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Epistle E.


F THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO THE UNIVERSE.-Of Man, in the abstract. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things. That man is not to be deemed imperfect-as he came from the hand of the Creatorbut 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. 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. 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. 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. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfections of the angels, on the other the bodily qualifications of the brutes. That to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree would render him miserable. That throughout the whole visible world a 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-save the spiritual. How much farther this order and subordination of living creatures may extend above and below us; wepe any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation must be destroyed. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire. The consequence of all, the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future state.



WAKE, my ST. JOHN! leave all meaner things
To low ambition and the pride of kings;
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)

Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man,
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit;
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore,
Of all who blindly creep or sightless soar;
Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
But vindicate the ways of God to man.


I. 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 ours to trace him only in our own.

He who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,

What other planets circle other suns,

* That is, to put man in right relations with the laws of life, health, and happiness.

See Spurzheim's "Natural Laws of Man" for an elaboration of this thought.


What varied being peoples every star,
May tell why Heaven has made us as we are.
But of this frame, the bearings and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look'd through? Or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?

II. Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less?
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove.

Of systems possible, if 'tis confest,
That wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must fall or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reasoning life 'tis plain,
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as man;
And all the question (wrangle e'er so long)
Is only this, if God has placed him wrong?
Respecting man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.*

In human works, though labored on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;

In God's, one single can its end produce,
Yet serves to second, too, some other use.
So man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel or verges to some goal;
'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.

When the proud steed shall know why man restrains
His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains;

When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Now wears a garland, an Egyptian god;


* In other words, man was made to fill a certain sphere on earth-was made just as God intended him to be, with all the faculties and functions necessary for his use in perpetuating his race. But man has “fallen," become “perverted;" has violated the laws of his being, and, by dissipation, crime, and disease, is not permitted to "live out half his days." God made him man. He becomes, by his own perversity, what he most assuredly is, a miserable sinner in more ways than one.

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