1 Corinthians 7:31
And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passes away.
I. The fashion of the world passeth away, as the opinions, ideas, and manners of men are always changing. We look in vain for a standard to ascertain and fix any of these; in vain expect that what has been approved and established for a while, is always to endure. Principles which were of high authority among our ancestors are now exploded. When we read an account of the manners and occupations, of the studies and opinions, even of our own countrymen, in some remote age, we seem to be reading the history of a different world from what we now inhabit. Coming downwards, through some generations, a new face of things appears. As one wave effaces the ridge which the former had made on the sand by the sea-shore, so every succeeding age obliterates the opinions and modes of the age which had gone before it. Let us only think of the changes which out" own ideas and opinions undergo in the progress of life. One man differs not more from another, than the same man varies from himself in different periods of his age, and in different situations of fortune. In youth and in opulence everything appears smiling and gay. But let some more years have passed over our heads, or let disappointments in the world have depressed our spirits; and what a change takes place! The world itself remains the same. But its form, its appearance, is changed to our view; its fashion, as to us, hath passed away.
II. While our opinions and ideas are thus changing within, the condition of all external things is, at the same time, ever changing without us and around us. Wherever we cast our eyes over the face of nature, or the monuments of art, we discern the marks of alteration and vicissitude. We cannot travel far upon the earth without being presented with many a striking memorial of the changes made by time. What was once a flourishing city is now a neglected village. When from the public scene we turn our eye to our own private connections, the changes which have taken place in the fashion of the world must touch every reflecting mind with a more tender sensibility. For where are now many of the companions of our early years?
III. Not only our connections with all things around us change, but our own life, through all its stages and conditions, is ever passing away. As the life of man, considered in its duration, thus fleets and passes away, so, during the time it lasts, its condition is perpetually changing. It affords us nothing on which we can set up our rest; no enjoyment or possession which we can properly call our own.
IV. That the world itself in which we dwell, the basis of all our present enjoyments, is itself contrived for change, and designed to pass away. There are three fixed and permanent objects to which I must now call your attention, as the great supports of human constancy amidst this fugitive state.
1. Virtue and goodness never change. Let opinions and manners, conditions and situations, in public and in private life, alter as they will, virtue is ever the same. It rests on the immovable basis of eternal truth. Every terrestrial glory sparkles only for a little, with transient brightness. But virtue shines with eternal and unalterable splendour. It derives its origin from heaven; and partakes both of the lustre and the stability of celestial objects.
2. God never changes. Amidst the unceasing vicissitude of earthly things, there remains at the head of the universe an Eternal Protector of virtue, whose throne is established for ever. With Him there is no variableness, neither any shadow of turning; no inconstancy of purpose, and no decay of wisdom or of power. How much soever worldly things may change in themselves, they are all united in His plan; they constitute one great system or whole of which He is the author; and which, at its final completion, shall appear to be perfect. His dominion holds together, in a continued chain, the successive variety of human events; gives stability to things that in themselves are fluctuating; gives constancy even to the fashion of the world while it is passing away.
3. Heaven and immortality pass not away. The fleeting scenes of this life are to be considered as no more than an introduction to a nobler and more permanent order of things, when man shall have attained the maturity of his being.
(H. Blair, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.