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Man, like the gen’rous vine, supported lives; Thestrength he gains is from th’embrace he gives.
COMMENTARY. Ver. 311. Man, like the gen'rous vine, &c.] Having thus largely considered Man in his social capacity, the Poet, in or- .
of anf Religion to adorable multent confessediyabble be
NOT E s. should become the object of fo 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 Reason, 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 fo profound a progress, that the One proved, nothing hindred in Nature, but that the Son might have been the Father; and the Other, that nothing hindered in Grace, but that the Son may be a mere Creature. But if, insteed of throwing so many Greek Fathers at one another's heads, they had but chanced to reflect on the sense of one Greek word, ANEIPJA, that it signifies both INFINITY and IGNORANCE, this single equivocation 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 Combatants : and no body expecting common sense on a subject where we have no ideas, the defects 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 out into the more open paths of Literature, where their reputation, made out of that stuff which Lucian calls, Exót ónóxeog, 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, and it was time, grown weary of its play-things; and catched at a new object, that promised them more agreeable entertainment. Tindal,
On their own Axis as the Planets run,
COMMENTARY. der to fix a momentous truth in the mind of his reader, concludes the epistle in recapitulating the two Principles which concur to the support of this part of his character, namely, SELF-LOVE and Social; and in 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
NOT E S. a kind of Bastard-Socrates, had brought our speculations from Heaven to Earth: 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 subject. A very unpromising adventure for these me taphysical nursings, 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 ; though they wrote not, we may be sure, in concert, yet each attacked his adversary at the same time; fastened upon him in the same place; and mumbled him with just the same toothless rage. But the ill success of this escape foon brought them to them. felves. The one made a fruitless effort to revive the old game, in a discourse on The IMPORTANCE of the Do&trine of the Trinity; and the other has been ever since, rambling in Space, and Time
This short history, as insignificant as the subjects of it are, may not be altogether unuseful to posterity. 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 un derstood.
So two consistent motions act the Soul; 315 And one regards Itself, and one the Whole.
Thus God and Nature link'd the gen’ral frame, And bade Self-love and Social be the same.
COMMENTARY. a thought as sublime as that general harmony which he de. scribes :
« On their own Axis as the Planets run,
“ Thus God and Nature link'd the gen’ral frame, " And bade Self-love and Social be the same.” For he hath the art of converting poetical ornament into philofophic reasoning; and of improving a simile into an analogical argument; of which, more in our next.
NOTE s. Ver. 318. And bade Self-love and Social be the same.] True Self-love is an appetite for that proper good, for the enjoyment of which, we were made as we are. Now that good is commensurate with all other good, and a part and portion of Universal Good: it is therefore the same with Social, which hath the same properties.
ARGUMENT OF E P I S T L E IV. Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to
Happiness. 1. FALSE Notions of Happiness, Philosopbical and
Popular, answered from Ver. 19 to 27. II. It is the End of all Men, and attainable by all, Ver. 30. God intends Happiness to be equal ; and to be so, it must be social, since all particular Happiness depends on general, and since he governs by general, not particular Laws, Ver. 37. As it is necesary for Order, and the peace and welfare of Society, that external goods Jould be unequal, Happiness is not made to consist in these, Ver. 51. But, notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of Happiness among Mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two Passions of Hope and Fear, Ver. 70. III. What the Happiness of Individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world; and that the good Man bäs here the advantage, Ver. 77. The error of imputing to Virtue wbat are only the calamities of Nature; or of Fortune, Ver. 94. IV. The folly of expecting that God should alter bis general Laws in favour of particulars, Ver. 121. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that wboever they are, they must be happiest, Ver. 133, &c. VI. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of, Virtue, Ver. 165. That even these can make no Man happy without Virtue : Instanced in Riches, Ver. 183. Ho nours, Ver. 191. Nobility, Ver. 203. Greatness, Ver. 215. Fame, Ver. 235. Superior Talents, Ver. 257, &c. With pietures of human Infelicity in Men poslosed of them ail, Ver. 267, &c. VII. That Virtue only conftiiutes a Happiness, whose objekt is universal, and whole prospećt eternal, Ver. 307, &c. That i he perfection of Virtue and Happiness consists in a conformity to the Order of Providence here, and a Resignation to it bere and bereafter, Ves. 326, &c.