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A TRANSIENT WORLD AND ABIDING CHRISTIAN.
Preached on the last Day of the Year.
1 JOHN ii. 17.
The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he, that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.
A THOROUGH and practical acquaintance
with things, is important to us in proportion to the interest which we have in them. Were any one able to give us a minute account of the planet Jupiter, it might amuse our curiosity, but could be of no material advantage; for what have we to do with the planet Jupiter? But, if any one come as a teacher from God-an infallible guide-and give me an account of that with which I have so much to do an account of this world; and, if that account were accurate, and, at the same time, alarming; and yet he were to tell me how I might escape the evil-this is a messenger of a thousand! I am on board a vessel: it is of great importance to me to know in what state that vessel is: one tells me, not only that the vessel shall be dashed in pieces, but how I may escape:-such a friend,
and in such a manner, speaks to us to-nightand says, The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he, that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.
This subject seems particularly suited to us, now in the evening of the last day of this year. You will say, perhaps, "It has passed like a dream!" It has: and your whole life, when you reach its concluding point, and look back on it, will appear a dream: but here is an account of the World itself-IT passeth away.
Let us endeavour,
1. To enter into the MEANING of the Apostle in these words:
2. To make a PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT of them to our own hearts,
What is to be under-
I. We will consider the MEANING of the Apostle. The world passeth away. stood by the world here? Apostle principally means that part of the world, which men are most apt to covet and build on: for, in the verse preceding the text, he says, All, that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Take these things away from the natural man, and you have left him nothing! you have taken away his all! And what is his all?—
It is the world, says the Apostle :-The world— not as God made it, but as sin hath made it.
And this world, says the Apostle, passeth away. That, which has been, is that, which shall be; and there is nothing new under the sun. The world is but like a theatre, in which the scenes are shifted every moment: it passeth away: the pageant of this world passeth by! Look at it: it is gone! Like a man dreaming of fine scenes - he awakes! and they are all gone! When a man comes to die, the whole world will thus appear: whatever hé may have seen, it is now passed: all the splendour and bustle, in which he has been engaged, is now passed; and it has been nothing! “What shall the man do," says Solomon, "that cometh after the king? and I have found the whole world to be vanity." Depend on it, the man, who has made the trial, will say, " It is passed by! I have seen it, and it was all vanity and vexation of spirit.” It is just as the year, that is now departing. It has passed before our eyes like a dream. We recollect this, and that, and the other circumstance: but now they are gone by! Yea, and the world itself is going! And not only the world, but its lusts and its desires are passing away: they shall soon fail; so that the Christian shall be obliged "I loathe it: I would not live always. Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been. There has been so much disquiet in my family, so much trouble among my children, so
many disappointments, so much mortification, so many combats with my heart, so much difficulty even to get on thus far-that, if it does but please God to bring me to a better world, no matter how soon!"
Truly," says one, "this is a melancholy picture! You are hanging the world in mourning!" Brethren! this is not my account. Were it so, perhaps you might say I had been crossed and disappointed in the world, and had quarrelled with it. It is of no moment what account any man gives of the world: let us ask, What account does God give of it? Now He tells us, that it passeth away, with the lusts thereof; he tells us, that the vessel will soon become a wreck: and his account will always tally with experience, for the book of his Word ever agrees with the book of his Providence, Though, however, this is a distressing, mortifying, and melancholy estimate of that world on which the carnal heart is fixed, let the carnal man begin to suspect it to be true. It is well for the mariner, who is in a sinking ship, to know that he is so. "The world in my heart," "is a worse disorder than
says a sound divine,
was ever brought to Christ in the flesh for cure:" and those, who have triumphed most in it, have found it to be so.
But we ought never to stop here: much less ought we to object to Christianity, as presenting only a melancholy prospect. God tells us, indeed,
what will not bear us up: he tells us what will deceive us: he tells us where there is no rest for our foot; but at the same time, he tells us where that rest may be found. A melancholy cynic of a philosopher may give us his estimate of the world: he may tell us that it presents a melancholy picture; because he knows of nothing better. But tell a Christian Minister that the world must pass away: "It is true," he will say. Tell him that its lusts must pass away-its pleasures, its desires, its amusements: "That is true too: yet there is a man, who shall not pass away, but abide for ever!"
Who is that man? The account given of him in the text, is, that he doeth the will of God.
I would remark here, that, the godly man is variously described in Scripture. Sometimes he is called a just man; sometimes, a faithful man; sometimes, a merciful man; a man, who is pure in heart; a believer in God; a man of hope; a man, that doeth the will of God freely. These are only different names and descriptions of one particular character. Rest not, therefore, on one description, lest you should mistake. They are only features take the whole countenance.
This man is said to do the will of God. For instance-is it the will of God for perishing sinners to believe on him whom God hath sent? "God forbid," says this man, "that I should reject the counsel of God against myself? Has my Master