Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Conscience Not Enough

Though I have heard ten thousand times that conscience is the vicegerent of God in the soul of man, I have never been able to subscribe to that dogma. It is no such thing. In many persons conscience is perverted, in others only a fragment of it remains, and in all it is fallible, and subject to aberrations. Conscience is in all men a thing of degrees dependent upon education, example, and previous character; it is an eye of the soul, but it is frequently purblind and weak, and always needs light from above, or else it does but mock the soul.

Conscience is a faculty of the mind, which, like every other, has suffered serious damage through our natural depravity, and it is by no means perfect. It is only the understanding acting upon moral subjects; and upon such matters it often puts bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, darkness for light and light for darkness. Hence it is that men’s sins do not appear to them sin. In all probability there is not one, even among renewed men, who fully knows the evil of sin, nor will there be until in heaven we shall be perfect; and then, when we shall see the perfection of divine holiness, we shall understand how black a thing was sin. Men who have lived underground all their lives do not know how dark the mine is, nor can they know it until they stand in the blaze of a summer’s noon.

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "The Monster Dragged To Light," delivered February 9, 1873. Image by nosha on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

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