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to him a youth who told him with delight that he had come to study law. Impetuously he ran over the many acquisitions he should make to perfect him in his profession. When he had finished, Philip asked him “what he meant to do then?” “I shall take my doctor's degree.” “And then?” asked Philip. “I shall get practice until I get reputation.” “And then ?” “I shall be promoted, make money, and grow rich.” “And then ?” “I shall live comfortably and honourably, looking forward to a good old age.” “And then ?”. “Then? why, then I shall die.” “And then ?” The youth made no answer, yet the question sank deeply into his mind and influenced his life.
As Christians we believe in our immortality ; but if immortal, the nature of that immortal life must be developed here ; for earth is the sphere in which trial and temptation, truth and love, are present as God's means for man's progress. Life itself should be a blessing; and if temporal gifts are added to our lot, then happy is he by whom death is regarded as a transition to higher joy. But if our hearts are fixed on temporal blessings only, when the summons comes to leave the corridors of time and enter the portals of eternity—what then ?
By a Youthful Writer for Youthful Readers.
THE JOURNEY OF LIFE.
Wouldst thou know others ! Read thyself, and learn.”_GOETHE.
Methought I journeyed through an enchanted country of the most strange and wonderful appearance; and yet mingled with all its apparent strangeness there was an air of half familiar reality which gave me an impression similar to that produced by the thought of scenes long since visited and half forgotten.
This country, known by the name of the “ Land of Experience," was of the most diversified character. On the one hand, stretching away to the far horizon, is a grassy, undulating plain, scattered here and there with knolls of trees, interspersed with bands of low willows and rushes, marking the courses of various brooks, meandering onwards towards a large river which skirts one side of the plain. On the
other hand, the view is bounded by the confines of a dark forest; while behind is to be seen the path along which I have just been travelling, passing backwards o'er hill and dale until it is lost in the dim regions of Infancy. But I notice that some of the places passed long ago are more distinctly visible than others passed but a little while since, and the Hills of Childhood, catching the last rays of the setting sun, shine with a brightness which increases with the distance, forming, as it were, an ever happy background to a picture in which light and shade are very much blended.
But the strangest thing to be noticed in this strange land is in looking forward. The whole extent of country to which this path of life leads is enveloped in a thick mist through which not even a glimpse of the future can be obtained : the only objects to be seen are the snow-capped peaks of the Mountain of Hope, which stand forth high above the Mist of Uncertainty, beckoning us forward to that proud region of success whore,
“ Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head."
the various post of our present pursuing is calling
I was not alone, however, in this my journey, but had as a companion and guide an old man whose grey locks and flowing beard told of many years having passed over them, but in whose face appeared all the brightness and fervour of youth. His name was Wisdom; and while still guiding me forward towards the end of my journey with untiring perseverance, he was ever ready to give information respecting the various places through which we passed.
I asked him, “What is the object of our present journey ?”
“The journey,” said he, “which you are now pursuing is called the Journey of Life,' and its object is to bring you from the regions of the Innocency of Ignorance' to the glorious haven of rest called the 'Innocency of Wisdom, there to associate with the laurelcrowned brows of those who have successfully overcome the difficulties and dangers of this journey."
“ The region through which you are now passing is known by the name of “Youthful Fancy ;' and as you wander joyously among the asphodel meadows, gathering the bright flowers of happy thoughts and pure feelings, chasing the many-coloured butterflies of pleasureable emotions, you are strongly tempted to stay and rest among such scenes of happiness.”
“But occasionally, even here, there steals over your : spirit the feeling of imperfection and unrest; you feel that this is not the con. summation of life, this is not all of which you are capable. And with
these thoughts comes the determination to press forward, even at the expense, if necessary, of all these pleasures. But you do not think that you will have to give them up. You watch the course of the ever-flowing brook, and see it getting wider and deeper and more distant from its parent spring; but you also see that although, as it flows along, it leaves behind the flowers which here deck its verdant banks, it still has other flowers, perhaps, you think, brighter and better than these, to which it might whisper its sweet vows of love, and even as it whispers still passes on to others yet more inviting. And from the brook you would fain read the foreshadowings of your own life. Well indeed is it that the brook soon loses itself in the mist of the future, or else perhaps you would not be so eager to follow it."
Here my guide paused ; and being struck with the last remark, I inquired, “Is the future then so fearful? Is life as if foreknown so difficult as to cause despair ?"
“Nay,” he replied, “ life is not unpleasant, nor will you find it difficult if you will follow me in your journeyings. As you pass onwards, little by little will the mist be withdrawn, disclosing that which was previously the unknown, and you will find both joy and sorrow; your path will lead you now through peaceful scenes of beauty, and anon you will be toiling over the seemingly boundless desert or the rough mountain pass. Here you will find shelter in the sunny gardens of Prosperity ; there you will wander at random over the storm-swept wilderness of Adversity. It is not for me to say which will the more surely bring you to the end of your journey. Both are necessary to fit you for enjoying the life of wisdom to which you are travelling."
" And why is it,” I asked, “ that the future is thus shut out from our view ? Would it not be better if we could know from the beginning what countries we should have to pass through, and what dangers we should meet in this our Journey of Life, so that we could prepare ourselves for them by special study, and thus be able to reach our destination more easily ?”
Upon hearing this question, my guide slowly turned round and said to me, “ Look back and tell me, if you can, where this journey commenced.”
I did so, and answered, “It emerges from the same mist to which it leads, for I now notice that this dim unknown extends completely around us."
“You are right,” said Wisdom. “The spot on which you stand is the centre of a very small circle, from which the mist has been partly
charmed away by sunlight reflected from yourself. Does not this sufficiently explain why the future is unknown?
“Your present thoughts and actions decide the character of the future. As you travel onwards you will find that the path you tread is not arbitrarily fixed, but is continually influenced by your own wishes. At one time you are gay and happy, and instinctively turn your feet to the pleasant grassy carpet of the sunlit lanes. At another time, sad and melancholy, tired of pleasures which seem but half realities, you turn into the hard highway of Duty, or the still more rugged path of Labour, and walk for a time therein. But of these you soon grow weary, and leave them for anything else which presents itself to your fancy.
“ Thus you see the future is in reality unformed. You have no predestined course along which you must go, but you will find that the circumstances of life will to a great extent form themselves to your will if you have sufficient force of character to resolutely face them: remember that the man is not the product of his circumstances, but that in a far higher degree the circumstances are the product of the man' (Carlyle).
“ Again, if the future was known to you, you would lose interest in your journey. The knowledge of future sorrow would tend to destroy the happiness of present pleasures; and if, on the other hand, you saw that the future was bright, the present being dull and troublesome, you would want to pass on to that time without paying enough attention to the present; thus you would lose the influence which trouble exerts upon the mind; your education would be incomplete; your character would not be firm and matured.
“And yet again, if the future was known you would lose the greatest incentive to action, and, at the same time, one of the greatest pleasures of life, namely, hope. It is the hope of attaining a future of happiness that gives interest to some of the otherwise dull routine of existence, and enables us to bear the disappointments of to-day. And have you never felt how delightful are the ‘Pleasures of Hope. If the mist were cleared away from the future these pleasures would be destroyed, and even the very · Pleasures of Memory' fall insipid upon the fancy.
“But although the future is not, and cannot be known to us, yet by careful observation of the present we may infer its general character, and to a small extent prepare ourselves for it.”
“How can you reconcile your statement that there is no predestination with the fact that there is an overruling Providence continually guiding our lives? If God knows beforehand what our
lives will be, He must of necessity predestine us to that particular course."
“You are entirely wrong," replied Wisdom. You have presented to you diverse paths, some leading to heaven, others leading to the place of detention and restriction, and you have perfect liberty to choose whatever you like. Although it is perfectly true that God does know beforehand which way you will go, yet He does not coerce you in the least, because He has implanted in you a free will, which is, as it were, a separate power from God, and by virtue of which you are a man. If, therefore, that free will were forced it would be no longer free, and God, not yourself, would be responsible for any evil you might cominit.
“At the same time the Divine Providence is continually watching over you, preserving you from dangers and temptations stronger than you could bear, and, if you persist in treading the path of sin, giving you in that path the least possible amount of pain and sorrow.”
While we had been thus conversing, we had wandered some distance from our first position, and now, upon looking round, I saw that the aspect of the country had greatly changed. My path now led me through a comparatively small valley, on either side of which towered the “Hills of Knowledge,” gradually extending higher and higher, one summit being but the prelude to another, until they reached their consummation in the light-bathed mountain upon whose summit is built the “ Castle of Truth.”
These hills completely barred any extent of vision from my position in the valley; but when, after difficult climbing, I managed to reach one of their lesser summits, what a glorious panorama was spread before me! It seemed as though the whole field of nature and art lay around in miniature waiting for interpretation. Here were disclosed to my view the dark riddles of human life waiting to be solved, and from here started one of the many paths which lead to the “ Castle of Truth,” from whose loftiest turret gleamed forth a pure white banner, on which were inscribed a golden cross and the motto “Semper eadem.”
I could not remain long in the happy contemplation of this scene, but must again descend to the everyday pathway; and as I walked along I indulged in the following muttered musings :
“The way of truth leads to religion, and religion, I am told, ought to be the ruling principle of life; words easily uttered, but what do they mean? If we are to live for religion only, are we to give up all our pleasures? are we to resign ourselves to a hermit life
ef, on which were incontest turret gleamed "a lead to the