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And this spirit comes to us from on high. Religion consists in looking to the divine beauty and generosity which is above us. The cynical man looks down with contempt on what he thinks below himself. The religious man looks up with adoration to higher and nobler generosity in man and in God, and so he grows into the likeness of what he contemplates. This is the way in which Paul describes the influence of Jesus on the soul. He tells us that the goodness of Jesus is a kind of mirror in which we see the goodness of God, and that the more we look into that mirror, the more we become like Christ and God. “We all, with open face, beholdiny as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to greater glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” That is another way of becoming generous, — by associating with generous people, contemplating noble lives, beholding the generosity of Christ and the bounty of God, and so imbibing something of that spirit.
In order to enter heaven hereafter we must enter heaven here; and heaven is the condition of a generous soul. I am glad to see men of all denominations beginning to protest against the notion that Christianity consists in thinking how to save our soul from a future outward hell into a future outward heaven. One may be called Orthodox and another Unitarian, but these old lines are becoming a good deal blurred. They are fading out. It is encouraging to see so many taking ground against the low and unworthy notion which makes of religion a talisman or charm by which to escape from the vengeance of God. It is time we put aside such pagan conceptions of the Deity. We are converted
so says Jesus
when we become as little children, laying away our pride and conceit, our egotism and selfish worldly aims. Then the love of God enters our hearts. And this new life is that which is always coming, not that which came long ago. Be truthful, honest, kind, and generous to-day, and trust God to take care of your soul to-morrow. Heaven is here, or it is nowhere. I should not say to a man, “Be religious, for you may die to-morrow," but rather, " Learn to love God and man, for you have to live to-day.” We may enter heaven any moment by the eternally open doorway of faith, hope, and love. Trust in God as infinite goodness. Hope that he will make you altogether generous, pure, true, and good; and go out of yourself in loving thoughts for others, loving actions of good-will, loving words of sympathy. Be sure that the divine life is ready to be shed abroad in your heart this very hour. God's love is nearer to you than anything else in time or eternity.