« AnteriorContinuar »
of all the most stable works of his hands, it may be affirmed; “ The wind goeth over them, and they are “ gone; and the place thereof shall know them no 6 more.”
Shall we take this as our everlasting habitation, when universal experience teaches us, that we are as transient as the flowers of the field? Where are the myriads of the human race, who from the beginning have successively been called into existence? They are swept away from the face of the earth, and consigned to the profound oblivion of the grave. Some few have made themselves a name, and are remembered either with infamy, or honour. But the great bulk of mankind who have gone before us, are as entirely banished from our view ; are as totally forgotten, as if they had never existed. The mighty flood has continued to pour along through successive ages, without ever returning: We are now borne forward by its irresistible power, as they were who have preceded us; and, like them, we shall soon launch forth into the boundless ocean of eternity. As we are rapidly hurried along, how incessantly does the prospect vary! Now we behold a pleasant lawn, and now a frightful precipice. Sometimes we glide through smooth waters, and sometimes we are hurled down the dangerous cataract. Short as our progress has been, how many sad changes have taken place in ourselves and others; in the appearance of our bodies, and in the sentiments of our minds? How many dear companions have been separated from us! How many tender ties have been suddenly broken! How speedily has the bloom of youth been succeeded by the pallid hue of sickness or of age! How soon has beauty been changed into deformity,
and strength into weakness! Of all that we hold most dear in this world, it may be affirmed in the pathetic words of the text, “ the wind goeth over it, and it is
for ever." Shall we attempt to lay the foundation of our felicity and glory upon this unstable earth ? He who thus builds upon the sand, will, ere long, find the floods arising, and the rains beating upon his ill-founded fabrick, and sweeping it entirely away. The most substantial works of human ingenuity and strength cannot withstand the shock of all-subduing time. The lofty tower and the magnificent city fall in undistinguished ruin. Great Nineveh has disappeared; proud Babylon has become a dreary habitation for dragons and for owls; even God's own city Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth, for the crimes of its inhabitants, has been swept with the besom of destruction: according to the prediction of our Lord, not one stone has been left in it upon another, which has not been thrown down. In countries which once exhibited the most wonderful productions of human art and power, the melancholy traveller now finds nothing but one extended scene of desolation; nothing but a few sad monuments of ancient beauty and magnificence. Thus is the pomp and pride of man levelled with the dust. Thus are we taught by woful experience, that what was deemed the most durable of all earthly possessions, is, in reality, as fleeting as a vision; the wind goeth over it, and it is gone: and the man of wisdom stands on the desolated spot, and with a sigh moralizes on the uncertainty of hope, and the vanity of human wishes.
But, we may proceed still farther, and apply such
observations as these even to this great globe itself, the theatre on which are displayed all the wonderful works of man. The time will assuredly come, (and a thousand years in the sight of God, who inhabiteth eternity, are but as one day)-after a few more revolutions shall have finished their course, the wise purposes of God's providence, with respect to the present system of things, will be accomplished; and then will come the end: the wind of Almighty power will pass over this material universe, and it is gone : the sun will be turned into darkness, the earth will be dissolved, and the elements melt with fervent heat. At this awful moment, what shall support those inconsiderate mortals who have made this world their sole dependance? Of what avail will be all their treasures laid up for themselves upon earth, when the earth itself is sinking under their feet? They must fall with horrible consternation into the gulph of remediless despair. Let us, while the accepted time and the day of salvation continue, secure a right to the everlasting inheritance. Let us lay up treasures in heaven, in that city which hath foundations never to be affected by the revolutions of time.
Thus true is the observation of the Psalmist when applied to the most flourishing condition of man in this world; “ As soon as the wind goeth over it, it is
gone; and the place thereof knows it no more." Ile cometh up and is cut down, like the transient flower of the field. His body is made subject to perpetual alterations by the violent assaults of sickness, or the more gradual advances of old age, till the great change come, which is effected by death. His most beautiful works are soon defaced, and the strongest are soon
i overturned by the rude hand of time. Not the earth
itself will be of everlasting duration. Nothing will be found a sufficient support for the human soul, but hope
and trust in God, who is unchangeable and eternal. 5 Let us, then, make a due improvement of these solemn
truths. Let a just sense of our present condition lead us to a suitable deportment. And,
1st. Let a due consideration of the transitory nature c of all earthly possessions, teach us not to fix our affec
tions with too much ardour on the things which are
below; but let us learn to elevate them in time, to i those better things which are above, where Christ 1 sitteth on the right hand of God, preparing a place of
rest for all his faithful people. If the bloom of beauty I must speedily fade ; if the nerve of corporeal strength
will soon be unstrung; if death, in a short time, will separate us from our stores of wealth, and drag us
down from our seats of power; if the pomp of the 1. voluptuous must, ere long, be brought down to the
grave, and the noise of their viols be made to cease; if, in the solemn moment of departure from this terrestrial scene of things, we shall say of every earthly delight, “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity;” let us be persuaded to seek for a more lasting consolation and support. Let our greatest solicitude be, to become the objects of God's especial love in Christ Jesus. So that, when we are falling from this earth and all its posa sessions, the everlasting arms may be spread under us: so that, when we are passing through the valley of the shadow of death, we may have a sure rod and staff to support us: so that, amidst the last convulsions of nature, when the earth is removed, and the mountains carried into the depth of the sea, we need fear no evil.
2dly. Let us remember, that although body and estate may fail; the good dispositions of the mind which are now cultivated, will remain with us for ever, and be the source of unceasing felicity. By the goodness of the Almighty Creator, the soul of man was made for immortality: the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. All the adventitious ornaments which this world can supply, will be stripped off by the rude hand of death; but the virtues of the soul will never leave nor forsake us; they will accompany us beyond the grave; they will be the ministers of pure delight through the ages of eternity. Let us then cease to strive with so much violence for the meat which perisheth; and be more solicitous for the acquisition of that, which endureth unto everlasting life. Let the splendour of wealth, and the parade of power, be deemed, as they really are, matters of little significance, when set in competition with the heavenly qualifications of love, joy, and peace, long-suffering, gentleness, and goodness. These are plants of immortal growth : the wind of God's displeasure will pass over the gay productions of human folly and pride, and they will instantly wither and die: but these virtues will flourish in never dying freshness and beauty: their seat is the human soul, and this place will know them for ever.
3dly. Let these reflections lead us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God; that he may exalt us in due time. What can justify the pride and vanity of man; a frail child of the dust; a fading flower that withers as soon as the wind goeth over it? We may be elated with fond ideas of our importance in the world; but how soon shall we pass away, and