CONSCIENCE, noun [Latin , to know, to be privy to.]
1. Internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them. conscience is called by some writers the moral sense, and considered as an original faculty of our nature. Others question the propriety of considering conscience as a distinct faculty or principle. The consider it rather as the general principle of moral approbation or disapprobation, applied to ones own conduct and affections; alledging that our notions of right and wrong are not to be deduced from a single principle or faculty, but from various powers of the understanding and will.
Being convicted by their own conscience they went out one by one. John 8:9.
The conscience manifests itself in the feeling of obligation we experience, which precedes, attends and follows our actions.
CONSCIENCE is first occupied in ascertaining our duty, before we proceed to action; then in judging of our actions when performed.
2. The estimate or determination of conscience; justice; honesty.
What you require cannot, in conscience be deferred.
3. Real sentiment; private thought; truth; as, do you in conscience believe the story?
4. Consciousness; knowledge of our own actions or thought.
The sweetest cordial we receive at last, is conscience of our virtuous actions past.
[This primary sense of the word is nearly, perhaps wholly obsolete.]
5. Knowledge of the actions of others.
6. In ludicrous language, reason or reasonableness.
Half a dozen fools are, in all conscience as many as you should require.
To make conscience or a matter of conscience is to act according to the dictates of conscience or to scruple to act contrary to its dictates.
Court of conscience a court established for the recovery of small debts in London and other trading cities and districts.