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Concerning those who obstinately persist in whatever they have determined.

Some, when they hear such discourses as these,

" That we ought to be steadfast; that the will is by nature free and unconstrained; and that all else is liable to restraint, compulsion, slavery, and tyranny," imagine that they must remain immutably fixed to everything which they have determined. But it is first necessary that the determination should be a wise one. I agree that there should be sinews in the body, but such as in a healthy, an athletic body; for if you show me that you exhibit the [convulsed] sinews of a lunatic, and value yourself upon that, I will say to you, Seek a physician, man; this is not muscular vigor, but is really enervation. Such is the distemper of mind in those who hear these discourses in a wrong manner; like an acquaintance of mine, who, for no reason, had determined to starve himself to death. I went the third day, and inquired what was the matter. He answered, " I am determined." Well; but what is your motive? For if your de- [p. 1163] termination be right, we will stay, and assist your departure; but, if unreasonable, change it. "We ought to keep our determinations." What do you mean, sir? Not all of them; but such as are right. Else, if you should fancy that it is night, if this be your principle, do not change, but persist, and say, "We ought to keep to our determinations." What do you mean, sir? Not to all of them. Why do you not begin by first laying the foundation, inquiring whether your determination be a sound one or not, and then build your firmness and constancy upon it. For if you lay a rotten and crazy foundation, you must not build; since the greater and more weighty the superstructure, the sooner will it fall. Without any reason, you are withdrawing from us, out of life, a friend, a companion, a fellow-citizen both of the greater and the lesser city; and while you are committing murder, and destroying an innocent person, you say, "We must keep to our determinations." Suppose, by any means, it should ever come into your head to kill me; must you keep such a determination?

With difficulty this person was, however, at last convinced; but there are some at present whom there is no convincing. So that now I think I understand, what before I did not, the meaning of that common saying, that a fool will neither bend nor break. May it never fall to my lot to have a wise, that is. an untractable, fool for my friend. " It is all [p. 1164] to no purpose; I am determined." So are madmen too; but the more strongly they are determined upon absurdities, the more need have they of hellebore. Why will you not act like a sick person, and apply yourself to a physician? "Sir, I am sick. Give me your assistance; consider what I am to do. It is my part to follow your directions." So say in the present case: " I know not what I ought to do; and I am come to learn." " No; but talk to me about other things; for upon this I am determined." What other things? What is of greater consequence, than to convince you that it is not sufficient to be determined, and to persist? This is the vigor of a madman; not of one in health. " I will die, if you compel me to this." Why so, man; what is the matter? " I am determined." I have a lucky escape, that it is not your determination to kill me. " I will not be bribed [from my purpose]." Why so? " I am determined." Be assured, that with that very vigor which you now employ to refuse the bribe, you may hereafter have as unreasonable a propensity to take it; and again to say, "I am determined." As, in a distempered and rheumatic body, the humor tends sometimes to one part, sometimes to another; thus it is uncertain which way a sickly mind will incline. But if to its inclination and bent a spasmodic vigor be likewise added, the evil then becomes desperate and incurable. [p. 1165]


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