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CCCCXII. jenal Laws.—As ten millions of circles can never

make a square, so the united voice of myriads cannot

lend the smallest foundation to falsehood. It were to be wished, then, that instead of cutting away wretches as useless before we have tried their utility, [and thus] converting correction into vengeance,-it were to be wished that we tried the restrictive arts of government, and made the law the protector and not the tyrant of the public. We should then find that creatures, whose souls are held as dross, only wanted the hand of a refiner; we should then find that wretches now stuck up for long tortures, lest luxury should feel a momentary pang, might, if properly treated, serve to sinew the state in times of danger; that, as their faces are like ours, their hearts are so too; that few minds are so base as that perseverance cannot amend; that a man may see his last crime without dying for it; and that very little blood will serve to cement our security.—Goldsmith.

CCCCXIII. Alse REASONING. — Of all misfortunes which can happen to man, false reasoning is one of the great

est. I am far from thinking, that men who give way to their propensities, are void of reason; but that their reason, from education, from connections, from self-interest, from situation, from climate, from the nature of government, and from various other circuinstances, misleads them. Let us examine a little into this. We are too apt to allege that men, hurried away by their passions, lose the power of reasoning, or, in other words, that reason is governed by the passions. No; we may as well say, that reason permits itself to be governed by the hand, when it is writing falsely, or by the tongue, when it is speaking profanely. Erroneous reasoning arises from some of the causes I have mentioned, and is either the best or the worst faculty in man. As it is certainly the only principle of virtue, so as certainly is it the sole cause of all that is base, horrid, and shameful in human nature. We may say the same of conscience. It can be no criterion of moral rectitude, even when it is right. Conscience is only opinion, and certainty of opinion is no proof of its being right. As our reason is warped according to the principles we have imbibed, the habits we have been accustomed to, the friends we have made, and the situation we are in, so our conscience is formed from the books we have read, from the manners of the age we live in, from the religion we profess, from the government under which we live, and sundry other causes. A man ought not to act in opposition to his conscience; but it does not follow, that in so doing, he will always act right; of course conscience is not an unerring guide. Queen Mary acted from conscientious motives when she drove the Protestant clergy to the stake ; and many of those who brought Charles I. to the scaffold did it under a conscientious idea that they were acting right. So it is with reason. What made Medea kill her children ? What made Cato kill himself? What made the pagans offer human sacrifices to idols ? What made Epicurus deny a Providence? What has made some men sceptics, and others bigots ; some enthusiasts, and others sacrilegious ? What makes freethinkers deny the freedom of the will, and the Unitarians the divinity of Christ ? Reason, and reason only. The human race would have perished long since, had its preservation depended on the reasoning of those who com, pose it.—Țrusler,

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ccccxvii IN Obstinate Man. — An obstinate man does not

hold opinions, but they hold him; for, when he is

once possessed with an error, it is like a devil, only cast out with great difficulty. Whatsoever he lays hold on, like a drowning man, he never loses, though it do but help to sink him the sooner. His ignorance is abrupt and inaccessible, impregnable both by art and nature, and will hold out to the last, though it has nothing but rubbish to defend. It is as dark as pitch, and sticks as fast to any thing it lays hold on. His skull is so thick that it is proof against any reason, and never cracks but on the wrong side, just opposite to that against which the impression is made, which surgeons say does happen very frequently. The slighter and more inconsistent his opinions are, the faster he holds them, otherwise they would fall asunder of themselves; for opinions that are false ought to be held with more strictness and assurance than those that are true, otherwise they will be apt to betray their owners before they are aware. He delights most of all to differ in things indifferent: no matter how frivolous they are, they are weighty enough in proportion to his weak judg. ment; and he will rather suffer self-martyrdom than part with the least scruple of his freehold; for it is impossible to dye his dark ignorance into any lighter colour. He is resolved to understand no man's reason but his own, because he finds no man can understand his but himself. His wits are like a sack, which the French proverb says, is tied faster before it is full than when it is; and his opinions are like plants that grow upon rocks, that stick fast though they have no rooting. His understanding is hardened like Pharaoh's heart, and is proof against all sorts of judgments whatsoever.-Butler,

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