Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…
At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be established. The three in regard to men are God, the Bible, conscience. The latter is —
I. AN INWARD witness. Other witnesses are outside, and so may be set aside. One witness may be produced against another, or circumstances may destroy the testimony given, but it cannot be so with the witness within. A man may as soon fly from God or himself as from conscience. Now that which is thus within a man has the greatest influence upon him either for comfort or terror: so that we had better have all men and all devils for our enemies than our own conscience!
II. A KNOWING AND INTELLIGENT witness. None can know what conscience knows but He who knows all things. Human witness are sometimes set aside on account of intellectual feebleness, but conscience penetrates into the secret windings of our hearts; and as — Its discernment is clear, so its judgment is generally true, and what it once knows it never forgets.
III. An AUTHORISED AND CREDIBLE witness. Witnesses are sometimes disallowed on the ground of moral blemish; but conscience is the King's witness, so that he who heareth conscience, heareth God (Romans 9:1).
IV. A FAITHFUL AND TRUE witness. It will not be bribed: like its Master it accepts of no man's person. It deals impartially with the monarch and the slave; and though it may sometimes speak amiss, yet never contrary to its judgment.
V. A LOUD witness. The deaf shall hear the voice of conscience. Like the voice of God, it is terrible and full of majesty. Cain found it so. The cry of conscience was as loud as that of his brother's blood. Judas thought it so when he went and hanged himself. How loud does it sometimes speak on a sick and dying bed! The law thunders, and conscience is but the echo of its voice. The law speaks by terrible things in righteousness, and conscience does the same. The law says, "The soul that sinneth it shall die"; and conscience says, "Thou art the man!" Many endeavour to drown it in riot, and the hurry of business, but their efforts will be ineffectual. When God bids it speak, it will speak to purpose; and those who would not hear the voice of parents, ministers, providences, or even of the Divine Word, yet shall hear the voice of conscience.
VI. A SUFFICIENT witness. It will silence all pleas and excuses, put an end to all subterfuges and evasions, and leave a man self-judged and self-condemned, It is sufficient now; there is no refuting its testimony, or setting aside its verdict, and it will be so at the last day.
VII. An ETERNAL witness. If all other witnesses were dead, conscience lives, and will hereafter bear its testimony unrestrained. Its language will be, "Son, remember"! (Proverbs 5:12). Conclusion:
1. Let us take care of sinning against conscience. It is an enemy that no bolts nor bars can keep at a distance. The approbation of conscience, next to God's, is the greatest blessing this side of heaven.
2. Let us endeavour to keep conscience tender, then attend to its motions, and hearken to its remonstrances. Tenderness is its perfection. God takes notice of it (2 Chronicles 34:27).
3. Above all, let us have our hearts purged from an evil conscience by the blood of Christ.
4. Let wicked men remember that if conscience be ever so silent now, it will be vociferous enough at the great day. As the spectre said to Brutus, "I will meet thee at Philippi," so conscience says, "I will meet thee at judgment seat!" Good men, who at times suffer much from the lashes of their own consciences, learn the importance of having always "a conscience void of offence" (1 John 3:21).
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)