In the burning of the universe, we find a representation of the vanity of the present world.
What is this world which fascinates our eyes?
It is a funeral pile that already begins to burn, and will be entirely consumed;
it is a world which must end,
and all that must end is far inferior to the immortal soul.
The thought of death is really a powerful movie to us to place our affections on another world; for what is death?
It so every individual what, one day, the final ruin will be to the generality of mankind;
it is the destruction of the heavens, which pass away with a great noise;
it is the dissolution of the elements;
it is the entire conflagration of the world, and of the works which are therein.
Yet vanity hath invented refuges against this storm. The home of an imaginary immorality hath been able to support some men against the fear of a real death. The idea of existing in the the minds of those who exist after them, hath, in some sort, comforted them under the miserable thought of being no more.
Hence pompous buildings, and stately edifices;
hence rich monuments and superb mausoleums;
hence proud inscriptions and vain-glorious titles, inscribed on marble and brass.
But behold the dissolution of those bonds.
The destruction of the world deprives us of our imaginary being, as death deprives us of our real existence.
You will not be shortly stretched out in your tombs,
and cease to use the houses and fields and palaces which you inhabit;
but these houses, these palaces, these fields will be consumed
and the memory of all that is fastened to the world will vanish with the world.
Since then, this is the condition of all sensible things, since all these sensible things must perish; immortal man, infinite spirit, eternal soul, does thou fasten thyself to vanity and instability?
Dost thou seek for a good more suitable to thy nature and duration?
Seeing all these things must be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation and godliness?
The Attributes of God, Rev. James Saurin,
trans. Robert Robinson, 1834, p. 102.