Defilement of a Troubled Conscience

Defilement of a Troubled Conscience

Anthony Burgess
Treatise on Original Sin
Part 3, chapter 2, section 7.

SECT. VII.

The Defilement of Conscience when Troubled and Awakened.

Hitherto we have been declaring the defilement of conscience naturally by original sin, as it is quiet, stupid, and senseless. The next thing to be done (wherein shall be concluded both this text, and the subject of conscience) is to discover how greatly it is polluted, and that when troubled, or awakened. In this section, likewise it will appear devoid of true goodness and any spiritual qualifications. Conscience troubled for sin without Evangelical principles is like the raging sea, whose waves are tossed with tempests and storms, vomiting forth nothing but froth and foam.

1. Conscience is Troubled After Sin is Committed, Rather than Before.

First, herein is the corruption of it manifested that when it doth accuse, when it doth trouble, it doth it preposterously, not seasonably and opportunely. For when is the fittest time for conscience to interpose, to put forth its effectual operation, but before the sin is committed? To meet a man, as the Angel did Balaam with a drawn sword, before he curse the people. But this it seldom doth. Only when the sin is committed, when God is dishonored, when guilt is contracted, then it accuseth. And that not so much as acting under God to bring about true peace by repentance and faith, but as the Devil’s instrument to bring to despair, and so from one sin to plunge into a greater.

Thus it was with Judas, how many powerful and penetrating arguments did he meet with to awaken his conscience? He had thunder claps enough to raise and awaken his conscience, though dead, and yet for all that, it never smiteth him, it never accuseth him, till he had committed that abominable and unnatural sin. What predictions? What warnings had Judas to make him fly from this sin? Our Saviour told his disciples that one should betray him, yea particularly he describeth Judas, he telleth him he was the man! Our Saviour forewarned him of the fearful estate of that man who should betray him, that it had been better he never had been born. And if anger or threatening would not break him, our Saviour used love to melt him. He washed his feet, as well as the feet of other disciples, but still conscience in Judas is like an adamant. And when all this will not do any good, but Judas cometh with a band of soldiers as the captain and head of them, he seeth some fall down for astonishment and amazement at the presence of our Lord Christ, yet this neither doth startle him. He hath not so much as any regretting and remurmuring thoughts, but goeth on desperately to accomplish his design. And now when all is done, when everything his wicked heart desired was brought to pass, then his conscience, like a roaring lion, beginneth to awaken out of sleep and to break its chains in pieces. Then he crieth out, “I have sinned in betraying of innocent blood.” Oh had conscience suggested this before, when the motions to this sin were first kindled in his breast, had he then cast them out of doors with indignation, this is to betray the innocent, this is to become guilty of blood! The very thoughts, the very motions are damnable and abominable, and he bolted them out with hatred, as Ammon did his defloured Tamar, then had conscience been regular and prevented his future confusion. But it never pricketh, never condemneth, till the fact be past, and then when it did so, it was upon the Devil’s design to bring him to final despair.

This may be seen also in David, a godly man. Though the issue of conscience accusation was more comfortable, when David, out of vain and ambitious ends, desired to number the people (2 Sam. 24). Though Joab withstood it, which might exceedingly have shamed David that a mere mortal man should see that sinfulness, which he did not, yet he will proceed, and the people are numbered. But as soon as David had done it, then his heart smote him. It smote him not while he was doing it, the nine months were spent in numbering of the people. Why not before, then it had prevented the deaths of many thousands? But thus it is, conscience will not seasonably and opportunely bear witness against sin.

Consider then the deceitfulness and falseness of thy conscience herein, all the while thou art contriving sin, purposing, yea and acting of sin, nothing doth trouble thee. But at last, when sin is committed, then it ariseth with horror and terror. And do we not see this constant pollution of conscience in most dying persons, when summoned by God and arraigned by death, when the sentence of death is upon them? Then their conscience flyeth in their faces, taketh them by the throat, “oh send for the Minister, let him pray for me, let all that come to me pray for me!” Thus, conscience is stirring now. Oh, but how much better were it, if in thy health time, if in thy strength and power conscience had been operative? To have heard thee then cry out, “Oh my sins! Oh I am wounded at the heart! Oh pray for me!” Then there had been better grounds to hope, thy conscience was awakened upon true and enduring considerations, such as would continue always, living and dying. Whereas such are but sick sudden fits of conscience, and commonly turn into greater hardness of heart and obstinacy afterwards.

2. Troubled Conscience is Accompanied with Servile Fear.

Secondly, conscience troubled doth naturally discover its pollution by the slavish, servile, and tormenting fears which do accompany it. The proper work of conscience is by Scripture light to direct to Christ, so that the troubles thereof should be like the Angels troubling of the Pool of Bethesda, and then immediately to communicate healing. But now it is the clean contrary. These wounds do fester and corrode more. The conscience by feeling guilt, runneth into more guilt. So that whereas we would think and say, “Now there are hopes, now conscience stirreth, now he begins to feel his sins,” we see often the contrary, an abortive, or a monstrous birth after such travails of the soul. Wherein doth it manifest itself more than by tormenting tears about God? So that if it were possible, the conscience troubled would make a man run from the presence and sight of God never to be seen by him.

Thus it was with Adam, when he had sinned, his conscience was awakened, he knew what he had done, and therefore was afraid at God’s voice, and ran to hide himself. Such a slavish, servile temper doth follow the conscience when wounded for sin. Now all such tormenting fears are so many manifest reproaches unto the goodness of God, and his mercy revealed. The hard thoughts, the accusing imaginations that there is no hope for thee, that thy sins are greater than thou canst bear, or that God will forgive: these dishonor the goodness of God, these oppose his grace and mercy, which he intendeth to exalt in the pardon of sin.

Insomuch that the Atheist, who denieth the essence of God, is in this respect less heinous than thou, who deniest the good essence of God. He denieth his natural goodness, thou, his moral goodness, as it were. Is not the great scope of God in the Word to advance this attribute of his mercy, especially in Christ he hath made it so illustrious and amiable that it may ravish the heart of a poor humbled sinner? But a slavish conscience about sin robs God of this glory. So that although it may be the Spirit of God by the Word that convinceth thee of thy sin, and affecteth thy conscience, yet the slavishness and servility of it is the rust and moth which breedeth in thy own nature. That is not of God’s Spirit.

3. Proclivity to Receive the Impulses of the Devil.

Thirdly, the troubled conscience discovereth its natural pollution by the proneness and readiness in it to receive all the impressions and impulses of the Devil. In the secure conscience the Devil is kept all quiet and would by no means molest. So on the contrary, in the troubled conscience, there be endeavors to heighten the trouble, to increase the flame. And he that before tempted thee to presumption, that God was ready to pardon, that sin would easily be forgiven, now he useth contrary engines: provoketh to despair, represents God as severe and one who will never forgive such transgressions, that there is no hope for him, that he is shut out of the Ark, and so must necessarily perish.

Thus you see Satan wrought upon the troubled conscience of Judas, and of Cain, one goeth trembling up and down, and cannot cast off the terrors and horrors which were upon him. The other is so greatly tormented with anguish of soul, that he hangeth himself. In what whirlpools of despair, in what self-murders and other sad events hath a troubled conscience agitated and moved by the Devil cast many into? Now all this ariseth because the wounded conscience being not as yet regenerated, doth hearken more unto the Devil than unto God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God through the Word of the Gospel, speaks peace to the broken in heart, offereth oil to be poured into such wounds, holdeth out the scepter of grace. But the troubled conscience heareth not this, believeth not this, but what the Devil, that soul-murderer, and Prince of darkness doth suggest, and dart into the thoughts. That is received and followed. Hence it is that so many have been under troubles of conscience, under terrors of spirit for sins for a season, but all this pain in travail was only to bring forth wind and emptiness. All hath either ended in tragic and unbelieving actions, or in a bold and more hardened obstinacy. The great cause of this hath been the Devil’s moving in these troubled waters, he hath presently interposed to mar this vessel, while upon the wheel.

Know that when thy conscience is awakened and grieved, then is the Devil very busy, then he tempteth, he suggesteth, but keep close to the Word, see what the Spirit of God calleth upon thee to do. Get out of the crowd of those Satanic injections and compose thyself in a serene and quiet manner to receive the commands of God in his Word. For the Spirit of God that calleth to believe, to come in, and make peace with God, but the Devil he presseth a final departure from God.

4. Ignorance of True Christian Liberty.

Fourthly, the troubled conscience is internally polluted by that ignorance and incapacity in knowing of what is the true Christian liberty purchased by Christ. I speak not yet of that main and chief liberty which is freedom from the curse of the law through the blood of Christ, but in many doctrinal and practical things. The Apostle speaketh much of the weak conscience, which hath not attained to that solid judgemen of knowing its freedom from Jewish rites, and all other commandments of men about the worship of God (Rom. 14).

Indeed the notion of Christian liberty may quickly be abused to profane dissoluteness, but yet the true doctrine was one of the greatest mercies brought to the Church in the first reformation. For there the consciences of all were grossly entangled and miserably enthralled. Yea, their Casuists, who took upon them to resolve and direct conscience, were the greatest tormentors of all, insomuch that they then seemed to be in a wilderness, or rather under an Egyptian bondage, wherein were many laws and canons, many doctrines and opinions, that were, as Luther expresseth it about one homicidissimae.

Now to this bondage the conscience of a man is more naturally prone than unto any obedience to the true commands of God. Indeed the conscience of man naturally is miserably polluted about the knowledge of those ties and obligations that are upon it, for sometimes it contracteth and limiteth them more than it ought. Hence it is that a man, yea a godly man, may live in the omission of many duties, in the commission of many sins, and yet not know that he doth so, and all because we do not study the extent of the obligation of conscience. From this it is that many good men have endeavored to grow in more knowledge, to study the commands of God obliging of them, and upon inquiry have found cause to do those things they never did before, and also they would not for a world walk in the same paths they once did. Thus, Melanchthon remembering his superstition while a Papist, Quoties cohorrui, etc. “How often doth horror take hold on me, when I think with what boldness I went and fell down before images, worshipping of them!” This is one great pollution of conscience, not to know its divine obligations that are upon it.

But then on the other side, the conscience smitten about sin is many times prone to stretch its obligations beyond the due line. They judge sins to be where there are none. They make duties where God hath not required. All because the troubled conscience is like a troubled fountain, a man cannot see clearly the face, neither are we then able to judge of anything truly. It is a rule in Philosophy, quicquid per humidum videtur, majtu apparet, every object through a humid, or moist medium, appeareth greater than it is. Thus also doth sin and duties through a grieved wounded conscience. Therefore, for want of the true knowledge of our Christian liberty, there is a scrupulous conscience, called so, because as little stones in the shoe hinder the feet in going, so doth the scrupulousness and timerated thoughts much annoy in a Christian walking. These commonly are without end, as one circle in the water begets another, or (as Gerson resembleth it) like one dog that barketh setteth all the dogs in the town on barking, so doth one scruple beget another, and that many more. Now although a scrupulous conscience may be, in general, tender and good, yet the scrupulousness of it ariseth from the infirmity and weakness thereof, and maketh the soul paralyzed in all its actions. These scruples make a man very unserviceable and to live very uncomfortably. Although God in great mercy doth many times exercise the truly godly sadly with them, thereby to humble them, to keep them low, to say with Agur they have not the understanding of a man, to be kept hereby from gross and foul sins, yet they are to be prayed against. For these scruples are like the Egyptian frogs always croaking, coming into the chamber, and in every window, thereby disturbing thee in thy duty. If thy conscience were sound and clear the light thereof would quickly dispel these mists.

Again, From the blindness of a troubled conscience cometh also the sad and great doubts upon the heart, whereby the soul of a man is distracted and divided, pulled this way and haled that way. The Apostle speaketh at large about a doubting conscience, and sheweth how damnable a thing it is to do anything doubting, whether it be a sin or not (Rom. 14). A doubting conscience is more than a scrupulous. Divines say a man may go against a scrupulous conscience because the conscience is for the main resolved that such a thing may lawfully be done, only he hath some fears and some jealousies moving in him to the contrary. But a doubting conscience is when arguments are not clear, but a man stands as it were at the end of two ways, and knoweth not what to do. Now if conscience were well enlightened and informed out of God’s Word, it would not be subject to such distracting doubts, but because of its natural blindness, therefore it is at a stand so often. Hence,

5. A Perplexed Conscience.

In the last place, it becomes from a scrupulous doubting to a perplexed conscience, so ensnared that what way soever he taketh he cannot but sin. If he does such a thing he sinneth, and if he doth it not he sinneth. As in Paul, who thought himself bound to set himself against Christians. If he did persecute them it is plain he did sin, if he did not, he thought he sinned. It is true, Casuists say, non datur casus perplexus, there cannot be any case wherein there is a necessity of sinning, because a man is bound to remove the error upon his conscience, yet the ignorance and blindness of man doth bring him often into that perplexed estate.

There remain two chief particulars wherein the pollution of a natural and troubled conscience is observable.

6. False Remedies for the Troubled Conscience.

In the sixth place, a proneness to use all unlawful means, and to apply false remedies for the removal of this trouble.

7. Opposition to the Way of Peace for a Troubled Conscience.

Seventhly, a direct and open opposition to what is the true evangelical way appointed by God for to give true peace and tranquility to such a conscience.

Before we descend to these points, it is good to take notice of some general Observations, which will greatly conduce to clear the points.

What a blessed thing it is to come well out of the pain of a troubled Conscience.

First, that it is a most blessed and happy thing to come out of a troubled conscience, in a good, safe, and soul establishing way. For this womb of conscience, when in pain and travail, is apt to make many miscarriages, yea sometimes it is so far from having any joy, that a man child is born (I mean the true fruit of holiness produced) that there is a monster brought forth in the stead thereof. Doth not experience and Scripture confirm this, that many have come out of their troubles of conscience with more obstinacy and willfulness to sin again? That as the wind blowing upon coals of fire, which might seem to extinguish the fire, doth indeed increase it. Thus these pangs, these gripes of conscience which sometimes they have felt, that made godly friends say, “Now there is hope, blessed be God, that maketh them feel the burden of sin.” These hopeful workings (I say) do at last end in a senseless stupidity. Pharaoh for a while, and so also Belshazzar and Felix trembled. Conscience in these did give some sharp stings, but alas it came to no good use. So rare a thing is it to come in a gracious manner out of these waves and storms upon thy soul.

Experience also doth give full testimony to this. How many do we see that for some time, yea (it may be) years have had as it were an Hell within them? They have eaten their bread, and drunk their drink with trembling and astonishment. They have been even distracted with the terrors of the Lord. But if you observe the later end of such, they have at last grown secure and stupid, as if the Spirit of God had never visited them in such a dreadful manner. So that we may say to many, what is become of those troubles thou didst once groan under? Where are those fears, those cries, those agonies, thou hadst then? Where are those zealous and fervent workings of heart which did so burn within thee once? Alas, after these meltings and thawings a greater frost and cold hath come upon them. As sometimes frequent and constant anguish fits do at last end in a consumption, thus, frequent troubles of conscience upon some fits and seasons do sometimes end in a plain dedolency and stupidity of conscience, never to be troubled more. God hath left thee to be like an Adamant and stone, so that though thou sin never so grossly, yet now thy conscience is seared, and thou canst be bold and rejoicing amid thy impieties.

Thus, you see it’s a great consequence for anyone laboring under the troubles of conscience diligently to consider how he cometh out of them, for now is the time of saving or damning of thee, now is the time thou art in the fire, either to be purged and refined, or to be consumed! Oh pray, and get all thy godly friends to pray, that these troubles may be sanctified, that they may be blessed to make a thorough change upon thee! Better to never have had such a wounded conscience, than to return to thy vomit again; for every sin committed by thee after these troubles hath an high and bloody aggravation. Thou knowest how bitter sin is; Thou hast tasted what gall and wormwood is in it; Thou hast been in the very jaws of Hell, hast had some experience of what even the damned feel, and wilt thou go to such sins again? Wilt thou put these adders into thy breast again, that have almost stung thee even to despair? Therefore, set a Selah, an accent (as it were) upon this particular, thou who hast been a troubled sinner, and see how thou comest to be freed from this spiritual pain.

A great Difference between a troubled Conscience, and a regenerate Conscience.

In the second place, there is a great difference between a troubled conscience and a regenerated, or sanctified conscience. The conscience may be exceedingly troubled about sin, have no peace or rest because of sin, yet be in the state of original pollution, yet be destitute of the Spirit of Christ. This mistake is very frequent. Many, judging the troubles of conscience they once had to be the time of their conversion to God, though ever since they have lived very negligently and carelessly, without the strict and lively conformity of their lives to the rule. Whereas we see in Cain, in Judas, these had even earthquakes (as it were) upon their consciences. They had more trouble than they could bear, yet none can say, they had a regenerated conscience. It is true indeed, these troubles of conscience may be introductory and preparatory to the work of conversion, but if ye stay in these, and think to have had these is enough, ye grossly deceive your own souls.

When Peter did in such a powerful manner set home upon the Jews, that grievous sin of killing the Lord Christ, it is said, “they were pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37-38). Here their consciences were awakened, here were nails (as it were) fastened by the Master of their Assembly into their souls. Yet when they cry out, saying, “what shall we do?” Peter doth direct them to a further duty, which is to repent. Those troubles then, those fears and agonies, were not enough. A further thing was requisite for their conversion. Thou then who art troubled, rest not in these, think not this is all, but press forward for regeneration. Without this, though these troubles did fill thy soul as much as the locusts did Egypt, yet thou wouldst go from begun torments here, to consummate torments hereafter. It is true, a gracious regenerated conscience may have its great troubles and agonies, be in unspeakable disquiet, but I speak of such who are yet only in initiatory troubles, who are (as yet) but in the wilderness, journeying towards Canaan. All these troubles do not infer regeneration, but are therefore brought upon thee that thou mayest be provoked to inquire after this new creature.

What may be the Causes of the trouble of Conscience, which yet are short of true saving Motives.

In the third place take notice of what may be the cause and motives which may make thy conscience awakened and troubled, which yet are not from true saving principles.

1. The commission of some gross and heinous sin against conscience may work much terror. The very natural light of conscience in this particular is able to fill the soul with fears (Rom. 2). The Heathens had their consciences accusing of them. We read of Nero, that after he had killed his mother Agrippina, he was so terrified in his conscience, that he never dared to offer sacrifices to the gods, because of the guilt upon him. Yea, and as Tertullian (lib. de animâ cap. 44.) observeth from Suetonius, after this parricide, he who in his former times never used to dream (it’s noted of him as a rare and strange thing) was constantly terrified in his dreams with sad imaginations. Thus, you see natural conscience upon the committing of some gross sin, hath power of itself to recoil and with heavy terror to overwhelm a man. Some also do relate of Constantine, that having been the cause of the death of his eldest son Crispus, upon groundless suspicious, was greatly tormented in his conscience, not knowing what to do, and thereupon was advised to receive the Christian Religion, in which alone there could be found an expiation for so foul an offence.

2. The trouble of conscience may arise from some heavy and grievous judgement that hath overtaken us. Conscience may lie asleep many years. The sins thou hast committed long ago may be almost forgotten, and yet some judgement and calamity, falling upon thee afterwards, may bring them to mind. Thus, Joseph’s brethren, whose consciences were so stupid that upon the throwing of their brother into the pit, they could sit down as if nothing ailed them; many years after, when they were in anguish of mind by Joseph’s severe carriage towards them (Gen. 42:21). Then they said one to another, we are very guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear, therefore is this distress come upon us. Some unexpected calamity may be to us as the handwriting on the will to Belshazzar, making conscience to tremble within us.

3. God as a just Judge can command these hornets and bees to arise in thy conscience. When Cain set himself to build towns, he sought to remove that trembling which was upon him, but he could not do it. How many have set themselves with all the might they could to be delivered from this anguish of conscience and could not? Because God is greater than our conscience, if he commands terror and trembling none can expel it. This troubled conscience is threatened as a curse to such who did break the Law of God, “The Lord shall give thee a trembling heart—and sorrow of mind—In the morning thou shalt say, would God it were day—for the fear of thy heart” (Deut. 28:65-67). Here we may observe, that God can, when he pleaseth, strike the heart of the most jolly and profane sinner with such a trembling conscience that he shall not have rest day or night. When God, after much patience abused, doth smite the soul with such horror and astonishment many times: This never tendeth to a gracious and Evangelical humiliation, but as in Cain and Judas is the beginning even of Hell itself in this life. So fearful a thing is it to fall into the hands of the living God, when provoked (Heb. 10:31). For in such there is a certain fearful looking for the indignation and wrath of God which will devour the adversaries (Heb. 10:27).

4. This troubled conscience may, and doth often come by the Spirit of God convincing and reproving by the Word, especially the Law discovered in the exactness and condemning power of it. The Spirit of God doth reprove or convince the world of sin (John 16:8). Now conviction belongs to the conscience principally, and indeed this is the ordinary way for the conversion of any. God’s Spirit doth by the Law convince and awaken conscience, making it unquiet and restless, finding no bottom to stand upon. It hath nothing but sin, no righteousness to be justified by. The Law condemneth, justice arraigneth, and he is overwhelmed, not knowing what to do. This is the work of God’s Spirit.

Of this some do expound Romans 8:15, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but of adoption.” It is the same spirit which is called the spirit of bondage, and of Adoption, only it’s called so from different operations. It’s the spirit of bondage, while by the Law it humbleth us, filleth the conscience with fear and trembling. Not that the sinfulness or slavishness of these fears, opposing the way of faith, are of the Spirit, but the tremblings themselves. It is the Spirit of Adoption, when it rebuketh all tormenting fears, giving Evangelical principles of faith, love and assurance. These fears thus wrought by the Spirit of God in the Ministry of the Word, though they be not always necessary antecedents of conversion, yet are sometimes ordained by God to be (as it were) a John the Baptist, to make way for Christ.

5. Lastly, these troubles of conscience may arise (through God’s permission) from the Devil. For when God leaveth thee to Satan’s kingdom; as it was the case of the incestuous person, to be buffeted by him, tempted by him, you see he did so far prevail with him that he was almost swallowed up with too much grief. Therefore, when God will evangelically compose the conscience by faith in Christ’s blood, he taketh off Satan again, and suffereth him not to cast his fiery darts into us any longer.

The false ways that the wounded Conscience is prone to take.

These things explained, let us return to consider the pollution of natural conscience in the two points mentioned [6 and 7].

6. False Remedies for the Troubled Conscience.

The first is that the wounded conscience for sin is very ready to use false remedies for its cure. These stings he feeleth are intolerable, he cannot live and be thus, he taketh no pleasure in anything he hath, but he cometh not to true peace. Either they go to carnal and sinful ways of pleasure, so to remove their troubles, or to superstitions and uncommanded ways of devotion, thinking thereby to be healed. The former too many take, who when troubled for sin, their hearts frequently smite them. They call this melancholy and pusillanimity. They will not give way to such checks of conscience, but they will go to their merry company, they will drink it away, they will rant it away, or else they will go to their merry pastimes and sports. As Herod sought to kill Jesus as soon as he was born, so do these strive to suffocate and stifle the very beginnings and risings of conscience within them. Oh wretched men prepared for Hell torments! Though now thou stoppest the mouth of conscience, yet hereafter it will be the gnawing worm. 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 Hell’s misery, but the griping and torturing of conscience to all eternity. This is the Hell of Hells.

Others, when none of these means will rebuke the storms and waves of their soul, but they think they must perish, then they set themselves upon some superstitious austere ways, as in Popery, to go on pilgrimage, to enter into some Monastery, to undertake some bodily affliction and penalty, 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 drink instead of honey.

7. Opposition to the Way of Peace for a Troubled Conscience.

In the next place therefore, this pollution of a troubled conscience is seen, in its opposition to Christ, to an evangelical righteousness, and the sway of believing. Conscience is far more polluted about Christ and receiving of him, than about the commands and obedience thereunto. Naturally there is something in conscience to do the things of the Law (Rom. 2), 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 sin ought to believe in Christ for expiation 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 thyself for comfort. Thou art bound in conscience to believe in Christ as well as repent of sin. Thou art bound in conscience, and if thou dost 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 only? Their conscience that is very tender about other sins, thinketh it no sin 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 premises, as well as the precepts, conscience of faith as well as repentance. The Apostle teacheth us in Hebrews 9:14 that it is the blood of Christ which purgeth the conscience. Run not to anything but to the blood of Christ! When thou art slung, behold this serpent. Let thy conscience be evangelical, as well as legal. The Gospel is God’s Word, as well as the Law, and by that thy conscience is obliged to lay hold on Christ for pardon.

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