Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

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 ;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. 280

X. Cease then, nor Order Imperfection name : Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.

VARIATION S.
After x 282. in the MS.

Reason, to think of God when she pretends,
Begins a Cenfor, an Adorer ends.

COMMENTARY. Ver. 281. Cease then, nor Order Imperfe&tion name :) And now the poet, as he had promised, having vindicated the ways of God to Man, concludes (from y 280 to the end) that, from what had been said, it appears, that the very things we blame, contribute to our Happiness, either as Particulars, or as Parts of the Universal system ; that our State of Ignorance was allotted to us out of compassion; that yet we have as much Knowledge as is sufficient to shew us that we are, and always Thall be, as blest as we can bear ; for that NATURE is neither a Stratonic chain of blind Causes and Effects,

(All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee) nor yet the fortuitous result of Epicurean Atoms,

( All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not see) as those two species of atheisın supposed it; but the wonderful Art and Direction, unknown indeed to Man, of an all-powerful, all-wise, all-good, and free Being. And therefore, we may be assured, that the arguments, brought above, to prove partial moral Evil productive of universal Good, are conclusive; from

Notes. Ver. 278. As the rapt Seraph &c.] Alluding to the name Seraphim, signifying burners,

Know thy own point : This kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weaknels, Heav'n bestows on thce.
Submit. In this, or any other sphere, 285
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear :
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.

2; 1 Good of the conclusion,

Futuri

COMMENTARY. whence one certain truth results, in spite of all the pride and cavils of vain Reason, That WHATEVER is, is RIGHT.

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 Epistle. 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 possible systems infinite Wisdom has formd the best i 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 fould rest fubmissive and content, and make the hopes of Futurity his 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 phænomenon of moral Evil; shews, first, its Use to the Perfection of the Universe, by Analogy, from the use of physical Evil in this particular system.-Secondly, its use in this sysłem, where it is turned, providentially, from its natural bias, to promote Virtue. Then goes on to vindicate Providence from the imputation of certain supposed nalurcl Evils ; as he had before justified it for the Permilion 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 impatience under imaginary naturul Evil; the issue of a depraved appetite for fan!allical advantages, which, it obtained, would be useless or hurtful to Man, and deforming

All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;.
All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not fee :
All Discord, Harmony not understood; 291
All partial Evil, universal Good:

COMMENT A R Y. and destructive to the Universe, as breaking into that Order by which it is fuppor.ed.---He describes that Order, Harmony, and close Connection of the Parts; and, by thewing the intimate prefence of God to his whole creation, gives a reason for an Universe so amazingly beautiful and perfect. From all this he de-, duces his general Conclufion, That Nature being neither a blind chain of Caufis and Efiets, nor yet the fortuitous refult of wandering ators, but the wor.derful Art and Direction of an all-wise, all-good, and frie Being; WHATEVER is, is Right, with regurd to the Disposition of God, and its Ultimate Tendency; which once granted, all complaints against Providence are at an end.

NOTES. VER. 294. One truth is clear, &c.] It will be hard to think any caviller should have objected to this conclusion, efpecially when the author, in this very epistle, has himself thus explained it;

Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to ALL---
So Man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown;
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal:

?Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. But without any regard to the evidence of this illustration, there is one who exclaims : " See the general conclusion, « All that is, is right. So that at the sight of Charles the os first losing his head on the scaffold, we must have said " this is right į at the fight too. of his judges condemning “ him, we must have said this is right; at the sight of some " of these judges, taken and condemned for the action which “ he had owned to be right, we must have cried out this is dou?ly right.” Never was any thing more amazing than that

And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.

Not e s.
the absurdities arising from the sense in which this critic takes
the grand principle, of whatever is, is right, did not shew him
his mistake: For could any one in his senses employ a propo-
sition in a meaning from whence such evident absurdities im-
mediately arise ? I have observed, that this conclusion, what-
ever is, is right, is a consequence of these premises, that par-
tial Evil tends to universal Good; which the author employs as
a principle to humble the pride of Man, who would-impiously
'make God accountable for his creation. What then does
common sense teach us to understand by whatever is, is right?
Did the poet mean right with regard to Man, or right with
regard to God; right with regard to itself, or right with re--
gard 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 ill is universal good, x 291.
Now is this any encouragement to Vice? Or does it take off
from the crime of him who commits it, that God providen-
tially produces Good out of Evil ? Had Mr. Pope abruptly
said in his conclusion, the result of all is, that whatever is, is
right, the objector had even then been inexcusable for putting
so absurd a sense upon the words, when he might have seen
that it was a conclusion from the general principle above-
mentioned; and therefore must necessarily have another mean-
ing. But what must we think of him, when the poet, to
prevent mistakes, had delivered, in this very place, the prin-
ciple itself, together with this conclusion as the consequence
of it.

All Discord, Harmony not understood;
All partial Evil, universal Good :
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,

One truth is clear, “ Whatever Is, is Right."
He could not have told his reader plainer that this conclusion
was the consequence of that principle, wiless he had writ::1
THÆREFURE in great Church letters.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ARGUMENT OF E P I S T L E II. Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to

Himself, as an Individual.

1. THE business of Man not to pry into God, but to

study himself. His Middle Nature ; his Powers and Frailties, x 1 to 19. The Limits of bis Capacity, V 19, &c. II. The two Principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, both necessary, ř 53, &c. Self-love the stronger, and why, x 67, &c. Their end the same, w 81, &c. III. The Passions, and their use, 93 to 130. The Predominant Passion, and its force, x 132 to 160. Its Necesity, in direčting Men' to different purposes, X 165, &c. Its providential Use, in fixing our Principle, and ascertaining our Virtue, x 177. IV. Virtue and Vice joined in our mixed Nature; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident : What is the Office of Reason, V 202 to 216. V. How odious Vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it, Ý 217. VI. That, however, the Ends of Providence and general Good are answered in our Pasions and Imperfetions, x 238, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all Orders of Men, x 241. How useful they are to Society, x 251. And to the Individuals, ♡ 263. In every state, and every age of life, x 273, &c.

« VorigeDoorgaan »