C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


A still, small voice.

1 Kings xix. 12.

Conscience is a thousand swords.


The only infallible judge.

Hosea Ballou.

Conscience is the voice of God in the soul.


The soft whispers of the God in man.


Conscience is justice’s best minister.

Lady Montagu.

Conscience is its own counsellor.


Man’s conscience is the oracle of God!


There is no college for the conscience.

Theodore Parker.

God’s vicegerent in the soul.


The pulse of reason.


Reason deceives us often; conscience never.


No infallible oracle out of the breast.

Rev. Dr. Hedge.

The conscience is more wise than science.


Let his tormentor conscience find him out.


The great theatre for virtue is conscience.


How awful is that hour when conscience stings.


Conscience is the sentinel of virtue.


A wounded conscience is able to un-paradise paradise itself.


Conscience is God’s deputy in the soul.

Rev. T. Adams.

Conscience is the chamber of justice.


What exile from himself can flee?


The sense of right.

Dr. Watson.

A good conscience is a continual Christmas.


The thundering voice that wrings, in one dark, damning moment, crimes of years!


No evil is intolerable but a guilty conscience.


Conscience is its own readiest accuser.


The still small voice is wanted.


The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.


A sound conscience is a brazen wall of defense.

From the Latin.

Trust that man in nothing who has not a conscience in everything.


Good conscience is sometimes sold for money, but never bought with it.


Despotic conscience rules our hopes and fears.


A good conscience is the best looking-glass of heaven.


The most exacting jailer is our own conscience.

J. Petit-Senn.

The only incorruptible thing about us.


Conscience is a sacred sanctuary where God alone may enter as judge.


By the verdict of his own breast no guilty man is ever acquitted.


The tribunal of conscience exists independent of edicts and decrees.


One self-approving hour whole years outweighs.


No outward change need trouble him who is inwardly serene.

Hosea Ballou.

Conscience has no more to do with gallantry than it has with politics.


The conscience of the dying belies their life.


Many a lash in the dark doth conscience give the wicked.


Rules of society are nothing, one’s conscience is the umpire.

Madame Dudevant.

A man of integrity will never listen to any reason against conscience.


  • The sweetest cordial we receive at last,
  • Is conscience of our virtuous actions past.
  • Goffe.

  • Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
  • The thief doth fear each bush an officer.
  • Shakespeare.

    The mind conscious of innocence despises false reports; but we are always ready to believe a scandal.


    The Unknown is an ocean. What is conscience? The compass of the Unknown.

    Joseph Cook.

    Heed the still, small voice that so seldom leads us wrong, and never into folly.

    Mme. du Deffand.

    I feel within me a peace above all earthly dignities, a still and quiet conscience.


  • Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
  • Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.
  • Shakespeare.

    Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called Conscience.

    George Washington.

    Most men are afraid of a bad name, but few fear their consciences.


  • Nor ear can hear nor tongue can tell
  • The tortures of that inward hell!
  • Byron.

    Conscience serves us especially to judge of the actions of others.

    J. Petit-Senn.

  • Conscience is harder than our enemies,
  • Knows more, accuses with more nicety.
  • George Eliot.

  • Ah, what a sign it is of evil life,
  • Where death’s approach is seen so terrible!
  • Shakespeare.

    The conscience is the inviolable asylum of the liberty of man.


    No man ever offended his own conscience but first or last it was revenged upon him for it.


    I seek no better warrant than my own conscience.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    Conscience is the reason employed about questions of right and wrong.


    What we call conscience, in many instances, is only a wholesome fear of the constable.


    Conscience warns us as a friend before it punishes us as a judge.


    The great chastisement of a knave is not to be known, but to know himself.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Let us be thankful for health and competence, and, above all, for a quiet conscience.

    Izaak Walton.

    Leave her to heaven and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, to prick and sting her.


    Conscience is the living law, and honor is to this law what piety is to religion.


    There is no evil which we cannot face or fly from but the consciousness of duty disregarded.

    Daniel Webster.

    Conscience and wealth are not always neighbors.


    Be fearful only of thyself, and stand in awe of none more than thine own conscience.


    In matters of conscience first thoughts are best; in matters of prudence last thoughts are best.

    Robert Hall.

    We never do evil so effectually as when we are led to do it by a false principle of conscience.


    If you should escape the censure of others, hope not to escape your own.

    Henry Home.

    There is in man a conscience which outlives the sensations, resolutions, and emotions of the hour, and rises above them all.

    Edward Thomson.

    Conscience is that peculiar faculty of the soul which may be called the religious instinct.

    Samuel Smiles.

    The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it; but it is also so clear that it is impossible to mistake it.

    Madame de Staël.

  • The virtuous mind that ever walks attended
  • By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
  • Harrison.

  • See from behind her secret stand
  • The sly informer minutes ev’ry fault
  • And her dread diary with horror fills.
  • Young.

    A good conscience is the palace of Christ; the temple of the Holy Ghost; the paradise of delight; the standing Sabbath of the saints.


    There is one court whose “findings” are incontrovertible, and whose sessions are held in the chambers of our own breast.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Conscience is merely our own judgment of the moral rectitude or turpitude of our own actions.


    What other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart? What jailer so inexorable as one’s self?


    Our secret thoughts are rarely heard except in secret. No man knows what conscience is until he understands what solitude can teach him concerning it.

    Joseph Cook.

  • Foul whisp’rings are abroad; and unnat’ral deeds
  • Do breed unnat’ral troubles: infected minds
  • To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.
  • Shakespeare.

    Every one of us, whatever his speculative opinions, knows better than he practices, and recognizes a better law than he obeys.

    James A. Froude.

    He that hath a scrupulous conscience is like a horse that is not well weighed; he starts at every bird that flies out of the hedge.


    I believe that we cannot live better than in seeking to become better, nor more agreeably than having a clear conscience.


    A guilty conscience is like a whirlpool, drawing in all to itself which would otherwise pass by.


    O conscience, into what abyss of fears and horrors hast thou driven me, out of which I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged.


    O the wound of conscience is no scar, and time cools it not with his wing, but merely keeps it open with his scythe.


    Conscience is the mirror of our souls, which represents the errors of our lives in their full shape.


    There is no class of men so difficult to be managed in a state, as those whose intentions are honest, but whose consciences are bewitched.


    We should have all our communications with men, as in the presence of God; and with God, as in the presence of men.


    Conscience, that boon companion who sets a man free under the strong breastplate of innocence, that bids him on and fear not.


    I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, self.


    Our faults afflict us more than our good deeds console. Pain is ever uppermost in the conscience as in the heart.

    Madame Swetchine.

    Conscience, that vicegerent of God in the human heart, whose “still small voice” the loudest revelry cannot drown.

    W. H. Harrison.

    A man never outlives his conscience, and that, for this cause only, he cannot outlive himself.


    There is no future pang can deal that justice on the self-condemned he deals on his own soul.


    That conscience approves of and attests such a course of action, is itself alone an obligation.


    The true grandeur of humanity is in moral elevation, sustained, enlightened, and decorated by the intellect of man.

    Charles Sumner.

    Be this thy brazen bulwark, to keep a clear conscience, and never turn pale with guilt.


    Light as a gossamer is the circumstance, which can bring enjoyment to a conscience, which is not its own accuser.

    W. Carleton.

    Liberty of conscience (when people have consciences) is rightly considered the most indispensable of liberties.


  • Thrice is he arm’d, that hath his quarrel just;
  • And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel,
  • Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.
  • Shakespeare.

    Who has a heart so pure but some uncleanly apprehensions keep leets and law-days, and in session sit with meditations lawful?


    Happy is the man who renounces everything which may bring a stain or burden upon his conscience.

    Thomas à Kempis.

  • A quiet conscience makes one so serene!
  • Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
  • That all the apostles would have done as they did.
  • Byron.

  • Why should not conscience have vacation,
  • As well as other courts o’ th’ nation?
  • Have equal power to adjourn,
  • Appoint appearance, and return?
  • Butler.

    A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next, to escape the censures of the world.


    Conscience is a blushing, shamefaced spirit that mutinies in a man’s bosom; it fills one full of obstacles.


    Conscience never commands nor forbids anything authentically, but there is some law of God which commands and forbids it first.


    A man can bear a world’s contempt when he has that within which says he’s worthy. When he contemns himself, there burns the hell.

    Alexander Smith.

    It is often easier to justify one’s self to others than to respond to the secret doubts that arise in one’s own bosom.

    Mrs. Oliphant.

    If we regulate our conduct according to our own convictions, we may safely disregard the praise or censure of others.


    Conscience is a coward; and those faults it has not strength enough to prevent it seldom has justice enough to accuse.


    The authority of conscience stands founded upon its vicegerency and deputation under God.


    The most miserable pettifogging in the world is that of a man in the court of his own conscience.


    Merit and good works is the end of man’s motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man’s rest.


    I must leave you to the satisfaction of your own conscience, which, though a silent panegyric, is yet the best.


    As the blush is the signal of innocence, so is serenity of manner the token of a quiet conscience.

    Mme. Necker.

    Undoubtedly we render our consciences callous by evil indulgences; but we cannot entirely subdue that still, small voice.


  • Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
  • And thus the native hue of resolution
  • Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.
  • Shakespeare.

    As the mind of each man is conscious of good or evil, so does he conceive within his breast hope or fear, according to his actions.


  • Man, wretched man, whene’er he stoops to sin,
  • Feels, with the act, a strong remorse within.
  • Juvenal.

  • The Past lives o’er again
  • In its effects, and to the guilty spirit
  • The ever-frowning Present is its image.
  • Coleridge.

    It is as bad to clip conscience as to clip coin; it is as bad to give a counterfeit statement as a counterfeit bill.


    Be more careful of your conscience than of your estate. The latter can be bought and sold; the former never.

    Hosea Ballou.

  • Trust me no tortures which the poets feign
  • Can match the fierce unutterable pain
  • He feels, who night and day devoid of rest
  • Carries his own accuser in his breast.
  • Gifford.

    Better be with the dead, whom we, to gain our place, have sent to peace, than on the torture of the mind to lie in restless ecstasy.


  • Yet still there whispers the small voice within,
  • Heard thro’ 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!
  • Byron.

  • Here, here it lies; a lump of lead by day;
  • And in my short distracted nightly slumbers,
  • The hag that rides my dreams.
  • Dryden.

  • Though thy slumber may be deep,
  • Yet thy spirit will not sleep;
  • There are shades that will not vanish,
  • There are thoughts thou canst not banish.
  • Byron.

    A man who sells his conscience for his interest, will sell it for his pleasure. A man who will betray his country, will betray his friend.

    Miss Edgeworth.

    Even in the fiercest uproar of our stormy passions, conscience, though in her softest whispers, gives to the supremacy of rectitude the voice of an undying testimony.


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


    If thou wouldst be informed what God has written concerning thee in Heaven look into thine own bosom, and see what graces He hath there wrought in thee.


  • But, at sixteen, the conscience rarely gnaws
  • So much, as when we call our old debts in
  • At sixty years, and draw the accounts of evil,
  • And find a deuced balance with the devil.
  • Byron.

  • The color of the king doth come and go,
  • Between his purpose and his conscience,
  • Like heralds ’twixt two dreadful battles set:
  • His passion is so ripe, it needs must break.
  • Shakespeare.

    He that hath a blind conscience which sees nothing, a dead conscience which feels nothing, and a dumb conscience which says nothing, is in as miserable a condition as a man can be on this side of hell.

    Patrick Henry.

    In the commission of evil, fear no man so much as thyself; another is but one witness against thee, thou art a thousand; another thou mayest avoid, thyself thou canst not. Wickedness is its own punishment.


    A man, so to speak, who is not able to bow to his own conscience every morning is hardly in a condition to respectfully salute the world at any other time of the day.

    Douglas Jerrold.

  • What Conscience dictates to be done,
  • Or warns me not to do;
  • This teach me more than Hell to shun,
  • That more than Heav’n pursue.
  • Pope.

  • Oh! think what anxious moments pass between
  • The birth of plots, and their last fatal periods,
  • Oh! ’tis a dreadful interval of time,
  • Filled up with horror all, and big with death!
  • Addison.

    Some persons follow the dictates of their conscience only in the same sense in which a coachman may be said to follow the horses he is driving.


    The world will never be in any manner of order or tranquillity until men are firmly convinced that conscience, honor and credit are all in one interest; and that without the concurrence of the former the latter are but impositions upon ourselves and others.


    It is a man’s own dishonesty, his crimes, his wickedness, and boldness, that takes away from him soundness of mind; these are the furies, these the flames and firebrands, of the wicked.


    Remorse of conscience is like an old wound; a man is in no condition to fight under such circumstances. The pain abates his vigor and takes up too much of his attention.

    Jeremy Collier.

    Preserve your conscience always soft and sensitive. If but one sin force its way into that tender part of the soul and dwell there, the road is paved for a thousand iniquities.


    Man is naturally more desirous of a quiet and approving, than of a vigilant and tender conscience,—more desirous of security than of safety.


    Our conscience is a fire within us, and our sins as the fuel; instead of warming, it will scorch us, unless the fuel be removed, or the heat of it allayed by penitential tears.

    Dr. Mason.

    Conscience and covetousness are never to be reconciled; like fire and water they always destroy each other, according to the predominancy of the element.

    Jeremy Collier.

    A good conscience is never lawless in the worst regulated state, and will provide those laws for itself which the neglect of legislators had forgotten to supply.


    A man’s own conscience is his sole tribunal, and he should care no more for that phantom “opinion” than he should fear meeting a ghost if he crossed the churchyard at dark.


    Conscience is a great ledger book in which all our offences are written and registered, and which time reveals to the sense and feeling of the offender.


    A tender conscience is an inestimable blessing; that is, a conscience not only quick to discern what is evil, but instantly to shun it, as the eyelid closes itself against the mote.

    Rev. N. Adams.

    Oh the difference of divers men in the tenderness of their consciences! Some are scarcely touched with a wound, while others are wounded with a touch therein.

    Thomas Fuller.

    Let not your peace rest in the utterances of men, for whether they put a good or bad construction on your conduct does not make you other than you are.

    Thomas à Kempis.

    I have somewhere read that conscience not only sits as witness and judge within our bosoms, but also forms the prison of punishment.

    Hosea Ballou.

  • Now conscience wakes despair
  • That slumber’d, wakes the bitter memory,
  • Of what he was, what is, what must be
  • Worse; if worst deeds, worse sufferings must ensue.
  • Milton.

    A good conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves a constant ease and serenity within us, and more than countervails all the calamities and afflictions that can possibly befall us.


    The breast of a good man is a little heaven commencing on earth; where the Deity sits enthroned with unrivaled influence, every subjugated passion, “like the wind and storm, fulfilling his word.”


  • Oh! Conscience! Conscience! Man’s most faithful friend,
  • Him canst thou comfort, ease, relieve, defend:
  • But if he will thy friendly checks forego,
  • Thou art, oh! woe for me, his deadliest foe!
  • Crabbe.

    Conscience is a clock which, in one man, strikes aloud and gives warning; in another, the hand points silently to the figure, but strikes not. Meantime, hours pass away, and death hastens, and after death comes judgment.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • He that has light within his own clear breast,
  • May sit i’ the centre, and enjoy bright day;
  • But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
  • Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
  • Himself is his own dungeon.
  • Milton.

    To say that we have a clear conscience is to utter a solecism; had we never sinned we should have had no conscience. Were defeat unknown, neither would victory be celebrated by songs of triumph.


    He that loses his conscience has nothing left that is worth keeping. Therefore be sure you look to that, and in the next place look to your health; and if you have it, praise God and value it next to a good conscience.

    Izaak Walton.

    A good conscience is a port which is landlocked on every side, where no winds can possibly invade. There a man may not only see his own image, but that of his Maker, clearly reflected from the undisturbed waters.


    Be what it may, let the first whisper of the internal monitor be listened to as an oracle, as the still small voice which Elijah heard when he wrapped his face in his mantle, recognizing it to be the voice of God.

    Robert Hall.

    Conscience is, at once, the sweetest and most troublesome of guests. It is the voice which demanded Abel of his brother, or that celestial harmony which vibrated in the ears of the martyrs, and soothed their sufferings.

    Madame Swetchine.

    God, in His wrath, has not left this world to the mercy of the subtlest dialectician; and all arguments are happily transitory in their effect when they contradict the primal intuitions of conscience and the inborn sentiments of the heart.


    We are born to lose and to perish, to hope and to fear, to vex ourselves and others; and there is no antidote against a common calamity but virtue; for the foundation of true joy is in the conscience.


  • Oh! I have past a miserable night!
  • So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
  • That as I am a Christian faithful man,
  • I would not spend another such a night,
  • Though ’t were to buy a world of happy days!
  • Shakespeare.

    No outward tyranny can reach the mind. If conscience plays the tyrant, it would be greatly for the benefit of the world that she were more arbitrary, and far less placable than some men find her.


    The moral conscience is a truly primitive faculty; it is a particular manner of feeling which corresponds to the goodness of moral actions, as taste is a manner of feeling which corresponds to beauty. Love men, immolate error.

    St. Augustine.

    The impulse which directs to right conduct, and deters from crime, is not only older than the ages of nations and cities, but coeval with that Divine Being who sees and rules both heaven and earth.


  • Who born so poor,
  • Of intellect so mean, as not to know
  • What seem’d the best; and knowing not to do?
  • As not to know what God and conscience bade,
  • And what they bade not able to obey?
  • Pollok.

  • Not all the glory, all the praise,
  • That decks the hero’s prosperous days,
  • The shout of men, the laurel crown,
  • The pealing anthems of renown,
  • May conscience’ dreadful sentence drown.
  • Mrs. Holford.

    Alas, that we should be so unwilling to listen to the still and holy yearnings of the heart! A god whispers quite softly in our breast, softly yet audibly; telling us what we ought to seek and what to shun.


  • When Conscience wakens who can with her strive?
  • Terrors and troubles from a sick soul drive?
  • Naught so unpitying as the ire of sin,
  • The inappeas’ble Nemesis within.
  • Abraham Coles.

    Be fearful only of thyself; and stand in awe of none more than thine own conscience. There is a Cato in every man; a severe censor of his manners. And he that reverences this judge will seldom do anything he need repent of.


  • Be mine that silent calm repast,
  • A conscience cheerful to the last:
  • That tree which bears immortal fruit,
  • Without a canker at the root;
  • That friend which never fails the just,
  • When other friends desert their trust.
  • Dr. Cotton.

    Every man, however good he may be, has a yet better man dwelling in him, which is properly himself, but to whom nevertheless he is often unfaithful. It is to this interior and less mutable being that we should attach ourselves, not to the changeable, every-day man.

    Wilhelm von Humboldt.

    Conscience is that faculty which perceives right and wrong in actions, approves or disapproves them, anticipates their consequences under the moral administration of God, and is thus either the cause of peace or of disquietude of mind.

    Rev. S. Conn, D.D.

  • ’Tis ever thus
  • With noble minds, if chance they slide to folly;
  • Remorse stings deeper, and relentless conscience
  • Pours more gall into the bitter cup
  • Of their severe repentance.
  • Mason.

  • Shall be more sweet than all the joys
  • Amongst us mortal men.
  • Then shalt thou find but one refuge
  • Which comfort can retain;
  • A guiltless conscience pure and clear
  • From touch of sinful stain.
  • Brandon.

    To be satisfied with the acquittal of the world, though accompanied with the secret condemnation of conscience, this is the mark of a little mind; but it requires a soul of no common stamp to be satisfied with its own acquittal, and to despise the condemnation of the world.


    What a fool is he who locks his door to keep out spirits, who has in his own bosom a spirit he dares not meet alone; whose voice, smothered far down, and piled over with mountains of earthliness, is yet like the forewarning trumpet of doom!

    Mrs. Stowe.

  • He fears not dying—’tis a deeper fear,—
  • The thunder-peal cries to his conscience—“Hear”!
  • The rushing winds from memory lift the veil,
  • And in each flash his sins, like spectres pale,
  • Freed, from their dark abode, his guilty breast,
  • Shriek in his startled ear—“Death is not rest”!
  • Mrs. Hale.

    It is quite certain that, if from childhood men were to begin to follow the first intimations of conscience, honestly to obey them and carry them out into act, the power of conscience would be so strengthened and improved within them, that it would soon become, what it evidently is intended to be, “a connecting principle between the creature and the Creator.”

    J. C. Shairp.

  • Give me another horse,—bind up my wounds,
  • Have mercy, Jesu!—soft;—I did but dream.—
  • O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!—
  • The lights burn blue.—It is now dead midnight.
  • Cold fearful drops stand on my fearful flesh.
  • What do I fear? myself?
  • Shakespeare.

    What a strange thing an old dead sin laid away in a secret drawer of the soul is? Must it some time or other be moistened with tears, until it comes to life again, and begins to stir in our consciousness, as the dry wheat-animalcule, looking like a grain of dust, becomes alive if it is wet with a drop of water?


    A palsy may as well shake an oak, or a fever dry up a fountain, as either of them shake, dry up, or impair the delight of conscience. For it lies within, it centres in the heart, it grows into the very substance of the soul, so that it accompanies a man to his grave; he never outlives it.


    Conscience is too great a power in the nature of man to be altogether subdued; it may be for a time repressed and kept dormant; but conjectures there are in human life which awaken it, and when once reawakened, it flashes on the sinner’s mind with all the horrors of an invisible ruler and a future judgment.


    A good conscience fears no witnesses, but a guilty conscience is solicitous even in solitude. If we do nothing but what is honest, let all the world know it; but if otherwise, what does it signify to have nobody else know it so long as I know it myself? Miserable is he who slights that witness!


    Conscience signifies that knowledge which a man hath of his own thoughts and actions; and because, if a man judgeth fairly of his actions by comparing them with the law of God, his mind will approve or condemn him; this knowledge or conscience may be both an accuser and a judge.


    Conscience is a judge in every man’s breast, which none can cheat or corrupt, and perhaps the only incorrupt thing about him; yet, inflexible and honest as this judge is (however polluted the bench on which he sits), no man can, in my opinion, enjoy any applause which is not there adjudged to be his due.


    A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next, to escape the censures of the world. If the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise there cannot be a greater satisfaction to an honest mind, than to see those approbations which it gives itself seconded by the applause of the public.


  • A Witness.
  • Consider all thy actions and take heed
  • On stolen bread, tho’ it is sweet to feed.
  • Sin, like a bee, unto thy hive may bring
  • A little honey but expect the sting.
  • Thou may’st conceal thy sin by cunning art,
  • But conscience sits a witness in thy heart,
  • Which will disturb thy peace, thy rest undo,
  • For that is witness, judge, and prison too.
  • Watkins.

    Were men so enlightened and studious of their own good as to act by the dictates of their reason and reflection, and not the opinion of others, conscience would be the steady ruler of human life, and the words truth, law, reason, equity, and religion could be but synonymous terms for that only guide which makes us pass our days in our own favor and approbation.


    It is a blushing, shame-faced spirit, that mutinies in a man’s bosom; it fills one full of obstacles; it made me once restore a purse of gold that by chance I found; it beggars any man that keeps it; it is turned out of all towns and cities for a dangerous thing; and every man that means to live well endeavors to trust to himself, and live without it.


    Conscience is justice’s best minister; it threatens, promises, rewards, and punishes and keeps all under 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.

    Mrs. Montagu.

    In the wildest anarchy of man’s insurgent appetites and sins there is still a reclaiming voice,—a voice which, even when in practice disregarded, it is impossible not to own; and to which, at the very moment that we refuse our obedience, we find that we cannot refuse the homage of what ourselves do feel and acknowledge to be the best, the highest principles of our nature.


    The good or evil we confer on others very often, I believe, recoils on ourselves; for as men of a benign disposition enjoy their own acts of beneficence equally with those to whom they are done, so there are scarce any natures so entirely diabolical as to be capable of doing injuries without paying themselves some pangs for the ruin which they bring on their fellow-creatures.


    The most reckless sinner against his own conscience has always in the background the consolation that he will go on in this course only this time, or only so long, but that at such a time he will amend. We may be assured that we do not stand clear with our own consciences so long as we determine or project, or even hold it possible, at some future time to alter our course of action.


    As the stag which the huntsman has hit flies through bush and brake, over stock and stone, thereby exhausting his strength but not expelling the deadly bullet from his body; so does experience show that they who have troubled consciences run from place to place, but carry with them wherever they go their dangerous wounds.


    Conscience is the voice of the soul, the passions are the voice of the body. Is it astonishing that often these two languages contradict each other, and then to which must we listen? Too often reason deceives us; we have only too much acquired the right of refusing to listen to it; but conscience never deceives us; it is the true guide of man; it is to man what instinct is to the body, which follows it, obeys nature, and never is afraid of going astray.


    An old historian says about the Roman armies that marched through a country, burning and destroying every living thing, “They make a solitude, and they call it peace.” And so men do with their consciences. They stifle them, sear them, forcibly silence them, somehow or other; and then, when there is a dead stillness in the heart, broken by no voice of either approbation or blame, but doleful, like the unnatural quiet of a deserted city, then they say, “It is peace;” and the man’s uncontrolled passions and unbridled desires dwell solitary in the fortress of his own spirit! You may almost attain to that.

    Alexander Maclaren.

    Although there is nothing so bad for conscience as trifling, there is nothing so good for conscience as trifles. Its certain discipline and development are related to the smallest things. Conscience, like gravitation, takes hold of atoms. Nothing is morally indifferent. Conscience must reign in manners as well as morals, in amusements as well as work. He only who is “faithful in that which is least” is dependable in all the world.

    Maltbie Babcock.