The false wayes that the wounded Conscience is prone to take.
THese things explained, Let us return to consider the pollution of natural conscience in the two particulars mentioned, whereof
The first is, That the wounded conscience for sinne is very ready to use false [ VI] remedies for its cure. These stings he seeleth are intollerable, he cannot live and be thus, he taketh no pleasure in any thing he hath, but he cometh not to true peace, for either they go to carnal and sinfull wayes of pleasure, so to remove their troubles, or to superstitions and uncommanded wayes, of de∣votion, thinking thereby to be healed: The former too many take, who when troubled for sinne, their hearts frequently smite them, they call this Me∣lancholly and Pusillanimity; Tush, they will not give way to such checks of conscience, but they will go to their merry company, they will drink it a∣way, they will rant it away, or else they will goe to their merry pastimes and sports: Thus as Herod sought to kill Jesus as soon as he was borne, so do these strive to suffocate and stifle the very beginnings and risings of con∣science within them: Oh wretched men prepared for hell torments! Though now thou stoppest the mouth of conscience, yet hereafter it will be the gnawing worme; It's this troubled conscience that makes hell to be chiefly hell; It's not the flaming fire, it's not the torments of the body that are the chiefest of hels misery, but the griping and torturing of conscience to all eter∣nity; This is the hell of hels.
Others, when none of these means will rebuke the stormes and waves of their soul, but they think they must perish, then they set themselves upon some superstitious austere waies, as in Popery, to go on Pilgrimage, to en∣ter into some Monastery, to undertake some bodily affliction and penal∣ty, and by these means they think to get peace of conscience; but Luther found by experience the insufficiency of all these courses, That all their Casuists were unwise Physicians, and that they gave gall to drinke in stead of honey.
Page 246 [ VII] In the next place therefore, This pollution of a troubled conscience is seen, In it's opposition to Christ, to an Evangelical Righteousnesse, and the sway of be∣lieving. Conscience is farre more polluted about Christ and receiving of him, then about the commands and obedience thereunto; for naturally there is some∣thing in conscience to do the things of the Law, but the Gospel and the Doctrine about Christ is wholly supernatural and by revelation: Hence although it is clear, That the conscience truly humbled for sinne ought to believe in Christ for expiati∣on thereof; Yet how long doth the broken heart continue ignorant of this duty? Their conscience troubleth them, accuseth them for other sins, but not for this, of not particularly applying Christ to thy self for comfort, whereas thou art bound in conscience to believe in Christ, as well as repent of sinne; I say, thou art bound in conscience, and if thou doest not by particular acts of faith receive Christ in thy arms, as Simeon did bodily, but then spiritually, thy conscience is to trouble thee, and to accuse thee for it; But how averse and froward is the troubled conscience in this particular? How hardly instructed evangelically? How unwilling to rest upon Christ onely? Their conscience that is very tender about other sinnes, thinketh it no sinne not to apply Christ, yea it disputeth and argueth against it; but at last such broken hearts know, that they are to make conscience of the premisses, as well as the precepts, conscience of faith as well as repentance, Heb 9. 14. The Apostle there teacheth us, That it is the blood of Christ, which purgeth the conscience. Run not to any thing, but to the bloud of Christ; when thou art slung, behold this Serpent; Let thy conscience be Evan∣gelical, as well as Legal; The Gospel is Gods Word, as well as the Law, and by that thy conscience is obliged to lay hold on Christ for pardon.