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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Revelation iii.20.

To the church at Philadelphia it was promised that the door should be opened; but here was a church at Laodicea which had deliberately shut its door on the higher life. It was a church that was neither cold nor hot, a lukewarm, indifferent, spiritless people, and to such a people, willfully barring out the revelations of God, comes the Christ in this wonderful figure, standing at the door like a weary traveller, asking to be let in. Such a picture just reverses the common view which one is apt to take of the religious life. We commonly think of truth as hiding itself within its closed door and of ourselves as trying to get in to it. We speak of finding Christ, or proving God, or getting religion, as if all these things were mysteries to be explored, hidden behind doors which must be unlocked; as if, in the relation between man and God, man did all the searching, and God was a hidden God.


But the fundamental fact of the religious life is this, -- that the power and love of God are seeking man; that before we love Him, He loves us; that before we know Him, He knows us; that antecedent to our recognition of Him must be our receptivity of Him. Coleridge said that he believed in the Bible because it found him. It is for the same reason that man believes in God. God finds him. It is not the sheep which go looking for the shepherd, it is the shepherd who finds the sheep, and when they hear his voice, they follow him.

This is not contrary to nature. The same principle is to be noticed in regard to all truth. Take, for instance, any scientific discovery of a physical force, like that which we call the force of electricity. There is nothing new about this wonderful power. It has always been about us, playing through the sky, and inviting the mind of man. Then, some day, a few men open their minds to the significance of this force, and appreciate how it may be applied to the common uses of life. That is what we call a discovery; it is the opening of the door of the mind; and one of the most impressive things about science to-day is to {109} consider how many other secrets of the universe are at this moment knocking at our doors, and waiting to be let in; and to perceive how senseless and unreceptive we must seem to an omniscient mind, when so much truth, standing near us, is beaten back from our closed minds and wills. It is the same with religious truth. Here are our lives, shut in, limited, self-absorbed; and here are the messages of God, knocking at our door; and between the two only one barrier, the barrier of our own wills. Religious education is simply the opening of the door of the heart. A Christian discipleship is simply that alertness and receptivity which hears the knocking and welcomes the Spirit which says: |If any man will but open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.|

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