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Preference of Vice to Vertue a manifest wrong Judgment.       §70. I shall not now enlarge any further on the wrong Judgments,
and neglect of what is in their power, whereby Men mislead them-
selves. This would make a Volume, and is not my business. But
whatever false notions, or shameful neglect of what is in their
power, may put Men out of their way to Happiness, and distract
them, as we see, into so different courses of life, this yet is certain,
that Morality, established upon its true Foundations, cannot but
determine the Choice in any one, that will but consider: and he that
will not be so far a rational Creature, as to reflect seriously upon
infinite Happiness and Misery, must needs condemn himself, as not
making that use of his Understanding he should. The Rewards and
Punishments of another Life, which the Almighty has established,
as the Enforcements of his Law, are of weight enough to determine
the Choice, against whatever Pleasure or Pain this Life can shew,
when the eternal State is considered but in its bare possibility,
which no Body can make any doubt of. He that will allow exquisite
and endless Happiness to be but the possible consequence of a good
Life here, and the contrary state the possible Reward of a bad one,
must own himself to judge very much amiss, if he does not conclude,
That a vertuous Life, with the certain expectation of everlasting
Bliss, which may come, is to be preferred to a vicious one, with the
fear of that dreadful state of Misery, which ’tis very possible may
overtake the guilty; or at best the terrible uncertain hope of Anni-
hilation. This is evidently so, though the vertuous Life here had
— 282 —
nothing but Pain, and the vicious continual pleasure: which yet is
for the most part quite otherwise, and wicked Men have not much
the odds to brag of, even in their present possession; nay, all things
rightly considered, have, I think even the worse part here. But when
infinite Happiness is put in one Scale, against infinite Misery in the
other; if the worst, that comes to the pious Man, if he mistakes, be
the best that the wicked can attain to, if he be in the right, Who
can without madness run the venture? Who in his Wits would
chuse to come within a possibility of infinite Misery, which if he
miss, there is yet nothing to be got by that hazard? Whereas on
the other side, the sober Man ventures nothing against infinite
Happiness to be got, if his Expectation comes to pass. If the good
Man be in the right, he is eternally happy; if he mistakes, he is not
miserable, he feels nothing. On the other side, if the wicked be in
the right, he is not happy; if he mistakes, he is infinitely miserable.
Must it not be a most manifest wrong Judgment, that does not
presently see, to which side, in this case, the preference is to be
given? I have foreborn to mention any thing of the certainty, or
probability of a future State, designing here to shew the wrong
Judgment, that any one must allow, he makes upon his own
Principles laid how he pleases, who prefers the short pleasures of a
vicious Life upon any consideration, whilst he knows, and cannot
but be certain, that a future Life is at least possible.
Locke Hum II, 21, §70, pp. 281-282