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sense in which they seem to have been given "; but this at least, is clear, that they are fulfilled beyond the sense in which they seem to have been given. We must allow our Father in Heaven to do for us larger and better things than with our imperfect vision we could foresee. The surprise will always come upon that side.
We may, therefore, advance with assurance into the coming hours, the coming centuries. Life is ordered for us as intelligent persons, who can understand themselves and know the present day, and the future. There is no need of drifting, or of moving timidly. Life is a business with well-ordered methods, and not a lottery where a turn of the wheel determines our fortune. Chance is not sovereign in the world, nor fate; but Providence, that is, God, the Father of all men. Farming is a trustworthy employment because whatsoever a man sows that shall he reap. This is the law of life, and we choose the harvest when we choose the seed.
One thing alarms us as we cross the boundary line which separates our years, and that is the swiftness with which we have been brought to it. Yet the divisions are of our own making. There are no lines, more than there are meridians upon the globe, or fences among the stars. There is no jarring of the ship, even when it crosses the equator. Time is simply the element
in which we move, and moment flows into moment as wave slips into wave. We need not be aware of the transition. Each period of life has its own character and offers its own opportunity. We should have the wisdom which belongs with courage, and be content. But to be prematurely old is probably of less disadvantage than to be immaturely young. We move steadily away from the day of our birth, but we do not move towards the end of our days. Time glides into the estate which we carelessly call eternity, though this is as really eternity as any day we shall have. There is no pause or break in the course of our years. There is time enough in this world for the work we have to do here, and we should not lessen the force of our life by any thought of its brevity. If I may recur to Dr. Holmes' comparison, it is not of necessity true that life ends in a raft; nor is it true that a man cannot keep on deck after he is fifty. The deck is pleasanter than the cabin, and if the man cannot go to the masthead as he once did, he can give his orders to men of more nimble feet, and not consent to take refuge on a spar.
Dante speaks of that time of life,
“When every man to port approaching, ought
To coil the ropes, and take the canvas in.”
That may come to pass, but its approach is not to be hastened. Let us cling to the Now, and if we are nearing land enter port with our sails set. To make the most of Now is to be most ready for to-morrow. From the stir of his younger days a man may gain the right to withdraw; but then life should be richer and wiser, and of persistent usefulness. It is meant that the old and the young, youth and age, should live together for the common advantage. The visions of the young become dreams, but the dreams are of a real world and a true life within it. I counsel a readjustment of our idea of life
nd time, for our comfort, and strength, and achievement.
Still, it is to be confessed that there is meaning in our thought of the celerity of our days. It is more than complaint when we feel that the years are very brief, and rapid in their passing. We are reminded of this by our recurring anniversaries, which almost jostle one another when our years have multiplied. The air has hardly become still from the good wishes of our friends at some milestone, before they are again beginning to gladden us with their kind desires. The old patriarch, who lived, we do not know when, said that his days passed like the ships. But if they did, the ships were very slow, for Job lived a hundred and forty years after his recovery. He could hardly complain that the allotment of time was not sufficient for the work which he had to do. We cannot check
the world as it wheels around the sun, nor would it avail anything to alter the calendar and double the months, or to arrange the days upon a different scale. We seem helpless as we are hurried on and on. It is a help to know that we are never driven out of life, and that there is a “ far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” prepared for all who consent to be worthy of it. There is a magnificent consolation in immortality. But however attractive the next world may be, we do not wish to be hastened into it. We prefer to remain where we are. We want to make more of this world, which has pleasures we have not enjoyed, wisdom we have not acquired, discipline we have not received, and calls to service which we have not answered. It is a good world, and we like to live in it, and we feel very naturally that we have hardly begun to live. For its own purposes, it was made to be as good a world as we shall find when we leave it.
The question presses upon our thoughtful moments, whether it is not possible to get more out of these flying years, and to do more with them. If we cannot make the sun stand still, or send back the shadow on the dial, can we not in some other way make the days of more account, and acquire a larger portion of things which will be of value to us? I have no doubt that we can; that if we cannot make more hours, we can find more advantage in the hours that we have, and by using them more prudently virtually extend them. The object of making the sun stand still was to make the day longer, in order that more work might be done, before the darkness closed in. If, then, we get more work into the hours we cannot change, we have attained the same end as if we could reach our hand among the stars and hold the sun in its course. It is as a suggestion for this purpose that the word Now is commended. Now is the talisman we need to make time of larger worth, Now is the secret of a fuller life. Now is the benediction which will quiet and gladden our spirit. The principle of action which is proposed is this; we can save time by doing things Now. That seems a self-evident proposition. It may be so, but it is by no means a common principle of action. I do not wish to lay down an extreme rule, or to give an indiscriminate encouragement to haste, imprudence, thoughtlessness; but only to leave it as a rule to be applied so far as it can be, in the assurance that it will enlarge the value of our life.