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AVING propofed to write fome pieces on Human Life and Manners, fuch as (to ufe my lord Bacon's expreflion) come home to Men's Bufinefs and Bofoms, I thought it more fatisfactory to begin with confidering Man in the abftract, 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 whatsoever, it is neceffary 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 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 fuch finer nerves and veffels, the conformations and ufes of which will for ever escape our obfervation. The difputes are all upon these last, and, I will venture to say, they have lefs 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 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 writ-ten, both strike the reader more ftrongly at first, and are more eafily retained by him afterwards: The other may feem odd, but is true. I found I could exprefs them more shortly this way than in profe itself, and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or inftructions, depends on their con ifen fs. I was unable to treat this part of my fubject 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 publifhed, 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, thefe Epiftles in their progrefs (if I have health and leifure to make any progrefs) will be lefs dry, and more fufceptible of poetical ornament. I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the paffage. To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their courfe, and to obferve their effects, may be a tafk more agreeable.
ESSAY on M A N,
FOUR EPISTLE S.
H. St. John, Lord Bolingbroke.
Of the Nature and State of Man, with respect to the UNIVERSE.
OF Man in the abftra&t.-I. That we can judge only with regard to our own fyftem, being ignorant of the relations of fyftems and things, Ver. 17, &c. II. 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, Ver. 35, &c. III. That it is partly upon his ignorance of future events, and partly upon the hope of a future ftate, that all his happinejs in the prefent depends, Ver. 77, &c. IV. The
pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more 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 unfitnels, perfection, or imperfection, juftice or injustice, of his difpenfations, Ver. 109, &c. V. The abfurdity 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, &c. VI. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one band be demands the Perfections of the Angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the Brutes; though, to poffefs any of the fenfitive faculties in a bigher degree, would render him miferable, Ver. 173, &c. VII. That throughout the whole vifible world, an univerfal order and gradation in the fenfual and mental faculties is obferv'd, which causes a fubordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. The gradations of fenfe, inftinct, thought, reflection, reafon; that Reafon alone countervails all the other faculties, Ver. 207. VIII. How much further this order and fubordination 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 Juch a defire, Ver. 250. X. The confequence of all, the abfolute fubmiffion due to Providence, both as to our prefent and future ftate, Ver. 281, &c. to the end.