar. So the outcome does not rest with God who foresees it, but only with the man whose action God foresees. As I have demonstrated above, there can be no absolute divine decree about the action of free agents.(1)
According to Calvinism, God predetermines whether you are saved or damned, and good works you do when you are alive cannot influence this. Many people are damned; just a few elect ones are saved. The question that can be asked is if God damns all these people then is not Creation flawed? If God indeed creates true sinners, then heaven cannot be as perfect as it is shown to be. This idea was also present in Milton.
Young explains in this sonnet that you need both heaven and hell. The
reason why heaven cannot be decreated is because of the presence of
hell. "[The] fair percentage" (line 7) stands for the sinners
who are in abundance and Young says that this percentage "does
not decreate / heaven" (line 8-9) - where "decreating Heaven"
would stand for a "flawed Creation" - but instead it "gives
all the angels the elation / they are justly decreed to have deserved"
(line 9-10). Thus, according to the point of view of Young the sinners
cheer the angels up.
(2) The Neonomians and the Marrow Controversy,
(3) The Neonomians and the Marrow Controversy,
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