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See plastic Nature working to this end,
15 See life diffolving vegetate again;
COMMENTARY. dictate of the Creator ; and that Man, in this, did but follow the example of general Nature, which is united in one close fyftem of benevolence.
VER. 9. See plastic Nature working to this end,] This he proveth, firf (from 8 to 13) on the noble theory of Attraction,
from the ceconomy of the material world; where there is a ge• neral conspiracy in all the particles of Matter to work for one end; the use, beauty, and harmony of the whole mass.
i Ver. 13. See Matter next, &c.] The second argument (from 12 to 27 ) is taken from the vegetable and animal world; whose Beings serve mutually for the production, support, and sustentation of each other.
But this part of the argument, in which the poet tells us, that God
Connects each being, greatest with the least;
NOTES. to be wisdom, wit, learning, honesty, and, in short, all the * virtues in their turns.
VER. 12. Form'd and impelld, &c.] To make Matter so cohere as to fit it for the uses intended by its Creator, a proper configuration of its infenfible parts, is as necessary as that quality fo equally and universally conferred. upon it, called Attraalion. To express the first part of this thought, our Author says formd; and to express the latter, impelled,
All forms that perish other forms fupply,
Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good, Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food?
COMMENTARY. awaking again the old pride of his adversaries, who cannot bear that Man Thould be thought to be serving as well as served; he takes this occafion again to humble them (from y 26 to 49) by the same kind of argument he had fo successfully employed in the first epistle, and which our comment on that epistle hath considered at large.
NOTES. VER. 22. One all-extending, all-preserving Soul] Which, in the language of Sir Isaac Newton, is, « Deus omnipræsens eft, non per
virtutem solam, fed etiam per substantiam : nam “ virtus fine fubftantia fubfiftere non potest. Newt. Princ. schol.
gen. fub fin.
Ver. 23. Greatest with the least ;] As acting more strongly and immediately in beasts, whose instinct is plainly an external reason; which made an old school-man say, with great ele
" Deus eft anima brutorum :"
In this 'tis God directs
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn,
Know, Nature's children shall divide her care;
What care to tend, to lodge, to cram, to treat him!
And just as short of reason He must fall,
Grant that the pow'rful still the weak controul;
COMMENTARY VER. 49. Grant that the pow'rful still the weak controul ;] However, his adversaries, loth to give up the question, will reason upon the matter ; and we are now to suppose them objecting against Providence in this manner.-We grant, say they, that in the irrational, as in the inanimate creation, all is served, and all is serving : But, with regard to Man, the case is different ; he standeth fingle. For his reason hath endowed him both with power and address fufficient to make all things serve him; and his Self-love, of which you have so largely provided for him, will indispose him, in his turn, to serve any : Therefore your theory is imperfect.-Not so, replies the poet (from * 48 to 79) I grant that Man, indeed, affects to be the Wit and Tyrant of the whole, and would fain shake off
- that chain of love, Combining all below and all above: But Nature, even by the very gift of Reason, checks this tyrant. For Reafon endowing Man with the ability of setting together the memory of the past with his conjectures about the future; and past misfortunes making him apprehensive of more to come, this disposeth him to pity and relieve others in a state of suffering. And the passion growing habitual, naturally extendeth its
Ver. 50. Be Man the Wit and Tyrant of the whole :) Alluding to the witty system of that Philosopher, which made Animals mere Machines, insensible of pain or pleasure, and so encouraged Men in the exercise of that Tyranny over their fellow-creatures, consequent on such a principle.
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
life his learned hunger craves,
65 And, 'till he ends the being, makes it blest;
COMMENTARY. effects to all that have a sense of suffering. Now as brutes have neither Man's Reason, nor his inordinate Self-love, to draw them from the system of Benevolence; so they wanted not, and therefore have not, this human sympathy of another's misery. By which passion, we fee, those qualities, in Man, balance one another, and so retain him in that general Order, in which Providence hath placed its whole creation. But this is not all; Man's intereft, amusement, vanity, and luxury, tie him ftill closer to the system of benevolence, by obliging him to provide for the support of other animals; and though it be, for the most part, only to devour them with the greater gust, yet this does not abate the proper happiness of the animals fo preserved, to whom Providence hath not imparted the useless knowledge of their end. From all which it appears, that the theory is yet uniform and perfect. VOL. III.