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OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN, WITH RESPECT TO THE UNIVERSE.
Of man in the abstract.-1. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things.-2. That man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the creation agreeable to the general order of things, and conformable to ends and relations to him unknown.-3. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future state, that all his happiness in the present depends.-4. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's error and misery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensations.-5. The absurdity of conceiting himself the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world which is not in the natural.-6. The unreasonableness 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 possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree would render him miserable.-7. That throughout the whole visible world an universal order and gradation in the sensual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to man. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason: that reason alone countervails all the other faculties.-8. How much further this order and subordination 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.-9. The extravagance, madness, and pride, of such a desire.-10. The consequence of all the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future state.
AWAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things To low ambition and the pride of kings;
Let us (since life can little more supply
Or garden tempting with forbidden fruit.
1. Say first, of God above or man below What can we reason, but from what we know? Of man what see we but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be known,
'Tis our's to trace him only in our own.
2. Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou
Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
In human works, though labour'd on with pain,
Why doing, suffering, check'd, impell'd; and why This hour a slave, the next a deity.
Then say not man's imperfect, Heaven in fault; Say rather man's as perfect as he ought; His knowledge measured to his state and place, His time a moment, and a point his space. If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter soon or late, or here or there? The bless'd to-day is as completely so As who began a thousand years ago.
3. Heaven from all creatures hides the book of All but the page prescribed, their present state: From brutes what men, from men what spirits know; Or who could suffer being here below? The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? Pleased to the last he crops the flowery food, And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood. O blindness to the future! kindly given, That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heaven; Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor❜d mind
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Yet simple Nature to his hope has given,
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire;
4. Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense
And who but wishes to invert the laws
5. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine, Earth for whose use?-Pride answers, "Tis for
For me kind Nature wakes her genial power, Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower;