X hits on this document

PDF document

From Medieval Mnemonics to a Social Construction of Memory - page 12 / 23





12 / 23



immorality of the practice in question (Hall, 1649, p. 2; Rubin, 1979; Trinkaus, 1955, p. 86).

Late in the 1700s, Pike and Hayward (1808) authored a casebook of con- science that contains a smaller essay titled “The Spiritual Companion or the Pro- fessing Christian Tried at the Bar of God’s Word.” This book is a record of answers to practical moral questions posed by “timorous Christians.” It begins with a list of questions and then answers them in the form of a “case.” Each case is a written record of a lecture presented in a series of community meetings. This book represents a kind of Christian manual for ethical living.

Another casebook of conscience, edited by Jeremy Taylor (1660), contains questions such as “Whether it be lawful for me to raise any profit by loan of money?” or “Whether is the seller bound to make known to the buyer the faults of that which he is about to sell?” The organization and structure of these books show a merger of religious moral codes and the beginnings of English case or common law. Book 3 of Taylor’s casebook is concerned explicitly with the rela- tionship between human and divine laws, specifically with the question of whether “human laws do directly bind the conscience,” therefore, making it as great a sin to transgress human laws as laws of God. The equivocation required to eventually demonstrate the provisional identity of these two sets of laws required a kind of protolegal hairsplitting:

It is certain as an article of faith, as necessary as any other rule of manners, that being subject is bound to obey the just laws of his lawful superior, not only under fear of punishment from man, but under pain of divine displeasure. Because the power by which man make Laws is the power of God. . . . This whole matter is infi- nitely demonstrated in this one consideration: The laws of man do certainly bind the conscience, that they have a power of limiting and declaring, and make the par- ticulars to become the Laws of God. In Spain, if a wronged husband or father kill the apprehended adulterers, it is no murder; in England it is. (Taylor, 1660, pp. 429-430)

In the preface of Pike and Hayward’s (1808) book, the authors explained that cases of conscience arise from the difficulties people have “within the course of their experience.” Cases discussed in Joseph Hall’s (1649) book address human behavior in areas as diverse as matrimony, piety, political liberty, fasting, clem- ency, oaths, and even apparel (including the question of “Whether may we not labor to cover a deformity in the body?”). Such cases seem to indicate that in this transitory period in history (when neither Church, kingdom, state, nor corporate enterprise, unilaterally, dominated culture), common people debated, thought- fully and earnestly, among themselves about how to rationalize and conduct their own behavior. Pike and Hayward saw the purpose of the various rules listed in their book as facilitating practical activity. “And may the spirit of God,” Pike and Hayward contended, “without whose peculiar blessing will attempt, will be ineffectual to answer any saving purposes making these a powerful means of

Document info
Document views91
Page views91
Page last viewedSun Jan 22 18:14:14 UTC 2017