By moments in life, I mean certain periods which occur more or less frequently in our history,—when the spirit in which we then live, the step we then take, the word we then utter, or what we at that moment think, resolve, accept, reject, do, or do not, may give a complexion to our whole future being both here and hereafter.
Let me notice one or two features which characterise those moments.
They may, for example, be very brief. Napoleon once remarked, that there was a crisis in every battle, when ten minutes generally determined the victory on one side or other. Yet on the transactions of those few minutes the fate of empires may hang, and on the single word of command, rapidly spoken amidst the roar of cannon and the crash of arms, the destinies of the human race be affected. Men in public life, who are compelled every day to decide on matters of importance, appreciate the value of minutes, and estimate the necessity of snatching them as they pass with promptness and decision;—of “taking advantage of the chance,” as they say, knowing well that if that moment is allowed to pass, “the chance” it brings is gone for ever; that whatever their hand “finds to do” must be done then or never. The results to them of what they decide at that moment may be incalculable. What is then done may never be undone; yet not another second is added to the time given them for action. Within the germ of that brief moment of life is contained the future tree of many branches and of much fruit.