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SCATTERED Over the pages of the Sacred writings, are many passages relating to the physical condition of man. Some of them we find expressed in sufficiently plain terms, others so wrapped up in the figurative language of oriental description, that occasionally more than ordinary attention is requisite to understand their true meaning.
We not only find the changes both in mind and body, as influenced by the different periods of life, particularly described,
but also many of those morbid conditions to which the infirmity of human nature renders the body susceptible.
Independently of all religious considerations, the investigation of these matters. presents many circumstances of considerable interest, especially as shewing the height to which the knowledge of the phenomena attending the physical changes in man had arrived in early times, and the accuracy with which the various observations, opinions, and remarks relating to them, are recorded.
From infancy to old age, the different conditions of life are beautifully described. The incapabilities of infancy and youth could not be more strongly pointed out to the reasoning and inferential mind of man, than it is in the account rendered to us of the making of the first inhabitant of earth, wherein we are told that the breath of life
is breathed into the nostrils of a matured
and perfect man.
Without quoting particular passages, it is quite sufficient to observe, that the helplessness of infancy, the infirmities and passions of youth, the vigour of maturity, and the decline of age, are all graphically and justly considered.
The term LIFE is used in very many senses in the Holy writings: but in the confined meaning, to which the nature of my present inquiry limits it, Life includes that period and state which exist from birth to death, and during which time the ordinary actions of existence are performed.
The blood is called the life of the flesh(1), and the heart the vessel from which proceed the issues of life, (2) and the bones and flesh are considered as the tenement of these life sources.
(1) Genesis ix. 4, 5. Leviticus xvii. 11.
(2) Prov. iv. 23.
These are described as performing their several functions perfectly and well, until that period when "the evil days come, and there is no pleasure in them."
I shall not enter here into any discussion, whether we are to consider old age as a disease, or not; but sheltering myself under the dictum of the poet,() "Senectus ipsa est morbus," proceed to say some few words on the decay of mind and body, as exemplified in the Sacred writings
"Inde minutatim vires et robur adultum
though we find a limit to the duration of life expressed in very direct terms, "The
'days of our years are threescore years "and ten, and if by reason of strength
they be fourscore years, yet is their "strength labour and sorrow: for it is soon
"cut off, and we fly away:"() yet there is no time defined for the coming on of old age. On the contrary, in more than one place does the expression, that "the days "of youth are shortened," shew that a premature old age is a part of the will of HIM, to whom a thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past.
"It creeps on," says Smith, in his Pourtract of old age, "by steps and degrees, as "the shadow upon a dial-some of the "flowers of age blow before othersome "sometime on one bough, sometime on "another; here one, there one, insensibly; “however, when perfected, you have it "stand in full bloom, as it is to be seen in "the ensuing analysis," which, both from its singularity and bearing on the subject, I transfer to the following page.
(1) Psalm xc. 10.