rather than the comforts of hope ; but in God we see every thing to make distrust appear foolish and criminal, and to produce a steadfast and triumphant faith. “ For all the promises of God are in Christ yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by


Without Divine support the most intelligent and powerful of creatures cannot stand ; with it the feeblest shall not fail, even under severe and lengthened affliction. Angels, when left to themselves, fell in the midst of heaven, and man, when left to himself, fell in the midst of paradise; but while we may point to these mournful instances of imbecility and presumption in the creature, we can look to many aged persons whom no temptation could seduce, and no calamity could overwhelm, and who shall be eternal monuments of his grace, in whom saints of all ages find peace and strength.

CONCLUSION. 1. This subject is admirably adapted to lead the aged to their proper duties. It should lead them to love God with all their heart and with all their strength. The reflection, I am poor and needy, but the Lord thinks on me, is powerfully adapted to melt the heart. Let it be with higher wonder and gratitude than ever that you sing, “ His mercy endureth for ever.” Surrounded by angels who excel in strength, and active in serving him, he cares for me, though I am feeble and useless like the bruised reed. He wipes these failing eyes, he gives power to these

• 2 Cor. i. 20.

trembling knees, and shall not I devote the life he thus supports to his service? Your capacities of ser. vice are more limited than they once were ; but this consideration should make you more zealous in the holy improvement of them. His service requires and it deserves the first, and the best, and the last of our time.

Let it teach you patience. You cannot surely complain of the roughness of the path which God doth so much to smooth; and why does he leave any inequalities in it, but that patience may so have its perfect work in you, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing ? Complain not that man does so little for you when God doth so much. There is a beauty in patience which never fails to please; and what can be said of no earthly distinction, of no worldly accomplishment, and of no natural attraction, is true of it, that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price.

Let it teach you to be joyful. We expect not from the old the vivacity or the transports of youth ; but the goodness of God should make you not only tranquil bat happy, and call from your lips the grave sweet melody of praise. “He is a happy old man," is language which is seldom heard of the aged; but when it is employed, it is spoken with an affection and heard with an interest truly delightful. A person on the point of closing all the trials of life, and arrived at the threshold of heaven, may well be happy.

Be not weary of a season thus marked by the Divine pity and care. An aged saint thus expressed himself to a minister who came to visit him in his frailty :-“I am lying here a poor useless creature. Oh that I were taken to heaven, where I might have it in my power to do something to glorify God!" To this the minister replied, “ You may glorify God here by resignation and patience, and that too in the face of many difficulties and distresses. Angels and saints in heaven have not your burdens to bear ; your praise, therefore, is more wonderful, and is, I trust, as acceptable to God.” At the same time cling not to this life, as if in it only you had hope in Christ. That aged saint, of whom I have now been speaking, joined one Sabbath some young persons who were sitting on a grave in the interval of public worship, and said, “ How happy will I be when you are sitting on my grave! I rejoice to think that I shall soon be with Christ in paradise.” It were good if conversation in church-yards at that season were always of this serious cast; and never should it be disgraced by worldly details or idle disputation.

In the country, the intervals of public worship are spent by many in the church-yard; and though the previous service might be presumed to have disposed them for sober reflection, though the graves of those once their fellow-worshippers are stretched around them, and though they are on the spot which they have destined to receive their dust, yet how little is said or felt suited to such a scene! You shall soon be brought to the church-yard, not to quit it till you leave it either for heaven or for hell.

2. Let the conduct of God to the aged be imitate by us as far as is possible. Give them as much of your company as duty and prudence will admit, and

let not your regard to them wax cold, though you may perceive in them increasing infirmities. Give them every proper testimony of your kindness. Shrink not from the touch of the withered hand, for it will remind

Grudge not the attention that is necessary to keep the aged clean and comfortable. Neglect of them will bring its own punishment in your disgusts and uneasy reflections, and in the indignation and reproach of all around you. When I see, as I sometimes do, an aged parent resting his head on the shoulder of his son or daugh. ter, or gently borne by them from his bed to the fireside, that change of place and conversation may refresh him, I behold what these dutiful children may expect when their evil days shall come, and the kindness of that Providence displayed which finds for the helplessness of infancy a refuge in the parents' bosom, and for the helplessness of age a refuge in their children's arms. I have seen the daughter-in-law as solicitous for the comfort of an old man placed under her care as her husband, and, amidst the duties required by a numerous family, treating him with uniform respect and kindness. I have heard the old man blessing God for bringing so good a heart to his dwelling, declaring that he loved her as his own child, and of his directing to her his last request and benediction. What an honour does not such a tribute shed on the temper and conduct of such a relative! Though you cannot deliver them from their troubles, you may obtain this by your prayers, and your attentions will make them lighter than they would have been.

you of the grasp of death.

Your own hearts will suggest many motives to these duties; but I may say, Remember that charity, the spirit of the Most High, beareth all things and endureth all things. It is an imitation of God in a very amiable part of his character and procedure. Be followers of God as dear children, and walk in love. It is a working together with him. The kindnesses of friends and neighbours are the instruments which God often employs in fulfilling the promise in the text. The eye of sympathy drops with his compassion, the hand of attention ministers with his care, and the voice of friendship speaks with his love.

I shall only add, as another motive to this conduct, that thus you may hope that when you come to old age, the Lord will requite you as you have done to others. Those who have made the aged unhappy by their neglect and cruelty, have had their own hearts pierced by the harsh speeches and barbarous usage of sons and daughters of Belial; while the dutiful and the affectionate to declining relations have found, that in upholding their weakness they were preparing a prop for their own, and that, in brightening the gloom of age, light is sown for the righteous.

Finally, Let aged transgressors consider, that none of these consolations is theirs, and that they exclude themselves from them by their temper and conduct. Nor is this all that can be said about your unhappiness, for there are many positive miseries about the sinner's age. That God whom you have so long disregarded lives to call you to account for all that you have done; and his indignation against sin is as incapable of diminution as his love to his people. The

« VorigeDoorgaan »