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HAVING proposed to write some pieces on Hu
man Life and Manners, such as (to use my lord Bacon's expression icome home to Mens Business and Bofems, I thought it more satisfactory to begin with conlidering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State; fince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what conditian and relation it is placed in, and what is. the
proper end and purpose of its being. The science of human Nature is like all other sci. ences, reduced to a few clear points: there are not many Hertain truths in this world. It is therefore in the Anatomy of the Mind as in that of the Body: more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by studying too much such fin nerves and vessels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. putes are all upon these last, and I will venture to say, : they have less sharpened the wits then the hearts of nen • against each other, and have deminished the practice, more than advanced the theory of Morality. If I could Hatter myself that this Essay has any merit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines feemingly opposite, in passing over terms utterly unintelligible,
and in forming a temperate yet not inconsistent, and a Short yet not imperfelt system of Ethics.
This I might have done in prcfe ; but I chofe verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons. The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims or precepts fo written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards : the other may seem odd, but it is true ; I found I could express them more mortly this way than in prose itself; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their conciseness. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning : if any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I frecly confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be considered as a general Map of Man, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their conneftion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. Consequently, these Epistles in their progress, (if I have health and leisure to make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage. To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects,may be a talk more agrecable.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect
to the UNIVERSE. Of Man in the abstract. I. That we can judge only
with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of fystems and things, ver. 17, etc. II. That man is not to be deemed imperfelt, but a Being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general Order of things, and conformable to Ends and Relations to him unknown, Ver. 35, etc. III. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future state, that all his happiness in the present depends, ver. 77, etc. IV. The pride of aiming at
more knowledge, and pretending to more Perfecti. on, the cause of Man's error and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or ur fitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensations, ver. 109, etc. V. The al furdity of conceiting himself the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is not in the natural, ver. 131, etc. VI. The unrec fonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the Perfections of the Angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the Brutes; though, to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable, ver. 173, etc. VU. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sensual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradations of Jerse, instinct, thought, reflection, recfon; that Reafin alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207. VIII. How much further this order and subordination of living creatures may extend, above and below us ; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole conoce ed creation must be destroyed, ver. 233. IX The extravagance, made ness, and pride of such a delire, ver. 250. X. The consequence of all, the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future ftote, ver, 281, ecc. to the end.
AWAKE, my St. John ! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of Kings. Let us (fince Life can little more supply Than just to look about us, and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man; A mighty maze! but not without a plan; A Wild, where weeds and now'rs promiscuous shoot; Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. Together let us beat this ample field, Try what the open, what the covert yield ! The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore Of all who blindly creep, or sightless foar ; Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it Aies, And catch the Manners living as they rise : Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
I. Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason but from what we know? Of Man, what fee we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? Thro' worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known, 'Tis ours to trace him only in our own. He, who thro’ vast immensity can pierce, See worlds on worlds compose one universe, Observe how system into system runs, What other planets circle other suns, What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry star, May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are. But of this frame the bearings and the ties, The strong connections, nice dependencies,