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What Conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do,
That more than Heav'n pursue.
What Blessings thy free Bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
T' enjoy is to obey.
Yet not to Earth's contracted Span
Thy Goodness let me bound,
When thousand Worlds are round :
the fourth act of Dryden's State of Innocence, and stated with a wonderful precision and perspicuity. Reasoning, in verse, was one of Dryden's most singular and predominant excellences : notwithstanding which, he must rank as a poet for his Music-ode, not for his Religio Laici.
Ver. 12. the Human Will.] The result of what Locke advances on this, the most difficult of all subjects, is, that we have a power of doing what we will. “Il seroit plaisant,” says a noted wit,“ qu'une partie de ce monde fut arrangée, et que l'autre ne le fut point; qu'une partie de ce qui arrive ne dát pas arriver. Quand on y regarde de pres, on voit que la doctrine contraire à celle du destin est absurde ; mais il y a beaucoup de gens destinés à raisonner 'mal, d'autres à ne point raisonner du tout, d'autres à persecuter ceux qui raisonnent." Let us acquiesce in a better philosophy, which teaches us, “ that if Free-will be the origin of evil, it is also the origin of good. If it be the occasion of disorder, it is the cause of order; of all the moral order that appears in the world. Had Liberty been excluded, Virtue had been excluded with it. And if this had been the case, the world could have had no charms, no beauties, sufficient to recommend it to Him who made it. In short, all other powers and perfections would have been very defective without this, which is truly the life and spirit of the whole creation."
Let not this weak, unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw,
On each I judge thy Foe.
Still in the right to stay ;
Or impious Discontent,
Or aught thy Goodness lent.
To hide the Fault I see;
That Mercy shew to me.
Ver. 25. this weak, unknowing hand] Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another : expressing neither surprise nor aversion at persons who hold opinions different from our own, either in religion or politics; knowing that this difference of opinion is as pardonable as it is unavoidable; and convinced that Laud and Milton, Hickes and Burnet, Atterbury and Hoadley, Waterland and Clarke, were all equally sincere in their several tenets.
The great Bishop Butler used to say, that if Lord Shaftesbury had lived to see the candour, moderation, and gentleness of the present times in discussing religious subjects, he would have been a good Christian.
Ver. 27. deal damnation] He censures the narrow and illiberal doctrine of popery and bigotry, “the impossibility of being saved out of the pale of the Church.” It is very remarkable, that Mahomet, in the Koran, Surat 2. severely reprehends the Jews and the Christians for condemning each other; and says,
that, on the day of resurrection, God will judge the merits of their cause." So that there are Christians less tolerant than Mahomet.
Ver. 39. That Mercy] It has been said that our Poet, in this
Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken’d by thy Breath;
This day, be Bread and Peace my Lot :
All else beneath the Sun,
And let Thy Will be done.
To thee whose Temple is all Space,
Whose Altar Earth, Sea, Skies !
All Nature's Incense rise!
Prayer, chose the Lord's Prayer for his model; but there is no resemblance but in this passage, and in the last stanza but one.
M. Le Franc de Pompignan, a celebrated avocat at Montauban, author of Dido a tragedy, was severely censured in France for translating this Universal Prayer, as a piece of Deism; which, having been printed in London, in 4to. by Vaillant, was conveyed to the Chancellor Aguessau, who immediately sent a strong reprimand to M. Le Franc, and he vindicated his orthodoxy in a laboured letter to that learned Chancellor. Voltaire reproached Le Franc with making this translation. His brother, Bishop of Puy au Velei, has called Locke an atheist.
IN FOUR EPISTLES
TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se