Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation," St. Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians, and Wey-mouth gives us this beautiful translation: "Now is the time of loving welcome! Now is the day of salvation." This statement of the great apostle is the antithesis of opportunism, it is a call 'to practical application of Christian optimism in daily life. How profitless to prate of the superlative value of the "now," and then waste it in vain regrets for former failures or in fearful expectation of imminent lapses; for so surely as we thus pervert the "now," leaving it barren of good thoughts and deeds, will the past assume an aspect of dreary remembrance and the future become a dreaded chimera, obscuring the light of present usefulness and making what should be joyous service seem tedious and irksome. It is eternally "now," and the "have-beens" and "will-bes," and "buts" and "ifs" which seek to rob us of a full fruitage of present good, will disappear if we constitute this moment the focusing-point of right ideas, the nucleus of loving endeavor, the culminating period of life, instead of using it as a time for selfish retrospection, introspection, or anticipation. The gaze which is yearningly fixed upon some distant star of hope, or which is occupied in constant contemplation of self, or in sadly surveying the darkened regions of unpleasant and unprofitable memory, must necessarily be unconscious of the beauties of its immediate environment, and of the opportunities which are pressing for recognition on every hand. Opportunity is synonymous with "now," for now is the convenient time for executing our well-formed designs; "now" is ever opportune for action and favorable for attempting, persevering, achieving.
The man who most fully lives is he who most actively thinks and acts for good, in and for the present; who is meeting a need of contemporaneous humanity. Great philosophers have their place in inspiring future action and in ennobling ideals of Utopian conditions some day to be realized, but he who accomplishes the good foreseen is surely deserving of more praise than the seer who predicts it. Constant activity in right thinking and its present manifestation in good works will soonest advance humanity out of itself. Such thinking brings inspiration to others and such deeds are the highest service of citizenship in any community. The selfish sinner who is constantly gloating over his experiences, the unsuccessful day-dreamer planning great undertakings for future achievement but accomplishing nothing in the present, the sorrowing saint vainly deploring the tenacious tendencies to wrong-doing and thus magnifying error instead of overcoming it,—these are they who expend unprofitably the precious present.
To the Christian Scientist such states of mind are anomalous. He knows that his momentary thought must be good and active if he would live so as to deserve to be called a follower of Jesus in the Christ-way; and yet while but few who are enlightened dreamily squander precious hours, or waste time in sinful contemplation or sickly revery, it must be admitted that considerable inactivity in guarding thought is not wholly foreign to us all. No doubt it is far easier to regret than to reform, to dream than to do, and to preach than to practise; but this thinking age rightly demands proofs of our professions, practical demonstrations of our metaphysical deductions, and actual, active Christian service in place of garrulous declarations of unprofitable dogmas. Activity does not, however, always mean accomplishment. Ill-directed efforts, though honest and earnest, often produce more harm than good. Mrs. Eddy says: "Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 230). If our efforts are not fruitful for good, or only moderately so, we must carefully consider how it is we are impoverishing the present and nullifying our just reward.