« PredošláPokračovať »
and in forming a temperate yet not inconsistent, and a short yet not imperfect, system of Ethics.
This I might have done in profe; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reafons. The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts fo written, both strike the reader more ftrongly at first, and are more eafily retained by him afterwards: The other ́may seem odd, but it is true; I found I could exprefs them more shortly this way than in prose itself; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their concifenefs. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precifion, or breaking the chain of reasoning: If any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I freely confefs he will compass a thing above my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be confidered as a general Map of Man, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connection, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. Confequently, thefe Epiftles in their progress (if I have health and leisure to make any progrefs) will be lefs dry, and more fufceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the paffage. To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to obferve their effects, may be a task more agreeable.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to the Universe.
OF Man in the abstract.-I. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things, ver. 17. &c. II. That Man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a Being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general Order of things, and conformable to Ends and Relations to him unknown, ver. 35, &c. III. That it is partly upon his Ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future ftate, that all his happiness in the present depends, ver. 77. &c. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to
more Perfection, the cause of Man's error and mifery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitnefs or unfitnefs, perfection or imperfection, justice or injuftice, of his difpenfations, ver. 109, &c. V. The abfurdity of conceiting himfelf the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is not in the natural, ver. 131, &c. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the Perfection of the Angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the Brutes; though, to poffefs any of the fenfitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miferable, ver. 173, &c. VII. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the fenfual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a fubordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradations of fenfe, instinct, thought, reflection, reason; that Reafon alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207. VIII. How much farther this order and fubordination of living creatures may extend, above and below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation muft be deftroyed, ver. 233. IX. The extravagance, madness, and pride of fuch a defire, ver. 250. X. The confequence of all the abfolute fubmiffion due to Providence, both as to our present and future state, ver. 281, &c. to the end.
WAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things
Let us (fince Life can little more fupply
Than just to look about us, and to die)
A Wild, where weeds and flowers promifcuous fhoot:
Try what the open, what the covert yield!
I. Say first, of God above, or Man below,
Through worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known, 'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who through vaft immensity can pierce,
What vary'd Being peoples every star,
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole ?
II. Presumptuous Man! the reason wouldst thou find, Why form'd fo weak, fo little, and so blind? First, if thou canft, the harder reafon guefs, Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no lefs? Afk of thy mother earth, why oaks are made Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade; Or afk of yonder argent fields above, Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove?
Of Syftems poffible, if 'tis confeft,
That Wisdom infinite must form the beft,
And all that rises, rife in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reasoning life, 'tis plain,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, though labour'd on with pain,