"What tell you me of conscience? Conscience was hanged long agoe."

— Perkins, William (1558-1602)

Place of Publication
Printed by John Legate
"What tell you me of conscience? Conscience was hanged long agoe."
Metaphor in Context
Right Honourable, it can not be vnknovvne to your selfe, or to any man of a daies experience, that it is thought a small matter to commit a sinne, or, to lie in sinns against a mans ovvne conscience. For many vvhen they are told of their dutie in this point, replie and say, What tell you me of conscience? Conscience was hanged long agoe. But vnles they take better heed, and preuent the danger by repentance, Hanged-conscience vvill revive and become both gibbet and hangman to them either in this life or the life to come. For Conscience is appointed of God to declare and put in execution his iust iudgement against sinners: and as God cannot possibly be ouercome of man, so neither can the iudgement of conscience being the iudgement of God be wholly extinguished. Indeed Satan for his part goes about by al means he can, to benumme the conscience: but all is nothing. For as the sicke man, vvhen he seemes to sleepe and take his rest, is invvardly full of troubles: so the benummed and drousie conscience wants not his secret pangs and terrours; and when it shal be roused by the iudgement of God, it waxeth cruell and fierce like a wild beast. Again, when a man sinnes against his conscience, as much as in him lieth, he plungeth him selfe into the gulfe of desperation: for euery wound of the conscience, though the smart of it be little felt, is a deadly wound: and he that goes on to sinne against his conscience, stabbes and vvounds it often in the same place: and all renewed wounds (as we know) are hardly or neuer cured. Thirdly, he that lieth in sinnes against his conscience, cannot call vpon the name of God: for guiltie conscience makes a man flie from God. And Christ saith, God heareth not sinners, vnderstanding by sinners, such as goe on in their owne waies against conscience: and what can be more dolefull then to be barred of the invocation of Gods name? Lastly, such persons after the last iudgement, shall haue not onely their bodies in torment, but the vvorme in the soule and conscience shall neuer die: and what will it profit a man to gain the whole world by doing things against his owne conscience, and loose his owne soule.
(The Epistle)
Perkins, William. A Discourse of Conscience. Cambridge: Printed by John Legate, 1596. <Link to EEBO>
Date of Entry

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