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unclean spirits : “ Art Thou come to torment us before the time? We know Thee who Thou art: the Holy One of God.” “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” It is Truth doing its work of just judgment upon sinners. What some take as an evidence against their regeneration is, indeed, the proof of it. Why is the wickedness of an angel worse than that of a man? Because he holds a higher nature in unrighteousness.
It is this same passive capacity, kept from great perversions, and instructed by the teaching and worship of the Church, which makes up the knowledge of most baptized people ; of such, I mean, as live Christian lives in the main; that is to say, the great bulk of those who are blameless and orderly within the fold of the visible Church. It is a kind of unenergetic knowledge; an illumination, which shines mildly, but truly, clearly but faintly; and in hearts that cast many shadows upon themselves. The Christian knowledge of such persons is little more than a history of moving events, or a theory of pure morality, or a scheme of elevated doctrine. It is, so far, their guide, their law of life, their consolation : but their knowledge of Christ is something retrospective rather than present, of a fact rather than of a Person, having a relation to His life on earth rather than to His presence now. The way in which most Christians speak of Him is more as of a system than as of a Lord; and His name stands rather as a symbol of a doctrine than as a title of One that is living and mighty ; whose searching insight “is sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of sou ad spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
i St. John üü. 19, 20.
thoughts and intents of the heart.” Such indeed is He whom men quote and speak of as a term equivalent with Chris. tianity. He is a Divine Person, not an abstract name: One to whom we are all laid bare ; “neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; for all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” 1
This, then, cannot be the knowledge of which the Good Shepherd spoke when He said, “I know My sheep, and am known of Mine." It must be something of a deeper kind, something more living and personal. It is plainly, therefore, such a knowledge as He has of us. It is that mutual consciousness of which we speak when we say that we know any person as our friend. We do not mean that we know him by name; for many strangers we know by name; many whom we have never seen, or further care to know : neither do we mean only that we know all about him, that is to say, who he is, and whence, of what lineage, or from what land, or what has been his history, his acts and words, and the like; for in this way we may be said to know many who do not know us and with whom we have nothing to do. When we say we know any one as our friend, we mean that we know not only who he is, but what, or as we say, his character,-that he is true, affectionate, gentle, forgiving, liberal, patient, selfdenying; and still more, that he has been, and is, all this to ourselves; that we have made trial of him, and have cause to know this character as a reality, of which we have, as it were, tasted, by often meeting with him, seeing him at all times, under all circumstances and in all changes, familiarly conversing with him, doing service to him, ourselves receiving from him in turn tokens of love and goodness. It is in this way we know our friends; what they are, what they mean,
1 Heb. iv. 13.
wish, and imply; how they would judge, speak, and act in all cases; what every look, tone, and word signifies. It is a knowledge, not in the understanding so much as in the heart; in the perceptions of feeling, affection, and sympathy; by which we are drawn towards them and grow to them, love them; choose them out from all others, as our advisers, guides, companions ; live with them and live for them; trust in them with a feeling that we are safe in their hands, and at rest in their hearts; that they love us, and would do any thing for our good; and though we be often away from them, and alone, and at times seldom see them, yet we are as if always with them—always happy in the thought of them, knowing that they are always the same to us, and knowing, besides, both where and how we shall find them if we desire or need. This is the knowledge of friendship and of love. It is something living and personal, arising out of the whole of our inward nature, and filling all our powers and affections.
And such is the knowledge the true sheep have of the Good Shepherd. “I know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” As He knows us, through and through,—all that we have been and are, all that we desire and need, hope and fear, do and leave undone, all our thoughts, affections, purposes, all our secret acts, all our hidden life, which is hid with Him in God: so do His true sheep know Him,–His love, care, tenderness, mercy, meekness, compassion, patience, gentleness, all His forecasting and prudent watchfulness, His indulgent and pitiful condescension. They have learned it by the grace of regeneration, by the illumination of their spiritual birth, by the light of His holy Gospels, by acts of contemplation, by direct approach to Him in prayer, by ineffable communion in the holy Eucharist, by His particular and detailed guidance, by. His providential discipline from childhood all along the path of life. It is the knowledge of heart with heart, soul
with soul, spirit with spirit; a sense of presence and companionship: so that when most alone, we are perceptibly least alone; when most solitary, we are least forsaken. It is a consciousness of guidance, help, and protection; so that all we do or say, and all that befals us, is shared with Him. It fills us with a certainty that in every part of our lot, in all its details, there is some purpose, some indication of His design and will, some discipline or medicine for us; some hid treasure, if we will purchase it; some secret of peace, if we will only make it our own.
Now if this be the knowledge which His sheep have of Him, it is plain that a great part of baptized men do not so know Christ. The multitude of the visible Church live in the world forgetful both of Fold and Shepherd : remembering them only in direct acts of religion, which are short and few, in the midst of a busy earthly life of buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, trading and toiling late and early. With the very best among us, how sadly true is this. Who is not backward in this one science which only it is needful for us to know? It is much to be feared that some persons, of seeming devotion, live on very strange to Him, and far off, knowing Him rather in the understanding and imagination, rather picturing Him upon their fancy in the garb and parable of the Good Shepherd, than realising with any true and vivid spiritual consciousness the truth and blessedness of His pastoral love and care.
Let us, then, consider in what way we may attain this knowledge, which is not of the understanding, but of the heart; not of the mere intellect, but in the consciousness of the soul.
1. First, it must be by following Him. “My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me." By living such a life as He Jived. Likeness to Him is the power of knowing Him. Nay,
rather it is knowledge itself: there is no other. It cannot be by the knowledge of eye, or ear, nor by the knowledge of imagination or thoughts, but by the knowledge of the will, and of the spiritual reason instructed by the experience of faith. It is by likeness that we know, and by sympathy that we learn. “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Hiin, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in Him verily is the love of God perfected : hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."! What fellowship can an impure soul have with One Who knew no sin : or the self-indulgent with the Crucified : or the vain with Him that made Himself of no reputation :” or a mind that is bounded about by this world, and content to move within its narrow sphere, in an aimless life of levities and follies, with Him who came into this world for one end alone, “that he might bring us unto God?” Such as these can have no fellowship with Christ; and if no fellowship, then no knowledge, which comes by sympathy, by partaking of His Spirit and of His life. We may read, study, toil, write, talk, preach, and make discourses which will illuminate, and move others to tears, while we ourselves are cold and dark. So too, we may profess and pray, with our lips ; be strict and regular in the ordinary works and offices of religion : and all in vain, so long as our hearts and spiritual life are out of sympathy with His How strange and perverse we are.
That which is plainest to learn we put off to the last; that which needs most grace to know, we take for our alphabet. How long shall we go on professing to
11 St. John ii. 3-6; i. 6.