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VANITY INSCRIBED ON ALL THINGS. TI
IME, like a long flowing stream makes haste into eternity and is forever lost and swallowed up there ; and, while it is hastening to its period, it sweeps away all things with it which are not immortal. There is a limit appointed by Providence to the duration of all the pleasant and desirable scenes of life, to all the works of the hands of men, with all the glories and excellencies of animal nature, and all that is made of flesh and blood. Let us not doat upon any thing here below, for heaven hath inscribed vanity upon it. The moment is hastening when the decree of heaven shall be uttered, and Providence shall pronounce upon every glory of the earth, “ Its time shall be no longer."
What is that stately building, that princely palace, which now entertains and amuses our sight with ranks of marble columns, and wide spreading arches, that gay edifice which enriches our imagination with a thousand royal ornaments, and a profusion of costly and glittering furniture ! Time and all its circling hours, with a swift wing are brushing away ; decay steals upon it insensibly, and a few years hence it shall lie in mouldering ruin and desolation. Unhappy possessor,
if he have no better inheritance ! What are those fine and elegant gardens, those delightful walks, those gentle ascents and soft declining hopes, which raise and sink the eye by turns to a thousand vegetable pleasures ? How lovely are those sweet borders, and those growing varieties of bloom and fruit, which recal lost paradise to mind! Those lovely parterres which regale the sense with vital fragrancy, and make glad the sight by their refreshing verdure and intermingled flowery beauties! The'scythe of time is passing over them all; they wither, they die away, they drop and vanish into dust ; their duration is short : a few months deface all their yearly glories, and within a few years,
perhaps all these rising terras walks, these gentle verging declisities, shall lose all order and elegance, and become a rugged heap of ruins ; those well distinguished borders and parterres shall be levelled in confusion, and thrown into common earth again, for the ox and and the ass to graze upon. Unhappy man, who possesses this agreeable spot of ground, if he have no paradise more durable than this !
And no wonder that these labours of the hands of men should perish, when even the works of God are perishable !
What are these visible heavens, those lower skies, and this globe of earth ? they are indeed the glorious workmanship of the Almighty. But they are waxing old, and waiting their period too, when the angel shall pronounce upon them that time shall be po
The heavens shall be folded up as a vesture, the elements of the lower world shall melt with a fervent heat, and the earth, and all the works thereof, shall be burnt with fire. May the unruinable world be bui my portion, and the heaven of heavens my inheritance, which is built for an eternal mansion for the sons of God: These buildings shall outlive time and nature, and exist through unknown ages of felicity!
What have we mortals to be proud of in our present state, when every human glory is so fugitive and fading ? Let the brightest and the best of us say to ourselves,that we are but dust and vanity.
Is my body formed upon a graceful model ? Are my limbs well turned, and my complexion better coloured than my neighbour's ? Beauty, even in perfection, is of the shortest date : A few years will inform me that its bloom vanishes, its flower withers, its lustre grows dim, its duration shall be no longer; and, if life be prolonged, yet the pride and glory of it is forever lost in age and wrinkles ; or perhaps our vanity meets a speedier fate. Death and the grave, with a sovereign and irresistible command, summon the brightest as well as the coarsest pieces of human nature, to lie down early in their cold embraces ; and at last they must all mix together, amongst worms and corruption.
Æsop the deformed, and Helena the fair, are lost and undistinguished in common earth. Nature, in its gayest bloom, is but a painted vanity
Are my nerves well strung and vigorous ; Is my activity and strength far superior to my neighbour's in the days of youth? But youth hath its appointed limit ; age steals upon it, unstrings the nerves, and makes the force of nature languish into infirmity and feebleness. Sampson and Goliah would have lost their boasted
advantages of stature and their brawny limbs, in the course of half a century, though the one had escaped the sling of David, and the other the vengeance of his own hands in the ruin of Dagon's temple. Man in his best estate, is a flying shadow, and vanity,
Even those nobler powers of human life, which seem to have something angelical in them, I mean the powers of wit and fancy, gay imagination, and capacious memory, they are all subject to the same laws of decay and death. What though they can raise and animate beautiful scenes in a moment, and, in imitation of creating power, can spread bright appearances and new worlds before the senses and the souls of their friends ? What though they can entertain the better part of mankind, the refined and polite world, with high delight and rapture ? These scenes of rapturous delight grow flat and old by a frequent review, and the very powers that raised them grow feeble apace. What though they can raise immortal applause and fame to their possessors ? It is but the immortality of an empty name, a mere succession of the breath of men, and it is a short sort of immortality too, which must die and perish when this world perishes. A poor shadow of duration indeed, while the real period of these powers is hastening every day; they languish and die as fast as animal nature, which has a large share in them, makes haste to its decay ; and the time of their exercise shall shortly be no more.
In vain the aged poet or the painter would call up the muse and genius of their youth, and summon all the arts of their imagination, to spread and dress out some visionary scene ; in vain the elegant orator would recal the bold and masterly figures, and all those flowery images which give ardor, grace, and dignity to his younger composures, and charmed every ear ; they are gone, they are fled beyond the reach of the owner's call; their time is past, they are yanished and lost beyond all hope of recovery.
The God of nature has pronounced an impassable period upon all the powers, and pleasures and glories of this mortal state. Let us then be afraid to make any of them our boast or our happiness, but point our affections to those divine objects, whose nature is everlasting ; let us seek those religious attainments, and those new created powers of a sanctified mind, concerning which it shall never be pronounced, that their time shall be no longer.
O may every one of us be humbly content at the call of heaven, to part with all that is pleasing or magnificent here on earth ; let us resign even these agreeable talents when the God of nature demands; and when the hour arrives that shall close our eyes to all visible things, and lay our fleshly structure in the dust, let us yield up our whole selves to the hands of our Creator, who shall reserve our spirits with himself; and while we cheerfully give up all that was mortal to the grave, we may lie down full of the joyful hope of a rising immortality. New and unknown powers and glories, brighter flames of imagination, richer scenes of wit and fancy, and diviner talents are preparing for us when we shall awake from the dust, and the mind itself, shall have its faculties in a sublime state of improvement. These shall make us equal, if not superior to angels, for we are nearer akin to the Son of God than they are, and therefore we shall be made more like him.
GOOD ADVICE OF PARENTS. My son, keep thy Father's Commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Bind them continually upon thy heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee ; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee ; and when thou awakest, it shall talk
with thee, Prov. vi. 20, 21, 22. By these words, my young friends, you are taught the reasonableness and the advantage of regarding the instructions of your religious parents. The regard which you ought to pay to the word of God, in which they instruct you, is expressed by binding it on your heart, and tying it about your neck;' which is an allusion to the customs of the Jews, who wrote parts of their 'law upon pieces of parchment, and wore them on their garments. It means, that you should receive the word of God with pleasure and delight, and take pains to treasure it up in your memories, keep it as a treasure, and wear it as an ornament. Do not dismiss and forget the instruction of your parents and teachers, as if you had done with it when they had done talking ; but lay it up in your hearts, and let it influence your daily condutt: and observe, my young friend, that not only the commandment of your father, but the law of your mother also is to be regarded. Undutiful children, especially undutiful sons, are apt to disregard a mother's counsels, though perhaps they pay some respect to the advice of a father ; but the wisest of men directs you not to forsake the law of your mother ;' and in another place, he says, ' Despise not thy mother when she is old,' Prov. xxiii. 22 ; and he tells you what respect he himself had paid to his mother's instructions ; for when he begins the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, he says, “The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.' This shews that mothers are to teach their sons, even if they are princes; and the sons are to' regard their mother's instructions, even so as to remember and submit to them when they come to be men.
If a stranger give good advice, it ought to be regarded; but good advice comes with peculiar force from a parent. A father! a mother! is an endearing name! Does a father command ? Surely, it must be in love. Does a mother instruct? Surely it must be with tender affection. Dear youth, believe me, there are no two people in the world who love you so much, and wish you so well as your
father and your mother; and, therefore, there are none in the world whom you ought so much to regard ; and remember, that what your parents so warmly enforce, is only the command and law of God; they would teach you the fear of God; they would convince you of your sinfulness and danger; they would lead you by the hand to Jesus, the friend of sinners, that you may be saved through him for ever.
Now observe, my young friend, the advantage that you may and will obtain by a due regard to the word of God:
When thou goest it shall lead thee. You are a young traveller; you have a difficult and dangerous way to go; you are yet ignorant of the right and safe path; but, the commandment is a lamp,' and the hand of your pious parent holds it out to you. This lamp will discover the enemies who are wishing to mislead you: it will clearly guide you in the right path as to your company, your business, your connexions, your future settlement in life; and, what is far better, it will lead you in the way everlasting !
When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee. It was common in ancient times, for superstitious people to hang arnulets or charms, about the necks of their children, to defend them from danger; Solomon alludes to this ; not that he recommends scraps of Scripture to be used for such a purpose ; but he recommends a believing and obedient regard to the word of God, as the best means of rendering our sleep comfortable and refreshing, and as the best way of securing the Divine protection in the dark night, so that no ill shall
When thou awakest it shall talk with thee. If thine eyes are held waking in the night, meditation on the word shall administer counsel and comfort, and keep thee from frightful, distracting and defil