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The subject under discussion at once invites our most careful consideration, because the voice of conscience will have much to do with our pleasure or pain when time shall have past and eternity's ages roll on and on. All scientists agree with the Bible that man is "fearfully and wonderfully made." The human body is a marvelous mechanism, and is, in fact, the highest work of God relative to material substances and forms. Within the body of man there are hundreds of vital systems and arrangements, which work automatically, making possible our existence and physical and moral progress. There's an apparatus which automatically controls the heat supply of the body, and thus men are enabled to live under th blazing sun in the tropical zone, in the temperate zones, or on the ice-bound coasts of Northern Greenland. There's a mechanism within the ear, the fluid acting like a carpenter's spirit level, enabling man to walk erect and keep balanced even with his eyes closed. Over ninety per cent of the processes that keep us alive, and which are absolutely necessary to our life and health, keep working on within us, both day and night, and without our knowing anything about them.
A Moral Sense in Man...
There's within us a mysterious force that regulates the mind and soul, making possible our moral and spiritual development. Next to the soul, the most marvelous thing about a human being is his conscience. It's native and resident in the soul, a kind of an inborn sense of right and wrong, which judges the moral character of our actions and motives, approving or disapproving as the case may be. This tribunal is universally established within every man, civilized or barbarian. (See Rom. 2:15). We don't need to enter into an exhaustive treatise to prove to you that conscience has an existence, for you've heard that voice speak ofttimes, in tones even more severe than any earthly judge. Like as a watchman upon the walls of an ancient city kept vigils while the inhabitants slept, so conscience watches near the citadel of the soul, and sounds an alarm when subtle foes seek to do harm; or it may give credentials to angels of love who would seek to make better, advance, or improve the heart. Without its softening, elevating influence, the race of man would soon deteriorate to the level of the brute creation.
Man vs. Beast...
In the jungle wilds, the savage beast attacks another, kills it, and in triumph walks away, leaving the carcass lying upon the ground; but when Cain killed his brother Abel, conscience began its ceaseless grind, and the wrath of God pursued the poor man as he fled. Oh, awful condition! Picture in you mind a man running away from home into a strange country, with the voice of his brother's blood crying from the ground, an outraged conscience slashing from within, and the voice of an angry God thundering from the sky. Is it any wonder that he cried, "My punishment's greater than I can bear"? It's moral force of conscience that makes possible the high degree of civilization which we enjoy today. If twenty average men were adrift upon a raft one thousand miles at sea, where no civil power could see or reach, they would all die of hunger and thirst before they'd kill and eat their fellow men. Why? The voice of conscience could still be heard. There's no cavern so deep, nor asylum so secluded, where the eyes of God can't see, nor the voice of conscience be heard.
Behind the Bars...
The criminal may dodge the policeman for awhile, but he can't run away from his conscience; and it's because of that fact that the detective never gives up the search. He knows that the grinding of that internal voice will, in time, wear down the most stubborn will. It's a common practise among detectives to put an accomplice in justice into the cell with the man suspected of crime, and the detective in disguise educates the suspected man's conscience by bemoaning his supposed crime, and by telling of the awful remores of conscienc he feels. Of times before the dawn of the coming day the guilty man begins to talk and tell of his own crimes, for he can't help it, driven and lashed to a confession by conscience. This moral judge is more than a commom meddler, or constructive critic; it's clothed with eternal vestment, and its voice will be heard in the settlement of every question of moral jurisprudence.
Conscience Fund...
While visiting Washington, D. C. some time ago, we were shown the building where what is know as the "Conscience Fund" was kept. The guide informed us that letters containing money were being received every day in the year from persons whose consciences had driven them to return to the Governmanet...funds stolen in days gone by. Sometimes the writer would say, "I can't stand this suffering any longer," and such like.
The London Clock...
Away up in a high steeple in the great city of London stands a huge clock. It has doled out the time of day and night for more than one hundred years. During the busy day, the rattle and clatter of commercial life is so loud that only an occasional sound may be heard from the clock. Later in the day, however, when business has somewhat slackened, its voice can be heard quite distinctly; but along about midnight, when all is still, except perchance the barking of the watch-dog, the belated traveler can plainly hear the ding-dong of the midnight bell. So it is in life. Whe young and bouyant, when the reservoir of vital force is full and overflowing, ofttimes the voice of conscience can be heard more plainly. Still later, when facing the stern realities of a wasted life, and near approach of death, the poor soul can then hear that voice so often smothered---and that voice will upbraid and chide every hour of the day and night. Someone has said,
"To be left alone with my conscience,
Would be torment enough for me."
The Murderer's confession...
Upon hearing a peculiar sound ourside the house, our friend opened the door, and quickly into the house stepped a man who was almost a nervous wreak. Deep lines were upon his pale face as though chiseled in stone. He was haggard, unkempt, and unshaven. He panted for breath like one who'd just escaped from a ferocioua beast. When asked why he came into the house so unceremoniously he said: "I'm a murderer. I killed a woman in cold blood, and after cutting off her arms and head, I threw her into an old well, I lost my hat while running away, and it led to my identification. I was caught, indicted, and sentenced to death, but I escaped from the deathhouse a month ago. They're after me [nervously he glanced toward the window]. I've tried to sleep during the day, and traveled during the night. They're after me. I've heard the bellowing of the bloodhounds upon my tracks. I can't sleep. I can see the headless form of that woman floating around me now [he shrieked and jumped to his feet]. It's hell! I can't stand it! Call the officers so that I can go back and expiate my crime with my life. Oh, God! I'm in torment! Oh, my God!"
The officers were called, and they didn't need to put the man in chains, for he was willing to go. History states that after Ahab and Jezebel had caused the death of Haboth, to get possession of his land, they couldn't sleep, although they lay upon a bed of ivory inlaid with clover leaves of gold.
The Surgeon's Knife...
The power of conscience, from the beginning of life unto its end, is more like an arbiter of justice than a friendly criticism. While it can't be relied upon as an unerring guide, yet happy is the man who condemneth not himself in the things which he alloweth. A man whom I knew had a nervous breakdown and was sent to a sanitarium. He rapidly grew worse. Wishing to see him once more, I visited him in the institution. As soon as we were alone he confessed to me that more than fifteen years before he had mrdered two people, but that he'd never been suspected of committing the crime. He told me that during all these years, whether awake or asleep, eyes opened or shut, he could see the forms of those whose lives he cut short by his own hand. He said that never a day passed but what his conscience lashed him---for his conscience never gave consent to the crime. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he said that his life had been a failure, for he could never get away from that telltale conscience. He pointed to some object unseen to me and shouted, "There they are now---see! see! There they go."
He leaped to his feet and smote his breat with his clenched fist. He pulled his hair, and looked like a being from lower hades. He said, "Brother Anderson, I'm as sure of hell and damnation as though I were there today." I moved back a little in my chair, and he, noticing it, said assuringly, "You don't need to be afraid of me. I'm lost to God, to hope, and to the pure and blessed forver." I thought, if a guilty conscience can make a man so wretched and in such agony, here in the land of the living, where mercy can be invoked and forgiveness obtained, what, my God, will be the suffering of a soul who dies in sin when in that country beyond the grave where no invitation will ever be given, nor the sweet voice of mercy be heard? I then remembered the words of the Master, who six times repeated in the ninth of Mark the awful end of those who close their eartly life in sin and rebellion against the throne of God. He plainly taught that it would be better to enter into life with part of our members cut off, than by their unlawful use be cast into hell, "where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." It's commonly understood that Jesus meant that the awful remore of conscience would be the worm that would never cease gnawing, and the fire that would burn on forever, yet never consume.
It's a dangerous thing to ignore persistently the warnings of conscience, for when enraged it'll take sleep away from the softest pillow. A surgeon could cut off a diseased finger; but no sureon's knofe can cut off a guilty conscience. There's a way out of that awful condition, thank God, and that's in repentance and forgiveness of sins. The Bible declares: "How much more shall the blood of Christ,l who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb.9:14). "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (1 Tim. 1:5).




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