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God. The earth had completed the purpose for which it was created. It had been employed as a theatre on which the human generations were successively to come forth, and to fulfil their term of trial. As long as the period of trial continued, much obscurity was of course to cover the counsels of Providence. It was appointed that all things should appear as coming alike to all; that the righteous should seem often neglected by Heaven, and the wicked be allowed externally to prosper, in order that virtue and piety might undergo a proper test; that it might be shewn who were sincere adherents to conscience, and who were mere followers of fortune. The day which terminates the duration of the world, terminates all those seeming disorders. The time of trial is concluded. The final discrimination of characters is made. When the righteous go into everlasting happiness, and the wicked are dismissed into the regions of punishment, the whole mystery of human affairs is unravelled, and the conduct of Providence is justified to man.
Suited to a condition of trial was the state and form of the world, which we now inhabit. It was not designed to be a mansion for innocent and happy spirits; but a dwelling for
creatures of fallen nature and of mixed characters. Hence, those mixtures of pleasure and pain, of disorder and beauty with which it abounds. Hence, some regions of the earth, presenting gay and pleasing scenes; others, exhibiting nothing but ruggedness and deformity; the face of nature, sometimes brightened by a serene atmosphere and a splendid sun; sometimes disfigured by jarring elements and overcast with troubled skies. But far unlike shall be the everlasting habitations of the just. Though how they are formed, or what objects they contain, is not given us now to conceive; nor, in all probability, would our faculties be equal to the conception; the emblematical descriptions of them in Scripture are calculated to excite high ideas of magnificence and glory. This one particular we know with certainty, that therein dwelleth righteousness; that is, complete virtue and eternal order; and wherever these are found, the most perfect sources are opened of joy and bliss. This earth was never intended for more than the outer court, the porch through which the righteous were to pass into the temple and sanctuary of the Divinity. When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
The inference which follows from what has been said on this subject, cannot be so well expressed as in the words of the Apostle, in the verse immediately following the text, Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness? Ought not the important discoveries which have been made to us of the designs of the Almighty, and of the destiny of man, to exalt our sentiments, and to purify our life from what is vicious or vain? While we pursue the business and cares of our present station, and partake of the innocent pleasures which the world affords, let us maintain that dignity of character, which becomes immortal beings; let us act with that circumspection which becomes those who know they are soon to stand before the judgment-seat of the son of God: in a word, let us study to be what we would wish to be found, if to us the day of the Lord should come.
I know it will occur that the prospect of that day cannot be expected to have much influence on the present age. The events of which I have treated, must needs, it will be said, belong to some future race of men. Many prophecies yet remain to be fulfilled.
paratory events must take place,
world is ripe for final judgment.-Whether this be the case or not, none of us with certainty know. But allow me to remind you, that to each of us an event is approaching, and not far distant, which shall prove of the same effect with the coming of the day of the Lord. The day of death is, to every individual, the same as the day of the dissolution of the world. The sun may continue to shine; but to them who are laid in the grave, his light is finally extinguished. The world may remain active, busy, and noisy; but to them all is silence. The voice which gives the mandate, Return again to your dust, is the same with the sound of the last trumpet. Death fixes the doom of every one finally and irrevocably. This surely is an event which none of us can remove in our thoughts to a remote age. To-morrow, to-day, the fatal mandate may be issued. Watch, therefore, be sober, be vigilant; ye know not at what hour the Son of
Having now treated both of the creation and dissolution of the world, I cannot conclude without calling your thoughts to the magnificent view which these events give us, of the kingdom and dominion of the Almighty. With reverence we contemplate his hand in the signal dispensations of Providence among
men; deciding the fate of battles; raising up, or overthrowing empires; casting down the proud, and lifting the low from the dust. But what are such occurrences to the power and wisdom which He displays in the higher revolutions of the universe; by his word forming or dissolving worlds; at his pleasure, transplanting his creatures from one world to another, that he may carry on new plans of wisdom and goodness, and fill all space with the wonders of creation? Successive generations of men have risen to possess the earth. By turns they have passed away and gone into regions unknown. Us he hath raised up, to occupy their room. We too shall shortly disappear. But human existence never perishes. Life only changes its form, and is renewed. Creation is ever filling, but never full. When the whole intended course of the generations of men shall be finished, then, as a shepherd leads his flock from one pasture to another, so the great Creator leads forth the souls which he hath made, into new and prepared abodes of life. They go from this earth to a new earth, and new heavens; and still they remove, only from one province of the divine dominion to another. Amidst all those changes of nature, the great Ruler himself remains without variableness or shadow of turning. To