Even in their appeal to “custom” they accomplish nothing. To constrain us to yield to custom would be to treat us most unjustly. Indeed, if men’s judgments were right, custom should have been sought of good men. But it often happens far otherwise: what is seen being done by the many soon obtains the force of custom; while the affairs of men have scarcely ever been so well regulated that the better things pleased the majority. Therefore, the private vices of the many have often caused public error, or rather a general agreement on vices, which these good men now want to make law.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion [Christianae Religionis Institutio], Preface, sec. 5 (1536) [tr. Battles (1960]
Then, again, it is to no purpose they call us to the bar of custom. To make every thing yield to custom would be to do the greatest injustice. Were the judgments of mankind correct, custom would be regulated by the good. But it is often far otherwise in point of fact; for, whatever the many are seen to do, forthwith obtains the force of custom. But human affairs have scarcely ever been so happily constituted as that the better course pleased the greater number. Hence the private vices of the multitude have generally resulted in public error, or rawther that common consent in vice which these worthy men would have to be law.
[tr. Beveridge (1845)]
Added on 14-Dec-21 | Last updated 14-Dec-21
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