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You who complain of doubts and unbelief, sit down and enquire, Whether you have ever sub. mitted to the government of Christ's religion? If you regard it only as a matter of speculation, no wonder that the tempter throws doubts in your way. If you regard it as matter of practice, and cultivate the temper of it in your hearts, you will feel its excellence and importance. Continue in Christ's word, and you are his disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth. will make you free.
The Changing Nature of worldly Things
1. CORINTHIANS, vii. 3i.
The fashion of this World passeth away.
HE mutable and transient nature of all things around us, is here adduced as an argument against depression in adversity, and exultation in prosperity, eagerness in our worldly pursuits, and anxiety obout future events. “The time is short,” says the apostle, “it remaineth, that they who weep, be as if they wept not ; they who rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; they who buy, as if they possessed not; they who use the world, as not abusing it: For the fashion of this world passeth away.”
To illustrate and improve this thought, is the design of the present discourse.
All things around us are changing. The visible heavens daily vary their appearance, and present to us different scenes. The stars, which now exhibit themselves to our view, are not the same which a few months ago, adorned our even. ing hemisphere; but another assemblage, which have come in their place, and which will again give
place to them. The moon, from evening to evening, changes her face : At one time she appears full orbed, and soon hides herself in darkness.
The sun approaches us with his lively beams and gives us summer; then, retiring toward the other pole, he leaves us to feel our dependence on his friendly visits, and to realize how intolerable would be our state if he should too long delay his return.
Spring and summer, autumn and winter, walk their rounds, and follow each other in close succes. sion. None of them abide with us long. Each in his turn just appears, makes a transient visit, and, stepping forward on his way, gives room to the next.
In every season we experience a great variety in the temperature of the air, the course and strength of the winds, and the aspect of the skies. Cool winds mitigate the fierce heat of the summer's sun; and warm breezes, now and then, soften the rigour of the winter's frost. Thus each season is comfortable in its mean, and tolerable in its extremes.
Nature is continually diversifying her dress. We see her at one time, clothed with verdure, and enriched with fruitage ; then despoiled of her ornaments and treasures, veiled with snow, and deformed with frost.
For a few months she teems with life; the groves and fields, the grass and flowers, the very air, all are peopled with living myriads. These, for a few days, play in the summer's beams: “But God hides his face, and they are troubled : He takes away their breath, and they die and return to their dust. Again he sendeth forth his spirit, and they are created : He rencweth the face of the earth.”
Time makes observable changes in the surface of our globe. By the washing of rains, mountains are wasting and valleys are filling. By subterrane. ous winds and fires, new mountains are heaved up.
and new valleys are sunk. In one place, the land encroaches on the sea; in another, the sea makes inroads on the land. By the power of tempests and tides, islands are united to continents, and continents are dismembered to form new islands. Riv. ers and streams forsake their old beds, and force now channels. Forests decay in one place, and grow up in another; and, in a tract of time, a differs ent species succeeds in the place where the old fora est was destroyed.
Every age introduces great alterations in the bounds of empires, in the political and commercial interests of nations, in their forms of government, in their enmities and friendships. In our own country, What a vast extent of wilderness has been populated within a few years? How prodigiously have our numbers increased ? How wonderfully have arts, commerce and learning been improved? What an astonishing revolution have we seen? The state of Europe is also much changed, and still is changing. A few years may perhaps produce far greater alterations, than have yet taken place. The day is coming, when iniquity will have an end, and the profane and wicked prince will be put down. The crown will be taken from his head, and the diadem will be removed. And God will exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. The government of nations he will overturn, overturn, overturn; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and it shall be given to him.”
Families, as well as nations, are changing. New ones are forming as clder ones pass away. They remain not long at a stand ; when they have reached their growth, they soon begin to decline. Some of the members are removed by death; and others are scattered, here and there, to form new house. holds. Some families, in two or three generations, are multiplied into a number; others are extinguished.
The lands which have been acquired, and the property which has been accumulated, by the pru. dence, industry and enterprise of the proprietor, are often alienated by the misfortune, or folly of the descendants. Estates rarely continue long in the same line, or in the same name. What is collected by the hands of one, is dispersed by the next hands into which it falls. No man can ensure to his posterity the acquisitions of his own industry; nor can he tell who shall be after him. Riches are often kept for the owners to their hurt, and those riches perish by evil travel.
The condition of every person is in continual mu. tation. We come into the world helpless and dependent: We increase in stature, strength and understanding, until we attain to our maturity : Soon we begin to decline in all our powers : We return to the weakness of infancy, and sink into the dust.
As we advance in life, our views and apprehen. sions of men and things, and our taste and incli. nation for the objects around us, greatly alter. The things which we relished in youth, we despise when we come to manhood. The pleasures of our mature age become insipid in our declining years. In the world to come, all earthly interests and pursuits will alike be objects of our contempt.
The inhabitants of the world are changing. The rational beings who people it now, a few years ago had not an existence; and those who will people it a few years hence, have not an existence now. The race of mortals is like the river, which rolls by us. From year to year,
it has the same general appearance, is bounded nearly by the same banks, flows in the same course, and is called by the same name ; But the water is continued by succession: That which passes by us this hour, is not the same which