Why, then, do I wish to work in the present moment?
Because I should forever repent of not having done so, and forever repent of having been discouraged by the consideration that the generation now living would find a representation of the essential truths of Christianity interesting and curious reading, at most; having accomplished which they will calmly remain where they are; that is, in the illusion that they are Christians and that the clergy's toying with Christianity really is Christianity.
We are agreed to let stand the claim that in "Christendom" we are Christians, every one of us; and then we have laid and, perhaps, will lay, emphasis now on this, now on that, side of the teachings of the Scriptures.
The patients are put down as having died, the one of this, the other of that, disease, but strictly speaking this is not true; for they all died from the taint which is in the building. That religious conditions are wretched, and that people in respect of their religion are in a wretched condition, nothing is more certain.But only on one condition, viz., that I be permitted to scorn them in silence and to satisfy the master passion of my soul: scornvery probably I have been called to do so for that very reason.Now that I am to work in the present moment I must, alas!That is in very truth, the effect of this whole machinery of a state church and a thousand royal officials who, under the pretense of being spiritual guides for the people, trick them out of the highest thing in life, which is, the solicitude about one's self, and the need which would surely of itself find a teacher or minister after its own mind; whereas now the needwhereas now this need does not arise at all, but on the contrary is forestalled by being satisfied long before it can arise.And this is the way, they claim, this is the way to continue the work which the Savior of Mankind did beginso merrily, so merrily the dance goes around; or, rather, we live in a Heathendom made more refined by the help of Life Everlasting and by help of the thought that, after all, it is all Christian!
For to obtain that effect it certainly is not necessary to threaten one with a loaded pistol and the most painful torture; in fact, it is possible that neither the loaded pistol nor the most painful torture would be able to deter him from making his life as comfortable as he can.