Poor virtue! thou wast but a name, and mere jest,[p. 169] and for thee have I quitted injustice, the way to wealth, and excess, the parent of all true pleasure,—these are the thoughts that call at once for our pity and indignation; for they will engender swarms of diseases, like fly-blows and vermin, in our minds.
And I, choust fool, did practise thee in earnest,
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Our great ignorance of the Divine Beings most naturally runs in two streams; whereof the one in harsh and coarse tempers, as in dry and stubborn soils, produces atheism, and the other in the more tender and flexible, as in moist and yielding grounds, produces superstition. Indeed, every wrong judgment, in matters of this nature especially, is a great unhappiness to us; but it is here attended with a passion, or disorder of the mind, of a worse consequence than itself. For every such passion is, as it were, an error inflamed. And as a dislocation is the more painful when it is attended with a bruise, so are the perversions of our understandings, when attended with passion. Is a man of opinion that atoms and a void were the first origins of things? It is indeed a mistaken conceit, but makes no ulcer, no shooting, no searching pain. But is a man of opinion that wealth is his last good? This error contains in it a canker; it preys upon a man's spirits, it transports him, it suffers him not to sleep, it makes him horn-mad, it carries him over headlong precipices, strangles him, and makes him unable to speak his mind. Are there some again, that take virtue and vice for substantial bodies? This may be sottish conceit indeed, but yet it bespeaks neither lamentations nor groans. But such opinions and conceits as these,—
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