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CASES OF Conſcience Practically Reſolved.

By the Reverend and Learned JOHN NORMAN, late Miniſter of Bridgwater.

LONDON: Printed by A. M. for Edw. Brewster at at the Sign of the Crane in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1673.

THE PREFACE.

THe reverent Author of this enſuing Treatiſe Mr. John Norman, ſome few years ſince deceaſed, is by that ſtate ſecured both from flattery, or obloquy; why then ſhould we light a candle of Praiſe behind his back. In ſhort, the ſole motive to theſe few lines was this, Some dear Relations and Friends of his, deſirous that his name and worth might be made known to ſuch as knew him not as it was in the Orb wherein he both moved and ſhined, have importuned this un­feigned character and teſtimony of him. What therefore we have ſeen and heard we teſtifie. While he lived in the Miniſtry he ſhined as an eminent light in this world, holding forth the word of life. His Race while he was in his work was not long, yet did he run his race with great diligence and patience; out­ſtripping many. A workman that needed not to be aſhamed, adorn­ing his talent and province, and fulfilling, I had almoſt ſaid the Apoſtles character, 2 Cor. 6.4, 5, &c. And thus when his Lord came, and called him off, he found him doing. Thus he ſhined in all his mo­tions, and trials, following the Lamb where ever he led him. For the time of my intimacy with him, I found him a man of a choice ſpirit. He was relatively godly as a Pa­ſtor, Husband, Father. God en­dowed him with rare natural Parts, bleſſed with no ſmall acqueſts both of grace and learning; he was acute, clear, and ſolid in his rea­ſonings; and in his converſe grave condeſcending, communicative, and of an amicable ſweetneſs. True to his own light, yet not Magiſterially impoſing it as a rule to others. No ſuperſtitious admirer or adorer ohis own notions and ſentiments eſpecially in ſmall and diſputablmatters; no ſupercilious cenſor of another mans liberty or latitude; as ready to borrow light, as toend it; accounting it a character of little ſouls to be too nice in lit­tle things, and yet not refuſing theearch of any thing, by others judg­ed material. Among all other his ar­ainments he had a Scholaſticalexterity, able to tye, and untye Gordian knots, and no mean ca­uiſtical faculty, wherein it were toe wiſht more of our Nation be­••des Mr. Perkins and Ames hadudied to excell. Hereof this en­ing piece is ſome taſte, intendedy him but as an Eſſay in this partf Theology. Which thou haſt Chriſtian Reader) preſented to thee without correction or alterati­on, wherein if any defect appear, his own Reviſal (prevented by death) would have ſupplied; accept and peruſe it now as it is. A Trea­tiſe of Conſcience requires a conſci­entious Author; which this had, and a conſcientious Reader which it calls for. This is needful in every age and ſtate of the Church, and per­haps principally in ours; both to point our judgments, rectifie miſtakes reduce ſtrayers, heal diviſions, ſettle unſtableneſs, and ſteer our courſe. For it is a ſubject practical, and hath influence into the very vitals of Re­ligion; and though it is a duty, and withal ſome difficulty to obſerve a rule, yet much more to give a rule; this requires a Maſter-workman: though we are caſt into an age criti­cal, curious, & too much quarrelous, (which God heal) yet be thou rather in thy ſtudy conſcientious practical, and peaceable, this time as well as this Treatiſe calls for it. I have purpoſed with my ſelf to intermix nothing of mine as to the Rhetorick part of this ſubject or the praxis. This Torch is ſet before thee ſingly by it ſelf, ſhi­ning in its own luſtre; walk while thou haſt the light, leſt darkneſs come upon thee. If thou & I by ſuch helps as theſe riſe up to this bleſſed frame, & attain this ineſtimable Jewel, a good conſcience, which is my prayer, thou haſt thy advantage, and he his aim, who is thine in the Lord,

William Cooper.
1

CASES OF Conſcience.

CHAP. I. Of Conſcience in General.

Queſt. 1. Whether there be ſuch a thing as Conſcience in Man?

A CASE of Conſcience is any ſuch Practical Queſtion as falls under the Judgment, or if you will under the diſquiſition and determina­tion of Conſcience. Having propounded to my ſelf (in ſo great a defect, and in ſo general a deſire of Caſuiſtical Tractates in our Engliſh Tongue) to2 contribute whatever my poor abilities can af­ford to a work of ſo important a nature, and of ſo eminent need: I think it very agreeable to your expectation and my employment, in my entrance upon this work; The an ſit and quid ſit, as alſo the quotuplex be put upon the enquiry. And ſo, what ſome arrogant Scepticks fooliſhly ſtart, and Atheiſtical ſinners would fain ſhake off, is the ſubject of this preliminary Queſtion**See Baldw. Caſ. Conſ. l. 1. c. 1. Fenner Treat. of Conſ. p. 33 ad 41. Binchi. Mellif. Theol. par. 2. p. 121..

The queſtion is not whether there be the ſame Conſcience in all men? (the ſame it is in genere naturae, though not morum.) But whether there be found ſuch a thing as is Con­ſcience in all men? Which I affirm. In this,

1. Will you conſult the Scriptures? Lo, Theſe ſuppoſe a Conſcience in all; 1 Cor. 10.29. 1 Cor. 10.19. 2 Cor. 4.2. 2. Send all to conſult with their own Conſciences, Pſ. 4.4. 1 Cor. 11.13. 3. Set all upon cleanſing and keeping of their Conſciences, with the utmoſt diligence, Prov. 4.23. 1 Tim. 1.5. 4. Shew you a Cloud of Witneſſes, not only among the Pious, but the Profane, the Pagans, in the exerciſe of Conſcience, Act. 24.16. Gen. 42.21, 22. Rom. 2.15. 5. And ſpeak the kinds, the keeping, the comforts, concuſſions, acts, authority, &c. of Conſcience; of which here­after.

So that, though the Scriptures never attempt to prove that there is a Conſcience, (as being a propoſition of clear evidence in Nature, and of confeſſed evidence among all Nations) yet do they abundantly proclaim, that there is a3 ſpirit (a Conſcience) in Man; and that the in­ſpiration of the Almighty hath given him under­ſtanding, Job 32.8.

2. Will you but commune with your own ſelves? Whence are thoſe ſeeds and dictats of ſuch religious dues from you to God, of righteouſneſs to men, and of ſobriety in your ſelves, which ſo frequently put forth within you? What or whence thoſe ſuggeſtions for refraining ſin, and for rouzing up your ſelves to, and in the ſervice of the eternal God, and for ſecuring your everlaſting good, which are ſo often prompted to, and preſſed upon you? What, or whence thoſe ſilent reaſonings and motions within your own breaſts, and the ſeveral returns you make into your own bo­ſoms or hearts? What or whence thoſe ſearch­ings and ſelf-reflections, upon what you are, and act? And ſecret rebukes when you are, or act amiſs, though no eye ſeeth it? As alſo thoſe ſweet refreſhments you inwardly feel, in conſciouſneſs of your own innocency, when others unjuſtly cenſure you, or injuriouſly oppreſs? Briefly, what or whence thoſe ſecret inward records of what you have declined and done, and ſuitable inclinations and recalls thereof to your hearts, eſpecially when death or ſome notable diſtreſs is come upon you, or coming on? What I ſay are all or any of theſe, but the exertings and acts; and there­fore evidences and arguments of that ſpirit or conſcience in man, which is the candle of the Lord ſearching the innermoſt parts of the Belly? Prov. 20.27.

43. Will you confer with ſuch who never heard of Chriſt, or have read the Scriptures? Read their written Confeſſions, or review the workings of their Conſciences. There are few things that more fully or frequently occur in their Writings, than the preſence and power of Conſcience in every man, which God (ſay they) hath given to every one(a)(a)Conſciamens ut cuiqueſua est, ita concipit intra Pectora pro facto ſpemque metumque ſuo Ovid. Faſtor. l. 1. ſ. p. 2., as his de­puty, and for their direction, over-rule, and over-ſight(b)(b)〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Menand. 〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Hierocl.. That from this is no ſubter­fuge, nothing latent(c)(c)〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Iſocrat. ad Demonic. Nunquam fides latendi fit etiam la­tentibus, quia coarguit illos conſcientia & ipſos ſibi ostendit. Senec. Epiſt. 97.. That its Teſtimony is of all others the ſtrongeſt(d)(d)Conſcientia mille testes. Turpe quid acturus te ſine teste time Conſciamens recti famae mendacia ridet. Ovid. Faſtor. l. 1. Magna vis est conſcientiae judicis, & magna in utramquepartem: Ʋt neque timeant qui nihil commiſerint, paenam ſemper ante oculos verſari putent, qui peccrint. Cicer. pro Milon. its tranquility ſweeteſt(e)(e) Hic murus aheneus esto; Nil conſcire ſibi nullâ palleſcere culpâ. Horat. l. 1. Epiſt. 1. Conſcientia rectae voluntatis maxima conſolatio rerum incommodarum. Cicer. Epiſt. tam. 4. l. 6. Nullâ re tam laetart ſoleo, quàm officiorum meorum conſcientiâ Id. Quae etim obruta delectat, quae concioniac famae reelomat, & in ſe omnia reponit & cum ingentem ex altera pur­te turbam contra-ſentientium aſpexit, non numerat ſuffragia, ſed unſſententiâ vincit. Sen. de Benef. l. 4. c. 21. Licet ipſum Corpus plenum bonâ conſcientiâ stillet placebit illi ignis per quem bona fides co••ucebit: Id. ibid.; its torments ſharpeſt. They therefore abundantly counſel man to ſtudy his own Conſcience(g)(g)〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Tecum habita, Perſ. Sat. 4. Nec te quaeſiveris extra. Perſ. Sat. 1., and affectionately com­plain that men ſearch not into, but ſlight their own Conſciences(h)(h)Ʋt nemo in ſe tentat deſcendere, nemo! Perſius. Sat. 4.. As for the workings of their Conſciences, that of the Apoſtle is written(f)(f)Nihil est miſerius quàm animus hominis conſcius. Plaut. Occultum quatiente animum tortore flagellum, Mens ſibi conſcia facti, Praemetuens adhibet stimulos torretqueflagellis Luer. Poena autem vehemens & multò ſaevior illis quos & Caeditius gravis invenit & Rhadamanthus. Nocte diequeſuum gestare in pector- testem. Juven.5 as with a Sun-beam in their life, as well as his Letters. The Gentiles which have not the Law, are a Law to themſelves, which ſhew the work of the Law written in their hearts; their Conſcien­ces alſo bearing witneſs (or their Conſciences witneſſing with them), and their thoughts the mean while accuſing, or elſe excuſing one another, Rom. 2.14, 15.

'Tis true, we commonly ſay, ſuch and ſuch are of no Conſcience; or have loſt all Conſcience. But this is and muſt be underſtood with refer­ence had rather to the quality, than to the fa­culty; i.e. they are of no good or honeſt Con­ſcience; or as Conſcience is conſidered in act, rather than in habit; they have loſt their Con­ſcience as we ſay, men have loſt their reaſon; i. e. the free and uninterrupted uſe of it. And it is true alſo, that there are who have made ſhipwrack of all good Conſcience; that have ſeared their Conſciences; and that there are ſuch whom God hath juſtly given over to a repro­bate and remorſleſs. Conſcience, cannot be denied, [1 Tim. 1.19. Rom. 1.28]. But Conſcience it ſelf ceaſeth not; though ſuch qualities may ceaſe, or are changed. Conſcience is not de­ſtroyed when defiled; 'tis Conſcience though contemned, Tit. 1.15. 1 Tim. 4.2. We find6 the arreſts and acts of Conſcience even among the damned, the devils, [Mat. 8.29. Mar. 9.44.] So that there is a Conſcience univerſally in all, and cannot utterly be extinct in any**See D. Taylor Ductor. Dubitan. 1 l. 1. ru. n. x. 5.6, 7. Even they that ſay unto God, depart from us, we de­ſire not the knowledg of thy ways; are not there­in without the evident ſelf-reflections of an evil and ſeared Conſcience, Job 21.14, 15.

Q. 2. There being a Conſcience in every man im­planted by God, how ought every man to imploy his Conſcience in order to God.

Though Conſcience be under the Sove­reign command, and of the ſole Creation of God, yet hath he ſubſtituted every man to be the keeper of his own Conſcience under him, and muſt ſurrender an account thereof to him, Prov. 4.23. Mal. 2.15. Rom. 14.12. And if God hath implanted in every man a Con­ſcience, then every man ſhould imploy his Conſcience,

1. In the behalf of God, who hath made both them and it for himſelf, Iſa. 43.7. Prov. 16.4. And ſo in purſuance of his holy in­clinations, furthering his ſupream Govern­ment; in promoting his holy intereſt, vindi­cating his ſovereign glory; in patronage of his holy image, forwarding ſerious godlineſs; in propugning his holy intentions and inſti­tutions, fruſtrating (in what they may) the ſtrong hopes and oppoſitions of his enemies, ſin, the world and ſatan.

2. As before God, who, as he made the7 Conſcience, will aſſuredly manifeſt the coun­ſels of the heart, 1 Cor. 4.5. 'Tis good to mind her often of her original, and of his omniſcience; which will both quicken her to her employment, and keep her from extreams. Yea, 'tis neceſſary, that all the acts of Conſci­ence, and of you toward Conſcience, be done as before the all-ſeeing Creator, leſt they loſe their efficacy and authority upon you, and you loſe your end and attempts upon her, whoſe pravity is ſo deſperate, and policies are ſo deep, Rom. 2.15. Jer. 17.9, 10. Pſal. 64.6. Let her often know from you, that God who created and implanted her, hath a moſt intuitive knowledg therefore of her, and all her intrigues lye open to him. Wo to her if ſhe would hide counſel from him. Pſal. 9.4.7. 12. Heb. 4.13. Iſ. 29.15, 16.

3. In the buſineſs appointed her of God. Look, what are thoſe offices, which he hath depoſited with her, and ſee that neither you nor ſhe decline them. Look what are thoſe operations which he hath deſigned by her, and ſee that ſhe do them, and that you ac­cordingly demean your ſelves toward her, [of which Q. 4.] God hath ſurrogated and ſet her up. 1. To be a law-giver from him, im­ploy her in the ſtudy and revelation of what his laws are, and your lives ſhould be, and ſee that you receive the truths ſhe dictateth from him. 2. To be a witneſs for and with him; Imploy her in the obſervation and report of his works and your ways, and ſee that you refuſe not the teſtimony ſhe delivereth for8 him. 3. To be a judg under him; Imploy her in the ſearch and determining of your condition; and ſee you remove not the ſen­tence which ſhe receiveth from him, while you remain in this condition, Rom. 2.14, 15. Joh. 8.9. 2 Cor. 5.11.

4. In a befittingneſs and accord to God; who hath inveſted men with it, and imprin­ted his mind upon it. 1. In accord to his work herein; Men ſhould not call their con­cupiſcence, humour, luſt, illuſion, contumaci­ouſneſs by the precious name of Conſcience. It reflects diſparagement and an odium to its divine riſe and original. 2. In accord to his worth; If Conſcience be implanted in you by him, ſhe is inferiour to him, and ſhould not impoſe upon you, againſt or above his com­miſſion. She is then under the rule and au­thority of him, and muſt render an account to him. 3. In accord to his will, as may beſt expreſs his ſuperiority over her, his ſi­militude upon her, and beſt exemplifie thoſe ſacred inſtructions, which he hath left upon record concerning her.

5. Beyond and above all for him. If Con­ſcience be firſt implanted by him, ſhe ſhould be finally imployed for him. 'Tis a ſordid em­ployment to put Conſcience upon the pallia­tion or extenuating of a mans corruption; or upon the proviſion and erecting of a mans credit, &c. And 'tis a ſorry end to determine her high-bôrn operations within the narrow confines of the object, ſenſe, or of a mans felf, If ſhe be of an higher efficient, ſhe ſhould9 be buſied for an higher end. Her acts and an­ſwers ſhould be all towards God, 1 Pet. 2.19.3.21. Men ſhould ſtudy to approve their Con­ſcience to him, to aſſure their Conſcience be­fore him, and to advance and celebrate him by all the elicit and imperate acts of their Con­ſcience, 2 Cor. 5.9, 11. 1 Joh. 3.19. Pſal. 34.1, 2, 3.

6. So as to behold, and ſteadily own what­ſoever truths he hath ordered out for man's knowledg and obſervation, by implanting him with a Conſcience. And the more eminent any of them are, the more firm ſhould be mans aſſent to them, and the more full and vigor­ous his adherence to, and aſſerting of them.

Q. 3. What great truths may every man know and gather up from hence, that there is a Conſcience in him.

Among and above others, every man may hence know and infallibly conclude theſe en­ſuing verities. Is there a Conſcience in every man? then let every man,

1. Behold a Deity**Conſci­entia opti­mus testis divinatis. Tert. lib. de testim. animae.. That which may be known of God is manifeſt in them from within, as well as manifeſt to them from without; ſo far at leaſt as will render them inexcuſable in ſin, though not as far as may be requiſite and effe­ctual to Salvation. The eternal power and God­head are written in lively and legible Characters (not only upon the Creatures, but) in the Con­ſcience, enough to convince the Atheiſt, and whereby he may arrive to the knowledg, both10 that he is, and (to a good degree) what he is alſo, [Rom. 1.19.20. 2.14, 15]. The ſeveral truths which are conſerved in the Conſcience, doth ſhe not dictate as the will of God? The ſpecial teſtimo­nies the Spirit communicateth, doth ſhe not declare as a witneſs for and with God? The ſentence and judgment wherewith the Spirit concludeth, doth ſhe not deliver as a ſubſtitute from, & as the ſentence of God? I need no other evidence for this, than your own experiences, which do plainly enough acquaint you, that all the offices Conſcience doth diſcharge are done under and for God; and that the obligation ſhe infers is as from ſo by God, So that the being and acts of Con­ſcience are both a pregnant proof that there is a God, and do powerfully perſwade men to acknowledg his Government, and aſcribe him worſhip and glory.

2. Behold the Doctrine of Eternity; rewards of good and evil, that extend beyond death, and all duration of time. Behold your Conſci­ences do not confine themſelves in their con­verſes with you, within the narrow limits of mortality. They carry engraven on them an immortal ſtate, with accord to the immortali­ty of your Souls; and by the proſpect of this, they inhibit and reſtrain from vice, in­ſtigate and rouze us to vertue, refreſh mens hopes at one time, and raiſe fears and tor­ments at another. Manifeſt it is, that Con­ſcience principally reſtrains and rules by the hopes and fears of a future immortality of glory and miſery. And if there were no ſuch thing, her government ſhould be for the moſt11 part frivolous and deluſory. 2. Gods giving her to many perſons would be vain and unne­ceſſary; for how ſhould ſhe contain armed force, or artificial fraud, within the bounds of duty, when the one can ſin ſafely, beyond the puniſhments of this life, and the other ſecretly? Beſides, 3. her glory, in being thus capacita­ted and raiſed above the brute Creatures would be hers and our ſhame and miſery, and render her and us beneath them; while her hopes ſhe ruleth by, are fruſtrate, and her fears are vexing. which are things utterly to be rejected by all rational men.

3. Behold a Dooms-day, or day of judgment. If every man hath a Conſcience, then every man muſt give an accompt, and come to judgment, and neceſſary it is that the ſeveral judgments of Conſcience may be ſet right, and the ſecrets of Conſcience may be revealed and ſet open; [Rom. 2.12. 17. 1 Cor. 4.5.] Conſcience is prae­judicium judicii, as Tertullian well. 'Tis an Em­blem and evidence of the day of judgment. Conſcience keeps many a Court before hand as a Judg; but lo, ſhe conducts men, as by the hand to a more ſolemn and ſupream judgment. Yea, how often doth ſhe cite men hither, and arreſt men from hence! So that Paul preaching of Judgment, maketh even a Pagan Judg to tremble, Act. 24.25. Plain it is, that the judg­ment of Conſcience refers higher, and reminds men often of a more impartial Judg and Judi­cature, that is future and certain. Conſcience con­tains the records of Gods Laws and mens lives as a Book. Here men often keep this Book claſped12 and ſealed; but the righteouſneſs of God in and for the reward of men requireth, that the Books be, and they ſhall be opened, Revel. 20.12. Conſcience is the Candle of the Lord, ſear­ching, yea and ſhewing what men are, and have done, as a witneſs, whoſe work it is to give evidence in judgment. Here men ſome­times baffle, at other times bribe this witneſs. It ſhall therefore be brought into an open and impartial Court, where it may neither be flat­tered nor frighted, Prov. 20.27.

4. Behold Mans Dignity. If every man hath a Conſcience, than is Mankind advanced in dig­nity, next the very Angels. Some of the Crea­tures have being only and no life, others have being and life, but no ſenſe; theſe again have being, life and ſenſe, but no reaſon. But man was created, and is continued with be­ing, life, ſenſe and reaſon likewiſe. Let your condition as creatures be conſidered, and you are but little lower than the Angels, [Pſ. 8.4. &c.] The nobleſt of brute and inanimate Creatures have no principle of Reaſon, no power for ſelf-reflection; they have neither ſcience nor conſci­ence; You have both of them. Be thankful for, be tender of, improve and juſtifie this Dignity: Mind it, maintain it; otherwiſe this Dignity will but heighten your damnation, and you will be worſe than the beaſts that periſh, who, while men injure and abuſe their Conſcience, imploy and improve their brutiſh knowledg, Rom. 1.18. ad finem Pſ. 49.12, 14, 20. Iſa. 1.2, 3, 4.

5. Behold his duty. If every man hath a Con­ſcience, then no man is left to a ſinful licenſe13 without a check or reſtraint upon him, or to his ſelf-luſts without a command to rule him, without a Controller to reprove him, a Con­ſcience to curb and reprehend him.

What duties are delineated and drawn out upon every mans Conſcience I ſhall not diſcuſs or enquire; though I doubt not to ſay, that there is ſince the fall (at leaſt) a minute-draught left of the Moral law of God upon her: So that he that will not ſhut the eyes of his Con­ſcience muſt needs ſee, that he is under a law, and debt, of religion toward God, of righte­ouſneſs toward man, and of temperance and ſobriety to his own ſelf. The Gen­tiles which have not the Law are a Law unto themſelves, which ſhew the work of the Law writ­ten in their hearts, their Conſcience alſo bearing witneſs, &c. Rom. 2.14, 15.

Q. 4. But what duties hath every man to look to, in that he is not left without Conſcience?

I anſwer, in that every man hath a Conſci­ence, he is engaged thereby to look well to the whole compaſs of his duty, and in all things to live honeſtly, Heb. 13.18. For therefore is Conſcience beſtowed upon him, for the better knowledg of his duties, for binding and keep­ing him to his duties, and for his better con­duct in and throughout his duties. But more particularly**See Eenners Treat. oConſc. p. 38, &c. there are duties incumbent on you, both 1 in regard that you have a Con­ſcience, and in 2. regard of the Conſcience that you have.

14(1.) In that you have a Conſcience.

1. Be leſs ſenſual. Senſuality is for Brutes, that are led by ſenſe and imagination. But there is a ſpirit in man, an internal principle of know­ledg and Conſcience, which no ſenſible object is ſuitable to, or can ſatisfie. [Pſ. 49.6. ad finem] the wiſdom, wills, ways that are earthly and ſenſual, are below a man; are brutiſh, yea de­viliſh, Jam. 3.15. Jam. 73.22. Compared with the former uſes.

2. Be more Spiritual, both in the offices you perform, and in the objects you pitch upon. There is a Conſcience in every one of you, which knoweth the things (not only without, but) within man, the interior motions of the mind, as well as the exterior of the members, 1 Cor. 2.11. See there be truth then in the in­ward and hidden parts; and ſlubber not over outward religious actions without inward religious acts and affections. Let there be a proportion within, to your practice with­out; which is not only requiſite, in that you have a Conſcience, but it will richly aſſure your heart and Conſcience before God, 1 Joh. 3.18, 19.

3. Be more ſtrict in ſecret. You cannot look Conſcience out of your Cloſets or Counting­houſes. Here is a ſpy and centinel from God upon you, yea in you, whereſoever you are, and whatſoever you are about. The moſt ſecret omiſſion or commiſſion can never eſcape the privy ſearch of Conſcience, or its judicial cenſure. It ſearcheth all the inward parts of the belly, Prov. 20.27.

154. Be more circumſpect. Ponder the paths of your feet, look well to your eſtates and actions. Walk circumſpectly. Hazard not a breach with Conſcience for theſe bitter-ſweet comforts, or thy Salvation for Secular vanities. Adventure not upon ſin, or the ſnares that induce to, or intangle in ſin. Remember Conſcience is with thee, yea within thee; a ſtrict Notary to write, a ſure Obſerver to witneſs; and a ſevere Judg to puniſh thy precipitate, eſpecially thy precon­ſulted iniquities.

II. In regard of the Conſcience you have. Have you a Conſcience? Then,

1. Act Conſcience. All habits and all powers are for action. And the more eminent they are, the more for exerciſe. You imploy the ſenſitive and brutiſh part; why ſhould the Rational and Angelical part (as Conſcience is) lie idle? The more inactivity, the more you contract of inability here; and the more will be compenſate for this injury hereafter, Rom. 1.21, &c.

2. Attend Conſcience. Its orders, offices, ob­ligation, all the items, intimations, and in­ſtructions, which thou haſt from it. Whatſoever it ſaith, eſpecially that it ſelf be ſafe; here is the main guard; if Sin or Satan ſeiſeth this, what is ſafe? Keep thy heart (which includeth the Conſcience) with all diligence, above all keeping, for out of it are the iſſues of life, Prov. 4.23.

3. Acquaint your ſelves with Conſcience. You ſeek correſpondence abroad, and ſhould you be ſtrangers to Conſcience at home, which dwells under the ſame roof with your ſelf;16 and is expreſſed to you by your very ſelves in the Scripture? Judg in your ſelves, 1 Cor. 11.13, 18. i.e. Judg in your Conſciences; Let a man examine himſelf: i.e. Let him examine his Conſcience, 1 Cor. 11.28. Knw ye not your own ſelves? So large acquaintance with others and ſo little with thy own ſelf? Go, commune with your own hearts upon your beds and be ſtill, 2 Cor. 13.5. Pſal. 4.4.

4. Aſſure Conſcience. Here is an inteſtine friend or enemy, and therefore the beſt friend or worſt enemy. 'Tis a general office, and of greateſt over-ſight. Oh the happy conſequence of aſſuring Conſcience, you aſſure the God of conſcience who will acquit and accept you; and therewith confidence toward God, not only of acceſs to, but of audience, by him, in whatſo­ever you ask of him. 1 Joh. 3.19. 23.

Q. 5. What is Conſcience in Man?

What Conſcience in Angels is, comes not within the compaſs of this Queſtion, nor much concerns our knowledg. 'Tis true, we find Conſcience at work, both in the Angels that kept their firſt eſtate, [Rev. 19.10. ] and in thoſe that kept it not, [Mat. 8.29.] But this is eccentrick to our deſign, which is to diſcuſs Conſcience in man; wherein I may not apply my ſelf to feed the itch of a Pole­mical School-queriſt, but as may beſt fit the intention of a ſober practical Caſuiſt.

The An ſit hath been ſpoken to; the Quid ſit is the ſubject now before us. And in that17 the nature of the thing is often exhibited us in the notation of the term, whereby it is expreſſed.

I ſhall premiſe ſomething of the name, then preſent to you its nature.

1. For the Name. There is not one word which preciſely ſignifieth the Conſcience, where­by 'tis expreſſed in the Old Teſtament. Some­times it is expreſſed by Spirit, Prov. 18.14. Pſal. 34.14. and therewith accords Pauls mention of it, 1 Cor. 2.11. The ſpirit of man (i.e. his Conſcience), which is in him. Some­times by heart, 2 Sam. 24.10. 1 King. 2.44. with which agrees that of 1 Joh. 3.20, 21. If our heart (i.e. our Conſcience), condemn, &c. I ſhall not omit what is obſerved by A. Burges,**Of Orig. ſin par. 3. c. 2. ſ. 1. that the firſt ſignification of the word, [〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉leb. ] rendred heart, is a conſperſion, or meal ſprinkled with water; which points us, how the heart or conſcience of man is con­ſperſed, and water'd with ſome common principles and notions about good and evil, and accordingly is to make application of them.

The Greek〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and Latin Conſcientia, from whence we have our Engliſh word Con­ſcience, ſignifie a knowledg together. Conſci­entia eſt quaſi conjuncta ſcientia. Conſcience is a conjunct ſcience; both as it reſpects ſeveral ſubjects, and ſeveral objects. A knowledg to­gether of many Subjects; or by and with others; and of many objects, or of others.

1. 'Tis a knowledg together with others. Conſcientia eſt cum alio ſcientia, as Aquinas**Sum q. 79. a 13.. 18And that not ſo much with other men; though the ſincerely conſcientious would fain com­mend himſelf to every mans Conſcience in the ſight of God, and is careful of keeping cloſe to that univerſally received rule of Con­ſcience, Math. 7.12, Luk. 6.31. 2 Cor. 4.2. 2. Nor ſo much with a mans own ſelf; when the heart and head are agreed in the judg­ment which is made. And a man can ſay with Paul, My conſcience alſo bearing me witneſs. Conſcientia eſt quaſi cordis ſcientia, ſaith Ber­nard**De in­terior: Do­mo. Cor quan­do ſe novit appellatur Conſcienti­a, quando praeter ſe alia, ſcien­tia. Id. ib.. Knowledg in the head alone is barely ſcience, (as one ſaith**Sheffield Good Conſe. c. 1 p. 17.); but knowledg in the heart too is Conſcience rightly ſo called. 3: But 'tis a knowledg together with God. Cum Deo ſcientia. Behold my witneſs is in hea­ven, and my record is on high, ſaith Job, Ch. 16.19. And Paul, I ſpeak the truth in Chriſt, and lie not, my conſcience alſo bearing me witneſs in the Holy Ghoſt, Rom. 9.1. He produceth three witneſſes ſay our Annota­tors**Ad loc. Chriſt, Conſcience, and the Holy Ghoſt.

2. 'Tis a Knowledg together of many ob­jects. Theſe Conſcience doth not abſtractly or apart conſider, but always conjoyns in its proceeds and operation, knitting one know­ledg and object to another, and conjoyning one to another: Adding ſcience unto ſcience, as one ſaithbbSanderſ. de Oblig. Conſe. Praelect. 1. §. 6.. The univerſal knowledg, or the knowledg of law and right, to the parti­cular knowledg, or the knowledg of the fact, by applying one unto the other.

2. The nature of Conſcience I ſhall briefly19 diſcuſs, in explicating this definition. Con­ſcience in man is mans judgment of himſelf; i.e. of his eſtate and actions, as it and they are ſubjected to the judgment of God. The definitions and deſcriptions hereof are vari­ouſly given by various Authors. This of Dr. AmesaaDe Conſ. l. 1. c. 1. n. 1. ſeems to me very conſonant, and comprehenſive enough, which is cloſed with by devout FennerbbTreat, of Conſ. p. 32, and by Dr. AnneſlieccCripleg. Lect. Ser. 1. p. 3.. This ſpeaks its nature, and ſuits with Scripture. Judg you. Judg in your ſelves. If we would judg our ſelves. Judg between me and my Vine­yard, Act. 14.19. 1 Cor. 11.13, 31. Iſa. 5.3.

Firſt. I ſay 'tis mans judgment: I know there is who likes not the mention hereof in the definition of Conſcience; Becauſe, ſaith he, ſome acts of Conſcience cannot, without ſome force or ſtraining, be referred hither. But I muſt acknowledg (without any ill reflecti­on had on an Author, whom I do ſo highly reverence) that the force of this reaſon is not ſo ponderous and preſſing with me, while this which I adhere unto, hath the favour and countenance of the Scripture (as before) and while (in a fair conſtruction), Conſcience judg­eth what is the matter of law before it in the firſt propoſition; what is the matter of fact in the ſecond propoſition, and is moſt ſtrictly and plainly acknowledged to be a Judg in the third propoſition. Q. What is the ſub­ject of the Conſci­ence; wherin it reſideth?

Conſcience then is mans Judgment, and ſo appertaineth to the Underſtanding; not to the Speculative underſtanding, which judgeth only of things as true, and hath this alone20 for its object; but to the practical under­derſtanding, which judgeth of things not only as true, but in their tendency alſo; or as they are operable or ordinable to action. Conſcience appertaineth then to the practical intellectccVid. Saunderſ. de oblig. Conſ. Prae. 1. § 21. Rutherf. Libert of Conſc. c. 1. p. 4, 5. Baldw. Caſ. Conſ. l. 1. c. 3., not to the ſpeculative, nor to the will. Con­ſcience is a conjunct ſcience as hath been ſaid. The heart knoweth its own bitterneſs, Prov. 18.14. Oft times alſo thine heart knoweth, that thou alſo haſt curſed others, Eccleſ. 7.22. But the will is a blind, and no knowing pow­er, as is generally acknowledged. Neverthe­leſs it is true, that as the will hath no ſmall influence upon the Conſcience, to interrupt it in, and to encline and engage it to the diſ­charge of its acts and offices; ſo the Con­ſcience doth in the diſcharge thereof, include therewith, at leaſt infer thereupon, ſuitable in­clinations ordinarily in, and impreſſions on the will; I might add, and upon the affections alſo: its judgment uſually being received, either with delight and joy on the one hand, or with diſplicence,Q. Whe­ther Con­ſcience be an act, power, or habit? dread and grief on the other.

But now, whether Conſcience be an habit, or act, or power of the practical underſtan­ding, is of a more ſtrict and ſubtil diſquiſiti­on among the School-men; for accommoda­tion whereof, conſult our own learned Saun­derſon**De Obl. Conſcient. Prael. 1. §. 7. ad 2. Burgeſ. Or. ſin part. 3. c. 2. ſ. 1.. Truth is, 'tis but very little we un­derſtand of our own ſelves; a labour of un­queſtionable difficulty to define and diſcrimi­nate things of ſo near a cognation in nature, and connexion in uſe and exerciſe, as powers, habits, and acts are. Yet ſomething muſt be21 left for looſing and untying this knot. Con­ſcience is ſometimes of a larger, ſometimes of a ſtricter and more limited acceptation.

1. Conſcience is ſometimes largely taken, and in the vulgar uſe of this term, it is of a very large circumference and comprehenſion. It is of known and confeſſed obſervation, that the judgment of Conſcience is not conſum­mate or perfected, but by diſcourſe in ſome practical Syllogiſm, which is ſtill formally or elſe virtually done**Vid. Ameſ. de Conſc. l. 1. c 1. n. 7, 8, 9, 10.. As thus,

  • He that believeth and is baptized ſhall be ſaved.
  • But I believe and am baptized,
  • Therefore I ſhall be ſaved.

In the firſt propoſition you have the Truth, which Conſcience dictates, and therein ſtill ſhines forth the light and laws of Conſcience. In the ſecond you have the Teſtimony, which Conſcience delivers, and therein we ſtill ſee the written Records, and witneſſing reflecti­ons and reports of Conſcience. In the third you have the Sentence denounced by Conſci­ence; and herein Conſcience ſits moſt pro­perly as a Judg. Now thus, within the cir­cumference of Conſcience are theſe three things. (with a different reſpect unto which, Conſci­ence may be accounted either a power, or habit, or act), 1. there is the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or con­ſerved truths and laws of Conſcience, which are ſtill had in the firſt propoſition. 2. And the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, (Conſcience more properly ſo called), or the conſentient Teſtimony of Con­ſcience,22 which is ſtill aſſumed in the ſecond propoſition. 3. And the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or concluſory judgment, which is ſtill made in the laſt pro­poſition. All theſe fall vvithin Conſcience, its lines of communication, its large and uſual acceptation**Rutherf. Libert. of Conſc. c. 1. p. 6, 7.. And indeed all theſe are mani­feſtly included in the having and exerciſe of a good Conſcience, profeſſed by Paul, Heb. 13.18. Act. 24.16. and in the advice and exhortation which is preſſed by Peter, 1 Pet. 3.16. Having a good Conſcience, &c. i.e. a Con­ſcience well principled with truth, as con­cerns the former propoſition, and well per­forming its teſtimony and judicial ſentence, as concerns the two latter. A Conſcience conſerving good laws, and conformably giving a good ſuffrage or teſtimony, and a good ſen­tence or judgment. With reſpect to the for­mer (unleſs as it is ſubjectively taken for that intellective practical power, wherein theſe laws are engraven (which yet we uſu­ally ſay are written in the Conſcience) it is an intellective habit (as the Schools**Aquin. Sum. 1. q. 79. a. 12. Sayr. clav. reg. c. 2. gener­ally determine, and ours**Ameſ. de Conſc. l. 1. c. 2 n. 1. &c. alſo) of the firſt principles about good and evil. With reſpect to the latter I humbly conceive it is a po­wer of the practical underſtanding, (of which by and by). And as it is taken effectivè for an act or motion of the Conſcience, (as it is uſed in 1 Pet. 2.9. If a man for Conſcience ſake towards God endure grief, &c. i.e. for the dictates and directions, and ſo diſcharge ohis Conſcience), ſo it may be deſcribed by an act.

232. Conſcience is ſtrictly taken, as hath been noted. And that it is not an act in this ſenſe, as Aquinas**Sum. q. 79. a. 13. and his Followers do contend, ſeems to me evident. Partly becauſe there are the acts of Conſcience, as to accuſe, acquit, &c. and acts do not flow from acts, but ei­ther from ſome forms or power, or habit: 2. And becauſe of the abſurdity thereupon conſequent. If Conſcience were an act, then Conſcience were not, when it acted not; and ſhould ceaſe to be, as often as we ſleep, or Conſcience doth ceaſe to act, which is againſt the evidence both of Nature and Scripture; which ſtates it to be Conſcience ſtill, though now ſeared, 1 Tim. 4.2.

I cloſe with them rather, who call it a poweraaSee Per­kins Treat. of Conſc. vol. 1. p. 517. Baldw. caſ. l. 1. c. 3. Rutherf. lib. of conſ. c. 1. p. 3. &c. Huit of Conſc. p. 87., rather than an habit of the pra­ctical intellect(though it be true, that the other opinion hath its ſtrong and ſubtil pa­tronsbbScotus & Duran. l. 2 Distin. 39 and ſpecious, and ſhrewd pretenſi­ons). Not only (1) in that Conſcience cites and calls before it, all the other powers, ſifts, ſits upon and cenſureth themccHarriſ. Pauls Ex­erciſe.. But in that (2) it is contradiſtinguiſhed from another power, viz. the Mind, Tit. 1.15. (3) In that by this men have their potency, to the acts hereafter mentioned. Qu. 4. (4) And alſo, in that it is proper to, and inſeparable from any the ſons of men; and therefore is as natural, as any other power of man what­ſoever. Yet that Conſcience may in no ſenſe be called an habit, as well as is ſcience, for the reaſons by a ModernddSanderſ. ibid. §. 16, 17, 18. given, I ſhall not impugn.

24Secondly. Q. What is the ob­ject of Conſcien. which it reſpecteth and treats.I add Conſcience is Mans judg­ment of himſelf; i.e. of his eſtate and actions. Conſcience rides circuit throughout all the man, ând reflects upon all in and of man, 'Tis ſet up as a Judg, not only in Mans ſelf, 1 Cor. 11.13. but of mans ſelf, v. 31. Conſci­ence is therefore placed as it were in the midſt, between God and man, as an arbitrator to give ſentence, and to pronounce, either with man or againſt man, unto God. So Perkins**Treat. of Conſc. c. 1.. There is nothing of us or ours hid from the inſpe­ction, enquiries and judgment of Conſcience, neither our eſtate, nor actions**See Anneſley Cripl. lect. p. 4.. 'Tis the can­dle of the Lord. ſearching all the inward parts of the belly. Prov. 20.27.

1. For Mans Eſtate. It is not only put upon the ſcrutiny of our eſtates once and again, [2 Cor. 13.5. Pſal. 4.4. cum. 3.] but paſſeth ſentence frequently. Conſcience told the Goaler and thoſe Jews, that they were in a loſt and miſerable eſtate; ſo that they cried out, Sirs, what muſt we do to be ſaved? Act. 16.30. 2.37. Conſcience tells John and other Believers in Jeſus, that they were in a ſafe and happy eſtate; We know that we are paſſed from death to life, Joh. 3.14. See alſo ver. 19, 21.

2. As for Mans Actions. It ſees into and ſits upon and ſentenceth all of them, whether ex­ternal or internal; whether duties and ſervices, or defects and ſins, whether toward God, or toward man; all acts concerning holineſs or honeſty, [Act. 24.16. Heb. 13.18]. Conſci­ence looks inward to, and judgeth of the root, ſpring, and ſincerity of our actions, [Heb. 9.14. 252 Cor. 1.12]. Outward, to the fruits and circumſtances of our actions, [2 Cor. 4.2. 2 Tim. 1.3, 4.] Upward, to approve its acti­ons in Gods eye, and to anſwer Gods ends, and his engagements, [2 Cor. 2.17, 1 Pet. 3.21]. Downward, by an holy activity and ſelf-judging, to avoid the ſevere judgments there prepared, [1 Cor. 11.31, 32]. It looks backward upon former actions, and ſmiteth for them, if they have been evil, [2 Sam. 24.10.] And forward alſo, toward future actions, caution­ing us againſt ſuch as are evil that we decline them, [Gen. 39.9.] And charging us to ſuch as are good, to do them, [1 Pet. 3.16]. The object of Conſcience then is very large and extenſive. So that as one ſaith**Anneſley qu. ſupra. , 'Tis much eaſier to reckon up, what is not the object of Con­ſcience, then what is. In brief, whatſoever is morally operable is the object of Conſcience, whatſoever Conſcience doth or may operate about in a Moral ſenſe; and ſo takes in both our eſtate toward God, and all our actions; not only ſuch as are moral operables in a ſtrict­er ſenſe; but ſuch as are only thus, in a larger ſenſe, as is Evangelical faith it ſelf to be ac­counted**Sanderſ. Prael. 1. §. 23.. This being as the command, ſo the work of God; that we believe in his Son Jeſus Chriſt, Joh. 6.29. 1 Joh. 3.23.

Nay, there is not an act of that Moral in­differency, which we may call properly hu­mane, (the indeliberate and immoral actions of man, which grow out of the imagination and diſpoſition of natural qualities I except, as being not in propriety of ſpeech humane, as26 not proceeding from the Soul as reaſonable**Aquin. Sum. 12. q. 18. a. 9.) I ſay there is not ſo indifferent an act, which comes not within the ſight and cenſure of Conſcience, though not as ſuch, or ſecundum ſpeciem; yet in its ſingular exiſtence, and as 'tis circumſtanced; by which circumſtances Conſcience conſiders it, made either morally good, or elſe morally evil. Thus Davids heart ſmote him, but for cutting off the skirt of a garment, an act in it ſelf indifferent. But Con­ſcience attends the circumſtances. It was the skirt of Saul his Sovereign, and Gods Sub­ſtitute; and therefore a ſin in him, who was his ſubject, ſervant, &c. 1 Sam. 24.5, 6.

Thirdly. Q. What is the end of Conſci­ence to which it reſers?'Tis Mans judgment of himſelf; i.e. of his eſtate and actions, as it and they are ſub­jected to the judgment of God. Conſcience be­ing Gods Subſtitute, and ſet by God himſelf upon the throne of Judicature, doth therefore ſubordinate all to God; all its objects and in all its operations. It eyes God as the ſupream Judg, both of it and of them, in its regular acts and exerciſes. Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, Pſal. 139.23, 24. Nor doth Conſcience aſcite either the eſtate or any action into, or ſit upon them in judgment; but as they and it are ſubjected to him, who is ſuperiour to the Conſcience, grea­ter than the heart, and knoweth all things, 1 Joh. 3.20, 21. Truth is, when Conſcience acts it ſelf it is ſteered by, and ſubordinated to the judgment of God in its whole judicial proceſs. In the firſt propoſition 'tis ruled by, and ſubjected to the judgment of God, in27 point of truth; or as to matter of law. In the ſecond propoſition 'tis ruled by and ſubjected to it, in point of teſtimony, or as to matter of fact; and therefore in the third propoſition (which is but a reſult from and upon the two former) there cannot but be a ſubordination and ſubjection ſtill had and made, either virtu­ally or formally, to the ſame righteous and unerring judgment. How ſhall I do this great wickedneſs and ſin againſt God? ſaith Conſci­ence in Joſeph. As I have done, ſo God hath requited me, ſaith Conſcience in Adoni-bezek. Whether it be right in the ſight of God to hear­ken unto you more than unto God, judg ye? ſay Peter and John to the Jewiſh Rulers, when they would ſet Conſcience in them at work. Gen. 39.9. Judg. 1.7. Act. 4.19.

The office of Conſcience then in general is to judg, for, from, and under God, which is incluſive of many particular acts, or (as ſome pleaſe to phraſe it) offices, whereof I ſhall give you a ſuccinct view in opening a ſixth Queſtion.

Q. 6. What are the Offices of Conſcience? and how may we ſo order her and our ſelves in them as to come off with more clearneſs.

The Offices of Conſcience are beſt obſerved and opened by a review of the manner of its operation or judgment, which is by way of Diſcourſe, in a practical Syllogiſm, as hath been already mentioned. Let me offer two inſtances more. Thus,28

  • All that have the Lord for their God are in an happy or bleſſed eſtate.
  • But I have the Lord for my God. Therefore,
  • I am in an happy or bleſſed eſtate.

Again,

  • All ſin is to be avoided for it ſelf.
  • But this idleneſs of mine is ſin. Therefore,
  • This idleneſs of mine is to be avoided for it ſelf.

Here are two Syllogiſms which ſhew the manner of Conſcience, its operations, both as concerns my eſtate in the firſt Syllogiſm, and as concerns action of mine in the latter. In each Syllogiſm there are (as you ſee) three pro­poſitions. This is the proceeding of Conſci­ence, in all the judgments it maketh. The offi­ces of Conſcience are obviouſly pointed us out in and by theſe ſeveral Propoſitions.

The firſt Propoſition ſtill manifeſtly con­tains ſome general law or rule, whereby I may come to a clear iſſue in judgment, what my actions have been, or elſe ſhould be, and what my eſtate is. Thus Conſcience hath the office of a Law-giver; thus ſhe is to conſerve for us, and (1.) to communieate or dictate to us laws or rules, of general right and verity, as concern our eſtates and actions. And ſo the Apoſtle ſometimes appeals it: Know ye not (i.e. do not your Conſciences tell you?) that the unrighteous ſhall not inherit the Kingdom of God? 1 Cor. 6.9. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield your ſelves ſervants to obey, his ſervants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of ſin unto death, or of obedience to righteouſneſs? Rom. 6.16.29 i.e. Do not your Conſciences dictate as much as this? So 1 Cor. 11.13, 14. Judg in your ſelves, &c. Conſcience is appealed to in this ge­neral concernment; Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Again, Doth not even nature it ſelf (i.e. doth not even natural Con­ſcience) teach you, that if a man have long hair it is a ſhame unto him?

(3.) To chalk out and deſcry our liberty. As it is to dictate law, or what muſt be in matters neceſſary; ſo it is to diſcern liberty, what may or may not be, in matters of indif­ferency**Ameſ. de Conſc. l. 1. c 3. n. 1. Q. 5 p. 26.. That Conſcience hath to order and officiate for us in thing adiaphorous, is afore pre­miſed, & the Apoſtle prompteth, 1 Cor. 10.25, 27.

I know there are that approve not the men­tion of theſe acts to the account of Conſci­ence. But the twofold acceptation of Conſci­ence tendered you (Queſt. 5. pag. 21.) a more large and in a more limited ſenſe) may ſalve their exceptions. And that ſuch dictates and laws appertain to Conſcience, in the common and received uſage of Conſcience, (which I am particularly concerned to attend) needs no other proof, than the frequency of ſuch ſpeeches among us. My Conſcience tells me, Men ſhould do to others as they would be done by. My Conſcience tells me ſuch and ſuch things muſt be done which are matters of general right and equity. And they that deny ſuch clear and commonly received laws of general right, are in common ſpeech ſaid to offer violence to their Conſciences. So my Conſcience tells me ſuch and ſuch matters30 may be declined and forborn, which are mat­ters of indifferency.

'Tis true, there is no ſmall difference be­tween the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the conſervation of ſuch laws and rules, and the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or Conſci­ence ſtrictly ſo called**See Baldw. Caſ. Conſ. l. 1. c 4.. But I muſt follow the vulgar uſage and ſenſe of this term, as moſt fitting my deſign. There is an habit, bank, and treaſury of light and laws with Conſci­ence, and which it conſerves: Here is the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. There is the application of them had and made by Conſcience; here is the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉and〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.

The ſecond and third Propoſitions ſtill make application of ſome general law or rule (had in the firſt Propoſition) to a mans particular eſtate or actions. Thus it is the office of Conſcience, to apply general Propoſitions and Canons to a mans perſonal and particular caſe and concern. And indeed the Thomiſts**Aquin. Sum. 1. q. 79. a. 13 do make Conſcience to be nothing elſe, but an application of the knowledg or light which is in the Syntereſis, and therefore define it to be an act. Though to ſpeak properly, as one**Sanderſ. Prael. 1. de Conſc. §. 14. obſerveth, the application of ſcience is not Conſcience it ſelf, but an act of it. And as an­other**Rutherf. libert. of Conſc. c. 1. p. 6. ſaith. 'Tis the ſame Conſcience that acts all three parts, of a law, of a witneſs, and of a judg.

The ſecond Propofition contains the direct teſtimony of Conſcience; and with reſpect to this, the office of Conſcience in general is that of a witneſs. Thus Paul ſuggeſts of his own and touching the Conſcience of the Gentiles,31 My Conſcience alſo bearing me witneſs, Rom. 9.1. Their Conſciences alſo bearing witneſs, Rom. 2.15.

The witneſs of Conſcience may be either conſidered, 1. as it is in habit, and reſts upon record. Or 2. as it is in act, or is reduced thereunto: which is by two ſteps. 1. Con­ſcience caſts back a reflection upon its own records, of our eſtate and actions; and con­ſiders and ruminates upon them. And then 2. Conſcience comes forth and reports to us, how the caſe now ſtands, or hath ſtood, a­greeable to thoſe records, and to this re­flection.

The office or act of Conſcience then in reſpect of the ſecond Propoſition, is three­fold.

(1.) To regiſter and book down, what a man is and doth. And in truth, Conſcience is (as one**Sheffield. good Conſ. c. 4. p. 52. well) the great Regiſter and Re­corder of the world: It hath the pen of a ready writer. Not a word from the mouth, not a work of man, not a thought of the mind can eſcape or paſs its ſwift pen. It is Gods Hiſtorian, ſaith Dr. Reynolds**Of the Paſſions, c. 41., that writes not Annals but Journals. Conſcience hath its book, and had its table, whereon it did indelebly write both the ſins of Judah, and the ſince­rity of Job, Rev. 20.12. Jer. 17.1. Job 27.6.

(2.) To reflect and bring back to the heart, as the expreſſion of Solomon is in the margin of 1 King. 8.47. Conſcience is to every man, not only as his private Notary, but as his32 petty-Conſtable, to ſearch into and ſeize up­on every miſcarrying act and habit. Con­ſcience reviews its regiſter, recalls and reads over its records. Here are thoſe ſayings in, and ſayings to the heart, that Scripture and expe­rience tell us of, Jer. 5.24. Hoſ. 7.2. marg. Thoſe communings with our hearts, and calling upon our own actions and eſtates, thoſe countings and ſelf-ſearches how the caſe ſtands. Pſal. 4.4.77.6. Herewith Conſcience comparing our paſt actions and intentions with the Canons and rules conſerved in the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, ruminates and bethinks according to the caſe and concern before it. Conſcience conſiders the matter, I conſidered in my heart, ſaith the Prea­cher; or, I gave or ſet to my heart, Hebr. Eccleſ. 9.1. Conſcience is not only to conſult its books, or caſt back an eye; but to conſider the affair before it attentively. Now therefore thus ſaith the Lord of Hoſtes, conſider your ways, (Hebr.) Set your heart on your ways. Hag. 1.5.7. Here are thoſe layings to heart, we read of in the Prophets. Jer. 5.24. Mal. 2.2.

3. To report and bring forth its teſtimony, according as the matter hath been or is. Thus Conſcience in Joſephs Brethren, had taken and bookt down their ſin; after this, turns back and tells them of it, and of the circumſtances wherewith Conſcience conſidered it to be ag­gravated. We ſaw the anguiſh of his Soul, and we would not hear, &c. Gen. 42.21, 22. Con­ſcience in Pharaohs Butler had recorded, did recall, rip up and read him his faults. Gen. 41.9. David, Job, and Paul are contumeliouſly cen­ſured,33 and cried out upon; Conſcience caſts back a reflection, conſults its own records, conſiders their uprightneſs, and the others reproaches, and cleareth up their righteouſneſs, Pſal. 7.3, 4. Job 27.5, 6, &c. 2 Cor. 1.12.

As this is the office of Conſcience to give teſtimony in relation to what is paſt; ſo alſo in relation to what is preſent; Conſcience wit­neſſeth both 1. what we are, or what our eſtate is. The ſpirit witneſſeth with our ſpirits, that we are the Sons of God, Rom. 8.16. 2. And what we act, or what our actions are. Wit­neſs Pauls example. I ſpeak the truth in Chriſt, I lye not, my Conſcience alſo bearing me wit­neſs, Rom. 9.1. 3. And whatever you are or intend, Pſal. 17.3. 2 Cor. 1.17.

The third Propoſition contains the deciſive judgment of Conſcience; and with reſpect to this moſt properly and ſtrictly, the office of Conſcience is to judg; If we would judg our ſelves we ſhould not be judged, 1 Cor. 11.31. Confcience is herein judicially to apply the truth dictated in the firſt Propoſition, upon the teſtimony delivered in the ſecond Propoſi­tion, and doth infer the Concluſion from thoſe premiſes, according to its apprehenſion of the rule or law in the firſt or major Propoſition, and according to its atteſtation and report of our life or actions in the ſecond or minor Propoſition.

The judgment conſcience pronounceth ſome­times reſpects our eſtate, and ſometimes re­ſpecteth our actions, and both of them either 1. as good, or elſe 2. as evil. And thus again either34 1. as it reſpects the time paſt or preſent; or elſe 2. as it reſpects the time future, either as they have formerly been, or now are, or henceforth ſhould be.

Firſt, as it reſpects the time paſt and preſent. The office of Conſcience in regard of what is and hath been good, is to acquit and clear; In regard of what is and hath been evil, it's to accuſe and condemn, Rom. 2.15. Their Conſcience alſo bearing them witneſs, and their thoughts the mean while excuſing, or elſe accuſing one another.

1. If the eſtate and actions be or have been good, Conſcience is accordingly to acquit and clear. This it doth (1.) to and before God, as its ſuperior in judgment, whom it doth 1. ſome­time appeal, as the ſupream Judg. Judg me, O Lord, according to my righteouſneſs, and ac­cording to mine integrity that is in me, Pſal. 7.8.26. 1. And 2. ſometimes it apologizeth and excuſeth us to him, not by extenuating our ſin**Excuſa­tio enim hic non strictiore ſenſu acci­pitur, quo diminuti­onem vel attenuati­onem culpae deſignat; ſed illo quo plenam culpae & reatus amotionem notat. Ameſ. but by inſiſting on our ſincerity. Lord, (ſaith Abimelech) in the integrity of my heart, and innocency of my hands have I done this. Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart. So Heze­kiah, Gen. 20.5, 6. Iſa. 38.3.

This it doth alſo (2.) from God, as his ſubſtitute in the judgment from whence Con­ſcience is by office to approve and abſolve. 1. To approve the good, and ſo our hearts35 are aſſured before, and we have confidence to­ward God, 1 Joh. 3.19, 21. I have finiſhed my courſe (ſaith Paul) I have kept the faith; Conſcience approves it, and ſo aſſures him. Henceforth is laid up for me a Crown of Righte­ouſneſs, which the Lord the righteous Judg ſhall give me, &c. 2 Tim. 4.7, 8. 2. To abſolve from evil, 1. from evils threatned by Gods laws, the evil of divine indignation, 1 Joh. 3.21, 22, Nay, ſaith Conſcience, whatever be the charges laid againſt him, or croſſes lay be­fore him: Who is he that condemneth? it is God that juſtifieth? In all theſe things I am more than a conquerour through him that loved me, Rom. 8.31. to the end. 2. ••rom evils thrown upon him by mens luſts, the evils of humane im­putations and hard cenſures. Amidſt all ca­lumnies Conſcience acquits Job, and aſſerts his integrity. Let his adverſaries write a book a­gainſt him, he can bind their cenſures as a crown unto him. Let them reproach him of hypocriſie, Yet, ſaith he, till I die I will not re­move my integrity from me. My righteouſneſs I hold faſt and will not let it go. My heart ſhall not reproach me, ſo long as I live, Job 31.5. to the end, 27.5, 6.

2. If the eſtate or actions be, or have been bad, Conſcience is by office judicially to accuſe and condemn. I ſay judicially to accuſe, be­cauſe it's accuſation, per modum teſtis, as a wit­neſs, appertaineth to the ſecond Propoſition. Thus it likewiſe doth,

(1.) As to and before God; to and before whom it accuſeth us, and cauſeth us to ac­knowledg36 our guilt. Thus Davids heart ſmote him after he had numbred the people, and David ſaid unto the Lord, I have ſinned greatly in that I have done, &c. 2 Sam. 24.10. And after he had gone in to Bathſheba, Againſt thee, thee only I have ſinned, and done this evil in thy ſight, &c. Pſal. 51.4.

(2.) As from and under God; who is grea­ter than the Conſcience. So Conſcience is by office. 1. To convict the ſinner, and doth con­clude it as to the ſinful ſtate and actions, for which it ſtands arraigned before it: Witneſs thoſe Jews, Joh. 8.9. Who were convicted by their own Conſciences,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉**Signifi­cat〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉con­vincere & cauſam deducere, ut obijci enti prae­texi nihil amplius queat. Hy­perius.. So ſhut up by arguments, and by the authority of this Judg, that they could not ſtart from it. 2. To cenſure and ſet a brand and mark of infamy upon the ſin. So David in the Text before, 2 Sam. 24.10. I have done very fooliſhly. And elſewhere, So fooliſh was I and ignorant, I was a beaſt before thee, Pſal. 73.22. Here the leaſt Conſcience as a Judg can do, is diſlike and diſplicence with the ſin, and with it ſelf for ſin. The evil which I do I allow not, ſaith Paul, Rom. 7.15. 3. To condemn, 1 Joh. 3.20. i.e. to pro­nounce the ſentence, which is a ſentence of condemnation to the ſinner, where the eſtate is bad, whereof is no reverſal, but upon repentance, Act. 2.37, 38. Tit. 3.11. A ſentence of caſtigation, and to contrition, where the eſtate is good, Jer. 31.19. and is ſtill a ſentence of condemnation to the ſin, and for the crucifying of the ſame, whether the eſtate be good or bad, Lam. 3.39, 40, 41.

37Secondly, as it reſpects time future, and what is to be. Thus Conſcience is by office, in par­ticular; not only, 1. to tell us or hold forth what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, to us in particular, a­greeable to the general law in the firſt Propo­ſition. But 2. to tye and oblige us reſpective­ly to that evil, and to this good, agreeably ſtill to the ſame law in the ſame propoſition. And 3. to thruſt forward, excite or impell us, for the avoiding of that evil, and for the at­taining or doing of this good; with accord ſtill to that general light or law. In relation to theſe Offices, the holy Scriptures ſpeaks of the Conſcientious man, as one ſtirred, as one bound, as one preſſed in his own ſpirit, Act. 17.16, 18.5.20, 22. He is not only a debtor, Rom. 1.14. But there is a neceſſity upon him, as from Gods command, ſo from his own Conſcience. He is conſtrained and cannot chuſe (unleſs he ſhould offer violence to his own Conſcience) but do, what his Conſcience dictates, 1 Cor. 9, 16. 2 Cor. 5.14. Act. 4.20.

I am not ignorant, that theſe three laſt Of­fices of Conſcience are commonly placed elſe­where, and conceived to appertain rather to the firſt Propoſition. But in that Conſcience doth therein dictate but the general right or law, and theſe acts do evidently include a par­ticular reſpect and application to a mans own eſtate or action, and this concluſive as to his eſtate and action: As the operation of Con­ſcience aforeſaid doth obviouſly witneſs. I do therefore rather chuſe to place them here. Not38 that I blame others for the liberty which they pleaſe to take; nor ſhall bind up my ſelf ſtrict­ly this order, in the progreſs of this Diſ­courſe.

Q. 7. How may and ſhould we ſo order our Conſcience (in relation to the firſt Propoſition) that they offer us true and right Laws and Rules, and none but ſuch concerning our eſtates**See Q. 3. Direct. 1. in Chap. 3. and actions?

To this end it is neceſſary, that you

1. Direct. 1Store your Conſcience, that ſhe have a ſtock and treaſury of knowledg, a bank and habit of all neceſſary laws and rules of pra­ctice; that as a ſcribe inſtructed to the King­dom, ſhe may bring forth out of her treaſury things both new and old, as any occaſion of­fers. For how ſhall ſhe be able to give rules, if ſhe hath them not? or teach you, if her ſelf be untaught? If the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch, Mat. 13.52. Rom. 2.21. Mat. 15.14. Therefore (1.) apply your hearts to inſtruction, (not your ears, or eyes, or heads only, but your hearts) in the uſe of Scriptures, and of all ſubſervient helps and means which God hath appointed for the attaining and ad­vancement of ſound knowledg, Prov. 2.2.23.12. Pſal. 90.12, Excite and engage the pur­ſuits and deſires of thine heart, the determinate purpoſes of thy will. See thou be not willingly ignorant; hear inſtruction, and refuſe it not. Be daily at Wiſdoms-gates, wait at the poſts of her doors, Lo, now you have a promiſe,39 if you apply your hearts to its purſuance, Prov. 18.1. 2 Pet. 3.5. Prov. 8.33, 34, 35.2.2. 10, (2.) Let inſtruction abide upon your hearts. What is it to furniſh a common­place-book with what thou readeſt and hear­eſt? furniſh Conſcience rather: At leaſt, tran­ſcribe thy Notes from thy Books into thy breaſt. Nor think it enough, that thou haſt apt rules for all Caſes in thy Bible, they muſt be nearer hand too, in thy boſom. Write them upon the table of thine heart. Hear what God ſpeaketh to thee, Let thine heart retain my words: Let thine heart keep my Commandments; keep them in the midſt of thine heart, Prov. 3.3. c. 7.3. c. 4.4, 21. c. 3.1. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, ſaith David, that I might not ſin againſt thee. To this is the promiſe of know­ledg; and thou mayſt be confident, that when wiſdom entereth into the heart; Diſcretion ſhall preſerve thee, underſtanding ſhall keep thee, Pſal. 119.11. Prov. 2.1, 5. c. 2.10, 11.

2. Direct. 2Stay your Conſcience from the evils to which ſhe is incident, and the extreams where­with ſhe is often intangled: Eſpecially ſtay her from theſe evils, (1.) The affectation and itch of ſingularity and ſcience falſly ſo called; as alſo of curious and unprofitable queſtions, humane traditions, &c. For theſe will but bring her into ſnares, bewray her to Satan, feed her diſeaſe and ſickneſs, and fetch her off from the divine ſimplicity, which the Scriptures uſe in the Doctrine which is according to godlineſs, 1 Tim. 6.3, 4, 5, 20, 21. Tit. 1.14. Mat. 15.9. 2 Cor. 11.3. (2.) From ambiating and in­dulging40 a carnal liberty, which will not be ei­ther checkt, or confined by the reſtraint of law and rules, Pſal. 2.3.12.4. 'Tis true, where the ſpirit of the Lord is, there is liber­ty: And that ye are called unto liberty; but not ſuch as ſerves the intereſs and inclinati­ons of the fleſh, or ſnaps aſunder bonds of obedience. Still you are the ſervants of God; and ſo are under a law of liberty. His precepts are Gyves upon your luſts, but give you liberty. If Conſcience aſpires after a carnal liberty, ſhe is in hazard of the moſt lamentable captivity, 2 Cor. 3.17. Gal. 5.17. 1 Pet. 2.16. Jam. 1.25. 2 Pet. 2.19. (3.) From arrogance; either in juſtifying her ſelf; as if ſhe knew enough already. This will precipitate and out-law Conſcience, perverts and overthrows know­ledg, prevents and obviates all care and endea­vour for its improvement and encreaſe, Rom. 1.22. 1 Cor. 3.18. 2 Cor. 8.2. Prov. 26.12. Or in impoſing on your ſelves. The rules ſhe dictateth may not be without (much leſs againſt) the revelation or direction of God. She is not Sarah the Miſtreſs, but Hagar an handmaid; under God, though above you; and is to conſerve and manifeſt rules to you, not to create and make rules for you. (4.) From inordinate haſte, to which ſhe is oft-times too prone, and by which ſhe is often-times perverted, both in the determining and dicta­ting of rules. Let not thine heart be haſty. Bid thy Conſcience (as the Levite did the Children of Iſrael), conſider and take advice firſt, and then ſpeak her mind, that thou mayſt be able41 to ſay with the Preacher, For all this, I conſider­ed in mine heart, Eccleſ. 5.2. Judg. 19.30. Pſal. 50.22. Eccleſ. 6.1.

3. Sift your Conſciences,Direct. 4and put your caſe to the oueſtion in them. (1.) Sift what rules have they in this caſe. 'Twill actuate ſleepy habits, and awaken Conſcience to at­tend your ſeveral affairs; therefore the Apo­ſtle doth often appeal Conſcience thus, What! know ye not? i.e. do not your Conſciences tell ye this and that? Rom. 6.3, 16.7.1. 1 Cor. 3.16, 17.5.6.6.2, 3, 9, 15, 16, 19.9.13, 24. (2.) Sift them by their rule. Thou ſayeſt, this is your rule: But tell me, O my Conſcience, doth the law of my God ſay ſo too? Where hath he revealed it? where read'ſt thou it? where is it written? in the book of Nature, or of Scripture? ſhew it me; for why ſhouldſt thou meaſure thy ſelf by thy ſelf? And if thou bind the law continually upon thy heart, behold God hath aſſured thee, When thou goeſt it ſhall lead thee; when thou ſleepeſt it ſhall keep thee; and when thou awakeſt it ſhall talk with thee, Luk. 10.26. 2 Corinth. 10.12. Prov. 6.21, 22. (3.) Sift them before their Ruler; hath not God written to thee, O my Conſcience, ex­cellent things in counſel and knowledg, that thou mighteſt know the certainty of the words of truth? Wilt thou ſay, this is the truth, as in his ſight? Hath he not ſet thee up as a Preacher in my boſom, to receive the Law at his mouth, and cauſe me to hear his words? and wilt thou (Oh! do not) propheſie de­ceits, and ſpeak the viſions of thine own heart,42 and ſay he ſent me, as the falſe Prophets ſome­times did? Behold he knoweth what is in the darkneſs, and the light dwelleth with him, Prov. 22.20, 21. Rom. 9.1. Jer. 23.16, &c. Dan. 2.22.

4. Direct. 4Speak to your Conſciences; If they are ſlack in determining, or ſlow in dictating ge­neral rules, quicken and call them to their work. It may be, ſhe is ſilent and doth not ſpeak to thee, becauſe thou art ſilent, and doſt not ſpeak to her. Set to thine heart, as the Preacher ſaith, he did, Jer. 5.24. Eccleſ. 9.1. Urge her from 1. thy neceſſity of a rule in this caſe; 2. from the nature of a rule, which ſhould be known and clear; 3. from her na­ture and office, who is to receive the rule from the ſupream Legiſlator, and reveal it to thee. 4. from the notoriety of that account, which ſhe muſt one day render unto him.

5. Direct. 5Speak to God for your Conſcience. Sin­cere prayer is of no ſmall prevalence in this caſe: It giveth up Conſcience into the hands of God its ruler, and getteth down grace for the accompliſhment of Conſcience with rules. Beg God, 1. to inſtruct thy Conſcience, that he will open thine eyes, and not hide his Com­mandments from thee; that he teach thee in the way of his ſtatutes, and give thee an un­derſtanding that thou maiſt know his teſtimo­nies, ſo David; and with Job ſay to him, That which I know not teach thou me, Pſal. 119.18, 19, 33, 34, 125. Job 34.22. 2. To incline and eſtabliſh thy Conſcience. O! let me not wander from thy Commandments: Make me to43 go in the path of thy Commandments. Encline my heart to thy teſtimonies. Let my heart be ſound in thy ſtatutes, Pſal. 119.10, 35, 36.80.

6. Direct. 6Spend more of your time in conſiderati­on. This will concoct what you already know, and convert it into blood and ſpirits. It im­proveth both the quickneſs and clearneſs of Conſcience, while truths are revolved upon the heart, and it runs them over again with freſh attention and intention of the ſeveral fa­culties. The moſt conſiderate Chriſtian is the moſt knowing, and beſt thriveth in his Conſci­ence. Her miſcarriages are the iſſue of incon­ſiderateneſs, Pſal. 1.1, 2.64.9. Ecleſ. 5.1. The iterated acts of meditation will 1. habitu­ate the principles which you already know; 'twill root them deeper, and rivet them faſter upon the mind and memory. And Conſcience will be ever and anon calling them into coun­ſel, Pſal. 119.15, 16, 23, 24. 2. They'l affect and pour in oyl upon the flames of love, de­light and deſire toward theſe and ſuch other principles: O how love I thy law! ſaith David. What was it that kindled and cauſed it to burn up to ſuch an height? It is my meditation all the day, Pſal. 119.15, 16, 48, 97. 3. They'l ad­vance theſe principles to an higher progreſs and proficiency in knowledg. Meditation will not only be dilating on them; but deducing inferences from them, and drawing on the judg­ment and conſcience from one field of truth to another for the delicious views of the full har­veſt of divine verities, having drunk in ſo44 much ſweetneſs already from a few ſheaves of it. This was it inlarged Davids underſtanding beyond his teachers, and above the ancients, as well as above his enemies: Thy teſtimonies are my meditation, Pſal. 119.98, 99, 100.

Laſtly,Direct. 7Sin not againſt your Conſcience; but render your ſelves conformable to what rules ſhe giveth. Some men ſin againſt her rules, till they have ſinned away her rules; till God and Conſcience give them over to their own luſts, inſtead of giving them out his laws: That as they loved to reſtrain the truth in unrighteouſ­neſs, and liked not to retain God in their knowledg; they ſhall run where they lift, for a time, with a reprobate and remorſleſs Con­ſcience, Pſal. 81.11, 12. Iſa. 6.9, 10, 11. Rom. 1.18, 21, 24, 28. But Sirs, if you would have Conſcience true in giving rules to you, you muſt be true to the rules which Conſcience gives you; you encourage Conſcience when you exemplifie her laws in your lives and converſations: But if you turn not her dire­ctions into duties, you tempt her to deal (at moſt) but by halves with you, as you do (at beſt) with her. The doers of the Command­ments have the moſt diſcerning Conſcience, and dwell moſt in comforts. If ye know theſe things, happy are ye if ye do them. He that doth what he knoweth is moſt likely to know what to do. He is ſecured by promiſe. If any man will do his will, he ſhall know of the doctrine, and God will manifeſt himſelf to him, Pſ. 111.10. Joh. 13.17.7.17.14.21.

45Q. 8. How ſhould we ſo order our Conſcience (in relation to the ſecond Propoſition) that ſhe may give us a true and right teſtimony, and none but ſuch, concerning our eſtates**See Chap. 3. Q. 3. Dir. 2. and acti­ons?

To this end it is neceſſary, That you

1. Ply your Conſcience with arguments. Direct. 1The influence of rational inducements with her cannot be ſmall, in that her ſeat and fixa­tion is in the very higheſt orb of reaſon. So that the more reaſons you offer, the more ready muſt ſhe be (caeteris paribus) to her office, and the more regular in her operations. You may urge her (1) from her ability. Thou, and thou only under God, canſt fully and clearly teſtifie. For what man knoweth the things of a man, ſave the ſpirit of a man which is in him? God hath ſet thee up, as a ſhining lamp, for ſur­veying all the ſeveral periods and acts of my life, and thou ſearcheſt all the inward parts of the (heart, metaphorically expreſſed by the) belly, 1 Cor. 2.11. Prov. 2.27. (2.) From her authority. For this art thou conſtituted by God in and over me. And this is his command upon thee, to teſtifie what is my conſonancy to, or diſſonancy from thoſe laws he hath im­poſed on, or engraven in me. Thou haſt his warrant, and 'tis thy work to witneſs, a work approved by him in Scripture, and agreeable to thy nature. Who can exempt? or what ſhall excuſe thee? Rom. 2.15. (3.) From her a­vail. Thy ſingle teſtimony alone doth ſuper­cede46 the witneſs of the whole world beſides. I can appeal from them to thee; but from thee I can appeal to none but God. Next un­der his, thy witneſs is of higheſt weight, both with him and me, Job 23.10, 11, 12. Rom. 9. . (4.) From her acts: Why didſt thou di­ctate truths and laws to me, if thou wilt deny thy teſtimony to my life? By thoſe I know what God appointeth, and demandeth of me; but 'tis by this alone, I can know what I am, and what is done by me. Should I know his ſtatutes only? or ſhould I not alſo know my own ſelf, 2 Cor. 13.5. Beſides, how canſt thou otherwiſe deſcend to judgment? who paſſeth ſentence without ſome previous evidence? And if this be unſound, that cannot be ſafe. So that deny or deprave thy witneſs, and thou undoeſt thy whole work. (5.) From her advantage. Witneſs thou muſt, and ſhalt. Now it may be done with leſs ſmart, and more ſecurity, then if thou ſhouldſt defer it till the cords of diſtreſs, or fetters of death and judg­ment do conſtrain thee. (6.) From her ac­count. An account thou muſt render at Gods Bar ſhortly. He will then open the book of Conſcience, and every line of thy heart and life ſhall be read over diſtinctly. He now ob­ſerveth, what reflections and reports Conſci­ence maketh of what hath been done by thee, and hath eminently marked out her ſilence, as a ſore evil in thee, Jer. 8.6. Eccleſ. 4.8. (7) From what attends. Why? O my Conſcience! my work and welfare, both as to time and eter­nity, do all turn upon this one hinge. How47 can I repent either from or for my paſt or pre­ſent ſins, or ſtate, if ſinful, on the one hand? Or how can I rejoyce in, or be thankful for my paſt or preſent ſincerity, and Gods ſalvation on the other; if thy ſilence or partiality in gi­ving witneſs ſhall leave me ſtill under the thick and dark vail of ignorance?

2. Preſs her by and before authority. Direct. 2Sub­poena her to appear at Gods Bar, and there argue with her, Pſal. 50.22. Jer. 12.3. Art thou not (1) to witneſs from him? hath not he ſubſtituted and ſent thee? How wilt thou anſwer it to him then, whom thou abuſeſt in­finitely, if thou adventure either to ſuſpend thy teſtimony, or to ſpeak untruly. (2) Art thou not to witneſs for him? i.e. in his cauſe and concern, as well as on his commiſſion? Durſt thou ſo ſlight his honour, and there­with thine obligations, as either to ſpeak wick­edly for him, or to be ſpeechleſs, or ſhuffle in thy witneſs, when the intereſs of his govern­ment, glory, &c. is at ſtake before thee? ſhall not his excellency make thee afraid? Job 13.7, 8, 9. (3) Art thou not to witneſs to him? Doth thy teſtimony terminate with me? Nay 'tis tranſmitted to the ſupream Judg. The re­cords of it muſt lie in heaven with him. And canſt thou impoſe, by lying, upon an infinite truth? or hide any thing by a looſe and frau­dulent teſtimony from his immenſity? (4) Art thou not to witneſs as before God? As of God, in the ſight of God, ſo ſhouldſt thou ſpeak. The anſwer of a good Conſcience is towards God. Whether it be right in the ſight of God is her48 grand enquiry. And durſt thou withhold or wrench and obtort thy teſtimony before his eye? ſhould not his preſence better poyze, and be of more prevalence with thee? 2 Cor. 2.17. 1 Pet. 3.21. Act. 4.19. (5) And what is God from, for, to and before whom thou art to wit­neſs? Doth not he know both all the matters of fact, and all thy manifold frauds, with the higheſt exactneſs? Thy witneſs cannot add to, nor thy wreſtings abate from his knowledg, Jer. 17.9, 10. Pſal. 119.168. Or will he co­ver either, becauſe thou concealeſt them, or caſtes a vail over them. Nay if thou ſayeſt, Behold, I know it not; Doth not he that pon­dereth the heart conſider it? and he that keep­eth thy ſoul, doth not he know it? And ſhall not he render to every man according to his works. Prov. 12.24.

3. Direct. 3Purge out that habitual guil and averſa­tion, which naturally adhereth to her, (of which elſewhere, (Chap. 2. Qu. 2.) and prin­ciple her with holy habits. Purity will be an excellent preſervative from the temptations proffered her from without, and the treachery ſhe is prone to from within. As for the pure his work is right: The witneſs of a pure Conſcience will not be blinded with, or blin­ded by any carnal intereſs; 'twill continue pure like her ſelf, 2 Tim. 1.3. Prov. 21.8. Tit. 1.15. Fidelity is not leſs effectual then expedi­ent and neceſſary. She will not be either bought off by temptations, or brow-beaten by trou­ble, nor will ſhe bruiſe upon the truth, or baffle in her teſtimony. A faithful witneſs will49 not lie. A true witneſs delivereth ſouls, Prov. 14.5, 25. Chap. 12.17.

4. Direct. 4Prevent her from allurements. There will be enough to tamper with her, and be taking her off from her teſtimony. 1. Self-love will be prompting arguments, from thy own eaſe, &c. to abſtain, or however to adjourn, or (at leaſt) to allay her teſtimony. 2. Secret luſts will be putting in for ſome countenance, at leaſt, connivance. Why ſhouldſt thou make a full diſcovery? Look back upon the profits and pleaſures we have miniſtred to thee; ſhall thine own teſtimony deſtroy both ours, and thine own tranquillity? 3. Satan will be plea­ding and perſwading with thee, either to paſs it over, or palliate it up, or at leaſt to put it off, to a more convenient ſeaſon. Nay 4. the ſeveral powers of the Soul which are ſubordi­nated to Conſcience, and muſt ſenſe the conſe­quence of a juſt and impartial teſtimony, will be plucking her back, and preſs her to a for­bearance, from the extent and fearful effects of a ſevere teſtimony. Why ſhouldſt thou ſo far prejudice the peace of thy ſelf and us, who have taken ſweet counſel together here­tofore? Come, ſpare thy ſelf and us, at leaſt, a little longer. Thorns and ſnares, thou ſeeſt, are ſtrew'd in the way of Conſcience's wit­neſs-bearing. The more it concerns thee to keep her with thy utmoſt circumſpection. Suffer her not to play with theſe baits, as thou wouldſt not have her periſh by the hook, that is hid under them. Prov. 4.23. Chap. 22.5. Act. 24.16. Let Conſcience know 1. allure­ments50 are fallacious and deceitful; they are but to betray her from her irkſome duty into the more irrecoverable danger. And how­ever they now briskly ſparkle in the cup and entrance, yet in the conſequence and end they will bite like a Serpent, they will ſting like an adder. 2. Their arguments are all frivolous and ſophiſtical. The true ſpiritual ſelf-love eaſily ſeeth through, and ſcattereth them all. She ſeeth that the witneſs of Con­ſcience ſerves our beſt welfare and comfort And if troubles enſue upon her teſtimony, ſhe will ſee and ſay they are but preparatory to our everlaſting tranquillity, and preventive oeternal torments: Or ſuppoſe the worſt, iyou weigh their ſuggeſtions in the ſcales oſelf-love indeed, ſhe will ſoon inform you, 'Tis better to bleed once, than to burn for ever: Better you ſhould ſmart once, than ſuffer al­ways: Better Conſcience ſhould be giving witneſs on earth, than be a gnawing worm in hell: To be now teſtifying, than for evetormenting, &c. Luk. 16.23, 24, 25.

5. Direct. 5Prize her atteſtation, and be well plea­ſed with it, Receive her teſtimony with thank­fulneſs to God, and tenderneſs toward heryea, though her teſtimony ſhould give che••to your carnal intereſt, and corrupt inclinati­ons; yet congratulate, and bid her wel­come when ſhe bears her witneſs; as Daviſometime did Abigail, Bleſſed be the Lord which ſent thee to meet me this day; and bleſ­ſed be thy advice, and bleſſed be thou of the Lord 1 Sam. 25.32, 33. 'Tis good for you (1) to51 invite her, and that in ſincerity, if ſhe ſeems ſtrange. There is a ſaying to the heart which the Scripture ſuggeſts to us, Hoſ. 7.2. If Con­ſcience ſeems to withdraw, ſpeak to her the more winningly; and ſay not to thy ſelf by her, as Judah did to his ſervant, concerning Tamar, Let her alone, enquire not after her, leſt we be aſhamed, Gen. 38.23. But ſee that thou do it in integrity. Do not invite her, as Amnon did his Siſter, to deflowre her teſtimony firſt, and then turn her out of doors afterward. 2 Sam. 13.17. (2) Entertain her with pro­miſes of ſecurity, if ſhe ſeems ſuſpicious andearful. Tell her thou wilt bear with, and ſhalt bleſs God for her integrity, and wilt bear her but againſt her enemies; As David to Abiathar, Abide thou with me, fear not; for he that ſeeketh by life ſeeketh my life: But with me thou ſhalte in ſafety, 1 Sam. 22.23. (3) Encourageer, if ſhe yet ſeems ſhy and doubtful; as Moſes was to encourage Joſhua; and as Godcouraged Paul, Be of good cheer, Paul, as thouaſt teſtified of me in Jeruſalem, ſo thou muſt bearitneſs alſo at Rome. Speak out freely, fully,ithfully, I ſhall not oppoſe, but own it thank­lly: Tell her as wiſdom doth her Children, With me thou ſhalt dwell in ſafety, and ſhalt beiet from fear of evil, Deut. 5.38. Act. 23.11. ov. 1.33. Receive her teſtimony then, andat in reality, and with all readineſs; where­••you ſhall eminently diſappoint the hopes〈◊〉ſin and Satan, and encourage her to the diſ­arge of her office. You receive the witneſs〈◊〉men, the witneſs of God is greater; and52 the witneſs of Conſcience is Gods witneſs iand to you; 'tis the candle of the Lord. 1 Joh. 5.9. Prov. 20.27. Be ſure 1. you dnot menace her from giving teſtimony; aAmariah did the Prophet, Art thou of the Kingcounſel? forbear, why ſhouldſt thou be ſmitten Leſt ſhe forbear indeed, as the Prophet did to his deſtruction, 2 Chron. 25.16, 2. Noſmite her for giving teſtimony, as Balaam dihis Aſſe, when ſhe rebuked his madneſs; lethe Angel of the Lord ſlay thee for ſmiting heas he was like to have ſlain him: Nor as Ab••and Zedekiah did by Micajah, and died miſe­ably. Numb. 22.22. 34. 1 King. 22.15. 38. 3. Nor mince the teſtimony ſhe giveth leſt thoubecome odious to Conſcience, a Hanan to David; while thou cut'ſt off h••teſtimony, as Hanan did his Meſſengers ga­ments in the midſt, hard by their Buttocks, anſhe revenge this ſhame upon thee as Davidid that with blood and ſlaughter. 1 Chro19.4 16.

6. Direct. 6Put her upon action, and proceed wi••her throughout this whole action, with thmoſt provident attention, and circumſpectio There are three offices which appertain to Con­ſcience, (as hath been proved Q. 6.), that you aſtrictly to attend, as you would have her wi••­neſs aright and truly; viz. ſhe is to record,〈◊〉reflect, to report. The report of Conſcien••which is the conſummation of her office iwitneſſing, is raiſed upon, and reſults frothe two former acts, which include the ichoation and progreſs of her witneſſing: H53witneſs is reſting as in habit with her, if we reſpect the firſt office, and is now a reducing into act by her, with reſpect to the ſecond. So that as ever you would have Conſcience report or finiſh her teſtimony aright, whe­ther as concerns your paſt eſtate or actions; your eminent care is required in and touch­ing the two former, (wherein I ſhall more particularly direct you, and in the next Que­ſtion which you ſhould premiſe); I ſay paſt, becauſe in the teſtimony of Conſcience touch­ing things preſent, this gradual paſſage, from one act to another, is not ſo obſervable.

Q. 9. What courſe ſhould we take touching the recording of things by our Conſcience, in order to their giving a right witneſs?

To this I can ſay but little here [for the con­ſulting and review of her Records belongs to the next Queſtion, Direct. 1.] Touching the due compiling of them, I ſhall only offer two things, in the caſe. 1. What ſhe doth do, as a motive to incite you. 2. What you ſhould do, as that which may inſtruct you.

1. Remember what ſhe doth. She doth,Direct: 1:and cannot but record thy actions, though thou careſt not (happily) to reflect on, or attend to it. Such is her relation unto God, as being his regiſter and notary. So that they are all written before him; yea, laid up in ſtore with him, and ſealed up among his trea­ſures. Iſa. 65.6. Deut. 32.34. And ſuch is her relation withal to thee. Conſcience is one54 of thoſe books the Scripture ſpeaks of, and thou ſhalt be judged out of thoſe things which are written in this Book, according to thy works. Dan. 7.10. Rev. 20.12. She books down thy actions then, and that truly and thorowly. And though through the dark­neſs of miſts without, and of the mind with­in thou canſt not now diſcern all her prints and characters; yet in the light of ſome grie­vous diſtreſs, or ſelf-diſcuſſion, thou mayſt diſ­cover ſome of them, (as Joſephs Brethren and David did. Gen. 42.21. Pſal. 77.6. ) and in the light of that great day, they will all be diſcovered. And thoſe Letters on it which now ſeem inviſible and illegible, like Let­ters written with the juice of a Lemon, will be then clear, when it is brought to the fire of Gods judgment, 1 Cor. 4.5. Yea, as ſhe records them 1. impartially; ſo likewiſe 2. in­delibly. Her records are written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a Diamond, they are graven upon the table of thine heart; ſo that there is no obliterating, or razing them out. Jer. 17.1.

2. Direct. 2Remember what you ſhould do. 1. Take care that Conſcience record things as legibly as ſhe can; whereby when you reflect, you ſhall read them over, with leſs averſation, and more attention. To this end 1. Circumſpe­ction is requiſite on your part, not only as to the matter of her records, but as to the man­ner alſo; that you may not loſe the end of this act or work, by the intricacy of her hand-writing: In all things that I have ſaid un­to55 you be circumſpect. Exod. 23.13. Pſal. 119.9. 2. Knowledg and confidence are requi­ſite on her part, wherewith it ſhould be your care to furniſh her knowledg; leſt ſhe record virtue for vice, as Abimelech, Gen. 20.5, 6. or vice for virtue, as thoſe, Prov. 16.25. Iſa. 5.20. Confidence; for if ſhe writes with a trem­bling and palſie-hand, ſhe is like to write (if truly, yet) illegibly and leſs accurately. If you menace her, you do but make her write in Characters which you cannot underſtand, without a key to them. Record ſhe will, but ſo as you ſhall not read them, who attempt to rend them, as we have clear inſtance, Rom. 1.18. to the end. Give her confidence, and you ſhall not go away without a good accompt. She never records with more clearneſs to us, than when ſhe is treated with moſt confidence by us, Heb. 10 22, 23. (2) Take care to keep theſe records as legible as you can. Men are but too prone to blur and ſully them; either through ſenſuality, they themſelves contract blots and filth upon them; or through ſupineſs they ſuffer others to cloud and ble­miſh them. And ſo when Conſcience ſhould be reporting them, men are to ſeek how they ſhould read them. Some let the duſt of ſe­cular vanities cover them. So did Pharaohs Butler for ſome years; as if the records of his Conſcience were to reſt there, rather as in a grave then as in a Court of Record, Gen. 41.1. cum 9. Others let the copperas and gall-nuts, or ink of ſin to continue on and canker them. 〈◊〉did David for near an whole56 year together, till Nathan revives their legi­bleneſs, and reads them over to him, 2 Sam. 2.13, 15. Others let the worms and moths of Satans temptations corrupt them, as did thoſe Epheſ. 2.2, 3. Your care then ſhould be 1. to lock them up in a ſafe repoſitory; 2. To look after them, ſo as neither the defilements of ſin, or duſts of ſenſe, or devices of Satan may reach, at leaſt reſt upon them. 3. To look that they be always in readineſs, that they be not to ſeek when you ſhould be ſur­veighing them.

Q. 10. What courſe ſhould we take in and about the reflections of our Conſcience, that they may give us a true and right wit­neſs?

In the reflection which Conſcience maketh (at leaſt of actions paſt) ſhe caſteth back an eye upon two things; upon her own records, which are repoſited with the memory, which ſpeaks back what our actions either be, or have been; and upon thoſe holy rules, which are repoſited with the mind or〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which ſpeaks back what they ſhould have been, or now ſhould be. So that Conſcience in her re­flection is both to conſult her own records, and to compare the concern before her, where­in ſhe is to witneſs with thoſe holy rules. I adviſe then, that you

1. Direct. 1Send your Conſcience to ſearch her own Records. Here her actions are all bookt (as before, Q. 9.) let her reflect hither, remember57 and read them over, without which you can­not now reach the end, or reap the benefit, of their being ſo repoſited. Remember this, how they are enrolled, and why, Call it again to mind, O ye tranſgreſſors; to uſe the words of the Prophet, Iſa. 46.8. Now that you may conſult theſe records aright, and have Conſci­ence to reflect; Its requiſite that there be (1) Self-denial, without which this work will not be done at all, or not aright; but Con­ſcience like the unjuſt Steward will be writing fifty for an hundred. For be ſure your wills and affections, yea Conſcience it ſelf (through the corruption that cleaves to it) will be draw­ing back from ſuch a difficult and fleſh-diſ­pleaſing work; or at moſt will not dwell long upon it. And therefore the Apoſtle doubleth the charge: Examine your ſelves, prove your own ſelves; as knowing how hardly we are brought to it, and how the heart hangs back from it, Luk. 16.6. 2 Cor. 13.5. (2) Serious deliberation, leſt you miſ­read and miſunderſtand her records, and the reſult be a miſtake and miſrepreſentation of your caſe; which will miniſter nothing but matter for repentance, as it did unto David, I ſaid in my haſte, &c. Pſal. 31.22. and 116.11. (3) A ſteady diligence; My ſpirit made diligent ſearch, Pſal. 77.6. 1. In rubbing up and ranſacking the memory, where theſe records lie, as in their moſt proper repoſitory. For many of our actions lie there, rather as ſo much rubbiſh which we have ſwept out of ſight, then as ſo many records that are58 orderly ſhelv'd up for a ſurveigh. 2. In re­iterating this method, our actions many times lie ſo far off, and ſo many things in­terpoſe between them and the eye of Conſci­ence, that there muſt be a raiſed and repeated diligence; yea and giving all diligence, to re­move other matters, and to reduce them again to our minds. 'Tis therefore called a bring­ing back to the heart, 2 Pet. 1.10. 1 King. 8.47. Iſa. 46.8. 3. In the reception and right nicking of the means. The court of records ſtands not always open; and 'tis ill ſlipping the firſt ſeaſon. Now diligence would be do­ing e're the doors are ſhut; and the draught by Conſcience is yet freſh and unſullied: As David ſometimes immediately reflected, upon the cutting off of Sauls garment, and upon his numbring the people. But at another time, when he yields to his own ſloth, and falls not in with the firſt ſeaſon, Ʋriah is murdered, and his Wife conſtuprated by him, &c. and he never caſts a reflex upon either of theſe prodigious acts; yea notwithſtanding the Pa­rable came ſo pat and plain upon him, till the Prophet was fain to put himſelf in the place of Conſcience, and tell him, Thou art the man; and you know what this negli­gence coſt him, 1 Sam. 24.5. 2 Sam. 24.10. Chap. 11, and 12. Pſal. 51.

2. Direct. 2Set Conſcience by thoſe holy rules, whereon ſhe muſt reflect. The rule is of ne­ceſſary reflection on, and of as needful reſolu­tion, in witneſs-bearing: For how ſhall Con­ſcience witneſs or reflect on this as good, or59 on that as good? but by comparing this and that with the rule, which can alone reſolve her what is good and what is bad. Now as Gods revealed will is the only rule and meaſure of all moral good and evil; ſo the reflection of Conſcience connoteth a reſpect to this rule. For Conſcience doth not caſt back an enquiry after the phyſical being of an action; as whether I have eat or drunk? but after the moral being of that action, as whether I have eat or drunk to Gods glory, &c. as his law enjoyns me; or elſe to ex­ceſs, &c. as his law inhibits me? Mic. 6.8. 1 Joh. 3.4. 1 Cor. 10.31. Eph. 5.18. Now hereunto theſe three things are requiſite; which though they are not of that obvious neceſſity and diſtinct uſe, in thoſe ſudden and tranſient reflections which Conſcience often maketh; yet are they of very needful obſer­vation and uſeful diſtinctneſs in her more ſolemn and abiding reflections in the more ſerious returns we are to make upon our ſelves as before the Sacrament, &c. or when we undertake the ſolemn examination of our ſelves.

1. Set the rule before thy Conſcience in its ſpiritual power, purity, and in the ſeveral parts of it. On this ſhe is to reflect, and by this ſhe muſt be regulated. 'Tis not e­nough that you have them lying in habit with the ſuntereſis, but they ſhould be now actually educed and brought forth to view. For in that you are now to ſearch your ſelves by them, you muſt take an actual ſurveigh of60 them. David therefore did not ſatisfie himſelf that the laws of God were ever with him, but he did expoſe and lay them before him. Thy judgments have I laid before me, Pſal. 119.30. cum 98. And without this, the courſe you are now taking will be much-what in­effectual, and can never be fully commenſu­rate with your deſign, this duty or Gods de­mand, who bids you take heed to your ways according to his word, Pſal. 119.9.

2. Sift your Conſcience, and therewith your lives and actions, by the rules; com­pare her and them with this: Examine your ſelves, prove your own ſelves,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as men try metals, by bringing them to their proper meaſure, as Gold and Silver to the touch-ſtone,