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EPISTLE IV. r
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT To
THE ARGUMENT. Happiness ill defined by the philosopher, ver, 19. That it is the end ofall men, and attainable by all, 28. God governs by general not particular laws; intends happiness to be equal; and to be so it must be social, since all particular happiness depends on general 35. As it is necessary for order and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should be unequal, happiness is not made to consist in these. 47. But, notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of happiness among mankind is &ept even by providence, by the two passions of hope and fear, 66– 7What the happiness of individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world: and that the good man has her the advantage, 76. The error of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature or of fortune, 92. The folly of expecting God should alter his general laws in favor of particulars, 118. That we are not judges who are good: but that, whoever they are, they must be hap" piest, 130, orc. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but of ten inconsistent with, or destructive of virtue, 166. That even these can amake no man happy without virtue: instanced in riches, 176. Honors 184. Birth, 203, Greatness, 213. Fame, 233. Superior talents, 257. IWith pictures of human infelicity in men possest of them all,275, &c.— That virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal, 304, &c. That the perfection of virtue and hap. finess consists in a conformity to the order of providence here, and a re. rignation to it here and hereafter, 326. &rc.
Oh happiness! our being's end and aim! Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate'er thy name; That something still which prompts the eternal sigh, For which we bear to live, or dare to die; Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies, 5 O'er-look'd, seen double, by the fool and wise. Plant of celestial seed if drop'd below, Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow Fair opening to some court’s propitious shine, Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine * 10 Twin’d with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield, Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field Where grows —Where grows it not —If vain our toil, We ought to blame the culture not the soil; Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere, 15 *Tis no where to be found, or every where. *Tis never to be bought, but always free, And, fled from monarchs, St. John, dwells with thee.
Ask of the learn'd the way, the learn’d are blind; This bids to serve and that to shun mankind. 20 Some place the bliss in action, some in ease : Those call it pleasure, and contentment these; Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain: Some, swell'd to gods, confess e'en virtue vain; Or indolent, to each extreme they fall, 25 To trust in everything, or doubt of all.
Who thus define it, say they more or less
Than this, that happiness is happiness :
Take nature’s path, and mad opinions leave ;
Remember, man, “The Universal Cause “Acts not by partial, but by general laws :” And makes what happiness we justly call Subsist, not in the good of one, but all.
There's not a blessing individuals find,
ORDER is Heaven’s first law; and this confest, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest More rich, more wise—but who infers from hence That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Heaven to mankind’s impartial we confess,
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose, And these be happy call’d, unhappy those ; But Heaven's just balance equal will appear, Whilst those are plac’d in hope, and these in fear : 70 Not present good or ill, the joy or curse, But future views of better, or of worse.
Oh sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise, By mountains pil’d on mountains, to the skies’ Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys, 75 And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Know, all the good that individuals find, Or God and nature meant to mere mankind,
Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words, health, peace, and competence :
But health consists with temperance alone;
Who risk the most, that take wrong means or right?
Of vice or virtue, whether blest or curst,