« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
secret table; the conscience or mind of a man is the quλaxTapiov, the preserver of the court-rolls of heaven. But I
added this clause to the former of a rule,' because the express line of God's rule is not the adequate measure of conscience but there are analogies and proportions, and commensurations of things with things, which make the measure full and equal. For he does not always keep a good conscience who keeps only the words of a divine law, but the proportions also and the reasons of it, the similitudes and correspondences in like instances, are the measures of conscience.
22. The whole measure and rule of conscience is, the law of God, or God's will, signified to us by nature, or revelation; and by the several manners and times and parts of its communication it hath obtained several names: the law of nature, the consent of nations,-right reason, the decalogue, the sermon of Christ,-the canons of the apostles,the laws ecclesiastical and civil of princes and governors,fame, or the public reputation of things, expressed by proverbs and other instances and measures of public honesty. This is
Οἶδεν τό γ' αἰσχρὸν, κανόνι τοῦ καλοῦ μαθών.
So Euripides calls it, all the rule that teaches us good or evil. These being the full measures of right and wrong, of lawful and unlawful, will be the rule of conscience, and the subject of the present books.
In order to Practice.
23. In this, conscience differs from knowledge, which is in order to speculation, and ineffective notices. And it differs from faith, because although faith is also in order to practice, yet not directly and immediately: it is a collection of propositions, the belief of which makes it necessary to live well, and reasonable, and chosen. But before the propositions of faith pass into action, they must be transmitted through another principle, and that is conscience. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and our Lord, and our Master, is a proposition of faith, and from thence, if we pass on to practice, we first take in another proposition; If he be our Lord, where is his fear?'-and this is a sentence, or virtual proposition, of conscience. And from hence we may
m Hecub. 600. Priestley's edition of Euripides, vol. 1. p. 87.
understand the full meaning of the word conscience.' Zuveidnois, and conscientia,' and so our English word conscience, have in them science or knowledge: the seat of it is the understanding, the act of it is knowing, but there must be a knowing of more together.
24. Hugo de St. Victore says, that "conscientia est cordis scientia," " conscience is the knowledge of the heart." It is so, but certainly this was not the rumov and 'original' of the word. But there is truth in the following period. "Cor noscit et alia. Quando autem se noscit, appellatur conscientia; quando, præter se, alia noscit, appellatur scientia:" "Knowledge hath for its object any thing without; but when the heart knows itself, then it is conscience." So it is used in authors sacred and profane. "Nihil mihi conscius sum," saith St. Paul; "I know nothing by myself;" "ut alios lateas; tute tibi conscius eris:" and
hic murus aheneus esto,
Nil conscire sibi.
So Cicero to Marcus Rutilius uses it; " Cum et mihi conscius essem, quanti te facerem;" "When I myself was conscious to myself, how much I did value thee."-But this acception of the word conscience is true, but not full and adequate; for it only signifies conscience as it is a witness, not as a guide. Therefore it is more reasonable which Aquinas and the schoolmen generally use: that conscience is a conjunction of the universal practical law with the particular moral action: and so it is scientia cum rebus facti,' and then it takes in that which is called ouvrnpnois, or the general repository' of moral principles or measures of good, and the particular cases as reduced to practice. Such as was the case of St. Peter, when he denied his Lord: he knew that he ought not to have done it, and his conscience being sufficiently taught his duty to his Lord, he also knew that he had done it, and then there followed a remorse, a biting, or gnawing of his spirit, grief, and shame, and a consequent weeping: when all these acts meet together, it is the full process of conscience. (1.) The ouvrnpnois or the first act of conscience, St. Jerome calls 'scintillam conscientiæ,'' the spark' or fire put into the heart of man.
(2.) The GUVEídnous, which is specifically called 'conscience' of the deed done, is the bringing fuel to this fire.
m Ad Divers. xiii. 8. Cortii, p, 674.
(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 con science. 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 ouvrnpnais 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 : But to commit adultery is injurious:
Therefore it 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 ouvrňpnois, 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 Scripturen 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. Titus, 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;
Reddere personæ scit convenientia cuique".
• Horat. de Arte Poet. 315. Schelle,
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.
I. 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 ouvrnpnois, 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 P 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 τῶς αὐτόν με μένος καὶ θυμὸς ἀνείη
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
P Rom. ii. 15.
q Iliad. χ· 346.