Cases of Conscience

“…yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Phil. 1:22-24

“…I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:  Who are Israelites…”

Rom. 9:2-4

“…all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.  Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.  Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:”

1 Cor. 10:23-25




Worship Includes Conscience Issues
Fleeing from Danger



Order of Contents

Articles  4+
Books  16+
Historical  2

Deciding Between Competing Duties  3
Bibliography  1
Latin  3+





Greenham, Richard

The Works of the Reverend and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, Mr. Richard Greenham  (London, 1612)

Part 1, Grave Counsels & Godly Observations

All of these articles by Greenham are organized by topic, in alphabetical order.

Part 4

Godly Instructions for the Due Examination & Direction of All Men, to the Attaining & Retaining of Faith & a Good Conscience

Godly Observations, Concerning Diverse Arguments & Common Places in Religion



‘Certain Considerable & Most Material Cases of Conscience, wherewith Diverse Well-Affected [persons] in this Kingdom [of England] are Much Perplexed, the Clearing Whereof would worthily deserve the pains of the [Westminster] Assembly at London’  ([Oxford] 1645)

Grey, Enoch – Vox Coeli, Containing Maxims of Pious Policy: wherein Several Cases of Conscience are Briefly Discussed  (London, 1649)  The cases of conscience are primarily about civil, political concerns.

Grey was an English minister who was in favor of Parliament and Oliver Cromwell during the civil wars.





Perkins, William – The Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience Distinguished into Three Books…  (d. 1602; Cambridge, 1606)  ToC

Cooper, Thomas

A Familiar Treatise Laying Down Cases of Conscience, Furthering to Perseverance in Sanctification  (London, 1615)

The Mystery of the Holy Government of our Affections, Containing their Nature, Original, Causes & Differences.  Together with the Right Ordering, Trial & Benefit Thereof: as also Resolving Diverse Cases of Conscience, Incident Hereunto.  Very necessary for the Trial of Sincerity & Increasing in the Power of Godliness. The First Book.  (London, [1620])  ToC

Cooper (fl.1609-1626)

A Case of Conscience Here to be Resolved:  Whether it be an Argument of Unsanctified Affections to be more Placed on Earthly than Heavenly Things?

The Wonderful Mystery of Spiritual Growth, Describing the Necessity, Nature, Manner, Measure & Marks Thereof.  As also, laying down necessary rules for the wise discerning of the same.  And resolving many special cases of Conscience incident hereunto, tending to the comfort of distressed spirits, and so to the attaining of perfect holiness.  Divided into Two Books  (London, 1622)  ToC

Willet, Andrew – ‘Preface’ & ‘The Ten Commandments in Particular’  in Hexapla in Genesis & Exodus…  (d. 1621; 1633, London), pp. 263-371

Ames, William – bk. 2 of Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof Divided into Five Books  ([Leiden & London] 1639)

Gillespie, George – A Treatise of [22] Miscellaneous Questions  (d. 1648; Edinburgh, 1649)  in The Presbyterian’s Armoury, vol. 2  The time when these questions and answers were written is unknown.

Burgess, Anthony – Spiritual Refining: or A Treatise of Grace & Assurance, wherein are handled, the Doctrine of Assurance.  The Use of Signs in Self-Examination.  How True Graces may be Distinguished from Counterfeit.  Several True Signs of Grace, & many False Ones…  As also many Cases of Conscience…  being 120 Sermons Preached…  (London, 1652)

Blackwood, Christopher – A Treatise Concerning Repentance, wherein also the doctrine of Restitution is handled at Large: with a Solution of many Cases of Conscience Concerning the Same  (London, 1653)

We do not have any bio info on Blackwood, other than the work is dedicated to English, parliamentary officers over affairs in Ireland.

Hall, Joseph – Cases of Conscience Practically Resolved Containing a Decision of the Principal Cases of Conscience of Daily Concernment & Continual Use Amongst Men: Very Necessary for their Information & Direction in These Evil Times  (London, 1654)  ToC

Hall was a godly, Anglican bishop.  He discusses 43 rather common, and therefore very applicable, cases of conscience that often come up in life for the Christian.  His discussions are very good, not being too brief or lengthy, nor too simple or too complex.

The first decade of cases deal with commerce and profit, the second, life and liberty, the third, of piety and religion, the fourth, of marriage.

Mossom, Robert – The Preacher’s Tripartite, in Three Books.  The First to Raise Devotion in Divine Meditations upon Psalm 25: the Second to Administer Comfort by Conference with the soul, in particular cases of conscience…  (London, 1657)

Mossom (d. 1679) was an Anglican.

Durham, James – The Law Unsealed, or a Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments  EEBO  Buy  (†1658; 1675)  500 pp.

Durham was a leading Scottish covenanter during the 2nd Reformation in Scotland.

*** – ‘Whatever Durham has written is very precious.  He has the pen of a ready writer, and indites good matter.’

Clarke, Samuel – Medulla Theologiae, or the Marrow of Divinity, Contained in Sundry Questions & Cases of Conscience, both Speculative and Practical, the Greatest Part of them Collected out of the Works of our Most Judicious, Experienced and Orthodox English Divines  EEBO  (London, 1659)  Detailed ToC

This Samuel Clarke (1599-1682) was a reformed, puritan in the Church of England and a writer of ecclesiastical biographies.  He is to be distinguished from the Bible Annotator Samuel Clarke (1626–1701), who was a non-conformist and had Baxterian influences.


Table of Contents

1.  About the Abstinence in the Use of Lawful Things  1
2.  About Actions, Natural, Civil, Recreative, Religious, etc.  5
3.  About [Theological] Adoption  7
4.  About Adoration, or Worship  13
5.  About Adultery  17
6.  About Affections or Passions  21
7.  About Afflictions  39
8.  About the Angels  59
9.  About Anger, Wrath, Passion, Malice & Revenge  67
10.  About Anger in God  85
11.  About the Antinomian Errors  89
12.  About Apostasy  99
13.  About Apparel  109
14.  About Assurance  117
15.  About Astrology & Seekers to Astrologers  139
16.  About Atheists & Atheism  148
17.  About Baptism  153
18.  About Blasphemy  177
19.  About our Bodies  185
20.  About Borrowing & Lending  193
21.  About Brethren & Brotherly Love  197
22.  About Buying & Selling  201
23.  About our Callings & Vocations  209
24.  About our Holy Calling, or Vocation  217
25.  About Cares of the World  225
26.  About Charity, Beneficence & Mercy  229
27.  About Chastity  253
28.  About Children  257
29.  About Christ  267
30.  About the Church  305
31.  About Circumspection & Circumspect Walking  321
32.  About the Comforts of God’s People  331
33.  About Comforting Others  335
34.  About Comforting Afflicted Consciences  341
35.  About Self-Commendation  359
36.  About Communion with God  363
37.  About Communicating in Other Men’s Sins  367
38.  About the Choice & Use of Company  371
39.  About Confession  383
40.  About Confession of Sin  391
41.  About Carnal Confidence  395
42.  About the Conflict Between the Flesh & Spirit  397
43.  About Conscience, Good & Bad  429


Hall, Thomas

‘Questions Discussed in this Treatise’  in The Beauty of Magistracy in an Exposition of the 82 Psalm…  (London, 1660)  These cases of conscience revolve around magistracy.

Hall (1610-1665) was an English, presbyterian puritan that was ejected from the Church of England in 1662.

‘Questions Discussed in this Commentary’  in A Practical & Polemical Commentary, or, Exposition upon the Third & Fourth Chapters of the Latter Epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy...  (London, 1658)  The cases of conscience discussed are various.

Dickson, David – Ch. 2, ‘Of Cases of Conscience in General’  in Therapeutica Sacra [Sacred Therapeutics], Showing Briefly the Method of Healing the Diseases of the Conscience, Concerning Regeneration  (Edinburgh, 1664), pp. 7-10

Dickson (1583-1662) was a Scottish covenanter.  See this Introduction by Fentiman to the work in general.  The rest of the work includes giving directions for many cases of conscience relating to how one may know if they are converted, how they may gain assurance and how to withstand temptations.

Stockton, Owen – Counsel to the Afflicted, or, Instruction & Consolation for such as have Suffered Loss by Fire, with Advice to such as have escaped that sore judgement, contained in the resolution of three questions occasioned by the dreadful fire in the city of London in the year 1666…  in the discussing of which questions are handled several profitable cases of conscience concerning self-murder, preparing for afflictions, taking up our rest in God, etc., which are inserted in the contents  (London, 1667)

Taylor, Jeremy – Ductor Dubitantium [A Guide to Doubtings]: or the Rule of Conscience in All her General Measures, Serving as a Great Instrument for the Determination of Cases of Conscience, in Four Books  2nd ed.  (d. 1667; London, 1671)  890 pp.  ToC

Taylor (1613–1667) was an Arminian, Latitudinarian, cleric in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.  He is sometimes known as the ‘Shakespeare of Divines’ for his poetic style of expression, and he is frequently cited as one of the greatest prose writers in the English language.

Alleine, Joseph – Diverse Practical Cases of Conscience Satisfactorily Resolved…  to which are added some Counsels & Cordials  (London, 1672)

Table of Contents

1st Case, on Mt. 5:45, What do you more than others?
2nd Case, on 1 Thess. 4:1, What may, and must a Christian be and
do that he may please God?
3rd Case, on Jn. 8:29, Is any man able in this life to come up to the
example of Christ in this, to do always those things that please God?
4th Case, What weariness in and unwillingness to duties may stand with grace, and what not?

Awakening Questions propounded to the Unconverted
Counsels and Cordials for the Converted
Sacrament Cordials

Baxter, Richard – A Christian Directory: a Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience, vols. 12, 345  Buy  (1673)  Detailed ToC

This work, with his Latin work, Method of Christian Theology, was intended to comprise a whole body of divinity (the theological in Latin and the practical in English).  This work includes four parts: (1) Christian Ethics (Private Duties), (2) Christian Economics (Family Duties), (3) Christian Ecclesiastics (Church Duties), and (4) Christian Politics (Corporate/Civic Duties).  These volumes do not contain Baxter’s errors on justification found in other works of his.

“The most outstanding pastor, evangelist and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced.” – J.I. Packer


Brief Table of Contents

1st Tome, Christian Ethics

1.  Directions to unconverted, graceless sinners for the attainment of saving grace
2.  Directions to young Christians or beginners in religion, for their establishment and safe proceeding
3.  The general grand directions for walking with God in a life of faith & holiness: Containing the essentials of godliness & Christianity
4.  Subordinate directions against those grand heart-sins which are directly contrary to the life of godliness & Christianity
5.  Further subordinate directions for the next great duties of religion, necessary to the right performance of the former
6.  Directions for the government of the thoughts
7.  Directions for the government of the passions
8.  Directions for the government of the senses
9.  Directions for the government of the tongue
10.  Directions for the government of the body

2nd Tome, Christian [Family] Economics

1.  Directions about marriage, for choice & contract
2.  Directions for the right choice of servants & masters
3.  A disputation, or, arguments to prove the necessity of family-worship and holiness, or directions against the cavils of the profane and some sectaries who deny it to be a thing required by God
4.  General directions for the holy government of families
5.  Special motives to persuade men to the holy governing of their families
6.  More special motives for a holy and careful education of children
7.  The mutual duties of husbands & wives towards each other
8.  The special duties of husbands to their wives
9.  The special duties of wives to husbands; Cases about divorce & separation
10.  The duties of parents for their children
11.  The special duties of children towards their parents
12.  The special duties of children & youth towards God
13.  The duties of servants to their masters
14.  The duties of masters towards their servants
15.  The duties of children & fellow-servants to one another
16.  Directions for holy conference of fellow-servants, or others
17.  Directions for each particular member of the family, how to spend every ordinary day of the week
18.  Directions for the holy spending of the Lord’s Day in families
19.  Directions for profitable hearing the Word preached
20.  Directions for profitable reading the holy Scriptures
21.  Directions for reading other books
22.  Directions for the right teaching of children & servants, so as may be most likely to have success
23.  Directions for prayer, in general & a brief explication of the method of the Lord’s Prayer
24.  Brief directions for families about the sacrament of the body & blood of Christ
25.  Directions for fearful troubled Christians that are perplexed with doubts of their sincerity & justification
26.  Directions for declining or backsliding Christians: and about perseverance
27.  Directions for the poor
28.  Directions for the rich
29.  Directions for the aged (and weak)
30.  Directions for the sick
31.  Directions to the friends of the sick that are about them

3rd Tome, Christian Ecclesiastics

1.  Of the worship of God in general
2.  Directions about the manner of worship, to avoid all corruptions & false unacceptable worshipping of God
3.  Directions about the Christian covenant with God and Baptism
4.  Directions about the profession of our religion to others
5.  Directions about vows and particular covenants with God
6.  Directions to the people concerning their internal & private duty to their pastors, & the improvement of their ministerial office & gifts
7.  Directions for the discovery of the truth among contenders, and the escape of heresy & deceit
8.  Directions for the union & communion of saints, & the avoiding unpeaceableness & schism
9.  How to behave ourselves in the public assemblies & the worship there performed, and after them
10.  Directions about our communion with holy souls departed & now with Christ
11.  Directions about our communion with the holy angels

Cases of Conscience about Matters Ecclesiastical

1.  How to know which is the true Church among all pretenders, that a Christian’s conscience may be quiet in his relation & communion?

2.  Whether we must esteem the Church of Rome a true Church?  And in what sense some divines affirm it and some deny it.

3.  Whether we must take the Romish clergy for true ministers of Christ?  [Yes, in some respect]  And whether their baptism and ordination be nullities? [No]

4.  Whether it be necessary to believe that the Pope is the Antichrist?

5.  Whether we must hold that a Papist may be saved?

6.  Whether those that are in the Church of Rome, are bound to separate from it?  And whether it be lawful to go to their mass or other worship?

7.  Whether the true calling of the minister by ordination or election, etc., be necessary to the essence of the Church?

8.  Whether sincere faith and godliness be necessary to the being of the ministry?  And whether it be lawful to hear a wicked man, or take the sacrament from him, or take him for a minister?

9.  Whether the people are bound to receive or consent to an ungodly, intolerable, heretical pastor, yea or one far less fit & worthy than a competitor, if the magistrate command it, or the bishop impose him?

10.  What if the magistrate command the people to receive one pastor, and the bishops or ordainers another: which of them must be obeyed?

11.  Whether an uninterrupted succession, either of right ordination or of conveyance by jurisdiction, be necessary to the being of the ministry or of a true Church?

12.  Whether there be, or ever was such a thing in the world as one catholic Church, constituted by any head besides or under Christ?

13.  Whether there be such a thing as a visible catholic Church?  And what it is?

14.  What is it that makes a visible member of the universal Church?  And who are to be accounted such?

15.  Whether besides the profession of Christianity, either testimony or evidence of conversion, or practical godliness be necessary to prove a man a member of the universal visible Church?

16.  What is necessary to a man’s reception into membership in a particular Church, over and above this foresaid title?  Whether any other trials, or covenant, or what?

17.  Wherein does the ministerial office essentially consist?

18.  Whether the people’s choice or consent is necessary to the office of a minister in his first work, as he is to convert infidels & baptize them?  And whether this be a work of office?  And what call is necessary to it?

19.  Wherein consists the power & nature of ordination?  And to whom does it belong?  And is it an act of jurisdiction?  And is imposition of hands necessary in it?

20.  Is ordination necessary to make a man a pastor of a particular church as such?  And is he to be made a general minister & a particular-church-elder or pastor at once, & by one ordination?

21.  May a man be oft or twice ordained?

22.  How many ordainers are necessary to the validity of ordination by God’s institution?  Whether one or more?

23.  What if one bishop ordain a minister, & three or many, or all the rest protest against it & declare him no minister, or degrade him?  Is he to be received as a true minister or not?

24.  Has one bishop power by divine right to ordain, degrade or govern, or excommunicate, or absolve in another’s diocese or church, either by his consent or against it?  And does a minister that officiates in another’s church, act as a pastor, & their pastor, or as a private man? & does the ministerial office cease when a man removes from his flock?

25.  Whether canons be laws?  And pastors have a legislative power?

26.  Whether Church-canons, or pastors’ directive determinations of matters pertinent to their office, do bind the conscience?  And what accidents will disoblige the people; you may gather before in the same case about magistrates’ laws in the political directions: As also by an impartial transferring the case to the precepts of parents and schoolmasters to children; without respect to their power of the rod (or supposing that they had none-such).

27.  What are Christ’s appointed means of the unity & concord of the universal Church, and consequently of its preservation, if there be no human, universal head and governor of it upon earth?  And if Christ have instituted none such, whether prudence & the law of nature oblige not the Church to set up & maintain an universal ecclesiastical monarchy or aristocracy?  Seeing that which is every man’s work, is as no man’s, & omitted by all?

28.  Who is the judge of controversies in the Church?

29.  Whether a parent’s power over his children, or a pastor or many pastors or bishops over the same children, as parts of their flock, be greater, or more obliging in matters of Religion & public worship?

30.  May an office[d] teacher or pastor be at once in a stated relation of a pastor & a disciple to some other pastor?

31.  Who has the power of making Church canons?

32.  Does baptism as such enter the baptized into the universal Church, or into a particular church, or both?  And is baptism the particular-church covenant as such?

33.  Whether infants should be baptized?

34.  Whether an unbaptized person who yet makes a public profession of Christianity be a member of the visible Church?  And so of the infants of believers unbaptized?

35.  Is it certain by the Word of God that all infants, baptized & dying before actual sin, are undoubtedly saved?  Or what infants may we say so of?

36.  What is meant by this speech, that believers & their seed are in the Covenant of God, which gives them right to baptism?

37.  Are believers’ children certainly in Covenant before their baptism, & thereby in a state of salvation?  Or not till they are baptized?

38.  Is infants’ title to baptism & the Covenant-benefits given them by God in his promise, upon any proper moral condition, or only upon the condition of their natural relation, that they be the seed of the faithful?

39.  What is the true meaning of sponsors, patrimi or God-fathers as we call them?  And is it lawful to make use of them?

40.  On whose account or right is it that the infant has title to baptism & its benefits?  Is it on the parents’, ancestors’, sponsors’, the Church’s, the minister’s, the magistrate’s, or his own?

41.  Are they really baptized who are baptized according to the English Liturgy & Canons, where the parent seems excluded, & those to consent for the infant, who have no power to do it?

42.  But the great question is how the Holy Ghost is given to infants in baptism?  And whether all the children of true Christians have inward sanctifying grace?  Or whether they can be said to be justified, & to be in a state of salvation, that are not inherently sanctified?  And whether any fall from this infant state of salvation?

43.  Is the right of the baptized (infants or adult) to the sanctifying operations of the Holy Ghost now absolute, or suspended on further conditions?  And are the parents’ further duty for their children such conditions of their children’s reception of the actual assistances of the Spirit?  Or are children’s own actions such conditions?  And may apostate parents forfeit the Covenant benefits to their baptized infants? or not?

44.  Does Baptism always oblige us at the present and give grace at the present?  And is the grace which is not given till long after, given by baptism?  Or an effect of baptism?

45.  What is a proper violation of our baptismal Covenant?

46.  May not baptism in some cases be repeated?  And when?

47.  Is baptism by lay-men or women lawful in cases of necessity?  Or are they nullities, & the person to be re-baptized?

48.  May Anabaptists that have no other error, be permitted in Church-communion?

49.  May one offer his child to be baptized with the sign of the cross or the use of chrism, the white garment, milk & honey, or exorcism, as among the Lutherans, who take these to be unlawful things?

50.  Whence came the ancient universal custom of anointing at baptism, and putting on a white garment, and tasting milk and honey?  And whether they are lawful to us?

51.  Whether it be necessary that they that are baptized in infancy do solemnly, at age renew & own their baptismal Covenant before they have right to the state and privileges of adult members?  And if they do not, whether they are to be numbered with Christians or apostates?

52.  Whether the universal Church consists only of particular churches and their members?

53.  Must the pastor first call the Church, and aggregate them to himself, or the Church first congregate themselves, and then choose the pastor?

54.  Wherein does a particular church of Christ’s institution differ from a consociation of many churches?

55.  Whether a particular church may consist of more assemblies than one?  Or must needs [they] meet all in one place?

56.  Is any form of Church government of divine institution?

57.  Whether any forms of churches and Church government, or any new Church officers may lawfully be invented & made by man?

58.  Whether any part of the proper pastoral or episcopal power may be given or deputed to a layman, or to one of any other office, or the proper work may be performed by such?

59.  May a layman preach or expound the Scriptures?  Or what of this is proper to the pastor’s office?

60.  What is the true sense of the distinction of pastoral power, in foro interiore & exteriore [in the interior and exterior court], rightly used?

61.  In what sense is it true that some say that the magistrate only has the external government of the Church, and the pastors the internal?

62.  Is the trial, judgement or consent of the laity necessary to the admittance of a member into the universal or particular church?

63.  What power have the people in church censures and excommunication?

64.  What is the people’s remedy in case of the pastor’s mal-administration?

65.  May one be a pastor or a member of a particular church who lives so far from it as to be incapable of personal communion with them?

66.  If a man be injuriously suspended or excommunicated by the pastor or people, which way shall he have remedy?

67.  Does presence always make us guilty of the errors or faults of the pastor in God’s worship, or of the Church?  Or in what cases are we guilty?

68.  Is it lawful to communicate in the sacrament with wicked men?

69.  Have all the members of the church right to the Lord’s Table?  And is suspension lawful?

70.  Is there any such thing in the Church as a rank or classis, or species of Church members at age, who are not to be admitted to the Lord’s Table, but only to hearing the Word & prayer, between infant members and adult confirmed ones?

71.  Whether a form of prayer be lawful?

72.  Are forms of prayer or preaching in the church lawful?

73.  Are public forms of man’s devising or composing lawful?

74.  Is it lawful to impose forms on the congregation or the people in public worship?

75.  Is it lawful to use forms composed by man, & imposed not only on the people, but on the pastors of the churches?

76.  Does not the calling of a minister so consist in the exercise of his own ministerial gifts, that he may not officiate without them, nor make use of other men’s gifts instead of them?

77.  Is it lawful to pray in the church without a prescribed or premeditated form of words?

78.  Whether are set forms of words, or free praying without them, the better way?  And what are the commodities & incommodities of each way?

79.  Is it lawful to forbear the preaching of some truths, upon man’s prohibition, that I may have liberty to preach the rest: yea, and to promise before hand to forbear them?  Or to do it for the Church’s peace?

80.  May or must a minister silenced, or forbid to preach the Gospel, go on still to preach it, against the law?

81.  May we lawfully keep the Lord’s Day as a fast?

82.  How should the Lord’s Day be spent, in the main?

83.  May the people bear a vocal part in worship, or do any more than say, ‘Amen’?

84.  Is it not a sin for our clerks to make themselves the mouth of the people, who are no ordained ministers of Christ?

85.  Are repetitions of the same words in Church-prayers lawful?

86.  Is it lawful to bow at the naming of Jesus?

87.  Is it lawful to stand up at the Gospel as we are appointed?

88.  Is it lawful to kneel when the Decalogue is read?

89.  What gestures are fittest in all the public Worship?

90.  What if the pastor and Church cannot agree about singing Psalms, or what version or translation to use, or time or place of meeting, etc.?

91.  What if the pastor excommunicate a man, and the people will not forbear his communion, as thinking him unjustly excommunicated?

92.  May a whole church, or the greater part, be excommunicated?

93.  What if a Church have two pastors and one excommunicate a man, and the other absolve him, what shall the Church & the dissenter do?

94.  For what sins may a man be denied communion or [be] excommunicated?  Whether for impenitence in every little sin?  Or for great sin without impenitence?

95.  Must the pastors examine the people before the sacrament?

96.  Is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper a converting ordinance?

97.  Must no man come to the sacrament that is uncertain or doubtful of the sincerity of his faith & repentance?

98.  Is it lawful, or a duty, to join oblations to the sacrament, and how?

99.  How many sacraments are there appointed by Christ?

100.  How far is it lawful, needful or unlawful for a man to afflict himself by external penances for sin?

101.  Is it lawful to observe stated times of fasting imposed by others, without extraordinary occasion?  And particularly, Lent?

102.  May we continue in a Church where some one ordinance of Christ is wanting [lacking], as discipline, prayer, preaching or sacraments, though we have all the rest?

103.  Must the pastors remove from one Church to another when ever the magistrate commands us, though the bishops contradict it, and the Church consent not to dismiss us; and so of other cases of disagreement?

104.  Is a pastor obliged to his flock for life?  Or is it lawful so to oblige himself?  And may he remove without their consent?  And so also of a church-member, the same questions are put.

105.  When many men pretend at once to be the true pastors of a particular church against each others’ title, through differences between the magistrates, the ordainers and the flocks, what should the people do and whom should they adhere to?

106.  To whom does it belong to reform a corrupted Church? to the magistrates, pastors or people?

107.  Who is to call synods, princes, pastors or people?

108.  To whom does it belong to appoint days & assemblies for public humiliation & thanksgiving?

109.  May we omit church-assemblies on the Lord’s Day, if the magistrate forbid them?

110.  Must we obey the magistrate if he only forbid us worshiping God in such a place or country, or in such numbers or the like?

111.  Must subjects or servants forbear weekly lectures, reading or such helps, above the Lord’s Day’s worship, if princes or masters do command it?

112.  Whether religious worship may be given to a creature? and what?

113.  What images, and what use of images is lawful or unlawful?

114.  Whether stage-plays where the virtuous and vicious are personated, be lawful?

115.  Is it ever unlawful to use the known symbols and badges of idolatry?

116.  Is it unlawful to use the badge or symbol of any error or sect in the worship of God?

117.  Are all indifferent things made unlawful to us which shall be abused to idolatrous worship?

118.  May we use the names of week days which idolatry honored their idols with; as Sunday, Monday, Saturday and the rest.  And so the months?

119.  Is it lawful to pray secretly when we come first into the church, especially when the church is otherwise employed?

120.  May a preacher kneel down in the pulpit and use his private prayers when he is in the assembly?

121.  May a minister pray publicly in his own name singly, for himself or others?  Or only in the church’s name, as their mouth to God?

122.  May the name ‘priests’, ‘sacrifice’ and ‘altars’ be lawfully now used instead of Christ’s ministers, worship and the Holy Table?

123.  May the communion-tables be turned altar-wise? and railed in?  And is it lawful to come up to the rails to communicate?

124.  Is it lawful to use David’s Psalms in our assemblies?

125.  May Psalms be used as prayers and praises and thanksgivings, or only as instructive?  Even the reading as well as the singing of them?

126.  Are our Church-tunes lawful, being of man’s invention?

127.  Is Church-music by organs or such instruments lawful?

128.  Is the Lord’s day a Sabbath, & so to be called and kept, and that of Divine institution?  And is the Seventh Day Sabbath abrogated, etc.?

129.  Is it lawful to appoint human holy days, and observe them?

130.  How far are the holy Scriptures a law and perfect rule to us?

131.  What additions or human inventions in or about religion, not commanded in Scripture, are lawful or unlawful?

132.  Is it unlawful to obey in all those cases where it is unlawful to impose and command?  Or in what cases?  And how far pastors must be believed and obeyed?

133.  What are the additions or inventions of men which are not forbidden by the Word of God (whether by rulers or by private men, invented)?

134.  What are the mischiefs of unlawful additions in religion?

135.  What are the mischiefs of men’s error on the other extreme, who pretend that Scripture is a rule where it is not, and deny the foresaid lawful things, on pretense that Scripture is a perfect rule (say some, for all things)?

136.  How shall we know what parts of Scripture precept or example were intended for universal, constant obligations, and what were but for the time and persons that they were then directed to?

137.  How much of the Scripture is necessary to salvation to be believed, and understood?

138.  How may we know the fundamentals, essentials, or what parts are necessary to salvation?  And is the Papists’ way allowable that (some of them) deny that distinction, and make the difference to be only in the degrees of men’s opportunities of knowledge?

139.  What is the use and authority of the Creed?  And is it of the Apostles’ framing or not?  And is it the Word of God or not?

140.  What is the use of catechisms?

141.  Could any of us have known by the Scriptures alone the essentials of religion from the rest, if tradition had not given them to us in the [Apostles’] Creed, as from apostolical collection?

142.  What is the best method of a true catechism or sum of theology?

143.  What is the use of various Church confessions or articles of faith?

144.  May not the subscribing of the whole Scriptures serve turn for all the foresaid ends, without creeds, catechisms or confessions?

145.  May not a man be saved that believes all the essentials of religion, as coming to him by verbal tradition and not as contained in the Holy Scriptures, which perhaps he never knew?

146.  Is the Scripture fit for all Christians to read, being so obscure?

147.  How far is tradition and men’s words and ministry to be used or trusted in, in the exercise of faith?

148.  How know we the true canon of Scripture from apocrypha?

149.  Is the public reading of the Scripture the proper work of a minister? or may a layman ordinarily do it? or another officer?

150.  Is it lawful to read the Apocrypha, or any good books besides the Scriptures, to the Church? as homilies, etc.

151.  May Church assemblies be held where there is no minister?  Or what public worship may be so performed by laymen? (As among infidels or papists, where persecution has killed, imprisoned or expelled the ministers.)

152.  Is it lawful to subscribe or profess full assent and consent to any religious books besides the Scripture, seeing all are fallible?

153.  May we lawfully swear obedience in all things lawful and honest, either to usurpers or to our lawful pastors?

154.  Must all our preaching be upon a text of Scripture?

155.  Is not the Law of Moses abrogated and the whole Old Testament out of date, and therefore not to be read publicly and preached on?

156.  Must we believe that Moses’ Law did ever bind other nations; or that any other parts of the Scripture bound them, or belonged to them? or that the Jews were all God’s Visible Church on Earth?

157.  Must we think accordingly of the Christian Churches now, that they are only advanced above the rest of the world as the Jews were, but not the only people that are saved?

158.  Should not Christians take up with Scripture wisdom only, without studying philosophy and other heathens’ human learning?

159.  If we think that Scripture and the Law of Nature do in any point contradict each others, which may be the standard by which the other must be tried?

160.  May we not look that God should yet give us more revelations of his will than there are already made in Scripture?

161.  Is not a third rule of the Holy Ghost, or perfecter [more perfect] Kingdom of Love to be expected, as different from the reign of the Creator and Redeemer?

162.  May we not look for miracles hereafter?

163.  Is the Scripture to be tried by the Spirit, or the Spirit by the Scripture, and which of them is to be preferred?

164.  How is a pretended prophet, or revelation, to be tried?

165.  May one be saved who believes that the Scripture has any mistake or error, and believes it not all?

166.  Who be they that give too little to the Scriptures, and who too much? and what is the danger of each extreme?

167.  How far do good men now preach and pray by the Spirit?

168.  Are not our own reasons, studies, memory, strivings, books, forms, methods and ministry needless, yea, a hurtful quenching or preventing of the Spirit, and setting up our own, instead of the Spirit’s operations?

169.  How does the Holy Ghost set bishops over the Churches?

170.  Are temples, fonts, utensils, church-lands, much more the ministers, holy?  And what reverence is due to them as holy?

171.  What is sacrilege, and what not?

172.  Are all religious and private meetings forbidden by rulers unlawful conventicles?  Or are any such necessary?

173.  What particular directions for order of studies and books should be observed by young students?

174.  What books, especially of theology, should one choose, who for want [lack] of money or time can read but few?

4th Tome, Christian [Social & Civil] Politics

1.  General rules for an upright conversation
2.  [On] Memorandums to civil rulers for the interest of Christ, the Church & men’s salvation
3.  Directions for subjects concerning their duty to their rulers.  A fuller resolution of the Cases: 1. Whether the laws of men do bind the conscience; 2. Especially smaller & penal laws?
4.  Directions to lawyers about their duty to God
5.  The duty of physicians
6.  Directions to school-masters about their duty for children’s souls
7.  Directions for soldiers, about their duty in point of conscience
8.  Advice against murder; Advice against self-murder.
9.  Directions for the forgiving of enemies & those that injure us, against wrath, and malice, and revenge, and persecution
10.  Cases resolved about forgiving injuries and debts, and about self-defense, and seeking right, by law or otherwise
11.  Special directions to escape the guilt of persecuting.  Determining also the case about liberty in matters of religion.
12.  Directions against scandal as given.
13.  Directions against scandal-taken; or an aptness to receive hurt, by the words or deeds of others.
14.  Directions against soul-murder, & partaking of other men’s sins
15.  General directions for the furthering of the salvation of others
16.  Special directions for Christian conference, exhortation & reproof
17.  Directions for keeping peace with all men
18.  Directions against all theft & fraud, or injurious getting and keeping that which is another’s, or desiring it
19.  General directions and particular cases of conscience about contracts in general, and about buying and selling, borrowing and lending, usury, etc. in particular
20.  Motives and directions against oppression
21.  Cases about, and directions against, prodigality and sinful wastefulness
22.  Cases and directions, against injurious law-suits, witnessing & judgement
23.  Cases of conscience & directions against backbiting, slandering & evil speaking
24.  Cases & directions against censoriousness & unwarrantable judging
25.  Cases & directions about trusts & secrets
26.  Directions against selfishness as it is contrary to the love of our neighbors
27.  Cases & directions for loving our neighbor as ourselves
28.  Special cases & directions for love to godly persons as such
29.  Cases & directions for loving & doing good to enemies
30.  Cases & directions about works of charity
31.  Cases & directions about confessing sins & injuries to others
32.  Cases & directions about satisfaction & restitution
33.  Cases & directions about our obtaining pardon from God
34.  Cases & directions about self-judging


Norman, John – Cases of Conscience Practically Resolved  (London, 1673)

Norman (1622-1669) was a minister at Bridgwater, England.

Thomas, William – Scriptures Opened & Sundry Cases of Conscience Resolved, in Plain & Practical Answers to Several Questions, upon the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel & Daniel  (London, 1675)

We do not have any bio info for Thomas (1593-1667).

Brown of Wamphray, John – Christ the Way & the Truth & the Life, or, A Short Discourse Pointing forth the way of making use of Christ for Justification & Especially and more Particularly for Sanctification in all its Parts, from Jn. 14:6: wherein Several Cases of Conscience are Briefly Answered, Chiefly Touching Sanctification  (Rotterdam, 1677)

Sanderson, Robert

A Discourse Concerning the Nature and Obligation of Oaths: Wherein All the Cases which have any Relation to Oaths Enjoined by Governments are Biefly Discussed  (London, 1716)  71 pp.

Sanderson (1587-1663) was a reformed Anglican, royalist and casuist.

A Preservative Against Schism and Rebellion, in the Most Trying Times. Or, A Resolution of the Most Important Cases of Conscience, Relating to Government Both in Church and State. In a Course of Lectures Read in the Divinity School at Oxford, in the Time of the Great Rebellion, vol. 1, The Nature & Obligation of Promissory Oaths Explained  in 3 vols.  (London, 1722)

Nine Cases of Conscience Occasionally Determined  (London, 1678)

1. Of Marrying with a Recusant
2. Of Unlawful Love
3. Of a Military Life
4. Of Scandal
5. Of a Bond Taken in the King’s Name
6. Of the Engagement (a Scottish attempt to rescue King Charles I from being taken prisoner by the English Parliament, 1647; Sanderson was against the SL&C; Wiki)
7. The Case of a Rash Vow Deliberately Iterated
8. The Case of the Sabbath  (Sanderson discusses: 1. The name of the Sabbath; 2. The nature of the Sabbath; and 3. Recreations on the Sabbath.  Sanderson is orthodox.)
9. The Case of the Use of the [Anglican] Liturgy, stated in the late times

Baxter, Richard – Unum Necessarium: or, Christ’s Justification of Mary’s Choice & of his Servants Wrongfully Accused: containing a resolution of many weighty cases of conscience.  Viz. Indifferent things, obedience to the higher powers, etc.  (London, 1685)

ed. Annesley, Samuel – Puritan Sermons: The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate [Near London]…  being Diverse Sermons Preached, A.D. 1659-1689, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4

The first four volumes of this set are devoted to practical cases of conscientious, godly living.  The fifth volume is on systematic theology and the sixth and last volume is against Romanism.

Barlow, Thomas – Several Miscellaneous & Weighty Cases of Conscience  (London, 1692)

Barlow (c.1608-1691) was a reformed, Anglican bishop and academic at Oxford.  He was among the last English bishops to call the Pope the Antichrist.

Barlow takes up the issues of murder, pardoning murder, episcopal obedience, the validity of a case of marriage, on the civil toleration of Jews in England, on setting up images in a church and whether dominion is founded in grace (No).



Stoddard, Solomon – An Answer to Some Cases of Conscience Respecting the Country  (d. 1729; rep. N.Y., 1917)  20 pp.

Stoddard was a New England puritan who held to a sunset to sunset Sabbath.

Table of Contents

1. Wherein does the oppression of the country principally insist?
2. Is it Lawful for men to set their dwelling houses at such a distance from the place of public worship, that they and their families cannot well attend it?
3. Is not the depreciating the Bills of Public Credit [by induced inflation] matter of provocation?
4. Is it lawful to wear long hair?
5. What night does belong to the Sabbath?
.         At what time of the Evening does the Sabbath begin? [Sunset]
6. Is not unfaithfulness in officers and private persons a provocation?
7. Is not the neglect of bringing others to the profession of religion a provocation?
8. Did we any wrong to the Indians in buying their land at a small price?  [No]
9. Is not the multiplying of suits at law a provocation?
10. Is not a spirit hankering after ceremonies that are not instituted by God a provocation?

Pike, Samuel & Samuel Hayward – Religious Cases of Conscience Answered in an Evangelical Manner  new edition with Intro by Henry Boardman  (1755; Philadelphia, 1859)  470 pp.  ToC

Pike & Hayward were two English Independent ministers.

Brine, John – A Treatise on Various [Theological] Subjects…  wherein Various Difficult Cases of Conscience are Answered, as They Occur…  (London, 1766)

Brine was an English, Calvinistic baptist who was very influenced by John Gill and leaned towards hyper-calvinism.



Connelly, Pierce (Pascal the Younger) – Cases of Conscience, or, Lessons in Morals: for the Use of the Laity, Extracted from the Moral Theology of the Romish Clergy  (London, 1851)

This work is against Romanism, and specifically the ethics of the Jesuits.  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) had attacked the wicked doctrines of the Jesuits, such as evading oaths and giving permission to sin, in his Provincial Letters.  Hence this author styled himself, Pascal the Younger.



Slater, Thomas – Cases of Conscience for English-Speaking Countries, Solved by Thomas Slater, vols. 1 & 2  (NY: Benziger Brothers, 1911)  ToC 1, 2

Slater was a Romanist, Jesuit and college professor.  He treats of many relevant modern issues, including, for instance, ectopic gestation in pregnancy.





Stone, M.W.F., ‘The Adoption & Rejection of Aristotelian Moral Philosophy in Reformed ‘Casuistry’’  in eds. J. Kraye & M.W.F. Stone, Humanism & Early Modern Philosophy  (Routledge, 2000), pp. 59–90



Parker, Kenneth & Eric Carlson – ‘Practical Divinity: The Works & Life of Revd Richard Greenham  Pre  (Routledge, 2016)  424 pp.

Greenham (1535?–1594?) was an English clergyman of Puritan views.

“Richard Greenham was one of the most important and respected figures among the Elizabethan clergy.  His contemporaries described him as the founder of a previously unknown pastoral art: the cure of cases of conscience.  Despite his fame in the Elizabethan period as a model pastor, pioneer in reformed casuistry, and founder of one of the first rectory seminaries, scholars have made little use of his life and works in their study of Elizabethan religious life.

This study restores Richard Greenham to the central place he held in the development of Elizabethan Reformed parochial ministry.  The monograph-length introduction includes a biography, an analysis of his pastoral style, and a study of his approach to curing cases of conscience.” – Book-flap



On How to Decide Between Competing Duties



Burroughs, Jeremiah – on Hosea 6:6, ‘Mercy & Sacrifice’  from  An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea (1643-1657; Solid Ground Christian Books, 2006), pp. 332-333, as compiled and introduced by Andrew Myers.

Baxter, Richard – ‘What to Do When the Commandments of God are Pitted Against Each Other?’  from A Christian Directory, p. 39, as compiled and introduced by Andrew Myers.



La Placette, Jean – The Christian Casuist: or, a Treatise of Conscience  (London: 1705)

Book 2, ‘On the Duties of Conscience’

Ch. 12, ‘What we are to do when we cannot come to a certainty?…, p. 235

Ch. 15, ‘What we are to do in the case of doubt?  We ought to seek for satisfaction.  Whether private persons ought absolutely to follow the judgment of their spiritual guides?’, p. 249

Ch. 17, ‘What Course we ought to take when no Certainty is to be had…?’, p. 260

Ch. 18, ‘Whether of Two Contradictory Opinions Equally probable, we may choose that which is least safe?’, p. 263

Ch. 19, ‘Whether we may with a Safe Conscience follow such a Persuasion as we know to be less probable, and at the same time less safe than the contrary?’, p. 269

Ch. 20, ‘The Casuists’ Objections Answered’, p. 278

Ch. 21, ‘Whether we may be allowed to follow the more probable opinion, when it happens to be the less safe?’, p. 284

Ch. 22, ‘Whether we may be allowed to follow the more probable opinion, when the danger is equal on both sides?’, p. 319



Richard Baxter

A Christian Directory...  (London: 1673), pt. 3, ch. 2, p. 686

“§26. Direction 15.  It is ever unseasonable to perform a lesser duty of worship when a greater should be done: Therefore it much concerns you to be able to discern when two duties are inconsistent which is then the greater and to be preferred: In which the interest of the end must much direct you: that being usually the greatest which has the greatest tendency to the greatest good.”




Svensson, Manfred & David S. Sytsma – ‘III. Commentaries and Loci on the Decalogue’  in A Bibliography of Early Modern Protestant Ethics (ca. 1520-1750)  (2020), pp. 24-35.  Includes entries in multiple languages and attempts to be a collation of all the protestant works on the Decalogue in the early modern era.

All of the relevant entries from this bibliography in English are on this page.





Hottinger, Johann Heinrich – The 5th Disputation of the Theological Gymnasium: On Theological & Ecclesiastical Casuistry  (Zurich, 1663)

van Mastricht, Petrus – bk. 1, ch. 3, ‘Of the Keeping & the Neglect of Conscience’  in The Idea of Moral Theology  in Theoretical-Practical Theology  (Utrecht, 1724), pp. 1204-5

van Mastricht (1630-1706).




Bartholomaeus – A Sum of Cases of Conscience  See another edition

Bartholomaeus of San Concordio (c. 1260-1347) was an Italian Dominican canonist and man of letters.

Astesanus – A Sum of Cases of Conscience  c. 1317

Astesanus of Asti (d. c. 1330) was an important Franciscan canon lawyer and theologian, from Asti in Piedmont, Italy.




Related Pages

On the Conscience

Expositions of the Ten Commandments

On Ethics & Virtue