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Above, how high, progressive life may go! 235
And, if each system in gradation roll
COMMENTARY, connection in the difpofition of things, as is here described, is transcendently beautiful ? But the Fatalifts suppose such an one. What then? Is the First Free Agent, the great Cause of all things, debarred from a contrivance so exquisite, because some Men, to set up their idol, Fate, absurdly represent it as presiding over fuch a system?
NOTEs. VER. 243. Or in the full creation leave a void, &c.] This is only an illustration, alluding to the Peripatetic plenum and vacuum ; the full and void here meant, relating not to Matter, but to Life.
VER. 247. And, if each syfiem in gradation roll] The verb
The least confusion but in one, not all
IX. What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
NOTES. alludes to the motion of the planetary bodies of each system; and to the figures described by that motion.
Ver. 251. Let earth unbalanc d] i, e. Being no longer kept within its orbit by the different directions of its progressive and attractive motions; which, like equal weights in a balance, keep it in an equilibre.
Ver. 253. Let ruling Angels &c.] The poet, throughout this poem, with great art uses an advantage, which his employing a Platonic principle for the foundation of his Essay had afforded him ; and that is the expressing himfelf (as here) in Platonic notions; which, luckily for his purpose, are highly poetical, at the same time that they add a grace to the uniformity of his reasoning.
VER. 259. What if the foot, &c.] This fine illustration in defence of the System of Nature, is taken from St. Paul, who employed it to defend the System of Grace.
Just as absurd for any part to claim
great directing Mind of All ordains. All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
COMMENTARY. Ver. 267. All are but parts of one stupendous whole,] Having thus given a representation of God's creation, as one entire whole, where all the parts have a necessary dependence on, and relation to each other, and where every Particular works and concurs to the perfection of the whole; as such a system would be thought above the reach of vulgar ideas; to reconcile it to common conceptions, he shews (from y 266 to 281) that God is equally and intimately present to every sort of substance, to every particle of matter, and in every instant of being ; which eases the labouring imagination, and makes it expect no less, from such a Presence, than such a Dispensation.
NOTES. Ver. 265. Jujt as absurd, &c.] See the Prosecution and application of this in Ep. iv. P.
VER. 266. The great directing Mind &c.] • Veneramur « autem & colimus ob dominium. Deus enim fine domi“nio, providentia, & causis finalibus, nihil aliud est quam “ Fatum & NATURA.” Newtoni Princip. Schol. gener. fub finem.
VER. 268. Whofe body Nature is, &c.] A certain examiner remarks, on this line, that “ A Spinozist would express him“ self in this Manner.” I believe he would, and fo, we know, would St. Paul too, when writing on the same subject, namely the omnipresence of God in his Providence, and in his Substance. In him we live and move and have our being; i. e. we are parts of him, his offspring, as the Greek poet, a pantheist quoted by the Apostle, observes : And the reason is, because a religious theist and an impious pantheist both protefs to believe the omnipresence of God. But would Spinoza, as Mr. Pope does; call God the great directing Mind
That, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the same; Great in the earth, as in th’ æthereal frame; 270
NOTES. of all, who hath intentionally created a perfect Universe ? Or would a Spinozift have told us,
The workman from the work distinct was known, a line that overturns all Spinozism from its very foundations.
But this sublime description of the Godhead contains not only the divinity of St. Paul; but, if that will not satisfy the men he writes against, the philosophy likewise of Sir Isaac Newton. The Poet says,
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent. The Philosopher :-" In ipfo continentur & moventur uni“ versa, sed absque mutua passione. Deus nihil patitur ex corporum
motibus ; illa nullam sentiunt resistentiam ex omnipræsentia Dei. -Corpore omni & figura corporea desti« tuitur.---Omnia regit & omnia cognofcit.---Çum unaquæ
que Spatii particula sit semper, & unumquodque Durationis “ indivisibile momentum, ubique certe rerum omnium Fa-, « bricator ac Dominus non erit nunquam, nusquam. Mr. Pope :
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. Sir Isaac Newton:---- Annon ex phænomenis conftat effe entem " incorporeum, viventem, intelligentem, omnipræfentem, qui
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
But now adınitting, there was an ambiguity in these expressions, fo great, that a Spinozist might employ them to express his own particular principles; and such a thing might well be, because the Spinozists, in order to hide the impiety of their principle, are went to express the Omnipresence of God in terms that any religious Theist might employ. In this case, I say, how are we to judge of the poet's meaning ? Surely by the whole tenor of his argument. Now take the words in the sense of the Spinozists, and he is made, in the conclusion of his epistle, to overthrow all he has been advancing throughout the body of it: For Spinozism is the destruction of an Universe, where every thing tends, by a foreseen contrivance in all its parts, to the perfection of the whole. But allow him to employ the passage in the sense of St. Paul, That
and all creatures live and move and have our being in God; and then it will be seen to be the most logical support of all that had preceded. For the poet having, as we say, laboured through his epistle to prove, that every thing in the Universe tends, by a foreseen contrivance, and a present direction of all its parts, to the perfection of the whole ; it might be objected, that such a disposition of things implying in God a painful, operose, and inconceivable extent of Providence, it could not be supposed that such care extended to all
, but was confined to the more noble parts of the creation. This grofs. conception of the First Cause the poet exposes, by fhewing that God is equally and intimately present to every particle of Matter, to every fort of Substance, and in every instant af Being.