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TEXT. The path of sorrow, and that path alone, Leada to the land where sorrow is unknown ; o traveler e'er reached that blest abode, Who found not thorns and briars on his road. COWFER. BELOVED friends Perhaps you haven't all lived long enough yet to find out, that it makes no kind of odds what path a man follows on his pil grimage from the cradle to the grave, he is sure to find it one sown with thorns and thistles that is, if Death doesn't waylay him, before he 22
170 SHORT PATE T SERMO S. gets into the beginning of the worst of it. I've had my clothes pretty well torn in crawling through brush, and climbing over the hedges that intersect my path toward that boundless prarie, where the rose blossoms without the thorn, and where the unshod feet of immortality may trip it over velvet lawns, without the fear of snakes biting the heel stubbing toes or of having the legs scratched with obtrusive thistles. Yes, my friends, I have traveled far on my journey, over every variety of pros pect through balmy groves and annoying thickets over sandy deserts and bog meadows up the mountain and down the precipice. All these have I worked my way through, just about as slick as any mortal could, and with as little damage to the moral man without any allusion to my time-scratched gourd and thread-bare coat. The path of life is a path of joy and sorrow bin the latter most frequently predominates. In the morning of existence man starts upon that road, which is traveled but once, full of hope, glee and fond anticipation. The fragrant dews of youth impart a delightful perfume to his senses the deceitful bird of Hope allures him onward from grove to grove, singing in a melodi ous strain, which he expects to capture by laying the salt of admiration upon its tail the butterfly Fancy flits before him, which is no sooner caught than its spangled wings are crumbled to dust, and dispersed by the winds of disappointment. He gathers the buds of joy waters them with extatic tears and they expand, blossom and wither in his grasp. He eats the apples of sorrow, and they make his stomach ache
for a time, but nevertheless operate as a healthy physic, after an ex cess of iiiirth. lie winds liis way along up the hill of manhood, now pleased with a variety of beauties that surround him, and now troubled by the stumps, stones and sticks of caro, till at last he reaches the sum mit. His sun bus now attained its highest arch in the heaven of his existence ; and beneath its warm rays he pauses for a moment to look at the eastern valley of the past, which lies like a babe of Paradise slumbering at his feet. He sees it through the gauzy mist of memory, which hides all its blemishes, and adds a rainbow tint to that which, in reality, has no more beauty than a dried up old maid, with red hair, squint eyes, and only two tushes in her scandal shop. Everything, my hearers, looks fine to him tare, because they are in the distance ; and he can't go back to enjoy them again. But he is not allowed to stop on the pinnacle of this hill that sun of his which is ever on the move, is sinking toward the western horizon, and as it sinks, the objects of sor row and care cast lengthening shadows in his track. Slowly and solemnly he travels down the afternoon side of the mountain, through
SHORT PATE T SERMO S. 171 the dark pines, and still darker hemlocks. The birds that now sing to cheer him, have voices harsher than buck-sawsthe owl sits hooting over the silent homes of those who have ended their career in the dark valley of death and the hoar-frost whitens the turf that covers them. The thicket darkens as he descends, and the thorns and briar bushes obstruct his path more and more his knees begin to totter, and he cuts him a stick of faith to support his wearied frame. He now lights up the lamp of Hope anew, as he gropes his way along the gloomy vale the chilling dews of mortality descend and congeal on his frosty head, and the dim twilight of time and eternity assumes a darker and gloomier shade. As he puts on his night clothes and kneels beside the earthly bed prepared for all living, he invokes, with his last orison, the protec tion of Him who watches over sleeping mortals through the long hours of night, till the glorious morn of immortality breaks in golden splendor upon the elysium of the blest. Before he closes his eyes upon his pil low of clay, he takes a parting look at the western horizon of his exis tence, and he there beholds the mingled hues of crimson, amber and gold, which tell him for a certainty, that Ids to-morrow will be fair and no mistake. My dear hearers I have been speaking of the rise, progress, and decline of man, who was composed of honesty, integrity, virtue, and a lover of the fair sex in general all noble qualities. He never picked pennies from a dead man's eyes never stole a sheep, nor robbed a hen roost never voted twice at an election nor seduced the too confiding
daughters of men yet the aloes of sorrow were strewn in his path, and hedges of difficulty obstructed his progress to that land where sorrow is unknown. ow, my friends, we all have a hard row to hoe in such a tangled-up, over-and-under, right-and-left world as this. We scratch our feet, bruise our shins, bump our noses in getting through it ; but there's no danger of any one getting dead sot in the mud, who acts ac cording to the dictates of a scolding conscience, and doesn't pull other folks' hair harder than he could bear to have his own pulled but on the other leg, he will arrive safely and soundly at that blest abode, of which my text speaks, where briars don't scratch, and where the song of * Go away, trouble go !' is sung forever and ever. So mote it be !
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