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traordinary to the world, and sometimes even to the persons concerned very astounding. In the first place, the individual who has been as I have described the man a little above, with these acts that properly and truly should have been founded upon Conscience, placed upon the false basis of “ enlightened selfishness, or mere “external law,” or “the custom of Society," this man, during the time that these things have been so placed, shall have hardly felt the existence of a Conscience, and to him it shall almost be a word without a meaning.* Let him, then, however weak may have been his perception originally, however dim the light, begin to act upon it; and then, under the influence of this law, there shall spring up within him the stream of a new internal life. It shall be as if a wide extent of unwholesome marshes were transformed into the continuous current of a river. The principle then becomes a living principle when it is continuous, and only then.
It needs but very little experience of men to see how few of them ever make Conscience supreme. But few as these are, fewer still are they who are always guided, in reference to it, by the second law, that of its “permanence.”
The question then of the possible perfection of Conscience, this becomes not a mere theoretic question by any means, but one entirely practical. But it is highly probable that no man by nature, apart from Revelation, has ever followed his Conscience so strictly after these two laws, as to perfect it according to them.
I do not, then, suppose that of natural power any one has ever got beyond these two rules of the Conscience so as to rise, above them towards the third, although I can see in divers even of the heathen an appreciation of them. But the third law I count to be the most important; this
says, that “Conscience is not to be ruled by itself, or to make itself a rule, but to govern by a law-itself is not to be its own law."
Now, we see many people who keenly appreciate the first law, that “Conscience is to be supreme” ; few, indeed, that know the value of the second; but in the most of even good men a completo
* Men, in such a case, usually delude themselves with the idea that Conscience is not a faculty, the organ and sense of the Divine Voice; but that it is the mere mental conclusion as to what is “right” or “wrong." And that “right” and “wrong,' “ good” and “evil,” are not immutable in their nature, but depend on circumstances. These two notions do, as I have said in the text, render Conscience “almost a word without a meaning."
ignorance of the third, and this is in so extraordinary a way, oftentimes, that it makes men torment themselves and others by the most fantastic scruples. They feel the “supremacy" of Conscience as an authoritative governor over the man so strongly, that its rule over them seems to them to exclude any supremacy over it. And thus the disease or derangement of the faculty, which as other faculties of the human constitution is liable to disease, and is manifested in irregular action, this disease of the faculty shall be permitted to tyrannize over themselves and others. Therefore, the man under this idea holds himself bound to bow down to the most ridiculous scruples, and to compel others to yield to them. All this from taking Conscience to be absolutely infallible, and from not considering its twofold nature.
He, however, that shall look at the nature of “moral good,” as having in itself an unity and sameness in all individuals; at the nature and being of man in the world, as under the One Lord, and Father, and Teacher, must conclude that the law of God's goodness, and justice, and mercy, in other words, the Law of God, must be the Law and Rule of Conscience. And taking especial care to avoid the common mistake by which we attribute “SelfWill" unto God, instead of “ Will," the Will of God, which is the Eternal Law of his being, the law of unchangeable and infinite goodness, and mercy, and truth, this, in whatsoever way reached, if it be only reached, is the Law of the Conscience.
For we shall mistake, if we attribute to God a Will in the sense of self-will, unconnected with these his eternal attributes, as if by the power of Will, that is self-will, he made “good” “ bad," or “bad” “good,” by an omnipotent fiat; which is to attribute selfwill to God, not Will, is to make him deny himself, and is to destroy the nature of his attributes. Whereas, goodness, mercy, justice, truth, these, as parts of the being of God, are in their nature His nature, and the law of its being and unchangeable.
And the qualities in us that herein resemble God, these, as qualities, are eternal and immutable in their nature. Mercy is not one thing in me and another in you, and a third thing in a Hindoo or Negro; but is the same in all men. Evil never can be good, nor good evil—nor can one become the other. The laws of Morality are immutable and eternal.
These things, then, being so, it is manifest that the Will of God, she law that is of His being, the law of eternal and immutable
goodness, this is the law of Conscience and by this it must be ruled.
This has thus been shown from the nature of that with which the Conscience has to deal; but more plainly still it is manifested from the nature of the Conscience itself being twofold, first, the voice of the Holy Spirit, and secondly, the organ in us that listens to that voice. And the perfection of it will therefore consist in the organ perfectly receiving and perfectly transmitting to us that voice. Now, the office of the Spirit, by the Scripture, is the manifestation of the Will of God, hence by the very nature of the Conscience its law is the Will of God. And by whatsoever means the Will of God is manifested, by this we shall be able to test and examine the dictates of our Conscience, and see that we are not deceived by that part of it which is a faculty in our own nature, and which as such is liable to irregular and abnormal action.
We can see, then, that each man in measuring the action of his own Conscience over himself, must measure it by the Will of God in whatsoever way revealed, whether in the Scriptures or the law of Society, or the law of man.
This, manifestly, is the truth of the case in reference to himself, but in order to give it a practical tenor, so that men may be able to apply it, I would place it in this position : “When you are afflicted with doubts, or scruples, or questions of conscience; then your own secret troubles and torments, in the most of cases, will render you unable yourself to apply the law of God as a rule to correct the errors of your Conscience; because hal you been able and accustomed so to do, you would never have fallen into this state."
In this case I would advise you to consult confidentially persons whom you see to be qualified for this very thing—those who can understand what scruples are, and sympathize with the real pain that comes from these trifles—who are Conscientious in themselves, and familiar with the application of the law of God to particular
And lastly, who are in the situation naturally of Judges ; as being Parents, so in the family-or Clergy, so in the Churchor Judges, so in the State. He that has a scruple of Conscience that torments him, if he go and reveal his scruple, under the bond of confidence, to such a man as I have described, in the most of cases he shall get an opinion and advice that shall correct his Con
science by the law of God.* And if this do not satisfy him, then let him go to a second or a third person having the same qualifications, and for the most part finding them to agree, he shall be set entirely at rest.
So much importance do I put upon this, that I think that founded as the advice is upon the very nature of Conscience, the suggestion acted upon as it may be acted upon, may save persons from an immense amount of secret pain, suffered in secret, because of the unsympathizing nature of men, and often laying the foundations of a morbid and brooding temper, whose natural issue is insanity
This is all we have to say in reference to what are called " questions" and "scruples of Conscience.” And this because we count a living adviser, applying the law of God, under a pledge of confidence, and himself possessed of a sympathizing tenderness of disposition, a thousand fold preferable to any system of rules laid down upon paper, and to be applied by the person himself whose Conscience is distressed.
But one caution we add to the individual: “If this free you, as most likely it will, then delay not to let Conscience govern you ; and always, and by a fixed principle and rule, that is the law of God. For as to the drowned, where the means have been employed to recal them from the torpor of death, the first sensation is that of intense pain, arising not from disease, but from the fact that life is again reviving, and the vital principle coming agai: into action; so with a Conscience which has not had its due supremacy, when it is roused to vigorous action from its insensibility; these scruples are at the first most frequent and most painful, and are signs of returning life. But to the man, when the Conscience is ruled by its laws, they vanish; or if they come up, are attended by no pain, for at once he can decide them.
* To the young, upon these grounds, we say, that the one best adviser in such a case is a pious and judicious Father or Mother. Here is natural sympathy, here natural guidance, here confidence of the purest and most unselfish kind. If evil thoughts, then, enter into your mind, and you are secretly distressed by them; if temptations come to you from acquaintances, or schoolmates, or from servants, to do that which you suspect to be evil, but are not certain of it, being shaken by their persuasions; if you are internally tried by the violence of evil emotions, such as “anger,” or “envy,” or
" malice": in any
and all cases of internal distress, do not brood over it alone, but make your Father or your Mother your confidential adviser. And in such a case, often in half an hour, you shall get relief from that which might, being kept a secret in your own mind, cause even years of torment.
And let parents sympathize with their children, be tender with them, and be themselves purely and entirely conscientious. And above all, let their chili dren's confidence be unbroken, and as silent as if it had never been spoken.
The neglect of this, at the present day, causes a great deal of misery, and pormits a great deal of sin. The observance of it would nip much evil in the brid.
However, to resume. The third rule of Conscience being that instead of being governed by itself, it is to be governed by a law; and that law being the Will of God, this leads us at once to two subjects of the deepest importance; the first the adaptedness of our “nature to religion,” which in a different way might be expressed, as “the connectedness of natural and revealed religion;" and the second, the deficiencies of the natural Conscience, and the aid that it demands to supply them. These two subjects, with the help of the principles established in this chapter, we hope to expound in the next.
The facts of Conscience render Natural Religion possible—and the facts of
Revealed Religion perfect Conscience.-In whom the Conscience is perfect. --Conscience cannot pardon. It leads us towards the Atonement of Christ.
Note upon the Practical nature of Justification in its connection with the
The questions which in our last chapter we proposed, were the first with regard to what is called Natural Religion,-its extent and possibility. The second, with regard to the deficiencies of tho Natural Conscience.
Now with regard to the first, he that shall look upon the principles we have established, shall have very little difficulty. If • man's nature be in itself good,” and its state be that which is expressed by the words fallen, so that it is not the state of a beast, a state of brutal indifference, unconscious of Good and ignorant of God; if it be not a devilish state, a state of pure, unmixed hatred and abhorrence, and utter antagonism to light;