A new year has dawned. And while we tend to face a new year with energy and enthusiasm, excited by all the possibilities it will bring, perhaps we ought to pause for just a few moments to consider the reality that is set before us. Octavius Winslow would have you consider that this world and all that is in it is but a shadow. And if we simply acknowledge this, we are prepared to live this year well—to live it for the glory of God. Consider what he says:
All is shadow here below! The world is a shadow; and it passes away!
The creature is a shadow; and the loveliest and the fondest may be the first to die!
Health is a shadow; fading, and in a moment gone!
Wealth is a shadow; today upon the summit of affluence, tomorrow at its base, plunged into poverty and dependence!
Human friendships and creature affections are but shadows; sweet and pleasant while they last, but, with a worm feeding at the root of all created good, the sheltering gourd soon withers, exposing us to the sun’s burning heat by day, and to the frost’s cold chill by night!
Oh, yes! “Passing Away” is indelibly inscribed upon everything here below! Yet how slow are we to realize the solemn lesson: “What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!”
Unconverted reader, what is your life but a vapor that passes away? And what are its pursuits but shadows; unreal, unsatisfying, evanescent? Your rank, your wealth, your honors, your pleasures, are but phantoms which appear but for a little while, and then are lost in the deeper shadow of the grave, and the still deeper and longer shadow of eternity!
Oh, turn from these dreams and hallucinations, and, as a rational, accountable, immortal being, on your way to judgment, fix your mind upon your solemn, endless future! You are going to die! And, oh, when that dread hour comes, so real and appalling, how will your past life appear?