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man intends to live a severe life, and to attend religion, his end is just and fair, and so far his conscience is right: but if his conscience suggest to him, that he to obtain his end should erect colleges of women; and in the midst of feasts, and songs, and society, he should preach the melancholy lectures of the cross, it is not right; because the end is reached at by a contrary hand. But when it tells him, that to obtain continence he must fast and pray, watch diligently, and observe prudently, labour and read, and deny his appetite in its daily attempts upon him, then it is a right conscience. For a right conscience is nothing but right reason reduced to practice, and conducting moral actions. Now all that right reason can be defined by, is the propounding a good end, and good means to that end,
In a right Conscience, the practical Judgment, that is, the last Determination to an Action, ought to be sure and evident.
1. THIS is plain in all the great lines of duty, in actions determinable by the prime principles of natural reason, or divine revelation; but it is true also in all actions conducted by a right and perfect conscience. This relies upon all that account on which it is forbidden to do actions of danger, or doubt, lest we perish in the danger;—which are to be handled in their proper place. But for the present we are to observe, that in the question of actions, whose rule is not notorious and primely evident, there is or may be a double judgment.
2. The first judges the thing probable by reason of the differing opinions of men wise and pious; but in this there is a fear or suspicion of the contrary, and therefore in the direct act nothing is certain. But there is also, secondly, a reflex act of judgment; which upon consideration that it is certain that a probable action may lawfully be done; or else, that that which is but probable in the nature of the thing (so far as we perceive it) may yet, by the superadding of some circumstances, and prudential considerations, or by equity or necessity, become more, than probable in the particular; although, I say, the conscience be uncertain in the
direct act, yet it may be certain, right, and determined, in the reflex and second act of judgment; and if it be, it is innocent and safe, it is that which we call the right-sure conscience.
3. For in moral things there cannot ordinarily be a demonstrative or mathematical certainty: and in morality we call that certain, that is a thing to be followed and chosen, which oftentimes is but very highly probable; and many things do not attain that degree; and therefore because it is very often impossible, it is certainly not necessary that the direct judgment should be sure and evident in all cases. Tò μὲν γὰρ ἐπιστητὸν, ἀποδεικτόν· τέχνη δὲ καὶ φρόνησις τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι περὶ τὰ ἐνδεχόμενα ἄλλως ἔχειν, “ Science is of those things which can be demonstrated; but prudence [and conscience], of things which are thus, or may be otherwise "."But if it be not supplied in the reflex and second act of judgment, so that the conscience be either certain in the object, or in the act, the whole progress is a danger, and the product is criminal; the conscience is doubtful, and the action is a sin.
4. It is in this as is usually taught concerning the divine knowledge of things contingent; which although they are in their own nature fallible and contingent, yet are known certainly and infallibly by God, and according to the nature of the things, even beyond what they are in their natural, proper, and next causes: and there is a rare and secret expression of Christ's incarnation used by St. Paul," in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," that is, the manner is contrary to the thing; the Godhead that is wholly incorporeal dwells in him corporally. After the like manner of signification is the present certainty I speak of. If it be not certain in the object, it must be certain in the faculty, that is, at least it must be a certain persuasion, though of an uncertain article: and we must be certain and fully persuaded, that the thing may be done by us lawfully, though whether the thing itself be lawful, is at most but highly probable.
5. So that in effect it comes but to this; The knowledge that is here required, is but the fulness of persuasion, which is and ought to be in a right conscience : Οἶδα καὶ πέπεισμαι. "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus:" so St. Paul.Our knowledge here, which is but in part, must yet be a full
P Aristot. Ethic. lib. 6. cap. 6. Wilkinson, p. 240.
confidence for the matters of duty. The conclusions then are these:
1. There must be a certainty of adherence in the actions of a right conscience.
2. It must also, for the matter of it too, at least be on the right side of the probability.
The conscience must be confident, and it must also have reason enough so to be; or at least, so much as can secure the confidence from illusion; although possibly the confidence may be greater than the evidence, and the conclusion bigger than the premises. Thus the good simple man, that, about the time of the Nicene council, confuted the stubborn and subtle philosopher by a confident saying-over his creed: and the holy and innocent idiot, or plain easy people of the laity, that cannot prove Christianity by any demonstrations, but by that of a holy life, and obedience unto death; they believe it so, that they put all their hopes upon it, and will most willingly prove it again by dying for it, if God shall call them. This is one of the excellences of faith; and in all cases where the mercies of God have conducted the man into the right, it is not subject to illusion. But for that particular, I mean, that we be in the right, we are to take all that care which God hath put into our power:-of which I have already said something, and shall give fuller accounts in its proper place.
The practical Judgment of a right Conscience is always agreeable to the speculative Determination of the Understanding.
1. THIS rule is intended against those whose understanding is right in the proposition, and yet declines in the application; it is true in thesi,' but not in 'hypothesi;' it is not true when it comes to be their case: and so it is in all that sin against their conscience, and use little arts to evade the clamour of the sin. They are right in the rule, and crooked in the measuring; whose folly is apparent in this, because they deny in particular, what they affirm in the general; and it is true in all, but not in some. David was redargued wit
tily by Nathan upon this account; he laid the case in a remote scene:-Titius, or Sempronius, a certain rich man, I know not who, somebody or other, robbed the poor man of his ewe lamb. Therefore, said David, He shall die, whoever he be.'-'Yea, but you are the man :'-what then? shall he die still? this is a new arrest; it could not be denied, his own mouth had already given the sentence.
2. And this is a usual but a most effective art to make the conscience right in the particular, by propounding the case separate from its own circumstances; and then to remove it to its own place is no hard matter. It was an ingenious device of Erasistratus the physician, of which Appian tells :-When young Antiochus almost died for love of Stratonica his father Seleucus's wife, the physician told the passionate and indulgent father, that his son was sick of a disease, which he had indeed discovered, but found it also to be incurable. Seleucus with sorrow asking what it was, Erasistratus answered, 'He loves my wife.' But then the old king's hopes began to revive, and he turned wooer in the behalf of his son, begging of the physician, who was his counsellor and his friend, for pity's sake, for friendship and humanity, to give his wife in exchange or redemption for the young king's life. Erasistratus replied, "Sir, you ask a thing too unreasonable and great; and though you are his father; yourself would not do it, if it were your own case; and therefore why should I when Seleucus swore by all his country gods that he would do it as willingly as he would live; Erasistratus drew the curtain of the device, and applied it to him, by telling, that the cure of his son depended upon his giving the queen Stratonica to him, which he did; and afterward made it as lawful as he could, by a law postnate to that insolent example, and confirmed it by military suffrages.
3. In all cases we are to consider the rule, not the relation; the law, not the person: for if it be one thing in the proposition, and another in the assumption, it must be false in one place or the other; and then the conscience is but an ill guide, and an ill judge.
4. This rule is not to extend to the exception of particular cases; nor to take away privileges, pardons, equity. For r De Bellis Syriacis.
that which is fast in the proposition, may become loose in the particular by many intervening causes, of which I am to give account in its due place. For the present, this is certain, that whatsoever particular is of the same account with the general, not separate, or let loose by that hand which first bound it, is to be estimated as the general. But this rule is to go further also.
5. For hitherto, I have called the act of particular conscience directing to a single and circumstantiate action, by the name of practical judgment: and the general dictate of the ovvrýρnois, or phylactery, or upper conscience, teaching the kinds of good actions, by the name of 'speculative judgment.' But the rule also is true, and so to be understood, when practical and speculative are taken in their first and proper sense. If in philosophy we discourse that the true God, being a spirit without shape or figure, cannot be represented by an image; although this be only a speculation, and demonstrable in natural philosophy, and no rule of conscience; yet when conscience is to make a judgment concerning the picturing of God the Father, it must not determine practically against that speculation. "That an idol is nothing," is demonstrable in metaphysics; and therefore that we are to make nothing of it, is a practical truth and although the first proposition be not directly placed in the upper region of conscience, but is one of the prime metaphysical propositions, not properly theological, according to those words of St. Pauls, "Concerning things sacrificed to idols,weknow ὅτι πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν “ that we all have knowledge;' and we know that an idol is nothing in the world;" meaning, that this knowledge needs no revelation to attest it; we by our own reason and principles of demonstration know that; yet, the lower, or particular practical conscience, must never determine against that extrinsical, and therefore, as to conscience, accidental measure.
6. For whatsoever is true in one science, is true also in another; and when we have wisely speculated concerning the dimensions of bodies, their circumscriptions, the acts of sense, the certainty of their healthful perceptions, the commensuration of a place and a body; we must not esteem these to be unconcerning propositions, if ever we come to use
$ 1 Cor. viii. 1. 4.