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Then, looking up from fire to fire, explor'd 225
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
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,
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.
Then shar’d the Tyranny, then lent it aid,
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,
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
grew marble then, and reek’d with gore :
265 Next his grim idol smear’d with human blood; With Heav'n's own thunders shook the world
So drives Self-love, thro' just and thro' unjust,
His Safety must his Liberty restrain;
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.