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On the FASHION of the WORLD

passing away.

I COR. vii. 31.

-The fashion of this world passeth away.

O use this world so as not to abuse it, SERMON

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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

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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

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SERMON think, and act, in a different train; and
XII. what we call refinement gradually opens.

Arriving at our own times, we consider
ourselves as having widely enlarged the
sphere of knowledge on every side; hav-
ing formed just ideas on every sub-
ject; having attained the proper standard
of manners and
and behaviour; and wonder
at the ignorance, the uncouthness, and
rusticity of
of our forefathers. But, alas!
what appears to us so perfect shall in its
turn pass away. The next race, while
they shove us off the stage, will introduce
their favourite discoveries and innovations;
and what we now admire as the height of
improvement, may in a few ages hence be
considered as altogether rude and imperfect.
As one wave effaces the ridge which the
former had made on the sand by the sea-
shore, so every succeeding age obliterates
the opinions and modes of the age which
had gone before it. The fashion of the
world is ever passing away.

Let us only think of the changes which our own ideas and opinions undergo in

the progress of life.
more from another,

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
thing appears smiling and gay.
We fly
as on the wings of fancy; and survey
beauties wherever we cast our eye.
let some more years have passed over our
heads, or let disappointments in the world
have depressed our spirits; and what a
change takes place! The pleasing illusions
that once shone before us; the splendid
fabrics that imagination had reared; the
enchanting maze in which we once wan-
dered with delight, all vanish and are for-
gotten. The world itself remains the same.
But its form, its appearance, and aspect, is
changed to our view; its fashion, as to us,
hath passed away.

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,



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