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passed an hour ago, or will pass an hour hence. So changes the stream of human succession. Every hour some of our mortal race are passing away, and others are coming forward, to follow them down the current into that boundless ocean, where all will, by and by, be absorbed.
There is a mighty change which awaits us all ; a change which generations before us have experienced, and which is appointed for those who are coming after us. We are to pass from this world, where we now live, where we were born and have grown up, where we have formed connexions, contracted friendships, and acquired property; and we are to enter into another world widely different from this; a world which we have never seen, and of which we have had but imperfect information; a world to which many of our friends have gone, but from which none have returned to tell us what it is. There we must exist in a new manner, and amidst new connexions. Our bodies we must leave behind, for awhile, to receive them in some distant period, new made, and differently fashioned. In the mean time, we shall live unbodied spirits, and among spirits, like us, unbodied. Our views, actions and communications will be such as are proper to spirits, and such as beings, in this gross state of flesh, cannot clearly apprehend. This change will be more important than all preceding ones. The change, from a world known to a world unknown; from an existence in bodies, to an existence without bodies, is inconceivably great. But there is a circumstance in our final change far greater still. It removes us from a state of probation to a state of retribution, where we shall enjoy complete happiness without fear of loss, or suffer extreme misery without hope of deliverance. As the inhabitants of the world, so the world itself is passing away. The heavens and the
earth which are now, are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men. The day of the Lord will come: Then the heavens shall depart as a scroll, when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island shall be removed out of their places, and the earth and the works which are therein shall be burnt up. Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness.
Let us now improve the sentiment, which we have been illustrating,
1. The mutable condition of the world may lead us to contemplate the immutability of the Creator. "The heavens and the earth shall perish, but he shall endure. They shall wax old as a garment, and as a vesture shall they be changed; but he is the same, and of his years there is no end." It is the nature of the world, to be mutable. It is the will of the Creator, that the fashion of it should pass away. One use of the changes which we see, is to remind us of the unchangeableness of him, by whom all things were made.
These changes prove the existence of one eternal, independent, allperfect Being. The order with which they are guided, and the ends to which they are directed, shew them to be the effects, not of blind chance, but of unerring wisdom. Is it by chance, that the moon waxes and wanesthat the sun approaches and declines-that the seasons follow each other in succession, and give variety to the face of nature-that the numerous tribes of creatures are supplied, and that the millions, which perish at the approach of winter, revive with the returning spring? Is it by chance that revolutions take place in states and kingdoms--that small causes are productive of vast and stupendous VOL. II.
events and that the counsels of men are defeated by disproportionate means?
The harmony which we behold in the changes of the natural world, and the good effects, which, contrary to human expectation, we often see produced by changes in the political world, are demonstrations, that an infinite, allperfect Being presides in the universe, and directs all changes and events.
This Being must himself be unchangeable. His nature and happiness are not affected by the vicissitudes of time, nor his throne shaken by the convulsions of the world. With him is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. As he is possessed of all perfections, there can be no addition to his glory and felicity. As he is infinite and independent, there can be no diminution of his dignity and excellence. As he has an unlimited knowledge of all things, there can be no change of his purposes and designs. As he is above all, none can restrain his power, or control his will.
When we see all things around us changing, and feel ourselves partaking in the general mutability of the creatures, it is matter of high consolation, that the Being, who governs the world, is ever the same, and that all changes among the creatures are under his direction. "He looketh down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven doth he behold the earth. He heareth the groaning of the afflicted, and regardeth the prayer of the destitute. The children of his servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before him. He changeth not, therefore we are not consumed. His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness."
2. In the changes of the world we may see much of the wisdom and goodness of God.
The mutability of things, though it causes some pain, is on the whole, a source of enjoyment. We
are formed to love variety. If only one undiversified scene was continually presented to us, it would soon lose all its power to please, and life itself would become a burden.
The traveller, passing over a smooth and level plain, where, all along, a train of similar objects meets his eyes, soon finds the scene growing dull and tedious. He is impatient for a change. He longs for the rising hill, and the sinking vale; the ragged cliff, and the flowing stream; the wild forest, and the cultivated field. A varied motion rests his body, and a diversified landscape charms his imagination. Equally wearisome would be our journey through life, if nothing new occurred on the road.
Let a man choose his own condition. Let him be placed in the most agreeable circumstances, that he can imagine. Let him have as much wealth and honour, as many friends, and as pleasing companions, as he can wish. And now let his condition be fixed, and remain exactly the same, without any possible change-Will he enjoy it?-He cannot enjoy it for a single week. There must be something new, or every pleasure flattens and becomes insipid. Stretched on a bed of down, we soon grow restless, and turn from side to side.
As our pleasures are heightened, so our pains are mitigated, by variety. In the roughest roads that we travel, we meet with some smooth way, where we can walk with ease; and in the steepest ascents that we climb, there are places where we may sit down and rest.
Many are the troubles of the world; but they are intermixed with pleasures. And our troubles are not always the same; one passes away, as an other comes. The burden does not continually press on the same part. We find some relief by shifting it from shoulder to shoulder. The christ
ian finds more effectual support in the persuasion, that this troublous scene is but preparatory to a happier state, where all the changes will be only variety of good.
3. The transient fashion of the world, and the mutable condition of man, direct our thoughts to a future state of existence.
One change leads to another. There is a connexion in the chain of events. Each season is preparatory to the next. Summer and autumn provide for winter: Winter disposes the earth for the culture of summer, Youth is preparatory to manhood, and this to old age. We may naturally then conclude, that death is introductory to a new state of existence. All previous changes stand in connexion with something else; Shall we imagine that so great a change as death, is indifferent and unconnected? Our sight is bounded by the grave, but the chain is still extended. Pain, in this state, usually precedes high enjoyment; the humiliating circumstances of death are preludes to glory and immor, tality.
In spring we behold nature reviving from the dreary state of winter, and assuming new life and vigour. This change is emblematical of the general reviviscence of the human race. What is the spring, but a resurrection of nature from the grave ? May not man as well be raised? May he not rise in a superior form, and to a nobler existence? The contemptible worm, which crawls on the ground, and lives on the weed, soon dies, and, incrusted in his own shell, lies senseless and inactive. But he is, not confined here; he bursts the shell, starts forth a superior creature, wings the air, and sips the flowers of the feld. May not man, who is now nourished from the dust, and is returning to the dust, come forth immortal and incorruptible, rise to a superior world, exist in a nobler manner, and