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world for centuries upon centuries. Nay, that foolish argument has been espoused and commented upon by his difciples, for the fame length of time. To proceed to another inftance: Marriage within the fourth degree of confanguinity, as well as of affinity, is prohibited by the Lateran council, and the reafon given is, That the body being made up of the four elements, has four different humours in it*. The Roman Catholics began with beheading heretics, hanging them, or ftoning them to death. But fuch punishments were difcovered to be too flight, in matters of faith. It was demonftrated, that heretics ought to be burnt in a flow fire: it being taken for granted, that God punishes them in the other world with a flow fire; it was inferred, "That as every prince

* The original is curious: "Quaternarius enim "numerus bene congruit prohibitioni conjugii cor"poralis; de quo dicit Apoftolus, Quod vir non "habet poteftatem fui corporis, fed mulier; neque

mulier habet poteftatem fui corporis, fed vir; "quia quatuor funt humores in corpore, quod "conftat ex quatuor elementis." Were men who could be guilty of fuch nonfenfe, qualified to be our leaders in the most important of all concerns, that of eternal falvation? " and

"and every magistrate is the image of "God in this world, they ought to follow "his example." Here is a double error in reasoning: first, the taking for granted the fundamental propofition, which is furely not felf-evident; and next, the drawing a conclufion from it without any connection. The heat of the fun, by the reflection of its rays from the earth, is greatly increased in paffing over the great country of Africa. Hence rich mines of gold, and the black complexion of the inhabitants. In paffing over the Atlantic it is cooled and by the time it reaches the continent of America, it has loft much of its vigour. Hence no gold on the east fide of America. But being heated again in paffing over a great space of land, it produces much gold in Peru. Is not this reafoning curious? What follows is no lefs fo. Huetius Bishop of Auvranches, declaiming against the vanity of establishing a perpetual fucceffion of defcendents, obferves, that other writers had expofed it upon moral principles, but that he would cut it down with a plain metaphyfical argument. "Father and fon are relative


ideas; and the relation is at an end by


"the death of either. My will therefore 66 to leave my eftate to my fon, is abfurd; "because after my death, he is no longer "my fon." By the fame fort of argument he demonstrates the vanity of fame. "The relation that subsists between a man " and his character, is at an end by his "death and therefore, that the charac

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ter given him by the world, belongs not

to him nor to any perfon." Huetius is not the only writer who has urged metaphyfical arguments contrary to common fenfe.

It once was a general opinion among those who dwelt near the fea, that people never die but during the ebb of the tide. And there were not wanting plausible reafons. The sea, in flowing, carries with it vivifying particles that recruit the fick. The sea is falt, and falt preferves from rottennefs. When the sea finks in ebbing, every thing finks with it: nature languishes the fick are not vivified: they die.


What fhall be faid of a reasoning where the conclufion is a flat contradiction to the premises? If a man fhooting at a wild pigeon happen unfortunately to kill his


neighbour, it is in the English law excufable homicide; because the shooting an animal that is no man's property, is a lawful act. If the aim be at a tame fowl for amusement, which is a trefpafs on the property of another, the death of the man is manflaughter. If the tame fowl be fhot in order to be ftolen, it is murder, by reafon of the felonious intent. From this laft the following confequence is drawn, that if a man, endeavouring to kill another, miffes his blow and happeneth to kill himself, he is in judgement of law guilty of wilful and deliberate felf-murder (a). Strange reafoning! to conftrue an act to be wilful and deliberate felf-murder, contrary to the very thing that is supposed.

A plentiful fource of inconclufive reafoning, which prevails greatly during the infancy of the rational faculty, is the making of no proper diftinction between ftrong and weak relations. Minutius Felix, in his apology for the Chriftians, endeavours to prove the unity of the Deity from a most diftant analogy or relation, "That there is but one king of the bees,

(a) Hale, Pleas of the Crown, cap. I. 413.

" and

"and that more than one chief magistrate "would breed confufion." It is a proftitution of reafon to offer fuch an argument for the unity of the Deity. But any argument paffes current, in fupport of a propofition that we know beforehand to Plutarch fays, "that it seemed

be true.

to have happened by the peculiar di"rection of the gods, that Numa was born

on the 21st of April, the very day in "which Rome was founded by Romu"lus;" a very childish inference from a mere accident. Suppofing Italy to have been tolerably populous, as undoubtedly it was at that period, the 21st of April, or any day of April, might have given birth to thousands. In many countries, the furgeons and barbers are claffed together, as members of the fame trade, from a very flight relation, that both of them operate upon the human body. The Jews enjoy'd the reputation, for centuries, of being fkilful phyficians. Francis I. of France, having long laboured under a difeafe that eluded the art of his own phyficians, apply'd to the Emperor Charles V. for a Jewish physician from Spain. Finding that the perfon fent had been convert


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