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. LIKE THE FOLIAGE, WE FADE GRADUALLY. Little by little. Pain by pain. Less steady of limb. Sight not so clear. Ear not so alert. After awhile we take a staff. Then, after much resistance we come to spectacles. Instead of bounding into a vehicle, we are willing to be helped in. At last the octogenarian falls.
II. LIKE THE LEAF WE FADE, TO MAKE ROOM FOR OTHERS. Next year's forests will be as grandly foliaged as this. So, when we go others take our spheres. Do not be disturbed as you see good and great men die. When God takes one man away, He has another right back of him.
III. AS WITH THE LEAVES WE FADE AND FALL AMID MYRIADS OF OTHERS.
IV. AS WITH VARIETY OF APPEARANCE THE LEAVES DEPART, SO DO WE. You have noticed that some trees, at the first touch of frost, lose their beauty. So death smites many. There is no beauty in their departure. One sharp frost of sickness, or one blast of the cold waters and they are gone. No tinge of hope. No prophecy of heaven. Their spring was all abloom with bright prospects; their summer thick foliaged with opportunities; but October came and their glory went. But, thank God, that is not the way people always die. Tell me, on what day of all the year the leaves of the woodbine are as bright as they are to-day? So Christian character is never so attractive as in the dying hour.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
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.