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Ye, who talk of a more convenient season-ye, who think of putting off religion to a death-bedthis is one of the grand devices of Satan to keep you as he would wish you to be. “The strong man armed keepeth his goods in peace,' while he can; but it is my duty to come, in the name of the stronger than he, and show you the necessity of this armour being spoiled, before you can enter into the happiness prepared for the children of God.
4. I shall only add, that we are here taught THE
NATURE AND NECESSITY OF DIVINE GRACE.
Even St. Paul may preach, and his character cannot be suspected: the truth he preaches cannot be denied : he reasons plainly and convincingly: Felix can only reply, with trembling, “I will hear thee again :" now the necessity of divine grace appears from this, that, till the man is under its influence, he will continue to say, “When I have a convenient season, I will send for thee.'
Without the grace of God, and the work of the Holy Ghost, the utmost that a preacher can hope to do, is, to rouse the sinner, as Paul did Felix to make him tremble to think of what is before him, as Felix trembled; and a time may, perhaps, come, when he will say, as Agrippa did, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Abraham did not reply to the rich man, that, if one arose from the dead, his brethren would not tremble: but he said they would not believe, or be persuaded : they would not be persuaded to tread in the narrow path, and lay hold on eternal life.
You see, then, the nature and necessity of divine grace. Without this, man's religion would be merely external : it would be but the form of godliness, without the power. You see its efficacy, also: for this man, -a man of
consequence and looked up to,-was so determined on the wrong side, that he persecuted to death every Christian on whom he could lay his hands : but, when divine grace opens his heart, he stands in
chains, and, at the peril of his own life, preaches the Gospel to Drusilla the adulteress, and Felix the adulterer; and, having fought manfully, surrendered himself to all consequences, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.' As if St. Paul had said, “I expected this issue. If God does not impress this truth on the heart of the adulterer, he will hate me the more: he will probably put me to death: but I must speak the truth, and then
can say, 'I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith: and, whatever Felix may do, henceforth there is laid
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.???
THE FASHION OF THE WORLD,
1 Cor. vii, 31.
For the fashion of this world passeth away.
The Apostle had been discussing one of the Cases of Conscience, presented to him by the Corinthian Church. He brings it, at length, to a general reflection on the subject : 'This I say, brethren, the time is short. It remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away."
I shall consider the general proposition in the text, without any particular reference to the specific case to which it may be applied, whether marriage, or politics, or commerce. It is a general truth of vast importance. The fashion of this world passeth
2. Draw some PRACTICAL INFERENCES from the position.
1. I have to state and illustrate the SENSE.
Grotius says on this passage, that the expression has an allusion to a theatre, where the Scheme, as the word means literally which we translate Fashion, the
Scheme, the Image, the Form, the Representation is wholly changed.
Another writer will read it, “The Scene of this world passeth away. The actors in a drama sustain various characters: the scenes are continually changing: some actors stand forward as the heroes of the drama; and some lurk behind the scenes, as obscure characters; and all these masked, in the ancient theatres: at length the curtain drops, and the scenes are
This presents to us a very striking picture of life; a continually changing scene, that passeth away.
But I prefer the manner in which Archbishop Leighton considers the passage. He treats it as if it were thus written: “The pageant of this world passeth away:' it is a mere procession; at best, but a pageant. As a pageant or show, in the street, soon gets afar off, and is quickly out of sight, thus is it with respect to the present world. For, says he, what is become “ of all the marriage solemnities of kings and princes of former ages, which they were so taken up with in their time? When we read of them described in history, they are as a night-dream, or as a day-fancy, which passeth through the mind, and vanisheth !"
Who has not looked into history, and felt this strike him, as one of the first facts : “It is all gone by! a mere pageant!” An old man has seen most of the
pageants of his time pass by: he remembers the mighty actors of his youth; but they are gone! those, who made the most splendid appearance in the procession, are passed by long ago : he is ready to say, “ All is show! All is pageant! It is but the shifting of a scene.'
And what is this more than what the Scripture taught us before ? In the xxxixth Psalm, we find David saying, “Surely every man walketh in a vain show : surely they are disquieted in vain : he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. If he makes a show, it is a vain show. If he is disquieted, agitated exceedingly in his schemes and projects, it is in vain. If he heaps up riches, and is ready to say, “ At least there is something in this ! Property is the grand thing in the world!”—he heaps up riches, and knoweth not who shall come immediately and take them away! And now, Lord,' says he, what wait I for?' Man walketh in such a vain show, the pageant of this world so passeth away, that I must have something greater and better, more solid, more substantial.
Thus St. John expresses it:The world passeth away, and the lust thereof.' It matters not of what importance man is found to be of in his time; nor how much he may build, or plant, or boast, or perform: he has but his stated time. The summons comes : he must go. Another actor takes his place: another steps into the procession. He also soon goes, and gives place to another: so that there scarcely seems any thing on earth more evident than the truth in the text-that the pageant of this world passeth by.'
II. Having thus considered the Sense of the passage, let us proceed, as I proposed, to draw some practical INFERENCES from the position.
1. If, as we have seen, the pageant of this world passes by, we may collect how LITTLE WORLDLINGS KNOW TO KNOW SO MUCH!
“I know the world,” says one of them : "nobody can tell my any thing about this world. I have had long experience. I have seen into the matter. I am not to be deceived like young people, or to be imposed upon by show. I have remarked by long experience, that it is a farce which is acted on the stage of life"
You know the world ?-You know nothing of the world to purpose! For what does the Miser know of this world, who is 'heaping up riches, while he cannot tell who shall gather them? What does the Politician know of this world, whose politics
WORLD OF WHICH THEY