by John Howe
Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?
What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah - PSALM 89:47, 48
WE are not concerned to be particular and curious in the inquiry, touching the special reference or occasion of the foregoing complaints, from the 37th verse. It is enough to take notice, for our present purpose, that besides the evil which had already befallen the plaintiff, a further danger nearly threatened him, that carried death in the face of it, and suggested somewhat frightful apprehensions of his mortal state; which drew from him this quick and sensible petition in reference to his own private concern, "Remember how short my time is;" and did presently direct his eye with a sudden glance from the view of his own, to reflect on the common condition of man, whereof he expresses his resentment, first, in a hasty expostulation with God, "Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?"—then, secondly, in a pathetic discourse with himself, representing the reason of that rough charge, "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver," &c. q. d. When I add to the consideration of my short time, that of dying mankind, and behold a dark and deadly shade universally overspreading the world, the whole species of human creatures vanishing, quitting the stage round about me, and disappearing almost as soon as they show themselves: have I not a fair and plausible ground for that (seemingly rude) challenge? Why is there so unaccountable a phenomenon, such a creature made to no purpose; the noblest part of this inferior creation brought forth into being without any imaginable design? I know not how to untie the knot, upon this only view of the case, or avoid the absurdity. It is hard sure to design the supposal, (or what it may yet seem hard to suppose,) "that all men were made in vain."
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TO THE DESERVEDLY HONOURED JOHN UPTON
THE VANITY OF MAN AS MORTAL