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OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN WITH RESPECT
argument. 1. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popular,
answered.-2. It is the end of all men, and attainable by all.-God intends happiness to be equal; and to be so, it must be social, since all particular happiness depends on general, and since he governs by general, not particular, laws.-As it is necessary for order, and the peace and welfare of society, that external goods should be unequal, bappiness is not made to consist in these.—But notwithstanding that inequality, the balance of happiness among mankind is kept even by Providence, by the two passions of bope and fear.—3. What the happiness of individuals is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world; and that the good man has here the advantage. The error of imputing to virtue wbat are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune.-4. The folly of expecting that God should alter his general laws in favour of particulars.-5. That we are not judges who are good ; but that whoever they are, they must be happiest.-6. That external goods are not the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of, virtue.—That even these can make no man happy without virtue ; instanced in Ricbes --Honours—Nobility-Greatness — Fame-Saperior talents, with pictures of human infelicity in men possessed of them all.-7. That virtue only constitutes a happiness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal.—That the perfection of virtue and happiness consists in a conformity to the order of Providence here, and a resignation to it bere and hereafter.
O HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim!
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
Ask of the learn’d the way? the learn’d are blind;
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 extreme they dwell; There needs but thinking right and meaning well: And mourn our various portions as we please, Equal is common sense and common ease.
Remember, man, 'the Universal Cause Acts not by partial but by general laws,' And makes what happiness we justly call Subsist not in the good of one, but all.
There's not a blessing individuals find,
Order is Heaven's first law; and, this confess’d,
Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
O sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise By mountains piled on mountains to the skies? Heaven still with laughter the vain toil surveys, And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
Know all the good that individuals find, Or God and Nature meant to mere mankind, Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, Lie in three words,--Health, Peace, and Compe
tence. But Health consists with Temperance alone; And Peace, O Virtue! Peace is all thy own. The good or bad the gifts of Fortune gain ; But these less taste them, as they worse obtain. Say, in pursuit of profit or delight, Who risk the most, that take wrong means or right? Of Vice or Virtue, whether bless’d or cursed, Which meets contempt, or which compassion first? Count all the advantage prosperous Vice attains, 'Tis but what Virtue flies from and disdains: And grant the bad what happiness they would, One they must want, which is, to pass for good.
O blind to truth and God's whole scheme below, Who fancy bliss to Vice, to Virtue woe! Who sees and follows that great scheme the best, Best knows the blessing, and will most be bless'd, But fools the good alone unhappy call, For ills or accidents that chance to all. See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just ! See godlike Turenne prostrate on the dust! See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife! Was this their virtue, or contempt of life? Say, was it virtue, more though Heaven ne'er gave, Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave? Tell me, if virtue made the son expire, Why full of days and honour lives the sire ?
Why drew Marseilles' good bishop purer breath
What makes all physical or moral ill?
Shall burning Ætna, if a sage requires,
But still this world (so fitted for the knave) Contents us not.--A better shall we have ? A kingdom of the just then let it be; But first consider how those just agree. The good must merit God's peculiar care; But who but God can tell us who they are? One thinks on Calvin Heaven's own spirit fell; Another deems him instrument of Hell: If Calvin feel Heaven's blessing or its rod, This cries there is, and that, there is no God.