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Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms un
Th' enormous faith of many made for one;
That proud exception to all nature's laws,
T' invert the world and counterwork 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
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
Next his grim idol, smear'd with human blood;
And play'd the god an engine on his foe.
So drives self-love, through just and through un.
To one man's power, ambition, lucre, lust:-
How shall he keep what, sleeping or awake,
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
The faith and moral nature gave before;
To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade;
All must be false that thwarts this one great end;
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;
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.
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE IV.
Of the Nature and State of Man with respect to Happiness.
1. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popular, answered from ver. 19 to 77. 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 necessary for order, and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should 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 has here the advantage, ver. 77. The error of imputing to virtue what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune, ver. 94. IV. The folly of expecting that God should alter his general laws in favour of particulars, ver. 121. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that, whoever 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, 167. That even these can make no man happy without virtue instanced in riches, ver. 185. Honours, ver. 197. Nobility, ver. 205. Greatness, ver. 217, Fame, ver. 237. Superior talents, ver. 257, &c.
With pictures of human infelicity in men, possessed of them all, ver. 269, &c. VII. That virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is universal and whose prospect eternal, ver. 307. 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, ver. 326, &c.
OH Happiness! our being's end and aim!
Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate'er thy
That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh,
Where grows? where grows it not? If vain our toil,
Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
'Tis no where to be found, or every where :
And fled from monarchs, St. John! dwells with thee.