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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Luke ii.30-35.

The prophecy of the aged Simeon for the infant Christ was this, -- that through him the secrets of many hearts should be revealed. Jesus, that is to say, was not only to read the secrets of others' hearts, but he was to enable people to read their own hearts. They were to come into self-recognition as they came to him. They were to be disclosed to themselves. You know how that happens in some degree when you fall in with other exceptional lives. You meet a person of purity or self-control or force, and there waken in you kindred impulses, and you become aware of your own capacity to be better than you are. The touch of the heroic discovers to you something of heroism in yourself. The contagion of nobleness finds a susceptibility for that contagion in yourself.

So it was that this disclosure of their hearts to themselves came to the people who met with {79} Jesus Christ. One after another they come up, as it were, before him, and he looks on them and reads them like an open book; and they pass on, thinking not so much of what Jesus was, as of the revelation of their own hearts to themselves. Nathanael comes, and Jesus reads him, and he answers: |Whence knowest thou me?| Peter comes, and Jesus beholds him and says: |Thou shalt be called Cephas, a stone.| Nicodemus, Pilate, the woman of Samaria, and the woman who was a sinner, pass before him, and the secrets of their different hearts are revealed to themselves. It is so now. If you want to know yourself, get nearer to this personality, in whose presence that which hid you from yourself falls away, and you know yourself as you are. The most immediate effect of Christian discipleship is this, -- not that the mysteries of heaven are revealed, but that you yourself are revealed to yourself. Your follies and weaknesses, and all the insignificant efforts of your better self as well, come into recognition, and you stand at once humbled and strengthened in the presence of a soul which understands you, and believes in you, and stirs you to do and to be what you have hitherto only dreamed.

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