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must consider, I. That law of the mind of which the Apostle here trites.
Now the mind has many “laws." It has laws of sensation, perception, apprehension, imagination, memory, comparison, reasoning, judgment, and volition. But that of which the Apostle is here speaking, is the law of the mind with respect to matters of morality and religion; is that in virtue of which we consent to the law of God that it is good, (verse 16,) and delight therein after the inward man; (verse 22 ;) that law which prompts us to do good, and restrains us from doing evil; (verse 19;) and which congratulates and makes us glad when we render it obedience, (2 Cor. i. 12,) but reproves and makes us miserable when we dare, against its warnings, to do that which is evil. (Rom. ii. 14, 15.) In short, this law of the mind is that which we otherwise call “ science ;” and when we affirm that conscience is the law of the mind with respect to matters of morality and religion, we supply its true and adequate definition.
We observe, 1. That it is of the very essence of this law of the mind to affirm the binding force of truth, goodness, and righteousness. Its proper function is not to determine what is good, what is true, or what is right, in any given case, but to affirm that the good, and the true, and the right, are matters of moral obligation in all possible cases. It is no “ formulated codex ” which, like the ten words graven on tablets of stone, defines with luminous precision what ought, or ought not, to be done under certain conditions and relations, but an ever-abiding consciousness that the right, however difficult and perilous, ought to be done, and the wrong, however pleasant and promising, ought to be abjured. Hence though two men may differ in judgment as to whether some particular action, or course of action, is right or wrong, they can never differ in judgment as to whether all men are equally bound to do that which is right and good. The function of conscience is not to legislate. It is not to define what is lawful. It is not itself the definition of the lawful, but it is its province to affirm that we are bound by the lawful and right. An action does not become right and binding because a man, in his conscience, thinks it to be right and binding. For he may verily think with himself that he ought to do such and such things, and yet presently become convinced that those things were utterly wrong, and only worthy to be avoided and hated. (Acts xxvi. 9.) Nevertheless, he is bound by the law of his conscience; for conscience is that consciousness of "a higher obligation than one merely human, by which every man is consciously bound to act.'
* See Harless, Christian Ethics, p. 46.
We have heard it stated that conscience is simply the knowledge of moral law ; a statement which was probably suggested by the fact that “conscience, as well as the Latin word from which it is taken, and the Greek word, ovveidois, necessarily imply the knowledge of two or more things together : "* or, rather, the knowing with oneself. But the statement overlooked the fact that what is denoted by con. science is not a simple, but a complex, knowledge. It certainly includes, (1.) a knowledge of myself as capable of moral actions, a "consciousness of my personal accountability;” (2.) a knowledge of an external, objective law of righteousness, according to the requirements of which I am bound to act; and, (3.) a knowledge of the fact that I am morally bound to act according to the requirements of this law. The knowledge of the external law of righteousness I acquire by instruction, by reason, by reflection, and by Divine revelation; and therefore this knowledge may be more or less imperfect and faulty. But the knowledge (1.) of myself as a moral agent, who am bound (2.) to act in accordance with the law of righteousness, is a knowledge which springs up of necessity within my own consciousness so soon as I enter upon a course of voluntary activity. It is a spontaneous decision of my own mind, according to an original and imperative law of its own constitution. That law, which is the very root of conscience, is the law of the mind of which the Apostle speaks in the text.
Let it be noted, 2. That this law of the mind, while it morally binds, does not compel to right action. In this respect it differs from those laws of a material, organic, and instinctive nature which are self-executive. It affirms, most imperatively, that this, that, or the other action ought to be done, or left undone, because it is right or wrong, good or evil, true or false. It does not, however, compel, but only impel, to a right course of life; just as it does not render an evil course impossible, but only the more difficult. Prospectively it impels to the right, and restrains from the wrong, and therefore acts as a motive force affecting the determinations of the will. Retrospectively, it congratulates the mind, and fills it with holy gladness, when the right has been deliberately chosen and successfully achieved in opposition to the solicitations of wrong; and it reproaches the mind, and fills it with humiliating remorse, when the wrong has been elected and done in opposition to the inner consciousness of duty. In this aspect of it, conscience has been described as “ the moral memory,—the memory of the heart.” In the one case it is an evil conscience (Heb. x. 22) which makes its possessor poor and wretched and miserable, whatever the external conditions of his existence may be; while in the other it
* Wesley's Works, vol. vii., p. 187. Octavo edition.
is a good conscience, (1 Peter iii. 16,) in the possession of which a man can rejoice triumphantly, though all external things should seem to be combined against him.
It may be remarked, 3. That this law of the mind involves the reality of moral distinctions. That of which it affirms the binding force is something distinct from and independent of itself. It discerns the difference between the right and the wrong, the good and the evil, because it has the aptitude for such discernment. A creature destitute of this law of the mind, which we call" conscience," could not discern these differences; not, however, because they are unreal, but because it has no power to perceive them. We, by virtue of this law of the mind, discern them as something out of and above ourselves, to which we are under the most imperative obligation to be conformed. The conscience does not create, but discover, these distinctions, and recognizes them as pertaining to an external, objective, and perfect law of righteousness, which is absolute, eternal, and immutable. It testifies that right cannot be wrong, that good cannot be evil, and that truth cannot be falsehood; that these are not mere arbitrary distinctions, dependent for their character upon the will of any being, or upon any mutable conditions ; and that it is not possible, under any conditions, that the false, and the wrong, and the malicious should become morally binding upon us. The conscience, as the law of the mind, has respect to the reality of an ideal, faultless, absolute, and eternal rule of righteousness, of which we, in this present state, obtain but imperfect glimpses; of which our clearest-sighted reason beholds but detached and fragmentary portions; of which even the law of God, as given and expounded in Revelation, discloses but the partial and limited glories ; and which, as the "supreme, unchangeable reason," the “ unalterable rectitude," " the everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created," can only be perfectly comprehended by the one infinite and eternal Mind; but which is obligatory upon us, up to the measure of our capacity for its knowledge and attainment. This is the external objective law of righteousness, conformity to which, in our character and conduct, conscience requires, and of which it recognizes the good and holy law of the Bible as being for us a true and just presentation.
Then it may be observed, 4. That this law of the mind involves an implicit recognition of an absolute and infallible Administrator of righteousness. For it not only affirms that the law of righteousness is binding, but also that it will be enforced. The joy of a good conscience, and the remorse of a guilty one, are not in any case pronounced by conscience itself to be the absolute and final awards for virtuous or vicious conduct, but are assumed to be essentially premonitory and anticipative. When the wrong done has been a wrong to human society, and a violation of a confessedly just human law, though the conscience does kindle within the culprit's own bosom a fire of tormenting remorse that may continue to burn for years, it is not content with inflicting that vengeance, but evermore impels its possessor to surrender himself to the officers of justice, to endure the punishment appointed by law. Nay, more than this, conscience appeals to an authority which is higher than any that is merely human, or that is creaturely, an authority whose decisions shall be final, unfailing, and absolutely just, and by which its delegated and imperfect authority shall be vindicated and sustained. That authority must be possessed of infinite intelligence, righteousness, and power; must indeed be the absolute, living, personal embodiment of that law of righteousness which conscience affirms to be universally and always binding. The conscience, therefore, involves in itself the consciousness of dependence upon and subjection to the living, personal, holy, and almighty God, whose all-holy will is for man the supreme law; subjection to which the law of his own mind demands, and of which it testifies that every disobedience and transgression will be certainly and equitably punished, while to holy and loving obedience will be awarded eternal life. Thus Dr. Harless states justly* that "there is something above man, and above created nature, of which a man becomes conscious in the workings of conscience, whether he himself recognizes it as such, and calls it so, or not.” Dr. Delitzsch speaks of conscience as “the moral-religious consciousness, adapted to man by virtue of an inner self-evidence of God." And Dr. Alexander, with greater clearness and caution, affirms that, “although the belief of the existence of God is not necessary to the operations of conscience, yet from the existence of this faculty the existence of God may be inferred." For “it is essential to conscience that it reveals in every form (of its activity) a dependence of the human spirit upon God, resting on a causal relation."
* Wesley's Works, vol. v., p. 438.
* Christian Ethics p. 50.
Moral Science, pp. 87, 88.
+ Bib. Psyc., p. 160.
(To be concluded.)
(Concluded from page 115.) From this time Henry Lawrence's life was a series of disap. pointments. He was in the prime of life, and was admitted by all to possess such knowledge of India, and such power of governing turbulent races like the Sikhs, as Englishmen never before acquired. But these splendid gifts never bore their full fruit. On his arrival at Lahore in the beginning of 1849 he found himself utterly opposed to the principles of the policy which the new Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, had laid down for the future of the Punjab. Apart from his own preference generally for annexation, the Governor-General was strongly convinced of the justice and expediency of this course towards a neighbouring race which twice within a few years bad attacked us, and whose ambition gave no promise of any change. The experiment of government through Sikh princes had been fairly made and failed. Henry Lawrence doubted both the justice and expediency of the new course. He could not deny the break-down of the old policy ; but this he attributed to his own absence: he had faith in his own power of management, and never changed his views. But his own friends and admirers in the Punjab more than doubted this. The utmost they think he could have done would have been to delay the outbreak.
It is not for us in this Magazine to hold the scales between two political schools which have ever divided the Indian camp. We can only summarize the arguments. With us the great argument in favour of the views of Henry Lawrence is, that they were the views of most of the men who gave their lives to India and knew it best, -Malcolm, Elphinstone, Metcalfe, Munro, Clerk, Outram, Sleeman, Kaye. To the plea of the better government introduced among the people; they reply, that we have no right to make ourselves judges of this; the natives have a different standard : we might say the same of countries nearer home. This is a triumphant reply, if we annexed provinces under pretence of remedying bad government. But the case is never so simple. No Indian province was ever annexed in this way. There has always been, as in the Punjab, a series of steps, -alliance leading to protection, and protection to incor. poration, treaties broken, danger to our own territories in the way of actual invasion or otherwise. In Lawrence's days nearly all the English world went with Dalhousie and the policy of annexation. Now, strange to say, public opinion has set the opposite way. These volumes, we think, explain the change. The present Earl of Derby, when as Lord Stanley he went to India