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The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple Reason never sought but one:
Ere Wit oblique had broke that steady light,
Man, like his Maker, saw that all was right;
To virtue, in the paths of pleasure trod,
And own'd a father when he own'd a God.
Love all the faith, and all th' allegiance then ;
For Nature knew no right divine in men,
No ill could fear in God : and understood
A sovereign being, but a sovereign good.
True faith, true policy, united ran;
That was but love of God, and this of man.
Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone,
Th' enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all Nature's laws,
T invert the world and counter-work its cause?
Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law;
Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe,
Then shar'd the tyranny, then lent it aid,
And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made :
She’midst the lightning's blaze, and thunder's sound,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan’d the
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
To power unseen, and mightier far than they:
She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies,
Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise :
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes;
Fear made her devils, and weak Hope her gods;
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, or lust;
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe.
Zeal, then, not charity, became the guide;
And Hell was built on spite, and Heaven on pride.
Then sacred seem'd th' ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore:
Then first the Flamen tasted living food;
Next his grim idol, smear'd with human blood;
With heaven's own thunders shook the world below,
And play'd the god an engine on his foe.
So drives Self-love, through just, and through
To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust :
The same self-love, in all, becomes the cause
Of what restrains him, government and laws.
For, what one likes, if others like as well,
What serves one will, when many wills rebel ?
How shall he keep, what, sleeping or awake,
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take?
His safety must his liberty restrain :
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Forc'd into virtue thus, by self-defence,
Ev'n kings learn'd justice and benevolence:
Self-love forsook the path it first pursued,
And found the private in the public good.
'Twas then the studious head or generous mind,
Follower of God, or friend of human kind,
Poet or patriot, rose but to restore
The faith and moral, Nature gave before;
Relum'd her ancient light, not kindled new;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew:
Taught power's due use to people and to kings,
Taught nor to slack, nor strain its tender strings,
The less, or greater, set so justly true,
That touching one must strike the other too;
Till jarring interests of themselves create
Th' according music of a well-mix'd state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things :
Where small and great, where weak and mighty,
To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade;
More powerful each as needful to the rest,
And, in proportion as it blesses, blest;
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king.
For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best :
For modes of faith, let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right;
In faith and hope the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity:
All must be false that thwarts this one great end;
And all of God, that bless mankind, or mend.
Man, like the generous vine, supported lives :
The strength he gains is from th’ embrace he gives
On their own axis as the planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the Sun;
So two consistent motions act the soul;
And one regards itself, and one the whole
Thus God and Nature link'd the general frame, And bade self-love and social be the same,
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT
Argument. I. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popular, answered.
II. It is the end of all men, and attainable by all.
God intends hap piness 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. As it is necessary for order, and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should be unequal, happiness is not made to consist in these. But, notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of happiness among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two passions of Hope and Fear. III. What the happiness of individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world; and that the good man has here the advantage. The errour of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune. IV. The folly of expecting that God should alter his general laws in favour of particulars. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever they are, they must be happiest. VI. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of, virtue. That even these can make no man happy without virtue: instanced in riches. Honours. Nobility. Greatness. Fame. Superior talents. With pictures of human infelicity in men, possessed of them all. VII. That virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is universal,
and whose prospect eternal. That the perfection of virtue and happiness consists in a conformity to the order of Providence here, and a resignation to it here and hereafter.
OH HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim!
Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name:
That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die,
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
O’erlook'd, seen double, by the fool and wise :
Plant of celestial seed ! if dropp'd below,
Say, in what mortal soil thou deign’st to grow ?
Fair opening to some court's propitious shine,
Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine?
Twin'd with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield,
Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field ?
Where grows? where grows it not ? If vain our toil,
We ought to blame the culture, not the soil :
Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
'Tis no where to be found, or every where :
'Tis never to be bought, but always free, (thee.
And fled from monarchs, St. John! dwells with
Ask of the learn’d the way? The learn’d are blind:
This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind;
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease,
Those call it pleasure, and contentment these :
Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain;
Some, swell'd to gods, confess ev'n virtue vain ;
Or, indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in ev'ry thing, or doubt of all.
Who thus define it, say they more or less, Than this, that happiness is happiness?