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out his funeral! he can pronounce a pompous oration! he can rear a statue! How feeble, how evanescent, yet how imposing the scene! But the scene shifts, and patron and client are both gone! No doubt, in their day, a vast sensation was raised in the respective nations of such men as Pharaoh and Sennacherib-" What will posterity say of this?"-What?- Posterity has its own pageants to admire! In the days of Alexander, and Cæsar, and Tamerlane, a vast sensation was doubtless raised with respect to the pageant that was then passing; and great swelling words of vanity were heard concerning the immense affair then in hand! If anything could make angels weep, it must surely be the beholding of such effects on men from the passing pageant of this world.
Let us consider, therefore, Brethren, how little real knowledge the worldling has of the world. He builds all his hope on this unstable foundation. He is disquieted in vain.
I speak to young people. Shall such men be your guide? Shall such men form your sentiments? Will you study to be in reputation with such men; and thus build, like them, on the sand? Young man! read thy Bible: hear God: form your sentiments, so as that they will bear examining ten thousand ages hence: then you will be truly wise: but, till then, you will not, while living in this world, judge rightly concerning it; for it is but as a procession, or a pageant, that passes by.
2. If, then, the scene is continually changing, if
there is nothing here like rest for the foot of man, then I would remark, HOW GRACIOUS IS IT IN GOD, TO MEET THE WANTS OF A GUILTY, DYING CREATURE, LIKE MAN, IN SUCH A WORLD AS THIS!
It is appointed unto men once to die: they must all vanish after the procession is over, as to the eye of their fellow-creatures: but, after that, the judgment! Small and great must stand before the bar of God. Our Lord shews us, in St. Luke's Gospel, a striking picture of that state. The rich man acted a conspicuous part in the passing pageant, and the poor man at his gate sustained a very low one; but, in condescension to our weakness, it pleased our Lord to take us behind the scenes, and to shew us what was going on after the pageant was passed. And why did he shew us the rich man in hell, lifting up his eyes in torments, and Lazarus taken to Abraham's bosom?--why? to terrify the mind of man?-rather, let me say, to instruct his mind; to give us a right notion of character; to shew us, that we are to aim, not at sustaining a high part in the procession, but rightly sustaining the part assigned us.
The Son of God himself came down, and passed in the procession: and what did he preach as he passed?-did he flatter men; and speak smooth things to please them, meeting their tastes and prejudices? No! he wept over Jerusalem: he exposed the rich fool, that gloried in his barns and in his goods: he commended the woman that
sat at his feet, and heard his word, as seeking the one thing needful, and choosing the better part that should never be taken from her. When his disciples came to him, to shew him the stones and great buildings of the temple, was he struck with the scene?" Alas!" says he, teaching them as a father would his children, "your eyes have caught the spectacle: this is a picture that strikes you: but I tell you, that there is not a stone here that shall be left upon another. I see it as dust. I see the end of the pageant: it is passing away! The temple itself, which stands like a rock, the glory of the nation; and which even the conqueror shall strive to save, that it may be a trophy; even that shall be thrown down, and not one stone left upon another."
Who is then the wise man, while the earth is thus moving in the procession? "I will tell you," our Lord said, "whom he is like: he is like a man that builds his house upon a rock: the floods may come: the waves may beat: the wind may blow: but, standing upon this Rock of Ages, he shall stand: and, while others are passing away, he, that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever."
How gracious then is it to meet the wants of such an evanescent and guilty creature as man! -to shew him the way!-to plant the footsteps of the flock before him!--to prove to him what will not bear him up, and what will!
3. If the pageant of this world passeth by, and
this truth is demonstrated in experience as well as declared in Scripture, and yet men go on heedless of all consequences-HOW INFATUATED AND CRIMINAL IS THE worldling!
How beguiled his mind, and how criminal his heart, if he will still act against all experience, and all the declarations which God hath made! When a ship has been wrecked, and no hope of escape remained, the sailors have sometimes been so infatuated, that, despising every consideration most suited to their danger, they have staved the liquor casks; determining, that when there was no hope on earth, they would at least die in the midst of sensual gratification! You are ready to exclaim, "Surely these are not rational creatures!" But I scruple not to say, that, if you continue to live a careless and ungodly life, while the pageant of this world is passing, and die in that state, such a wretched sailor is, in comparison, more rational than you are. If one were to remonstrate with such a stupid creature, it is probable he would say, "There is no help. I may live half an hour; and I am determined to get rid of what sensibility I have, in order not to perceive my death, and enjoy a present gratification. I have no hope! no prospect! I can do nothing!"— But no man, who has the Gospel preached in his ears, can say, however the world passeth away, and the procession is advancing, and with many of us almost gone, yet, no man can say, "There
is no help" for he may yet flee for refuge to the hope set before him: he may yet place his foot on the rock: he may yet escape the shipwreck : deliverance is proclaimed whenever the Gospel is preached, and whenever the Holy Spirit brings any light to the heart of man.
The decree is gone forth: the procession must move on, whether men sleep or whether they awake: the pageant must pass: but, let it be remembered, that, if the men of London are like the men of Athens, who spent their time wholly in enquiring after some new thing; if the men of London are asking, even while the procession is passing, "Can you tell us any news? news? Can Can you inform us when there will be another sight? Do you hear of any fresh amusement that is promised?"—then say, while men live and die in this mannertrifling with their time, when time will soon be no longer-let them call themselves anything but sober-anything but virtuous-anything but religious; for God calls them infatuated, and mere worshippers of their present idols!
4. Ministers may labour to stop men in this infatuated state, and to convince them of their strange levity of heart; but let us, lastly, remark
HOW MERCIFUL IT IS IN GOD, TO WEAN AND DRIVE
MEN FROM THE WORLD, as well as to draw them, by the invitations of the Gospel.
If our friend's house is on fire, we would bring him out kindly and carefully, if possible; but, if