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the various parties clearly arises out of the different religious principles by which it has been formed in each. Most persons have heard something of “the fires of Smithfield” in which one religious (?) party burnt the other, each professing to take their own course for conscience' sake. One punished because he thought heresy should be extinguished, and that thereby he was doing God service; the other suffered because they did not believe his opinions to be heresies. Some, the “Friends” for instance, believe that it is not lawful for a Christian to “swear" even in a court of justice, and, to avoid it, they are allowed the plea of conscientious objection; but others who have not read the Lord's words in Matthew v. 34 in so strict sense do so without compunction. What is the source of this distinction in the conscience of each? The answer is plain; it is the different influence which a different religious education has induced upon the mind. To act according to conscience is to act honestly from that state which has been induced by religious convictions; but as the convictions may be wrong, the conscience which they induce may be spurious.

To suppose a man's conscience to be different from that which his religion has made it is to know nothing correctly upon the subject. Every man has a religion of some sort: a person's religion does not consist in that which he professes, but in those interior principles by which his conduct is influenced and directed. He may profess Christianity without being Christian. As every one is influenced in his pursuits by some interior principles, it is plain that every one has some religion : it may not be the religion of charity-it may be the religion of selfishness; but, such as his religion is such will be the quality of his conscience.

It may be said that a man may have a good conscience whether his religious opinions are true or false ; thus, that the conscience of those who reject all belief in the Divinity of the Saviour may be quite as good as the conscience of those by whom that belief is accepted, supposing both to be sincere and honest men. Such an assertion is misleading, because it does not properly discriminate. It may seem true, so far as the conscience of each relates to those moral principles the teachings of which have been common to both parties, and which they may have accepted in good faith. But is a belief in the true God to go for nothing in the formation of a Christian's conscience; and can those by whom such a belief is rejected come into the possession of the same privileges as those by whom it is accepted ? Surely there must be something in the quality of that conscience which has some hold

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upon what is spiritually true respecting God, which those cannot have by whom that truth is denied. Both may feel compunction on transgressing some moral law which both have learnt; and thus both may have a conscience formed by the respect which they have had for it: still there must be sone difference in the quality of each ; and it is most reasonable to conclude that the superior quality is with those who believe in and acknowledge the “ true God and eternal life.”

If conscience were what it is commonly supposed to be, namely an inward monitor influencing men to observe nothing but what is good and right, and punishing them with compunction whenever they transgress those principles, then revelation would not have been necessary to teach what goodness and truth are, and guilt would be hindered in fear of the remorse that would follow. But, as all experience pronounces against these conclusions, the theory which suggests them must be untrue.

Christians, in general, accept certain laws of the Divine word for the regulation of their moral conduct; and all, to some extent, have been educated in the belief that a life in conformity with those laws is requisite to the formation of the Christian character. This is the reason why there prevails among them a sort of general similarity of conscience in reference to Christian morals. It is planted through the general similarity of Christian teaching, and could not exist without it. This shews us, upon a large scale, that the conscience of every one is formed by the peculiar teachings of his religion, and that the quality of his conscience is determined by the character of those teachings, together with the sincerity, or otherwise, in which they are accepted. By religion is not meant any technical or sectarian definition of the term. In its true sense, it has a wide significance. Every man's religion consists in that of which he thinks most, and loves best. Consequently, those who love the good things of charity, and think of the true things of faith, with a supreme delight may reasonably be expected to have

a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men;" whereas those who love themselves and the world, and think about the means for its indulgence with a ruling affection, may with equal reason be supposed to have a conscience which is “seared.”

Every person has what the Scriptures call the inner and outer man; they are sometimes spoken of as the natural and spiritual man. Each of these has its own particular mind.

The mind of the natural man has its “footstool” in the senses, and when separated from the spiritual all his thoughts have reference to the knowledge of the world, and

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all his affections are turned to selfish gratification; so long as he remains under the dominion of those principles, so long his conscience will be what the Apostle describes as “evil.” Under these circumstances the realities of spiritual affection and knowledge are concealed from him, because they would be contaminated by his touch. All that such a one thinks of and does is with a view to indulge himself. He is not deterred from any act of injustice, nor from transgressing any of the Divine commandments, by the consideration, that by so doing he would sin against God. The idea of sin does not trouble him. If it appears to him that a departure from any heavenly law would subserve his purpose, he proceeds to its indulgence with a fatal resolution. After the perpetration of guilt, it sometimes seems to him, from the anxieties which are experienced, as if he had acted contrary to con

but that is not the case, the pain which is felt does not result from the compunctions of conscience, but from fears lest the discovery of his iniquity should endanger his honour, reputation, gain, wealth, or life. It is not remorse for the evil that has been done, but dread of the consequences that may ensue. Such persons do not trouble themselves about the injustice they may have committed, nor do they feel

any sorrow for the distress which their misdoings may have occasioned. Their whole care is how to conceal the evil, or how to escape from its deserts. If they are asked whether they know what conscience is, it is not improbable that they will laugh at you, and treat it as a scare-crow of the imagination. The conscience which the natural man may seem to have arises out of those restraints which have been imposed upon him by the laws of civilization, and which he may have even accepted because of their political usefulness. Religious considerations exercise no influence in its formation. This is the class of conscience which the Apostle describes being “weak” and “ defiled.”

During the process of man's fall the Lord mercifully provided that certain moral laws should be preserved for the government of the world. Hence the existence of some such laws in all nations; and, in the process of time, politicians have insisted upon their observance irrespective of the fact that Revelation had originally provided them. God in His Providence is ever active in the affairs of men, to keep them, without interfering with their liberty, under the salutary influences of order. When they will not permit themselves to be governed by the higher principles of religion, He provides that they should be controlled by the lower demands of policy. Moral laws are religious

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laws, because they had a spiritual origin, and when this is acknowledged, they subserve a religious purpose. But when obedience is separated from this acknowledgment they are made natural only, because they are observed from no higher principle than that of expecting some worldly advantage. The conscience formed under the influence of these circumstances cannot be otherwise than spurious. Those who have it may know and feel that theft, murder, adultery, false-witness, and coveteousness are crimes against the well-being of society, but they have no idea or sensibility that those evils are sins against God. Consideration of religious principle or spiritual consequences do not at all disturb them. Nevertheless, when they refrain from perpetrating those crimes, because they would not like to have such wrongs committed upon themselves, they act upon a principle which is clear and definite : it contemplates, not the honour of God, bụt the safety of themselves; and the conscience associated with it is political and selfish, not religious and spiritual.

The conscience which is “ void of offence towards God and towards man,” is spiritual in its character. It is formed in the internal man by means of the teachings of religious truth and goodness; and the brighter the truth is, and the purer the good is, the more genuine will be the conscience which results from their acceptance. This seems a self-evident conclusion. The religion which does not teach truth to its people cannot form among them a genuine conscience; the religion which teaches imperfect truth can only form an imperfect conscience; nothing but true religion can produce a genuine conscience. We cannot gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The Apostle says, “We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly." These are points at which every one should be seriously concerned, and a careful consideration of them will preserve men from the danger of mistaking a selfish fear for a spiritual conscience.

This spiritual conscience may be described as an internal bond, formed in the will and understanding of man, by means of the celestial principle of goodness, which is love to the Lord, and the spiritual principle of charity, which is love towards mankind. When those heavenly principles obtain dominion in the mind of man and control his conduct in the world, he will have a conscience void of offence—a conscience which will keep him from offending; it will prevent him from doing wrong by interior considerations of right. If any thought flows into his mind, or any impulse into his heart, which is contrary to truth and goodness, his conscience revolts at it, because he instantly perceives

that it would be criminal to indulge it, and thereupon he rejects it as sin against God.

This conscience begins to be formed in every man when he begins to be regenerated ; and regeneration commences when he begins to learn the truths of religion and to love them for the sake of the goodness to which they conduce. It is a progressive work, being “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear;" as regeneration proceeds conscience grows, and aids in protecting the graces of the work during the process of its completion. Thus it is an internal bond of spiritual life which connects a man with heaven, and enables him to have a delicate sense of what is right to be done, and of what is wrong to be avoided. It is not only formed by means of religious intelligence and virtue, but it lives in all the goodness and truth which are loved, in all the justice and equity which are observed, in the honour which is preserved, and in the fear of evil which is experienced. In short, it depends for its existence and perpetuation upon the truths of faith which are adopted and the good of charity which is loved. It is, therefore, a heavenly gift from the Lord insinuated into man during the process of his regeneration. Hence it is that none but the regenerate can possess a genuine conscience.

Those who have such a conscience are eminent for their charity ; it is wide in its purposes and enlightened in its actions. They do not permit selfishness to intrude upon their designs, nor worldliness to interrupt the performance of their usefulness. They do what is just and right, to the best of their ability, in every work which they undertake. They perform their duty with sincerity in every office that may be assigned them; and the experience of any influence which would

1 turn them away from the course of purity and uprightness is felt by them as an enormity to be resisted. Whoever performs his duty from the love of duty-does what is just for the sake of justice, and attends to the teachings of the Word, for the love of the Lord-exercises intelligent charity, and in that charity there is conscience. Swedenborg illustrates this by the following examples “If,” says he,“ one man be in posses

: sion of the property of another, which that other does know of, and thus have it in his power to retain it without the fear of the law, or the loss of reputation, and yet restores it to the other because it is not his own, he has a conscience ; for in thus acting he does what is right for its

; own sake, and acts justly for the sake of justice.” So likewise : “If a person has it in his power to obtain an office of distinction, but knows that another person, who is also a candidate for it, possesses

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