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The Renaissance is a period of history that relates to a fundamental change in the way that man began to think about the universe. It indicated a shift from more medieval ways of thinking about the world, with God being at the centre of everything and man adopting a fatalistic attitude towards life, to placing man at the very centre of the universe and emphasising the way in which man could shape his own destiny and discover the secrets of the universe through reason. Puritanism, on the other hand, sought to restore the balance by placing a renewed focus on God and man's relationship with him. Arguably, both of these approaches are clearly evident in the poetry of John Milton, and this can particularly be seen in the dedication of his epic classic, Paradise Lost. Note how Milton combines typical Renaissance ambition with Puritan piety:
What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.
Milton's scope and ambition is nothing but breathtaking in its scope as he hopes to, in this work, "justify the ways of God to men," yet at the same time he places all of his ambitions before the Holy Spirit, whose aid he invokes as he recognises that all of his ambitions need to be placed in a proper and fitting context.
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