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that evil, which God calls good? Gen. xxv. 8. How often in fcripture is it said, A good old age, Judg. viii. 32. 1 Chron. xxix. 28. and counted as a privilege ? I must needs therefore here diftinguish of old age ; and consider it in a threefold state. First, crude, green, and while it is yet in the beginning, while men are able to do. business, and go about their employments, and this is but one little remove from manhood, and doth immediately border upon it. The second is, full, mature, or ripe age; when men begin to leave off their employments, and betake themselves to retiredness; when God hath no more work for them, and they have no more strength for him; or lastly, extream sickly, decrepit, overgrown old age ; in which it may be truly said, Old age is perished, yob. xxx. 2. when their breath is corrupt, when their days are extinet, and the grave is ready for them, Job xvii. 1. And this only is the state the wise man here so rhetorically describes. And that age which is so often called good, I take to be the second before mentioned state ; and so much the rather, because in most places where it is said, they died in a good old age, it is also added, and full of days; by which I understand, not a fulness of possibility, that they lived so long, as from the principles of their composition, they could not have lived any longer; but a fulness, as I may fo say, of satiety; they had enough of living, they ived as long as living was good, they lived to a full, ripe, and mature age ;. such an one as would force them to be of the mind with him in the fable, to refuse immortality in this prefent life; and earnestly to defire it in a better *. There is an excellent illustration of this in the fpeech of Eliphaz, wherein he fets down the special providences of God towards them that fear him, and are bettered by correction ; Thou malt come to thy grave in a full age, like a shock of corn in its seafon, Job v. 26. Now if a shock of corn stand very long in the field, it sheds, and is spoiled, and the season of it is as well lost, as if it had been taken in too green. Jacob, most certain it is, died in this good old age as well as others; yet he himself faith unto the king, a little before he died, that the days of his years were few, and he had not attained the days of the years of his fathers in their pilgrimage, Gen. xlvii. 9.
Had St. Paul departed when he had fought the good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7. and was ready to be offered; he had surely died in a good old age, although his pulse had not then beaten above threescore years. Now, most certain it is, that the arriving at this state is one of the greatest outward blessings that man is capable of in this life. Nor dare I fay otherwise, if it should please the Lord to protract the life of man to the extreamest point it is capable of ; if he should withhold his hand from pushing down the house which he hath made, and let it fall to decay upon its own principles, his forbearance would be the greater, its fall would be the leffer ; however in the mean time, it would stand most ruinate, deformed, useless, and incumbred with infinite inconvenienciesg that it was never liable to before ;
Heu quàm continuis, & quantis, longa feneétus, Plena malis.
But this is not all, it is not only an evil age, but there is no pleasure in it; as there is no condition that frail mortality is capable of so good, that hath not a participation of evil; so there is scarce any condition fo evil, that is not attempered with some good; but this seems to be excluded from such a mercy as this. It is faid of a good companion, she will do a man good, and no harm all the days of her life : Prov. xxxi. 12. But contrariwise, it may be inverted concerning this bad and morofe companion, she will do a man evil, and no good, so long as the continueth with him.
I have no pleasure in them. I take pleasure here also in the best senfe, not for
any finful content whatsoever, not for the lufts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, or the
pride of life, 1 John ii. 16. but for those lawful pleasures and repasts both of body and mind, that the nature of man, while able, might comfortably have solaced herself in. The mind of man bufying itself, and taking contentment in the speculation of natural causes, the body of man in all its outward senses, in all its internal appetites, sporting and refreshing itself in all proper and peculiar objects; but no such refreshments as these in old age ; which is a principle so well known to be true, and so much rooted in the judgment of men ; that the news to the contrary (though brought immediately from God himself) did, at the first, startle, and put a very hard stress too, upon the faith both of the mother and father of the faithful. Pleasure in old age, (and to such persons who were as good as dead, and with whom it had ceased to be after the manner of men and women) was such an incredible thing, as both Sarah and Abraham laughed at the news, Gen. xvii. 15, 16, 17. which laughter as it might proceed partly from a confident affiance upon the word of God, and a contentation thereupon, (as is usually said) fo partly without all doubt, from that reluctancy they found in themselves, and those heart-risings, and internal arguings against the reception of those joyful tidings, Gen. xviii. 11. the spirit indeed was ready, but the flesh was weak. And this will sufficiently appear in the text, from the grounds of their laughing,
their reasoning thereupon, and from the Lord's answer to them both, and what pains he takes, and what arguments he useth further to perfuade them, that it should be so indeed as he had promised.
There is a learned commentator * faith upon the word on here translated pleasure : Hebræa vox non modo voluptatem, fed etiam negotium quodlibet opufve significat; the criginal word, faith he, fignifieth work and business, as well as pleasure, Excl. iii. 1. And so indeed it doth, and may very well do in this place. When decrepit age is come, a man's work is at an end, he is able to do no more. Solomon faith, there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou art going, Eccl. ix. 10. Now old men are very near it ; our English proverb is, They have one foot in the grave ; they have no more work to do, their course is finished, and their time of departure is at hand.
VERSE 2. While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain
Aving before in general shewed this state
to be miserable, he now comes to tell us wherein these miseries particularly consist. I must here be necessitated to go an untrodden
path, * Lorinus.