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To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
X. Cease then, nor ORDER Imperfection name:
After ver. 282, in the MS.
Reason, to think of God when she pretends,
Ver. 281. Cease then, nor Order] That the reader may see in one view the exactness of the Method, as well as Force of the Argument, I shall here draw up a short synopsis of this Epiftle. The poet begins by telling us his subject is an Essay on Man: That his end of writing is to vindicate Providence : That he intends to derive his arguments from the visible things of God
seen in this system: Lays down this Proposition, That of all posible sistems infinite Wisdom has formed the belt : draws from thence two Consequences, 1. That there must needs be somewhere such a creature as Man ; 2. That the moral Evil which he is author of, is productive of the Good of the Whole. This is his general Thesis; from whence he forms this conclusion, That Man should rest submisive and content, and make the hopes of futurity bis comfort; but not suffer this to be the occasion of Pride, which is the cause of all his impious Complaints.
He proceeds to confirm his Thesis — Previously endeavours to abate our wonder at the phanomenon of moral
Submit. - In this, or any other sphere, 285
Evil; shews, first, its Use to the perfection of the Universe, by Analogy, from the use of physical Evil in this particular fyftem --Secondly, its use in this system, where it is turned, providentially, from its natural bias to promote Virtue. Then goes on to vindicate Providence from the imputation of certain supposed natural Evils; as he had before juftified it for the permission of real moral Evil, in fhewing that, though the atheist's complaint against Providence be on pretence of real moral Evil, yet the true cause is his impatierce under imaginary natural Evil; the issue of a deproved appetite for fantastical advantages, which, if obtained, would be useless or burtful to Man, and deforming and destructive to the Universe, as breaking into that Order by which it is supported. - He describes that Order, Harmony, and close connexion of the Parts; and by shewing the intimate presence of God to his whole creation, gives a realon for an Universe so amazingly beautiful and per. fect. From all this he deduces his general Conclusion, That Nature being neither a blind chain of Carfes and Effects, nor yet the fortuitous result of wandering utoms, but the wonderful Art and Direction of an all-wise, all-good, and free Being; WHATEVER 15, is Right, with regard to the Disposition of God, and its Ultimate Tendency; which once granted, all complaints againft Providence are at an end.
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
Ver. 294. One truth is clear, whatever is, is right,] What are we to understand by these words ? Did the poet mean right with regard to Man, or right with regard to God; right with regard to itself, or right with regard to its ultimate tendency ? Surely WITH REGARD TO GOD; for he tells us his design is to vindicate the ways of God to Man. Surely, with regard to its ULTIMATE TENDENCY ; for he tells us again, all partial illis universal good, ver. 291.
E PIST LE II.
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Ver. 2. Ed. ift.
The only science of Mankind is Man.
Ver. 2. The propen Audy, &c.] The poet having thewn, in the first epiftle, that the ways of God are too high for our comprehenfion, rightly draws this conclufion, and methodically makes it the subject of his Introduction to the second, which treats of the Nature of Man.
VER. 3. Plac'd on this isthmus, &c.} As the poet hath given us this description of Man for the very contrary purpose to which Sceptics are wont to employ such kind of paintings, namely, not to deter men from the search, but to excite them to the discovery of truth; he hath, with great judgment, represented Man as doubting and wavering between the right and wrong object; from which state there are great hopes he may be relieved by a careful and circumspect use of Reason. On the contrary, had he fupposed Man so blind, as to be bufied in chuling, or doubtful in his choice, between two objects equally wrong, the case had appeared desperate, and all study of Man had been effectually discouraged.
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, 5
NOTES Ver. 10. Born but to die, &c.] The author's meaning is, that, as we are born to die, and yet to enjoy some small portion of life; so, though we reason to err, yet we comprehend some few truths. This is the weak state of Reafon, in which Error mixes itself with all its true conclu. fions concerning Man's Nature.
Ver. 11. Alike in ignorance, &c.] 1. e. sphere of his Reason is so narrow, and the exercise of it so nice, that the too immoderate use of it is attended with the fame ignorance that proceeds from the not using it at all. Yet, tho’in both these cases, he is abused by himself, he has it still in his own power to disabuse himself, in making his passions subservient to the means, and regulating his Reason by the end of Life.
Ver. 12. Whether he thinks too little, or too much.] This is so true, that ignorance arises as well from pushing our enquiries too far, as from not carrying them far enough, that we may observe, when Speculations, even in Science, are carried beyond a certain point; that point, where use is reasonably supposed to end, and mere curiosity to begin; they conclude in the most extravagant and senseless inferences; such as the unreality of matter; the reality of space; the servility of the will, &c. The reason of this sudden fall out of full light into utter darkness appears not to result from the natural condition of things, but to