Conscience Proves the Existence of God
by Rev. Roderick MacEachen
There is something within us that we call conscience. It is as if a voice were speaking within us. When we have done wrong a strange feeling of shame and remorse comes over us. When we perform good and noble deeds we feel a certain inner satisfaction.
The voice of conscience is never silent. When men commit crimes, they often try to still the voice of conscience by riotous living, by amusements, by pleasures and excesses. Yet the voice of conscience is ever present with them. If they flee to the farthest quarters of the globe it follows them. It haunts them by day and by night. Their crime may be a secret to the whole world. Yet there is no hidden recess of earth where they are not accused of their crime. Multitudes may love and honor them. Yet they are always harassed by the never-ceasing voice of conscience.
Who will say that this mysterious voice was placed there by man? True, it can be made more tender by religious training. Yet its accusations point to something that goes beyond all human law and penalty. It reminds us of something more than our responsibility to human law. It is not the mere fear of detection by man that troubles the mind of the secret criminal. His inner anguish would be just as bitter were he exiled on a desert island.
If the voice of conscience were the mere sentiment of human ethics, it could only remind us of our responsibility to man and society. If it were mere the result of training, then it could warn us of nothing further than the aims of that teaching. But the voice of conscience is not silenced when the price of human justice has been paid. The murderer who has escaped the electric chair through the skill of his lawyers is pursued just as relentlessly as the murderer who fears detection by the law.
Conscience tells us that we must answer to an all-just God for our deeds. Though we answer to the whole world for our sins, conscience still upbraids us. It will not give us rest until we have made our peace with God. Nor can we make our peace with God until we have made our peace with our fellow-man. There is on earth but one means of stilling the chiding voice of conscience. It is by true repentance as enjoined by the law of Christ. Well our Savior knew the need of peace for sinful hearts. It was for this that he instituted the Sacrament of Penance. Who has not thanked God in his heart for this great Sacrament of Mercy! Who can describe the peace of the sinner's heart after he has made a sincere confession and received Sacramental absolution!
Conscience is a special proof of God's love and mercy towards us. It makes us feel that He is ever looking into our hearts. It tells us that He will punish the evil we do and reward the good we perform. God has placed great and good men over us to guide us in His law. Yet the voice of conscience within us is surer and wiser than all these. It is, as it were, the finger of God pointing out the way to us.
If we do evil far removed from the eyes of men, there comes, nevertheless, a feeling upon us as though someone were looking at us, pointing the finger of shame at us. And if unknown to all the world, we do a good and noble deed we feel as though a kind father or a tender mother were smiling benignly upon us. This is the prompting to good and the repugnance to evil that God has placed in our hearts. This is the tender solicitude that God shows for us every hour of our lives. We are His own. We are His creatures, His children. Such is the care we received from a devoted mother in our childhood. She warned us against evil; she chided us when we did wrong. She praised us when we were good; she embraced us when we responded to her loving commands.
All men recognize conscience. It has led some to maintain that virtue is its own reward and vice its own punishment. True it is that to practice virtue begins peace of heart, whilst to indulge the passions and sink into vice brings disgust and remorse. Yet this were indeed a poor motive for the observance of the moral law. The reward and punishment due to the moral law must come from God. Human nature could not reward or punish itself. To practice virtue, we must often deny human nature its very cravings. Whilst to sink in vice is but to follow the desires of nature for sensual pleasure.
Clearly conscience tells us that there is a God of love above us. Conscience gives us a proof of God's bounty that no man can deny. It fills our very heart with the knowledge of God's goodness. It is an inborn light, a constant friend that dwells in ur heart our whole life through and points every day to God and Eternity.