For Conscience Sake – Illustrations and Thoughts


The following was compiled by the late F. B. Proctor, Church Homiletical Society 

1. Conscience, its immortality.—A man never outlives his conscience, and that for this cause only, he cannot outlive himself.

2. Conscience, a judge.—I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope —self. Luther.

3. Conscience, God's minister.—Conscience is God's best minister; it threatens, promises, rewards, and punishes, and keeps all under its control. The busy must attend to its remonstrances, the most powerful submit to its reproof, and the angry endure its upbraidings, While conscience is our friend, all is peace; but if once offended, farewell the tranquil mind. Mary Worthy Montagu.

4. Conscience, its power.—Let a prince be guarded with soldiers, attended by councillors, and shut up in forts; yet if his thoughts disturb him, he is miserable. Plutarch.

5. Conscience, the oracle of God.—
Yet still there whispers the small voice within,
Heard through gain's silence, and o'er glory's din:
Whatever creed be taught or land be trod,
Man's conscience is the oracle of God. Lord Byron.

6. Influence of little things.—On the summit of a hill in a western state is a court house, so situated that the rain-drops that fall on one side of the roof descend into Lake Erie, and thence through the St. Lawrence into the Atlantic. The drops on the other side trickle down, from rivulet to river, until they reach the Ohio and Mississippi, and enter the ocean by the Gulf of Mexico. A faint breath of wind determines the destination of these rain-drops for three thousand miles. So a single act determines sometimes a human destiny for all time and for eternity. Cuyler.

7. Influence illustrated.—Da Vinci's famous painting of "The Lord's Supper," originally adorning the dining-room of a convent, has suffered such destruction from the ravages of time, war, and abuse, that none of its original beauty remains. Yet it has been copied and engraved, and impressions of the great picture have been multiplied through all civilized lands. Behold a parable of posthumous influence.

8. Temptations, their personal suitability.—The devil doth not know the hearts of men, but he may feel their pulse, know their temper, and so accordingly can apply himself. As the husbandman knows what seed is proper to sow in such a soil; so Satan, finding out the temper, knows what temptation is proper to sow in such a heart. That way the tide of a man's constitution runs, that way the wind of temptation blows. Satan tempts the ambitious man with a crown, the sanguine man with beauty, the covetous man with a wedge of gold. He provides savour}' meat, such as the sinner loves. T. Watson.

9. Temptations, their gradations.—Satan seldom comes to Christians with great temptations, or with a temptation to commit a great sin. You bring a green log and a candle together, and they are very safe neighbours; but bring a few shavings and set them alight, and then bring a few sticks, and let them take fire, and the log be in the midst of them, and you will soon get rid of your log. And so it is with little sins. You will be startled with the idea of committing a great sin, and so the devil brings you a little temptation, and leaves you to indulge yourself. "There is no great harm in this." And so by these little chips we are first easily lighted up, and at last the green log is burned.
John Newton.

10. Conscience awakened.—Like the awful lightning flash, revealing in one fearful instant the secrets of the deepest darkness, though anxiously concealed in the darkened room. Yet too frequently the illumination is but for a passing moment: the heart returns again to the same darkness as before. Many have conscience enough to make them uneasy in sin, but not conscience enough to keep them from sin.

11. Conscience, its susceptibility.—There is a species of poplar, whose leaves are often rustled by a breeze too faint to stir the foliage of other trees. Noticing the fact one day, when there was scarce a breath of air, Gotthold thought within himself, "This tree is the emblem of a man with a wounded conscience, which takes alarm at the most trifling cause, and agitates him to such a pitch that he knows not whither to fly."

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