The Puritan Conscience

Part 8 - Theology in Practice
Chapter 56 - The Puritans on Conscience

Conscience played a large role in the Puritan outlook.
Conscience is a part of human nature that God has given us to judge ourselves.  Everyone has one and it reasons, either condemning or exonerating ourselves to ourselves.
Our conscience is corrupted.  We condemn ourselves when we need not, and we excuse ourselves when we ought not.  Forms the corrupt conscience can take: doubt, moralism, over-scrupulosity, error, drowsy and seared.
To restore the conscience requires preaching the Word to show us our sin and guilt, conforming the conscience to the Word's norms, guarding it by our obedience, keeping it tender by self-examination.

This section was extremely weak on the conscience being assured by Christ's work for us.  It wasn't said that our conscience is based mainly on our obedience, but this is the main emphasis.  This is a key Puritan weakness: relying on our own efforts of conscience searching more than looking to Christ's objective work, to ease our conscience.  "A good conscience does not promote legalism" (926) they say, and that is true.  But when the conscience is based mainly on our good works and deeds of repentance and sanctification it will tend that way.

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