Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
It will be found that men are sensitive to right and wrong, not so much by reason of the direct impact of intellectual decision as by reason of intellectual decision transmitted through another faculty or emotion. Take an illustration out of my own experience — for it is always allowable, I believe, for a man to dissect his own sins. When I came to Brooklyn, feeling a certain independence, I refused to return marriage certificates to the authorities. There was no law which compelled me to do it, and I was not going to return them for mere form's sake. By and by a law was passed that all clergymen should return marriage certificates to the Board of Health, but I did not do it then; I did not see any reason for it, and I was not going to trouble myself about it. But after the first year of the war, on two or three occasions it happened some woman would come to me and say, "My husband was killed on the battlefield; the Government owed him for bounty and back pay; but I cannot get the money unless I can prove that I was married to him: will you not give me a certificate? "I had none. I had made no return of their marriage, it did not take more than one argument like that to convince me that I ought to make returns of certificates of marriage. I said to myself, "If the bread of the poor is often to be determined by the fact of a marriage; if the fact of a marriage is a question of humanity, and can settle what is right and what is wrong, then my duty in the matter is clear"; and I believe I have not failed to return the certificate of a marriage since that day. The mere abstract law would not affect any conscience; but since my conscience was approached through sympathy, through benevolent feeling, you could not bribe me to neglect my duty in that regard. My conscience has strength on that side.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.