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AVING propofed to write fome pieces on Human
con's expreffion) come home to Men's Bufinefs and Bofoms, I thought it more fatisfactory to begin with confidering Man in the abstract, his Nature and his State: fince, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatfoever, it is neceffary firft to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
The fcience of Human Nature is like all other fciences, reduced to a few clear points; there are not many certain truths in this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the Mind as in that of the Body: more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by ftudying too much finer nerves and veffels, the confirmations and ufes of which will for ever efcape our obfervation. The difputes are all upon these last, and I will venture to say, they have less fharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other, and have diminished the practice more than advanced the theory of morality. If I could flatter myself that this Effay has any merit, it is in fteering betwixt the extremes of doctrines feemingly, oppofite; in paffing over terms utterly unintelligible; and in forming a temperate, yet not inconfiftent; and a short, yet not imperfect fyftem of Ethics.
This I might have done in profe; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reafons: the one will appear obvious that principles, maxims, or precepts fo written, both ftrike the reader more ftrongly at firft, and are more eafily retained by him afterwards. The other may feem odd, but it is true; I found I could exprefs them more
Shortly this way than in profe itself, and nothing is truer than that much of the force, as well as grace, of arguments or inftructions depend upon their concifenefs. I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without facrificing perfpicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precifion, or breaking the chain of reafoning. If any man can unite all thefe, without diminution of any of them, I freely confefs he will compafs a thing above my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be confidered as a general map of MAN, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connexion, but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. Confequently these Epiftles in their progrefs (if I make any progrefs) will be lefs dry, and more fufceptible of poetical ornament. I ain here only opening the fountains, and clearing the paffage to deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to obferve their effects, would be a task more agreeable.
( v )
F Man in the abftract-That we can judge only with
lation of fyftems and things,
That Man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a Being
fuited 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 ftate, that all his
Happiness in the prefent depends,
The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending
to Perfection, the cause of Man's error and mifery.
The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and,
judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection, justice
or injuftice of his difpenfations, ver. 113, &c,
The abfurdity of conceiting himself the final caufe of the
creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral
world, which is not in the natural, ver. 137, &c,
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 qualifi-
cations of the Brutes; though to poffefs any of the
fenfitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him
That throughout the whole vifible world, and univerfal
order and gradation in the fenfual and mental faculties
is obferved, which caufes a fubordination of creature to
creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradation
vér. 281, &c. to the end
THE bufinefs of Man not to pry into God, but to ftudy
himself. His Middle Nature; his Powers and Frailties,
The two Principles of Man, Self-love and Reafon, both
ver. 53, &c.
The predominant Pafion, and its force, ver. 131, &c to 160.
Its providential Ufe, in fixing our Principle, and afcer-
Virtue and Vice joined in our mixed Nature; the limits
near, yet the things feparate and evident: what is the
"Office of Reafon,
How odious Vice in itself, and how we deceive ourfelves
That however, the Ends of Providence and general Good are
anfwered in our Paffions and Imperfections, ver. 2 19,&c.
How usefully these are diftributed to all Orders of Men,
THE whole Universe one fyftem of Society, ver. 7, &C.
Nothing made wholly for itself, nor yet wholly for
The happinefs of Animals mutual,
Reafon or Inftinct operates alike to the good of each Indi-
Reafon or Inftinct operates alfo to Society in all Animals,
How far Society carried by Inftinct,
Of that which is called the State of Nature,
Original of Political Societies,
Origin of true Religion and Government, from the fame
Origin of Superftition and Tyranny, from the fame Prin-
The influence of Self-love operating to the focial and
Restoration of true Religion and Government on their