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evil threatened by God to fall upon sinners. are left alive of you in the land of your captivity, I will send fainting in their hearts, in the land of their enemy, and the sound of a leaf shall chase them*:" and again; "The Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have no assurance of thy life1:" and this very fear ends in death itself; it is a mortal fear sometimes: for when the prophet Isaiah" had told concerning Jerusalem, "Thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle?" to the inquiry of those who ask, How then were they slain? the answer is made by a learned gloss upon the place?" Homines hi expectato adventu hostis, velut transfossi, exanimantur metu :" "They were dead with fear, slain with the affrightments of their own conscience, as if they were transfixed by the spear of their enemies."-" Quid ergo nos à diis immortalibus divinitus expectemus, nisi irrationibus finem faciamus," said Q. Metellus in A. Gellius": There is no avoiding punishment unless we will avoid sin; since even a shadow as well as substances may become a Nemesis, when it is let loose by God, and conducted by conscience.
20. But the great instrument of bringing this to pass is that certainty of persuasion which is natural in all men, and is taught to all men, and is in the sanction of all laws expressly affirmed by God, that evil shall be to them that do evil;
Θεοὺς ἀτίζων τις βροτῶν, δώσει δίκην,
"He that dishonours God, shall not escape punishment:" both in this life,
and after this life for so they reckoned, that adulterers, rebels, and traitors, should be kept in prisons in fearful expectation of horrid pains;
Quique ob adulterium cæsi, quique arma secuti
Impia, nec veriti dominorum fallere dextras,
Inclusi pœnam expectant - q
all this is our conscience, which, in this kind of actions and events, is nothing but the certain expectation and fear of the divine vengeance.
21. Quest. But then why is the conscience more afraid in some sins than in others, since in sins of the greatest malignity we find great difference of fear and apprehension, when, because they are of extreme malignity, there can be no difference in their demerit?
22. I answer, Although all sins be damnable, yet not only in the several degrees of sin, but in the highest of all there is great difference: partly proceeding from the divine threatenings, partly from fame and opinion, partly from other
For, (1.) There are some sins which are called 'peccata clamantia,'' crying sins; that is, such which cry aloud for vengeance; such which God not only hath specially threatened with horrid plagues, but such which do seldom escape vengeance in this life, but for their particular mischief are hedged about with thorns, lest by their frequency they become intolerable. Such are sacrilege, oppression of widows and orphans, murder, sodomy, and the like. Now if any man falls into any of these crimes, he sees an angel with a sword drawn stand before him; he remembers the angry words of God, and calls to mind that so few have escaped a severe judgment here, that God's anger did converse with men, and was clothed with our circumstances, and walked around about and less than all this is enough to scare an evil con
But, (2.) There are some certain defensatives and natural guards which God hath placed in men against some sins; such as are, a natural abhorrency against unnatural lusts: a natural pity against murder and oppression: the double hedge of sacredness and religion against sacrilege. He therefore that commits any of these sins, does so much violence to those defensatives, which were placed either in or upon his heart, that such an act is a natural disease, and vexes the conscience, not only by a moral but by a natural instrument.
(3.) There are in these crying sins, certain accidents and appendages of horror, which are apt to amaze a man's mind: as in murder there is the circumstance and state of death, which when a man sees and feels alone, and sees that him
self hath acted, it must needs affright him; since naturally most men abhor to be alone with a dead corpse. So also in oppression of widows, a man meets with so many sad spectacles, and hears so many groans, and clamorous complaints, such importunities, and such prayers, and such fearful cursings, and perpetual weepings, that if a man were to use any artifice to trouble a man's spirit, he could not dress his scene with more advantage.
(4.) Fame hath a great influence into this effect, and there cannot easily be a great shame amongst men, but there must be a great fear of vengeance from God; and the same does but antedate the divine anger, and the man feels himself entering into it, when he is enwrapped within the other. A man committing a foul sin, which hath a special dishonour and singular disreputation among men, is like a wolf espied amongst the sheep: the outcry and noises among the shepherds make him fly for his life, when he hears a vengeance coming. And besides in this case, it is a great matter that he perceives all the world hates him for his crime, and that which every one decries, must needs be very hateful and formidable; and prepared for trouble.
(5.) It cannot be denied, but opinion also hath some hand in this affair; and some men are affrighted from their cradle in some instances, and permitted or connived at in others; and the fears of childhood are not shaken from the conscience in old age: as we see the persuasions of childhood in moral actions are permanent, so are the fear and hope which were the sanction and establishment of those persuasions. Education, and society, and country customs, and states of life, and the religion or sect of the man's professing, have influence into their portions of this effect.
23. The consequent of this discourse is this;-that we cannot take any direct accounts of the greatness or horror of a sin by the affrightment of conscience. For it is with the affrightments of conscience as it is in temporal judgments;' sometimes they come not at all, and when they do, they come. irregularly; and when they do not, the man does not escape. But in some sins God does strike more frequently than in others, and in some sins men usually are more affrighted than in others. The outward judgment and the inward fear are intended to be deletories of sin, and instruments of
repentance; but as some great sins escape the rod of God in this life, so are such sinners oftentimes free from great affrightments. But as he who is not smitten of God, yet knows that he is always liable to God's anger, and if he repents not, it will certainly fall upon him hereafter; so it is in conscience: he that fears not, hath never the less cause to fear, but oftentimes a greater, and therefore is to suspect and alter his condition, as being of a deep and secret danger: and he that does fear, must alter his condition, as being highly troublesome. But in both cases, conscience does the work of a monitor and a judge. In some cases conscience is like an eloquent and a fair-spoken judge, which declaims not against the criminal, but condemns him justly: in others, the judge is more angry, and affrights the prisoner more, but the event is the same. For in those sins where the conscience affrights, and in those in which she affrights not, supposing the sins equal but of differing natures, there is no other difference, but that conscience is a clock,-which in one man strikes aloud and gives warning, and in another the hand points silently to the figure, but strikes not; but by this he may as surely see what the other hears, viz., that his hours pass away, and death hastens, and after death comes judgment.
24. But by the measures of binding, we may judge of the loosing, or absolution, which is part of the judgment of conscience, and this is the greatest pleasure in the world;
Μόνον δὲ τοῦτό φασ' ἁμιλλᾶσθαι βίῳ,
A good consciences is the most certain, clearest, and undisturbed felicity. "Lectulus respersus floribus bona est conscientia, bonis refecta operibus." No bed so soft, no flowers so sweet, so florid, and delicious, as a good conscience, in which springs all that is delectable, all that may sustain and recreate our spirits." Nulla re tam lætari soleo quam officiorum meorum conscientia:" "I am pleased in nothing so much as in the remembrances and conscience of my duty," said Cicero. Upon this pillow and on this bed, Christ slept soundly in a storm,-and St. Peter in prison so fast, that the brightness of an angel could not awake him, or make him to Hippolyt. 428.-Priestley's edition of Eurip. vol. 3. p. 137.
$ 2 Cor. i. 12.
without a blow on the side.
This refreshed the sor
up rows of Hezekiah when he was smitten with the plague, and not only brought pleasure for what was past, and so doubled the good of it,
Vivere bis vita posse priore frui;
but it also added something to the number of his years,
Ampliat ætatis spatium sibi vir bonus
And this made Paul and Silas sing in prison and in an earthquake; and that I may sum up all the good things in the world, I borrow the expression of St. Bernard, "Bona conscientia non solum sufficit ad solatium sed etiam ad coronam :" It is here a perpetual comfort, it will be hereafter an eternal
25. This very thing Epicurus observed wisely, and in his great design for pleasure, commended justice as the surest instrument to prevent it. So Antiphon: "Conscium esse sibi in vita nullius criminis, multum voluptatis parit:" and Cato in Cicero":"Conscientia bene actæ vitæ multorumque benefactorum recordatio jucundissima est." Nothing is a greater pleasure than a good conscience: for there is peace and no disturbance; καρπὸς μέγιστος ἀταραξία : “ quietness is the best fruit; and that grows only upon the tree in the midst of Paradise, upon the stock of a holy heart or conscience. Only care is to be taken, that boldness be not mistaken for peace, and hardness of heart for a good conscience. It is easy to observe the difference, and no man can be innocently abused in this affair. Peace is the fruit of a holy conscience. But no man can say, 'I am at peace, therefore I have a holy conscience.' But, 'I have lived innocently,' or 'I walk carefully with my God, and I have examined my conscience severely, and that accuses me not; therefore this peace is a holy peace, and no illusion.' A man may argue thus: I am in health, and therefore the sleep I take is natural and healthful.' But not thus: 'I am heavy to sleep, therefore I am in health;' for his dulness may be a lethargy. A man may be quiet, because he inquires not, or because he understands not, or because he cares not, or because he is abused in the notices of his condition. But the true peace of conscience is thus to be discerned.
Martial, 10. 23,
u De Amicit. Wetzel. c. 3. §. 7. pag. 21.