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temperament and biases are wrought into conscience. There are consciences just as different as intellects and emotions are. Just as different as people themselves are. An artist never had the same conscience as a financier. Their disposition, and nature, and life make a contrast in their moral sense. Some things that are the essence of weakness to a man who is a worshipper of a creed or a bit of theology may even seem righteous to his neighbor who never saw this world or the next as he sees it. God never gave one man a conscience for another, any more than He did a brain or a heart. He ordained that every man should have toleration, and not a conscience, for his neighbor. Prejudice and self-esteem and popery are the enemies of morality and spirituality. We shall not be judged by our neighbor's conscience, but by our own. The Spartans taught their children to steal. They did not believe in disobedience, but admired the power of concealment. It was their skill that was praised, and not their thievery. This was a strange conscience, but right to obey it. Doing what seems to be right is the only road to finding out what is right. We are responsible for convictions and the way we reach them, but there is only
one pathway, and that of obedience. Violation of conscience is death to morality and the higher life. Conscience is so sacred that it must not be opposed, even in others. Our action is controlled by offence given to another man's conscience. Pity the weaker man, but do not thrust a sword into his loyalty to that which he honestly believes is the right. Christian conscience is one throne higher than Christian liberty. Boasted liberty may destroy conscience, but it strikes at the very life of the soul. Deny thyself from the impulse of sympathy and fear to cause others to sin and you have entered into the very inner temple of human life. There is a primary right and a secondary right. There is an eternal right and a temporary right. There is an absolute right and a circumstantial right. The Sabbath day has changed, but not the law of God. Every creed has changed, but not the fundamentals of Christian truth. Worship God forever, but whether at ten or eleven o'clock is not a part of the eternal arrangement. Method is always changing. Homes, and churches, and enterprises are killed by irrational conscience. Emphasis is too often laid upon petty and minor matters. Conscience must be founded upon reason if it triumphs in the world,
because reason is always victorious. It takes a long time, in some instances, but it is crowned at last. It is folly to spend strength on anything less than principles. In the secondary matters most of the false judgment of others is formed. Here is the place for liberality, but in the sanctity of the inner right-never! Beware of oppressing others with your conscience. It may be only a secondary and temporal one. It may be unworthy of a long sceptre. We only learn the primary and the eternal from communion with Christ. Washing hands and eating with the Pharisees did not make up the larger part of His life. It was not empty and hollow, but solid and cubic. His was the very life of God. The kingdom of God is not in externals; it is in life, and life more abundantly, and life eternal. He furnishes the standard in precept and example for all men in their relation to their own conscience
and that of other men. He conquers who stands by the Christ, even if his feet press the rocky soil of Calvary.
They say a bright light fell on Luther's face as the German monk stood before the Emperor at Worms, and said, "I cannot and will not recant." 296
But a brighter light entered his soul as he boldly fronted death for conscience' sake.
All happiness comes through one channel, and that is the peace which flows through the deepest part of life, the peace of conscience. Peace with myself, peace with my record, peace with my God.
In the olden time Hawthorne says there lived a knight who fell in love with a strange but beautiful maiden. She dwelt in a fountain in the seclusion of a lonely and hidden forest. She charmed the boy's soul. She was so attractive and so near to nature that the birds, and fishes, and all the animal world were her friends. She taught him how to make them all his companions. She could always make him happy and bring sunshine into his darkness. He made a journey to the distant city, and in a perilous and unguarded moment he fell and became guilty of grossest sin. A few days passed in the transgression, and after it, when he appeared one morning in the forest again. He was now a coward and trembled. His appearance had changed. Glances flashed from his blood-shot eyes. He tried his old power, and whistled to his forest friends. They came all about him, but suddenly scampered and fled away with frightened cries. He gave a slight
scream too, but hastened on toward the fountain. He reached its side only to find the very waters shrinking away from him and refusing to touch his lips. He cried for the maiden, but only an echo of bitterness and woe came back. He at last saw her blessed face only for a moment, and then it was lying upon the water, pale and with a blood-stain upon the forehead. His crime had slain the fountain girl. His hopes were blasted, and his world darkened, and his condemnation the greatest reality. Conscience had been trifled with and
trampled upon, and this was the end.