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Wherefore, then, should thy servant be yet a burden to my lord the king?"

Another token of old age is, "They shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way." Steep ascents are very difficult to the aged; a hill alarms their fears, for it threatens to produce much pain and weariness. Travelling now seems formidable to them. The young are often too bold, and venture into needless dangers; and the old are too timorous, and full of fear lest mischief should befall them. They prefer, therefore, staying at home, and not exposing themselves to harm abroad.

"The almond tree shall flourish." The almond tree, with its white blossoms, is a beautiful emblem of the hoary head. Gray or white hairs are the common symptoms of age, and may be considered as truly ornamental, for "the glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head." Prov. xx. 29. God himself put honour upon it in the law, saying, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord." Lev. xix. 32. But let the aged remember that these blossoms are certain intimations of the approach of death; they have been called "churchyard flowers," which, as one says, "may serve to them that bear

them, instead of passing bells, to give them certain notice whither they are shortly going."

"And the grasshopper shall be a burden." This signifies the extreme feebleness of the aged, when the lightest thing may be a load-when reduced to such weakness and nervous sensibility that the least inconvenience, though it may be as trifling as the weight or the chirping of an insect, may vex and fret them.

"And desire shall fail." Those animal passions and desires which in youth were so strong and violent, and too often the occasion of so much sin, now gradually decline as years increase and strength decays. And it is well it is so, for now it is high time to get the heart weaned from the world and a life of sense, and to "set the affections upon things above."

Then shall "the silver cord be loosed-the golden bowl broken—the pitcher be broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern." The whole verse seems to be a description of the functions of life, taken from a well, where there is a cord to the bowl or bucket with which the water is drawn up; a wheel by which more easily to raise it; a cistern into which it may be poured; and a pitcher or vessel to carry it away with; but now all these are broken and be

come useless. Thus, at death, the lungs cease to play, the heart ceases to beat, the blood to circulate; the whole surprising contrivance for forming and circulating the blood from the fountain of the heart to every extremity of the body is now entirely deranged.*

What follows this derangement?

"Then shall the

dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Then "man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets."

How solemn are these words! They demand our most serious attention. When death takes place a separation is made between the mortal body and the immortal spirit. The body soon corrupts, must be buried out of sight, and quickly returns to its mother earth. But the spirit-the immortal spirit-what becomes of that? Does it cease to exist? No; "it returns to God who gave it," to be disposed of according to his holy and sovereign pleasure. If the spirit has been renewed by grace and made meet for glory, it departs from the body to be with Christ" absent from the body, present with the Lord;" for "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." But if the sinner died in a graceless state, unpardoned and unrenewed, it sinks into endless perdition. The spirits

*Scott's Commentary.

of the just are made perfect, and immediately pass into glory; but the spirits of the wicked "go to their own place," as Judas did, and, with the ungodly rich man in the parable, are tormented.

"The mourners go about the streets." Most men die lamented by some, either sincerely or in appearance. A funeral is a solemn sight, and ought to be conducted and viewed with deep seriousness. The mourners are conveying a dear relation, a kind friend or a valued neighbour to his "long home"-so the grave is here, with great propriety, styled his long home. The deceased had, perhaps, resided in various dwellings during the course of a long life. He removed from one habitation to another, as occasion required; but the grave is his last, his long home. Thus, as Job speaks, "Man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." But, as St. Paul assures us, "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised;" and then, saith Job, "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands." Job xiv. 12-15.

The infirmities of age ought to teach us the evil of sin. If sin had not entered into the world, these infirmities would not have been known. There would have been no pains and aches, no failure of hearing

and sight, no wearisome days nor sleepless nights These are all the fruits and effects of sin. If man had not sinned, he would not have suffered by age any more than angels do they have lived many thousand years, and they still enjoy all the vigour of youth; but man lives several years before he attains maturity; his manly vigour lasts but a little while, and then he fades like a leaf or withers like a flower; "The wind passeth over it, and it is gone, and the place thereof knoweth it no more." Surely, then, the aged man should reflect on the evil of sin, which is the sad cause of all his sufferings; for sin is the disease, and all our afflictions are but the symptoms of it. In some cases the aged may perceive that particular sufferings are the effects of particular sins; and may cry, with one of old, "Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth" (Job xiii. 26); or, as it is in another place, "His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust." Job xx. 11.

The certain approach of death is another lesson taught by the infirmities of age. The young may die, but the aged must. Death may be near a man at any age; but it must be very near the old man. "As

the Lord liveth, there is but a step between thee and

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