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judge of His doctrine, before we have begun to learn the imitation of His life? Surely the plainest and first lesson is, to follow His steps. This is the first work of our probation, the first condition of His guidance. If we would only take tho Sermon on the Mount, and read it, not as the world has paraphrased it, but as He spoke it; if we would only fulfil t, not as men dispense with it, but as He lived it upon earth; we should begin to know somewhat of those deeper perceptions of His love, tenderness, and compassion, which are the peace of His elect. Such obedience has a searching and powerful virtue to quicken and make keen the faculties of our conscience. And it would change our whole view of the Christian life, from a solitary observance of an abstract rule of duty, into an abiding relation towards a personal and living Master. It would make men to feel that not only the general and confused sum of life shall, in the end of time, be brought into judgment, but that every deed and thought, every motive of the heart and inclination of the will, are full of pregnant meaning; of obedience or of disobedience, of loyalty or betrayal, to the person of our Lord : that our every-day life is either in the track of His footsteps, or gone astray from the one only path that leadeth unto life. This is the first step to a true knowledge of Christ.
2. And further than this: there are peculiar faculties of the heart which must be awakened, if we would know Him as he knows us. There can be no true obedience without the discipline of habitual devotion. By this is signified something far deeper than the habits of prayer which we commonly maintain. As obedience to Christ impresses us with a sense of His personality, so devotion awakens a perception of His presence. And how easy it is to pray for years with little or no sense of His nearness—with a dim, cold syllogism of the necessary presence of One that must be here, because He is
God, for God is everywhere—we all unhappily know. Half our difficulties in prayer, half the irksomeness of the act, the wearisomeness of the posture, the wandering of our hearts, the distraction of our thoughts, may be traced to this one great lack,—the lack of a deep consciousness of His personal presence. And therefore it is our prayers gain for us so little light, so faint an insight into His mind and perfection, so clouded a knowledge of His love and will towards us. truly knew Him, we should delight to speak with Him, to linger and dwell in His presence. We should go from our prayers with the slow hearts we now bring to them. How should we lay up all day long our thoughts, cares, forebodings, to lighten our hearts at night by pouring them out before Him. We should then somewhat understand the words, “ Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” And this would open to us the words of Holy Scripture, which to most are so remote, involved, and perplexing. Perhaps there is no book that is so much read and so little really understood, because so little dwelt upon. And why, but because meditation implies the intensity and affection of a devout mind ? Prayer and meditation are so nearly one, that we may pass and repass from the one to the other, almost without perceptible transition. Not that they are indeed one and the same: but meditation is the food of prayer, and prayer is the life of meditation, and they are therefore inseparable. It is for want of these deeper and more steadfast thoughts that we go on through life reading Holy Scripture without piercing beneath the letter. And this cursory and superficial habit of mind keeps up our insensibility of the presence of Christ.
Moreover, it is the same unimpressed and unawakened temper of heart that leads men to live on in habitual neglect of the holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood. They have no sense of hunger and thirst, no consciousness of any inward
craving, no need felt of sustenance, no perception of the constraining love of Him who, in the night of His betrayal, left that command to prove the faith and love of His Church for
Now a Christian, in this torpid, unawakened state, cannot know Him with the knowledge of His true sheep. There is something which deadens and stifles the spiritual affections. Cold devotions will make a man's heart dark. Let him profess what he will, let him in the intellect know what he may, into the true knowledge which comes by love and likeness to Christ he cannot enter. A life of devotion, that is, of frequent and fervent worship of our Divine Lord, so awakens ' and kindles the whole inward heart, that there is nothing more real and blissful to a Christian than to escape from all the world into the presence of the only and true Shepherd. And this is tested above all in the mystery of the holy Communion. The eyes of many are, by their own want of insight, long holden so as not to know Him, until He makes Himself known in the breaking of bread. Even though all along their intellect have been opened to understand the Scriptures, there is a knowledge still higher, still more personal and intimate, which they cannot have, still He manifests Himself in that blessed Sacrament. There is a marked and visible distinction between those who know Him by the intellect, and those who know Him by the heart; those who have sought to know Him by mere reading, and those who have sought to know Him by communion. The holy Eucharist is the very life-bread of His true servants. It is their very Gospel, not written with pen and ink, but by a pierced hand, and in the blood of the Good Shepherd. There even the unlettered Christian, the weakest of His flock, learns what doctors in the temple neither teach nor know. A life of devout and frequent communion is the true and infallible way to a personal knowledge and experience of His love. What things He may make known to us
in that holy mystery, each will understand. They are not to be spoken or known by hearsay. But He has promised an ineffable fellowship to them that devoutly open their hearts to receive His visitation. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock : if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”
3. And lastly, this true knowledge of Him is not a transitory state of feeling. Out of obedience and devotion arises an habitual faith, which makes Him, though unseen, yet perceptibly a part of all our life. Without this we shall but run great risks of deceiving ourselves. This strong and sustained consciousness of His presence makes all things within the veil inore real than those we see. The Unseen Head of the Church living and glorified; the mystical body knit in one by the Holy Ghost; the Good Shepherd tending His one fold on the everlasting hills; the familiar image of His loving countenance ;-all these, all day long, in the midst of work and in their hour of rest, at home and abroad, among men or in solitude, are spread before the sight of hearts that know Him by love.
Let us then seek, in this way, so to know Him. He will guide us in a sure path, though it be a rough one : though shadows hang upon it, yet He will be with us. If we be His true flock, we shall lack nothing. He will bring us home at last. Through much trial it may be, and weariness, in much fear and fainting of heart, in much sadness and loneliness, in griefs that the world never knows, and under burdens that the nearest never suspect. Yet He will suffice for all. By His eye or by His voice He will guide us, if we be docile and gentle ; by His staff and by His rod, if we wander or are wilful : any how, and by all means, He will bring us to His rest. Not one shall perish, except we be steadfastly bent upon our own
1 Rev. iii. 20.
perdition. Blessed are they who so know Him. They alone are truly happy; they alone have that which will fill all hearts, stay all desires, and make even the broken spirit to be glad. He is enough: even "a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” He is 66
He is “a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
weary land.” Who is parched and wearied by the glare and drought of this dazzling and dangerous world? 6 Come unto Me, all ye and heavy-laden, and I will refresh you.” Say : Even so, Lord, make me to know Thee. It is the unreasonableness, the wilfulness, the self-love of my heart, that will not know Thee. Take away all these, which hide Thee from me. The veil is not upon Thy Face, but upon my heart. “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” For “ Whom have I in heaven but Thee ? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee."
that are weary
* Isaiah xxv. 4; Xxxi. 2.