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and allow all these and a thousand other such rules, all
Obj. Innate here to offer that very ready, but not very principles material answer, (viz.) that the innate prin- may be cose ciples of morality, may, by education and rupted, an
swered. custom, and the general opinion of those amongst whom we converse, be darkened, and at last quite worn out of the minds of men. Which assertion of theirs, if true, quite takes away the argument of universal consent, by which this opinion of innate principles is endeavoured to be proved : unless those men will think it reasonable, that their private persuasions, or that of their party, should pass for universal consent: a thing not unfrequently done, when men, presuming themselves to be the only masters of right reason, cast by the votes and opinions of the rest of man. kind, as not worthy the reckoning. And then their ar. gument stands thus : “ the principles which all mankind allow for true, are innate ; those that men of right reason admit, are the principles allowed by all mankind; we, and those of our mind, are men of reason; therefore we agreeing, our principles are innate;" which is a very pretty way of arguing, and a short cut to infallibility. For otherwise it will be very hard to understand, how there be some principles, which all men do acknowledge and agree in; and yet there are none of those principles, which are not by depraved custom, and ill education, blotted out of the minds of many men: which is to say, that all men admit, but yet many inen do deny, and dissent from them. And indeed the supposition of such first principles will serve us to very little purpose ; and we shall be as much at a loss with, as without them, if they may, by any human power, Vol. I.
such as is the will of our teachers, or opinions of our
But yet all those propositions,
$. 90. This, however strange it may seem, commonly is that which every day's experience concome by their firms; and will inot, perhaps, appear so principles.
· wonderful, if we consider the ways and steps by which it is brought about; and how really it may come to pass, that doctrines that have been derived from no better original than the superstition of a nurse, and the authority of an old woman, may, by length of time, and consent of neighbours, grow up to the dignity of principles in religion or morality. For such, who
are careful as they call it) to principle children well
§. 23. To which we may add, that when men, so instructed, are grown up, and reflect on their own minds, they cannot find any thing more ancient there than those opinions which were taught them before their memory began to keep a register of their actions, or date the time when any new thing appeared to them; and therefore make no scruple to conclude, that those propositions, of whose knowledge they can find in them, selves no original, were certainly thie impress of God and nature upon their minds, and not taught them by any one else. These they entertain and submit to, as many do to their parents, with veneration; not because it is natural: nor do children do it, where they are not so taught: but because, having been always so educated, and having no reinembrance of the beginning of this respect, they think it is natural.
9. 24. This will appear very likely, and almost unavoidable to come to pass, if we consider the nature of mankind, and the constitution of human affairs; wherein most men cannot live without employing their time in the daily labours of their callings; nor be at quiet in their minds without some foundation or principle to rest their thoughts on. There is scarce any one so fioating and superficial in his understanding, who bath not some reverenced propositions, which are to
him the principles on which he bottoms his reasonings; and by which he judgeth of truth and falsehood, right and wrong: which some, wanting skill and leisure, and others the inclination, and some beilig taught, that they ought not to examine; there are few to be found who are not exposed by their ignorance, laziness, education, or precipitancy, to take them upon trust.
§. 25. This is evidently the case of all children and young folk; and custom, a greater power than nature, seldom failing to make them worship for divine what she hath inured them to bow their minds, and subinit their understandings to; it is no wonder that grown men, either perplexed in the necessary affairs of life, or hot in the pursuit of pleasures, should not seriously sit down to examine their own tenets; especially when one of their principles is, that principles ought not to be questioned. And had men leisure, parts, and will, who is there almost that dare shake the foundations of all his past thoughts and actions, and endure to bring upon himself the shame of having been a long time wholly in mistake and error ? who is there hardy enough to contend with the reproach which is every where prepared for those who dare venture to dissent from the received opinions of their country or party ? And where is the man to be found that can patiently prepare himself to bear the name of whimsical, sceptical, or atheist, which he is sure to meet with, who does in the least scruple any of the common opinions? And he will be much more afraid to question those principles, when he shall think them, as most men do, the standards set up by God in his mind, to be the rule and touchstone of all other opinions. And what can linder him from thinking them sacred, when he tinds them the earliest of all his own thoughts, and the most reverenced by others?
. 26. It is easy to imagine how by these means it comes to pass, that men worship the idols that have been set up in their minds; grow fond of the notions they have been long acquainted with there; and stamp the characters of divinity upon absurdities and errors, become zealous votaries to bulls and monkeys; and contend too, fight, and die in defence of their opinions : “ Dum
solos credit habendos esse deos, quos ipse colit.”. For since the reasoning faculties of the soul, which are almost constantly, though not always warily nor wisely, employed, would not know how to move, for want of a foundation and footing, in most men; who through laziness or avocation do not, or for want of time, or true helps, or for other causes, cannot penetrate into the principles of knowledge, and trace truth to its fountain and original; it is natural for them, and almost unavoidable, to take up with some borrowed principles: which being reputed and presumed to be the evident proofs of other things, are thought not to need any other proof themselves. Whoever shall receive any of these into his mind, and entertain them there, with the reverence usually paid to principles, never venturing to examine them, but accustoming himself to believe them, because they are to be believed, may take up from his education, and the fashions of his country, any absurdity for innate principles; and by long poring on the same objects, so dim his sight, as to take monsters lodged in his own brain, for the images of the Deity, and the workmanship of his hands.
. 5. 27. By this progress, how many there are who arrive at principles, which they
Principles believe innate, may be easily observed, in examined. the variety of opposite principles held and contended for by all sorts and degrees of men.
And he that shall deny this to be the method, wherein most men proceed to the assurance they have of the truth and evidence of their principles, will perhaps find it a hard matter any other way to account for the contrary tenets, which are firmly believed, confidently asserted, and which great numbers are ready at any time to seal with their blood. And, indeed, if it be the privilege of innate principles, to be received upon their own authority, without examination, I know not what may not be believed, or how any one's principles can be questioned. If they may, and ought to be examined, and tried, I desire to know how first and innate principles can be tried; or at least it is reasonable to des mand the marks and characters, whereby the genuine