Ever gliding down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity!
(William Nicholson, "Prayer for Divine Mercy!" 1862)
"We are consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence!" Psalm 90:7-8
Man is here recognized as a sinner in his relationship to . . .
the Divine Being,
his Governor and Lawgiver.
By his "iniquities" and his "secret sins," he is represented as a transgressor of that law which is "holy, just, and good." Man has . . .
resisted God's authority,
despised His counsels, and
followed the devices of his own corrupt heart.
Having acted thus, he is exposed to the Divine displeasure, and to the penalty denounced against rebellious men, "We are consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation!"
Man is . . .
guilty — and needs pardon;
condemned — and needs justification;
impure — and needs righteousness and holiness;
a wanderer, an outcast — and needs reconciliation and adoption;
an heir of wrath, exposed to eternal perdition — and needs salvation and a title to Heaven.
Man is frail and mortal. This is the state of all, and it is the fruit of sin. Look at your frail, decaying body . . .
how it sickens and languishes;
how it is pained and agonized;
how its bloom and its strength depart;
how it withers and dies, and "says to corruption — you are my father; and to the worm — you are my mother!" Job 17:14. All this has been produced by sin.
Most affecting representations of man's frailty and mortality are given by Moses in the context of Psalm 90. His life is a dying one, "You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning — though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered!" verses 5-6
Man is destined to return to dust, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are — and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19. "Remember Him, before . . . the dust returns to the ground it came from." Ecclesiastes 12:6-7
"You carry them away as with a flood" — ever gliding down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity! The flood of mortality is ever flowing, and man is carried away with it — carried with it surely and irresistibly.
Time passes unobserved by men (they are as asleep, verse 5), as it does with people asleep, and dreaming of happiness and security — and when it is over, it is as nothing!
Man's life is short and transient, "The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away!" Psalm 90:10
Man resembles the "grass," which in the morning grows up and flourishes in its beautiful greenness, but which in the evening is cut down, and instantly withers, changes its color, and loses all its beauty. So it will be with man, "You always overpower them, and they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away!" Job 14:20
Come, then, O man, and behold your picture! You are a sinner, and perdition is your prospect — the blackness of darkness forever! You are "like grass." This is the emblem of your life, and of all your works! "Grass!" Not the strong and enduring tree of the forest; not even the shrub — but "grass," which flourishes in the morning, and by evening it is dry and withered.
"All the glory of man," all that beautifies and adorns his life, all that is beauty to the eye, or gives pleasure to the senses — is still more frail; it does not endure the life of the short-lived plant, which arrays itself in its beauty. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall." 1 Peter 1:24
How short-lived is the glory of your physical nature! Youth, beauty, strength, intellect, energy — are fast failing you! The wind of sickness, or cares, or toil, or old age — will pass over them, and they will be entirely gone! A frost shall lay the flower in the dust — or a blight may leave its withered remains to shiver on the stem — just so, with frail man!
Observe the flowers which remind us most of the bloom of Eden, and which shed their delightful fragrance on the path of life:
the happy social hearth;
the friendships founded on virtue;
the hallowed domestic relationships;
the fellowship of saints.
Separation by death changes all these scenes — loneliness and solitude follow.
Behold the cemeteries around you — they cover the generations of short-lived men.
Like the herbage of the season, life and death have trodden in each other's footsteps, and the career of each goes on. Death is at the heels of life, cutting down its present plans, and sternly trampling into dust its constant but vain creations. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall." 1 Peter 1:24
"It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27