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the affairs of the world; for all such concern would destroy its own ease and rest, and consequently its happiness. For it was a maxim with them, Nisi quietum nibil beatum; and again, as Velleius in Tully expresses their common sentiment, which, it's plain, had its original from their own love of ease and laziness of temper, Nos autem beatam vitam in animi securitate, & in omnium vacatione munerum ponimus.
2. As for those who are not so much under the power of their bodily appetites or pasfions, but that they can see the gross deformity of them, and how much they debase human nature when men are led by them, and are therefore ashamed of such a brutal life as visibly finks them below the use of human Reason; yet even these men may have inward vices of the mind, which without a sincere and honest attention to the secret workings of their own hearts, may produce as perverse effects in their reasonings, and more incurable. For Infidelity may often arise from pride and self-conceit, which disposes men of parts and learning to an affectation of singularity and a desire of seeming wiser than other people, by maintaining paradoxes, and contradicting all opinions that
are vulgarly received, for that very reason because they are so: And they that are of a lighter and vainer temper, and value themselves upon an appearance of wit in conversation, proceed fometimes to ridicule and laugh at things of the highest nature, instead of arguing foberly about them. That mens indulging this kind of temper in themselves has been a temptation to them to embrace Atheistical opinions in other polite ages and countries besides our own, is plain from what ^ Plato observed long ago, who when, in one of his Dialogues, he brings in Clinias disputing against Atheism from the common topicks of the beauty and harmony of the universe, the regular motions of the heavenly bodies, and the common notions of mankind, in which all nations Greeks and Barbarians agreed concerning á God and a Providence, makes an Athenian stranger reply to him, That be was afraid there were a Set of ill men in the world who would despise and laugh at fuck old and common arguments. It may be, says he, that you who live here, remote from the city, may imagine that intemperance in pleasure and sensual lust is the only cause of fuch impiety; but there is anotker ground of
· Lib. Ic, de Legibus. p. 886.
it besides this, and that b is a certain grievous
6 'Αμαθία μάλα χαλεπη δοκέτα είναι μεγίση φρόνησις. De legg. 1.10. p.888. ed. Serrani.
of fhewing their own parts: nor are they ever so forward in laying down any consistent scheme of principles of their own, as in contradicting the most commonly received principles of others. They seem desirous of being taken for men of deeper reach than their neighbours, that are not to be imposed upon by vulgar opinions, but can spy the weakness or failure of those arguments which to others, that are more modest, have always appeared very convincing. A certain self-confidence, mix'd with a contempt of other mens understanding, is very apt to betray men into a wrong use of their reason, and to make them strike into odd and singular ways of thinking, only because they are new and contrary to that which others have chosen upon much better consideration; and we see that there is nothing so absurd but what if once started will find some proselytes for a while, if it be only for the novelty of it.
It has been thought by some, That the chief reason why, all men assent to the truth of Mathematical demonstrations, when plainly proposed to them, is because none of those truths interfere with the interests, passions or inclinations of any man; because if they did, men concerned would find some pretence
to evade the force of them. I will not affirmi that this is the only reason of such universal assent to Geometrical conclusions ; but the supposal however evidently allows, that some truths, which in their own nature are capable of sufficient proof, may be disbelieved or rejected through prejudice, or prepoffeffion of interest or passion, or some partial or vitious disposition of mind in those to whom the proof is offered. It is certain, that what men do not like, they are very unwilling to understand, though they will not easily be brought to own this for the reason, but will always find out some colour or other to avoid the suspicion of such partiality.
But besides these personal indispositions of mind, which may give a strong biass towards Infidelity, there is one thing farther which appears to have great influence over some mens reasoning, even in the first principles of Religion, and that is
· 3. An inconsiderate and indistinguishing averfion to Superstition, which evil they think can never be effectually cured, but by destroying the
very foundation of Religion itself. It is a very common practice, in many instances, for those that are grown weary of the folly and mischief of one extream, presently and with