But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities…
I. THE LEAF FADES SURELY. If there is one thing more absolutely and infallibly certain than another, it is that we all die (Genesis 3:19; Hebrews 9:27). We die at every age.
II. THE LEAF FADES SOON. Some kinds of leaves last longer than others; but, as a class, their natural life is a single summer. There is prodigality in this. If economy of life were aimed at, the leaf might last much longer than it does. So might the May-fly. So might man.
1. What a testimony to the wealth of creative energy!
2. What an argument in favour of economizing time!
3. What a spur to the life of watchfulness!
III. THE LEAF FADES WHEN THE ENDS OF ITS EXISTENCE HAVE BEEN SERVED. "None of us liveth to himself;" nor could we if we would.
IV. WHEN THE LEAF FALLS IT PROVIDES MATERIALS FOR THE FOLIAGE OF ANOTHER YEAR. The fall of a leaf and its decay are not the end of it or of its work. There is something still for it to do, and which it never could do till then. Decaying leaven are the earth's great fertilizers. The thing we do is immortal whatever its moral quality. The father, the mother, live again in children moulded by their influence. Of all responsibilities there is none so terrible as this. We are contributing, by our life, a poison or a honey drop to the life-cup of posterity.
(J. Edgar Henry, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.