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THE UNIVERSAL PRAYER.
DEO OPT. MAX.
FATHER of all! in every age,
In every clime ador’d,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord !
Thou Great First Cause, least understood,
Who all my sense confin'd
And that myself am blind;
UNIVERSAL PRAYER.] “Some passages in the Essay on Man having been unjustly suspected of a tendency towards Fate and Naturalism, the author composed a Prayer, as the sum of all, which was intended to show that his system was founded in Free-will, and terminated in Piety.”— Ruffhead.
Ver. 1. Father of all !] For closeness and comprehension of thought, and for brevity and energy of expression, few pieces of poetry in our language can be compared with this prayer. I am surprised Johnson should not make any mention of it. When it was first published, many orthodox persons were,
I remember, offended at it, and called it, The Deist's Prayer. It were to be wished the Deists would make use of so good an one.—Warton.
Ver. 4. Jehovah, Jove, or Lord !] “ It is of very little consequence,” says Seneca, De Beneficiis, "" by what name you call the first Nature, and the divine Reason, that presides over the universe, and fills all the parts of it. He is still the same God. You may give him as many names as you please, provided you allow but one Sole Principle every where present.”
“ Notwithstanding all the extravagances and miscarriages of the Poets," says Cudworth, chap. iv.“we shall now make it plainly appear, that they really asserted, not a multitude of self-existent and independent Deities, but one, only, unmade Deity ; and all the other, generated or created gods. This hath been already proved concerning Orpheus, from such fragments of the Orphic poems as have been known and attested by Pagan writers.” Cudworth proceeds to confirm this opinion by many strong and uncontested passages from Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Sophocles, and especially Euripides, book i. chap. iv. sect. 19; and Aristophanes, in the first line of Plutus, distinguishes betwixt Jupiter and the gods : "2 Zưở kai Daoi.- Warton.
Ver. 6. my sense confin’d] It ought to be confinedst, or didst confine ; 10
Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
Left free the human will.
What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do,
That, more than heaven pursue.
What blessings thy free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
T enjoy is to obey.
and afterwards, gavest, or didst give, in the second person. See Lowth's Grammar.-Warton.
Ver. 9. Yet gave me,] Originally Pope had written another stanza, immediately after this :
“ Can sins of moments claim the rod
Of everlasting fires ?
Which Nature's self inspires ?” The licentious sentiment it contains, evidently borrowed from a wellknown passage of Guarini in the Pastor Fido, induced him to strike it out. And perhaps also the absurd metaphor of a rod of fires, on examination, displeased him.-Warton.
Ver. 12. Left free) An absurd and impossible exemption, exclaims the Fatalist ; comparing together the moral and the natural world, every thing is as much the result of established laws in the one as in the other. There is nothing in the whole universe that 'can properly be called contingent : nothing loose or fluctuating in any part of Nature ; but every motion in the natural, and every determination and action in the moral world, are directed by immutable laws ; so that, whilst these laws remain in their force, not the smallest link of the universal chain of causes and effects can be broken, nor any one thing be otherwise than it is." All the most subtile and refined arguments that can be urged in a dispute on Fate and Free-will, are introduced, in a conversation on this subject, betwixt the angels Gabriel and Raphael, and Adam, in the fourth act of Dryden's State of Innocence, and stated with a wonderful precision and perspicuity. Reasoning in verse, was one of Dryden's most singular and predominant excellences ; notwithstanding which, he must rank as a poet for his Musicode, not for his Religio Laici.-Warton.
Ver. 12. the human will.] The result of what Locke advances on this, the most difficult of all subjects, is, that we have a power of doing what we will. “ If it be the occasion of disorder, it is the cause of order; of all the moral order that appears in the world. Had Liberty been excluded, Virtue