Tvvo sermons vvherein we are taught, 1. Hovv to get, 2. How to keepe, 3. How to vse a good conscience. Preached in Alldermanbury Church, London. Not heretofore published. By Robert Harris.
Harris, Robert, 1581-1658.
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TWO SERMONS, VVHEREIN VVE are taught, 1. How to get, 2. How to keepe, 3. How to vse a good CON∣SCIENCE.

HEB. 13. 18.

Pray for vs, for we trust we haue a good Conscience in all things, willing to liue honestly.

OF the Apostles moti∣on so much: Follow∣eth now his reason; where, first, the Asser∣tion, I haue a good Con∣science in all things:] Se∣condly, the Euidence and confirmation, I am perswaded:] so vp∣on this ground, I desire to liue honestly. The points we note are two: First, the Apostle secures the Page  2thing (a good Conscience.) Secondly, hee rests in the confirmation of it.

From the first this:

Euery Christian should so order the matter, that hee may truly say, *I haue a good Conscience: This the thing that must be made good, and as∣sured; to wit, a good conscience. Here, lest it be objected, that the point holds in such as the A∣postle was, (Preachers) who must be men of Conscience, not in all; Wee, must doe two things; first, see what warrant we haue for the raising; next, for practizing of the point. Our warrant for deducing a generall from this particular, is fetcht; first, from the end and vse of the word in generall, namely, our instru∣ction, as appeares, Rom. 15.4. and 2 Tim. 3.16.

Euery Christian should so order the matter, that hee may truly say, *I haue a good Conscience: This the thing that must be made good, and as∣sured; to wit, a good conscience. Here, lest it be objected, that the point holds in such as the A∣postle was, (Preachers) who must be men of Conscience, not in all; Wee, must doe two things; first, see what warrant we haue for the raising; next, for practizing of the point. Our warrant for deducing a generall from this particular, is fetcht; first, from the end and vse of the word in generall, namely, our instru∣ction, as appeares, Rom. 15.4. and 2 Tim. 3.16.

Secondly, from that generall precept of this Apostle, Phil. 4.8, 9. Furthermore, brethren, what∣soeuer things are true, whatsoeuer things are honest, whatsoeuer things are iust, whatsoeuer things are pure, whatsoeuer things pertaine to loue, whatsoeuer things are of good report, if there be any vertue, if there be any praise, thinke on these things, Which yee haue both learned, and receiued, and heard, and seene in mee: those things doe, and the God of peace shall be with you.

Thirdly, from the like president, Heb. 13.5, 6. Let your conuersation be without couetousnesse, and be content with those things that yee haue: for hee hath said, I will not faile thee, neither forsake thee: So that we may baldly say, The Lord is my helper, nei∣ther Page  3will I feare what man can doe vnto me. Whence the inference is to all from one, Ioshuah.

Fourthly, from Reason, though examples (as examples) simply binde not, yet reason and pre∣cept (that is to say, the Law of Nature and of God) doe binde: and therefore, when the Ex∣ample is grounded vpon common equity, and hath nothing priuate in it (vnlesse haply for de∣gree onely) and is backt by precept, then it's binding. Now thus stands the case here: First, A man, as he is rationall (much more as he is a Christian) is to regard his Conscience. Second∣ly, the Apostle, not onely in his Ministery, but in all other Relations and passages of life, min∣ded this, Acts 23.1. & 24.16. nay, further, as his life was rifled into by the aduersaries, with his Doctrine; so he Apologizes for that, with this, and grounds his perswasion, as much vp∣on his Christian liuing, as his faithfull preach∣ing. Lastly, the precept reaches all, as well as Preachers: and there's as good reason, why we as well as they, should assure conscience. For the first, the precept is no lesse large, then plain; * first, for getting: secondly, keeping: thirdly, vsing of a good Conscience.

For getting: we are called vpon to wash the heart, Ierem. 4.14. To wash off all filthinesse of spirit, 2 Cor. 7.1. to study vniuersall holinesse, 1 Thes. 5. and the end of the Commandement is, a good Conscience, 1 Tim.〈◊〉. 5.

Secondly, for keeping: Salomoa addresses Page  4himselfe to all and each particular, Pr. 04.23.

Thirdly, for vsing: Heb. 10.22. In all our ap∣proaches to God, wee must wash the Consci∣ence, as the Iewes did their flesh and ray∣ment.

For the second: *

  • 1. Equity,
  • 2. Necessity,
  • 3. Vtility perswade the practice:
First, wee are dependant, * and therefore accountable as well as Pauls; soules we haue receiued, and for a soule and spirit must euery one answer: Lawes we haue also receiued, and by Law we must be iudged; we are vnder the same Iudge, the same Law, the same censure that others be, and must hold vp our hands at the same barre; and there∣fore must haue the same thoughts, and care of Conscience: Books must be compared, Gods and ours, Originall, and counterpane; therefore we also must haue our Bookes fairely kept, and a readinesse.

Secondly, * there lyes the same necessity vpon vs, as vpon Pauls, of securing Conscience: for first, if we looke inward, wee shall finde our hearts as crazy, our graces as feeble, our peace as vnsettled, as theirs: and on the other side, our secret guile, and guilt, and pride, and vnbe∣liefe, as great as theirs. And next, if we looke outward; wee finde the world the world still, that's a Sea, our life a warfare, wicked men as busie with others consciences as euer; the Di∣uell as malicious as euer; troubles without, ter∣rours within, as stirring as euer: in short, as Page  5much vse and neede of a good Conscience now, as 1000. yeeres agoe; a Preacher may stand somewhat higher then our selues, but wee are in the same stormes, there's none other diffe∣rence.

Thirdly, It will quit cost for vs also, * to get good consciences: for, these are the preseruers of all graces; * the Conscience is that bottome that containes all our treasure; that casket that holds all our Iewels; if this miscarry, farewell faith, hope, patience, courage, truth, all. Se∣condly, Conscience is the root of all our com∣fort: the fruit of righteousnesse (saith Esay) is peace: * out of a cleere conscience, issue those sweet streames of ioy, comfort, &c. Thirdly, Conscience is the antidote against all poy soned crosses; it is the sting that is in our consciences, that steeles all our crosses, and makes them stinging; there's little mudde raised in the soule, where the conscience is cleere and pure.

Fourthly, Conscience is the bulwarke, * and wall of brasse, that keepes off all inuasions and assaults, Ephis. 6. By this a man raignes ouer all tribulations, Row. 8. and is enabled to looke flames in the face, Lyons in the face, raylers in the face, slanderers in the face, Diuels in the face, God in the face, with an vndaunted coun∣tenance, Iohn 3.21. & 4 17.

On the other side, take away conscience, and you plucke vp the sluces, and pull downe the Page  6bankes, you let out the soule into all licentious∣nesse; for what bounds hath the ingenuous spi∣rit, when feare and shame (the immediate issues of conscience) are gone? where will a man stay? Man without conscience, is a wilde horse without bridle; the life and heart is filled with sinne, after sinne comes guilt (from that light that's left) thence tormentfull shame, feare, an∣guish; hence the least noyse affrights him, the least crosle stings him, the least danger appales him; in short, rest there's none, peace none, cou∣rage none, comfort none; but conscience rages like an aking tooth: a man eates in paine, drinks in feare; dares not goe abroad, dares not goe to bed, dares not sleepe, lest his dreames should proue terrible; dares not wake, lest his wounds should bleed againe, and his watchfull cares and feares recoyle. By this little said, you see how it imports vs all, as well as S. Paul, to conno this lesson, and to say readily, I, and I, and I, and euery I, haue a good conscience. But all that can be said, is but an empty discourse, and a contemplation farre off from the matter; for the truth is, no man can tell what the bene∣fit of a good, what the misery of a bad consci∣ence is, but he who hath felt both; that man is but a stranger to himselfe, and to conscience, that doth not apprehend a thousand times more, then hee can vtter in this kinde. It suffices to say, that no man knowes the badnesse of a bad, the goodnesse of a good conscience, but onely Page  7he that hath felt the weight of that, and worth of this; and hee that knowes least experimen∣tally & feelingly, knowes more then his tongue, face, eyes, hands, bones can vtter, though they speake all at once, as vsually they doe, when Conscience workes strongly. But I passe to application; where, first, three sorts come to be taxed: secondly, all to be taught.

For first, if all should aime at this, * to say (and to say truely) My Conscience is good, three sorts of men are farre wide of the marke.

First, they who neuer trouble their thoughts with conscience at all; credit, wealth, friends theyle secure, if they can: but for conscience, tis onely a name, a scarcrow to affright chil∣dren withall; but no wise man will stand vp∣on that: and lest they should seeme madde, they plead reason for their practice.

[Obiect. 1] First, there's no man liuing, but hee straines and dispenceth with conscience in some things: take me the best Preachers; doe not they speake, yeelde, walke contrary to conscience, in some things? Name me your best Christians: doe they not know censuring, enuy, &c. to bee naught? doe not they speake against some sometimes, whom in their consciences they know to be better men then themselues, and so of all the rest?

[Sol.] Thus they plead in the first place: but this Page  8is a wilfull delusion, for first, What if all the world ranne wilde? Noth will be Noah, vpright in his generation still. Secondly, Is it well to straine? If not, wilt thou be naught for com∣pany. Thirdly, Thou art deceiued, there is ma∣ny a Paul, * Zacharie, Elizah, that walke in all the Commandements of God, and would not pur∣posely liue in the least allowance of the least sinne, for all the world. [Object.] But yet they doe so? [Sol.] First, if vpright, they doe not so; if they doe so, they be not vpright: * indeed the most vpright knowes but in part, loues but in part; he may sinne, because he knowes it not to be sinne; hee may sinne againe, being surprized in some one particular, Gal. 6. against his generall purpose. Thirdly, he may be yoakt as S. Paul was, with those inward buffetings that may make his heart ake, and his soule to cry out, Oh wretched man that I am, &c. Rom 7. But if thou thinkest that any vpright man can thus resolue, I doe, or may know, this course I line in, to be sinnefull, and yet I must not, I will not taken tice of it, make conscience of it, thou errest; a godly man can∣not thus sinne, and resolue. Secondly, whoso doth, * decieues himselfe, sames 1. If any man seeme religious, and make; not conscience of euery sinne (euen to a word) he deceiues him∣selfe; be not thou so deceiued.

[Object.] But Conscience is like the eye; if one begin to salue it, or to meddle with it, there is no Page  9end, a man shall nener inioy himselfe, but there will be scruple vpon scruple, feare after feare, sinne vpon sinne; tis an endlesse taske to purge the Conscience, I answer,

[Sol.] First, the question is not, how painefull it is, but how needfull? there is smart and trouble in searching wounds, yet they must be searched.

Secondly, the matter is feizable: S. Paul by trauell may arriue at this happy hauen, first, I haue a cleere, secondly, I haue a good Con∣science.

Thirdly, dead flesh is not the best flesh, nor conscience awakened, the worst conscience.

Fourthly, though Physicke for the time stirre humours, and playsters cause smart, yet both that and this tend to health and ease: so thinke of the present troubles and sits of conscience.

[Object.] O, but he that will stand vpon Conscience in this age, shall dye a begger, or be begd for a foole, he shall haue trickes enow put vpon him, if he be so tender?

I answer, first, what if it were so? a man had better fast then ear poyson; begge, starue, pine, then sell his conscience: Aske them in Hell, aske them that are vpon this racke, they will say so: as for disgrace, I had rather haue all the world call me foole, then mine own conscience; and conscience will befoole me, if I sell heauen for earth, kernels for shells, pearlos for pibbles. But, secondly, what necessity in this conse∣quence? Page  10Why may not truth, and innocency, and conscience, maintaine and credit mee, as well as lying, coozenage, flattery, basenesse? Why should not I thinke Gods wayes as good as Satans? Thirdly, What lost Abraham, Io∣seph, Daniel, Morecai, Dauid, &c. by keeping a good conscience? Verily, if a godly man doe not thriue, conscience is not in fault: let him ra∣ther fault (if there be a fault) improuidence, idlenesse, pride, distrust, admixture of ill means, not conscience.

[Obiect.] But many that made as little adoe about con∣science as I doe, haue made a good end at last; they haue dyed without feares, or if troubled a little, vpon some satisfaction made, and some charitable workes done, all was husht and well?

[Sol.] I answer, first, thou knowest not what con∣science others made in life. Secondly, Thou knowest not what secret pinches conscience giues them on their death-bed. Thirdly, Its one thing to satisfie after sinne committed: an∣other, to sinne purposely, in presuming vpon fu∣ture pardons and satisfactions. Fourthly, a blee∣ding wound is better then that that bleeds not. Fiftly, Some men goe crying to Heauen, some goe laughing and sleeping to Hell; the question is not what conscience feeles most, but what is most sicke? Some Consciences as well as men, lye speechlesse before departure. Those are but poore shifts to put off thoughts of conscience, Page  11vpon these grounds, yet this is the first errour.

A second sort; They labour the matter of Conscience much, but how? Their worke is not to perswade their owne hearts with Saint Paul, but other mens. A strange folly, for a man to be more carefull of others then himselfe; to feare others, to prize others aboue himselfe: yet this is ordinary: Men study rather to seeme, then to be conscionable; labour more to ap∣proue themselues to others; then to their owne hearts; and this appeares thus: First, in that they stand more vpon the forme, then the power of godlinesse. Secondly, in that they set the best side outward, be more in profession then in action; better abroad then at home; * a farre off then at hand. To these I say but this: First, this is but Machiauels Diuinity: They haue not so learned Christ. Secondly, this is but the Hypocrites guise; He makes cleane the outside, he iustifies himselfe before men onely. Thirdly, this is but a childes part, who makes his mo∣ther beleeue that his sores heale, when they rankle, and shewes his right hand for his left. Lastly, this is a poore remedy, to couer a bro∣ken arme with a braue scarfe: Alas, thou must answere Conscience, when all friends bee absent: time will be, when death will snatch thee from men, and Conscience will follow thee to Christs barre; then if thou canst not stand before thine owne heart, how wilt thou stand Page  12before him, who is greater then thy heart? Poore man, poore man! thou maist easily de∣ceiue men, possibly deceiue thy selfe: but if thou canst not approue thy heart to God, thou art lost; for him thou canst not deceiue. As for those who make bold to father all vpon Consci∣ence, and vpon God, who wipe their impudent mouthes with the Harlot, and say, What haue we done? Who appeales to God with inno∣cent Dauid and Paul, Iudge me, O Lord: I lye not, my conscience beareth witnesse, God knowes my heart: I take on my conscience, that I am vniustly slandered, when tis neither so, nor so; what will become of these men? with what faces will they looke vpon that conscience, that Iudge, whom they haue made partakers, wit∣nesses, Iudges, reuengers of their damned hy∣pocrisie, and more then diuellish impudency! But leaue them to the racke.

[ 3] The third sort perswade themselues of their integrity and speake it out with Pauls confi∣dence, We haue a good Conscience. But would their confidence were as well bottom'd as his: but alas, Men build this their assurance either in the ayre, or on the sands: some are perswaded without reason, some vpon very weake reason. For the first, they haue (yea that they haue) as good Consciences as any of them all. But what's their proofe? They are perswaded so. But vp∣on what reasons? Why, they hope so. But vp∣on Page  13what ground? Why, their minde giues them so. First, poore men! Conscience is reflectiue, knowes its knowledge, vnderstands it selfe: Secondly, its rationall, and can giue a reason of its hopes: Thirdly, its regular, and proceedes by the rule of Scripture: Shew mee thy grounds in blacke and white, else tis fancie, not Conscience.

Secondly, others alledge reason, but they can∣not perswade a reasonable man who is not wil∣ling to winke; they are chiefly these.

First, a good meaning: I am (saith the ig∣norant) no Scholler, many can put me downe with words, and doe make a greater noyse, but I meane as well, and haue as good an heart to God-ward, as any of them all?

[Sol.] I answer, There is a latitude and measure of knowledge required of all, Without some know∣ledge, the minde is not good, Prou. 19.2. If the eye be starke blinde, the whole man, and the wayes of man are so too; and to speake of Consci∣ence without knowledge, is to speake of contra∣dictions, and to talke of seeing without sight, hearing without eares; such is knowledge with∣out knowledge, that is, Conscience. Tis cer∣taine, Conscience reaches no further then know∣ledge, at least then habituall, and implicite, or generall knowledge. The confidences of an ig∣norant are but the fruits of his pride, and his scruples, the issues of his trembling opinion and Page  14staggering iudgement: tis true, weake know∣ledge (ioyned with humility and care of growth) must not be discouraged; but whoso neglects knowledge, presuming vpon Consci∣ence, doth as if he should pull out his eyes, and trust to his hands for guidance.

[Obiect.] The second Reason alleadged for their hope of Conscience, is from the troubles that they haue in their hearts; for when they haue done amisse, their consciences be eftsoons vpon them, and will giue them no rest.

[Sol.] I answer, this may conclude some Conscience, but not necessarily Pauls,* (that's to say) a Natu∣rall, but not a Spirituall Conscience. The diffe∣rences of which two, are wide, and for the dis∣cerning thereof;

[ 1] First, see for what sinnes thy heart smites thee, if onely for crying staring sinnes, which the light of Nature from inward principles or outward instructions prompts; it is not the Conscience now in speech, Paul had a good Conscience in all things.

[ 2] Secondly, see what reformation this trouble workes; if none, take heed, Pauls Conscience is ioyned with (desires and) endeauours of obe∣dience for the future.

[ 3] Thirdly, see whence the trouble arises, whe∣ther from a contrariancy betweene sinne and thee, or betweene Conscience, and paine, and punishment onely: Pauls conscience is troubled Page  15with the filth as well as guilt of sinne, * and his will is prest to goodnesse for its beauty.

Fourthly, see whither this trouble driues [ 4] thee; Pauls carries him to Christians, to Praier, Watchfulnesse, Beware: A Naturall Consci∣ence proues a naturall man, but no more; thou canst not claime kinred of Paul vpon such a Con∣science; with Turkes and Heathens thou maist.

[Ob.] The third ground is this: My Conscience doth not onely checke me for what's past, but curbs and reins me in: before sin be committed, I dare not doe as the most doe; nay, I dare not omit good duty: Should not I reade, pray eue∣ry day, I could not sleepe in the night, &c. I an∣swere,

[Sol.] It must be considered whence that feare a∣rises; for tis certaine, that very custome and e∣ducation will make a child afraid to omit his deuotions when he goes to bed: if we will esta∣blish the heart with comfort, wee must make good two things:

[ 1] First, that we worke vpon right motiues not onely because such hath beene our custome, such our education, so is the will of our Pa∣rents, &c. but because wee need such helpes, God loues such seruices, and we finde strength comming vpon such performances.

[ 2] Secondly, that we heed the manner of per∣forming, as well as the matters performed, not resting in the worke done, but mourning for Page  16our dulnesse, distractions, coldnesse, and other failings in the doing; for this is once, there's nothing more shames and humbles an vpright man, then his ouert and slight performance of his Masters worke.

[Obiect.] The third ground they settle vpon, is their peace: their sinnes doe not daunt them, nor their Consciences dampe them; all is quiet within, and they haue no doubts of their sal∣uation.

[Sol.] I answer, There is the Diuels peace, and Gods peace: there is a negatiue peace, or cessation onely of torment; and a positiue peace, or frui∣tion of comfort. Therefore, examine first, the source and raising of thy peace: for some are quiet, because the conscience is either blinde, and sees not the sword against it, like Balaam; or slothfull and sleepy; and a very sore man may feele little in his sleepe; or else either sea∣red or deluded: a deluded sence thinkes it feeles or sees what in truth it doth not; and seared flesh doth not smart like other flesh, not because it hath more life, but lesse sence: so here.

Secondly, The meanes how thou commest by it: there is no peace but in Gods wayes; if I winne it not by praver, digge it not out of Gods sauing wels and ordinances, finde not the Word speaking peace to my soule, I cannot haue it; our peace comes in at the eare, as the Page  17Church speakes, and out of Gods mouth; God creates peace by his word and lippe, * as Esay speakes: vnlesse it beare his stampe, and haue Holinesse to the Lord written vpon it, tis not right, twill not passe as currant.

Thirdly, The effects of it: holy peace workes thankfulnesse to Christ, humility in vs, merci∣fulnesse towards bruised spirits.

[Obj] The fourth ground is this: I cannot abide vnconscionablenesse in others; I can with no patience see men goe against Conscience.

[Sol.] I answer, The Diuell is a great rifler and ac∣cuser of others consciences; but a conscionable man is busiest at home, mildest abroad: be so, or be nothing.

[Obiect] But I straine at the least sinne. [Sol.] So did the Pharisee: Conscience is not right, vnlesse it straine at all sinne, endeauour all duty, as Paul speakes in both tables; consider, compare, and so passe sentence; and here an end of this Vse: now to Instruction.

[ 3] And here, would all that heare me this day, were as Saint Paul, his bonds excepted: It shall not be needfull to say much to those who haue felt heauen and hell both in their consci∣ences, they see the difference; as for others, what can I say, when as men cannot beleeue me without experience? If they would receiue others testimonies, they may well conceiue, that a good conscience is beyond all created Page  18goods, and a bad worse then all positiue euils: for first, What so desireable to all liuing things, as life? What will not men part withall for life, * though it be from skin to skin? yet con∣science is such a thing as wise men prize aboue life; they'le dye a thousand deaths, rather then lose conscience; and whilst they liue, they liue no longer then Conscience speakes peace. Looke vpon an experienced man, and when he hath lost his peace, no meate, no place, no wealth, no company, no life is pleasant; he one∣ly liues, because he dares not dye.

Secondly, for an ill conscience; What more terrible and hatefull to Nature, then death? yet death is sweet to a wounded Conscience; did hee thinke that death would end his torments, he would not liue; nay, though he apprehends a iudgement, a hell at the heeles of death, yet many times hee rushes vpon it, and concludes, that certainly hell can be no worse, and pro∣bably better then an ill conscience.

Loe (my Brethren) what Conscience both wayes is; one so sweet, that Heauen would be no Heaven without it: the other so bitter, that Hell is no Hell to it in the iudgement of expe∣rience. I can say no more to perswade; mee thinkes now nothing should remaine but dire∣ction. And the way to set you in Pauls circum∣stances, is to guide you; first, to the getting: secondly, to the keeping of a good Conscience.

Page  19

* For the first, resolue first on the thing, and thus conclude; What-euer it cost me, what shift soeuer I make, I must haue a good conscience. * It is not necessary to haue wealth; a poore man may be honest here, happy hereafter. It is not necessary to haue health, a weake man may to heauen. Nay, it is not necessary that I must liue, my happinesse is not confined to this life; but tis necessary to get a good Conscience; without this, I can neither liue nor dye, be nei∣ther rich nor poore, sicke nor well; in few, I cannot subsist, I cannot be (vnlesse this be a be∣ing, to wish I neuer had beene) without a good conscience; and therefore what-euer it colt me, Ile goe to the price thus first resolue, and this done then hearkē; to the means, which are these: First, goe to the right meanes: there's but one Physician for soules and consciences, and that is God; he onely made, and hee onely re∣makes good Consciences; none else can come at Conscience, can take out the poyson that's there; take off the guilt that is there; and therefore wee must carry our woun∣ded soules to him, alleadge his owne covenant and hand, and say; Lord, thou hast said that thou wilt take away our euill heart, and giue vs a better, now for thy truths sake make good this Word, this Scripture. This done, thou must attend his method, and run his course and dict he prescribes, & thou must follow this me∣thod;

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[ 1] First, make thy Conscience bright and light∣some: hee hath written a phisicke for consci∣ence (no physicke booke for conscience but his) from this Booke thou must gather knowledge, for darkenesse defiles the vnderstanding, as Paul faies, and darkenesse is timorous and stag∣gering; a man can haue no true, no positiue peace, whilst hee liues in darkenesle, either all things, or nothing shall be lawfull; and where tis so, the heart cannot be comfortable, there∣fore to those principles that yet sticke in the soule, adde some other: adde light to light, the light of the Word to the light of Nature; for the Word is written to helpe that darkenesse, and that light is so dimme and small, that wee must needes set vp another by it, else wee shall see nothing; and hee that sees nothing, enioyes nothing: therefore thou must get knowledge by reading, by deducing couclusions from Gods actions to thy seife, by hearing and set∣ting thy selfe, if thou be free, vnder that Mini∣stry that deales with Consciences, that sets out God as he is, the Word as it is, sinne as it is; for then we truely know, when we know things in their owne notions and colours.

[ 2] Seconly, thou must make the Conscience cleane; it must be pure and cleare, before it will be good: there stickes to the conscience of e∣uery man naturally a great deale of guile and filth; It is much disabled and maimed, lost Page  21much of its sight and life, it hath learned to be idle, false, dumbe, &c. It hath contracted so much guilt, foulnesse, brawninesse by trading in sinne, that there's do roome for peace, till it hath a new constitution, and be wholly resined: now the way to haue it cleansed, is to flye to bloud: as in the Law all things were purified with bloud, so here the bloud of Christ is that, that cleanseth from all sinne, that washeth the Conscience from dead workes; this bloud is both healing, and will cloze all our scarefull gashes; and purging and will take off all stains, an will make vs as white as snow. O goe to this Refiner, this Fuller, this Physitian, this high Priest, as the Word entitles him; nothing will serue, but his bloudy sacrifice, and that will doe it; goe to him as to an All-sufficient Sauiour, rest in his bloud without further mixtures; plead his bloud shed for sinners quite lost and vndone; beg that of God, asd Rahel did children of her husband, Giue me bloud or else I dye; apply that to thy bleeding soule, and say, I bleed; but Christ bled too for me; my sinnes are bloudy, and his woundes are bloudy too; my bloud, if spilt, cannot make God that satis∣faction that his bloud hath, and therefore Ile rest in his bloud that speakes peace, not venge∣ance, as Abels did, and in him who quiets Con∣sciences as well as Seas and windes, Mar. 4.39. Else, as corrupt breath staines and dimmes the Page  22glasse: so a corrupt heart the Conscience. Next, when it is cleare from guilt and filth, then it must be pure and sanctified, the Spirit there∣fore of Grace must rest in the Conscience, and giue it a new constitution; it is not sufficient to let out the bad bloud, but now wee must breed good bloud, and make new Spirits. From a naturall Conscience, and a Conscience that is enlightened by the Word, we must proceed to a sanctified Conscience, and therefore we must labour to feele the power of Christs Bloud, and of Christs Life and Resurrection in our soules, (who is King of righteousnesse and peace both, Heb 7.2.) quickning vs in the In∣ner man, and stamping on vs our first impresse of wisedome, holinesse, righteousnesse, that we may be throughout sanctified, 1 Thes. 5. and haue a beauty set vpon the soule and conscience in all points, as the Apostle sayes, and freed from dead workes by repentance, Heb. 9. and when the Conscience is filled in some due mea∣sure with light, and freed from sinne, and fur∣nished with positiue grace, then (out of all) results that goodnesse of Conscience that now we speake of, whereby its fitted for its ends and offices, and enabled to giue vs a good word and countenance.

* Now for the keeping of Conscience good, because I will not ouercharge your memories with rules, Ile expresse my selfe in one continu∣ed Page  23Similitude or Allegory. The Conscience is a Clocke or Watch in the bosome; look what you would doe to keep that in frame, that must be done heere.

[ 1] First, If the Watch be amisse, who so fit to amend it as hee that made it? So heere, if any thing trouble Conscience, that it goes not at all, or too fast, or out of order, goe to Christ, and goe quickly, pray him to set theein ioynt againe, as Dauid did, Psal. 51.

[ 2] Secondly, a Watch must be charily kept, the least dust, hayre, iogge almost distempers it; so the Conscience, a little dust in this eye marres both sight and peace, a little sinne crept in betweene the wheeles, sets all at a stand: if euer thy Conscience shall hold its comfort, and doe thee acceptable seruice, keepe it cleane, giue no allowance to any the least sinne: a man may liue and dye in some sinne, and yet haue peace, when Conscience is not priuy to it, and not conuinced of it: But there can bee no true comfort, where sinne vnderhand is maintained and allowed, be it neuer so small a one: let thy Conscience haue this to say for thee: I can beare him witnesse, that he bore his sinnes as a bur∣den, and bid none of them welcome.

[ 3] Thirdly, a Watch must be daily lookt to (and thorowly too) if one pin be amisse, all is out of order: so the Conscience; hee that makes not conscience of all (according to his light) makes Page  24conscience of none, and wil come to naught; and he that doth not looke vpon his conscience eue∣ry day, and winde it vp, and set it in frame, will haue no conscience in time: euery day thou must talke with thy selfe, and know what the Watchsaith, I meane, what report Conscience makes of thy dayes worke, what it hath to say for or against thee. 'Tis with conscience, as with Bay liffs and Stewards; if you call them to a daily reckoning, they will be carefull and vse∣full; but if you let things runne on, and reckon once at the hundreds end, they will not watch, or they will not be able to remember: so tis with conscience; therefore often looke vpon it, and euery day consult with it.

The Watch must be vsed, else it rusts, furres, and first begins to slacke its pace, and after some time will not goe at all: so conscience, tis pre∣serued by vse, as the stomacke is, and all things else; for euery thing is perfected and preserued by its proper operations; as water is kept sweet by running, the Conscience by motion streng∣thens it sense, and sooner feeles its weight: by motion it is facilitated and that's as good as oyle to the wheele of a Clocke; therefore ex∣ercise Conscience, and that in all good duties, whether personall or locall.

[ 4] Corscience must haue its full walke, and thats very large; for a Conscience is to bee obserued in all religious and righte∣ous Page  25acts; and whoso will preserue his consci∣ence, must first keepe himselfe pure and vp∣right. First, in Gods worships: Secondly, in workes of righteousnesse towards man: Third∣ly, in his owne place, he must make conscience of his particulat calling and relation, and dwell vpon that: and secondly, for others, hee must remember Pauls aduice, Keepe thy selfe pure, be not partaker of other mens sinnes. In short, of all things hee must feare God most; of all men, feare himselfe most and his owne Consci∣ence; of all men out of himselfe, feare his friends most, and his other mens sinnes. Many a man washes his heart at home, and defiles his Con∣science abroad; when he hath gotten his owne acquittance, hee intangles himselfe in other mens debts by conniuence, silence, consent, &c. Take heed of this, for tis a hard matter to dis∣charge conscience in company and to come off well. Well, let conscience haue its perfect worke towards God and man, alone, and in company, and like a good fountaine, twill worke out its owne corruption and mudde, and af∣foord something towards the washing of o∣thers too, as it runnes along.

[ 5] One thing more, and then an end: As a Watch must be made, so set by rule: you must set it by the Sunne and time of day: So Con∣science must haue its rule (though a subordinate rule it selfe) and this also must be set and orde∣red Page  26by the Heauens: the great God hath onely power ouer his great office, and he in his Word is the iust measure of it: we must not say that's lawfull which he prohibits, that's sinfull which he commands, that's arbitrary which hee holds necessary, that's necessary (for its nature) which he holds arbitrary: in short, wee must neither widen nor straiten the rule, but bring home our selues to that. Its hard to say where wee shall land, if we sayle not by the Compasse, and looke not to the Heauens, and whether bee worse to swallow all, or scruple all, is more then I can tell! This is once, he that either tyes vp, or lets out his Conscience, more then God would haue him, makes worke for himselfe, and way for temptation. In practice, tis good to bee of the restraining hand, where we are left to ourselues: but for Opinion, Conscience, and Iudgement, tis best to hold ones selfe free where the Word frees him, and bound, where the Word bindes him, else Conscience will suffer wracke.