"Conscience is at best a doubtful Light"

— Amhurst, Nicholas (1697-1742)

Place of Publication
Printed for E. Curll
"Conscience is at best a doubtful Light"
Metaphor in Context
But most those learned Pages we admire,
(For so our Int'rest and our Cause inspire)
Where, with consummate, controversial Strength,
You treat of Church Authority at length.
In that main Point exactly We agree,
And Bellarmine himself might yield to Thee.
Well do'st thou plead for undisputed Pow'r;
The Church, if once that ceases, is no more:
Power is the Cement of Religious Truth,
And from Division awes the roving Youth:
Power can old Modes restore, or new ones make,
And claim Submission for Submission's sake;
Power can alone uphold th'implicit Cause,
And gain Belief to unexamin'd Laws;
Power can alone our Unity increase,
And sooth the stubborn Schismatic to Peace;
Power can enforce that Faith, which first it made,
And Conscience from its strongest Bent dissuade.
(From wild to wild unguided Conscience strays,
And wanders on in her erroneous Maze.)
Your true, staunch Churchman disbelieves his Mind,
And trusts to the Decisions of Mankind;
He, blindly, Faith at second hand receives,
And not in Jesus, but the Priest believes.
He piques not of himself with haughty Pride,
Nor boasts the Dictates of an inward Guide;
Nor in his Heart erects a Conscience-Throne,
But models, by the Standard Faith, his own:
Since Conscience is at best a doubtful Light;
But Priests are, by their Office, in the Right.
2 entries in ESTC (1718, 1720).

See Congratulatory Epistle from His Holiness the Pope, to the Reverend Dr. Snape. Faithfully Translated from the Latin Original Into English Verse. by the Author of Protestant Popery (London: Printed for E. Curll, 1718). <Link to ESTC>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.