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8. See through this air, this ocean, and this earth All matter quick, and bursting into birth! Above, how high progressive life may go! Around, how wide! how deep extend below! Vast chain of being ! which from God began, Natures etherial, human, angel, man, Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee; From thee to nothing-On superior pow'rs Were we to press, inferior might on ours; Or in the full creation leave a void, Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd: From Nature's chain whatever link you strike, Tenth, or ten-tho th, breaks the chain alike.
And if each system in gradation roll, Alike essential to the amazing whole, The least confusion but in one, not all That system only, but the whole, must fall. Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fiy, Planets and suns run lawless through the sky; Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd, Being ou being wreck'd, and world op world; Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod, And nature tremble to the throne of God. All this dread order break-for whom? for thee? Vile worm -O madness! pride ! impiety!
9. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread, Or hand to toil, aspirod to be the head? What if the head, the eye, or ear, repin'd To serve mere engines to the ruling mind ? Just as absurd for any part to claim To be another in this general frame; Just as absurd to mourn the tasks or pains The great directing Mind of All ordains.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul; That chang'd through all, and yet in all the same, Great in the earth as in the etherial frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
10. Cease then, nor order imperfection name;
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to Himself as an Individual.
ARGUMENT. 1. The business of man not to pry into God, but to study
himself. His middle nature; bis powers and frailties.The limits of his capacity.---2. The two principles of man, self-love, and reason, both necessary.---Self love the stronger, and why.---Their end the same.--3, The passions, and their use. The predominant passion, and its force.--Its necessity, in directing men to different purposes. Its providential use, in fixing our principle, and ascertaining our virtue.---4. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed nature ; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident . what is the office of Reason.-5. How odious vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it.--6. That, however, the ends of Providence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections.---How usefully these are distributed to all orders of men: how useful they are to society ; and to the individuals, in every state, and every age, of life.
NOW then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
Go, wondrous creature ! mount where science guides;
Superior beings, when of late they saw
Could He, whose rules the rapid comet bind,
2. Two principles in human nature reign, Self-love to urge, and reason to restrain ;
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul;
Most strength the moving principle requires ; Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires. Sedate and quiet the comparing lies, Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise. Self-love, still stronger, as its object's nigh, Reasons at distance, and in prospect lie: That sees immediate good by present sense ; Reason the future and the consequence. Thicker than arguments temptations throng; At best more watchful this, but that more strong. The action of the stronger to suspend, Reason still use, to reason still attend. Attention habit and experience gains ; Each strengthens reason, and self-love restrains. Let subtle schoolmen teach these friends to fight, More studious to divide thay
to unite ; And grace and virtue, sense and reason split, With all the rash dexterity of wit. Wits, just like fools, at war about a name, Have full as oft no meaning, or the same. Self-love and reason to one end aspire, Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire; But greedy that, its object would devour; This taste the honey, and uot wound the flow'r: Pleasure, or wrong or rightly understood, Our greatest evil or our greatest good.