« PreviousContinue »
In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,
timates that they could only draw God's fhadow, not his image :
Relum'd her ancient light, not kindled new,
If not God's Image, yet his shadow drew : as reverencing that truth, which telleth us, this discovery was reserved for the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, 2 Cor. iv. 4,
VER. 305. For Modes of Faith let gracelefs zealots fight; ] These latter Ages have seen so many scandalous contentions for Modes of Faith, to the violation of Christian Charity, and dishonour of sacred Scripture, that it is not at all strange they should become the object of so benevolent and wise an Author's resentment.
But that which he here seemed to have more particularly in his eye, was the long and mischievous squabble between W-D and JACKSON, on a point confessedly above Reafon, and amongst those adorable mysteries, which it is the honour of our Religion to find unfathomable.
In this by the weight of answers and replies, redoubled upon one another without mercy, they made so profound a progress, that the One proved, nothing hindered in Nature, but that the Son might have been ibe Father ; and the Other, that nothing hindered in Grace, butthat the Son may be meer Creature. But if, instead of throwing so many Greek
fo Fathers at one another's heads, they had but chanced to reflect on the sense of one Greek word, ADEIPIA, that it fignifies both INFINITY and IGNORANCE, this fingle equiqocation might have saved them ten thousand, which they expended in carrying on the controversy. However those Mifts that magnified the Scene, enlarged the Character of the
All must be false that thwart this One great-End ; And all of God, that bless Mankind or mend,
Combatants: and no body expecting common sense on a subject where we have no ideas, the defeats of dulness disappeared, and its advantages (for, advantages it has) were all provided for.
The worst is, such kind of Writers seldom know when to have done. For writing themselves up into the same delusion with their Readers, they are apt to venture quc into the more open paths of Literature, where their reputation, made out of that stuff, which Lucian calls Exorc óróx:03, presently falls from them, and their nakedness appears. And thus it fared with our two Worthies. The World, which must have always something to amuse it, was now in good time grown weary of its play-things, and catched at a new object that promised them more agreeable entertainment. Tindal, a kind of Bastard-Socrates, had brought our speculations from Heaven to Earıb: and, under the pretence of advancing the Antiquity of Christianity, laboured to undermine its original. This was a controversy that required another management. Clear sense, severe reasoning, a thorough knowledge of prophane and sacred Antiquity, and an intimate acquaintance with human Nature, were the qualities proper for such as engaged in this Subje&. A very unpromising adventure for these metaphysical nurslings, bred up under the shade of chimeras. Yet they would needs venture out. What they got by it was only to be once well laughed at, and then forgotten. But one odd circumstance deserves to be remembered ; tho' they wrote not, we my be sure, in concert, yet each attacked his Adversary at the same time, faftened upon him in the same place, and mumbled him with just the same toothless rage. But the ill success of Man, like the gen'rous vine, fupported lives; The strength he gains is from th’einbrace he gives. On their own Axis as the Planets run, Yet make at once their circle round the Sun; So two consistent motions act the Soul; 315 And one regards itself, and one the Whole.
this escape foon brought them to themselves. The one made a fruitless effort to revive the old game, in a difcourse on The importance of the doctrine of the Trinity ; and the Other has been ever since, till very lately, rambling in SPACE.
This short history, as insignificant as the subjects of it are, may not be altogether unuseful to pofterity. Divines may learn, by these examples, to avoid the mischiefs done to Religion and Literature, through the affectation of being wise above what is written, and knowing beyond what can be understood.
VER. 307. In faith and hope, &c.) And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three ; but the greatest of ibefe is cbarity. 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
VIR. 311. Man, like the gen'rous vine, &c.] Having thus largely considered Man in his social capacity, the poet, in order to fix a momentous truth in the mind of his reader, concludes the epiftle in recapitulating the two Principles, which concur to the support of this part of his character, namely, SELF Love and social; and shewing, that they are only two different motions of the appetite to Good; by which the Author of Nature hath enabled Man to find his own happiness in the happiness of the Whole. This he illustrates with a thought as sublime as that genéral harmony he describes : For he hath the art of converting poetical ornaments into philosophic reasoning; and of improving a fimile into an analogical argument:
Thus God and Nature link'd the gen'ral frame, And bade Self-love and Social be the same.
On their own Axis as the Planets run,
Thus God and Nature link'd the gen'ral frame,
E PIST L E IV.
OH HAPPINESS ! our being's end and aim! Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy
name : That something still which prompts th' eternal figh, For which we bear to live, or dare to die,
Ver. 1. Oh Happiness, &c.] In the MS. thus :
Oh Happiness ! to which we all aspire,
EP. IV. The two foregoing epifles having considered Man with regard to the Means (that is, in all his relations, whether as an Individual, or a Member of society) this last comes to consider him with regard to the End, that is, Happiness.
with an Invocation to Happiness, in the manner of the ancient poets, who, when destitute of a patrongod, applied to the Muse, and, if she was engaged, took up with any simple Virtue next at hand, to inspire and prosper their undertakings. This was the ancient Invocation, which few modern poets have had the art to imi. tate with any degree either of spirit or decorum ; but our author hath contrived to make it subservient to the mee thod and reasoning of his philofophic composition. I will endeavour to explain so uncommon a beauty.