This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;…
From the 4th verse to the 22nd two things chiefly are noted, the long life of these fathers and their assured death. Many years they continued, yea, many hundreds; but at last they died. Death was long ere it came, but at last it came.
1. And touching their long life, some questions are moved: First, why it was so long; secondly, whence or how it came to be so. Of the first, two causes are alleged, one for the propagation of mankind so much the faster and more speedily, the other for continuance of remembrance of matters, and deducing of them to posterity the better. The indifferent mixture, equal temperature, and good disposition of the chief and first qualities, heat, cold, moisture, dryness, is in nature the ground of life, and by all probability in that beginning this was so more than now; their diet better, and temperance more from surfeiting and fleshly pleasures than is now; their minds quieter from eating and gnawing cares, the shortness of man's life, since, iniquity then being not so strong, many woes and vexations were unfound; and lastly, the fruits of the earth, in their purity, strength, and virtue, not corrupted, as after the flood, and ever since still more and more, might be to them a true cause, and a most forcible cause, of good health, greater strength, and longer life than ever since by nature could be.
2. Their certain death is noted, to show the truth of God's Word, ever infallible and unmovable. The Lord said, if they did eat they should die: they did eat, then death must follow; for He will be true, do what we can, and we shall find it so. Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years, but he died; Sheth nine hundred and twelve, and he died; Methuselah nine hundred threescore and nine, and yet he died. Died, died, is the end of all, that God might be true, how long soever they lived. The same word of the Lord is no falser now than then, but the same forever. Would God this repetition of death, death, to all these fathers might make us as duly to remember it as we are sure truly to find it — to find it, I say; and God knoweth, not we, how soon. "Today I, tomorrow thou," saith the wise man. His conceit was not unprofitable that imagined man's life to be as a tree, at the root whereof two mice lay gnawing and nibbling without ceasing, a white mouse and a black. The white mouse he conceived to be the day, and the black mouse the night, by which day and night man's life, as a tree, by continual gnawing, at last is ended. Who can now tell how far these two mice have eaten upon him? Haply the tree that seemeth yet strong ere night may shake, and ere day again fall flat down. Oh, let us think of this uncertainty! But you see the snow, how blind it makes a man by his great whiteness; so doth this world, by his manifold pleasures, baits, and allurements, dazzle our eyes, and blind us so, that we forget to die; we dream of life when there is no hope, and we cannot hear of it to go away. O death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that liveth at rest in his possessions, unto the man that hath nothing to vex him, and that hath prosperity in all things, yea, unto him that is yet able to receive meat.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;