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once princely dwellings, is now denied all access to the footsteps of the traveller. Dragons and serpents triumph in the abodes of human pride. In the very language of the prediction, “ All joy " is darkened; the mirth of the land is gone; in “ the city is left desolation; the gate is smitten
with destruction.” Such is the boasted immortality of human strength. Such the frailty of man's best efforts. Neeď we any stronger evidence, could we indeed have more conclusive evidence, that here we have no continuing city? But the changes of revolving empires, the decay and oblivion of cities, the passing away of whole generations of men, affect us less than those little vicissitudes to which our lives are subject. Our own pursuits, our own plans, our own objects, are more intimately connected with our thoughts, our hopes, and our fears, and upon these we bestow our highest interest. Need we have it demonstrated that these too are vain and mutable? Need we wait for eternity to pass sentence upon their folly? No; a few passing years will make it evident. A few passing years will so change, not only our objects and desires, but even ourselves, that we shall wonder if we are the same. The time will soon arrive to every individual, when the spirit of youthful enterprise and adventure will be looked upon as the very rashness and madness of inexperience. The hurry and activity which give early life its value, are irksome
in manhood, and insufferable in old age. And repose and contentment are the cherished objects af minds once ambitious of daring deeds, and delighting in the uncertainties of romantic achievement.
Our proudest schemes are at the mercy of a thousand accidents; and in them all, the voice of God, who knows best what is for our good, speaks in language of kind remonstrance, “ Here
ye have no continuing city.” And while we learn that permanency is necessary to bliss, we are daily taught that all below the skies is a passing and deceitful show. The best laid schemes
. of worldly bliss, how often have they been foiled! Nay, how seldom are they realized! Opportunity, health, life, all are precarious. And a thousand unforeseen circumstances, a thousand necessary and unavoidable concomitants, which we had overlooked in the distance, start up to mar our happiness, just when we think it securely within our grasp. Not merely our projects and works, but the very existence on which they depend, is every moment uncertain, and at best continues but a little time, and then vanisheth away. For all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.
And is this the place, my brethren, to which we are to limit our views of happiness? A scene which all the works of nature, all the past experience of our race, all our own observation,
assure us is rapidly departing. Is this our ultimate destination, our continuing city, our permanent home? Reason answers, it cannot be. Our hearts tell us it is not. The Scriptures assure us it is not. And though this is the language of all men, when, in their moments of stillness and reflection, they look back upon the things that have been, and forward to the things that must shortly be, yet, as if wearied with conjecture, or bewildered with anxiety and apprehension, they again recur to the business or diversions of a world confessedly so vain, to lose those impressions and fears for their destiny which are too powerful to be dwelt upon.
Yet surely, if there be an abiding state beyond, upon
which we are soon to enter, it is wise to be prepared for it. If there be a life to come, our best reason cannot be better employed than in ascertaining and securing our interest there. We have each of us often been impressed with the conviction how fleeting and uncertain this life is. Transient as it is, it has been long enough to melt the heart with sorrow, if not to tear it with anguish. Ere the half of our term of days has been numbered, many have so often wept over expectations disappointed, and enjoyment frustrated, that if hope did not still allure them, they would consider life worthless. But if our hope be only for this earth, what, I pray you, can earthly hope do for a life that is so soon to terminate, even suppose it realized for us its most splendid promises? And does not the brevity of that life make almost vain and worthless all worldly enjoyment? Vain, however, as all earthly enjoyment must be, and transient as this life really is, my brethren, upon the use we make of it will depend our future destiny, when, in the darkness of confirmed despair, or in the brightness of unclouded joy, eternity shall set in upon our being. That life, then, cannot be worthless, upon which results so awful are suspended. Every moment that it is prolonged is big with the destiny of unending ages ; and seeing that we are sinners, needing to make our peace with God, and having before us the duty of working out our own salvation, every moment of our probation should be devoted to the business of securing his favour, and making our calling and election sure. Happy is he who is seeking the city which is to come. Happy is he who, by faith in Jesus Christ, has made God his friend. Happy is he whose conversation is even now in heaven, whose hopes, and desires, and treasures, are on high. That he is a pilgrim and a stranger upon the earth, is no part of his regret. Having here no continuing city, he desires to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better. He knows in whom he has believed; and though all things below the skies are perishing, he looks above for the fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore. He looks above, and shall be satisfied. God grant us grace that we may all so live, that we may not fear to die; so fix our treasures and our hearts in heaven, that we may hold lightly the things of earth; so confide in him who is the way, the truth, and the life, and so be found in him, that when we pass from this perishing scene, we may be partakers of the kingdom prepared for the righteous from the foundation of the world!