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DIALOGUE XIX.

How such who are completely cured of a wounded Conscience are to demean themselves.

TIMOTHEUS.

GIVE me leave now to take upon me the person of one recovered out of a wounded conscience.

PHIL. In the first place, I must heartily congratulate thy happy condition, and must rejoice at thy upsitting, whom God hath raised from the bed of despair: welcome David out of the deep, Daniel out of the lion’s den, Jonah from the whale’s belly, welcome Job from the dunghill, restored to health and wealth again.

TIM. Yea, but when Job’s brethren came to visit him after his recovery, every one gave him a piece of money, and an ear-ring of gold: [Job xlii. 11.] but the present I expect from you, let it be, I pray, some of your good counsel for my future deportment.

PHIL. I have need to come to thee, and comest thou to me? Fain would I be a Paul, sitting at the feet of such a Gamaliel, who hath been cured of a wounded conscience in the height thereof: I would turn my tongue into ears, and listen attentively to what tidings he brings from hell itself. Yea, I should be worse 385than the brethren of Dives, if I should not believe one risen from the dead, for such in effect I conceive to be his condition.

TIM. But waiving these digressions, I pray proceed to give me good advice.

PHIL. First thankfully own God thy principal restorer, and comforter paramount. Remember that, of ten lepers, one only returned to give thanks, [Luke xvii. 17.] which shows, that by nature, without grace overswaying us, it is ten to one if we be thankful. Omit not also thy thankfulness to good men, not only to such who have been the architects of thy comfort, but even to those who, though they have built nothing, have borne burthens towards thy recovery.

TIM. Go on, I pray, in your good counsel.

PHIL. Associate thyself with men of afflicted minds, with whom thou mayest expend thy time to thine and their best advantage. O how excellently did Paul comply with Aquila and Priscilla! As their hearts agreed in the general profession of piety, so their hands met in the trade of tent-makers, they abode and wrought together, being of the same occupation. [Acts xviii. 3.] Thus I count all wounded consciences of the same company, and may mutually reap comfort one by another; only here is the difference; they (poor souls) are still bound to their hard task 386and trade, whilst thou (happy man) hast thy indentures cancelled, and, being free of that profession, art able to instruct others therein.

TIM. What instructions must I commend unto them?

PHIL. Even the same comfort wherewith thou thyself wast comforted of God: [2 Cor. i. 4.] with David, tell them what God hath done for thy soul; and with Peter, being strong, strengthen thy brethren: [Luke xxii. 32.] conceive thyself like Joseph, therefore, sent before, and sold into the Egypt of a wounded conscience, (where thy feet were hurt in the stocks, the irons entered into thy soul,) that thou mightest provide food for the famine of others, and especially be a purveyor of comfort for those thy brethren, which afterwards shall follow thee down into the same doleful condition.

TIM. What else must I do for my afflicted brethren?

PHIL. Pray heartily to God in their behalf: when David had prayed, Psalm xxv. 2, O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed; in the next verse, (as if conscious to himself, that his prayers were too restrictive, narrow, and niggardly,) he enlarges the bounds thereof, and builds them on a broader bottom: Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed. Let charity in thy devotions have Rehoboth, room enough: 387beware of pent petitions confined to thy private good, but extend them to all God’s servants, but especially all wounded consciences.

TIM. Must I not also pray for those servants of God, which hitherto have not been wounded in conscience?

PHIL. Yes, verily, that God would keep them from, or cure them in, the exquisite torment thereof. Beggars, when they crave an alms, constantly use one main motive, that the person of whom they beg may be preserved from that misery whereof they themselves have had woful experience. If they be blind, they cry, Master, God bless your eyesight; if lame, God bless your limbs; if undone by casual burning, God bless you and yours from fire. Christ, though his person be now glorified in heaven, yet he is still subject, by sympathy of his saints on earth, to hunger, nakedness, imprisonment, and a wounded conscience, and so may stand in need of feeding, clothing, visiting, comforting, and curing. Now when thou prayest to Christ for any favour, it is a good plea to urge, edge, and enforce thy request withal, Lord, grant me such or such a grace, and never mayest thou, Lord, in thy mystical members, never be tortured and tormented with the agony of a wounded conscience, in the deepest distress thereof.

TIM. How must I behave myself for the time to come?

388

PHIL. Walk humbly before God, and carefully avoid the smallest sin, always remembering Christ’s caution: Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. [John v. 14.]

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