By Robert William Dale
"It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11).
The golden age of the Church lies, not in the past, but in the future. We may be humiliated by the passionate devotion to Christ which glowed in the hearts of the apostles and of many of their immediate converts; we may wonder at the courage and fortitude which during the early Christian generations confronted fearlessly all that was mightiest and most venerable in the ancient civilisation, and endured imprisonment, torture, and death in the power of an exulting hope and a triumphant faith; but it is apparent, both from the apostolic epistles and from later Christian writings, that even in those heroic times there were vast numbers of Christian men and women who fell far short of the saintly life. The glory of God which dwells in the Church of every age was clouded then, as it is clouded now, by human infirmity and sin.
Nor do we look back with regret upon the brief years during which our Lord Himself was visibly present in the world: it was expedient for us that He should go away. The great hour is yet to come: we move forwards to it day by day, year by year. 'Now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.'