I have been struggling with this question for some time, What is the difference between a general journal and a general ledger?

Is the ledger comprised of the chart of accounts and their corresponding balances? Which if I am correct would run for ever... provided they are part of the four permanent accounts (IE: assets, liabilities, equity, retained earnings) and if not, a definition would be appreciated.

I do understand that the general journal is where a user will enter adjustments, direct transactions that effect an account (IE: reduction of an assset, etc.) and from what I have been told also keeps the summary entries for payroll (totals for the pay period) sales, etc.

If I am way off the mark please feel free to correct me.

I am trying to grasp this in terms of how software treats the transactions and how the various physical files are updated, closed, etc.