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Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,
while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.
THIS chapter begins with an exhortation to
l the most necessary duty of man, which is pressed upon him by a double inconvenience that will certainly come upon him, and for the future render him uncapable to perform the fame. The last and the greatest is that of death, described in the seventh verse. And this is the night wherein no man can work: The other is that of age, described in these fix former verfes. And this is the evening or latter part of the day, wherein it is very ill working, and nothing can be done, in comparison of what might have been done before ; let the neglect therefore of this duty for ever be annexed to a un gevóito, God forbid that any one should defer the remembrance of his Creator until he be not able to remember at all, or put off the work of the highest concern, until he be altogether unfit to perform aright any of the meanest: But because it is my present design only to meddle with the allegory wherein is the description of Age, I thall not detain you in this most important entrance, but immediately fall upon my work. In this verse we have only a general description of that infirm condition, which is more particularly treated of in the following verses.
Age though it naturally creeps upon all men, whatsoever their constitutions and compofitions are, yet it is itself a disease. Sene&tus ipfa morbus. And it doth certainly induce such a cachexia, or ill habit, that it renders us inserviceable to our ends, and doth as it were set open the gates, that all that troop of enemies may enter in, which follow here in their order.
Here are two expressions that intimate unto us the unavoidable approach of these decrepit years (i.e.) come and draw nigh; of which gemination, signifying the same thing, I may well say, as Joseph did upon the doubling of Pharaoh's dream, Gen. xli. 32 ; It is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortty bring it to pass. Whosoever we are, whatsoever we are doing, whithersoever we are going, they are still coming on. Be we male or female, be we Jew or Gentile, be we bond or free, be we princes or subjects, be we what can be imagined, they come, they come : While I write, while thou readest, while we walk, while we sleep ; while we abide at home, while we go abroad; while we eat, or drink, or sport i while we retire our selves, we pray or fast; while we neglect our selves, while we defend all we can against them, they draw nigh, they draw nigh. And that man who wrote a book, *
. Gal. lib. de Marafmoc. 2.
de non senescendo, lived to his own disgrace, to see his own errour confuted in himself.
Here are two words also to express the contention of this state so long as it shall be, (i.e.) days and years; both these words signify also the same thing in the general, viz. how long this state shall remain : And thus Jacob useth them both, in giving an account unto Pharaoh how long his life had continued : The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years, few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage, Gen. xlvii. 9. But in particular, they intimate unto us a diversity of their continuation to divers persons. Some men poft over this bad way, and remain but a very little while in it; others pass over it more slowly, and continue therein much longer. Some have but a few days of labour and sorrow, others have them prolonged out to years. As the Lord only knows what person in the world (for there are but few in these last ages) shall be brought to this state; so he only knows how long they shall remain in it. Whether this time shall be more or less, whether days or years shall determine it, is to us uncertain, but this is most certain concerning them both, that if they be at all, so long as they are, they shall be evil, they shall be unpleasant.
Evil duys. I here take the word evil in a good fenfe, that is, not for the evil of fin, but the evil of misery, the fruit of sin. I know there be them that would have this word, if not the whole allegory, understood of such days and years as wicked men, by their giving themselves up to follow their own hearts lust with greediness, do voluntarily bring upon themselves ; but it seems to me to be otherwise, and that chiefly from these two reasons: 1. Because I find nothing in the allegory that is not competible to every particular person that lives to the time of this state, both to the good and bad, both to the righteous and the wicked ; weaknesses, infirmities, diseases both of body and mind attend them all: Ifaac, Jacob, Eli, David, as well as those who led never so contrary lives, must bear the burthen of their age, if they live to the time. It is most certainly true, a course of wickedness doth wonderfully hasten both old age, and death itself. The wicked man fhall not live out half his days, Pfal. lv. 23; nor shall he keep off decrepitness half the time; his honour fall be given away, and his years unto the cruel, Prov. v. 9. And beside the haftning of these evils, he doth infinitely augment them both for number and quality, he fhall have a thousand fold more, and a thousand fold greater : Every sore shall be a plague, and eyery ach shall be an hell unto him; but this
is not the condition in this text described, but the declension of man's life as a man; and that from this second reason drawn from the context. When I look immediately before the description, I find youth mentioned, Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth ; when I look im mediately after it, I find death described, The dust pallreturn to the earth as it was, and the spirit sall return to God that gave it. Now as youth and death are appointed for all living, without any discrimination of him that sweareth, or him that feareth an oath, as terms à quo, and ad quem, of their pilgrimage ; sọ this state also, as an intermediate stage, is as certainly appointed to them all, unless it please God before that conftituted time, to give them a deliverance by immature diffolution. It is said of old age,
Expectata diu votisque optata secundis,
Though this state be never so much desired of men, yet when it comes, it brings along with it abundance of all manner of evils, as the following discourse will sufficiently make appear, and therefore may well be called, an evil ftate.
But here I must needs meet with this moft obvious objection: Is not old age a great blesfing from God, Prov. xxii. 29, and are not gray hairs an honour, Gen. XV, 15, do not you call