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SERMON XIX.

ON THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WORLD.

2 Pet. iii. 11.

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons

ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness!”

BY THE REV. THOMAS PICTON, A. M.
Pastor of the Presbyterian Congregation of Westfield.

NEW

JERSEY PREACHER.

SERMON XIX.

2 Pet. üi. 11.-“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what man

ner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness !"

WHAT a sublime and grand spectacle was presented to all intelligent witnesses, when the Almighty laid the foundations of the earth! By the word of his power, this fair and vast fabric was reared :-at first, indeed, 66 without form, and void ; and darkness covered the face of the deep.” At the divine command, it began, however, to assume, by degrees, a more pleasing aspect, and a more definite form. The land was separated from the waters, and each stocked with innumerable tribes of animals. A mighty sun, was kindled in the firmament, to govern the day; and the moon and stars to rule the night. So grand and illustrious was the scene, when, from chaos, a new world emerged,-arranged, adorned and beautified in all its parts—that the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy !"

Equally grand and sublime, but infinitely more awful, will be the dissolution of the world; when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat;" when “ the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up." or that great event, which will afford an illustrious display of the divine power, the apostle is expressly treating, in the paragraph, from which the text is taken : and on this solemn and awful subject, I propose to address, te

you, a few considerations, in the present discourse. With this view, let us proceed to consider,

I. The proofs which we have of the final dissolution of the world ;

II. The immediate cause, which will produce this mighty effect;

III. The order of this event, in the general course of things, which will, then, take place: and,

IV. The practical effects, which the contemplation of this subject ought to produce on our present views and conductona" Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness !"

We proceed to collect,

1. The proofs and evidences of the final dissolution of this world.

And, here, it may be proper to remark, in entering on this subject, that the light of nature can afford us but little aid, in our enquiries on this point. Our natural reason is, however, sufficient to satisfy us, that such an event, as we here contemplate is not impossible : for, surely, the power of an infinite and almighty Being, who formed the universe and still supports the frame of nature, is fully equal to the accomplishment of this work. If He was able to create the world, there can be no doubt but that He is also able to destroy it. Nay, without having recourse to miraculous power, reason must allow the possibility of such an event on natural principles, and from natural causes, as we shall presently

see.

Perhaps we may advance a step further, and say, that the light of nature renders the dissolution of the world a probable event. Whithersoever we turn our eyes, we

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see that all things are subject to decay. The verdure, which, in the summer-months, clothes the fields, fades, from year to year, at the approach of winter. The foliage on the trees, in like manner, withers and decays. Plants and animals, of all kinds, are subject to death. Even the sun itself, according to the opinion of some philosophers, is continually exhausted, and requires a constant supply of fuel to repair its waste.—And can it be thought probable, amidst this general cbange and decay throughout nature, that the world, in its present form, will be eternal? Do not the death of all living creatures, and the decomposition of vegetable substances; strongly intimate, on the contrary, that the period is certainly advancing, when “ the great globe itself shall dissolves, and like the baseless fabrick of a vision, leave not a wreck behind ?"

Whether it was from some obscure hints of this kind, drawn from natural reason, or, as is more probable, from traditiopa originally derived from the sacred books, certain it is, however, that many of the ancient Heathens entertained an expectation of the dissolution of the world ; and that this great catastrophe would be produced/ by a general conflagration. The doctrine of the stoicks naturally led to this belief. Pliny thought there was a tendency in nature to such an event, and wondered that it had not, long ago, happened. The words of Seneca, on this subject, are very remarkable, and not unworthy of being here repeated. “ The time will come,” says he, “ when the world will be consumed; when the powers of nature will be turned against herself ; when stars will rush on stars, and the whole material world, which now appears resplendent with beauty and harmoay, will be destroyed in one general confiagration. In

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