The Conscience must be Reached

"They were pricked in the heart, and said … What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

It is an absolute necessity that the conscience should be awakened by the truth of God if men are to be truly converted, and the servants of Christ should see that their energies are divinely directed to this end; apart from it, every effort to win a soul is useless. We were asked to see a man who, though he had escaped the hangman's rope, had served fifteen years' penal servitude for murder. We thought: Here will be one who needs not to be told that he is a sinner, and that sin is a heinous thing; but to whom it will be easy to tell the story of free grace and dying love. We were disappointed, for he had buttressed his soul against the gospel by his own fancied goodness, and claimed that if he had done wrong he had paid the penalty, and so had as good a chance of heaven as any other. He had no need of Christ, his own righteousness would save him.

Then we met a refreshing contrast to this case. It was at the close of a meeting for children. A lad of twelve, with the tears racing each other down his cheeks, stayed to speak to us. We asked him the cause of his grief, and he answered, "I stole a pencil from a boy." "Indeed," we replied, "and how long ago was that?" "About two years since," he answered. And while he confessed that many other bad things burdened his young soul, this had specially troubled him in the gospel service. It was a joy to hear him plead with God to blot out his sins for Jesus' sake, nor was he kept waiting for that great blessing.

The sin of the man was stupendous, the sin of the boy a mere peccadillo, as we should say. Yes, but it all depends upon the standard by which we measure the transgressions. In the presence of God all sin is "exceeding sinful." And the servant of the Lord who would have true success, must labour to bring his hearers into the presence of God, for there alone will the conscience be rightly affected.