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“ No ('tis reply'd) the first Almighty Cause 145 “ Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws ; “ Th’exceptions few; some change since all began: “ And what created perfect?”—Why then Man? If the great end be human Happiness, Then Nature deviates; and can Man do less ? 150 As much that end a constant course requires Of show'rs and sun-shine, as of Man's desires;
COMMENTARY. That is, if Nature, or the inanimate system (on which God hath imposed his laws, which it obeys as a machine obeys the hand of the workınan) may in course of time deviate from its first direction, as the best philosophy shews it may; where is the wonder that Man, who was created a free Agent, and hath it in his power every moment to transgress the eternal rule of Right, should sometimes go out of Order?
VER. 151. As much that end &c.] Having thus shown how moral evil came into the world, namely, by Man's abuse of his own free-will; he comes to the point, the confirmation of his thesis, by shewing how moral evil promotes good; and employs the same concessions of his adversaries, concerning natural evil, to illustrate it.
1. He shews it tends to the good of the whole, or Universe (from > 151 to 164) and this by analogy. You own, says he, that storms and tempests, clouds, rain, heat, arıd variety of sea
NOTES. VER. 150. Then Nature de " which may have risen from viates'; &c.] “ While comets co the mutual actions of comets move in
very eccentric orbs, " and planets upon one ano" in all manner of positions, " ther, and which will be apt 66 blind Fate could never make “to increase, 'till this system “ all the planets move one and
wants a reformation." Sit “ the same way in orbs con Isaac Newton's Optiis, 2210/1. “ centric; fome inconsidera ult. “ ble irregularities excepted,
As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
156 COMMENTAR Y. fons are necessary (notwithstanding the accidental evil they bring with them) to the health and plenty of this Globe; why then should you suppose there is not the same use, with regard to the Universe, in a Borgia and a Catiline? But you fay you can fee the one and not the other. You say right: one terminates in this system, the other refers to the whole : of which none are capable of judging but the great Author of it himfelf: For, says the poet, in another place,
of this Frame the bearings, and the ties, The strong connections, nice dependencies, Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd thro’? or can a part contain the whole ? » 29, & seq. Own therefore, says he, here, that
From Pride, from Pride, our very Reas’ning springs ;
NOTE s. VER. 155. If plagues, &c.] in its being between the effects What hath milled some per of a thing in the universe at fons in this passage, is their sup- large, and the familiar and posing the comparison to be
known effects of one in this between the effects of two sublunary world. For the polithings in this fublunary world; tion inforced in thefe lines is when not only the elegancy, this, that partial evil tends to but the justness of it, consists the good of the whole :
Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
x 57. How does the poet inforce it? of partial moral evil in a parIf you will believe these per ticular system, by that of parsons, in illustrating the effects tial natural evil in the same
Who knows but he, whose hand the light’ning
forms, Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms; Pours fierce Ambition in a Cæsar's mind, 159 Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind? From pride, from pride, our very reas’ning springs ; Account for moral, as for nat’ral things: Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit? In both, to reason right is to submit.
Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear, 165 Were there all harmony, all virtue here ;
COMMENTA Å Y. Ver. 165. Better for us, &c.] But, fecondly, to strengthen the foregoing analogical argument, and to make the wisdom and goodness of God still more apparent, he obferves (from y 165
NOTES. system, while he leaves his posi- | proved by analogy, i. e. setting tion in the lurch. But the it by, and comparing it with, a poet reasons at another rate: thing certain; and it is a thing The way to prove his point, certain, that partial natural he knew, was to illustrate the evil tends to the good of our effect of partial moral evil in particular system. the universe, by partial natural VER. 157. Who knows but evil in a particular system. he, &c.] The sublimity with Whether partial moral evil which the great Author of tend to the good of the uni Nature is here characterised, verse, being a question which, is but the second beauty of by reason of our ignorance of this fine paílage. The greatest many parts of that universe, is the making the very difwe cannot decide, but from penfation objected to, the paraknown effects; the rules of phrafis of his Title. argument require that it be
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
COMMEMTA RY. to 172) that moral evil is not only productive of good to the whole, but is even productive of good in our own system. It might, says he, perhaps, appear better to us, that there were nothing in this world but peace and virtue :
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
That never passion discompos'd the mind. But then consider, that as our material system is supported by the strife of its elementary particles; fo is our intellectual system by the confict of our Passions, which are the elements of human action.
In a word, as without the benefit of tempestuous winds, both air and ocean would stagnate, corrupt, and spread universal contagion throughout all the ranks of animals that inhabit, or are fupported by, them ; so, without the benefit of the Passions, such virtue as was merely the effect of the absence of those Paffions, would be a lifeless calm, a stoical Apathy :
Contracted all, retiring to the breast :
But health of Mind is Exercise, not Rest. Ep. ii. $ 103. Therefore, instead of regarding the Conflict of the elements, and the Passions of the mind as disorders, you ought to consider them as part of the general order of Providence: And that they are so, appears from their always preserving the same unvaried course, throughout all ages, from the creation to the present time:
The gen’ral order, since the Whole began,
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man. We fee, therefore, it would be doing great injustice to our author to fufpect that he intended, by this, to give any encouragement to Vice. His fyftem, as all his Ethic Epistles shew, is this: That the Paffions, for the reasons given above, are necessary to the support of Virtue ; That, indeed, the Passions in excess produce Vice, which is, in its own Nature, the greatest of all Evils, and comes into the world from the abuse of Man's freewill; but that God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, devi
But All subsists by elemental strife;
he foar, And little less than Angel, would be more ; 174
COMMENTARY. ously turns the natural bias of its malignity to the advancement of human happiness, and makes it productive of general Good : TH'ETERNAL ART EDUCES GOOD FROM ILL.
Ep. ii. x 175. This set against what we have observed of the Poet's doctrine of a future State, will furnish us with an instance of his steering (as he well expresses it in his preface) between DoElrines seemingly opposite : If his Esay has any merit, he thinks it is in this. And doubtless it is uncommon merit to reject the extravagances of every System, and take in only what is rational and real.
The Characteristics and the Fable of the Bees are two seemingly inconsistent systems; the extravagancy of the first is in giving a scheme of Virtue without Religion, and of the latter, in giving a scheme of Religion without Virtue. These our Poet leaves to Any that will take them up; but agrees however to far with the first, that “ Virtue would be worth having, though " itself was its only reward ;” and so far with the latter, that “God makes Evil, against its nature, productive of Good.”
VER. 173. What would this Man? &c.] Having thus justified Providence in its permifion of partial MORAL EVIL, he employs the remaining part of his Epistle in vindicating it from the im
NOTES. VER. 169. But all subsists than Angel, Sc.] Thu hai? &c.] See this subject extended made him a little lower than in Ep. ii. from ý go to 112,
the Angels, and last crotond
him with glory and hongar. Ver. 174 And little less ! Pfalm viii. G.