The Way of the Lamb brings us abiding peace
There we find rest. We find peace in the same degree that we follow
Him in His way. And we retain it as long as we are one with Him.
This peace is not something we must strive or pray for; it is given
to us as soon as we take His yoke upon us and follow Him (Matt.
11:29). The Bible distinguishes between “peace with God” (Rom 5:1)
and the “peace of God” (Phi 4:7). These two are not the same. Peace
with God, or peace in one’s conscience, is a gift God gives to the sin4
ner as soon as He comes to the cross. The peace of God, or peace in
one’s heart, is a blessing one receives through obedience to God’s
commandments (Isa 48:18). Jesus also distinguishes between these
two experiences in His well-known invitation to those who are weary
(Mat 11:28-29). He speaks first of the rest which He will give to those
who come to Him, and then of the rest which is found by those who
In the Way of the Lamb we find a peace which abides, because
there we learn to let Him deal not only with our sins but also with our
difficulties, whether these concern our own person, our family, or
some work which rests upon us in the Kingdom of God. Thus did
Mary. She allowed Jesus to step in and answer her sister’s complaint
(Luk 10:38-42). And later, when Judas spoke his accusing words, she
again allowed the Master to answer on her behalf (Joh 12:1-5). To be
converted to God and still to be troubled with cares, with envy, or
with a wounded spirit, is something entirely unnatural. Such souls
lack that peace of heart which not only passes all understanding but
also conquers every trial.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “Now the Lord of peace Himself
give you peace at all times in all ways” (2Th 3:16). Can He really
give peace in all ways? Yea, certainly! He can give peace through
both the bitter and the sweet, through storm and calm, through adversity
and prosperity. He whom we follow is the Lord of Peace. As long
as we seek peace outside Him we may lose it at any moment, or it
may at least be disturbed. But the peace which can be disturbed is not
real peace. For the true Christian, years may come and go, his conditions
of living may alter, but never his peace. This changes no more
than does Jesus Himself. Oh, may we never doubt the possibility of
possessing such a peace, nor be afraid to walk in the Way where it is
This Way is called: In the Footprints of the Lamb. There we learn
to understand the meaning of the cross, to comprehend its power, and
to walk in its shadow. The deepest meaning of the cross is to give up
“one’s own ‘I’.” Only when this dark tyrant has been wounded unto
death can undisturbed peace rule. And then we no longer seek to preserve
that which is condemned to death. We desire no longer, like
Martha, to maintain our own authority; we gladly lay the government
upon His shoulder, who is called the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). Then
our peace grows ever deeper and greater. For as far as His government
extends, so far extends also our peace. Jesus lived not for
Himself but for His heavenly Father. For this reason His peace remained
unbroken when His own received Him not, when they were
ready to stone Him, and even when they nailed Him to the cross of
The lack of peace : an accusing conscience.
The nature of man also bears witness to the existence of God in the operations and reflections of his conscience. If the external marvels of creation exhibit the wisdom and power of the Creator, this mysterious faculty of the soul as clearly exemplifies His holiness and justice. Whatever be its nature or howsoever we define it, its forceful presence within presents us with a unique phenomenon. This moral sense in man challenges investigation and demands an explanation—an investigation which the Infidel is most reluctant to seriously make, and for which he is quite unable to furnish satisfactory explanation. “Conscience is a court always in session and imperative in its summons. No man can evade it or silence its accusations. It is a complete assize. It has a judge on its bench, and that judge will not be bribed into a lax decision. It has its witness stand, and can bring witnesses from the whole territory of the past life. It has its jury, ready to give a verdict, “guilty” or “not guilty,” in strict accordance with the evidence, and it has its sheriff, Remorse, with his whip of scorpions, ready to lash the convicted soul. The nearest thing in the world to the bar of God is the court of conscience. And though it be for a time drugged into a partial apathy or intoxicated with worldly pleasure, the time comes when in all the majesty of its imperial authority this court calls to its bar every transgressor and holds him to a strict account” (A. T. Pierson).
Conscience is that which conveys to the soul a realization of right and wrong. It is that inward faculty which passes judgment upon the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our desires and deeds. It is an ethical instinct, a faculty of moral sensibility, which both informs and impresses its possessor, being that which, basically, constitutes us responsible creatures. It is an inward faculty which is not only of a vastly superior order, but is far keener in perception than any of the bodily senses: it both sees, hears and feels. Its office is twofold: to warn us against sin and to prompt us unto the performance of duty—and this it does according to the light shining into it—from natural reason and Divine revelation. Though the heathen be without the Bible, yet their conscience passes judgment on natural duties and unnatural sins. Hence, the more spiritual light a person has, the greater his responsibility, and it is according to that principle and on that basis he will be dealt with at the grand Assize. “That servant which knew his lord’s will and prepared not, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:47-48). Punishment will be proportioned to light received and privileges enjoyed. To this moral sensibility of man as the basis of his accountability, the Apostle refers in Romans 2: “For when the Gentiles [heathen] which have not the Law, do by nature the things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a law unto themselves” (v. 14). The “nature” of anything is the peculiarity of its being, that in virtue of which it is what it is: it is that which belongs to its original constitution, in contradistinction from all that is taught or acquired. This ethical sense is an original part of his being, and is not the product of education—a power of discrimination by which he distinguishes between right and wrong is created in man. The natural light of reason enables the uncivilized to distinguish between virtue and vice. All, save infants and idiots, recognize the eternal difference between good and evil: they instinctively, or rather intuitively, feel this or that course is commendable or censurable. They have a sense of duty: the natural light of reason conveys the same. Even the most benighted and degraded give evidence that they are not without a sense of obligation: however primitive and savage be their mode of life, yet the very fact that they frame some form of law and order for the community, proves beyond any doubt they have a definite notion of justice and rectitude. The very nature of the heathen, their sense of right and wrong, leads to the performing of moral actions. In confirmation thereof, the Apostle went on to say, “which show the work of the Law written in their heart, their conscience also bearing witness [to the existence of God and their accountability to Him], and their thoughts the meanwhile [or “between themselves,” margin] accusing or excusing [the conduct of themselves and of] one another” (Rom. 2:15). The “work of the Law” is not to be understood as a power of righteousness operating within them, still less as their actual doing of what the Law requires; but rather the function or design of the Law, which is to direct action. The natural light of reason informs them of the distinction between right and wrong. “Their conscience also bearing witness,” that is, in addition to the dictates of reason, for they are by no means the same thing. Knowledge of duty and the actions of conscience are quite distinct: the one reveals what is right, the other approves of it, and condemns the contrary. They have sufficient light to judge between what is honest and dishonest, and their moral sense makes this distinction before commission of sin, in the commission, and afterward—as clearly appears in their acquitting or condemning one another.
Those who have given Romans 2:14 any serious thought must have been puzzled if not stumbled by the statement that those in Heathendom, “do by nature the things contained in the Law,” since they neither love the Lord God with all their hearts nor their neighbours as themselves—the sum of what it requires. The American Revised Version is much to be preferred: “Do by nature the things of the Law,” which describes not the yielding of obedience to the Law, but the performing of its functions. The proper business of the Law is to say, This is right, that is wrong; you will be rewarded for the one, and punished for the other. To command, to forbid, to promise, to threaten—these are “the things of the Law,” the “work” of it (v. 15). The Apostle’s assertion is this—an assertion exactly accordant with truth, and directly bearing on his argument: “The Gentiles who have no written Divine Law, perform by nature from their very constitution, to themselves and each other, the functions of such a law. They make a distinction between right and wrong, just as they do between truth and falsehood. They cannot help doing so. They often go wrong by mistaking what is right and what is wrong, as they often go wrong by mistaking what is true and what is false. But they approve themselves and one another when doing what they think right; they disapprove themselves and one another when they do what they think to be wrong; so that, though they have no written law, they act the part of a law to themselves. This capacity, this necessity of their nature, distinguishes them from brutes, and makes them the subjects of Divine moral government. In this way they show ‘that the work of the law’—the work which the Law does—is ‘written in their hearts,’ woven in their constitution, by the actings of the power we call conscience. It is just, then, that they should be punished for doing what they know to be wrong, or might have known to be wrong” (Professor Brown). Man is the only earthly creature endowed with conscience. The beasts have consciousness and a limited power to acquire knowledge, but that is something very different. Certain animals can be made to obey their masters. With the aid of a stick, even a cow may be taught to refrain from plucking the green leaves over the garden fence, which her mouth craves—the memory of the beatings she has received for disobedience incline her to forgo her inclinations. Much more intelligent is a domesticated dog: he can be trained to understand that certain actions will meet with reward, while others will receive punishment. But memory is a very different thing from that ethical monitor within the human breast, which weighs whatever is presented to the mind and passes judgment either for or against all our actions, secretly acquainting the soul with the right and wrong of things. Wherever we go, this sentinel accompanies us: whatever we think or do, it records a verdict. Much of our peace of mind is the fruit of a non-accusing conscience, while not a little of our disquietude is occasioned by the charges of wrong-doing which conscience brings against us. Conscience is an integral part of that light which “lightens every man which comes into the world.” Forceful testimony is borne to its potency by the rites of the heathen and their self-imposed penances, which are so many attempts to appease the ones they feel they have offended. There is in every man that which reproves him for his sins, yea, for those to which none other is privy, and therefore the wicked flee when no man pursues (Prov. 28:1). At times the stoutest are made to quail. The most hardened have their seasons of alarm. The specter of past sins haunts them in the night watches. Boast loudly as they may that they fear nothing, yet “there were they in great fear where no fear was” (Psa. 53:5)—an inward horror where there was no outward occasion for uneasiness. When there is no reason for fright, the wicked are suddenly seized with panic and made to tremble like an aspen leaf, so that they are afraid of their own shadows. The fearful reality of conscience is plainly manifested by the fact that men who are naturally inclined to evil nevertheless disapprove of that which is evil, and approve of the very good which they practice not. Even though they do not so audibly, the vicious secretly admire the pure, and while some be sunk so low they will scarcely acknowledge it to themselves, nevertheless they wish they could be like the morally upright. The most blameworthy will condemn certain forms of evil in others, thus evincing they distinguish between good and evil. Whence does that arise? By what rule do they measure moral actions, but by an innate principle? But how comes man to possess that principle? It is not an attribute of reason, for at times reason will inform its possessor that a certain course of conduct would result in gain to him, but conscience moves him to act in a way which he knows will issue in temporal loss. Nor is it a product of the will, for conscience often acts in opposition to the will, and no effort of the will can still it.
It is a separate faculty which, in various degrees of enlightenment and sensitiveness, is found in civilized and uncivilized. Now even common sense tells us that someone other than ourselves originated this faculty. No law can be without a lawgiver. From whence, then, this law? Not from man, for he would annihilate it if he could. It must have been imparted by some higher Hand, which Hand alone can maintain it against all the violence of its owner, who, were it not for this restraining monitor, would quickly reduce the world to a charnel house. If, then, we reason rationally, we are forced to argue thus: I find myself naturally obliged to do this and shun that, therefore there must be a Superior who obliges me. If there were no Superior, I should myself be the sole judge of good and evil, yea, I should be regulated only by expediency and recognize no moral distinctions. Were I the lord of that principle or law which commands me, I should find no conflict within myself between reason and appetite. The indubitable fact is that conscience has an authority for man that cannot be accounted for except by its being the voice of God within him. If conscience were entirely isolated from God, and were independent of Him, it could not make the solemn, and sometimes the terrible impressions it does. No man would be afraid of himself if self were not connected with a higher Being than himself. As God has not left Himself without witness among the lower creatures (Acts 14:17), neither has He left Himself without witness within man’s own breast. There is not a rational member of the human race who has not at some time more or less smarted under the lashings of conscience. The hearts of princes, in the midst of their pleasures, have been stricken with anguish while their favourites were flattering them. Those inward torments are not ignorant frights experienced only by children, which reason throws off later on, for the stronger reason grows, the sharper the stings of conscience, and not the least so in maturity and old age. It often operates when wickedness is most secret. Numerous cases are on record of an overwhelming terror overtaking wrongdoers when their crimes were known to none, and they have condemned themselves and given themselves up to justice. Could that self-accuser originate from man’s own self? He who loves himself would, were it possible, destroy that which disturbs him. Certainly conscience has received no authority from its possessor to lash himself, to spoil the pleasures of sin, to make him “like the troubled sea, which cannot rest.” The very fact there is that in man which condemns him for sins committed in secret, argues there is a God, and that he is accountable unto Him. He has an instinctive dread of a Divine Judge who will yet arraign him. “They know the judgment of God” (Rom. 1:32) by an inward witness. It is a just provision of the Lord that those who will not reverently fear Him, have a tormenting fear of the future. Why is it that, despite all their efforts to escape from the conclusion that God is, they dread a retribution beyond death?— often demonstrated by the most callous wretches in their last hours by asking for a chaplain or “priest.” If there be no God, why do men strive to silence conscience and dispel its terrors? And why are their efforts so unavailing? Since they cannot still its accusations, some Higher Power must maintain it within the soul. That the most enlightened nations recognize men have no right to force the conscience, is a tacit acknowledgment it is above human jurisdiction, answerable only to its Author. Conscience is the vicegerent of God in the soul, and will torment the damned for all eternity.