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Aspiring to be Gods, if Angels fell,
Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebel :
And who but wishes to revert the laws
Of Order sins against th’ Eternal Cause.
SEE through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
Above, how high progressive life may go!
Around, how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of Being! which from God began,
Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach ; from Infinite to thee,
From thee to Nothing. On superior pow'rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours ;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where one step broken the great scale's destroy'd ;
From Nature's chain whatever link
you strike, Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
And, if each system in gradation roll
Alike essential to th' amazing whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the whole must fall.
Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless through the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurld,
Being on being wreck’d, and world on world,
Heav'n's whole foundations to the centre nod,
And nature tremble to the throne of God:
All this dread order break from whom? for thee?
Vile worm !--Oh madness ! pride ! impiety!
What if the foot, ordain’d the dust to tread,
Or hand to toil, aspir'd to be the head ?
What if the head, the eye, or ear, repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind ?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another, in this gen’ral frame:
Just as absurd to mourn the task or pains,
The great directing Mind of All ordains,
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the Soul:
That chang'd through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns ;
To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.
Cease, then, nor Order Imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: This kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit.-In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear :
Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All Chance, Direction which thou canst not see;
All Discord, Harmony not understood;
All partial Evil, universal Good:
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT.
THE ORIGIN OF SUPERSTITION AND TYRANNY.
Who first taught souls enslav'd and realms undone,
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 shared the tyranny, then lent it aid,
And Gods of conqu’rors, slaves of subjects made.
She, 'midst the lightning's blaze, and thunder's sound,
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the ground,
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray,
To pow'rs unseen, and mightier far than they :
She, from the rending earth and bursting skies,
Saw Gods descend, and fiends infernal rise:
Here fixed the dreadful, there the blest abodes ;
Fear made her Devils, and weak Hope her Gods ;
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,
Whose attributes were Rage, Revenge, or Lust;
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive,
And, formed like tyrants, tyrants would believe.
Zeal, then, not Charity, became the guide ;
And Hell was built on spite, and Heav'n on pride.
Then sacred seem'd th' ethereal vault no more;
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore :
Then first the flamen tasted living food ;
Next his grim idol, smear’d with human blood ;
With Heav'n's own thunders shook the world below,
And play'd the God an engine on his foe.
So drives Self-love, through just and through unjust,
To one Man's pow'r, ambition, lucre, lust :
The same Self-love, in all, becomes the cause
Of what restrains him, Government and Laws;
For what one likes, if others like as well,
What serves one will, when many wills rebel ?
How shall he keep, what sleeping or awake
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take?
His safety must his liberty restrain :
All join to guard what each desires to gain.
Forced into virtue thus by self-defence,
Even kings learn'd justice and benevolence;
Self-love forsook the path it first pursu'd,
And found the private in the public good.
'Twas then the studious head or gen'rous mind, Follow'r of God, or friend of humankind,
Poet or Patriot, rose but to restore
The faith and moral Nature gave before ;
Relum'd her ancient light, not kindled new;
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew;
Taught pow'r's due use to people and to kings,
Taught nor to slack nor strain its tender strings,
The less or greater set so justly true,
That touching one must strike the other too ;
Till jarring int'rests of themselves create
Th' according music of a well-mix'd state.
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things:
Where small and great, where weak and mighty, made
To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade :
More pow'rful each as needful to the rest,
And, in proportion as it blesses, blest :
Draw to one point, and to one centre bring
Beast, Man, or Angel, Servant, Lord, or King.
For Forms of Government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administer'd is best :
For Modes of Faith let graceless zealots fight,
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right;
In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,
But all Mankind's concern is Charity :
All must be false that thwart this one great end,
And all of God, that bless mankind or inend.
Man, like the gen'rous vine, supported, lives;
The strength he gains is from the embrace he gives.
On their own axis as the planets run,
Yet make at once their circle round the sun;
So two consistent motions act the soul,
And one regards itself, and one the whole.
Thus God and Nature link'd the gen’ral frame,
And bade Self-love and Social be the same.
O HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim !
Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name ;
That something still, which prompts th' eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die;
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
O’erlook’d, seen double by the fool, and wise,
Plant of celestial seed ! if dropp'd below,
Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow?
Fair op’ning to some court's propitious shine,
Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine?
Twined with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield,
Or reaped in iron harvests of the field ?
Where grows ?—where grows it not? If vain our toil,
We ought to blame the culture, not the soil :
Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere,
'Tis nowhere to be found, or ev'ry where;
'Tis never to be bought, but always free,
And, fled from monarchs, St. John dwells with thee.
Ask of the Learn'd the way, the Learn’d are blind,
This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind :
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease,
Those call it Pleasure, and Contentment these :
Some, sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain,
Some, swell’d to Gods, confess e’en virtue vain:
Or indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in ev'rything, or doubt of all.
Who thus define it say they, more or less
Than this, that Happiness is Happiness?
Take Nature's path, and mad Opinion's leave,
All states can reach it, and all heads conceive;
Obvious her goods, in no extremes they dwell ;
There needs but thinking right, and meaning well ;
And mourn our various portions as we please,
Equal is common ense and common ease.
Remember, Man, “ The Universal Cause
Acts not by partial, but by gen’ral laws;"
And makes what Happiness we justly call
Subsist not in the good of one, but all.