Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

stand on the brink of eternity, and things eternal should have the chief place in your thoughts, your prayers, and

your conversation. Seek them above all and in every scene. You have had most excellent examples to guide you to a Christian behaviour in old age and in death. You have had these in the ministers of religion, who have spoken to you the word of God, and whose faith you ought to follow, considering the end of their conversation ; and you have had them in pious neighbours, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises. Live and die like them. The course of some in the world is like that of a winter's sun,-short, and obscured by clouds; and its influence on others is feeble and scanty ; but the course of such men is like that of the sun when the day is longest,shedding around a bright radiance and a cherishing warmth, and forming the clouds among which he sets to a splendour and beauty which remain after it hath gone down. The tears which are shed at such men's graves, and the blessings which are invoked on their memory, are a proof that they have neither lived nor died in vain.

Let me conclude, by addressing some exhortations to those who are yet at a distance from these limits of human life. Let those who are far advanced in years be the objects of your pity and of your kind attentions. Encourage them in their labour, and cheer them in their sorrow. Never do the young appear more amiable, than when they listen patiently to the details of the aged, request them to lean, when feeble and tottering, on their arm, and lead them gently in their

w and cheerless walks.

Trust not to the flattering voice which tells you that

you also shall be old. Your companions whom you laid in the grave had similar assurances made to them; and yet you ‘saw their breath go forth and their thoughts perish. Acquaint now yourselves with God; and if your days shall be shortened, grace shall conduct you more speedily to eternal life; and should they be prolonged to fourscore years, it will support and comfort you amidst the labour and the sorrow of the season of decay. Why is that old man so fervent in spirit serving the Lord? Why do we see him patient in tribulation and rejoicing in hope? It is because the

grace of Christ is his support and consolation. Religion is the best friend both to the length and to the happiness of life. “ What man is he that desireth life, and would live long, that he may see good ? Refrain thy lips from evil, and thy tongue from guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and

pursue Consider the diseases and afflictions which

may

be sent to you in the early seasons of life, as intended to remind

you

that death is at hand, and to induce you to submit to it cheerfully. Life is imbittered in mercy; and the months of wasting sickness which have been appointed to the young, and the violent pain by which the strength of the robust has been broken, have been the discipline of grace. Utility should be the great object we desire, recommend, and pursue in life; and may we through grace attain it. May all of us be enabled constantly to aim at

it.”*

* Psalm xxxiv. 12, 13.

what is the noblest end of man," the advancement of the Divine glory;" and may God graciously lead us to a life of faith and of goodness, vouchsafe to us a death in peace, and raise us to an eternity of happi

Amen.

ness.

DISCOURSE XIX.

DYING REFLECTIONS OF AN AGED SAINT.

2 TIMOTHY iv. 7. I have fought a good fight, I have

finished my course, I have kept the faith.

How various are the reflections which are made on a past life in the hour of dissolution ! The crimes of the wicked man are then forced upon his view, and the arts by which he escaped from sober thought no longer avail him. Actions which he once defended against the accusations of conscience, now strike him in all their malignity; and his wretchedness demonstrates, that whatever pleasing forms vice may assume to charm the ardent mind, it will be bitterness in the end. The successful pursuit of wealth and greatness, which excites so much exultation in the worldly man himself, and so much envy in others, will not bear the serious review of a dying hour. I have sacrificed eternal happiness for acquisitions which shall now enrich others, and the honour which comes from God for a vain show. I have sought for felicity in pleasures whose enjoyment is only for a moment, but whose curse is perpetual ; and have done all that I could for the prosperity of my family in this world, but I have not taken a single measure for their eternal welfare, are often the sad reflections of the closing

The votaries of the world make light of these reflections as the gloomy dreams of disease ; but for

scene.

T

what is the noblest end of man," the advancement of the Divine glory;" and may God graciously lead us to a life of faith and of goodness, vouchsafe to us a death in peace, and raise us to an eternity of happi

Amen.

ness.

« VorigeDoorgaan »