12 JANUARY (PREACHED 31 DECEMBER 1769)
Mortal, transitory creatures
‘For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.’ Psalm 90:9
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Psalm 90:1–17
In the works of creation we may observe not only a display of divine wisdom in themselves, but a particular wisdom in dispositioning them and making them subservient to the special use and occasions of mankind. Thus the sun and moon give evidence of their Maker’s glory and would have done so if placed at such a distance from us that we had never seen them. But how are his wisdom and goodness confirmed to us by the benefits we receive from these heavenly bodies! Omitting other uses, I shall mention one which is expressly mentioned in Genesis 1:14. The Lord had appointed that man, after the fall, should be a mortal, transitory creature, and he knew that he would be a depraved and foolish creature, prone to bury himself in the things of this world and to forget eternity. Therefore when he fixed the sun and moon to give light to the earth he suited their various changes and revolutions to admonish man of the unceasing speed of time. Thus all things are in motion: day and night swiftly succeed each other, the moon appears, increases, declines and is again renewed and the changing seasons, in a constant succession, bring round the year. Thus day after day uttereth speech. The psalm before us is a prayer of Moses. The subject is the present state of human life: its uncertainty—compared to the grass which falls suddenly before the scythe (see Psalm 103:16) in verse 6—its brevity—seventy years or less for the most part, and all beyond that term pain and infirmity (verse 10)—its general vanity in itself—we spend or bring our years to end as a tale that is told.
FOR MEDITATION: [for New Year 1774]
While with ceaseless course the sun
Thanks for mercies past receive,
Hasted through the former year,
Pardon of our sins renew;
Many souls their race have run,
Teach us, henceforth, how to live
Never more to meet us here.
With eternity in view:
Fixed in an eternal fate,
Bless thy word to young and old,
They have done with all below;
Fill us with a Saviour’s love;
We a little longer wait,
And when life’s short tale is told,
But how little—none can know.
May we dwell with thee above.
SERMON: PSALM 90:9 [1/3] [ALSO PREACHED 28 DECEMBER 1783]