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Having proposed to write some pieces on human life and manners, such as (to use my Lord Bacon's expression) come home to men's business and bosoms,' I thought it more satisfactory to begin with considering Man in the abstract, his nature and his state ; since, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatsoever, it is Becessary first to know what condition and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
The science of human nature is, like all other sciences, 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 ofthe body; more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by studying too much such finer nerves and vessels, the conformation and uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The disputes are all upon these last; and I will venture to say, they have less sharpened 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 Essay has any merit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite, in passing over terms utterly unintelligible, and
in forming a temperate, yet not inconsistent, and a sh yet not imperfect, system of ethics.
This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, oven rhyme, for two reasons. The one will appear ol ous ; that principles, maxims, or precepts, so written, bstrike the reader more strongly at first, and are more ea retained by him afterward. The other may seem but it is true; I found I could express them more sho this way than in prose itself! and nothing is more cert than that much of the force, as well as grace of argume or instructions, depends on their conciseness. I was una to treat this part of my subject more in detail, with becoming dry and tedious ; or more poetically, with sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wander from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning any man can unite all these without diminution of a of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing ab my capacity.
What is now published, is only to be considered a general Map of Man, marking out no more than greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their conn ion ; but leaving the particular to be more fully delinea in the charts which are to follow. Consequently, th Epistles in their progress (if I have health and leisure make any progress) will be less dry, and more sus
suscepti of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fo tains and clearing the passage: to deduce the rivers, follow them in their course, and to observe their effe may be a task more agreeable.
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE I.
Universe. OF Man in the abstract. 1. That we can judge only rith regard to our own system, being ignorant of the relaions of systems and things, ver. 17, &c. II. That man is
lot to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general order cef things, and conformable to ends and relations to him un
mown, ver. 35, &c. III. That it is partly upon his ignoance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future tate, that all his happiness in the present depends, ver. 17, &c. IV. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's error and nisery. The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection aior imperfection, justice or injustice, of his dispensations,
per. 109, &c. V. The absurdily of conceiting himself the e final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world which is not in the natural, ver. 131, &c. 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, &c. 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 ereature to creature, and of all creatures to man. The grada. tions of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason ; that reason alone countervails all the other faculties, ver. 207.