Richard Sibbes pictures conscience as ‘God’s court within’, and an anticipation of the last judgement:-
‘To clear this further concerning the nature of conscience, know that God hat set up in a man a court, and there is in man all that are in a court.
1. There is a register to take notice of what we have done…The conscience keeps diaries. It sets down everything. It is not forgotten, though we think it is…there is a register that writes it down. Conscience is the register.
2. And then there are witnesses. “The testimony of conscience.” Conscience doth witness, this have I done, this I have not done.
3. There is an accuser with the witnesses. The conscience, it accuseth, or excuseth.
4. And then there is the judge. Conscience is the judge. There is doth judge, this is well done, this is ill done.
5. Then there is an executioner, and conscience is that too. Upon accusation and judgement, there is punishment. The first punishment is within a man alway before he come to hell. The punishment of conscience, it is a prejudice ie, a pre-judgement of future judgement. There is a flash of hell presently ie, in the present after an ill act…If the understanding apprehend dolorous things, then the heart smites, as David’s “heart smote him,” (2 Sam 24:5)…The heart smites with grief for the present, and fear for the time to come.
God hath set and planted in man this court of conscience, and it is God’s hall, as it were, where he keeps his first judgement…his assizes. And conscience doth all the parts. It registereth, it witnesseth, it accuseth, it judgeth, it executes, it doth all.’ (Q by Packer, Among God’s Giants, 144f).