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day? Are we thrown into a river where all flows, and nothing stays; where we have no means of resisting the current; nor can reach any firm ground on which to rest our foot ? — No, my brethren; man was not doomed to be so unhappy; nor made by his Creator so much in vain. There are three fixed and

permanent objects to which I must now call your attention, as the great supports of human constancy amidst this fugitive state. Though this world changes and passes away, virtue and goodness never change; God never changes; heaven and immortality pass

not away.

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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 rests 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 savage nations of the earth. How wild and how fluctuating soever 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 philosopher and the savage, the warrior and the hermit, join. At this altar all have worshipped. Their offerings may have been unseemly. 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 righteousness 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 all earthly objects. Every terrestrial glory sparkles only for a little, with transient brightness. But virtue shines with eternal and unalterable splendour. It derives its origin from heaven; and partakes both of the lustre, and the stability, of celestial objects. It is the brightness of the everlasting light; the unspotted mirror of God, and the image of his goodness.

In the second place, God never changes. Amidst the unceasing vicissitudes 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 inconstancy of purpose, and no decay of wisdom or of

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


* Job, xxvii. 5, 6.

happen in the state of nature, or the life of men, were comprehended in his decree. How much 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 continual chain, the successive variety of human events; gives stability to things that, in themselves, are fluctuating ; gives constancy even to the fashion of the world while it is passing 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 the 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 dwellingplace in all generations.

In the third and last place, Heaven and immortality pass not away. The fleeting scenes of this life are to be considered as no more than an introduction to a noble and more permanent order of things, when man shall have attained the maturity of his being. This is what reason gave some ground to expect; what revelation as fully confirmed ; and, in confirming it, has agreed with the sentiments and anticipations of the good and wise in every age. We are taught to believe, that what we now. behold, is only the first stage of the life of man. arrived no further than the threshold ;. we dwell as in the outer courts of existence. Here, tents only are pitched; tabernacles erected for the sojourners of a day. But in the region of eternity, all is great,

We are

stable, and unchanging. There, the mansions of the just are prepared; there, the city which hath foundations is built ; there is established, the kingdom which cannot be moved. Here every thing is in stir and fluctuation ; because here good men continue not, but pass onward in the course of being. There, all is serene, steady, and orderly; because there remaineth the final rest of the people of God. Here, all is corrupted by our folly and guilt ; and of course must be transient and vain. But there, purchased by the death, and secured by the resurrection, of the Son of God, is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. There reigns that tranquillity which is never troubled. There shines that sun which never sets. There flows that river of pleasures, which is always unruffled and


Looking forward to those divine habitations, the changes · of the present world disappear to the eye of faith ; and a good man becomes ashamed of suffering himself to be dejected by what is so soon to pass away.

Such are the objects you ought to oppose to the transient fashion of the world ; Virtue, and God, and Heaven. Fixing your regard on these, you will have no reason to complain of the lot of man, or the world's mutability. The design of the preceding representation which I gave of the world, was not to indulge vain declamation; to

to raise fruitless melancholy; or to throw an unnecessary cloud over human life: But to show the moderation requisite in our attachment to the world; and at the same time, to point out the higher objects both of attention and consolation which religion affords. — Passing and changeable as all human things are, among them,

however, we must at present act our part; to them we must return from religious meditation. They are not below the regard of any Christian; for they form the scene which Providence has appointed at present for his activity, and his duty. Trials and dangers they may often present to him; but amidst these he

1 will safely hold his course, if, when engaged in worldly affairs, he keep in view those divine objects which I have been setting before him. Let him ever retain connection with Virtue, and God, and Heaven. By them let his conduct be regulated, and his constancy supported. So shall he use this world without abusing it. He shall neither droop under its misfortunes, nor be vainly elated by its advantages; but through all its changes shall carry an equal and steady mind; and in the end shall receive the accomplishment of the promise of Scripture, that though the world passeth away and the lust thereof, he that doeth the will of God shall abide for ever.

* 1 John, ii, 17.

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