Hammond, Henry, 1605-1660., Hammond, Henry, 1605-1660. Of conscience.
Page  [unnumbered]Page  [unnumbered]

The Preface.

IT is a strong presumption that that Religion is false which is apt to be made use of for secular advantages, that those opinions have somewhat of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 ingredient in them, which are produced as the ground to justifie or au∣thorize practices, otherwise impious and infamous, There is so little Communion or complyance betwixt God and Be∣lial, that it is very hard even for Satan himselfe, that great mpure Artificer, to prostitute or debauch any truth of Gods, (which is really so) to that meane of vile submission of yeelding it self pliable or instrumen∣tall to any design or interest of his. He which can be corrupted or employed by an enemy is either not so honest or not so clear, either not so faithfull, or not so wary as might be expected. This one consideration would prejudge a great part of the divinity of these unhappy times, which in a perfect contrari∣ety to the wisdome which commeth from above, Jam. 3. Or the fruits of the spi∣rit, Gal. 5. is so far from purity, peaceablenesse, gentlenesse, love, joy, long suffe∣ring, &c. that it is engaged to owne another extaction, to confesse it selfe his creature, and progeny, whom in the lineaments and features it so visibly re∣sembleth. Among the many severals of this kind I have long conceived that the vulgar notions of those foure names, which these ensuing Treatises have taken confidence to examine, have had no small part of the guilt of those fa∣tall evils under which this calamitous wretched Kingdome now pants a pro∣strate gastly, and direfull spectacle. And consequently that the obstructing of these fountaines might possibly abate those streames and torrenes (which have taken rise from thence) of uncharitablenesse first and then of bloud. The mistaking of every phansy or humour, carnall or Satanicall perswasion for Conscience (the acknowledged rule of action) and the setting up upon too weak a stock for that high priviledge of a Good Conscience, hath emboldened most of the vices of the world,* * petrified the practicall faculty, and made it insensible of any of those stripes, or threats, or discipline, which the law of na∣ture or of Christ hath provided for the restraint of their Subjects. And from thence it daily happens that not only the most unchristian but unhumane pra∣ctices, the most unnaturall savage barbarities of these last yeeres, (which no parasite can flatter, or president extenuate) are now avowed to be dictates and commands of Conscience, and so not onely reconcileable with piety, but ad∣vanced and set up for the onely measure of it, and no man allowed to passe for Conscientious which hath any remainder of Morall or Christian virtue (in the ancient notion of the word) discernible in his actions; and so not onely Zozimus his slaunder of Constantine is become the reall guilt of too many pro∣fessours, Page  [unnumbered] (those sins confidently committed by them, for which no other Re∣ligion allowes any expiation) but, beyond the malice of that false tongue, the sinnes themselves resolved on as a speciall 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or purgative, an act of supererogating virtue, sufficient to sanctifie any other impurities. To these so grosse errours both in opinion and practice the present height o animosity, and vehemence of the flame may possibly have betrayed men; but what it should be that hath so heightned the passion, and first elevated it to this pitch of distemper, will not be discerned any otherwise then by con∣jecture from the quarrels which have been most insisted on, against the esta∣blished government and discipline of the Church, and the indifferent actions, and ceremonies, and observances either prescribed, or customary among us; to which when no direct immediate blame or accusation could be affixt, it hath been the manner to object obliquely, somtimes that they have been mat∣ter of Scandall, and that thought to have been sufficiently proved, if any could be produced who have disliked them, (as if their being displeased were to be scandalized, or one mans being angry once without a cause, were for ever a just cause for others to be angry at that which were of it self most innocent;) Sometimes that the crime of Will-worship were chargeable on them, suppo∣sing first, (but not proving) Will-worship to be a crime, and then every the least observance uncommanded (though withall as perfectly unprohibited) by Scripture, to be the interpretation of that crime; and sometimes that they have been Superstitious; by the equivocallnesse of that word, first per∣swading themselves and others that every excesse in Religion comes un∣der that title, and then that the uncommandednesse of any thing induces that excesse, and consequently involves in that guilt. To which three so inauspi∣cious (I may adde Scandalous) misprisions broached by Satan, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to the fall, and so truly to the offending of many in Israel, these ensuing Trea∣tises were designed as Antidotes or cures; to which end if they may prove in any degree successefull, the writer of them will never repent that he hath subjected them to the various & passionate censures of the many, hoping thereby that the mature and impartiall judgements of the few may be also provoked to interpose. By whose pleasure and serious examination, whether they shall stand or fall, they are in all humilitie submitted.

H. Hamond.