(Octavius Winslow, “The Untrodden Path” 1860)
“You have not passed this way before.” Joshua 3:4
How solemn is the reflection that with a new cycle of time, commences a new and untrodden path with each traveler to Zion.
New events in his history will transpire;
because new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold.
New phases of character will develop;
and new temptations will assail.
New duties will devolve;
and new trials will be experienced;
New sorrows will be felt;
and new friendships will be formed;
as well as new mercies will be bestowed.
How truly may it be said of the pilgrim, journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future, “You have not passed this way before.”
But there is another thought inexpressibly soothing.
Untried, untrodden, and unknown as that new path may be, it is each step mapped, arranged, and provided for in the everlasting and unchangeable covenant of God. Therefore to Him who leads us, who accepts us in the Son of His love, who knows the end from the beginning–it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way.
We thank Him that, while He wisely and kindly veils all the future from our reach; all that future, its minutest event, is as transparent and visible to Him as the past.
Our Shepherd knows the windings along which He skillfully, gently, and safely leads His flock. Oh! it is a thought replete with strong consolation, and well calculated to gird us for the coming year. Because the Lord knows and has ordained each step of the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter!
The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which have marked each line of our new path, have also provided for its every necessity . . .
because each exigency in the new year has been anticipated;
and each need will bring its appropriate and adequate supply.
Each perplexity will have its guidance;
and each sorrow its comfort.
Each temptation its shield;
and each cloud its light.
Each affliction will suggest its lesson;
and each correction will impart its teaching;
as well as each mercy will convey its message of love.