Page images

Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee, 240
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, 245
Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.

And, if each system in gradation roll
Alike essential to th' amazing Whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the Whole must fall. 250
Let Earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless thro' the sky;

NOTE s. knowledge, therefore, that so harmonious a connexion in the disposition of things as is here described, is tranfcendently beautiful? But the Fatalifts suppose such an one What then? Is the First Free Agent, is the great Cause of all things, debarred from a contrivance fo exquisite, because some Men, to set up their idol, Fate, absurdly represent it as presiding over such a system.

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 System in gradation roll.] The verb 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 pro

Let ruling Angels from their spheres be hurld,
Being on Being wreck'd, and world on world;
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod, 255
And Nature trembles to the throne of God.
All this dread ORDER break--for whom? for thee!
Vile worm!-oh Madness; Pride! Impiety!

IX. What if the foot, ordain'd the duft to tread,
Or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head? 260
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 gen'ral frame:
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains 265
The great directing Mind of All ordains.

NOTES. gressive 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 Eslay had afforded him; and that is, the expressing himself (as here) in Platonic notions; which, luckily for his purpose, are highly poetical, at the fame time that they add a grace to the uniformity of his reasoning.

VER. 259. What if the foot, &c.] This fine illuftration in defence of the System of Nature, is taken from St. Paal, who employed it to defend the System of Grace.

Ver. 265. Just as absurd, &c.] See the prosecution and application of this in Ep. iv. P.

Ver. 266. The great directing mind &c.] “ Veneramur autem et colimus ob dominium. Deus enim fine doAll are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body Nature is, and God the foul;

NOTES. “ minio, providentia, et causis finalibus, nihil aliud est

quam FATUM & NATURA." Newtoni Princip. Schol. gener. fub finem.

Ver. 268. Whole body Nature is, &c.] A certain exa. miner remarks, on this line, that". A Spinozist would ex“ press himself in this manner, I believe he would, and so, 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 pantheift quoted by the Apostle, observes: And the reason is, because a religious theist, and an impious pantheist, both profess to believe the omnipresence of God. But would Spinoza, as Mr. Pope does, call God the great directing Mind of all, who hath intentionally created a perfect Universe? Or would a Spinozist have told us,

The workman from the work distinct was known, a line that overturns all Spinozism from its very

founda. tions.

But this sublime description of the Godhead contains not only the divinity of St. Paul; but, if that will not fatisfy the men he writes against, the philosophy likewise of Sir Isaac Newton: The poet says,

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whole body Nature is, and God the soul,
That, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the fame ;
Great in the earth, as in th'ætherial frame;
Warms in the fun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,


That, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the same;
Great in the earth, as in th' ætherial frame; 270




Lives thro' all life, extends thro' all extent,

Spreads undivided, operates unfpent. The philosopher :- “ In ipso continentur et moventur " universa, fed absque mutua passione. Deus nihil patitur

ex corporum motibus ; illa nullam sentiunt resistentiam “ ex omnipræsentia Dei--Corpore omni et figura corporea “ destituitur. - Omnia regit et omnia cognoscit. – Cum

unaquæque Spatii particula sit semper, et unumquod-
que Durationis indivisibile momentum, ubique certe re-
rum omnium Fabricator ac Dominus non erit nunquam,
Mr. Pope :

Breathes in our foul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart ;
As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns :
To him no high, no low, no great, no small i

He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
Sir Isaac Newton: Annon ex phænomenis constat
" effe entem incorporeum, viventem, intelligentem, omni-

præsentem, qui in spatio infinito, tanquam sensorio fuo, “ res ipfas intime cernat, penitusque perspiciat, totasque “ intra fe præsens præsentes complectatur.”

But now admitting, there was an ambiguity in these expressions so 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 wont to express the Omnipresence of God in terms that any religious Theift might employ: In this case, I fay, how are we to judge of the

Warms in the fun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives thro’all life, extends thro' all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part, 275
As fall, as perfect in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns:

[ocr errors]


poet's meaning ? Surely by the whole tenor of his

arguNow take the words in the Sense of the Spinozills, and he is made in the conclusion of his epiftle, 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 we 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 prefent direction of all its parts, to the perfection of the whole ; it might be objected, that such a difpofition of things implying in God a painful, operose and inconceivable ex. tent 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 gross conception of the First Cause the poet exposes, by Mewing that God is equally and intimately present to every particle of Matter, to every sort of Substance, and in every instant of Being.

VER. 278. As the rapi Seraph, &c.] Alluding to the Name Serap bim, signifying burners.

« PreviousContinue »