Page images

the aged faint. As he is difcharged from the labours and occupations of the world, let him difmifs his worldly affections and thoughts, and give himself, more than formerly, to felf examination, meditation and prayer. Viewing the time as at hand, when, taking leave of all earthly things, he must enter into a new world, mingle in new connexions, and appear in the prefence of God, let him employ himself in the contemplation of hea ven and in the exercises of devotion, more constantly than he could ordinarily do in former years, when the world had greater demands upon him. Looking forward to the laft ftage of life, and realizing the condition in which he may then be plated, let him often afk beforehand, that God would give him, at that time, the spirit of prayer in a fuperior degree; would grant him, under nature's weakness, ability to collect and arange his thoughts, and a fervour of pious affection in making known his requests. This, in a fimilar cafe, was the employment and the comfort of the Pfalmit. My foul," fays he, " is full of troubles, and my life draweth near to the grave: mine acquaintance are put far from me; and I am shut up, that I cannot go forth." And what could he do in this condition? One thing he could do; and this he did. He applied himself to prayer, which is the beft relief of an afflicted foul. "I have called daily upon thee, and to thee have I ftretched out my hands. Unto thee have I cried, O Lord, and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee. Let my prayer come before thee; incline thine ear to my cry."

4. David, in this petition, "Caft me not off in the time of old age," requests that, by the power of divine grace working in him, his faith and hope might hold out to the last; and that, by the

fenfible difplays of divine light, and by increas ing evidence of his title to falvation, he might be freed from the diftreffing apprehenfion of being finally caft off and forfaken of his God. Thus he prays, on another occafion, "Caft me not away out of thy prefence. Reftore unto me the joy of thy falvation."


In all feasons and conditions of life, the hope of glory is much to be defired, and earnestly to be fought. This will lighten our afflictions and fweeten our mercies; defend us againft temptations and smooth the path of duty; difpel the gloom which hovers round the grave, and brighten the profpect of eternity. But this hope is never more important, or more delightful than in old age. Now the joys of life have fled, and earthly profpects are cut off; now the day of bation is expiring, and the folemn hour of retribution is at hand. How unhappy the case of those, who are going down to the grave without hope, and going to judgment with a confciousness of unpardoned guilt; who, in the review of life, fee nothing but vain amufements, fenfual pleasures, earthly affections and avaricious or ambitious purfuits and in the contemplation of futurity fee nothing before them, but death, judgment and fiery indignation? But how happy the aged Chrif tian, who can look back on a life employed in works of piety to God, and beneficence to men, and who now feels the fpirit of devotion and charity warmed within him, and acting with fresh vigor to confirm his hopes of heaven, difpel the fears of death, and light up fresh joys in his foul? He can take pleasure in his infirmities, regarding them as kind intimations, that " now is his falvation nearer, than when he believed."

Such was Paul's felicity, when he was ready to

be offered, and the time of his departure was at hand. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me in that day." How did Paul obtain this felicity? "He counted not his own life dear to himself, that he might finish his work with faithfulness, and his course with joy." He kept under his body to bring it into fubjection, left by any means, when he had preached to others, he himself should be a caftaway." That we may obtain the full affurance of hope, we must be followers of them, who by faith and patience inherit the promises; and in this course we must give diligence to the end.

Our fubject powerfully applies itself to us, who are advanced in age. We begin to feel the decays of ftrength, and to perceive the indications of our approaching diffolution. In a few days, we muft go the way, whence we shall not return. Soon we shall fee man no more with the inhabit. ants of the earth; but fhall be placed in new relations and in a new condition. While we tarry here, our infirmities will probably increase; our days and nights will become more wearifome; the pleasures of fenfe will lofe their relish; the burden of worldly business will be too heavy for our bending shoulders; the implements of our labour will drop out of our pallied hands, and we fhall have no more a portion in any thing that is done under the fun. And it is not improbable, that fome of our laft months may be spent in helplefs confinement of body-ah, and perhaps too in derangement or ftupor of mind.

Looking forward to such a season, let us daily pray, "O God, caft us not off in the time of old age; forfake us not when our ftrength faileth, VOL. V.


Give us kind and patient friends, who will cheerfully minister to our neceffities and bear our infirmities. Vouchfafe to us rich fupplies of thy grace, that we may fuftain our own infirmities; may enjoy communion with thee; may maintain our heavenly hope, and by a pattern of Chriftian piety, charity and spirituality, may commend to those who ftand around us that Divine Religion, which is our fupport, our comfort, and our joy. And if, in thy fovereign wisdom, thou fhouldft fee fit to deny us the privilege of reafon, let the prayers which we now offer be graciously remembered; and grant us pious and prayerful friends, who will fend up petitions to thee in our behalf. And whether we shall then be capable of making a petition to thee, or not, we now humbly ask, That thou wouldst not caft us out of thy prefence, nor take thy holy spirit from us, but by thine own wonderful and fecret operation make us more and more meet for heaven; and when our flesh and our heart shall fail us, be thou the ftrength of our heart, and our portion forever."

My brethren, if we wifh to enjoy the comforts of religion at laft, we muft cultivate the temper, and keep up the exercise of religion now. It will be no eafy matter to take up the business then, unlefs we have been accuftomed to it before.

You, my friends, who are in the midft of life, and you who are young, are not uninterested in this fubject. You all think, that we, who are aged, need the comforts of religion. God grant, that we may have them. Do you not fometimes think of us in your prayers? We hope you do. But know, if you live to be aged, (and you all defire many days) these comforts will then be as neceffary for you, as they are now for us. But how can you be sure of them then, unless you ob.

tain an intereft in them now? To have the comforts of religion, you must have religion itself. Embrace it, therefore, in your hearts; cultivate the holy tempers which it requires; maintain the good works which it enjoins, and afcertain your title to the eternal bleffings which it propofes.Thus lay up for yourselves a good foundation against the time, which is to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life.

« PreviousContinue »