“I once read of an “old man who stood upon the border of the closing year, and looked forth from his window upon the blue heavens bright with stars, and upon the cold earth white with snow, and he thought no heart could be so hopeless and joyless as his. He saw the open grave before him, and behind him the sins and sorrows of a wasted life. He had followed the path of his own choosing for happiness, and he found it not. He was wasted in body, and his soul was filled with remorse.
“The days of his youth came back to his memory like reproachful specters, and he saw himself again at the point where two paths met,—the one leading to the heavenly home of peace, and the other leading to darkness and despair. He saw, he felt, the fearful mistake he had made in choosing the dark path, and following the leading of Satan, when angels of God were waiting and anxious to show him the path of light. Life to him was a failure. Distracted with grief and disappointment, he cried in agony, ‘O my Father, give me back the days of my youth! Let me stand once more at the dividing ways, that I may choose the path of light.’ But there was no Father’s voice to answer, and the days of youth would not come back at his call. He thought of the companions of his youth who had chosen the better path, and he wished that he had gone with them. He wished that he had died in his infancy rather than to have lived a wasted life as he had done. With bitter remorse and blinding tears, he bowed his head and cried again, ‘Oh that the days of my youth would come back! oh for a touch from the guiding angel’s hand that once was put forth to lead me in the path of peace and holiness.
“And his youth did come back; for all that he had seen and said and felt was only the prophetic dream of one who was still young in years, yet had been rapidly growing old in sin. In an hour of sadness and weariness with the world, he had seen, by anticipation, the remorse and disappointment to which he was hastening in his wanderings from God; and he awoke with joy to find that there was yet time for him to choose the path of peace, of happiness, and of Heaven.”
I hope that the youth who read this will reflect in regard to the past, the present, and the future. Decide now, at the commencement of the new year, that you will choose the path of righteousness, that you will be earnest and true-hearted, and that life with you shall not prove a mistake. Go forward, guided by the heavenly angels; be courageous; be enterprising; let your light shine; and may the words of inspiration be applicable to you,—“I write unto you, young men, because ye are strong and have overcome the wicked one.” Listen to the words of the great apostle, echoing down the ages: “Quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13. Men who are in the battle against falsity and wickedness, are found true and noble. They are men who will fight to the last rather than yield the contest. I close by wishing you a Happy New Year.”
Youth’s Instructor, Jan. 5, 1881