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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Revelation ii.12-17.

Both of these are Jewish symbols. One refers to that food which, as Moses commanded, was kept in the sanctuary and eaten by the priest alone; the other apparently refers to a sacred stone worn by the priest, with an inscription on it known only to him. Both symbols mean to teach that the Christian believer has an immediate and personal intimacy with God. There is no sacerdotal intermediation for him. He can go straight to the altar and take of the sacred bread. He wears on his own breast the mark of God's communication. It is the doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers; the highest promise to a faithful church. But on this white stone, the message says, there is a name written which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. How quickly that goes home to many a faithful life. Hidden from all that can be read by {97} others is the writing which one bears upon his own breast, legible only to himself and to his God. Think how hardly and carelessly people try to judge one's life, to read its characteristics of strength or weakness. Think how we all thus deal in hasty judgment, stamping our neighbors as jovial or moody, generous or selfish, as kind or stern, as sinner or saint; while all the time, deeper than any interpretation of ours can reach, there is the central sanctuary of the man's own soul, where is worn against his breast the real title which to his own consciousness he bears, and which may quite contradict all external judgments. What is written on that interior life? What is that name you bear which no man knoweth save you; -- that life of yourself which is hidden with Christ in God? That is the most solemn question which any man can ask himself as he bends to say his silent prayer.

Is it just your own name, the badge of selfishness; or is it some vow of irresponsibility, -- Am I my brother's keeper? -- or is it just a sheer blank white stone, marking a life without intention or character at all? Or is there perhaps written there the pure {98} demand to be of use? -- |For their sakes I sanctify myself;| -- or is there written on your heart the name of God, or of his Christ, so that this interior maxim reads: |I live, yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me|?

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