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I warn once and again, and yet again; and then, if

! my warnings are unheeded, I knock no longer, till I shall come again and knock with a voice of thunder, which even the deafest ears must hear.' So that the very gentleness of these words is aweful. Even the love in them is terrible. That hand which strikes so quietly and so calmly, yet with so clear and firm a stroke, how hard it could strike, if it would : but now it would not; it would invite rather, it would say, 'Let me in, that I may sup with thee and thou with me. What it can do, what it will do, if they open not, we may imagine ; but the Beloved does not say.

II. The door at which our Lord knocks is the heart, and the house into which He would enter is a

He Himself is dwelling in His own bright house above, where He rests from His labours, and is surrounded by unclouded glory; but He visits the earth by His Spirit, seeking for Himself a home among the sons of men.

And He looks upon every one of His baptized people as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a house to which He has a right of access, and in which He ought to be allowed to dwell. But He never forces an entrance. He stands at the door and knocks; and the door at which He knocks is the heart, because he enters in by love. When a man loves, his heart opens little by little. When he begins to love, the handle turns; when he continues loving, the door begins to move upon its hinges; when he loves much, the door opens, and our Lord enters ; when he loves fixedly, deeply, and with all his heart, the Beloved of his soul abides with him.

The heart is the door of our whole nature. Nothing can enter into the mind and have an influence upon the character, except by means of the heart. Evil cannot enter into us, to leaven our whole life with corruption, unless we love it. Good also can never approach us except by the road of love. The heart is to the character like what the mouth is to the body. Food cannot enter the body except through the lips and by the throat. It must be received, it must be eaten, it must be swallowed, it must be digested, or else it does not pass into the blood. And so, likewise, there is no door by which good can pass into the soul except the door of the heart, which must receive it, and eat of it, and swallow it, and inwardly digest it,

by love.

If, therefore, our Lord is to enter into us, to find a home within our being, to make us like Himself, to change our nature into His own nature, it must be by love. A man may have all knowledge in his heart, but Christ cannot enter into him by means of knowledge only; intellect is not the door at which Christ stands and knocks; the only door is love. Our Lord Himself is the door into heaven, and that which makes Him door to us is His love. It is because He loves us, that He says, “knock and it shall be opened;" knock at my heart, for it loves you ; knock by prayer and my heart shall open to receive you.'

. And as His love makes Him the door of heaven to us, so it is our love which is the only door for. Him. In

way can He enter into us, or do us any good, except we love Him, and open our hearts to receive and welcome His love.

You must see, then, how all-essential love is. You can understand how St. Paul could say, “ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or

no other

a tinkling cymbal ;” and “though I have all knowledge and have not love, I am nothing." Without Christ we are nothing, and therefore without love we are nothing; for where love is not, Christ cannot enter in; so that we are simply nothing if we have not love. We may be doors to evil; doors at which Satan knocks and finds an entrance; doors by which temptations enter, and from which sin may issue out; but not doors for good. Look, then, well to your hearts. Have they love within them? Have they any love? Have they much love? If they have none, the Lord may knock for ever, but He never can get in. Look and see. If they have none, rest not till they have a little; knock by prayer at the door of Him who is love, till He opens and gives a little measure of that love which He is. And, when you have a little, knock and ask for much. And when you have much, rest not till you have all, till you are all love, till you have a door thrown wide open, at which all the love of Christ may enter and make


full of love. III. But before a door can open, there must be a listening ear and a seeing eye. The purpose of a door is both to shut out and to let in,—to shut out that to which entrance should not be given, and to let in that which should come in. It supposes, therefore, a listening ear to hear the knocks which may be given, and a prudent eye to know when to shut and when to open.

The listening ear is a quickened conscience. When the love of Christ is striking at the door of our hearts, looking for love in us by which to enter, conscience must be alive, and stand, as it were, with ears erect, to know when He is knocking. Conscience is the

A man

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ing it.

soul's ear, as the heart is the soul's door. whose heart is cold has no door, and a man whose conscience is dead has no ear. It is, therefore no less needful to keep conscience quick and sharp than to keep the heart warm th love. And do this? By cultivating it, by educating it, by train

Conscience is not a fixed thing,—the same in all men, like sun-dials, which all tell the same time,so that one conscience is much the same as another, and tells the truth exactly, neither better nor worse than any other. But it is like the hands of a clock, which ought to agree with the motions of the earth as it revolves upon its daily course, but which agree or disagree, according to the goodness or badness of the works. If the works be good, regulated well, in good order, clean, moistened with oil, the hands will tell the time truly ; but if they be bad, they will tell the time falsely, or will tell no time at all. The agreement or disagreement of the hands with the true time depends on the internal state and value of the watch. So, likewise, conscience is near the truth or far from it, according to its own intrinsic excellence, and the degree of accuracy to which it has been brought, in each individual man, by careful culture and personal goodness. There are consciences of every degree of goodness and badness, just as there are clocks of every degree of worth or worthlessness, because the state of conscience depends upon the spiritual state of each particular man. . Conscience, therefore, may be trained. The power of knowing whether an act be good or bad exists in all men, but it may exist in every degree, from the lowest to the highest, and may be improved little by little, just as one who has an ear for music may educate it, by practice and exact attention, to almost any measure of skill in distinguishing between notes of sound.

The training of conscience is a great art and a complex process, in which many separate efforts must combine for one end. The Word of God must be studied as a supreme and infallible authority, revealing and interpreting the Divine mind. The precepts of the Church must be followed. The example of saintly men must be observed and copied. The counsels of the wise must be sought. But especially the voice of conscience itself must be obeyed. The chief secret in the art of training conscience is to listen to the commands and warnings which it gives. Conscience listened to becomes conscience quickened. The more we obey conscience, the more plainly do we hear its voice. But conscience slighted becomes conscience dead. In men of disobedience, conscience becomes dumb. Conscience is a delicate instrument, which needs fine treatment, and soon suffers in rough, unthinking hands. We must, therefore, be careful that we train it well; that is, we must keep the ears of our souls open by asking often, 'Is this right or wrong? What will my conscience suffer me to do? What is the law or the will of God in this or that? What is the mind of the Holy Spirit?' We must examine ourselves frequently, steadily, searchingly, to know what is in us, to discover the motives of our conduct, to learn whether we are going forward or falling back. We must be scrupulous, and sensitive, and thoughtful, and anxious. We must keep our instrument in good tune, that so our acts may be true music, harmonious, and in strict accordance with the mind of God. Then if Christ shall knock, we shall hear Him.


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