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ing under the sorrow of captivity. Old age, being in active and helpless, becomes afraid of that which is high; it is fearful of climbing, because it is in danger of falling; and being unfit to endure the hardness of fatigue, and the shocks of a rough journey, the fears which are in the way discourage it from setting out. Then the almond-tree flourishes; the hair of the head becomes white, as the early almond blossoms in the hard weather of the winter, before the snows have left us; and even the grasshopper becomes a burthen; the legs, once light and nimble to leap, as the legs of that insect, and which used with ease to bear the weight of the whole body, are now become a burthen, and can scarcely carry themselves; and when the faculties thus fail, the desire fails along with them, for nothing is desirable, when nothing can be enjoyed.
Such are the evil days, which come upon us when our youth is past, and prepare the way for that last and greatest evil of our death, when man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets, lamenting his departure. Then the silver cord, the nerves whose coat is white and shining as a cord of silver, is loosed, and no longer do their office. The circulation of the blood stops at the heart, the fountain of life, as when a pitcher, which draws water, is broken at the well, or the watering wheel, circulating with its buckets, which it both fills and empties at the same time, is broken at the cistern. Thus do the vital motions all cease in death; and the dust returns to the earth, to become such as it was, before man was made out of it; and his immortal spirit returns unto God, the fountain of immortality, from whom it proceeded.
Let then the light of my understanding, while I have
it, be employed in the search of truth, and let my memory be a treasury of all useful learning; let my hands labour while their strength lasts, and my shoulders be ready and patient under every burthen; let my mind be ever looking out through the windows of my body, to see and learn, while the day-light is with me. Let the daughters of music be employed in the praises of God, before they are brought low: let my diet be that of sobriety and temperance, that the doors may not be shut in the streets before the time; and when my sleep shall be less, let my meditation be more on God, and my latter end, and the things of eternity. As the outward man decayeth, let the inwod man be renewed day by day; that when my spir shall depart, it may return with joy to God that gave it, and I may at last find an habitation, which shall be subject to no decay, when this mortal shall put on immortality. Amen.
Q. What does the preacher mean by the evil days?
A. The time of old age.
Q. How does he describe the infirmities of old age?
A. Under terms which are like those of a proverb or riddle.
Q. What is meant by the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars?
A. The failing of the understanding, judgment, and memory.
Q. What are the keepers of the house?
A. The arins and hands, which guard and defend the body.
Q. What are the strong men?
A. The shoulders, in which our chief strength lies. Q. Who are they that look out of the windows?
A. The eyes.
Q. Which are the grinders?
A. The teeth which grind our food.
Q. Who are the daughters of music?
A. The voice which sings, and the ears that hear, and the spirits which are moved with music.
Q. What agrees to the almond tree, which blossoms in winter?
A. The hairs of the head, which turn white in old age. Q. What is meant by the grasshopper?
A. The legs, which are light and active in youth, but become a burthen to themselves in old age. Q. What means the breaking of the pitcher at the fountain, and the wheel at the cistern?
A. The stopping of the circulation at the heart, and the ceasing of the motion in the lungs.
Q. Where goes the body?
A. To the dust out of which it was taken.
Q. Where goes the spirit?
A. To God that gave it.
Q. What is the duty to be learned from all these considerations?
A. To remember my Creator in the days of my youth.
See Ecclesiastes, Chap. xii. ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
END OF PART II.
IF the Reader uses this little work, so as to implant tne matter of it in his mind, he must not spare the labour of turning to ALL the texts, referred to as authorities, for the interpretation of the several words. This is the way to learn the Language of Prophesy; and when some skill is acquired, other texts may be found, to confirm these that are here set down. The marginal notes, in some good editions of the Bible, will give farther light, and ought to be consulted.