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“Even supposing for a moment, that a solitary act of disobedience may pass without evil results—nay, may bring beneficial ones: even supposing this, the wisdom of the act is not thereby proved. For consider the probable effects of a wrong precedent. As Paley truly says, “the bad consequences of actions are twofold, particular and general.“ And admitting even that a particular good has been secured, a far greater general evil has been entailed by opening the way to future disobedience. There is no security in this lax creed. One breach of the law leaves a gap for numberless subsequent trespasses. If the first false step has been taken with seeming impunity, it will inevitably be followed by others. School-boy promises of—“only this once” are not to be believed. Make a hole through a principle to admit a solitary exception, and, on one pretence or other, so many other exceptions will by and by be thrust through after it, as to render the principle utterly good-for-nothing. In fact, if its consequences are closely traced, this same plea for licence in special cases turns out to be the source of nearly all the evils that afflict us. Almost every wrong doing is excused by the doer on this ground. He confesses his act is at variance with the moral law, which he admits to be, and in some sort believes to be, the best guide. He thinks, however, that his interest requires him now and then to make exceptions. All men do this;—and see the result”

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