The Search (Chapter 4, page 3 of 7)


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Chapter 4

Now that he was really alone among all this mob of men of all sorts and conditions, he had retired more and more into the inner sanctuary of self and tried to think out the meaning of life. From the chaos that reigned in his mind he presently selected a few things that he called "facts" from which to work. These were "God, Hereafter, Death." These things he must reckon with. He had been working on a wrong hypothesis all his life. He had been trying to live for this world as if it were the end and aim of existence, and now this war had come and this world had suddenly melted into chaos. It appeared that he and thousands of others must probably give up their part in this world before they had hardly tried it, if they would set things right again for those that should come after. But, even if he had lived out his ordinary years in peace and success, and had all that life could give him, it would not have lasted long, seventy years or so, and what were they after they were past? No, there was something beyond or it all wouldn't have been made--this universe with the carefully thought out details working harmoniously one with another. It wouldn't have been worth while otherwise. There would have been no reason for a heart life.

There were boys and men in the army who thought otherwise. Who had accepted this life as being all. Among these were the ones who when they found they were taken in the draft and must go to camp, had spent their last three weeks of freedom drunk because they wanted to get all the "fun" they could out of life that was left to them. They were the men who were plunging into all the sin they could find before they went away to fight because they felt they had but a little time to live and what did it matter? But John Cameron was not one of these. His soul would not let him alone until he had thought it all out, and he had come thus far with these three facts, "God, Death, A Life Hereafter." He turned these over in his mind for days and then he changed their order, "Death, A Life Hereafter, God."

Death was the grim person he was going forth to meet one of these days or months on the field of France or Italy, or somewhere "over there." He was not to wait for Death to come and get him as had been the old order. This was WAR and he was going out to challenge Death. He was convinced that whether Death was a servant of God or the Devil, in some way it would make a difference with his own personal life hereafter, how he met Death. He was not satisfied with just meeting Death bravely, with the ardor of patriotism in his breast, as he heard so many about him talk in these days. That was well so far as it went, but it did not solve the mystery of the future life nor make him sure how he would stand in that other world to which Death stood ready to escort him presently. Death might be victor over his body, but he wanted to be sure that Death should not also kill that something within him which he felt must live forever. He turned it over for days and came to the conclusion that the only one who could help him was God. God was the beginning of it all.

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