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On the FASHION of the WORLD
I COR. vii. 31.
-The fashion of this world passeth away.
O use this world so as not to abuse it, SERMON
is one of the most important, and at
the same time one of the most difficult lessons which religion teaches. By so many desires and passions we are connected with the objects around us, that our attachment to them is always in hazard of becoming excessive and sinful. Hence religion is often employed in moderating this attachment, by rectifying our erroneous opinions, and instructing us in the proper
SERMON proper value we ought to set on worldly XII. things. Such was particularly the scope of the Apostle in this context. He is putting the Corinthians in mind that their time is short; that every thing here is transitory; and therefore, that in all the different occupations of human life, in weeping and rejoicing, and buying and possessing, they were ever to keep in view this consideration, that the fashion of this world passeth away. The original expression imports the figure or form under which the world presents itself to us. The meaning is, All that belongs to this visible state is continually changing. Nothing in hu man affairs is fixed or stable. All is in motion and fluctuation; altering its appearance every moment, and passing into some new form. Let us meditate for a little on the serious view which is here given us of the world, in order that we may attend to the improvements which it suggests,
I. The fashion of the world passeth away, as the opinions, ideas, and manners of men are always changing. We look in
vain for a standard to ascertain and fix SERMON any of these; in vain expect that what has been approved and established for a while, is always to endure. Principles which were of high authority among our ancestors are now exploded. Systems of philosophy which were once universally received, and taught as infallible truths, are now obliterated and forgotten. Modes of living, behaving, and employing time, the pursuits of the busy, and the entertainments of the gay, have been entirely changed. They were the offspring of fashion, the children of a day. When they had run their course, they expired; and were succeeded by other modes of living, and thinking, and acting, which the gloss of novelty recommended for a while to the public taste.
When we read an account of the manners and occupations, of the studies and opinions, even of our own countrymen, in some remote age, we seem to be reading the history of a different world from what we now inhabit. Coming downwards, through some generations, a new face of things appears. Men begin to
SERMON think, and act, in a different train; and
Arriving at our own times, we consider
Let us only think of the changes which our own ideas and opinions undergo in
the progress of life.
One man differs not than the same man
varies from himself in different periods of SERMON his age, and in different situations of for
tune. In youth, and in opulence, every
II. WHILE Our opinions and ideas are thus changing within, the condition of all external things is, at the same time, ever changing without us, and around us. Wherever we cast our eyes over the face. of nature, or the monuments of art, we discern the marks of alteration and vicissitude. We cannot travel far upon the earth,