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As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
X. Cease then, nor Order Imperfection name : Our
proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Reason, to think of God when she pretends,
COMMENTARY. Ver. 281. Cease then, nor Order Imperfection name :) And how 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 atheisin 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 affured, 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
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 Fórce 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 posible systems infinite Wisdom, has form’d the best : draws from thence two Consequences, 1. That there musí 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 should rest submisive and content, and make the hapes 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 system, where it is turned, providentially, from its. natural bias, to promote Virtue. Then goes on to vindicate Providence from the imputation of certain supposed nalurct
s; as he had before justified it for the Permifiion of reol 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 naturel Evil; the illue of a depraved appetite for fantaslical advantages, which, it obtained, would be useless or hurtful to Man, and deforming
All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
and destructive to the Universe, as breaking into that Order by which it is fuppor.ed. ---He describes that Order, Harmony, and cloje Connection of the Parts; and, by thewing the intimate presence of God to his whole creation, gives a reason for an Universe fo amazingly beautiful and perfect. From all this he deduces his general Conclufion, That Nature being neither a blind chain of Caufis and Efiets, nor yet the fortuitous refult of wandering ateins, but the wor.derful Art and Direction of an all-wise, all-good, and frie Being; WHATEVER IS, Is Right, with regard to the Disposition of God, and its Ultimate Tendency; which once granted, all complaints against Providence are at an end.
VER. 294. One truth is clear, &c.] It will be hard to think any caviller should have objected to this conclusion, especially when the author, in this very epistle, has himself thus explained it;
Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
?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 “ first losing his head on the scaffold, we must have said “ this is right; 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,
NOTE 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 proposition in a meaning from whence such evident absurdities immediately arise ? I have observed, that this conclusion, whatever is, is right, is a consequence of these premises, that partial Evil tends to univerfal 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 regard 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, y 291. Now is this any encouragement to Vice? Or does it take off from the crime of him who commits it, that God providentially produces Good out of Evil ? Had Mr. Pope abruptly said in his conclusion, the result of all is, that whaiever 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 conclufion from the general principle abovementioned; and therefore must necessarily have another meaning. But what must we think of him, when the poet, to prevent mistakes, had delivered, in this very place, the principle itself, together with this conclusion as the consequence of it.
All Discord, Harmony not understood;
One truth is clear, “ Whatever Is, is Right."
EP I S T L E II.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to
Himself, as an Individual.
I. THE business of Man not to pry into God, but to
study himself. His Middle Nature ; his Powers and Frailties, ŕ i to 19. The Limits of his Capacity, ♡ 19, &c. II. The two Principles of Man, Self-love and Reason, both necessary, ý 53, &c. Self-love the stronger, and why, x 67, &c. Their end the same, ♡ 81, &c. III. The Passions, and their use, x 93 to 130. The Predominant Pallion, and its force, x 132 to 160. Its Necessity, in directing Men to different purposes, x 165, &c. Its providential Use, in fixa ing 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, ý 202 to 216. V. How odious Vice in itself, and how we deceive ourselves into it, x 217;
VI. That, however, the Ends of Providence and general Good are answered in our Passions and Imperfections, $ 238, &c. How usefully these are distributed to all Orders of Men, Ý 241. How useful they are to Society, X 251. And to the Individuals, x 263. In every state, and every age of life, x 273, &c.