The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, "Sins of Ignorance," volume 23, sermon number 1,386."Conscience is differently enlightened in different men, and the ultimate appeal as to right and wrong cannot be to your half-blinded conscience or to mine."
I might condemn what you allow and you would scarcely tolerate what I approve: we are, neither of us judges, but both culprits upon trial when we come under the law. The ultimate appeal will be to “Thus saith the Lord”—to the law itself, which is the only perfect standard by which the deeds and actions of men can be measured.
The law, from the supremacy into which this text lifts it, says to us, “You will not be excused because your conscience was unenlightened, nor because it was so perverse as to put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. My demands are the same in every jot and tittle, whatever your conscience may condemn or allow.”
Conscience has lost much of its sensitiveness through the Fall, and through our actual sins, but the law is not lowered to suit our perverted understanding. If we break the law, although our conscience may not blame us, or even inform us of the wrong, the deed is still recorded against us; we must bear our iniquity.
The law is also set above human opinion, for this man says, “You may do that,” and a second claims that he may do the other, but the law changes not according to man’s judgment and does not bend itself to the spirit of the age or the tastes of the period. It is the supreme judge, from whose infallible decision there is no appeal. Right is right though all condemn, and wrong is wrong though all approve.
The law is the balance of the sanctuary, accurate to a hair, sensitive, even to the small dust of the balance. Opinions continually differ, but the law of God is one and invariable. According to the moral sensitiveness of a man will be his estimate of the act which he performs, but would you have the law of God vary according to man’s fickle judgment? If you would desire such a thing, God’s infinite wisdom forbids it.
The law is a fixed quantity, a settled standard, and if we fall short of it, though we know it not, yet are we guilty and must bear our iniquity unless an atonement be made. This exalts the law above the custom of nations and periods: for men are very wont to say, “It is true I did so and so, which I could not have defended in itself; but then, it is the way of the trade, other houses do so, general opinion and public consent have endorsed the custom; I do not therefore see how I can act differently from others, for if I did so, I should be very singular and should probably be a loser through my scrupulosity.”
Yes, but the customs of men are not the standard of right. Where they have been at first correct through strong Christian influence, the tendency is for them to deteriorate and sink below the proper standard. Habit, perpetuity and universality of wrong, at last enable men to call the false by the same name as the true, but there is no real change worked thereby: the customary wrong is still a wrong, the universal lie is still a falsehood.
God’s law is not changed: our Lord Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than one tittle of the law to fail.” The divine law overrides custom, tradition and opinion: these have no more effect upon the eternal standard than the fall of a leaf upon the stars of heaven. “If a man do any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he knew it not, yet is he guilty.”
All the customs in the world cannot make wrong right, and if everybody that ever lived from Adam down to this hour had done a wrong thing and declared it to be righteous, yet would it make no moral difference in the evil deed. A thousand ages of whitewashing cannot make a vice a virtue. God’s commands stand fast for ever, and he who breaketh it must bear his punishment. Thus you see that by the declaration of my text the law of God is enshrined in the place of reverence.