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OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT TO THE UNIVERSE.
Of man in the abstract.-I. That we can judge only with regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relations of systems and things, ver. 17, etc. II. 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, ver. 35, etc. III. 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, ver. 77, etc. IV. 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, ver. 109, etc. V. 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, ver. 131, etc. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfections 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, ver. 173, etc. VII. 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, ver. 207. VIII. How much farther 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, ver. 233 IX. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire, ver. 250. X. The consequence of all the absolute submission due to Providence, both as to our present and future state, ver. 281, to the end.
AWAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner things
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
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,
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,
Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole?
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!