"...and their conscience being weak is defiled"
1 Cor. 8:7
Conscience, as an expression of the law or will and mind
of God, is not now to be implicitly depended on. It is not infallible. What was
true of its office in Eden, has been deranged and shattered by the fall. It now
lies, as I have seen a sundial in the neglected garden of an old desolate ruin,
thrown from its pedestal, prostrate on the ground, and covered by tall rank
weeds...Conscience has often lent its sanction to the grossest errors, and
prompted the greatest crimes. Did not Saul of tarsus, for instance, drag men
and women to prison; compel them to blaspheme; and stain his hands in saintly
blood, while conscience approved the deed - he believed that he was doing God's
service... Read the "Book of Martyrs", read the sufferings of our own
forefathers; and under the cowl of a shaven monk, or the trappings of a haughty
churchman, you shall see conscience persecuting the saints of God, and dragging
even tender women and children to the bloody scaffold or the burning stake.
With eyes swimming in tears, or flashing fire, we close the painful record, to apply to conscience the words addressed to Liberty by the French heroine. When passing its statue, she rose in the cart that bore her to the guillotine, and throwing up her arms, exclaimed, "O Liberty, what crimes have been done in thy name!"
And what crimes in thine conscience. So far as doctrines and duties are concerned, not conscience, but the revealed Word of God, is our only sure and safe directory.
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