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(3.) And when they are thus laid together, they will either shine or burn, acquit or condemn. But this complication of acts is conscience. The first is science, practical science: but annex the second; or it and the third, and then it is conscience. When David's heart smote him, that is, upon his adultery and murder, his conscience thus discoursed: Adultery and murder are high violations of the divine law, they provoke God to anger, without whom I cannot live, whose anger is worse than death.' This is practical knowledge, or the principles of conscience; but the following acts made it up into conscience. For he remembered that he had betrayed Uriah and humbled Bathsheba, and then he begs of God for pardon; standing condemned in his own breast, he hopes to be forgiven by God's sentence. But the whole process of conscience is in two practical syllogisms, in which the method is ever this. The ovvrhonous or repository' of practical principles begins, and where that leaves, the conscience or the witness and judge of moral actions begins, like Jacob laying hold upon his elder brother's heel. The first is this:
Whatsoever is injurious ought not to be done:
This is the rule of conscience, or the first act of conscience as it is a rule and a guide, and is taken for the ovvτnonois, or practical 'repository.' But when an action is done or about to be done, conscience takes the conclusion of the former syllogism, and applies it to her particular case.
Adultery ought not to be done :
This action I go about, or which I have done, is adultery: Therefore it ought not to be done, or to have been done. This is the full proceeding of this court; after which many consequent solemnities and actions do pass, of sentence, and preparatory torments and execution.
25. But this I am to admonish, that although this which I have thus defined, is the proper and full sense of the word 'conscience' according to art and proper acceptation, yet in Scripture it is used indifferently for an act of conscience, or any of its parts, and does not always signify in its latitude and integrity, but yet it all tends to the same signification; and though the name be given to the faculty, to the habit, to
n Acts, xxiii. 1. xxiv. 16. Rom, xiii. 5. 1 Cor. viii. 10. 1 Tim. i. 5. 19. iii. 19. 2 Tim. i. 3. Titas, i. 15. 1 Pet. ii. 19. iii. 16. Heb. xiii. 18.
the act, to the object, to the effect, to every emanation from the mind in things practical, yet still it supposes the same thing: viz. that conscience is the guide of all our moral actions; and by giving the name to so many acts and parts and effluxes from it, it warrants the definition of it, when it is united in its own proper and integral constitution.
To conduct all our Relations and Intercourses between God, our Neighbours, and ourselves; that is, in all moral Actions.
26. This is the final cause of conscience: and by this it is distinguished from prudence, which is also a practical knowledge, and reduced to particular and circumstantiate actions. But, 1. Prudence consists in the things of the world, or relative to the world: conscience in the things of God, or relating to him. 2. Prudence is about affairs as they are of advantage or disadvantage: conscience is employed about them, as they are honest or dishonest. 3. Prudence regards the circumstances of actions, whether moral or civil: conscience only regards moral actions in their substance or essential proprieties. 4. Prudence intends to do actions dexterously and prosperously conscience is to conduct them justly and according to the commandment. 5. There are many actions in which prudence is not at all concerned, as being wholly indifferent to this or that for matter of advantage; but there is no action but must pass under the file and censure of conscience; for if we can suppose any action in all its circumstances to be wholly indifferent to good or bad; yet none is so to lawful or unlawful, the very indifferent being therefore lawful because it is indifferent, and therefore to be considered by conscience, either actually or habitually: for in this sense even our natural actions, in their time and place, are also moral; and where they are not primarily moral, yet they come under conscience, as being permitted, and innocent; but wherever they are relative to another person, they put on some degrees of morality, and are of proper cognizance in this court.
Qui didicit, patriæ quid debeat, et quid amicis;
• Horat. de Arte Poet. 315. Schelle, p. 44.
That is the full effect of conscience, to conduct all our relations, all our moral actions.
The Duty and Offices of Conscience are to dictate, and to testify or bear Witness; to accuse or excuse; to loose or bind.
1. THE first and last are the direct acts and offices of conscience: the other are reflex or consequent actions, but direct offices. The first act, which is
Is that which divines call the ovvrýonois, or the phylactery,' the keeper of the records of the laws, as by it we are taught our duty: God having written it in our hearts by nature and by the Spirit, leaves it there, ever placed before the eye of conscience, as St. Bernard calls it, to be read and used for directions in all cases of dispute of question or action: this is that which St. Paul' calls" the work of the law written in our hearts;" and therefore it is, that to sin against our conscience is so totally inexcusable, and according to the degree of that violence, which is done against the conscience, puts on degrees. For conscience dictates whatsoever it is persuaded of, and will not suffer a man to do otherwise than it suggests and tell us :
Αἲ γὰρ πῶς αὐτόν με μένος καὶ θυμὸς ἀνείη
Ωμ ̓ ἀποταμνόμενον κρέα ἔδμεναι·
said Achilles of Hector when he was violently angry with him; “I would my conscience would give me leave to eat thy very flesh."
2. Its universal dictates are ever the most certain, and those are the first principles of justice and religion; and whatsoever else can be infallibly and immediately inferred from thence, are her dictates also, but not primely and directly, but transmitted by the hands of reason. The same reason also there is in clear revelation. For whatsoever is put into the conscience immediately by God, is placed there
q Iliad. x. 346.
P Rom. ii. 15.
to the same purpose, and with the same efficiency and persuasion, as is all that which is natural. And the conscience properly dictates nothing else, but prime natural reason, and immediate revelation; whatsoever comes after these two, is reached forth to us by two hands, one whereof alone is ministered by conscience. The reason is this: because all that law by which God governs us, is written in our hearts, put there by God immediately, that is antecedently to all our actions; because it is that by which all our actions are to be guided, even our discoursings and arguings are to be guided by conscience, if the argument be moral: now the ways by which God speaks to us immediately, are only nature and the Spirit: nature is that principle which taught all men from the beginning until now; all that prime practical reason which is perfective of human nature, and in which all mankind agrees. Either the perfections, or the renovations, or the superadditions, to this are taught us by the Holy Spirit, and all this being written in the conscience by the finger of God, is brought forth upon all occasions of action; and whatsoever is done against any thing so placed, is directly and violently against the conscience; but when from thence reason spins a longer thread, and draws it out from the clue of natural principles or express revelation, that also returns upon the conscience, and is placed there as light upon a wall, but not as the stones that are there: but yet whatever is done against that light, is also against conscience, but not so as the other. Just as it is in nature and accident. To eat poison and filthiness is against every man's health and stomach; but if by an idioovyкpaoía, 'a propriety of temper' or an evil habit, or accidental inordination, wine, or fish, makes a man sick, then these are against his nature too, but not so as poison is, or stones. Whatever comes in the conscience primarily, or consequently, right or wrong, is brought forth upon occasion of action, and is part of her dictate: but as a man speaks some things of his own knowledge, some things by hearsay; so does conscience; some things she tells from God and herself, some things from reason and herself, or other accidental notices: those and these do integrate and complete her sermons, but they have several influence and obligation according to their proper efficiency. But of this I shall give full accounts in the second book.
3. Conscience bears witness of our actions; so St. Paul", "their conscience bearing witness:" and in this sense, conscience is a practical memory. For as the practical knowledge, or notices subjected in the understanding, makes the understanding to be conscience; so the actions of our life, recorded in the memory and brought forth to practical judgments, change the memory also into conscience. Τοῦ γὰρ γένους τῶν ἀνθρώπων ταύτῃ διαφέροντος τῶν ἄλλων ζώων, μόνοις αὐτοῖς μέτεστι νοῦ καὶ λογισμοῦ· φανερὸν, ὡς οὐκ εἰκὸς παρατρέχειν αὐτοὺς τὴν προειρημένην διαφορὰν, καθάπερ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων ζώων· ἀλλ ̓ ἐπισημαίνεσθαι τὸ γιγνόμενον, καὶ δυσαρεστεῖσθαι τοῖς παροῦσι. “Man differing from brute beasts by the use of reason, it is not likely he should be a stranger to his own actionsas the beasts are: but that the evil which is done, should be recalled to their mind with the signification of some displeasure." So Polybius discourses of the reason and the manner of conscience.
r Rom. ii. 15.
4. Every knowing faculty is the seat of conscience; and the same faculty, when it is furnished with speculativenotions, retains its natural and proper name of understanding, or memory; but as the same is instructed with notices in order to judgments practical, so it takes the Christian name of conscience. The volitive or choosing faculty cannot, but the intellectual may. And this is that book, which at doomsday shall be brought forth and laid open to all the world. The memory, changed into conscience, preserves the notices of some things, and shall be reminded of others, and shall do that work entirely and perfectly, which now it does imperfectly and by parts, according to the words of St. Pault; "then shall we know as we are known," that is, as God knows us now, so then shall we see and know ourselves. "Nullum theatrum virtuti conscientia majus "," shall then be highly verified. Our conscience will be the great scene or theatre, upon which shall be represented all our actions good and bad. It is God's book, the book of life or death. According to the words of St. Bernard *; "Ex his, quæ scripta erunt in libris nostris, judicabimur; et ideo scribi debent secundum exemplar libri vitæ, et si sic scripti non sunt, saltem corrigendi
t 1 Cor. xiii. 12. x De Inter. Dom. lib. 2. cap. ult.