RELIGION A PRESENT CONCERN
Religion must be a thing of the present, because the present has such intimate connections with the future. We are told in Scripture that this life is a seedtime, and the future is the harvest. “He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” As the seed generates the plant, even so does this present life generate the eternal future. Heaven and hell are, after all, but the developments of our present character, for is it not written, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still … and he that is holy, let him be holy still”? Do we not know that in the heart of every sin condemnation slumbers? Is it not a fearful truth that the germ of everlasting torment sleeps in every vile wish, every unholy thought, every unclean act, so that hell is but a great breaking out of slumbering lava, which had been so quiet, that while the mountain was covered with fair verdure, even to its summit, death came and bade that lava rise, and down the steeps of manhood’s eternal existence, the fiery lava of eternal misery doth pour itself? Yet it was there before, for sin is hell, and rebellion against God is the prelude of misery. So is it with heaven; I know that heaven is a reward, not of debt but of grace; but still the Christian has that within him which forestalls for him a heaven. What did Christ say? “I give unto my sheep eternal life.” He did not say, “I will give,” but “I do give.” As soon as they believe in Me, I give them eternal life. “He that … believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.” The Christian has within him the seed-beds of a paradise; in due time the light which is sown for the righteous, and the gladness which is sown for the upright in heart, shall spring up, and they shall reap the harvest. Is it not plain, then, that religion is a thing which we must have here? Is it not prominently revealed that religion is important for the present? For if this life be the seed-time of the future, how can I expect to reap in another world other harvests than I have been sowing here? How can I trust that I shall be saved then, unless I am saved now? How can I have hope that heaven shall be my eternal inheritance, unless the earnest be begun in my own soul on earth?