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present year is frequently abandoned for one equally disappointing in the next.-Even if our bodies be not in motion, the mind is continually agitated; we are restless under the present; looking with impatience for the future; like the traveller, who is dissatisfied with the residence with which he has taken up for the time, but looks with sanguine expectation to some point in his further progress, where the accommodation may be more convenient, the scenery more grand, or the society more inviting.
The next thing we remark of a sojourner in any place is, that his stay in it is only for a time.
In proportion to the whole length of an extended journey, the time, which a traveller devotes to any one place, through which he passes, is necessarily short. In proportion too to the whole duration of time; that portion of it, which is occupied by the existence of any individual upon earth, must be acknowledged to be extremely limited. In the beginning of life indeed, when the sensation from present enjoyment is in general as keen as the disposition to think seriously is weak, young persons look up to the old as those, who have had a long continuance upon earth. But do they look to them for proofs, that life is enviable as well as long? Do they view their enfeebled limbs, their diseased frame, their impaired intellects, with envy? Do they even ask them the result of their experience, as to the duration of existence? They would too surely exclaim ; “ In our youth we foolishly thought, our years would never have an end. Yet by what rapid advance, by what quickly succeeding steps, have we come to
the verge of the grave ? Scarcely had the season of youth arrived, when it seemed to have reached its end; the thoughtless pleasures of early life made way for the cares and anxieties of middle age; and when we were busily occupied in smoothing the troubles of that period; before we had made effectual provision for the comforts of declining life; old age was already at hand and surprised us, alas ! too intent upon this world to make due preparation for that, towards which we find ourselves inevitably hastening."-Such is the account, which may often be truly given by those, who have been permitted by a merciful Creator to reach a length of existence, at which the majority of their fellow creatures are not destined to arrive. Yet if the aged upon earth confess that their lives have been short and wearisome, what must be the more melancholy confession of such, as are snatched away, ere half the usual course of man be run ? Must not all the dwellers on this perishable globe be constrained to acknowledge that “our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding;” that “they are swifter than a post, and flee away: they are passed away as the swift ships, and as the eagle that hasteth to the prey”b? Must not human nature, speeding to its original dust, bow in all. lowliness of heart before its great Creator;, and say; “ Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, and mine age is even as nothing before Thee; verily, every man at his best estate is altogether vanity”C?
a 1 Chron. xxix. 15.
b Job ix. 25.
c Ps. xxxix. 5.
But, thirdly, it must be expected by travellers, if they are engaged in a journey of much extent and continuance, that they meet with many difficulties and dangers. Accidents may befall them by land ; storms await them by sea. Their own heedlessness and impatience may entail upon them trouble; a too ardent curiosity endanger their safety; too intense a desire of pleasure occasion inconveniences; or mere ignorance and inexperience produce serious embarrassments. Temptations will be presented to them; fraud may be practised upo
upon them; violence may be offered them. Now is not this an accurate representation of the perils and distresses which, in a greater or less degree, affect the safety or the comfort of every one, who wanders through this vale of tears ? The early stages of life cannot be gifted with that knowledge of others or of ourselves, which is derived from experience. If we be disposed to listen to the warning voice of a guide, a wise and faithful one is not always at hand; nor are the young always disposed to listen to him, if he were at hand. Destitute of experience, we mistake the nature and qualities of things and men; “ we call good, evil, and evil, , good;" we eagerly follow after that, which allures us by its outward appearance, though within it be unsound and hideous; we turn aside with aversion from that, which at first sight appears forbidding, though we might find in it, if we had patience to examine and discretion to use it, a mine of hidden treasure. We court the acquaintance, and are charmed with the society, of the unworthy; we spurn the counsel,
and decline the good offices, of the wise and good; we give ourselves up to idleness, if not to vice; we love perpetual amusement, and eagerly pursue pleasure ;—but we are ignorant of the value of time; we know not that the comforts of maturer
age must be purchased by a resolute devotion of some portion of early life to industry in our respective callings; to knowledge;. to virtue. In a more advanced period, in the further progress of our journey, we continue to feel the want of that experience, which we failed to acquire in an earlier stage. The defect of knowledge, which was at first unavoidable, we refused to supply by availing ourselves of the proper means, the experience and good advice of others.--So that, having lost the opportunity of gaining that faculty of judging, and those stores of knowledge, which chiefly distinguish a more advanced, from a more early, time of life; we wander in helpless uncertainty, and are unable to ascertain with due precision the nature of the objects, which pass before us. But if none of these evils befall us through our own fault; through our indiscreet rejection of counsel, when it was offered; by a neglect to lay in a store of experience, when it might have been acquired; yet accidents will befall us, and disappointments intervene. Events, over which we can have no control, will occur to baffle our best-laid schemes; to thwart our wellfounded hopes in life, as well as in a journey; so that, with all our industry and all our caution, we must still recollect, that it is the appointed lot of man to encounter accident and disease; to endure pain and
affliction; to receive unkindness, where confidence has been misplaced; and ill-requital, where service has been faithfully bestowed.
Next, we observe that a journey not only abounds in difficulties of various kinds, but that the length of it is very uncertain.
Already we have remarked that, in reference to the time passed in a settled home, a journey or voyage must be considered as of short duration.But short as it is, many circumstances may bring it to a close before the traveller intended. An accident on the road may abridge the means of travelling onwards; events may occur at home, which call for immediate return; the passage from one place to another may be accelerated; and the traveller may reach his usual abode long before the time, which he had previously fixed for the extent of his absence. Does not such a state of things most accurately resemble the course of human existence ? Not only is it altogether short, when compared with eternity; but it is exposed to so many accidents, that the most unthinking must confess it to be very precarious; and those, who do think, gratefully acknowledge the warning, that is given by the solemn declaration; “ in the midst of life we are in death.” No age, no station is secure against unexpected death; no precautions avail against its rapid approach; no barriers withstand its sudden inroads. Every element conspires to defeat the anticipations of human hope ; and to baffle the exertions of human skill. The widewasting fire devours house after house, and buries their inhabitants in ruins; the ocean,—who can say