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d anuites 0 and the name cintance , thailai al influence of the me with an access me the other art as quite bevida d could still be lucratire peut ing formand in
which diora pre-ortuna that can rer, who care ular in li
likely pretender, the same busy train of pas-pressing forward to some eminence which sions and anxieties which animate the ex- perpctually recedes away from him; see ertions of him who struggles for precedency the inexplicable being, as he runs in fui} in the cabinet, and lists his ambitious eye to pursuit of some glittering bauble, and on the management of an empire.
the moment he reaches it, throws it behind - This is the universal property of our na-him, and it is forgotten ; see him unmindful ture. In the whole circle of your experience, of his past experience, and hurrying his did you ever see a man sit down to the full footsteps to some new object with the same enjoyment of the present, without a hope eagerness and rapidity as ever ; compare the or a wish unsatisfied ? Did he carry in his ecstacy of hope with the lifelessness of posmind no reference to futurity-no longing session, and observe the whole history of of the soul after some remote or inaccessible his day to be made up of one fatiguing race object-no day-dream which played its en- of vanity, and restlessness, and disappointchantments around him, and which, even ment; when accomplished, left him nothing more “And, like the glittering of an idiot's toy, than the delirium of a momentary triumph? Doth Fancy mock his vows.". Did you never see him, after the bright illu- 1 To complete the unaccountable history, sions of novelty were over--when the pre-, let us look to its termination. Man is irresent object had lost its charm, and the dis- gular in his movements, but this does not tant begun to practise its allurements when hinder the regularity of Nature. Time will some gay vision of futurity had hurried him not stand still to look at us. It moves at its on to a new enterprise, and in the fatigues own invariable pace. The winged moments of å restless ambition, he felt a bosom as fly in swist succession over us. The great . oppressed with care, and a heart as anxious luminaries which are suspended on high, and dissatisfied as ever ? .
perform their cycles in the heaven. The This is the true, though the curious, and sun describes his circuit in the firmament, I had almost said, the farcical picture of hu- and the space of a few revolutions will bring man life. Look into the heart which is the every man among us to his destiny. The seat of feeling, and you there perceive a decree passes abroad against the poor child perpetual tendency to enjoy nrent, but not of infatuation. It meets him in the full caenjoyment itself-ihe cheerfulness of hope, reer of hope and of enterprise. He sees the but not the happiness of actual posses- dark curtain of mortality falling upon the sion. The present is but an instant of world, and upon all its interests. That time. The moment you call it your own, busy, restless heart, so crowded with its it abandons you. It is not the actual sensa- plans, and feelings, and anticipations, fortion which occupies the mind. It is what is gets to play, and all its fluttering anxieties to come next. Man lives in futurity. The are hushed for ever. pleasurable feeling of the moment forms al- Where, then, is that resting-place which most no part of his happiness. It is not the the Psalmist aspired after ? What are we reality of to-day which interests his heart. to mean by that mountain, that wilderness, It is the vision of to-morrow. It is the dis- to which he prayed that the wings of a dove tant object on which fancy has thrown its de- may convey him, afar from the noise and ceitful splendour. When to-morrow comes, distractions of the world, and hasten his the animating hope is transformed into the escape from the windy storm, and the temdull and insipid reality. As the distant ob- pest? Is there no object, in the whole round ject draws near, it becomes cold and taste- of human enjoyment, which can give rest less, and uninteresting. The only way into the agitated spirit of man? Will he not which the mind can support itself, is by re- sit down in the fulness of contentment, after curring to some new anticipation. This he has reached it, and bid a final adieu to may give buoyancy for a time-but it will the cares and fatigues of ambition ? Is this share the fate of all its predecessors, and be longing of the mind a principle of his nathe addition of another folly to the wretched ture, which no gratification can extinguish? train of disappointments that have gone be- Must it condemn him to perpetual agitation, fore it.
and to the wild impulses of an ambition What a curious object of contemplation which is never satisfied ? to a superior being, who casts an eye over We allow that exercise is the health of this lower world, and surveys the busy, the mind. It is better to engage in a trifling restless, and unceasing operations of the pursuit, if innocent, than to watch the mepeople who swarm upon its surface. Let lancholy progress of time, and drag out a him select any one individual amongst us, weary existence in all the languor of a conand confine his attention to him as a speci- suming indolence. But nobody will deny men of the whole. Let him pursue him that it is better still, if the pursuit in which through the intricate variety of his move-we are engaged be not a trifling one-if it ments, for he is never stationary; see him conducts to some lasting gratification-if it with his eye fixed upon some distant ob- leads to some object, the possession of ject, and struggling to arrive at it; see him lwhich confers more happiness than the
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mere prospect-if the mere pleasure of the Now, to find fault with man for the pleachase is not the only recompense-but sure which he derives from the mere exwhere, in addition to this, we secure some citement of a distant object, would be 10 reward proportioned to the fatigue of the find fault with the constitution of his nature. exercise, and that justifies the eagerness It is not the general principle of his activity with which we embarked in it. So long as which I condemn. It is the direction of the exercise is innocent, better do something that activity to a useless and unprofitable than be idle: but better still, when the object. The mere happiness of the pursuit something we do, leads to a valuable and does not supersede the choice of the object. important termination. Any thing rather Even though you were to keep religion out than the ignoble condition of that mind of sight altogether, and bring the conduct which feels the burden of itself—and which of man to the test of worldly principles, you knows not how to dispose of the weary still presuppose a ground of preference in hours that hang so oppressively upon it. the object. Why is the part of the sober But there is certainly a ground of preference and industrious tradesman preferred to that in the objects which invite us to exertion of the dissipated gambler ? Both feel the and better far to fix upon that object which delights of a mind fully occupied with leaves happiness and satisfaction behind it, something to excite and to animate. But than dissipate your vigour in a pursuit the exertions of the one lead to the safe enwhich terminates in nothing-and where joyment of a competency. The exertions the mere pleasure of occupation is the only of the other lead to an object which, at best, circumstance to recommend it. When we is precarious, and often land you in the hortalk of the vanity of ambition, we do not rors of poverty and disgrace. The mere propose to extinguish the principles of our pleasure of exertion is not enough to justify nature, but to give them a more useful and every kind of it: you must look forward to exalted direction. A state of hope and of the object and the termination and it is activity is the element of man--and all that the judicious choice of the object which, we propose, is to withdraw his hopes from even in the estimation of worldly wisdom, the deceitful objects of fancy, and to engage forms the great point of distinction betwixt his activity in the pursuit of real and per- prudence and folly. Now, all that I ask of manent enjoyments.
you, is to extend the application of the same Man must have an object to look forward principle' to a life of religion. Compare the to. Without this incitement the mind lan- | wisdom of the children of light, with the guishes. It is thrown out of its element, / wisdom of a blind and worldly generation; and, in this unnatural suspension of its the prudence of the Christian who labours powers, it feels a dreariness, and a discom for immortality, with the prudence of him fort, far more unsufferable than it ever ex- who labours for the objects of a vain and perienced from the visitations of a real or perishable ambition. Contrast the littleness positive calamity. If such an object does of time, with the greatness of eternity--the not offer, he will create one for himself. restless and unsatisfying pleasures of the The mere possession of wealth, and of all world, with the enjoyments of heaven, $0 its enjoyments, will not satisfy him. Pos- pure, so substantial, so unfading and tell session carries along with it the dulness of me which plays the higher game-he, all certainty, and to escape from this dulness, whose anxiety is frittered away on the purhe will transform it into an uncertainty-he suits of a scene that is ever shifting, and will embark it in a hazardous speculation, ever transitory; or he, who contemplates or he will stake it at the gaming-table; and the life of man in all its magnitude; who from no other principle than that he may acts upon the wide and comprehensive sufexchange the lifelessness of possession, for vey of its interests, and takes into his esti the aniinating sensations of hope and of en-mate the mighty roll of innumerable ages. terprise. It is a paradox in the moral con- There is no resting-place to be found on stitution of man; but the experience of this side of time. It is the doctrine of the every day confirms it--that man follows Bible, and all experience loudly proclaims what he knows to be a delusion, with as it. I do not ask you to listen to the commuch eagerness, as if he were assured of its plaints of the poor, or the murmurs of the reality. Put the question to him, and he disappointed. Take your lesson from the will tell you, that if you were to lay before / veriest favourite of fortune. See him placed him all the profits which his fancy antici-in a prouder eminence than he ever aspired pates, he would long as much as ever for after. See him arrayed in brighter colours some new speculation; or, in oiher words, than ever dazzled his early imagination. be as much dissatisfied as ever with the po- See him surrounded with all the homage sition which he actually occupies—and yet, that same and flattery can bestow-and alwith his eye persectly open to this circum-Iter you have suffered this parading exterior stance, will he embark every power of his to practise its deceitfulness upon you, enter mind in the chase of what he knows to be into his solitude-mark his busy, restless, a mockery and a phantom.
I dissatisfied eye, as it wanders uncertain on
every object--enter into his mind, and tell 4 piness—that time is too small for him, and
lence of religion, that it accommodates to What meaneth this restlessness of our this property of our nature--that it holds nature? What meaneth this unceasing ac-out a prize suited to our high calling--that tivity which longs for exercise and employ- there is a grandeur in its objects, which ment, even after every object is gained, can fill and surpass the imagination---that it which first roused it to enterprise? What dignifies the present scene by connecting it mean those unmeasurable longings, which with eternity--that it reveals to the eye of no gratification can extinguish, and which faith the glories of an unperishable world-still continue to agitate the heart of man, and how, from the high eminences of heaeven in the fulness of plenty and of enjoy-1 ven, a cloud of witnesses are looking down ment. If they mean any thing at all, they upon earth, not as a scene for the petty mean, that all which this world can offer, is anxieties of time, but as a splendid theatre not enough to fill up his capacity for hap-l for the ambition of immortal spirits.
The assertion that the things which are | Father before the world was. The mind seen are temporal, holds true in the abso-cannot sustain itself under the burden of lute and universal sense of it. They had a these lofty contemplations. It cannot list beginning, and they will have an end. I the curtain which shrouds the past eternity Should we go upwards through the stream of God. But it is good for the soul to be of ages that are past, we come to a time humbled under a sense of its incapacity. It when they were not. Should we go on- is good to realize the impression which too ward through the stream of ages that are often abandons us, that he made us, and not before us, we come to a time when they | we ourselves. It is good to feel how all will be no more. It is indeed a most mys- that is temporal lies in passive and prosterious flight which the imagination ven- trate subordination before the will of the untures upon, when it goes back to the eter- created God. It is good to know how little nity that is behind us--when it mounts its a portion it is that we see of him and of ascending way through the millions and his mysterious ways. It is good to lie at the millions of years that are already gone the feet of his awful and unknown majesty through, and stop where it may, it finds the --and while secret things belong to him, it line of its march always lengthening be- is good to bring with us all the helplessness yond it, and losing itself in the obscurity of and docility of children to those revealed as far removed a distance as ever. It soon lessons which belong to us and to our chilreaches the commencement of visible things, I dren. or that point of its progress when God But this is not the sense in which the made the heavens and the earth. They had temporal nature of visible things is taken a beginning, but God had none; and what up by the Apostle. It is not that there is a a wonderful field for the fancy to expatiate | time past in which they did not exist-but on, when we get above the era of created there is a time to come in which they will worlds, and think of that period when, in exist no more. He calls them temporal, respect of all that is visible, the immensity because the time and the duration of their around us was one vast and unpeopled soli- existence will have an end. His eye is full tude. But God was there in his dwelling- upon futurity. It is the passing away of place, for it is said of him that he inhabits visible things in the time that is to come, eternity; and the Son of God was there, for and the ever during nature of invisible we read of the glory which he had with the things through the eternity that is to come,
which the Apostle is contemplating. * Now, nence which it now occupies—that the toron this one point we say nothing about the rent which falls from its side never ceases positive annihilation of the matter of visible to consume its substance, and to carry it things. There is reason for believing, that off in the form of sediment to the oceansome of the matter of our present bodies that the frost which assails it in the winter may exist in those more glorified and trans- loosens the solid rock, detaches it in pieces formed bodies which we are afterwards to from the main precipice, and makes it fall occupy. And for any thing we know, the in fragments to its base--that the power matter of the present world, and of the pre-1 of the weather scales off the most flinty sent system may exist in those new heavens materials, and that the wind of heaven and that new earth, wherein dwelleth righ- scatters them in dust over the surrounding teousness. There may be a transfiguration country--that even though not anticipated of matter without a destruction of it-and, by the sudden and awful convulsions of the therefore it is, that when we assert with day of God's wrath, nature contains within the Apostle in the text, how things seen itself the rudiments of decay-that every are temporal, we shall not say more than hill must be levelled with the plains, and that the substance of these things, if not every plain be swept away by the constant consigned back again to the nothing from operation of the rivers which run through which they had einerged, will be employed it-and that, unless renewed by the hand in the formation of other things totally dif- of the Almighty, the earth on which we ferent---that the change will be so great, as are now treading must disappear in the that all old things may be said to have mighty roll of ages and of centuries. We passed away, and all things to become new cannot take our flight to other worlds, or ---that after the wreck of the last contlagra- have a near view of the changes to which tion, the desolated scene will be re-peopled they are liable. But surely if this world with other objects; the righteous will live which, with its mighty apparatus of contiin another world, and the eye of the glori- nents and islands, looks so healthful and so fied body will open on another field of con- firm after the wear of many centuries, is templation from that which is now visible posting visibly to its end, we may be prearound us.
pared to believe that the principles of desNow, in this sense of the word temporal, Itruction are also at work in other prothe assertion of my text may be carried vinces of the visible creation and that round to all that is visible. Even those ob- I though of old God laid the foundation of jects which men are most apt to count upon the earth, and the heavens are the work of as unperishable, because, without any sensi- his hands, yet they shall perish; yea, all ble decay, they have stood the lapse of of them shall wax old like a garment, and many ages, will not weather the lapse of as a vesture shall he change them, and they eternity. This earth will be burnt up. The shall be changed. light of yonder sun will be extinguished. We should be out of place in all this style These stars will cease from their twink- of observation, did we not follow it up with ling. The heavens will pass away as a the sentiment of the Psalmist, “These shall scroll--and as to those solid and enormous | perish, but thou shalt endure; for thou art masses which, like the firm world we tread the same, and thy years have no end." upon, roll in mighty circuit through the What a lofty conception does it give us of immensity around us, it seems the solemn the majesty of God, when we think how he language of revelation of one and all of sits above, and presides in high authority them, that from the face of him who sitteth over this mighty series of changes-when on the throne, the earth and the heavens after sinking under our attempts to trace will fly away, and there will be found no him through the eternity that is behind, we place for them.
look on the present system of things, and Even apart from the Bible, the eye of are taught to believe that it is but a single observation can witness, in some of the step in the march of his grand administrahardest and firmest materials of the present tions through the eternity that is besore nis system, the evidence of its approaching dis- --when we think of this goodly universe, solution. What more striking, for example, summoned into being to serve some tem than the natural changes which take place porary evolution of his great and mysterion the surface of the world, and which ous plan---When we think of the time when prove that the strongest of Nature's ele- it shall be broken up, and out of its disorments must, at last, yield to the operation dered fragments other scenes and other of time and of decay--that yonder towering systems shall emerge---surely, when lamountain, though propped by the rocky tigued with the vastness of these contembattlements which surround it, must at last | plations, it well becomes us to do the ho. sink under the power of corruption-that mage of our reverence and wonder to the every year brings it nearer to its end--that one Spirit which conceives and animates the at this moment, it is wasting silently away, whole, and to the one noble design which and letting itself down from the losty emi-1 runs through all its fluctuations.
But there is another way in which the for thousands of centuries, your eyes will objects that are seen are temporal. The soon be closed upon them. The time is object may not merely be removed from coming when this goodly scene shall reach us, but we may be removed from the ob- its positive consummation. But, in all likeject. The disappearance of this earth, and lihood, the time is coming much sooner, of these heavens from us, we look upon when you shall resign the breath of your through the dimness of a far-placed futurity. nostrils, and bid a final adieu to every thing It is an event, therefore, which may re- around you. Let this earth, and these heagale our imagination; which may list our vens be as enduring as they may, to you mind by its sublimity; which may disengage they are fugitive as vanity, Time, with its us in the calm hour of meditation from mighty strides, will soon reach a future gethe littleness of life, and of its cares; and neration, and leave the present in death and which may even throw a clearness and a in forgetfulness behind it. The grave will solemnity over our intercourse with God. close upon every one of you, and that is But such an event as this does not come the dark and the silent cavern where no home upon our hearts with the urgency of voice is heard, and the light of the sun never a personal interest. It does not carry along enters. with it the excitement which lies in the But more than this. Though we live too nearness of an immediate concern. It does short a time to see the great changes which not fall with such vivacity upon our con-| are carrying on in the universe, we live ceptions, as practically to tell on our pur-| long enough to see many of its changessuits, or any of our purposes. It may ele- and such changes too as are best fitted to vate and solemnize us, but this effect is warn and to teach us; even the changes perfectly consistent with its having as little which take place in society, made up of influence on the walk of the living, and the human beings as srail and as sugitive as moving and the acting man, as a dream of ourselves. Death moves us away from poetry. The preacher may think that he many of those objects which are seen and has dope great things with his eloquence- temporal---but we live long enough to see and the hearers may think that great things many of these objects moved away from us have been done upon them-for they felt a ---to see acquaintances falling every yearfine glow of emotion, when they heard of to see families broken up by the rough and God sitting in the majesty of his high coun- unsparing hand of death---to see houses sels, over the progress and the destiny of and neighbourhoods shifting their inhabicreated things. But the truth is, my bre-tants--to see a new race, and a new genethren, that all this kindling of devotion ration--and, whether in church or in marwhich is felt upon the contemplation of his ket, to see unceasing changes in the faces greatness, may exist in the same bosom, of the people who repair to them. We with an utter distaste for the holiness of know well, that there is a poetic melanhis character ; with an entire alienation of choly inspired by such a picture as this, the heart and of the habits from the obe- which is altogether unfruitful---and that, dience of his law; and above all, with a totally apart from religion, a man may most nauseous and invincible contempt for give way to the luxury of tears, when he the spiritualities of that revelation, in which thinks how friends drop away from himhe has actually made known his will and how every year brings along with it some his way to us. The devotion of mere taste sad addition to the registers of death-- how is one thing the devotion of principle the kind and hospitable mansion is left withis another. And as surely as a man may out a tenant--and how, when you knock weep over the elegant sufferings of poetry, at a neighbour's door, you find that he who yet add to the real sufferings of life by welcomed you, and made you happy, is no peevishness in his family, and insolence longer there. O that we could impress by among his neighbours-so surely may a all this, a salutary direction on the fears man be wakened to rapture by the magni- and on the consciences of individuals--that ficence of God, while his life is deformed we could give them a living impression of by its rebellions, and his heart rankles with that coming day, when they shall severally all the foulness of idolatry against him. share in the general wreck of the species--
Well, then, let us try the other way of when each of you shall be one of the many bringing the temporal nature of visible whom the men of the next generation may rethings to bear upon your interests. It is member to have lived in vonder street, or latrue, that this earth and these heavens, will boured in yonder manufactory---when they at length disappear; but they may outlive shall speak of you, just as you speak of the our posterity for many generations. How-men of the former generation--who, when ever, if they disappear not from us, we they died, had a few tears dropped over their most certainly shall disappear from them. memory, and for a few years will still conThey will soon cease to be any thing to tinue to be talked of. O, could we succeed you--and though the splendour and variety in giving you a real and living impression of of all that is visible around us, should last | all this; and then may we hope to carry the