Слике страница
PDF
ePub

THE

DESIGN.

HAVING propofed to write some pieces on Hu

man Life and Manners, fuch as (to use my lord Bacon's expreffion) " come home to Men's Business and Bofoms," I thought it more fatisfactory to begin with confidering Man in the abstract, his Nature, and his State; fince, to prove any moral Duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.

The science of Human Nature is, like all other sciences, reduced to a few clear points: There are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the Anatomy of the Mind as in that of the Body; more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by ftudying too much fuch finer nerves and veffels, the conformations and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The difputes are all upon these laft; and I will venture to say, they have lefs fharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice, more than advanced the theory of Morality. If I could flatter myself that this Effay has any merit, it is in fteering betwixt the extremes of doctrines feemingly oppofite, in paffing over terms utterly unintelligible,

and

and in forming a temperate yet not inconfiftent, and a fhort 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 strongly at firft, and are more easily 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 inftructions, depends on their concifenefs. I was unable to treat this part of my fubject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precifion, or breaking the chain of reafoning: If any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I freely confefs he will compafs 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.

AN

[blocks in formation]

Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to the Universe.

OF Man in the abftract.-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 fuited 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

more Perfection, the cause of Man's error and mifery. The impiety of putting himfelf in the place of God, and judging of the fitnefs or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, juftice or injuftice, of his difpenfations, ver. 109, &c. V. The abfurdity of conceiting himself the final caufe of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is not in the natural, ver. 131, &c. VI. The unreasonablenefs 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 sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miferable, ver. 173, &c. VII. That throughout the whole vifible world, an univerfal order and gradation in the fenfual and mental faculties is obferved, which caufes a fubordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradations of sense, 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 must be destroyed, ver. 233. IX. The extravagance, madnefs, 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 ftate, ver. 281, &c. to the end.

EPISTLE

EPISTLE I.

WAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things
A
To low ambition, and the pride of Kings,
Let us (fince Life can little more fupply
Than just to look about us, and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A Wild, where weeds and flowers promifcuous fhoot:
Or Garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,

Try what the open, what the covert yield!
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or fightless foar;
Eye Nature's walks, fhoot Folly as it flies,
And catch the Manners living as they rife:
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.

5

10

15

I. Say first, of God above, or Man below, What can we reason, but from what we know? Of Man, what fee we but his station here, From which to reafon, or to which refer? Through worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known, 'Tis ours to trace him only in our own. He, who through vast immensity can pierce, See worlds on worlds compofe one universe, Obferve how fyftem into system runs, What other planets circle other funs,

20

25

What

« ПретходнаНастави »