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the medullaries, corticals, and meninges of the brain, and thus excites the pains, which are called pains of conscience.” On hearing this relation we said to them, "Ye speak the language of Hippocrates and Galen, which is Greek to us, and so unintelligible: we did not question you about bodily diseases, but about conscience, which hath relation solely to the mind." But they replied, "The diseases of the mind and the diseases of the head are all the same, and these ascend from the body; for the head and the body cohere together like two stories of one house, between which there are stairs for ascending and descending: wherefore we are well assured, that the state of the mind is inseparably dependant on the state of the body; and those very complaints or pains of the head, which we conceive ye mean by conscience, have been frequently cured by us, in some cases by blistering and cupping, in some by infusions and emulsions, and in some by spices and anodynes." Finding that they continued still in the same strain, we turned from them and addressed ourselves to the clergy, and said, "Ye surely know what conscience is; declare ye then, and instruct all who are present: "What conscience is," they answered, "we know, and we do not know; we used to believe it to be CONTRITION, which precedes election, that is, the moment in which man is gifted with faith, by which he receives a new heart and a new spirit, and is regenerated; but we have perceived that such contrition is felt by few; some indeed are affected with dread, and with an anxiety thence arising, about hell-fire, but scarce any with concern for their sins, and the consequent just anger of God; we however, have healed such, on receiving their confession, by the Gospel, that Christ, by His suffering on the cross, took away damnation, and so extinguished hellfire, and opened heaven, to those who are blessed with that faith, on which the imputation of the merit of the Son of God is inscribed. There are, besides, certain conscientious
persons of different religions, both true and fanatical, who create to themselves scruples in matters relating to salvation not only in essentials, but also in points of form and ceremony, and even in matters of indifference; wherefore, as we said before, we know that there is such a thing as conscience; but what it is, and in what a true conscience, which must needs be spiritual, consists, we know not."
666. The angels who were above us heard all these opinions uttered by the four companies; and they said to each other, "We perceive that there is not a single person in Christendom who knows what conscience is; on this account we will send down one from our society to instruct them :" And instantly there appeared in the midst an angel in white raiment, with a zone of light around his head, interspersed with little stars, who addressing himself to the four companies, said, "We in heaven have heard you deliver your sentiments in order on the subject of CONSCIENCE, and ye have all conjectured that it is some uneasiness of mind, which affects the head with indisposition, and thence the body, or the body and thence the head; but conscience, considered in its true nature, is not any pain or uneasiness, but is a spiritual willingness to act according to the requirements of religion and faith; hence it is that such as enjoy conscience, when they act according to its dictates, are in the tranquillity of peace and in eternal blessedness, and suffer a certain uneasiness, or want of tranquillity, when they act contrary to it; but the pain of mind, which ye have fancied to be conscience, is not conscience but temptation, which consists in a combat between the spirit and the flesh, and which, when it is spiritual, derives its source from conscience, but if natural only, it then originates in those diseases which the physicians have just now recounted. But what conscience is, may be illustrated by examples. A priest possesses conscience, who has a spiritual willingness to teach truths, that he may promote the
salvation of his flock; but if he does it with any other view, or to any other end, he is without conscience. A judge again, who regards justice only, and administers it with judgment, possesses conscience; but if he is swayed by interest, by friendship, or favour, he is without it. Again: supposing a man to be in possession of another's property without his knowledge, so that he might detain it as his own, without fear of the law, or the loss of honour and reputation, and notwithstanding this, supposing that he restores it to its proper owner, because it is not his own; such a person has conscience, for he performs an act of justice for its own sake. Lastly, supposing a man has it in his power to obtain some place or office, but resigns his claim to another who is also a candidate, because he knows him to be better qualified to be useful to society; such a one, in thus consulting the good of society, approves himself possessed of a good conscience. All such as have conscience, when they speak, speak from their heart, and act from the heart in all their dealings, for their minds not being divided, they speak and act that which they understand and believe to be true and good. Hence it follows, that they, whose minds are eminently enlightened with the truths of faith, and who enjoy a clearer perception, may have a more perfect conscience than those who are less enlightened, and whose perception is more obscure. In a true conscience consists the very essence of man's spiritual life, for in this his faith is conjoined with charity; so that to act from conscience, is, with those who possess it, to act from their spiritual life; and to act contrary to conscience, is to act contrary to their life. Besides, who cannot learn what conscience is from common discourse? as when it is said of any particular person, he has a conscience, who does not understand by the expression that he is a just and upright person? And on the contrary, when it is said, he has no conscience, who does not understand the expression to signify, that he is destitute of В в
integrity?" As the angel uttered these words, he was suddenly taken up into his own heaven: then the four companies united in one, and after conversing together some time about what the angel had said, lo! they were again divided into four companies, but different from the former; in the first were those who comprehended what the angel had said, and assented to it; in the second were those who did not comprehend it, but still were disposed to favour it; in the third were those who had no inclination to comprehend it, saying, "What have we to do with conscience?" and in the fourth were those who mocked and derided it, saying, “What is conscience but a breath of wind?" Then I saw the four companies retiring from each other, and the two former going to the right, but the two latter to the left, these descending and those ascending.
THAT WITHOUT A KNOWLEDGE OF THE SPIRITUAL SENSE OF THE WORD, NO ONE CAN KNOW WHAT THE TWO SACRAMENTS, BAPTISM AND THE HOLY SUPPER,
INVOLVE AND EFFECT.
667. every part of the Word, and that this sense has heretofore remained unknown, but is at this day discovered for the sake of a new church which is about to be established by the Lord, was shewn in the chapter on the SACRED SCRIP
THAT there is a spiritual sense contained in all and
The wise and pious reader will rejoice to see, in this and the following chapter, the true end, use, and design of the two sacraments, baptism and the holy supper, explained and enforced. Lamentable have been the mistakes and misapprehensions of mankind on these two sacred ordinances, for whilst some have robbed them of their external form, under the vain pretence that their internal benefits might be communicated and received as well and as fully without it, others, resting merely on what is external and visible, have neglected to look to the internal and invisible things represented and conveyed by them. In opposition to such false and dangerous notions, our author asserts the necessity and expediency both of what is outward and what is inward in these two sacraments; he opens the design and use both of their visible and invisible parts, of their natural signs, and of their spiritual benefits, from a deep, scriptural, and rational ground; shewing by the doctrine of correspondences, how the outward elements applied therein are not only apt symbols to express, but likewise sure means to convey, inward and spiritual blessings to such as rightly receive them. What is said, n. 678, on the sacrament of baptism, as serving to distinguish Christian children in the spiritual world, may possibly sound strange to some readers; but let such consider and weigh well what is said by the author in relation to that particular, and reflect at the same time how in