False Principles Of Right And Wrong Causes Of Crime
From defect in Reasoning, (that is to say, from Errour,) men are prone to violate the Lawes, three wayes.
First, by Presumption of false Principles; as when men from having observed how in all places, and in all ages, unjust Actions have been authorised, by the force, and victories of those who have committed them; and that potent men, breaking through the Cob-web Lawes of their Country, the weaker sort, and those that have failed in their Enterprises, have been esteemed the onely Criminals; have thereupon taken for Principles, and grounds of their Reasoning, “That Justice is but a vain word: That whatsoever a man can get by his own Industry, and hazard, is his own: That the Practice of all Nations cannot be unjust: That examples of former times are good Arguments of doing the like again;” and many more of that kind:
Which being granted, no Act in it selfe can be a Crime, but must be made so (not by the Law, but) by the successe of them that commit it; and the same Fact be vertuous, or vicious, as Fortune pleaseth; so that what Marius makes a Crime, Sylla shall make meritorious, and Caesar (the same Lawes standing) turn again into a Crime, to the perpetuall disturbance of the Peace of the Common-wealth.
False Teachers Mis-interpreting The Law Of Nature
Secondly, by false Teachers, that either mis-interpret the Law of Nature, making it thereby repugnant to the Law Civill; or by teaching for Lawes, such Doctrines of their own, or Traditions of former times, as are inconsistent with the duty of a Subject.
And False Inferences From True Principles, By Teachers
Thirdly, by Erroneous Inferences from True Principles; which happens commonly to men that are hasty, and praecipitate in concluding, and resolving what to do; such as are they, that have both a great opinion of their own understanding, and believe that things of this nature require not time and study, but onely common experience, and a good naturall wit; whereof no man thinks himselfe unprovided: whereas the knowledge, of Right and Wrong, which is no lesse difficult, there is no man will pretend to, without great and long study. And of those defects in Reasoning, there is none that can Excuse (though some of them may Extenuate) a Crime, in any man, that pretendeth to the administration of his own private businesse; much lesse in them that undertake a publique charge; because they pretend to the Reason, upon the want whereof they would ground their Excuse.