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swept from existence, and their place SERM. is no more to be found.
I SHALL insist no longer on this representation of things. Enough has been said, to show that the fashion of the world, in every sense, passes away. Opinions and manners, public affairs and private concerns, the life of man, the conditions of fortune, and the earth it. self on which we dwell, are all changing around us. Is every thing, then, with which we are connected, passing and transitory? Is the whole state of man no more than a dream or fleeting vision? Is he brought forth, to be only the child of a day? Are we thrown into a river, where all flows, and nothing stays; where we have no means of resisțing the current; nor can reach any firm ground, on which to rest our foot ?- No, my brethren; man was not doomed to be fo unhappy ; nor made by his Creator so much in vain. There are three fixed and permanent objects, to which I must now call your atten
SERM, tion, as the great supports of human XII.
constancy amidst this fugitive state. Though this world changes and passes away, virtueand goodness never change; God never changes ; heaven and immortality pass not away.
First, Virtue and goodness never change. Let opinions and manners, conditions and situations, in public and in private life, alter as they will, virtue is ever the same. It refts on the immoveable basis of Eternal Truth. Among all the revolutions of human things it maintains its ground; ever possessing the · veneration and esteem of mankind, and
conferring on the heart, which enjoys it, satisfaction and peace. Consult the most remote antiquity. Look to the most favage nations of the earth. How wild, and how fluctuating foever the ideas of men may have been, this opinion you will find to have always prevailed, that probity, truth, and beneficence, form the honour and the excelLency of man. In this, the philofopher
and the savage, the warrior and the her-SERM.
XII, mit, join. At this altar all have wor- * Thipped. Their offerings may have been unfeemly. Their notions of virtue may have been rude, and occasionally tainted by ignorance and superstition; but the fundamental' ideas of moral worth have ever remained the same. . Here then is one point of stability, affected by no vicissitudes of time and life, on which we may rest. Our fortunes may change, and our friends may die ; but virtue may still be our own; and as long as this remains, we' are never miserable. Till I die I will not remove my integrity from me. My righteDufness I hold fast, and will not let it go. My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. * He who, with the holy man of old, can hold this language, may with undisturbed mind survey time flying away, life decaying, and the whole fashion of the world changing around him. He hath within himself, a source of consolation and hope, independent of
* Job xxvii. 5,6.
SER.M. all earthly objects. Every terrestrial XII. glory sparkles only for a little, with
transient brightness. But virtue shines
with eternal and unalterable fplendour. · It derives its origin from heaven; and
partakes both of the lustre, and the ftability, of celestial objects. It is the brightness of the everlasting light; the unspotted mirror of God, and the image of
In the second place, God never changes. Amidst the unceasing viciffitude. of earthly things, there remains at the head of the universe an eternal protector of virtue, whose throne is established for ever. With him there is no variableness, neither any shadow of turning ; no inconftancy of purpose, and no decay of wisdom or of power. We know that he loved righteousness from the beginning of days, and that he will continue to love it unalterably to the last. Foreseen by him was every revolution which the course of ages has produced, All the changes which happen in the
state of nature, or the life of men, were SERM. comprehended in his decree. How much . XII. . soever worldly things may change in themselves, they are all united in his plan ; they constitute one great system or whole, of which he is the author ; and which, at its final completion, shall appear to be perfect. His dominion holds together, in a continued chain, the successive variety of human events ; gives ftability to things that in themselves are fluctuating; gives constancy even to the fashion of the world while it is pafing away." Wherefore, though all things change on earth, and we ourselves be involved in the general mutability, yet as long as, with trust and hope, we look up to this Supreme Being, we rest on the rock of ages, and are safe amidst every change. We possess a fortress to which we can have recourse in all dangers ; a refuge under all storms ;" a dwelling place in all generations.
In the third and last place, Heaven and immortality pass not away. The