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Then, looking up from fire to fire, explor'd 225
One great first father, and that first ador'd.
Or plain tradition that this All begun,
Convey'd unbroken faith from fire to son;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple Reason never fought but one: 230

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COMMENTARY. the knowledge of one God, the creator of all things, he shews how Men came by that knowledge: That it was either found out by Reason, which giving to every effect a cause, instructed them to go from caufe to cause, till they came to the first, who being causeless, would necessarily be judged self-existent: or else taught by Tradition, which preserved the memory of the Creation. He then tells us what these men, undebauched by falfe science, understood by God's Nature and Attributes : First, of God's Nature, that they easily distinguished between the Worker and the Work, saw the substance of the Creator to be distinct and different from that of the creature, and so were in no danger of falling into the horrid opinion of the Greek philofophers, and their follower, Spinoza. And simple Reason teaching them that the Creator was but One, they easily saw that all was right, and were in as little danger of falling into the Manichean error; which, when oblique Wit had broken the steddy light of Reason, imagined all was not right, having before imagined all was not the work of One. Secondly, he shews what they understood of God's Attributes; that they cafily conceived a Father where they

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NOTES.

Ver. 225. Then, looking up, ing that, during the former &c.] The poet here maketh ftate, they rested in second their more serious attention to causes, the immediate authors Religion to have arisen, not of their bleflings, whom they from their gratitude amidst ab- revered as God; but that, in the undance, but from their help- other, they reasoned up to the lefsnefs in distress; by shew- 'First:

Then looking up from fire to fire,' &c.

E’er Wit oblique had broke that steddy light,
Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right;
To Virtue, in the paths of Pleasure, trod,
And own'd a Father when he own'd a God.
Love all the faith, and all th’allegiance then; 235
For Nature knew no right divine in Men,
No ill could fear in God; and understood
A sov'reign being but a sov'reign good.
True faith, true policy, united ran,
That was but love of God, and this of Man. 240
Who first taught souls enllav'd, and realms un-

done,
Th'enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all Nature's laws,
T'invert the world, and counter-work its Cause?

COMMENTARY. had found a Deity; and that a fovereign being could only be a sovereign Good.

VER. 241. Who first taught souls enslav’d, &c.] Order leadeth the poet to speak next (from * 240 to 246) of the corruption of civil Society into Tyranny, and its Causes; and here, with all the art of address as well as truth, he observes it arose from the violation of that great Principle, which he so much insists upon throughout his Essay, that each was made for the use

NOTES. This, I am afraid, is but too the effects of the prismatic glass true a representation of human on the rays of light. nature.

VER. 231. E’er Wit oblique .faith &c.] In this Aristotle &c.] A beautiful allusion to placeth the difference between

Force first made Conquest, and that conquest, Law; 'Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe, 246

CÖMMENTARY. of all. We may be sure, that, in this corruption, where natural justice was thrown aside, and force, the Atheist's justice, prefided in its stead, Religion would follow the fate of civil Society: We know, from ancient history, it did so. Accordingly Mr. Pope (from y 245 to 269) with corrupt Politics describes corrupt Religion and its Causes : he first informs us, agreeable to his. exact knowledge of Antiquity, that it was the Politician and not the Priest (as our illiterate tribe of Free-thinkers would make us believe) who first corrupted Religion. Secondly, That the Superftition he brought in was not invented by him, as an engine to play upon others (as the dreaming Atheist feigns, who would thus miserably account for the origin of Religion) but was a trap he first fell into himself.

NOTES. a King and a Tyrant, that its owner to all the vain, as the first supposeth himself made well as real, terrors of confor the People ; the other, that science: Hence the whole mathe People are made for him: chinery of Superstition. Βάλε αι δ' ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ είναι φύλαξ, It is true, the poet observes, όπως οι μεν κεκλημένοι τας εσίας

that afterwards, when the Tyμηθέν άδικον πάσχωσιν, ο δε δημος μη υβρίζηλαι μηθέν ή δε ΤΥΡΑΝ

rant's fright was over, he had ΝΙΣ προς έδεν αποβλέπει κοινόν, ει μη

cunning enough, from the exτης ίδιας ωφελείας χάριν. Ρol.

perience of the effect of Sulib. V. cap. 10.

perstition upon himself, to turn VER. 245. Force first made it by the assistance of the Priest Conqueft, &c.] All this is a (who for his reward went greeable to fact, and sheweth Tharer with him in the Tyranour Author's exact knowledge ny) as his best defence against of human nature. For that

For that his Subjects. For a Tyrant naImpotency of mind (as the La- turally and reasonably deemeth tin writers call it) which all his Slaves to be his enemies. giveth birth to the enormous Having given the Causes of crimes necessary to support a Superstition, he next describes Tyranny, naturally subjecteth | its objects :

Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unju?, &c.

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Then shar’d the Tyranny, then lent it aid,
And Gods of Conqu’rors, Slaves of Subjects made :
She 'midst the light'ning’s blaze, and thunder's

found,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the
ground,

250
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
To Pow'r unseen, and mightier far than they :
She, from the rending earth and bursting skies,
Saw Gods descend, and fiends infernal rise:

254
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
Fear made her Devils, and weak Hope her Gods;
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes were Rage, Revenge, or Lust;

TO

NOTES. The ancient Pagan Gods are

himself. But there was anohere very exactly described. ther, and more substantial This fact is a convincing evi- caufe, of the resemblance bedence of the truth of that ori tween a Tyrant and a Pagan ginal which the poet giveth to god; and that was the making Superftition; for if these phan- Gods of Conquerors, as the poet taims were first raised in the says, and so canonizing a tyimagination of Tyrants, they rant's vices with his person. must needs have the qualities That these gods should suit a here assigned to them. For people humbled to the stroke Force being the Tyrant's Vir of a master, will be no wontue, and Luxury his Happiness, der, if we recolle&t a generous the attributes of his God would saying of the ancients; That of course be Revenge and Luft; day which fees a Man a savez in a word, the anti-type of I takes away balf his Virtue,

ind

the

230

Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe.
Zeal then, not charity, became the guide ; 261
And hell was built on spite, and heav'n on pride.
Then sacred feem'd th’etherial vault no more;
Altars

grew marble then, and reek’d with gore :
Then first the Flamen tasted living food;

265 Next his grim idol smear’d with human blood; With Heav'n's own thunders shook the world

below,
And play'd the God an engine on his foe.

So drives Self-love, thro' just and thro' unjust,
To one Man's pow'r, ambition, lucre, lust: 270

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COMMENTARY.
Ver. 269. So drives Self-love, &c.] The inference our au-
thor draws from all this (from * 268 to 283) is, that Self-love
driveth through right and wrong; it causeth the Tyrant to
violate the rights of mankind; and it causeth the People to
vindicate that violation. For Self-love being common to the
whole species, and setting each individual in pursuit of the same
objects, it became necessary for each, if he would secure his
own, to provide for the safety of another's. And thus Equity
and Benevolence arose from that fame Self-love which had given
birth to Avarice and Injustice:

His Safety must his Liberty restrain;
All join to guard what each desires to gain.

Det

Bil.

2

ke

n

us

NOTES. Ver. 262. - find hoev'n on no one was content to go to pride.] This mighi be very heaven without being received well said of those times when there on the footing of a God.

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