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Milton sought to set forth the story of the Fall in such way as to show that God was love.Pope dealt with the question of God in Nature, and the world of Man. de Crousaz, Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics in the University of Lausanne, and defended by Warburton, then chaplain to the Prince of Wales, in six letters published in 1739, and a seventh in 1740, for which Pope (who died in 1744) was deeply grateful.
Doubt was born of the corruption of society; Nature and Man were said to be against faith in the rule of a God, wise, just, and merciful.
In 1710, after Bayle’s death, Leibnitz, a German philosopher then resident in Paris, wrote in French a book, with a title formed from Greek words meaning Justice of God, Theodicee, in which he met Bayle’s argument by reasoning that what we cannot understand confuses us, because we see only the parts of a great whole.
Bayle, he said, is now in Heaven, and from his place by the throne of God, he sees the harmony of the great Universe, and doubts no more.
We see only a little part in which are many details that have purposes beyond our ken.
The argument of Leibnitz’s Theodicee was widely used; and although Pope said that he had never read the Theodicee, his “Essay on Man” has a like argument.
When any book has a wide influence upon opinion, its general ideas pass into the minds of many people who have never read it.
The intellectual scepticism, based upon an honest search for truth, could end only in making truth the surer by its questionings.
The other form of scepticism, which might be traced in England from the low-minded frivolities of the court of Charles the Second, was widely spread among the weak, whose minds flinched from all earnest thought.
And when his closing hymn was condemned as the freethinker’s hymn, its censurers surely forgot that their arguments against it would equally apply to the Lord’s Prayer, of which it is, in some degree, a paraphrase.
The first design of the Essay on Man arranged it into four books, each consisting of a distinct group of Epistles.