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SERMON earth, without being presented with many

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XII. a striking memorial of the changes made

by time. What was once a flourishing city, is now a neglected village. Where castles and palaces stood, fallen towers and ruined walls appear. Where the magnificence of the great shone, and the mirth of the gay resounded, there, as the prophet Isaiah describes, the owl and the raven now dwell, thorns come up, and the nettle and the bramble grow in the courts.

When we

read the history of nations, what do we read but the history of incessant revolution and change? We behold kingdoms alternately rising and falling; peace and war taking place by turns; princes, heroes, and statesmen, coming forth in succession on the stage, attracting our attention for a little by the splendid figure they make, and then disappearing and forgotten. We see the fashion of the world assuming all its different forms, and, in all of them, passing away.

But to historical annals there is no occasion for our having recourse. Let any one who has made some progress in life, recollect only what he has beheld passing


before him in his own time.

We have SERMON

seen our country rise triumphant among
the nations; and we have seen it also
humbled in its turn. We have seen in
one hemisphere of the globe new domi-
nions acquired, and in another hemi-
spere, our old dominions lost. At
home, we have seen factions and par-
ties shift through all their different
forms; and administrations, in succession,
rise and fall. What were once the great
themes of eager dicussion, and political
contest are now forgotten. Fathers re-
count them to their children as the tales
of other times. New actors have come
forth on the stage of the world.
of the world.

New ob

jects have attracted the attention, and new intrigues engaged the passions of men. New members fill the seats of justice; new ministers the temples of religion; and a new world, in short, in the course of a few years, has gradually and insensibly risen around us.

When from the public scene we turn our eye to our own private connections, the changes which have taken place in the fashion of the world, must touch every reflecting


SERMON reflecting mind with a more tender sen


sibility. For where are now many of the companions of our early years; many of those with whom we

first began the

race of life; and whose hopes and prospects were once the same with our own? In recollecting our old acquaintance and friends, what devastations have been made by the hand of time? On the ruins of our former connections, new ones have arisen ; new relations have been formed; and the circle of those among whom we live is altogether changed from what it once was. Comparing our present situation with our former condition of life; looking back to our father's house, and to the scenes of youth; remembering the friends by whom we were trained, and the family in which we grew up; who but with inward emotion, recollects those days of former years, and is disposed to drop the silent tear, when he views the fashion of the world thus always passing away!

III. NOT only our connections with all things around us change, but our own

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life, through all its stages and conditions, SERMON is ever passing away. How just, and how affecting is that image, employed in the sacred writings to describe the state of man, we spend our years as a tale that is told* ! It is not to any thing great or lasting that human life is compared; not to a monument that is built, or to an inscription that is engraved; not even to a book that is written, or to a history that is recorded; but to a tale, which is listened to for a little; where the words are fugitive and passing, and where one incident succeeds and hangs on another, till by insensible transitions, we are brought to the close; a tale, which in some passages may be amusing, in others, tedious; but whether it amuses or fatigues, is soon told and soon forgotten. Thus, year steals upon us after year, Life is never standing still for a moment; but continually, though insensibly, sliding into a new form. Infancy rises up fast to childhood; childhood to youth; youth passes quickly into manhood; and the

*Fsalm xc. 9.


SERMON grey hair and the faded look are not XII. long of admonishing us, that old age is at

hand. In this course all generations run. The world is made up of unceasing rounds of transitory existence. Some generations are coming forward into being, and others hastening to leave it. The stream which carries us all along, is ever flowing with a quick current, though with a still and noiseless course. The dwelling place of man is continually emptying, and by a fresh succession of inhabitants, continually filling anew. The memory of man passetḥ away like the remembrance of a guest who bath tarried but one night.



As the life of man, considered in its duration, thus fleets and passes away, so, during the time it lasts, its condition is perpetually changing. It affords us nothing on which we set up our rest; enjoyment or possession which we can properly call our own. When we have begun to be placed in such circumstances as we desired, and wish our lives to proceed in the same agreeable ten r, how often comes some unexpected event across to disconcert all our schemes of happiness?


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