A Discovery of a counterfeit Conscience.
FIrst, It may not be conscientia, but cupiditas, not conscience, but even a sin∣full lust may put thee upon many things, yet thou flatterest thy self with the scared title of conscience, saying, it's thy conscience, when if thou didst examine thy self, it would appear to be some corruption: A sad mistake and delusion it is to have conscience, (and so God himself) abused, but yet it is very often so; We see it in Saul, when he sacrificed, and so was guilty of rebellion against God, yet he pretended conscience, that he had done well, and all was to serve God thereby. Absolom when he was contriving that unnatural rebellion against his Father, he pretendeth a vow he had made, and so he must out of conscience perform that. Judas when he repined at the ointment poured out on Christs body pretended conscience and charity; but it was lust and covetousnesse moved him: Oh then take heed of treachery herein, lest thou pretending conscience it appear to be thy lust only.
Secondly, It may be thy Fancy and Imagination, which perswadeth thee, and not thy conscience, man consisting of a body as well as a soul, his imagination and phantasie hath great influence upon him, especially when the body may be distempered, as you see in melancholly persons, when humbled for sinnes, and greatly afflicted, it is hard to discern when it is their fancy, and when it is con∣science that worketh in them. It is true, the prophasie ones of the world, they judge all the trouble and wounds of conscience for sinne to be nothing, but me∣lancholly and a meer fancy, because they never found the word of God kindly working upon them, therefore they think there is no such thing in the world, as a wounded spirit, but such will one day find that troubles of conscience are more then melancholly, that it is a worme alwayes gnawing, yea that this is in∣deed hell, for it is because of a tormented conscience, that hell is so terri∣ble, yet though this be so, it cannot be denied, but that sometimes in hum∣bled persons there may be conscience and melacholly working together, for the Devil he loveth to move in troubled waters, and melancholly is called Balneum Diaboli, but this may be cured and removed by medicinal helps, whereas consci∣ence is only pacified and quieted by the blood of Christ.
Thirdly, Custome, education and prepossessed principles, these may work upon a man, as if they were conscience. Many men are affected in religious things, not out of any conscience, but meerly by custome; They have been used to such things, brought up in such a way of serving of God, and therefore they cry out, to have such usages still, and all because custome hath prevailed over them; These and such like things may appear like conscience in a man; so that our conscience must be greatly polluted, when the very subject it self is not known, when we cannot discern whether it be conscience or corruption that doth instigate thee, when we cannot Sentire illam, quae facit nos sentire, Conscience that maketh us perceive other things that it self is difficulty perceived. for that it is not con∣science, but some other corrupt principle that moveth a man, will easily appear in that it is mutable and changeable according to outward advantages, that which was thy conscience one moneth, is not the next, because there are outward chan∣ges: When Shechem would be circumcised, it was not for conscience, but for Page 234Dinah's sake whom he loved. When Jeroboam erected an Altar, it was not for conscience sake, but carnal policy; So that the mutability of thy soul, turn∣ing as advantages do, this argueth, it's not conscience, but some other cor∣rupt principle in thee, as when they cried Hosannah to Christ, and afterwards Crucifie him.