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man, bringing God near, immortality near, heaven near; and making them all present, immediate, a part of each man's life, not far from any one of us.
The Christian Church has often backslidden to the standpoint of Brahmanism in asserting that heaven must be postponed to the next world, and that it is necessary to be miserable and sinful as long as we live in this. It has loved to say that “ former days were better than these,” and to complain of the degeneracy of the times. But true Christianity never does this. It looks at the Now as miraculous and full of a divine spirit. It makes the world full of God now, - nature full of God, man a child of God, the Holy Spirit coming and dwelling in all hearts that open themselves to receive it.
What we need, therefore, at this time as much as ever, is to believe in a present salvation, and to be sure that Now is the accepted time. We need a God at hand, not afar off; a present and not a past inspiration; a present Saviour, a present Immortality, an eternal life abiding in us, and a heaven in our midst.
Perhaps it may be objected that to live only in the moment belongs to animals and to children; that the chief dignity of man is to look before and after, — to go back to the past and forward to the future; that so only he finds true freedom and can emancipate himself from the dominion of time and space; that progress consists in bringing the past and future to bear on the present, and that goodness consists in rising into communion with universal truth and immortal goodness. I grant it; but this does not disturb my argument.
The animal lives in the present moment only. The child lives in the present moment chiefly. The man returns to the past and dwells there, penetrates the future and lingers there, lives in memory, lives in fancy. The first stage of being is to live only or chiefly in the present; the second stage is to live in the past or the future. But the highest condition is to come back once more to the present but on a higher plane; to bring the past and future together in every moment; to live now, fed with all the resources of history and prophecy. The present moment is the element of real life; but this life is to be enriched by memory and by hope, by experience and by expectation.
Therefore, we say again, that now is the accepted time. The Bible of the past, venerable and holy, must be translated into the language of to-day, and become a living Bible to meet the needs of men and women here in New England. Christ, about whose past history men are so doubtful, will become more and more the centre of the human race as his salvation reigns within, and comes outwardly into our own society to save publicans and sinners in our midst.
The great record of the New Testament will cease to be an object of criticism when we behold its miracles surpassed by those done by the power of Jesus among ourselves. All doubts
of a future life will cease when we have eternal life abiding in us here. All gloom concerning sin and misery will pass away when we see how our own past sin and pain have been transfigured by Christianity, and changed into goodness and joy. Thus shall the past and future be made one with the present, and every Now become the accepted time and day of salvation.