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facts is sufficient to satisfy me that no perfect retribution takes place in the present existence.

What then is the testimony of history on the question in controversy? You have seen that many cases occur in which it is perfectly evident that those equally guilty suffer very different degrees of punishment; and consequently the wicked are not always and equitably and fully punished in this world. You have seen that there are many instances in which the more sinful experience the less wretchedness; and also many examples in which the more virtuous enjoy the less happiness; and quently there is no perfect retribution in this mortal life. Is not my fifth argument then from the history of mankind perfectly unanswerable?

VI. My sixth argument for believing that no perfect retribution takes place on earth is drawn from the unequal operations of conscience. In what does conscience consist? In two distinct and separate acts of the mind, which I shall call the moral judgment and the moral sensė. By the moral judgment I mean our common judgment exercised upon moral subjects. By moral sense I mean that feeling of approbation which we experience when we have done what our judgment pronounced to be right, and that feeling of condemnation which we suffer when we have done what our judgment pronounced to be wrong. This may appear to be a new definition of conscience, but the more you examine its meaning and bring it to the test of facts, the more will you be convinced that it is the correct definition. You will find that it serves to explain all the existing difficulties on this important subject. My limits will permit me to furnish but a few illustrations.

1. Conscience frequently rewards persons for their wickedness and punishes others for their righteousness. Paul persecuted the early christians even unto death, He verily judged this course to be right. He was rewarded by a feeling of self-approbation. The English church and government persecuted our forefathers. They wished to make them conform to their standard of doctrine and discipline. They judged that coercive measures were right. They were rewarded by a feeling of self-approbation. Our forefathers took up their residence on these shores. They extirpated the indians, banished the baptists, murdered the quakers, hung the supposed witches. They supposed this was the right course. They were rewarded with a feeling of self-approbation. The same might be truly said of every sincere religious or political persecutor. Look into the christian church. You may see christians engaging in practices which are absolutely wrong; practices which are condemned by the plainest commands of the gospel, and which they would be unwilling others should do towards themselves. And for their performance they are rewarded by conscience; they experience a feeling of self-approbation. Why so? Because they think such proceedings are right and beneficial. If you extend your view to heathen nations, you may find numerous examples of the same description. You see the hindoo wife throw herself upon the burning funeral pile of her husband, and the hindoo parent expose to death his sickly infant and aged parents. And for all such acts they are rewarded with a feeling of self-approbation, because they consider them righteous. Consequently if persons are rewarded for doing wrong, as you perceive is often the case, then no perfect retribution takes place on earth. Not only

Conscience also frequently punishes a person for his righteousness. Adam Clarke was making fine progress in the acquisition of useful knowledge. He was convinced that this was a wrong course. He asked God's forgiveness of his sinfulness. He vowed to give up human learning altogether. So long as he judged the course he had pursued to be wrong he was punished by his conscience, by a feeling of self-condemnation. So you may find a thousand cases in which persons do something which is right in itself; but they believe it to be wrong; and consequently are punished with a feeling of self-reproach until they are convinced to the contrary. If then conscience sometimes punishes for doing righteously, there can be no perfect earthly retribution. I see not how any one can deny these facts or dispute this conclusion.

so.

2. Conscience becomes deadened by wickedness. Here is a young man who received a christian education. He was thrown into the society of the thoughtless and unprincipled. For a time he resisted all their solicitations to vice. At length he yielded. For many days he was made miserable by his conscience because he used one profane expression, because he spent one evening at the gaming table, because he once became intoxicated. But now cursing and swearing are his common language, gambling is his occupation, drunkenness is almost a daily fashion. And he has little or no trouble from within. He experienced more torment in one hour when he commenced his downward career than he now suffers in one year. This is the history of thousands and tens of thousands according to their own confessions. Many of the most depraved wretches have made similar statements concerning their course of iniquity after they were condemned to the gallows. Many who have been converted to the gospel have also testified to the same truths concerning themselves. John Newton declares that he did not suffer from the compunctions of conscience during his irreligious and dissolute years.

many christians who engage in the slave trade, warfare and other iniquitous

And
you may

find

practices without the least uneasiness. Many instances might be related did my limits permit. No one will deny the truth of these statements. It is an acknowledged truth that conscience becomes seared by crime. How will you dispose of this argument? If conscience punished the offender sufficiently at the beginning of his career, it did not punish him sufficiently when he became hardened in transgression. If it punished him sufficiently when he became inured to wickedness, it did not punish him equitably when he commenced his downward march to destruction. In either case the evidence is conclusive against a perfect earthly retribution.

3. The operations of conscience depend upon the moral sensibility. Observe your neighbor's wife. She endeavors to be a real christian. She aims to perform every duty with fidelity. She understands the divine commands in all their spirituality and extent. She daily falls short of her wishes. She daily compares

herself with the gospel standard. A vain thought has been indulged; an improper motive has operated; an unfriendly feeling has been tolerated; an unkind word has been spoken; some benevolent deed has been omitted; but little progress in the divine life has been effected; these and similar charges are found against herself; and they occasion the unceasing reproaches of her conscience; her life is rendered in no small degree unhappy. Now you know that this lady represents a large class of believers Is she rewarded and punished according to her deeds? Then there is her husband. He means to be a follower of Jesus. He attends church and reads a chapter in the bible on Sunday. He presents his children at the baptismal font and appears himself at communion table. He 'means to do about what is right. But an occasional overreaching in a bargain; a few passionate exclamations; a little slander of his rival; a common neglect of his secret devotions, and many

other sins of omission and commission give him no uneasiness; occasion scarcely a sting of conscience from one year's end to another. Now you know there are many in every religious denomination of this description. Are they rewarded and punished according to their deeds? If conscience punishes this wife more than she deserves, it does not punish her husband so much as his greater negligences demand; if it punishes the husband in exact proportion to his sinfulness, then it inflicts more punishment upon the wife than her iniquities require. In either case no perfect retribution takes place, and consequently your belief is proved erro

neous.

4. The operations of conscience depend on a knowledge of duty. You see an individual join the church. He is really sincere in his public profession. He means to obey the christian commands. But he is repeatedly guilty of disobedience. His friends notice his deviations from the path of rectitude. They speak to him in a friendly manner on the subject. He is not conscious of having done any thing unchristian, so limited is his acquaintance with the requisitions of the gospel; and consequently he has experienced no compunction of conscience. After a few years he learns more of the spirit of his holy religion. He sees many instances in which he violated the divine precepts; he notices many omissions of important virtues; and he regrets his sins of omission and commission with great feeling. This is the experience of almost every real christian. And does conscience always punish according to the real character?

Not only so.

You know many of our political office seekers. They mean to be worthy disciples of the Savior. They belong to the different denominations of believers. They are perhaps as correct

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