Author’s Explanatory Remarks
“How few words in the world are more common than CONSCIENCE? It is in almost every one’s mouth– ‘Obey your conscience and you will be all right! Oh, just follow your conscience! Conscience is a safe guide; if it does not condemn you, you are safe.’ Similar expressions are heard on every hand throughout the length and breadth of our great land. And from this fact one would be apt to conclude that no word can be found which is more generally understood. But such is far from the case. No word is more sinned against.”
The Conscience is set up by men as a sort of “highest tribunal,” a final court of appeals, as though its decisions were infallible‑a judgment throne from whence emanates the “last word” on conduct, character, or rightness. Hence it is from this sentiment every man boasts of being all right, because, forsooth his conscience does not condemn him. Its decisions are all but deified, and regarded as synonymous with God’s own judgment. Hence the old definition of conscience as the “Voice of God in the soul.” This sentiment, all but universal in our country, is in its unguarded or unqualified sense utterly misleading, as we hope to prove.
The decisions of CONSCIENCE are only right and safe to follow when certain conditions are met. Violating these restrictions, or safe‑guards, its decisions are to be viewed with suspicion. Conscience is only safe to follow when it has been awakened from its native deadness and when it has been purified, and also, when it is directed by the Spirit of God as well as coinciding with the revealed will of God in Inspiration’s Record.
The awakening and Scriptural conversion of professors may be seriously doubted, if not denied altogether, who allow themselves liberties without compunction of conscience, which are contrary to reason, inspiration, and the manifestations of a tender and sensitive conscience.
Doubtless conscience is the subject of new revelations of light on duty, and Christian character and time and the acquisition of knowledge, will reveal many things hitherto unknown, as well as correct many things ignorantly allowed in one’s life. But, a conscience which allows the questionable, reflects on the sincerity of its possessor.
“We know,” said Mr. Wesley, “God writes these things (all things essential to happiness, usefulness and heaven) on all truly awakened hearts.” We have met very illiterate people who, notwithstanding, were thoroughly awake to the things of God, correct Christian conduct, and deportment, even down to the minute details of Christian courtesy. What is the explanation? Others of educational advantages failed at these points. Simply this:
All Truly awakened hearts have these things written deep (Old indelibly on them by the Spirit of God! Unawakened hearts, though cultured, do not. A truly awakened Conscience may be perplexed as to the propriety of doubtful things, and yet such an one invariably gives GOD the benefit of the doubt. Unawakened consciences give SELF the benefit. If the reader has a condemning conscience he has the heartfelt sympathy of the writer; and yet, it is a matter of gratitude it still condemns, for it is still alive. But if his conscience does not condemn him, and yet he allows in character or conduct what God’s precepts condemn, he is more in need of sympathy in the latter than in the former case. He should be alarmed because he is not alarmed. He is a victim of the chief deception of the enemy of souls‑a deadened conscience.
This book is written after extensive travel and observation, and therewith a growing conviction that many, in all churches, have fallen into that subtle present‑day snare of the enemy of souls, that the INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE is a SAFE GUIDE; and that, as long as its decisions are followed by no condemnation, therefore, the soul is pursuing the right course; notwithstanding conduct and character often conflict with God’s plain word. Its design is to search out and expose the various phases of this Satanic deception.
One final word. This book is by no means intended to he a psychological treatise on conscience. That is beyond the author’s ken. But rather, it is intended as an appeal to Christian Conscience from an experimental standpoint, and the author hopes to help all who peruse its pages and walk in its light to that priceless boon, an enlightened Conscience. And let it not be thought this is unimportant! It concerns the whole work of God. For only as His representatives strive to live, and live void of offense before Him and men, may they truly have power with God and men.
Old and New Antinomianism
The old antinomianists (anti, against, and nomos, law), made void the law through a so‑called faith. They cried, “Believe, believe, believe, only believe.” No matter how bad their practices, if they only believed. Believing would cover a multitude of sins.
The new antinoinianisim also makes void the law, but they do it not through faith but through a false principle of conscience, which takes precedence even over the word of God‑ Whatever conscience allows, even though contrary to God’s inspired word, is right with this old antinomianism in new clothes.
“An old historian says about the Roman armies that marched through a country, burning and destroying every living thing: ‘They make a solitude, and they call it peace.’ And so men do with their consciences. They stifle them, sear them, forcibly silence them, somehow or other; and then, when there is a dead stillness in the heart, broken beyond voice of either approbation or blame, but doleful, like the unnatural quiet of a deserted city they say, ‘it is peace.’ But the man’s uncontrolled passions and unbridled desires dwell solitary in the fortress of his own spirit! You may almost attain to that.”
“The chief fact of this world is conscience. Its nature and origin do not concern us so much. However defined or derived conscience stands before us as a fact of unique character. It announces the supreme distinctions of right and wrong, commands one, forbids the other, praises if we obey, condemns if we disobey. Its praise is sweeter, its condemnation heavier, than any outward praise or blame.”‑‑Dr. Banks.
“Conscience is a man’s judgment of himself, according to the judgment of God of him.”