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instruments. He that will choose to follow the multitude which easily errs, rather than the wise guides of souls; and a man that is his partner in the question, rather than him that is disinterested; and them that speak by chance, rather than them who have studied the question; and a man of another profession, rather than him whose office and employment it is to answer,-hath no reason to be confident he shall be well instructed. John Niders tells an apologue well enough to this purpose:-Two brethren travelling together, whereof one was esteemed wise, and the other little better than a fool, came to a place where the way parted. The foolish brother espying one of them to be fair and pleasant, and the other dirty and uneven, would needs go that way, though his wiser brother told him, that in all reason that must needs be the wrong way; but he followed his own eyes, not his brother's reason and his brother being more kind than wise, though against his reason, followed his foolish brother; they went on till they fell into the hands of thieves, who robbed them and imprisoned them, till they could redeem themselves with a sum of money. These brothers accuse each other before the king as author of each other's evil. The wiser complained that his brother would not obey him, though he was known to be wiser, and spake reason. The other complained of him for following him that was a fool, affirming, that he would have returned back, if he had seen his wise brother confident, and to have followed his own reason. The king condemned them both; the fool, because he did not follow the direction of the wise,-and the wise, because he did follow the wilfulness of the fool.-So will God deal with us at the day of judgment in the scrutinies of conscience. If appetite refuses to follow reason, and reason does not refuse to follow appetite, they have both of them taken incompetent courses, and shall perish together. It was wisely said of Brutus to Cicero, "Malo tuum judicium, quam ex altera. parte omnium istorum. Tu enim à certo sensu et vero judicas de nobis; quod isti ne faciant, summa malevolentia et livore impediuntur:" "I prefer thy judgment singly, before all theirs, because thou judgest by intuition of the thing; they cannot do that, being hindered by envy and ill-will.". The particulars of reducing this advice to practice in all special cases, I shall afterward enumerate; for the present I say Lib. 11. Famil. Epist. 10. Cortias, p. 570.
In Lavacro Conscient.
this only, that a man may consent to an evil authority, and rest in a false persuasion, and be conducted by an abused conscience, so long as the legislative reason is not conjoined to the judge conscience, that is, while by unapt instruments we suffer our persuasions to be determined.
6. (4.) That determination is to be suspected, that does apparently serve an interest, and but obscurely serve a pious end:
Utile quod nobis, do tibi consiliumi :
When that appears, and nothing else appears, the resolution or counsel is to be considered warily before it be pursued. It is a great allay to the confidence of the bold talkers in the church of. Rome, and hinders their gain and market of proselytes from among the wise and pious very much,—that most of their propositions, for which they contend so earnestly against the other parts of Christendom, do evidently serve the ends of covetousness and ambition, of power and riches, and therefore stand vehemently suspected of design and art, rather than of piety or truth of the article, or designs upon heaven. I instance in the pope's power over princes and all the world; his power of dispensation; the exemption of the clergy from jurisdiction of secular princes; the doctrine of purgatory and indulgences, by which once the friars were set a work to raise a portion for a lady, the niece of Pope Leo X.; the doctrine of transubstantiation, by the effects and consequence of which, the priests are made greater than angels, and next to God; and so is also that heap of doctrines, by the particulars of which the ecclesiastical power is far advanced beyond the authority of any warrant from Scripture, and is made highly instrumental for procuring absolute obedience to the Papacy. In these things every man with half an eye can see the temporal advantage; but how piety and truth shall thrive in the meanwhile, no eye hath yet been so illuminate as to perceive. It was the advice of Ben Sirach", "Consult not with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous; neither with a coward in matters of war; nor with a merchant concerning exchange; nor with a buyer, of selling; nor with an envious man, of thankfulness; nor with an unmerciful man touching kindness; nor with the slothful, for any work; nor with the hireling, for a year of
1. Martial. 5. 20. 18.
Ecclus, xxxvii. 11.
finishing work; nor with an idle servant, of much business; hearken not unto these in any matter of counsel." These will counsel by their interest, not for thy advantage.
But it is possible that both truth and interest may be conjoined; and when a priest preaches to the people the necessity of paying tithes, where they are by law appointed, or when a poor man pleads for charity, or a man in debt urges the excellency of forgetfulness; the truth which they discourse of, cannot be prejudiced by their proper concernments. For if the proposition serves the ends in religion, in providing for their personal necessities, their need makes the instances still the more religious, and the things may otherwise be proved. But when the end of piety is obscure, or the truth of the proposition is uncertain, then observe the bias; and if the man's zeal be bigger than the certainty of the proposition, it is to be estimated by the interest, and to be used accordingly.
But this is not to prejudice him that gives the counsel; for although the counsel is to be suspected, yet the man is not, unless by some other indications he betray himself. For he may be heartily and innocently persuaded of the thing he counsels, and the more easily and aptly believe that, against which himself did less watch, because he quickly perceived it could not be against himself.
Add to this, the counsel is the less to be suspected, if it be asked, than if it be offered. But this is a consideration of prudence, not of conscience directly.
7. (5.) If the proposition serve or maintain a vice, or lessen a virtue, it is certainly not conscience, but error and abuse; because no truth of God can serve God's enemy directly, or by its own force and persuasion. But this is to be understood only in case the answer does directly minister to sin, not if it does so only accidentally. Q. Furius is married to Valeria; but she being fierce and imperious, quarrelsome and loud, and he peevish and fretful, turns her away that he might have peace and live in patience. But being admonishedby Hortensius the orator, to take her again,-he asked counsel of the priests, and they advise him to receive her. He answers, that then he cannot live innocently, but in a perpetual state of temptation, in which he daily falls. The priest replies, that it is his own fault; let him learn patience, and
prudence; for his fault in this instance is no warranty to make him neglect a duty in another; and he answered rightly. If he had counselled him to drink intemperately to make him forget his sorrow, or to break her bones to make her silent, or to keep company with harlots to vex her into compliance,. his counsel had ministered directly to sin, and might not be received.
8. (6.) Besides the evidence of the thing, and a direct conformity to the rule, to be judged by every sober person, or by himself in his wits, there is ordinarily no other collateral assurance, but an honest hearty endeavour in our proportion, to make as wise inquiries as we can, and to get the best helps which are to be had by us, and to obey the best we do make use of. To which (because a deception may tacitly creep upon our very simplicity) if we add a hearty prayer, we shall certainly be guided through the labyrinth, and secured against ourselves, and our own secret follies. This is the counsel of the Son of Sirach'; "Above all this; pray to the Most High, that he will direct thy way in truth."
The Conscience of a vicious Man is an evil Judge, and an imperfect Rule.
1. THAT I mean the superior and inferior part of conscience, is therefore plain, because the rule notes how the acts of conscience may be made invalid both as it is a ruler, and as it is a judge. But, according to the several offices, this truth hath some variety.
2. (1.) The superior part of conscience, or the ovvrýgnois, repository of practical principles (which for use and brevity's sake, I shall call the phylactery), or the keeper of records; that is, that part which contains in it all the natural and reasonable principles of good actions (such as are, God is to be worshipped,-Do to others as they should do to thee,The pledge is to be restored,-By doing harm to others thou must not procure thy own good,-and the like), is always a
1 Ecclus. xxxvii. 15.
certain and regular judge in the prime principles of reason and religion, so long as a man is in his wits, and hath the natural use of reason. For those things which are first imprinted, which are universal principles, which are consented to by all men without a teacher, those which Aristotle calls Koivas ivvolas, those are always the last removed, and never without the greatest violence and perturbation in the world. But it is possible for a man to forget his name and his nature a lycanthropy made Nebuchadnezzar to do so, and a fever made a learned Greek do so: but so long as a man's reason is whole, not destroyed by its proper disease; that is, so long as a man hath the use of reason, and can and will discourse, so long his conscience will teach him the general precepts of duty; for they are imprinted in his nature, and there is nothing natural to the soul, if reason be not; and no reason is, unless its first principles be, and those first principles are most provided for, which are the most perfective of a man, and necessary to his well-being, and those are such which concern the intercourse between God and man, and between men in the first and greatest lines of their society. The very opening of this chain is sufficient proof; it is not necessary to intricate it by offering more testimony..
3. (2.) But then these general principles are either to be considered as they are habitually incumbent on the mind, or as actually applied to practice. In the former sense they can never be totally extinguished, for they are natural, and will return whenever a man ceases from suffering his greatest violence; and those violences, which are so destructive of nature, as this must be that makes a man forget his being, will fall off upon every accident and change, Difficile est personam diu sustinere." But then when these principles come to be applied to practice, a strong vice and a malicious heart can draw a veil over them, that they shall not then appear to disorder the sensual resolution. A short madness, and a violent passion, or a fit of drunkenness, can make a man securely sin by incogitancy, even when the action is in the manner of a universal principle. No man can be brought to that pass, as to believe that God ought not to be honoured; but supposing there is a God, it is unavoidable that this God must be honoured; but a transient and unnatural violence intervening in a particular case, suspends the application of