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We mistake immortality if we read it merely as a future promise. It is a present gift. It is not merely the offer of a hope. It ought to be the joy of a possession. The Christian life ought to be full of Easter days,—a perpetual renewal of purpose and of being from their temporal into their spiritual shape and power.

It is a superficial measuring of life that estimates it simply by its duration. Its abundance consists rather in its intensity, in its breadth and depth and height. A revelation of immortality does not greatly interest me if it merely means an infinite continuance of years. It is not altogether good tidings just to be told that we need fear no end to these burdened and misunderstanding lives of ours. Immortality is not a thing of time or place so much as of spiritual quality. It is not a matter of continuance of life so much as of fulness of life.

I prefer to think of immortality as existing not merely then, but now; not merely there, but here; not so much beyond as within. Did Jesus speak of immortality only as a mere future rising from the grave? Are we not all the time stretching the language of Scripture, and changing the present tense into the future? "My sheep hear my voice," said Jesus, and "I give them"—not "will give them"—"eternal life." "This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." We speak of going to a better world, but the Lord's Prayer gives no authority for that. Jesus prayed for a new government and spirit to come into this world, which will constitute it a new heaven and a new earth. He did not bid us look away from the things of time in order to discover the things of eternity. He did not expect us to find eternal life beyond the loves and experiences of this world, but in them and through them. Let us base our assurance of immortality not upon "proofs that do not prove," but upon the fact of our present share in the eternal life of a changeless God. Shall we not perceive that the change which a man is conscious of when he inherits eternal life is not in his prospects, but in himself; not that he shall live longer, but that he shall live differently?

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May 16, 1903

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