Zech. 4:1.---' And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.'

The man who wrote these words was a preacher, whose business it was to see and to help his fellows see; and yet he confesses that in the central matters he had not seen as he should. He knew the temple and its solemnities; he knew what the priests did there and the people; and, if one had questioned him, he might have said that God's presence there was indispensable. He knew, but he did not think; and here he makes confession that, had it not been for the merciful provocation of God, he never would have known these things as they deserve. Zechariah was not a stranger to the higher reaches of apprehension; in the past months he had gone from vision to vision, and the experience might have quickened all his faculty. But custom flattens everything, and the very sense of knowing these things so well had dulled his curiosity. 'My better sense was asleep, and it needed a messenger of God to awaken me to a sight of what I thought I understood; but now, by God's mere grace, it looks to me strange and miraculous and new.'

Such confession, so artlessly made, is full of admonition. We may have behind us a record of insight and of days of lifted mood; but it is never safe to reckon that yesterday's gift is with us still, untouched by the corrosions of the years. There are words which, at one time, brought up before our sense the living majesty of God; and though we still consent to them it is with little quickening of pulse. We may profess that they are great, but certainly they are not great to us as once they were; and that may mark a grievous falling off. In his Ephesians Letter Paul traces back the debasement of pagan morals to the fact that men had ceased to feel; they were no longer shocked by what ought to have shocked them, and thus they were free to wander always farther away from virtue. And much of the stagnation within the Church, of the lack of willing effort, of the lack of confident expectation and gladness, is traceable to the same source---that Christian folk has become for them a commonplace of preaching; the continual presence of Jesus in the world is not to them a cause of wonder now.

Speaking of the love of God. Rainy said: "We preach it, and believe it in a way, but we no longer wonder at it in our hearts.' When Peter saw Christ's glory he cried out, 'Depart from me,' and even the Baptist shrank back, almost coweringly. 'I am not worthy to unloose his shoes,' he said. But you and I take all Christ is, and all Christ does, and all Christ offers, as the merest thing of course. As Keats says of science, peering and poking and, to him, spoiling, by an unwise pushing into the mystery of things. And Christ's Cross, too, is there far down in the dull catalogue of common things. And we, too, take our Lord for granted now, are not surprised by anything He does or says or is.

This world in which we live is to many of us altogether familiar and trivial; but if our senses were awake, says the prophet, we should see it to be in great part unexplored. Those of us who live in a place of romantic beauty must often be reminded of this. We know that our city is extolled, and in a tepid way we do ourselves admire it; but most days we go about the streets with scarcely a thought of the scenes which men cross oceans to look upon. But now and then, when some shift of light falls in with a favoring mood, it seems as if a curtain were lifted, and we marvel at our accustomed dullness. It is in this that poets help their fellows, lending their eyes out, so that plain men, instead of the dismal prospects of every day, gain through them a sense of the vital quality of things. That is what all prophets do. Elisha and his servant were trapped one night in the little town of Dothan; and in the morning the lad was struck with panic when he saw the marauding troops shutting the city in. But the prophet asked that the lad's eyes should be opened, and then he saw 'the mountains round about was full of horses and chariots of fire.' He saw the former things, for they were real, but he saw greater things as well. For it is a rich world we live in, with far more within it than meets the outward eye.

Everywhere, under the crust of this bewildering life, there is another level of power and wonder, at which a mass of people never guess. One of the lately discovered sayings of Jesus gives memorable utterance to this: 'Wherever they may be, they are not without God; yea, if there be one alone, I am with him. Raise the stone and there you will find me; cleave the wood and there am I.' That is to say, though a man be set down in a secular world, with no help of priest or fellowship to sustain him, yet if he turn to worship, rearing the altar and preparing the sacrifice, he will not miss the help of Christ. And the Saying has wider applications: a mason at his work might find a promise in it, or a woman breaking sticks for the morning fire. 'Raise the stone, and there you shall find me; cleave the wood and there am I.' This discovery of Jesus Christ as everywhere present is the supreme achievement of the awakened sense.

When this Divine gift of awakening is granted to a man it changes his whole outlook, and brings impossible things within his reach. In telling of the Transfiguration, Luke notes one fact which the other Evangelists omit, that Peter and his companions 'were heavy with sleep,' and he adds, 'but when they wee fully awake they saw Christ's glory.' There is much virtue in that adverb, and it may be questioned if, in the Evangelist's sense, some of us have ever yet been fully awake. Up that hill there had toiled four working men, who, in the face of the wealth and learning and tradition of their race, had dreamed of a new beginning in religion. It seemed a hopeless venture, for the oppositions and the prejudices were not imaginary. But when they were fully awake, and knew the resources of this astonishing world in which God is continually revealed, they saw the oppositions as before, but they also saw their Master radiant and exalted; they saw the great figures of their history coming like courtiers to do Him homage, coming and withdrawing, whilst He was left supreme and alone. The balance of forces was radically altered then, as it will be for every one who is fully awake. For Jesus Christ, whose very name is health and purity and renovation, is secretly present in this much disparaged earth; and until we have come to see Him there, we are missing what is greatest, and indeed we can scarcely be said to see the world at all.

But if this awakening of sense is so desirable, the question grows urgent of how to attain to it. With a fine vagueness the prophet reports that ' the angel came and waked him, 'but he nowhere tells what the angel was like; and if he had told, the description would have helped us little, since God's messengers to men are not always of one shape or fashion. Sometimes the angel is altogether anonymous, a passing stranger, or a chance word which finds an undreamed-of context in the conditions of him who overhears it. We ought to become another man. To listen to the voice, like the prophet's angel, and become an waked man, and wander up and down whatever land, the effect of His word to be seen in the lives of many transformed by preaching.

And there is the awakening ministry of pain. 'Pain,' is the grand educator of men. Pain taught them the arts, and poetry and morals. Pain inspired them with heroism and with pity. Pain gave life a new value in allowing it to be offered as a sacrifice; and pain, this majestic dignity and gracious thing, has brought something of the infinite into human love. 'Before I was afflicted I went astray,' says a Hebrew poet, 'but now I keep thy word,' and many of ourselves would confess that we could never have known how much there is in life if our discernment had not been quickened by this fierce surgery.

It is when the Spirit of the Lord rests upon a man that he becomes quick of understanding, so that he no longer judges after the sight of his eyes. This, surely, is what we most require; and in this we are not left to uncertainty, for nothing is plainer in the New Testament than that the gift of the Spirit may be had for the asking. Jesus lays down the one condition on this point with a simplicity which is almost startling. 'If with all your faults you are able to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? The words do not suggest any labor in seeking, for indeed the spirit is about us like the atmosphere, and all that is needed is that we should open the windows of our heart and let Him in. If He came to our intellect, He would make us less prejudiced, more truth loving, less hampered by timidity and conceit. If He came to our character, He would free us from self-love and courage that men would take knowledge of us that we had been with Him.

Our Lord accosts us as He did a blind man long ago, saying: 'What will ye that I should do unto you?' So let our answer be prompt: 'Lord, that I may receive my sight!' For then we should see life not on the outside merely, but in its hidden fullness and wonder; and most of all, we should constantly discern Himself as He travels on His secret way about the world for which he died. And that sight changes everything.

Behold, the dark road is lit by keenly alive sunlight. In Christ, timothy. maranatha