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How Long Will i Live

How Long Will i Live

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Published by glennpease

Lord Bishop of Rochester

How long have I to live—2 Samuel xix. 34.

Lord Bishop of Rochester

How long have I to live—2 Samuel xix. 34.

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 13, 2013
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HOW LOG WILL I LIVEBY ATHOY W. THOROLD, D.D.Lord Bishop of RochesterHow long have I to live—2 Samuel xix. 34.THlS question from the lips of an old man,with the most and the best of his life be-hind him, was neither petulant nor cynical.David had made a gracious and honourable pro-posal, but it did not occur to him that he wasbound to accept it, merely because it was made.A greater than David, who has graciously pro-mised to guide us with His eye, will never bedispleased at us when we come to a place whereare the dividings of the ways of our life's jour-ney, if we wait, and think, and pray before weventure to go on.There is a wrong way of asking this question, The wrongand there is a right way. It is wrong, for*^^^instance, to ask it curiously, inquisitively, andin a spirit of presumption, which would forcethe barriers that God has placed in front of us,in a mercy which has many ramifications of tenderness. The young know that they mustdie presently ; the old that they will die soon ;this is all, and this is enough. To complain of ib QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYinjustice or unkindness because we cannot ascer-tain beforehand the time we have to live, is tobetray a curious ignorance of human nature.Saintly Bishop Ken has shown us in one verseof his Evening Hymn the blessed secret of peaceand watchfulness :Teach me to live that 1 may dreadThe grave as little as my bed.Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the awful day.It is wrong to ask it in a frivolous, or reck-less, or self-indulgent spirit, as if life were solong and death so distant that the mere thoughtof it is a gratuitous intrusion on our innocent joy. Life, no doubt, when we are in our teensseems endless. If we live to old age, the factthat we have lived so long encourages us to hopethat we may live still longer. But it is everbecoming shorter, and the narrow peninsula onwhich each human soul is standing is incessantlybeing washed away by the resistless tide of thesurrounding eternity. The great Augustan poettouched the heart of mankind by his exquisitelament over young Marcellus. Yet in somepagan nations — China is an instance — we donot observe that horror of death which the writerof the Epistle to the Hebrews patheticallydescribes as a condition of bondage. Thereason no doubt is, that where there is nothingbetter than materialism to instruct, or elevate,THE PERSOAL 1.1 1 I 17or console the moral nature, death is but a leapinto an abyss. " Let us eat and drink, forto-morrow we die." The Christian is destinedfor higher things, and should live in the strengthof nobler promises. " My times are in God'shands " is the one thought which gives peace,dignity, and hope. Until our Master summonsus, not a hair of our head can perish, not amoment of our life be snatched from us. WhenHe sends for us, it should seem but the messagethat the child is wanted at home.Once more, it is wrong to ask it pusillani-mously, in lack of nerve and resoluteness forenduring the trials which may yet be in storefor us, or of robust and manly diligence ingrappling with the duties for which time seemsinsufficient and vigour gone. There is a greatdeal of irritating if unconscious unrealit}' in theway in which some people speak about their
death, as if life had ceased to have any interestfor them, and about their capacities, as if withthree-score years and ten the term of theirusefulness was past. Such people, however,the moment \X\ey are really ill, send for theirphysician, and do all they can to avert andretard the foe, whom they once affected todespise. Perhaps also if they were to hearfrom a neighbour's lips that depreciation of eventheir physical powers which they gratuitouslyvolunteer, they might resent it, and quickly showit to be otherwise. Let us be men, and makeB1 8 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYthe best of ourselves, and live as long as we canand be young to the last. Few things are moreexhilarating, I might say inspiring, than the sightof a man or woman full of years, yet not sufferingotiose habits to grow on them, never affectingthe airs of youth, yet never exaggerating theinfirmities of age ; ever in affectionate sympathywith the young ; entering with intelligent andsincere interest into the politics, and literature,and social and religious movements of the day ;not talking much of death, but quietly recognisingthat it may be imminent ; living in the fear andpresence of the risen Saviour, knowing that todepart and be with Him is best of all.The right The right way of asking it is to ask itasking it. solemnly, prudently, cheerfully, penitently.Solemnly ; for life is a great trust, and oureternity will hang on the acts and duties andmotives and principles of our time here. " Benot deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoevera man soweth, that shall he also reap." Thewisdom with which we shall then be tardilywise, the regrets with which we shall look back on wasted hours and lost opportunities, the senseof the misery and shamefulness of sin, the horrorat having made our brother to stumble throughtempting him to evil, — all these things will visit

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