are to the infant, they remind me of what God has promised, and of the solace which I may expect to feel in his marvellous lovingkindness. When this worn-out body can find no posture to rest in, my soul shall sweetly repose on the bosom of infinite compassion. He will wipe the tears from my shrivelled cheeks, and hush my wailings by the tenderest soothings of love."

In every kind attention which you receive you ought to mark his goodness. The face that looks to you with such benignity, and that smiles on you so sweetly, is softened by the gentleness of Christ; the lips which speak to you in such terms and tones of affection are opened by him; the arm which supports you to your chair, and the hand which smooths the bed of languishing, are impelled and guided by him; the cordial which revives the fainting heart is from his store; and the garment in which you feel so

comfortable is from his wardrobe.

It was the privilege of the Apostle John, as he himself describes it:-" Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” In this beautiful allusion to his own peculiar privilege, we see the humility by which this apostle was so distinguished, and at the same time the delight with which his heart dwelt on his endearing intimacy with his Saviour on earth. Amidst all the events of his life this could never be forgotten. Amidst persecution, the remembrance of it was his solace; and in his exile to Patmos it was the object

John xiii. 23.


of enlivening meditation in all its lonely scenes. the promise in my text assures every aged saint of this happiness. To rest in Abraham's bosom is the happiness before you; but to be borne in the arms of condescending love is your honour and your bliss even at present. Nowhere does the infant smile so sweetly as in its mother's arms, and hushed are its cries when it is brought back to them; and in those of your Almighty Father you may rejoice exceedingly, and with your song you should praise him.


4. This promise assures aged believers of effectual support. Various are the burdens which the aged have to bear, and various are the duties which they are required to perform, and for which they have no might. To review a life stained with sin, and yet to sorrow over it in hope of mercy,-amid the tossings of sleepless nights to remember God on our bed, and to think on him in the night-watches,-to rejoice in the Lord amid depressing infirmities,-to be courteous to those that neglect us,-to show to those who wish to provoke us to peevishness to justify their disregard of us, that our religion teaches us to be gentle and forgiving, to be contented while others fret,-and to say, while no friend approaches the couch or the chair where you are gasping for breath or shivering for cold, "Look on me, O Lord, and prove merciful to me as thou usest to do to them that love thy name," is such a difficult task, that you are disposed to exclaim, "Who is sufficient for these things?"

In youth, saints are apt to err on the side of presumption, and in old age, on that of despondence. Remembering how difficult they have found it to re

sist temptations, and to bear trials in what is past of their course, they shudder at the idea of meeting with more formidable ones with which they must struggle with faded strength, and these questions excite in them the most painful forebodings:-" If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan ?"*

But the grace of God can fit you for all this and much more. He can strengthen the bending back and invigorate the fainting spirit; He will bear thee when staggering under thy load. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."+ In temptation he can give thee strength, not only for resistance, but for victory; in affliction, grace to be not merely patient but cheerful; in neglect and ill usage he can enable thee, not only to exercise meekness, but to overcome evil with good; and in death he can, not merely calm thee into resignation, but elevate thee to the full assurance of hope. Upheld by his arm, and having the joy of the Lord for your strength, you shall sing in his ways; you shall carry what the vigour of youth shrinks from; and you shall run so as to leave its speed far behind. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

[blocks in formation]

but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”* Say not then, What shall I do

with this burden? Will none share it with me? Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.

It is very remarkable, that this idea of Divine Support is held out in no less than three expressions of the text,-" I will carry, I will bear," and again it is said, "I will carry." You must have remarked, that, in Scripture, blessings of peculiar value, and which from various causes we are apt to think unattainable by us, are promised in a strength and solemnity of manner, and with a frequency, which affectingly indicates the condescension of Heaven to human weakness, and powerfully enforces on the timid and the feeble that gracious call-" Trust in the Lord for ever; for with the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength."

5. It assures them of his patience and indulgence. This may be intimated in the phrase" I will bear." Men are more disposed to bear with the young than with the old. Many things are considered as extenuating the follies of youth which cannot be urged as an apology for those of age. Instead of excuse, their failings are too often aggravated in the harshest manner. Their occasional fretfulness is stigmatized as habitual bad temper, and their seasons of dejection as the result of sullenness and discontent; and the thought sometimes arises in their minds-If I am thus

* Is. xl. 30, 31.

severely dealt with by men, what will become of me if God should mark my iniquity? To him my failings of temper and conduct must be much more offensive; but the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."* If, for the sake of his Son, he hath exercised so much long-suffering towards you amidst the errors of your youth, think not that he will now enter into judgment with you. He will remember for you the plea which Jesus urged for the disciples, when you are languid where you ought to be active, and complain when you ought to be thankful-" The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."t

He will correct you for these failings of age to secure their amendment, and to make your decline a more happy specimen of the beauty and the power of religion; but it will be with a gentle hand. He will dig about the aged tree, and prune it, that it may still bear fruit. In measure when it shooteth forth thou wilt debate with it; he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind; and he who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, tempers it also to the feeble and staggering wanderer.

6. The text contains a promise of complete deliverance. Many are the afflictions and temptations of old age, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all. He will deliver you from the disease which threatens to cut you off before the appointed time,

Ps. ciii. 13, 14.

+ Matt. xxvi. 41.

« VorigeDoorgaan »