CLXXX. Morality and Religion.

2 COR. iv. 2. “By
manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s
conscience in the sight of God.”

THE truth of which the apostle is speaking, by the mani-
festation of which he commends himself to the conscience
of every man, was not moral truth, it was dogmatic truth.
That truth was “the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ” as
the “light of the glory of the knowledge of God in the face
of Jesus Christ.” It was not the moral precepts of Chris-
tianity, but it was the body of Christian doctrine concern-
ing the person and life of Jesus into which the apostles
baptized their converts. Now of this teaching it is said
that it commended itself to the conscience of every man
This is a startling claim on behalf of dogmatic truth. At
first sight it does not seem clear how this relation between
conscience and dogma can be so close and so evident that
the preaching of these propositions commends the preacher
to the moral sense of his hearers.
The idea of any relation existing between religion and
the human conscience is utterly discarded at the present
day by a large school of teachers and thinkers. These
teachers are busy in constructing a scientific basis for
morality, which will enable human morality to survive in
the coming day when knowledge will have enabled men to
dispense with Divine faith.
Let us endeavour to ascertain what the relation between
morality and religion is. Supernatural teaching is not the
external authority for moral obligation. The law written
upon our hearts is superior to any other law, and any law
that contradicts this is self-condemned. This is exactly
what the apostle is teaching, to judge of the truths pro-
claimed, by the conscience within you. Christianity recog-
nises the absolute supremacy of conscience. A man who
is moral only for the sake of heaven, or for fear of hell, can
only be moral in a very imperfect way. Religion throws
light upon facts in our nature that alone can justify our
claim to be moral. The manifestation of the supernatural
has come to strengthen the basis of morality—to give it
back supremacy, and crown it with the crown which is
“the light of the glory of the knowledge of God in Jesus
Christ,” The Christian doctrines of sin, atonement, for-
giveness and sanctification, speak to the moral sense of
man, and dignify and deepen the motives for fair and just
dealings with one another. Men shall continue to rejoice
in “the light of the glory of God” because it is seen “in
the face of Jesus Christ,” and it commends itself to the
conscience of every man.
W. C. Magee, D.D.

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