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no such word can be produced, it may, indeed, be a strong opinion or persuusion ; but it is not conscience. And no one thing in the world has done more mischief, and caused more delusions, amongst men, than their not distinguishing between conscience, and mere opinion or persuasion. For though mere opinion or persuasion may be every whit as strong, and have as forcible an influence upon a man's actions as conscience itself; yet, it must be considered that strength or force is one thing, and authority quite another.

Conscience is a Latin word, though with an English termination; and according to its very rotation, it imports a double or joint knowledge; to wit, one of a Divine law or rule, and the other of a man's own action. Properly speak. ing, therefore, it is the application of a general law to a particular instance of practice. And this is the true procedure of conscience, always supposing a law from God, before it pretends to lay any obligation upon man; for still I aver, that conscience neither is, nor ought to be, its own rule.

* And therefore, since the Liturgy, rites, and ceremonies of the church of England are so much cavilled at, and all upon the plea of conscience, it will concern us seriously to examine the force of this plea. For if men shall chuse to say that it is pure conscience, which keeps them from complying with the rule and order of the church, in these matters, they should be called upon to produce some word or law of God, forbidding these things. For conscience is not any power or faculty distinct from the mind of man; but it is the mind of man itself, applying the general rule of God's law to particular cases and actions. And it is certain, therefore, that conscience can never command or forbid anything with authority, unless there be some law of God to command or forbid it first.'

It is, moreover, of the utmost importance, that we should fully understand the difference between a weak and a tender conscience. And here, again, I must borrow the clear and forcible language of Dr. South.

'Let no man deceive himself, or think that true tenderness of conscience is anything else but an awful and exact sense of the rule which should diiect, and of the law which should govern it. And while it steers by this compass, and is sensible of every declination from it, so long it is truly and properly tender, and fit to be relied upon, whether it checks or approves a man for what he does. But there is a new-fashioned sort of tenderness of conscience, which resembles the tenderness of a bog or quagmire; and it is very dangerous to come near it, for fear of being swallowed up by it. For when conscience has once acquired this artificial tenderness, it will strangely enlarge or contract its swallow, as it pleases; so that, sometimes, a camel shall slide down with ease, where, at other iimes, even a gnat may chance to stick by the way. And it is, indeed, such a kind of tenderness, as makes the person who has it, generally, very tender of obeying the laws, but never so of breaking them.

But, in good truth, such a conscience is improperly called tender. For tenderness, as applied to the conscience, properly imports quickness and exactness of sense, which is the very perfection of this faculty, whose duty it is to be always upon the watch, that it may give us warning of whatsoever concerns us. It is, indeed, the eye of the soul; and though the eye is, naturally, the most tender and delicate part of the body, yet it is not therefore called weak, so long as its sight is quick and strong. Conscience, the more sensible it is to accuse or excuse, and to spy out every little thing which may annoy or defile the soul, so much the more tender it is to be accounted, but not, therefore, so much the more weak; which sufficiently shews weakness and tenderness of conscience to be, in strictness of speech, two different things. And the same appears yet further from those contraries, to which they stand respectively opposed. For a tender conscience is opposed to a hard or seared conscience ; such a one as, either wholly or in a great measure, has lost the distinguishing sense of good and evil, honest and dishonest. But a weak conscience is opposed to a strong; which very strength, we show, consists in the tenderness or quickness of its discerning

or perceptive power. Wherefore we read of “strong men" and " babes” in Christ; denominations, which take their rise from the strength or weakness of the conscience: for such as the conscience is, such must be the Christian.'

I must subjoin, on this important subject of conscience, another remarkable passage from Dr. South, in which he points out the two qualities of partiality and hypocrisy, which usually accompany the plea of a weak, or, as it is too often falsely called, a tender conscience.

1. “And first,' he says, “for partiality: Few make this plea themselves, who, being once in power, will endure it in others. Consult history, for the practices of such in Germany, and your own memories, for the practices of the like sort of men in England. In their general comprehensive toleration, prelacy, as you know, stood always joined with popery, and both were excepted together. Nor was there any toleration allowed for the Liturgy and established worship of the Church of England; though the users of it pleaded conscience, never so much, for its use, and the known laws of God and man, for the rule of their conscience.

* But these zealots were above that legal ordinance of “doing as they would be done by;” nor were their consciences any longer spiritually weak, when their interest was once grown temporally strong. For then, notwithstanding all their pleas of tenderness, and outcries against persecution, whoever came under them, and closed not with them, found them to be men, whose bowels were brass, and whose hearts were as hard as their foreheads.

2. • The other qualification, which generally goes along with this plea, and so renders it not fit to be admitted, is hypocrisy Divines generally agree upon this, as a certain evidence of the sincerity of the heart, when it has an equal respect unto all God's commands, and makes duty, us duty, one of the principal reasons of obedience; the consequence of which is, that its obedience must needs be universal. Now, upon the same ground, if conscience be really, even in their own sense, tender, and doubts of the lawfulness of such or such a practice, because it carries in it some appearance and semblance of evil, though yet it dare not positively affirm that it is so; surely it must and will be equally afraid of every other practice, which carries in it the same appearance of evil; and utterly abhor and fly from those practices, which the universal consent of all nations and religions condemns, as evidently wicked and unjust.

• But the tenderness we have to deal with, is quite of another nature, being such a one as makes men scruple at the lawfulness of a set form of Divine worship, at the use of some solemn rites and ceremonies in the service of God; but makes them not stick at all at sacrilege, which St. Paul equals to idolatry; nor at rebellion, which the prophet makes as bad as witchcraft; nor at the murder of their king, and the robbing and undoing of their fellow-subjects; villanies, which not only Christianity proscribes, but the common reason of mankind rises up against, and, by the very light of nature, condemns. And did not those, who pleaded tenderness of conscience amongst us, do all these things? Nay, did they not do them in the very strength of this plea ?

In a word, are the particulars alleged true, or, are they not? If not; then let shame and confusion, and a just judgment of God light upon those, who make such charges where they are not due. But if all which has been alleged be true; then, in the name of the God of truth, let not those pasa for weak, and much less for tender consciences, which can digest such horrid, clamorous impieties. Nor let them abuse the world, nor disturb the Church, by a false cry of superstition, and by a causeless separation from her thereupon; especially if they will but calmly and seriously consider whose ends, by all this, they certainly serve, whose work they do, and whose wages they have so much cause to dread.'

As the foregoing extracts from Dr. South have carried me beyond the limits which I had originally contemplated, I must reserve for another opportunity some admirable remarks of Archbishop Leighton on con

science, and, more especially, in "the answer of a good conscience toward God.” But before I close my letter, I am anxious to submit to others, two thoughts, which have often passed across my own mind, when considering this subject in all its bearings.

1. Allow me, then, in the first place, to state, in few words, the difference between a true and a false conscience. A true conscience is only another word for a keen sense of duty, founded on a clear comprehension of all our relations and duties ; it is always accompanied by a spirit of humility and childlike obedience; and it claims nothing but permission to exercise self-denial. But a false conscience is the mere fancy of the individual ; the mere feeling or opinion of the moment; and it is nothing more than a name for self-will.

2. I would offer, in the next place, a word of solemn caution to all, suggested by what Dr. South has said, in one of the foregoing passages, respecting the exact signification of the word, conscience. It imports a twofold knowledge ; and, in addition to the interpretation which has been given above, may we not also understand, by this twofold knowledge, THE JOINT TESTIMONY OF GOD AND MAN; since he witnesses, with our spirits, in all our thoughts, words, and actions. We cannot say whether the plea of conscience, however mistaken in its nature, may not yet be alleged, sometimes, in simplicity and integrity, by those who advance it. But he knows every thought and every intent of the heart; and fearful will be the day of reckoning for any amongst us who shall have advanced this plea, if it shall then appear that such plea, instead of having being dictated by a real desire of submission to the Divine Will, was only employed as a pretext for disobeying or disregarding it.

I remain, Dear Sir, &c.

A SHEPHERD OP The South.

COMMENTARY OF THEODORET, BISHOP OF CYRUS, IN SYRIA, ON ST. PAUL'S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.

(Continued from page 368.)

BOOK V. The knowledge of the nature of God, and faith, and right affections towards Him, are the sum and true foundation of all good ; for what the eye is to the body, that faith and the knowledge of divine matters are to the soul. But then she needs also at the same time practical virtue, as the eye does hands and feet, and the other members of the body. Wherefore, the holy apostle adds moral instructions also to his doctrinal course, in order to promote in us the most perfect virtue, for through the Romans does he afford this advantage to all mankind : and thus he opens the subject.

CHAPTER XII. 1. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God. He lays down laws, and sinking authority puts forth his instructions with intreaties, reminding them of the divine loving-kindness, of which he had before spoken so much at length; and what then dost thou beseech ? that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And already before had he exhorted to make “their members instruments of righteousness, and yield themselves to

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God as those that are alive from the dead,” (ch, vi. 13 ;) and here he bids these become also a sacrifice, and calls it a living sacrifice, for it is not to be slain that he commands the body, but to become dead to sin, and not be open to its action; and such sacrifice he speaks of as holy, reasonable, and acceptable, as contrasting it with the oblation of irrational animals, and showing that with this the Lord is pleased. For by all the prophets, as one may say, he finds fault with the sacrifices of beasts, while he enjoins this; for "i sacrifice,” says he, "unto God the sacrifice of praise,” and “the sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me." Ps. 1. (LXX. li. 14, 23; and see also Isa. i. 11--18,) and a thousand other such passages are to be found in the Holy Scriptures. 2. And follow not the fashions t of this world. He speaks of the things of this present world, such as wealth, and power, and other like pomps, by fashions, future things being substances, as alone permanent and satisfying; for so in another place also, (1 Cor. vii. 31,) “ for the fashion of this world passeth away.” For many from the height of abundance have fallen into the extremest poverty, and others sprung from the lowest parents become entrusted with the noblest offices of authority ; and some again who elevated an haughty brow, and enlarged themselves in pride, conceiving themselves superior to everybody, being suddenly carried off, have become ill-savoured dust. The holy apostle therefore desires us not to gape after these things, nor to love the fashion of this world, but to seek those things which advance the life eternal. But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. He exhorts here those also who were inclining to the worse to return again to the better, as the word transformed shews. And he teaches how great is the difference between virtue and mere present objects, by calling them fashions, but virtue a form, for a form indicates actually existing objects, but a fashion that which quickly melts away. And he points out the freedom of will which the soul possesses, by commanding it both to renew the mind, and to discriminate the better from the worse ; for these things are what he says serve God; and he marks out what these are; and first of all he denounces arrogance, and enjoins humility. 3. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think as accords with sobriety. And not himself does he declare thus enjoins, but the grace of the Spirit through him, for its instrument, says he, I am; and by the word sobriety here, he designates the healthy state of the mind, to teach us that arrogance is the sickness of the intellect; and herein, indeed, he imitates his own Master; for so the Lord in the holy gospels (Matt. v. 3) pronounced the first blessing on such as were given to humility. “Blessed,” says He, “ are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And these instructions he lays on all, both rich and poor, both servants and masters, both men and women, as the words to every one that is among you testify; and he gives the proper measures of our self-opinion, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Grace it is which he here calls faith, because that

Ch. viii. 13. + Mi, ovoxnuariscode oxýuara, figures, shadows, unrealities, appearances without substance.-E. B.

by faith comes the gift of grace; and according to the proportion of a man's faith are the gifts of grace supplied; and he commands each to regulate his own self-estimate by the grace allotted to him. 4. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; 5. So we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. The illustration is exactly suited to such an exhortation concerning brotherly love ; for as each of the members is not useful to itself alone, but contributes its benefits to the common whole, so, therefore, it becomes him who has been blessed with any grace from above, clearly to understand that he has received that gift for the common advantage ; for believers are one body, and each of us fulfils the office of a member; 6. Having gifts, differing according to the grace that is given to us. Thus are we to understand this, we are members of each other, having gifts differing according to the grace given to us; and yet, although thus differing, they are nevertheless bestowed by the divine grace for the common good. Whether prophecy according to the proportion of faith ; 7. Or ministry that he should wait on ministering, or as a teacher on teaching ; 8. Or as an exhorter, on exhortation, According to the faith of each does the Giver of all good proportion the grace. And by prophecy he means not only the foreknowledge of the future, but the understanding hidden things also ;* and by ministry the office of preaching the gospel ; by teaching the instructing in the divine doctrines; by exhortation the inciting to virtue. He that giveth, let him do it with singleness of heart ; not seeking after the good opinion of others, but supplying the wants of bim that needs ; nor calculating with himself whether he has sufficient by him or not, but trusting in God, and so affording assistance liberally; he that ruleth, with diligence ; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9. Let love be without simulation. He bids all things be done with earnestness. And the oversight he orders to be exercised with zeul, that it be not the name without the thing; and to shewing bounty he joins joy, in order to point out the gain that arises from communicating to others; seeing that they who gain are wont to rejoice ; for so also he says in his epistle to the Corinthians (2 Ep. ix. 7); " not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver;" and love He commands to be genuine and sincere, and repudiates the mask of pretence. Abhorring that which is evil, clinging to that which is good. Again he says not simply to fly from the former, and follow after the latter, but exhorts us exceedingly to hate sin, and to the performance of good deeds bids us closely be connected, our affections serving thereto as it were a cement. 10. Being kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Have your regard warm, and such as becomes brethren towards each other; and let each yield the first places to his neighbour, for this is a proof of true and perfect love. 11. Not slothful in ardour : shewing forth a ready promptness towards what is good, and altogether casting away indolence. Fervent in spirit. By spirit he means the spiritual grace given, and to this, as fuel to the fire, he commands us to bring alacrity as its subject matter; as he says also in another place (1 Thess. v. 19); " Quench not the Spirit;" for the Spirit is

* The gifts of interpretation and exposition. 1 Cor. xiv. 3, 6, 22, 39, &c.— E. B.

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