—1 Cor xiii., 13.
Once I took Hope for my guardian angel. I looked into her bright face, and felt I was surely in the "glad confident morning," that I had left far behind me the pale gloom of twilight. But the Castle Beautiful still lay in the distance, and even the presence of my fair companion could not blind me to the awful reality of the pitfalls and quagmires that beset my path, and lay between me and the glorious end of my rough life-journey. How weary the road was too! After repeated falls, I turned coward, bade Hope begone, and waited sullenly, a prisoner to Despair. How long I was thus, I know not; but, in my agony, I prayed, and lo!, my grim gaoler had vanished. In his place stood the form of a sweet sad angel, yet with such strength written on the calm of her level brows as gave me courage and a strange sense of security.
"Oh poor earth-traveler!" she said, "it is only by Faith that the difficulties of the way will be overcome for thee, and thy destined end reached. Trust me for thy safety." And she laid her hand on me, and thrilled me through to obedience. So I believed blindly because I was coward, and would not search out the truth for myself. Yet, in the background of my vision, I saw another form wreathed as with thorns who gazed at me sorrowfully. But I comforted myself, "I have Faith, therefore all is well," and I drifted on lazily, trusting my Master not to judge me too harshly at the reckoning day.
Then one morning I saw workers—men toiling vigorously on the roadway, building causeways and crossings for themselves, and helping other travelers along. They seemed better able for the journey, and further l advanced in the way. Why was I so slow? Nay, what was that awful barrier rising to confront us both? Faith bade me trust, but Faith showed me no way over. The mist thickened, and though I still held fast to my guide I was making no headway, hardly keeping my feet steady in the mire.
And once again I prayed, and behold! a shining ladder straight before me from earth to Heaven, written on whose radiant way was "Charity—Love." Then humbly I understood, and bowed before the Shining White Glory at the top, whence Love seemed to generate in ever-lengthening, ever-intensified rays. Hope might cheer the beginning of my journey; Faith keep me through its dangers and difficulties, but only Love can show us the full, glorious, end of life, and only in Love's light can we see the Father.