In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy says, "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience" (p. 106). It is very significant that reason and conscience are thus linked together and their vital relation to each other shown, the more so since many have held very hazy views as to the function of conscience, some thinkers regarding it as a propelling, not a directing force in human consciousness. Webster informs us that as science means knowledge, it follows, etymologically, that conscience means self-knowledge. He defines conscience as "the faculty, power, or inward principle which decides as to the character of one's own actions, purposes, and affections, warning against and condemning that which is wrong, and approving and prompting that which is right." There are numerous references to conscience in the New Testament, especially in Paul's writings, the most familiar passage being that in which he speaks of the one whose "weak" conscience is defiled by his partaking of that which is offered to an idol, and also of those who have "their conscience seared with a hot iron." Again, in Hebrews, we find the fervent desire expressed that our conscience may be purified "from dead works to serve the living God."

In Christian Science conscience might be defined as the faculty which responds to the demands of divine Principle, or to be more accurate, that which is conscious of such demands. A nature which had no sense of the demands of justice, of truth, or of right, would tend toward annihilation, for evil is not self-preservative but self-destructive. An enlightened conscience, on the other hand, would prove an awakened spiritual nature, responsive to the requirements of divine law; whereas, the one whose reason and conscience were divorced would be swayed by fear, superstition, and the tyranny of man-made creeds and dogmas. Such an one would need to have his conscience purged from "dead works," that he might truly serve God and the cause of righteousness.

If the whole desire is to know the will of God and to do it, obedience must and will follow, and this will of necessity bring greater and greater enlightenment. One of the greatest miseries of mortal experience is the uncertainty as to what is right on many occasions, but there can be no uncertainty in the divine Mind, to which we have continual access, and to the extent that we reflect this Mind our sense of uncertainty vanishes, and we shall do all things to the glory of God. Our first duty, then, is to do what our revered Leader has said in her beautiful hymn (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 398),—

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April 30, 1910

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