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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 uvrnρnois, 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 xovas Evvolas, 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 lycanthrophy 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
that principle, and makes the man not to consider his rule; and there he omits to worship and honour this God in many particulars to which the principle is applicable. But this discourse is coincident with that question, whether conscience may be totally lost? of which I have already given accounts"That and this will give light to each other.
4. (3.) But further, there are also some principles which are indeed naturally known, that is, by principles of natural reason: but because they are not the immediate principles of our creation and proper being, they have the same truth, and the same seat, and the same certainty; but not the same prime evidence, and connaturality to the soul; and therefore these may be lost, or obscured to all purposes of usefulness, and their contradictories may be admitted into the rule of conscience. Of this nature, I reckon, that fornication, violent and crafty contracts, with many arts of deception, and overreaching our brother, theft, incest in some kinds, drunkenness, and the like, are to be avoided. For concerning these, it is certain that some whole nations have so abused their conscience by evil manners, that the law in their mind hath been cancelled, and these things have passed for lawful. And to this day, that duels may be fought by private persons, and authority, is a thing so practised by a whole sort of men, that it is believed: and the practice, and the belief of the lawfulness of it, are interchangeably daughter and mother to each other. These are such of whom the Apostle speaks", they are "given over to believe a lie," they are delivered "to a reprobate mind." And this often happens, and particularly in those cases wherein one sin is inferred by another naturally, or morally, or by withdrawing of the divine grace.
5. (4.) Wherever the superior or the ruling part of conscience is an imperfect rule; in the same cases the inferior is an evil judge, that is, acquits the criminal, or condemns the innocent, calling good evil, and evil good: which is to be understood when the persuasion of the erring conscience is permanent and hearty, not sudden, and by the rapid violence of a passion for in this case the conscience condemns as soon as that is acted, to which, before the action, it was cozened and betrayed: but it proceeds only in abiding and lasting errors. And this is the cause why so many orders of
m In rule 1. numb. 5. et seq.
n Rom. i. 28.
persons continue in a course of sin with delight, and uninterrupted pleasure, thinking rebellion to be a just defence, sacrilege a lawful title; while other men, that are otherwise and justly persuaded, wonder at their peace, and hate their practices. Our blessed Lord foretold concerning the prosecutors of the church, that they should think they did God. good service. But such men have an evil portion, they sing in the fire, and go dancing to their graves, and sleep on till they be awakened in hell. And on the other side, this is because of superstition, and scruples, and sometimes of despairing and unreasonable fears, when the conscience is abused by thinking that to be sin, which is none.
All Consciences are to walk by the same Rule; and that which is just to one, is so to all, in the like Circumstances.
1. Ir all men were governed by the same laws, and had the same interest, and the same degrees of understanding, they would perceive the truth of this conclusion. But men are infinitely differenced by their own acts and relations, by their understandings and proper economy, by their superinduced differences and orders, by interest and mistake, by ignorance and malice, by sects and deceptions. And this makes that two men may be damned for doing two contradictories: as a Jew may perish for not keeping of his sabbath, and á Christian for keeping it; an Iconoclast for breaking images, and another for worshipping them: for eating, and for not eating; for receiving the holy communion, and for not receiving it; for coming to church, or staying at home.
2. But this variety is not directly of God's making, but of man's. God commands us to walk by the same rule, and to this end, rò avrò govεiv, " to be of the same mind;" and this is ἀκρίβεια συνειδήσεως, “ the exactness of our conscience; which precept were impossible to be observed, if there were not one rule, and this rule also very easy. For some men have but a small portion of reason and discretion, and they cannot help it; and yet the precept is incumbent upon them all alike; and therefore as the rule is one, so it is plain and easy, and written in every man's heart; and as
man's reason is the same thing, so is science; and this comes to be altered, just as that. 3. Neither is the unity of the rule prejudiced by the infinite difference of cases. For as a river, springing from the mountains of the east, is tempted by the levels of the ground and the uneasiness of its passage, to make some turns backward towards its head, even while it intends westward; so are the cases of conscience branched out into instances, sometimes of contrary proceedings, which are to be determined to cross effects, but still upon the same account. For in all things of the world the obligation is uniform, and it is of the same persuasion.
The case is this:
4. Autolycus robbed the gardens of Trebonius, and asked him forgiveness, and had it. But when Trebonius was chosen consul, and Autolycus robbed him again, and was taken by others, and as a thief brought before him, he asked forgiveness again: but Trebonius condemned him to the galleys: for he who being a private man was bound to forgive a repenting trespasser, being a magistrate was bound not to forgive him; and both these were upon the same account. A man may forgive an injury done to himself, because it is his own right, and he may alone meddle in it; but an injury done to the commonwealth, she only could forgive, not her minister. So,
5. He that fasted upon a Saturday in Ionia or Smyrna, was a schismatic; and so was he who did not fast at Milan or Rome upon the same day, both upon the same reason:
Cum fueris Romæ, Romano vivito more;
Cum fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi ;
because he was to conform to the custom of Smyrna, as well as to that of Milan, in the respective diocesses.
6. To kill a man, in some cases, defiles a land; in others, it cleanses it, and puts away blood from the people; and it was plain in the case of circumcision. St. Paul did it, and did it not; both because he ought, and because he ought not; and all upon the same account and law of charity. And therefore all inquiries, and all contentions, and questions, should be relations to the rule, and be tried by nothing but a plain measure of justice and religion, and not stand or