« Prev Section VIII. The Supremacy of Conscience. Next »

CHAPTER VIII.

THE SUPREMACY OF CONSCIENCE

Conscience must be obeyed. THAT the dictates of conscience should be obeyed, is one of the most evident perceptions of the human mind. No matter how much might be gained by going contrary to conscience, every honest mind has the same judgment, that duty should be done. If it is plain that a certain act—such as confessing the truth of the gospel—is a duty, and we are convinced that no. thing but suffering will ensue from performing it; yet the judgment of the impartial mind is, that no prospect of pain or loss can ever justify us in denying the truth, or in doing any thing else that we know to be wrong. On this point, there is no room for reasoning. The judgment that conscience should be obeyed, is intuitive: 61all men must acknowledge it, unless they belie the clear convictions of their own reason.

Admitted maxim. That conscience should be obeyed, that duty should be performed at every risk, are maxims which must receive the assent of all who are capable of understanding them. On the subject of the supremacy of conscience, the following quotation from Dr. Chalmers, is very much to our purpose:

Chalmers. “In every human heart there is a faculty—not, it may be, having the actual power, but having the just and rightful pretension to act as judge and master over the whole of human conduct. Other propensities may have too much sway, but the moral propensity—if I may so term it—never can; for, to have the presiding sway in all our concerns, is just that which properly and legitimately belongs to it. A man under anger, may be too strongly prompted to deeds of retaliation, or under sensuality may be too strongly prompted to indulgence, or under avarice, be too closely addicted to the pursuit of wealth, or even under friendship be too strongly inclined to 62partiality; but he never can, under conscience, be too strongly inclined to be as he ought, and to do as he ought. We may say of a watch, that its main-spring is too powerful, but we would never say that a regulator was too powerful.” . . . . . . . “And neither do we urge the proposition that conscience has in every instance the actual direction of human affairs, for this were in the face of all experience. It is not that every man obeys her dictates, but that every man feels that he Ought to obey them. These dictates are often, in life and practice, disregarded; so that conscience is not the sovereign de facto. Conscience is sovereign.Still there is a voice within the hearts of all which asserts that conscience is the sovereign de jure: that to her belongs the command rightfully, even though she do not possess it actually.”. . . . “All that we affirm is, that if conscience prevail over the other principles, then every man is led, by the very make and mechanism of his internal economy, to feel, that it is as it ought to be; or if these others prevail over conscience, that it is not as it ought to be.”.... 63“When stating the supremacy of conscience, in the sense that we have explained it, we but state what all men feel; and our only argument in proof of the assertion is—our only argument can be, an appeal to the experience of all men.”

Inward verdict. These sentiments will find a response in every honest mind. However often we disobey the voice of this monitor, we always have the feeling of self-condemnation accompanying our disobedience.

64
« Prev Section VIII. The Supremacy of Conscience. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |