Jeremy Taylor.

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limitations : and to make all questions of that nature and
the rule of conscience infinite and indeterminable, Menochius
hath seven hundred ninety and eight questions concern-
ing ' possession ;' and " who is sufficient for these things?"
There is a rule amongst the lawyers which very much relates
to the conscience of those men, who are engaged in suits and
sentences of law in all countries which are ruled by the civil
law : " In quolibet actu requiritur citatio." Of this rule
Porcius brings a hundred and sixteen ampliations, and a
hundred and four-and-twenty limitations. Maranta enume-
rates forty cases, in which a negative ought to be proved :
and Socinus sets down eight hundred and two ' fallencies'
(that is the word of the law), concerning the contestation of
suits and actions at law. Many more might be reckoned
even in the interpreters of the civil law, and in the measures
we derive from thence. But if any man thinks it better in
the canon law, which is supposed to be as great a rule of our
conscience in the matter of religion as the other is of jus-
tice ; I shall only say, that the very title of the canon law
was * Concordantia Discordantiarum,' a tying of contradictions
together in one string : and when you begin to look into the
interpreters of the ' Decretum,' which is the best part of the
canon law, Simoncellus s tells that the word ' decretum' hath
five-and-twenty significations. So that there is a wood be-
fore your doors, and a labyrinth within the wood, and locks

Tract, de Decretis.


and bars to every door within that labyrinth ; and after all we
are like to meet with unskilful guides ; and yet of all things in
the world, in these things an error is the most intolerable.

But thus the enemy of mankind hath prevailed upon us,
while we were earnest in disputations about things less con-
cerning : then he was watchful and busy to interweave evil
and uncertain principles into our moral institutions, to en-
tangle what was plain, to divide what was simple, to make an
artof what was written in the tablesof our hearts with the finder


of God. When a gentleman was commending Dr. Fisher's
(bishop of Rochester) great pains in the confutations of Lu-
ther's books, the wise prelate said heartily, that he wished
he had spent all that time in prayer and meditation which he
threw away upon such useless wranglings. For that w r as the
wisdom of the ancients: " Antiqua sapientia nihil aliud
quam facienda et vitanda praecepit : et tune meliores erant
viri. Postquam docti prodierunt, boni desunt. Simplex
enim ilia et aperta virtus in obscuram et solertem scientiam
versa est; docenmrque disputare, non vivere; Our fore-
fathers taught their children what to do and what to avoid ;
and then men were better. But when men did strive to be-
come learned, they did not care so much to become good ;
then they were taught to dispute rather than to live." 1 To
this purpose I understand that excellent saying of Solomon ;
" Of making many books there is no end, and much study
is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of
the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments ;
for this is the whole duty of man :" u meaning, that books
which serve to any other purpose, are a laborious vanity,
consumptive of our time and health to no purpose: nothing
else being to any purpose but such things which teach us to
fear God, and how to keep his commandments. All books,
and all learning, which minister to this end, partake of the
goodness of the end ; but that which promotes it not, is not
to be regarded : and therefore the Chaldee paraphrast reads
these words into an advice of making many books tending
to holiness : " Fili mi, monitus esto ut facias libros sapien-
tiae plurimos, adeo ut non sit finis ; et ut studeas verbis legis,
conspiciasque defatigationem carnis ; Make books of wis-
dom very many, and study in the words of the law till thou

Seneca ad Lucil. u Eccles. xii. 12.


mayest see the weariness of thy flesh : " Beata tetas quae in
vita hominum regenda totam disputandi rationem posuit ;
Blessed are the times in which men learn to dispute well
that they may live the better." And truly it were much to
be wished that men would do so now ; endeavouring to teach
the ways of godliness in sincerity : to shew to men the right
paths of salvation ; to describe the right and plain measures
of simplicity, Christian charity, chastity, temperance, and
justice; to unwind the entanglements of art, and to strip
moral theology of all its visors ; to detract all the falsehoods
and hypocrisies of crafty men ; to confute all the false prin-
ciples of evil teachers, who by uncertain and deceitful grounds
teach men to walk confidently upon trapdoors and pitfalls,
and preach doctrines so dangerous and false, that if their
disciples would live according to the consequents of such
doctrines, without doubt they must perish everlastingly.

It is a great work and too heavy for one man's shoulders ;
but somebody must begin ; and yet no man ever would, if
he can be affrighted with the consideration of any difficulty
in the world. But I have laid aside all considerations of my-
self, and with an entire dependence upon God for help, I
have begun an institution of moral theology, and established
it upon such principles and instruments of probation which
every man allows, and better than which we have none im-
parted to us. I affirm nothing but upon grounds of Scrip-
ture, or universal tradition, or right reason discernible by
every disinterested person, where the questions are of great
concern, and can admit of these probations : where they can-
not, I take the next best ; the laws of wise commonwealths
and the sayings of wise men, the results of fame and the
proverbs of the ancient, the precedents of holy persons
and the great examples of saints. TlfKaidevpivov ya.g SGTIV
tv) roffourov raxgijSsg iirt^yrtTv xa&' sxaffrcv y'svoc, tip' osov fj rou

Ti iridavoXoyouvrof d-ToSg^sffDa/, xai pqrogixbv aftodtlfy
" He that is well instructed will require in every kind of
argument and disputation no other proof or subtilty than
the subject-matter will bear. For it were ridiculous for a
mathematician to go about to persuade with eloquence, or an

x Arist. lib, i. Etb. c.3. Wilkinson, p. 5.


orator to pretend to demonstrations." But moral theology
is a collective body of all wisdom, whereof some things
are demonstrable, and many are probable, and other things
are better than their contraries ; and they are to be proved
accordingly, every thing in its proportion and capacity. And,
therefore, here I make use of all the brocardics, or rules of
interpreters ; that is, not only what is established regularly
in law, but what is concluded wise and reasonable by the best
interpreters. Socinus, Duennas, Azo, Gabrielius, Damasus,
and divers other great lawyers, attempted this way in the
interpretation of the civil and canon law. I intermeddle
not in the question, whether they did well or ill, but leave
the contest as it lies between Duarenus and Balduinus, who
blame them, and Wesenbech and Gribaldus, who are their
confident advocates. But in the discourses of conscience,
whatsoever is right reason, though taken from any faculty or
science, is also of use and efficacy. Because whatever can
guide the actions or discourses, or be the business or the
conduct, of any man, does belong to conscience and its mea-
sures ; and what is true in any science, is true in conscience.
I do not say that what is true or allowed in human laws
is also true or allowed in the Divine ; because though God
does justly and wisely, yet men do not always so; and what
is true in sciences is not always understood to be true in
civil laws. ' Qualis causa, talis effectus,' saith the philoso-
pher ; ' The cause and the effect are of the same nature.'
But the lawyer says, this is not always true. For manu-
mission, which is a cause of liberty, is of the civil law and
positive institution ; but liberty, which is the effect of it, is
of the law of nature. Now although the philosopher under-
stands his rule of natural causes and effects, or those causes
which are artificial, but operate by the way of nature, and
intends it not at all to be persuasive in matters of positive
and legal institution ; yet this truth, and all other truths,
must prevail in conscience, because they are emanations from
the fountain of truth ; from whence nothing can derive that
is not always true, and in all senses true, where they are
intended to persuade or teach. But then the truths of philo-
sophy must be used in the measures of conscience by the
intentions of philosophy, and not be carried on to a disparate
matter, and without cause be indifferently applied, the same
words to things of another nature. There is a rule in


philosophy, " Incorporalia sunt individua : " from hence
Hottoman argues, therefore dominion, heritage, ' ususfructus,'
or * the use of a thing by him that is not the Lord/ are indivi-
dual, because they are incorporeal. Now this will deceive
him that trusts upon it : not because what is true in one
place, is not true always and every where ; but because these
words applied to other matters, and the words signifying
other intentions, they abuse the weary hearer, but instruct
not. But because the questions of conscience do relate to
all matters, therefore to these all arts and sciences do minis-
ter. "Res fisci est, ubicunque natat, Whatsoever swims
upon any water, belongs to this exchequer : " that is, saith St.
Austin/ " Christianus Domini sui esse intelligit, ubicunque
invenerit veritatem ; If it be truth, wheresoever it be found,
the Christian knows it is his Lord's goods : " and therefore I
have proved and adorned some truths with the wise saying of
philosophers and poets, " ut Deo serviat quicquid puer utile
didici," that (according to the expression of the same saint) 2
" Whatsoever, being a child, I learned which can profit, may
be brought in to serve and pay homage to God." But still
they are to be understood according to the sense and mean-
ing of their proper art where they dwell. And though there
is great need of skill in all those sciences from whence we
derive notices in order to the conduct of conscience, and
that it will be hard for any man to pretend to be master of
all those things which must be used in these discourses, yet
I, who will not pretend to that, have yet taken as good a
course as I could to inform myself ; though not in the whole
system of every art in the whole circle which I have here
occasionally used, yet I have been careful to understand
those few things, which I have thence drawn in as auxilia-
ries : and lest I should yet fail, I have taken another course
by way of caution and defence, that I may he right and sure
in the reflex, if I had cause to doubt of any thing in the
direct notice.

For 1 have propounded to myself general measures to be
as boundaries to the determination of doubts and the answer
of questions ; which so long as I do deserve, my error will
be very innocent, if any happens. For, 1. In hard and
intricate questions I take that which is easy and intelligible,

X De Doct. Christ, lib. ii. c. 18. l Confess, lib. i. c. 15.


and concerning which it will be easy to judge whether it be
right or wrong. 2. In odious things, and matters of burden
and envy, I take that part which is least, unless there be evi-
dent reason to the contrary. 3. In favours I always choose
the largest sense, when any one is bettered by that sense,
and no man is the worse. 4. In things and questions
relating to men, I give those answers that takeaway scruples,
and bring peace and a quiet mind. 5. In things relating to
God, I always choose to speak that thing which to him is
most honourable. 6. In matters of duty, I always choose
that which is most holy. 7. In doubts I choose what is
safest. 8. In probabilities, I prefer that which is the more
reasonable, never allowing to any one a leave of choosing
that which is confessedly the less reasonable in the whole
conjunction of circumstances and relative considerations.

Upon the account of these principles I hope to serve God
and the good of souls. For these being the points of my
compass, which way soever I sail, I shall not suffer ship-
wreck : and if at any time I go about, which I have avoided
as much as my infirmities will permit, yet at last, and in the
whole, I arrive where I ought to be. For indeed in this
whole affair I have proceeded with great fear : as knowing
that he who writes cases of conscience, does in a manner
give laws to all that do believe him ; and no man persuades
more vehemently than he that tells you, ' This, God forbids ;
This, God commands ; ' and therefore I knew that to
be mistaken here was very evil, and might do much evil ;
but to be careless, or prejudicate, or partial, or flattering, or
oppressive with severity, or unsafe with gentleness, was cri-
minal in the cause as well as mischievous in the event : and
the greatest security which I have that I have not spoken
unsafely in any man's case, is, because that I have prayed
much, and laboured much, that I might not at all minister
to error or schism, to folly or vanity, but to the glory of
God, and to the good of souls: and I have so determined
every case that I have here presented, as I myself would
practise, as I would account at the day of judgment, through
the mercies of God in Jesus Christ, and the integrity and
simplicity of my conscience : and therefore I desire that my
reader will use the same caution and ingenuity before he
condemns any conclusion, and consider that as in these


things it was impossible to please every man, eg
/if/dXo/g oraovv adsiv ^aXscroV z so I designed to please no man
but as he is a lover of truth, and a lover of his own soul.

The style that I here use, is according as it happens;
sometimes plain, sometimes closer : the things which 1 bring
are sometimes new, and sometimes old ; they are difficult
and they are easy ; sometimes adorned with cases, and the
cases specificated in stories, and sometimes instead of a story
I recite an apologue, and disguise a true narrative with other
names, that I may not discover the person whose case I dis-
course of: and in all things I mind the matter ; and suppose
truth alone, and reason, and the piety of the decision, to be
the best ornament ; and, indeed, sometimes the thing itself
will not be handled otherwise.

Ornari res ipsa negat, contenta doceri.

I was here to speak to the understanding, not to win the
affections ; to convince, not to exhort : and where I had no
certainty in a case, or that the parts of a question were too
violently contended for, without sufficient evidence on either
side, I have not been very forward to give my final sentence,
but my opinion and my reason ;

Per verbum forte respondent ssepe periti.*

And yet I hope that in some cases it will be found, that
though I am not fierce, positive, and decretory, yet the case
itself is sufficiently declared, so that he who hath occasion
to use it, may upon those accounts determine himself. For
the modesty of him that teaches is not always an argument
that he is uncertain in his proposition. Ti> vopi^u, %al rb doxtTv,
xal ra roiaura ou rtdvrus eiri d/ip//3o'Xou rdrrovffiv o/ TaXa/o/, dXXd
ToXXdx/g xai mi rov a\r)6eveiv' OVTU$ ouv xai rb vof^/^u svrav&a, avrl
rov xgtvu, xai <ffi<trs{jo), saith Ulpian. b When the ancients
said, ' I suppose, I think, It seems,' they did not always
mean that they were uncertain ; but they sometimes
intended it for a modest, but a direct affirmative : and so
I do in some few cases where there is great reason on one


side, and a great prejudice on the other : I give my reasons,
and lay down the case, and all its allays, and leave it
to prevail without my sentence by its own strength. And

* Solon. Frag. Gaisfonl, p. 335.

Glos. in c. quorum appel. non rccipiuntur. b B. 3, lj, ad Olynth. 1,


for this, I hope, no man will be offended at me : if he be, it
is because I was not willing to offend him ; but I was desir-
ous to instruct, to comfort, to determine, and to establish him
that needs.

I have studiously avoided all questions that are curious
and unprofitable ; such, I mean, which are only trials of wit,
but neither ministers of justice nor religion. Such was that
which was brought before the lawyers and all the learned
men of Athens, with great noises to little purpose. A gen-
tleman of /Egina, dying, left three daughters; the one was
beauteous and wanton ; the second, a lover of wine and gay
pleasures ; and the third, a good spinster, and a great follower
of country housewifery. He made the mother of these daugh-
ters to be his heir upon this condition, that she should divide
all his estate between his daughters equally ; but in such a
manner, that what they received they should neither possess
nor enjoy ; and as soon as ever they had quitted their portions,
they should pay, each of them, to their mother ten thousand
philippics. The mother runs to Athens, consults the law-
yers and philosophers how this will should be fulfilled : but
they know not, as supposing one part to cross another, and
altogether to be impossible ; for if the whole estate should
be divided amongst them, how is it that they shall not enjoy
it? and if they do not, how shall they pay their mother
her assignment? The mother therefore, finding no help
there, contrives it thus herself; to the pretty wanton she
gives rich clothes, smooth eunuchs, soft beds, sweet per-
fumes, silver lavatories, and all things which, she supposed,
might please her lust and consume her portion. To the
drinking girl she provides vessels of rich wines, a house well
furnished, and all things fitted for expensive entertainments.
But to the country housewife a good farm, ploughmen, and
a great stock, many horses and some cows, some men-
servants and a great many maidens, a kennel of hounds and
a few swine ; supposing this was no very probable way for
her to thrive, but the likeliest way to do her husband's
will ; because the lust of the first, and thirst and debauchery
of the second, and the ill-contrived stock of the third, would
consume all their portions. But all this while she considered
not, how, when they grew poor, she should receive her share.

c Phaedrus, iv. r>.


But at last a wiser man than was in the schools of Athens
advised her thus : Give to the drunken maiden the rich gar-
ments, the jewels, and the eunuchs ; and because she loves
them not, she will sell them all for old wines of Chios : to
the wanton give fields and cattle, oxen and ploughs, hinds and
swine : and she will quickly sell them that she may entertain
her lovers : but if you give vessels of wine to the country-
girl, she knows not what to do with them, and therefore will
sell them to the merchant for ready money. Thus shall nei-
ther of them enjoy their portion ; but by selling it, they shall
be enabled to pay the money to their mother. This was
a riddle, rather than a case of law or conscience ; and so are
many others, which I therefore resolved to lay aside, and
trouble no man's conscience or head with them ; as suppos-
ing that the answer of the dull Diodorus, mentioned in the
Greek epigram, is sufficient for such curiosities.

"H mi, n ry iXov<r;, &C.

It is so, or it is not so ; it must be done this way, or some
other; the thing in question is yours, or somebody's else :
but make the judge your friend, and I will warrant your
cause, provided it be just ; but look you to that. A slight
answer to an intricate and useless question is a fit cover to
such a dish ; a cabbage-leaf is good enough to cover a pot
of mushrooms : but I have taken a shorter way, and laid
them all aside ; remembering the saying of Friar John Annias
to Nicolaus de Lyra; " Testimonium Dei lucidum est, nee
egent literse divinae plicis, The things of God are plain and
easy : " and therefore I have rejected every thing that is not
useful and intelligible: choosing only to make such inquiries
by which we may become better, and promoted in something
of our duty ;

Quid sumus, et quidnam victuri gignimur, ordo
Quis datus, aut metae quam mollis flexus, et undse,
Quis modus argento, quid fas optare, quid asper
Utile nummus Label, patriee, carisque propinquis
Quantum elargiri deceat, quern te Deus esse Immana qua parte locatus es in re :

viz. that we may be taught how to know what God re-
quires of us, ' instructed to salvation, and fitted to every
good work.'

But now I shall desire that he who reads my book, will

<" Jacobs, Anthol. vol. iv. p. 26. Brunck. iii. p. 57.


not expect this book to be a collective body of particular
cases of conscience ; for I find that they are infinite, and my
life is not so ; and T shall never live to write them all, or to
understand them all : and if I should write some and not all,
I should profit I know not whom, and do good but to a very
few, and that by chance too; and it may be that their cases,
being changed by circumstances, would not be fitted by my
indefinite answers. I therefore resolved upon another way ;
which although no man before me hath trod in writing: cases

o ~

of conscience, yet I cannot say it is new ; for I took my pat-
tern from Tribonianus, the lawyer, who out of the laws of the
old Romans collected some choice rules, which give answer
to very many cases that happen. And after I had considered
and tried many others, I found this most reasonable, most
useful, and most comprehensive, of all matters relating to my
present undertaking. For I intend here to afford to the world
a general instrument of moral theology, by the rules and
measures of which, the guides of souls may determine the
particulars that shall be brought before them ; and those who
love to inquire, may also find their duty so described, that
unless their duties be complicated with laws, and civil cus-
toms, and secular interests, men that are wise may guide
themselves in all their proportions of conscience : but if
their case be indeed involved, they need the conduct of a
spiritual guide to untie the intrigue, and state the question,
and apply the respective rules to the several parts of it; for
though I have set them down all in their proper places re-
lating to their several matters, yet when a question requires
the reason of many rules, it is not every hand that can apply
them : men will for ever need a living guide ; and a wise
guide of souls will, by some of these rules, be enabled to
answer most cases that shall occur.

For although I have not given answers to every doubt,
yet I have told what we are to do when any doubt arises ; I
have conducted the doubting conscience by such rules, which
in all doubts will declare her duty : and therefore if the mat-
ter of the doubt be in the reception of the sacrament of the
eucharist, or in wearing clothes, or in eating, the rule is the
same and applicable to every matter. I have not disputed
whether sumptuary laws be actually obligatory to us in Eng-
land or Ireland ; but I have told by what measures we shall


know concerning all laws, whether they be obligatory or no,
in any place, and to every person. I have not expounded
all the laws of God, but I have told by what rules they are
to be expounded and understood. But because these rules
have influence upon all particulars, I have, by way of in-
stance and illustration, determined very many special cases :
and I was a little curious to choose such which are the mat-
ter of our usual inquiries ; and have been very studious to
draw into particular scrutiny most of the principal and
noblest questions of Christendom, which could relate to the
matter of my rule : provided that they were practical and did
minister to good manners ; having that of Lactantius in my
mind ; " Non tarn de rebus humanis bene meretur, qui sci-
entiam bene dicendi affert, quam qui pie et innocenter docet
vivere ; He best deserves of mankind, who teaches men to
live well rather than to talk well : " and therefore the wiser
Greeks preferred philosophers before orators : " Illi enim
recte vivendi doctores sunt existimandi, quod est longe
prsestabilius ; It is better to be a doctor of good life, than
of eloquent or learned speaking :" for they are but few who
are capable of eloquence, but to live well is the duty of all :
and I have always been pleased with the saying of Jupiter

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