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The same self-love in all becomes the cause
'Twas then the studious head, or generous mind,
made To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade; More powerful each as needful to the rest,
And, in proportion as it blesses, blest;
Man, like the generous vine, supported lives;
Thus God and nature link'd the general frame, And bade self-love and social be the same.
AN ESSAY ON MAN.
OF THE NATURE AND STATE OF MAN, WITH RESPECT
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, happiness 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 hope 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 what 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 Riches; Honours; Nobility; Greatness ; Fame; Superior 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 here and hereafter.
O HAPPINESS! our being's end and aim !
Or indolent, to each extreme they fall,
Who thus define it, say they more or less
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, But some way leans and hearkens to the kind; No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride, No cavern’d hermit, rests self-satisfied; Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend, Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend. Abstract what others feel, what others think, All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink : Each has his share; and who would more obtain, Shall find the pleasure pays not half the pain.
Order is Heaven's first law; and, this confest, Some are and must be greater than the rest, More rich, more wise: but who infers from hence That such are happier, shocks all common sense. Heaven to mankind impartial we confess, If all are equal in their happiness :