"The temple gate of conscience"

         In her Message to The Mother Church for 1902 (p. 18) Mrs. Eddy says, "Be faithful at the temple gate of conscience, wakefully guard it; then thou wilt know when the thief cometh." Our Leader has a great deal to say about conscience in her various writings, and there is no doubt but that it is a subject of vital importance to all Christian Scientists. One definition of it tells us that conscience is a faculty whereby we may "decide as to the moral qualities of one's own thoughts and acts, enjoining what is good."

         Conscience is certainly a God-given ability to divide between what is right or wrong in one's own thoughts, motives, and conduct, together with the recognition of an obligation to choose always that which is right. Then its temple gate must be the mental point where all desires, purposes, and intentions may and should be challenged and examined, the good chosen and the evil rejected, before any are allowed to enter our thinking and take up their abode therein.

         Most men admit that there is that within them which carefully admonishes and directs them when they are halting between a right and a wrong decision; which brings them a sense of approval when they do right or of condemnation when they do wrong. Conscience is the safeguard God has bestowed upon us whereby we may always — alone with and guided by Him — choose for ourselves between what we believe to be right and wrong, and having thus chosen we can then stand courageously for that which our conscience indicates as our highest understanding of what is nearest right at that time.

         Mankind for the most part has always recognized what is called "the inner voice" and has discovered that to obey its behests has brought peace and satisfaction, accompanied finally with success in what has been undertaken. They, however, have not always realized that this inner voice is the divine, calling upon them to divide between Truth and error. Had it always been recognized that it is a divine thought which thus speaks to men in the voice of conscience, they might have heeded it more quickly and more frequently.

         This true nature of conscience must be realized and tenderly entertained, if it is to be of the highest possible benefit to its possessor. It must be so protected that nothing but truth shall be allowed to enter its sacred precincts; it must be permitted to function properly at all times; that is, it must never be disregarded or silenced, but must be listened to attentively that its God-inspired intentions may be cherished and obeyed; it must be honored and respected, and must be recognized as the temple of right reason and understanding. It must be kept active and loving and wise through acquaintance with God, if it is to lead us safely forward in gaining that spiritual understanding which is finally to land us in the haven of Soul; above all, its exalted origin must never be lost sight of.

         If conscience is disregarded, unhonored, disobeyed it will seem to become a companion which men often think they would gladly dispense with. Under such adverse circumstances it becomes what men have denominated a "guilty conscience," recalling and condemning all of one's past mistakes and failures. Then mortals become so tormented by this inner voice that sometimes in their desire to silence it they harden their hearts against it until it apparently becomes inactive and mute. If, however, men will but awaken from their submission to the claims of error and listen attentively, this voice of conscience will again point the way of redemption from evil by indicating the path of uprightness and integrity.

         Mrs. Eddy tells us in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 237), "This period is not essentially one of conscience." It therefore behooves Christian Scientists to be alert as they have never been before, both to guard and obey conscience. In "Pulpit and Press" (p. 10) she writes, "It was our Master's self-immolation, his life-giving love, healing both mind and body, that raised the deadened conscience, paralyzed by inactive faith, to a quickened sense of mortal's necessities and God's power and purpose to supply them." Because Jesus always stood guard at "the temple gate of conscience," because he never was deaf to nor disobeyed the inner voice, he could so forget self as to bring such healing to others that even their dead faith could be resurrected, and their conscience could be so revived that it would again take up the God-ordained work of guarding the mortal in his march from evil to good.

         Then let us follow in Jesus' footsteps, always remembering, as Paul tells us, that "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned."


"'The temple gate of conscience'" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, February 27, 1926

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