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E P IS T L E IV.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respeEt to
ALSE - Notions of Happiness, Philofophical and
ver. 19, to 23
It is the end of all Men, and attainable by all,
God intends Happiness to be equal; and to be so, it
must be social, fince all particular Happinefs depends
on general, and since he governs by general, not parti-
cular Laws, .
As it is neceffary for Order, and the peace and welfare of
Society, that external goods should be unequal, Happi-
ness is not made to consist in these,
But notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of
Happiness among Mankind is kept even by Providence
by the two Paffions of Hope and Fearl vcr. 67
What the Happiness of Individuals is, as far as is con-
fiitent with the constitution of this world; and that the
good man has here the Advantage,
The error of imputing to Virtue what are only the calas
mities of Nature, or of Fortune,
The folly of expecting that God should alter his general
Laws in favour of particulars,
That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever,
they are, they must be the happiest, ver. 133, &c,
That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often
inconfiftent with or destructive of Virtue, ver. 169.
That even these can make no Man happy without Virtue:
instanced in Riches, ver. 1.85. Honours,
* Nobility, ver. 205, Greatness, ver. 217. Fame, ver. 237.
With pictures of human Infelicity in Men pofsest of them
ver. 277, &c
That Virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is
universal, and whose prospect eternal, ver. 329, &c
That the perfection of Virtue and Happiness confifts in a
conformity to the Order of PROVIDENCE here, and a
Rehgnation to it here and bereafter, ver. 327, & Co
WAKE, 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 flow'rs promiscuous shoot,
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 fightless foar ;
Eye Nature's walks, shoot Folly as it flies,
And catch the Manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we muft, be candid where we can;
And 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,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Thro' worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known,
'Tis ours to trace: him only in our own,
He, who thro' vaft immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how fyftem into system runs,
What other planets circle
What vary'd Being peoples ev'ry star,
May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are.
But of this frame, the bearings, and the ties,
The ftrong connections, nice dependencies,
30 Gradations just, has thy pervading foul Look'd thro?- or can a part contain the whole ?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
II. Presumptuous Man ! the reason woulst thou find,
Why form'd so weak; so little, and fo blind ?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less.
Ask of thy mother Earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove ?
Of Systems poffible, if 'tis confeft
That Wisdom infinite muft form the best,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reas’ning life, 'tis plain,
There must be, fomewhere, such a rank as Man:
And all the question (wrangle e'er fo long)
Is only this, If God has plac'd him wrong?
50 Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call, May, must be right, as relative to all. In human works, though labour'd on with pain, A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain; In God's, one fingle can its end produce;
55 Yet serves to fecond too some other use. So Man, who here seems principal alone Perhaps acts second to fome fpere unknown, Touches some wheel, or verges to some gaol ; Tis but a part we fee, and not a whole.
When the proud steed shall know why man restrains His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains ; When the dull Ox, why now he breaks the clod, Is now a victim, and now Ægypt's God : Then shall Man's pride and dulness comprehend
65 His actions', pallions', being's, use and end;
Why doing, suff’ring, check’d, impell’d; and why
This hour a llave, the next a dcity.
Then say not Man's imperfect, Heay'n in fault;
Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought :
His knowledge measur'd to his state and place;
His time a moment, and a point his fpace.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here or there?
The blest to-day is as completely fo,
As who began a thousand years ago.
Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer Being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas'd to the last, he crops the the flow'ry food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.
Oh blindness to the future ! kindly giv'n,
That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'a:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl?d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions foar ;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore.
What future bliss, he gives not thec to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy blefing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breaft:
Man never Is, but always To be bleft
The foul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian ! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His Soul, proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has givin
Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd, 105
Some happier island in the watry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Chriftians thirst for gold.
To Be, contents his natural defire,
He asks no Angel's wing, no Seraph's fire;.
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company,
IV. Go, wiler thou! and, in thy scale of sense,
Weigh thy Opinion against Providence ;
Call imperfection what thou fancy'st such,
Say, Here he gives too little, there too much;
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or guit,
Yet cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjuft ;
If Man alone engrofs not Heav’n’s high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there :
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Re-judge his justice, be the God of God.
In Pride, in reas'ning Pride, our error lies ;
All quit their sphere, and tosh into the skies.
Pride ftill is aiming at the bleft abodes,
125 Mon would be Angels: Angels would be Gods.
. Afpiring to be Gods, if Angels fell, Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebel ; And who but wishes to invert the laws Of ORDER, fins against th' Eternal Cause. 130
V. Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, “ 'Tis for mine. “ For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'ra, « Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r; « Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew 135 “ The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; « For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings ; “ For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; • Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise ; " My footstool earth, my canopy the skies.” 140
But errs not Nature from this gracious end, From burning suns when livid deaths descend, When earthquakes fwallow, or when tempefts sweep Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep? “ No, ('tis reply'd) the first Almighty Cause 145 “ Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws;