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said with Pharoah's butler, “I do remember my
faults this day.”
And the reason was, that sorrow made them thoughtful, and thought awoke conscience, and conscience whispered in the ear of every heart, “ Thou art guilty.' It is said, and said truly, that “conscience makes cowards of us all.” It is not less true to say that conscience makes heroes of us all. A good conscience makes a man a hero, and nothing else can. A bad conscience makes a man a coward, because with the thought of present danger there is a worse thought of that “ something after death," of which the sinner is afraid. These ten brothers had a bad conscience which now pronounced them guilty, and filled them with forebodings which seem to dodge them throughout all their dealings with Joseph, as though they knew that their iniquity had found them, and had been found out.
The truth is, they were not alone when they thought themselves alone in the vast and howling wilderness. Besides their ten selves, there were two witnesses to every word which was spoken, and every act that happened, and even to their most secret thoughts. Two eyes were watching over every heart. an eye above, the other was an eye within. The eye of God,--all-piercing as the sun, and of which it may be said, “ Whither shall I go from thy presence ? If I climb up into heaven, Thou art there ; if I make my bed in hell, thou art there also ;"—the unsleeping eye of the All-seeing was on them there, seeing, reading, watching, marking, and remembering all. And within there was another eye, which draws its light and power of vision from the great eye above,—the eye of conscience, an eye within each of all the ten,-which noted everything for each, and printed it indelibly in
that book within the soul which shall be opened by God Himself at the day of judgment. And now these two witnesses—God above and conscience within-were present as accusers, telling them what they had done; ·nor only telling, but threatening, and warning them of that great account which they must one day give to Him who shall be Judge both of quick and dead.
What arts had they used during twenty years to elude conscience. How had they excused themselves, and softened the guilt of their conduct. What selfdeceit had they practised. How had they shunned thought, and refused to see the truth, and flattered themselves with lies, and persuaded themselves of their own innocence. And God had left them alone, and conscience had refused to speak because they would not listen, and sin had lulled them into deep sleep, and death had laid his hands upon their souls. But now, punishment had come. The rod had descended, the hammer had rent the hard rock, and all the sin was plain. “We are verily guilty," so they confessed at last. "There is no doubt but that we did wrong
Our brother's blood is crying out for vengeance. God has heard him, and God has made us hear too.' Wonderful is the work of conscience. It is the kingly power within our nature, the Joseph to whom all the brother powers must do obeisance. And if conscience is suffered to reign and wield his rightful authority, he sits upon his throne, and rules over a peaceful kingdom, where all is righteousness and harmony. But if the sinful desires reject his authority and say will not have this man to reign over us," he ceases indeed to be a king, but he ceases not to act,
and he becomes a witness and informer. There he sits within us, speaking seldom, and never except in a still and quiet voice; but he observes everything. He marks the character of all that goes on within us, sees, as it were, its heart and animating spirit, estimates its exact nature with the most perfect justice, not only reporting upon what is done, but reporting infallibly, and echoing that true report which is carried
up to heaven, and is recorded in the doomsday book of God. Everything which we have done is written down within us, and can be produced again by conscience when it shall see fit. We have only to ask conscience, and it will do for us what our Lord did for the woman of Samaria; it will tell us all that ever we did. Conscience had now been telling the ten brothers what they had done in days past, and when conscience spoke so plainly they could be deaf no longer. Subterfuge was now useless. Concealment was now impossible. They could only say are guilty, verily, and indeed guilty.'
Has conscience anything to say to us, beloved brethren ? Let me ask you, in the name of God, has conscience anything to tell you of which you now are ignorant? What have you been doing in the years which now are past? Have you any sins committed twenty years ago which you have now forgotten, and never have confessed ? Look back into your lives and
Is there anything, or are there many things, done by you in the past year, or the year before, or within ten, or twenty, or thirty, or forty, or fifty years, which you ought to have confessed, and for which you ought to have repented, but of which you have never yet said, 'I am verily guilty of this or these things?' Do you know yourselves ? Are you
Is it your
in the habit of examining yourselves? custom to test your acts continually by the unerring truth, and to weigh them in the balances of the sanctuary against the just weights of God's all-perfect law ? Tell me this, are you honest with yourselves ? Are you full of “truth in the inward parts ?” Are you without guile? Is it your most earnest wish to know the truth about yourselves ? If it be, then you have no sins upon your conscience. You have confessed often your sins known and unknown, your sins remembered and forgotten, and conscience has no need to remind you that you are guilty of sins which you have long forgot.
But what if this be not your case? What if you have not been honest with yourselves ? What if you have been careless of God's law and forgetful that His eye is always on you? What if you have sinned and then said, I have done no sin ;' looking at it with eyes which were blind wilfully, which would not see its true character ; so judging of sin as though you thought that by refusing to allow its sinfulness you could change its own intrinsic character, and make sin to be no longer sin ? There are many who thus trifle with themselves. David, after his great sin with Bathsheba, was thus a self-deceiver for a long time. For a year, though he had done an act which seems to us who judge impartially a great and evident transgression, he would not allow that he had sinned. And had God left him to himself, his heart would have grown hard as rock by reason of its stifled convictions, and conscience would have become dead within him altogether. But God did not leave him.
A sore struggle went on within his soul,-conscience trying to speak, and sin smothering conscience—while his flesh wasted away, and even his bones consumed by reason of his complaining. Still he confessed not. Still he would not know that he had done wickedly, till Nathan came to him, saying, “Thou art the man.” And then his sins were acknowledged and God forgave him the wickedness of his sin.
But a state like this is very dangerous. The soul deadens under it and may die utterly. Be careful, therefore, that it be not your state. Do all that in you lies to keep alive conscience. If you have done wrong it will do no good to hide it. You may hide it from yourselves, but you cannot hide it from God. Seek always to know the truth, whatever truth may be. Though the truth may be that you are verily guilty concerning your brother men or your God, though the truth may be that you have sinned against light and knowledge, and done the thing which God hates, if you know it not and feel it not, it stands upon the book of conscience, and will accuse you at that great day when it is too late to ask for pardon. But if you know it, and are sorry, you may bring it to Him who can blot out our sins, and cleanse us from their foulest guiltiness in the blood of His atoning sacrifice. It is better by far to be like Joseph's brethren when they said, “We are verily guilty,” for then they knew the truth, than to be in that state in which they had lived through twenty years of self-forgetfulness, guilty of their brother's slavery, and almost guilty of their brother's murder, but not alive to their guilt.
For sin confessed is sin forgiven. To those who who know their guilt and feel it there is perfect pardon. When conscience accuses upon earth it