An Evil Conscience
“Having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.”‑Paul.
There is then an evil conscience. Naturally, all have this without exception. Theories of men to the contrary avail naught. The facts are with us. Inspiration indubitably proves this; experience and observation confirm the testimony of Sacred Writ, “The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” In the external act this statement may (exceptionally) be disproved. But are not wrong inward tempers, and dispositions, and refusal to submit to God as Lord, and rebellion against His will as the supreme rule of life, evil?
We honestly wonder if those who claim children are now born good instead of evil, God inclined, rather than sinwardly inclined, are blind and can not see all about them evidence contrary to their pet theories. Or, if they are deaf and can not hear in the atmosphere of any school or play‑ground or on the street or perhaps in their own homes the evidence of perversity. Perhaps the devotees of this school live in some very ideal environment where the innate corruption is not brought to light. We seriously doubt this. We have lived in some intensely spiritual environments and yet we observed the racial sin handed down through Adam’s sin, affected the children of holy parents, and David’s old fashioned statements, “they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies,” very much in evidence.
We know a professor whose ancestry for two hundred years were preachers of the Gospel. If any children should be born Christians, according to this new teaching, it surely ought to be his. One of his boys is a veritable slugger and as for the four-year‑old girl, she is so unmanageable they must often tie her. just nearby an Evangelist has several of the same type, chips off the old block.
The science of Eugenics can do a great work of improvement for the human race, but it can never be instrumental, no matter what heights of perfection it may attain, of bringing children into the world with the Spirit of Christ in them independent of regeneration and sanctification. The racial sin which was first in Adam, the federal head of the race, is handed down to all his posterity; it is a germ which overleaps Eugenics, Holy parentage, the results of scholasticism, culture and fastens on the very soul of all new born infants.
Let none misunderstand us; we appreciate all the improvement science can bring to humanity. And we recognize depravity, other than the racial bent to sin, inherited from Adam, is given children in greatly aggravated form by direct hereditary influences from godless parents, as likewise the children of holy parents are advantaged over the less fortunate offspring of depraved unrepentant parentage. But we would emphasize deliverance from an evil conscience can never come by Eugenics or any other science. That which is born of the flesh is flesh still.
Some of the sons of Wesley are saying, though his wisdom was good for the Eighteenth Century, it would not do for the Twentieth Century. This statement is a subtle insult to the Holy Ghost. It is another way of denying now the existence of the total depravity, and necessity of recovery therefrom by repentance, regeneration, and sanctification, which he preached and which God so wonderfully confirmed by thousands of witnesses. It is also an insinuation that men are not now diseased by sin as formerly, because this age is so much more enlightened as though enlightenment and intelligence were synonymous with salvation. In olden times the world, by wisdom and enlightenment, knew not God, and God’s immutable statement has not been altered.
If you say the Constitution of the United States should be elastic and subject to change and improvement to meet the demands of the enlightenment of succeeding generations, we agree; say scientific inventions should be improved, and we agree; but to say “old‑time religion is not good enough for you any more than an old‑time locomotive,” and we protest the analogy does not hold by any manner of logic.
[“The principles, in a word, on which Wesley believed, and lived, and worked in the Eighteenth Century, would, for him, have been just as effective if they had been suddenly transferred to the Twentieth Century.” Those without spiritual life, or of half spiritual life “can neither understand nor interpret a movement so intensely spiritual as that of which Wesley is the symbol.” Hence it is, also, that many of his sons, in name only, have no sympathy with Wesley’s doctrine or methods. They know little of his entire consecration, self‑sacrifice, denial, fearlessness, freedom from man fear, or desire of popularity.]
The locomotive is necessarily subject to change and Improvement, but the conditions of men’s hearts in sin, and their recovery therefrom is essentially the same in all ages. Anything new in religion, other than God’s plain, immutable, unchangeable word specifies, is wrong. There are newer and subtler manifestations of sin now, as God said there would be, in the last days, for seducers shall wax worse and worse; but the evil conscience exists in men from birth, and will exist in them unless they repent, and as long as time shall last.
To decry Wesley’s method of conviction, repentance, faith, pardon, and holiness, for the recovery from the evil conscience, is to decry Jesus’ method and the method of the Church of Pentecost. Moreover, to tell men they are good and not bad, is to falsify, and to tell them something their very constitutions, experiences and observations prove to be false. To tell them culture and improvement are all that is requisite, is to cry peace when there is none, and is to make of men cultured, repentant, unsubmissive sinners against God’s will, as the rule of their lives.
Jesus testified, “That which is born of flesh is flesh.” he child is, however, born under the benefits of the atonement and were he to die before accountability is reached by virtue of, and on account of, the atonement, he would be saved. Yet if he reaches the state of accountability (manifestly the time when he knows right from wrong) he is born of the flesh of the will of man and not of God, and of such Jesus says: “Ye must be born anew, from above, again, or ye cannot see the kingdom of God” (here or hereafter). Let the Church recognize this fact and in addition to our young people growing up in the Church, under the benefit of the atonement; in addition to their vows assumed in baptism; in addition to their knowledge of the Catechism; in addition to the fact they have accepted Christ on “decision day,” insist on their being born from above and tell them their gracious privilege of having the direct witness of the Holy Spirit in their own hearts, to this fact. Not to do this is heartless, cruel, and is to expect them to be what they can not possibly be, i.e., Christians without the Spirit of Christ‑the motive power of the new life. Then point to them also their further and more gracious privilege of being filled with the Holy Ghost and thereby sanctified wholly and freed from an evil conscience, and be equipped for every good word and work in life and service.
Any other method is to ignore the Divine method and fill the church with weaklings and unspiritual timber, and thus it becomes impossible for the church to grow into “anholy‑temple” with unholy timber.
“A conscience is needed for the age as for the individual‑a power that shall reveal it to itself, and convict it and arouse to action.”