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Old Age, Consolation by God's Promise

Old Age, Consolation by God's Promise

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 08, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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OLD AGE, COSOLATIO BY GOD'S PROMISEBY JAMES W. ALEXADER, D. D M.HOLY Scripture takes cognizance of the varicmacircumstances and stages of man's life, and weshould do the like when we use the pen for the con-solation of Christ's suffering people. To the youngwe often have to address ourselves in cautions fittedto rebuke the sanguine excesses of hope, but to theaged our task is more in the way of cheering, forwhich the gospel makes ample provision. If theirnumber is small, their demand upon our sympathyand love is not the less imperative. Besides theclaim which they make upon us as frequent suffer-ers, they are repeatedly and earnestly commendedto our reverence in the word of God ; and any volumeof consolation would be strikingly defective fromwhich their case should be left out.Length of days is a scriptural blessing, and waseminently such under the Hebrew theocracy, whereearthly benefits were the perpetual type of spiritualfavours. As death was a penalty, so the shorteningof man's days was a token of God's anger towardsthe race ; and under every dispensation the hoaryhead is a crown of glory to the righteous. Lon-gevity, which in the case of the wicked only aggra24ZIO COSOLATIO.vates sin, and its awful reckoning, affords to true "be^lievers a longer term of useful service and liolyexample, increased proficiency in gifts and graces,and a corresponding recompense. Old age has itsappropriate beauty, no less tlian youth. To the eyewhich can wisely discern there is a mature loveli-ness in the " shock of corn that cometh in its season."Thus we contemplate the kindly decline of the an-cient patriarchs with a filial veneration, and in ourown circle turn with- a healthful complacency from thegayeties of inexperienced youth to the father and themother " whose ripe experience doth attain to some-
what of prophetic strain ;" so that I envy not himwho does not often love to draw near the sequesteredcorner that is honoured by the chair of reverendwisdom and graceful piety, where the wearied an-cient or the cherished matron sits enthroned in theaffections of an observant filial group. Yet whilethis period of life has its deserved honours, it has itstrials likewise.First among the ills of old age is infirmity of body. " The days of our years are threescore yearsand ten, and if by reason of strength they be four-score years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow."Even if previous life has been exempt from bodilypain and weakness, the season of decline is usuallyvisited with manifold diseases, some of which arepeculiar to old age. Burdens which were scarcelyfelt in the mid-day pilgrimage, are apt to becomeintolerable torments towards the evening shadows.Scattered over the church stnd the world, there areOLD AGE. 371thousands of persons in their respective nooks of seclusion, as much lost to society as if they were indens and caves of the earth. Their place in thehouse of God has been filled by others, and thechurch has long ceased to observe the vacancycaused by their absence, except so far as some pastoror pious friend seeks them out, to smooth their rudedescent into the grave. But each has his sorrows,and needs his consolation.The weakness and lassitude of old age are fami-liar, yet these often take men by surprise. So re-luctant are most to admit the mortifying approachof these closing languors, that they need more thanthe "three warnings" of the poet. The steps bywhich age advances are often stealthy and imper-ceptible. Gray hairs are scattered here and there,and they know it not. The beauty of the counte-nance is consumed, and gives places to wrinkles,sunken features, a stooping frame and totteringlimbs. The dainties of the feast invite, but no longergratify. The senses become obtuse, and the sufferer
enters into the experience of Barzillai : " How longhave I to live, that I should go up with the kingunto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore yearsold ; and can I discern between good and evil ?Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink ?Can I hear any more the voice of singing men andsinging women ? Wherefore should thy servant beyet a burden unto my lord the king ?" To such aone the grasshopper is a burden, nay he is a burden372 COSOLATIO.unto himself. It is a condition in wMcli lie manifestly needs support.Tlie absence of former companions belongs to"tbe time of old age." Amidst tbeir troops of friends, tbe young think little of this ; but the longera man lives, the more does he outlive the associatesof his early days. And though Dr. Johnson wiselyadvises men who advance in years to " keep theirfriendships in repair," it is unquestionably true, thatthe susceptibility for such attachments grows lesswith the decline of life. The tree which has outlivedthe forest stands in mournful solitude, and is loppedof its branches, and exposed to storms. If thesepages fall under the notice of an aged reader, hewill readily assent to the truth of what is said, beingable with ease to number up all that remain of those who shared his early joys. Childhood seemsfar back in the distance; parents have been longremoved ; brothers, sisters, friends have gone before ;perhaps, we must add poverty, widowhood, andchildless desolation,The solitary condition of aged persons is aggra-vated by the indisposition of the young to seek theircompany ; so that we often find them constrained topass days of weariness and evenings of gloom. Ex-cept where there is eager expectancy of some wealthto be divided, the old man is left to sit alone, whichnaturally leads to another trial.The neglect of society is keenly felt in " thetime of old age." We are fond of saying, that old

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