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But they who make religion their early choice and habitual practice, are continually advancing in the divine life. The graces wrought in them by the spirit of God, in their renovation, are strengthened by exercise, and the duties of the Christian life are facilitated by use. And the vir. tues, which are most important to old age, such as sobriety, contentment, patience, devotion and heavenly mindedness, come into familiar and agreeable operation. It is no easy matter for an old man to be calm and cheerful under his present trials, if he has been anxious and fretful in all his former days. It is difficult for him now to have his conversation in heaven, if it never has been there before. He can have little relish for devout and spiritual exercises, if they are all new to him, and he now begins to learn them. My friends ; that religion may bring its consolations home to your hearts in that evil day, you must gain a familiar acquaintance with it in your
5. Religion begun in youth, and continued through the subsequent stages of life, will be a fafe ground for strong hope in old age.
The man, who believes, that within a few weeks or months, he shall enter into the eternal world, must, if any sensibility be left, earnestly desire a good evidence, that he shall be happy there. But this evidence cannot ordinarily be acquired in a day or week. It must be the result of experience and self-examination. There must be opportunity to prove the inward temper and to compare it with the word of God. A sudden and hafty confidence is generally deceitful, and always precarious. There is no doubt, that some, even in old age, may be the subjects of a renovating change; but the reality of such a change must be
doubtful to them, until they have had more time to prove themselves, than the aged have reason to expect. Such persons, though they die safely, yet cannot wholly disburden themselves of previ. ous anxieties and fears.
Therefore, my friends, take up religion in sea. fon, carry it with you through life, cherish it in your old age ; then you will have comfort in the decays of your nature, and good hope in your death. Your constancy and improvement in religion from early life will be an evidence in your fa. vour, in which you may place confidence. How pleasant will be this period, when you can review a long life with conscious approbation, and can look forward into the eternal world with the full affurance of hope? How bright will be the evening of your life, when light breaks in on your eyes from the heavenly world ? How cheerfully may you step forward into the valley of death, when the light of God's countenance gilds your passage ? “ If you prepare your hearts and stretch out your hands to God; if you put away iniquity from your hands and wickedness from your fouls, then shall you lift up your faces without fpot ; yea, you shall be stedfast, and shall not fear ; your age shall be clearer than the noon day; you shall shine forth, you shall be as the morning.”
6. Early religion brings this additional advantage to old age, that it ensures a more distinguished degree of glory in the future world.
The scripture assures us, that the heavenly rewards will be measured out to good men according to the works which they have done for God, and the attainments which they have made in holiness. “ They who have fowed bountifully, will
al. fo bountifully ; and they who have lowed sparingly, will reap sparingly." They who have spent
a long life in the steady practice of religion, muft have acquired more virtue in their hearts, brought more honour to God, and done more good to men, than they who never attended to religion before the last stage of their probation. Confequently they have a capacity to enjoy, and a title to receive a proportionably larger measure of hea. venly felicity. There are some, who will fcarcely be saved ; and some whose reward shall be great. The late penitent will be found in the former class ; the early Christian in the latter. And, o how pleasant must be the contemplation of death to such aged saints, as can depart in the full persuafion, that an entrance will be ministered to them abundantly into the kingdom of God, and that there they shall receive an exceeding and eternal weight of glory?
I have reasoned with you, my young friends, on the supposition, that you will live to be old. And now say, Does not religion, on this ground, appear to be your highest wisdom? Is not your judgment brought fully over to the fide, for which I have been pleading ? Then fix your resolution immediately. -Do you hesitate ? --There is another argument in your case, which certainly forbids delay. It is not certain that you will live to be old. And with respect to each of you individually, this is not probable. You see some die old; you see more die young. The uncertainty of life is a powerful reason, why you should choose God for your hope and your truft from your youth. Even though you should be spared to old age, this early choice is, on many accounts, highly reasonable and advantageous; if you are to die in youth, and God knows whether this be not your destiny, then the choice, which I have recommended, is absolutely necessary. For this is the only time you can have.
If any of you, my aged brethren, have let this time pass away unregarded, you have lost your best time ; and I deplore your loss. But for heaven's fake, lose not what remains. Be humble for past neglect, apply with diligence to the work, which you ought to have begun before. Death is advancing ; it lingers not. Time is pafling ; it flumbers not. It is high time to awake out of sleep. Wherefore, let me apply to you the words of the apostle, “ Awake, ye that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Chrift shall give you light. And walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
The Infirmities and Comforts of Old Age.
A Sermon to Aged People.
MY AGED BRETHREN AND FRIENDS,
YOU will permit an aged man, like yourselves, to speak, this afternoon, a few words to you.....Or, if you please, he will in your hearing speak to himself......Pertinent to our case, and worthy of our adoption, is the petition of the Psalmist in
PSALM lxxi. 9,
Caft me not off in the time of old age....
...... Forsake me not when my frength faileth.
THERE is little doubt,
HERE is little doubt, that David was the author of this Pfalm. And from several expressions in it we learn, that he wrote it in his old age. He prays in our text, “ Cast me not off in the time of old age.” And, in verse 18, “ Now, when I am old and grey headed, forsake me not.” But David, when he died, was but about seventy years old, and he probably wrote the Psalm some years before his death ; perhaps in the time of