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upon the father and representative of mankind, did not shorten; but only fix the bounds of human life. Before this sentence, the life of man had no bounds; but after this sentence his bounds were fixed, over which he could not pass. And now, if we look into the history which God has given us of the first ages of the world, we shall find how long the first term of human life was, before it was shortened. It appears from the genealogy of mankind, from the creation to tho flood, which was a space of sixteen hundred and fifty years, that it was common for men to live from seven to eight or nine hundred years. And we do not find but one man after these patriarchs, who was allowed such length of life, and that was Noah, the father of the new world. He lived nine hundred and fifty years. But though God did not shorten Noah's life, yet he began to shorten the lives of men, immediately after the deluge. From that period, we find the lives of men more than four times shorter than they were before. For we do nat read of any man's living to the age of two hundred years, after the death of Noah. Some have supposed that the deluge was the immediate cause of shortening human life. They imagine, that the flood made such an alteration in the atmosphere, and all the elements, that the human body was greatly affected by it. But this is hardly probable; because if the flood had such an effect to shorten life, it is natural to suppose, that it would have had the greatest tendency to shorten the lives of those who lived through it, and immediately after it. But the Bible assures us, that the lives of men were much longer then, than they are now. It is, therefore, more reasonable to suppose, that human life was shortened, by a special act of Providence, than by the operation of the laws of nature. It was a most singular and interesting event for God to reduce the lives of men in general from eight or nine hundred years, to the narrow space of less than two hundred years. This was the first and greatest change in the lives of men, and continued from the deluge to the days of Moses. Then again God reduced human life to a shorter period of “ three score years and ten," which still continues the common age of man. We have the same evidence in scripture of this second shortening of human life, as of the first. For the sacred historian has recorded the ages of a great number of eminent men, from Noah to Moses. Abraham lived to what was considered as old age in his day. And we read, “These are tho days of the years of Abraham's life, which he lived ; an hundred three score and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in, a good old age; an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people.” We read, “ The days of Isaac were an hundred and fouracore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days." We read, “ Jacob lived seventeen years in Egypt, so the whole age of Jacob was an hun. dred forty and seven years." We read, “ Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died.” And again we read, that “ Joshua

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the son of Nun the vervant of the Lord died, being an hundred and tes years old." These instances show, that men commonly lived between one and two hundred years, from the deluge to the days of Moses and Joshua. * Bút from the days of Moses to the present time, the common age of man is three score years and ten, which is more than ten times shorter than the first period of human life. It is true, Jehoiada lived ar hundred and thirty years, and some individuals in every age have been equally long-lived. But the ninetieth Psalm, which is said to have been written by Moses, gives us just ground to conclude, that the common age of man was then shortened to the period of seventy or *eighty years. And profane history confirms this conclusion. For al) historians' represent a man of seventy or eighty years old, as an old man, let hini be a Jew or Gentile, and let him live in what part of the - world he will. Thus God has, time after time, diminished the life of * man, until he has made his days as an hand-breadth, and our life as a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. But though some may complain of God for shortening their days, yet, * II. Good men are satisfied with this part of the divine conduct. The good patriarch Jacob did not appear to be fond of living, but rather desired to be dismissed from his weary pilgrimage. Job said of * life, “ I loathe it; I would not live alway." And again be said, “All

the days of my appointed time will i wait; till my change come.” David anticipated the day of his death with pleasure when he said to

God, “ As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness." Good old Simeon - wished tor the close of life, when he said, " Now, Lord, lettest

thou thy servant depart in peace.” Paul was in a strait betwixt two,

having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which was far better Ir than to live. And the primitive Christians longed "to be absent from the body, that they might be present with the Lord." These are the feelings of all good men; they would choose to have their lives limited to eighty or ninety years, rather than to eight or nine hundred. And whilst they have such views and feelings with respect to life; they must be satisfied with the conduct of God, in bringing down the lives of men to the short period of seventy, or eighty, or ninety years. But here it may be proper to enquire why they are satisfied with this part of the divine conduct. And,

1. It is because they expect to be much happier in another life, than this. Here they find themselves born to trouble, as the sparks Ay úpward, and have nồ reason to expect an exemption from suffering, until they leave this présent state of imperfection. Jacob said, "Few and evil have the days of my life been;" and he had no hope of seeing happier days, until he exchanged time for eternity.' Then he expected to be put beyond the reach of all natural and moral evil, and enjoy perfect peace. And all the patriarchs lived in the exercise of that faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of

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things not seen. And such a view of a better world, the apostle tells us, made them ardently desire the end of their pilgrimage. He says, .“ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which

he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise :- For he looked for a city which had foundation, whose builder and maker is God. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly.” These persons rejoiced in the shortening of their lives, which was an hastening of their happiness. The primitive Christians were reconciled to the shortness of this life, by the prospect of superior happiness in the next, They said, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabemacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. There are but very few of the followers of Christ, who are not quite weary of life, by that time they have reached the present common period of it. They generally consider death as theirs, a blessing which God has promised, and they patiently wait for the bestowment of it. Instead of complaining of the shortness of life on their own account, they are more apt to complain of its length. Like weary labourers, they wish for the seting sun; or like weary travellers, they wish for the end of their journey. They have often said, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.”

2. Good men are satisfied with the conduct of God in shortening the common period of human life, because it serves to restrain the moral corruption of mankind. The shortness of life has both a natural and moral tendency to produce this desirable effect. It has a natural tendency to restrain the wickedness of the world, by putting it out of the power of the wicked to accomplish their purposes. For when the wicked die, in that very day all their evil thoughts perish, and their purposes are defeated. How often does God frustrate the designs of sinners, by putting an end to their lives? And how much is vice and immorality prevented by the present shortness of human life? If the wicked, were suffered to live seven or eight or nine hundred years, would they not, as they did of old, fill the earth with violence? In the present state of human nature, it is a mercy to the world, that the days of man are shortened, by which the vicious are laid under a natural restraint, and cannot have time to accomplish their destructive purposes. Besides, the shortness of life brings death near to every individual, and death is the king of terrors. There is not a mortal above the fears of death. - Many are all their life-time subject to bondage, by the terrors of the grave and eternity. There is no doubt but that a sense of the


shortness of life and nearness of death, have a powerful influence upon the whole wicked world, to restrain them from evil. And it is natural to conclude, that it was the design of God, in shortening the span of life, to restrain the wickedness of the world. It is certain, however, that God has shortened the lives of men, from time to time, as the corruptions of the world have increased, which is a presumptive evidence, that the shortening of life directly tends to restrain the sporal corruptions of the human heart. And this is certainly an end, wbich all good men wish to have promoted. When they see the hearts of the wicked fully set in them to do evil, they find a consolation in the thought, that their days are determined, and the time of their triumphing is short.

3. There is another reason why good men are satisfied with the divine conduct in shortening the lives of mankind; and that is because it is caleulated to accomplish the great and precious promises which God has made to his people. The more frequently one generation goeth off, and another cometh on the stage of life, the more frequently the world is shaken by commotions and revolutions, which are necessary to accomplish the divine purposes. While God had no occasion for great revolutions, he suffered men to live near a thousand years. But when he had occasion for great revolutions, he shortened the lives

f men. But from the deluge to Moses, he allowed men to live one or two hundred years. But after the days of Moses, he meant to keep the world in arms, and therefore shortened life to three score years and ten ; which occasioned a rapid suecession of kings and of kingdoms. How often did the death of a king in Judea throw the kingdom into convulsions; and how often did the death of a tyrant in other nations, pave the way for another, more cruel and more powerful! It was in this way that the four great monarchies were raised up and overthrown, which prepared the world for the coming of Christ. And ever since Christ's day, the world has been involved in wars and commotions, by the rapid succession of new generations, and new men to govern them. And were it not for this shortness of life, and rapid succession of kings and kingdoms, we should have but little ground to expect the promises made concerning the prosperity of Zion would be speedily fulfilled. But by cutting short the days of man, and the lives of princes, one revolution after another may soon prepare the way for the reign of the Prince of Peace. There is no Methuselah on any of the thrones of Europe, or of any part of the globe. The present crowned beads will soon be succeeded by others, and they again by others, till the proper men come upon the stage, who shall unite their wisdom and power to spread the gospel of the kingdom of Christ through the world. This is a prospect, in which all good men rejoice, and which is founded upon the frailty and shortness of human life. Hence they earnestly desire that the days of darkness may be shortened, and the days of light and peace and holiness may be hastened.

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HEADS OF THE IMPROVEMENT. 1. If God has, for good reasons, from time to time, shortened the lives of men, then he may, for aught we know, for as good reasons hercaster lengthen their lives again. And this seems to be intimated in the Bible. In reference to the Millennium, God says by his prophet Isaiah, “ Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth : and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create : for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people : and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old : but the sinner being an hundred years old, shall be accursed." There will be good reason to lengthen life.

2. If God has had good reasons, from time to time, to shorten the general period of the lives of men ; then he may have as good reasons for shortening the particular period of life, to particular persons. We find, that he does shorten the lives of multitudes ; that is, he does not allow them to live to threescore years and ten. And he has his reasons,

3, Has God reduced the lives of men at this day, to a very short period ? Hence we learn, that it is not right to desire, or to expect to live long in this world.

It is not right to desire it. It is not right to expect it. It argues stupidity and unbelief.

4. Has God reduced the life of man at this day, to a very short period ? Hence we learn, that life is extremely precious. Men always esteem time precious, in proportion to its shortness. Sick and dying men do. It is so, because more depends upon the same space. Men in general have as much to do now, as they had when they lived eight or nine hundred years,

6. If God has greatly shortened human life; then it is extremely criminal to lose time. None have time to lose; but it is losing time to be idle. To pursue vain diversions—to pursue vicious courses.

6. If God has given such short bounds to life; then all earthly enjoyments are vain. For they are short lived. Who would be anxious to be rich, for a year or a month? If men were to live as long as the patriarchs.-But

7. If God has reduced life to narrow limits; then death is but a short separation between the dead and the living. Pious men will soon be gathered to their people, and united with their pious friends.

8. Is life so short? Then we are all walking upon the verge of death and eternity. Let the aged prepare-the middle-aged--the youth. Eternity follows the shortest life.


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