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And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of ORDER, sins against th' Eternal Cause. 130 V. Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine,
Earth for whose use? Pride answers, “’Tis for mine:
the Fall of Man, effected by the agency of the chief of these Fallen Angels. Revelation is not express on this important subject. All is imperfect conjecture. We have only a few hints on the subject: Such as that in Isaiah, c. xiv. v. 12; and in Ezekiel, c. xxviii. v. 14; and in the Apocalypse, concerning the seven-headed dragon. “I had rather know the history of Lucifer,” says Burnet, in his Theory, “than of all the Babylonian and Persian kings; nay, than of all the kings of the earth: what the birthright was of that mighty prince; what his dominions; where his imperial court and residence; how he was deposed ; for what crime, and by what power; how he still wages war against heaven in his exile; what confederates he hath; what is his power over mankind, and how limited.”
Milton, in book v. copies from the Rabbinical writers, from the fathers, and some of the schoolmen, the causes of the rebellion of Satan and his associates; but seems more particularly to have in view an obscure Latin poem written by Odoricus Valmarana, and printed at Vienna in 1627, entitled, “Daemonomachiae, sive de Bello Intelligentiarum super Divini Verbi Incarnatione;” in which the revolt of Satan, or Lucifer, is expressly ascribed to his envy at the exaltation of the Son of God. See Newton's Milton, vol. i. p. 407. But the commentators on Milton have not observed that there is still another poem which he seems to have copied, “L’Angeleida di Erasmo di Valvasone,” printed at Venice, in quarto, in 1590, describing the battle of the Angels against Lucifer, and which Gordon de Porcel, in his Library of Romances, tom. ii. p. 190, thought related to Angelica, the heroine of Boiardo and Ariosto. I beg leave to add, that Milton seems also to have attended to a poem of Tasso, not much noticed, on the Creation, “Le Sette Giornate del Mondo Creato,” in 1607.
Ver. 131. Ask for what end, &c.] If there be any fault in these lines, it is not in the general sentiment, but in the ill choice of instances made use of in illustrating it. It is the highest absurdity to think that Earth is man's foot-stool, his canopy the Skies,
For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r, .
and the heavenly bodies lighted up principally for his use; yet, surely, it is very excusable to suppose fruits and minerals given for this end. W.
There is most assuredly a fault.
Ver. 141. But errs not Nature] The whole of this doctrine is thus clearly stated in some valuable manuscripts of the late James Harris, Esq.
“Whence evil in the universe, and why? Some things, perhaps, which thou thinkest such, are not evil, but in appearance. Where the whole is vastly great, the connexions will be innumerable. When, therefore, a part only is seen, many of these connexions will be inexplicable. Being inexplicable, they will often exhibit appearances of evil, where yet in fact is no evil, but only good, not understood.
“Again, throughout the whole there is more good than evil: for in the system of the heavens we know of no evil at all. The same perhaps is true in many other parts of the whole. And with respect even to men, 'tis their interest to be good, if it be true that by Nature they are rational and social. So that if, by vice of any kind, they chance to introduce evil, 'tis by deviating from Nature, and thwarting her original purpose. Indeed, all evil in general appears to be of the casual kind; not something intended by the Maker of the world (for all his preparations plainly tend towards good), but something which follows, without being intended, and that perhaps necessarily, from the nature and essence of things. Indeed, the nature and essence of every being is im
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?
mutable; and, while it exists itself, all its attributes will exist likewise. To say, therefore, a thing should be, without its inseparable and constitutive attributes, is the same as to say, it should be, and not be. A miller works in his mill, and becomes white: a collier works in his mine, and becomes black: yet were neither of these incidents intended by either; but, other and better ends being purposed to be answered, they were necessarily attended by these collateral incidents. So it is in the universe. The good leads, the evil follows: the good is always designed, the evil only admitted: the good has existence, by being the final cause of all things; the evil has existence, because it cannot be avoided: the good appears to be something in character and form, which all beings some way or other are framed to enjoy: the evil, on the contrary, appears to be something which all beings some way or other are framed to avoid; some by talons, others by teeth; some by wings, others by fins; and, lastly, man, by genius ripened into arts, which alone is superior to the sum of all other preparations. “Again, some evil, though evil, is yet productive of good, and therefore had better be, than not be, else there had not been the good. For example, human nature is infirm; exposed to many and daily hardships; to pinching colds and scorching heats; to famines, droughts, diseases, wounds. Call this all of it evil, if you please. Yet what a variety of arts arise from this evil, and which, if this evil had not urged, had never existed? Where had been agriculture, architecture, medicine, weaving, with a thousand other arts too many toenumerate, had man been born a self-sufficient animal, superior to the sensations of want or evil? Where had been that noble activity, that never-ceasing energy of all his various powers, had not the poignancy of evil awakened them from the very birth, and dispelled all symptoms of lethargy and drowsiness? Nay more; courage, magnanimity, prudence, and wise indifference; patience, long-suffering, and acquiescence in our lot; a calm and manly resignation to the will of God, whatever he dispenses, whether good or bad; these heroic virtues could never have had existence, had not those things called evils first established them into habit, and afterward given occasion for them to energize, and become
“No ('tis reply'd), the first Almighty Cause 145
conspicuous. But the most important circumstance of all is,
A man detached from human connexions and relations (if such a
In another part of the same manuscripts he adds, “But a few days ago, and 'twas a lovely world. All was florid, cheerful, and gay. Yesterday my friend's house was burnt. To-day arrived the news of the death of an old servant, who was diligent, careful, and of long-approved fidelity. Now 'tis all disastrous, black, and dismal. Wretched man Wretched universe ! how miserable a mansion, and how helpless its inhabitants Happy existence may indeed well be desired; but what value is existence only pregnant with anxiety ? Wisely murmured 1 cries the leading principle, the god-like particle of reason and common sense. The events which thou lamentest are strange and unheard of. Thou never knewest before that thy species was mortal, or that fire could do any thing but prepare thee thy food. Murmur on, and grieve thee with a laudable obstimacy. "Twill infallibly cancel what is gone and over; render past, not past; and done, not done: for what so easy, so practicable, and obvious? Besides, thou, for thy part, hast no desire
Th’ exceptions few ; some change since all began :
to acquire those virtues which none can learn, but who have been partakers of the pains, the crosses, and calamities, and disasters, of human life. Man-like constancy, brave steady endurance, a cheerful acquiescence in the universal dispensation, are to thee but trifles of mean importance. They are only of use in a bustling world, when the winds rage, the storms descend, thunders roll,
Thou hast never dreamt of a world like this: thou hast never framed thyself but for a fine Elysian one, where spring perpetual smiles with verdant flowers; where sunshine and zephyrs are happily blended; just exactly such a spot as thou hast ever found old England, where never was a frost, never a fog, never a day but was delicious and serene. But hold, Reason 1 we have never found old England that paradise which thou describest.—Fools then, and idiots! why act you as though you had 2 Why are your tempers and manners adapted to one kind of world, while your real situation is found to be in another ?—Would you travel to Greenland in your shirt, and not be cold 7–to Guinea in your cloak, and not be warm? Must things submit to you, or you to things : Or is it not as absurd to suppose that the world should be new-modelled, that it might correspond to the weakness and caprices of mankind, as that the foot should be fitted to the shoe, and not the shoe to the foot; the horse to the saddle, and not the saddle to the horse?--Be thankful rather to that Divine Providence, who hath given thee powers to make even this life a happy one ; who hath wisely contrived, that, where proper care is had, from the greatest of calamities may be learnt, if thou wilt endeavour, the noblest of all virtues.” Wer. 148. And what created perfect 2) No position can be more true and solid; for perfect happiness is as incommunicable as omnipotence. But the objector will not be equally satisfied by being told, that there can be any exceptions or any change under the guidance of a gracious and powerful Creator. Bayle is for ever repeating, in answer to his antagonists, “I only maintain, that the objections concerning the origin of evil cannot be solved by the mere strength of reason; and I always believed that this