Standing Only: Christian Heroism

  • Stanley Eugene Fish


When Milton asks of Eve’s and Adam’s trespass, ‘For what sin can be named, which was not included in this one act’, he does not mean that in this sin are potentially all sins, but that this sin is all sins:

If the circumstances of this crime are duly considered, it will be acknowledged to have been a most heinous offense, and a transgression of the whole law. For what sin can be named, which was not included in this one act? It comprehended at once distrust in the divine veracity, and a proportionate credulity in the assurances of Satan; unbelief; ingratitude; disobedience; gluttony; in the man excessive uxoriousness, in the woman a want of proper regard for her husband, in both an insensibility to the welfare of their offspring, and that offspring the whole human race; patricide, theft, invasion of the rights of others, sacrilege, deceit, presumption in aspiring to divine attributes, fraud in the means employed to attain the object, pride, and arrogance. Whence it is said, Eccles. VII. 29: ‘God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.’ James ii. 10: ‘whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’

(The Works of John Milton, XV. 181–3)


Emphasis Mine Divine Command Paradise Lost Single Combat Open Encounter 
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  1. 1.
    For a discussion of the theory of accommodation, see R. M. Frye’s God, Many and Satan (Princeton, 1960), pp. 7–17.Google Scholar

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© Stanley Eugene Fish 1967

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  • Stanley Eugene Fish

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