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these without dimination of any of them, 1 freely 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 connexion, 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 task more agreeable.
AN ESSAY ON MAN.
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE I. 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 uic relations of systems and things, ver. 17, &c. II. That man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agrecable to the general order of things, and conformable to ends and relations to him un. known, ver. 35, &c. III. That it is partly upon his igno. rance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a fu. ture state, that all his happiness in the present depends, ver. 77, &c. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's error and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging the fitness or unfitness, perfec. tion or in perfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensiltions, ver. 109, &c. V. The absurdity of conceiting him. self the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfec tion in the moral world, which is not in the natural, ver. 131, &c. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfection 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, &c. VII. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sensnal and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to man. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reflec. tion, reason; that reason alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207. VIII. How much farther 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 connected creation must be destroyed, ver. 233. IX. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire, ver. 250. X. The consequence of all, the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and suture state, ver. 281, to the end.
EPISTLE I. AWAKE, my St. John ! leave all meaner things To low ambition, and the pride of kings: Let us (since 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 flowers promiscuous shoots 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 soar; Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies, 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 see we but his station here,
Is the great chain that draws all 10 agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
II. Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou Why form’d so weak, so little and so blind ? (find, First, if thou cansi, the harder reason guess, Why formi'd no weaker, blinder, and no less ? Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade? 40 Or ask of yonder argent fields above, Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove.
Of systems possible, if 'tis confess'd,
Respecting man, whatever wrong we call,
So man who here seems principal alone,
Then say not man's imperfect, Heaven in fault : Say rather, man's as perfect as he ought : 70 His knowledge measured to his state and place, His time a moment, and a point his space. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here or there? The bless'd to-day is as completely so, As who began a thousand years ago.
III. Heavenfrom all creatures hides the book of fate, All but the page prescribed, their present state; From brutes what inen, from men what spirits know. Or who could suffer being here below?
80 The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food, And licks ine hand just raised to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future! kindly given, That each may fill the circle mark’d by Heaven; Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or gystems into ruin hurl'd, And now a bubble burst, and now a world. 90
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar Wait the great teacher, Death; and God adore. What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Ilope springs eternal in the human brcast.
Lo, the poor Indian ! whose untutor'd mind
IV. Go wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense, Weigh thy opinion against Providence; Call imperfection what thou fanciest such Say, here he gives too little, there too much Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust, Yet say, if man's unhappy, God's unjust. If man alone engross not Heaven's high care, Alone made perfect here, immorial there: 120 Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, Re-judge his justice, be the god of God. In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lics; All quit their sphere, and rush into the skics. Pride still is aiming at the bless'd abodes, Men would be angels, angels would be gods. Aspiring to be gods, if angels tell, Aspiring to be angels, men rebel : And who hut wishes to invert the laws Of order, sins against the Eternal Cause 130
V. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, 'Tis for mine :