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and spirit ; and he preserves it. And he can dissolve this connection whenever he pleases. But he would not have dissolved it, by such a humbling and painful change as the death of the body, if mankind had not become sinners. It is written, “ By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Every human being is under the sentence of death from its birth by the sovereign and righteous judgment of God.
3. All persons must die for the accomplishment of the divine purposes respecting mankind. God has designs respecting the human family, that extend beyond the bounds of time and require their removal into the world of spirits. For the accomplishment of his designs it is necessary, that all men should finish their term of trial and pass by death into the future and endless state.
III. To aged persons the time of their death is near.
1. It is near when it is compared with what it was in their early days. To some aged persons death was once at the distance of a hundred years ; but now the time of their death may be within a few days, or hours, or even minutes. To every aged person the time of his death has become near, by the whole number of the days of his life. Once they, who are now aged, had to travel on the tedious journey of life for the long time of seventy, or eighty, or ninety years; but now they have to move, or to be moved, only a few hours, before their pilgrimage is finished forever. How near, then, is the time of death, when compared with what it was once, to every aged person!
2. The time of death must be near to the aged on account of their natural condition. Once they had the animation and sprightliness and cheerfulness of childhood and youth ; the confidence and energy of early manhood; and the dignity and influence of middle life. But now their
eye is dim, their arm is weary, their step is slow and their voice trembles. Their courage fails and the cares of an hour are a heavy burden. The day of their power is gone. Their names are not known in the active scenes of life. Few ask, how they do, or whether they are alive. 3. To the aged the time of their death must be near, on account of their moral character. Through the many days and long years of their lives they have been constantly and rapidly fitting for their eternal existence. Once they of the righteous, who are aged, had taken only a few steps in the way to heaven and by faith saw the mansions of glory beyond the numerous and distant mountains. Now the mountains have been passed and the heavenly city is within their daily prospects. Once the aged, who have walked in the broad way, were halting, doubting and trembling between their choice of heaven and hell; but now they have become stupified by delusion, hardened in wickedness and must soon be destroyed without remedy. The moral character and condition of the aged, whether they have been forming themselves into vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy, show that the time they must die is very near.
IV. It is proposed to show the peculiar importance of death in respect to aged persons. Their death is important,
1. In proportion to the connections which they have sustained in this life. The persons, the objects and events with which they have been connected, have been numerous and various according to their number of years. They had some distant connection with the aged who were alive at their birth, with those who were then in the midst of their days and with the youth and children who were then rising into life. They have also been connected with the multitudes who have entered this world after themselves. Their connections in this life have given an interest and importance to the existence of the aged on earth and will give an equal importance to their death.
2. Their death will be of special importance on account of the effects that will arise in this world by their removal from it. The interests, the objects and persons, with which they have been concerned during the many years of their lives, will be affected by their deaths. They have been as barriers and bounds, in respect to many designs and movements that could not be accomplished while they were preserved in life. They have often been preserved to close important objects and scenes in the movements of divine providence. And their removal is often followed by a new series of providential arrangements and dispensations. The aged have lived for the conclusion of former scenes and movements; and they die for the commencement of future scenes and move. ments in this world of wonders.
3. Their death is important in proportion to the consequences which will exist in the future state from their conduct in this life. The effects of human conduct on earth, though they may continue and increase for ages, are light and transient, when compared with the effects that will arise in eternity from their conduct in time. Every action, word and thought of all persons in this life will continue and increase in its connections and consequences, in the future state forever. The longer any persons may have lived, the more extensive and momentous will be the effects of their conduct when they shall have died, in respect to themselves, their fellowcreatures and their Creator. By all the persons, movements, events and acts, that exist in time, God pursues his eternal purposes and produces effects which will never cease, nor lessen. What, then, must be the effects that shall arise in the future state from the lives and deaths of aged persons !
V. It is proposed to mention the duty of aged persons in respect to their removal from this world by death. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have left examples of proper conduct in aged persons, on the near approach of death. In respect to the aged the influence of their character and the effect of their example often depends, in a great measure, upon their conduct near the close of life. It is very desirable that they, who have lived long, should die well and have a peaceful and happy death. Though the life of Jacob had been afflictive and sorrowful on many accounts, his death was peculiarly honorable, triumphant and happy. That the aged may perform their duty in respect to their death,
1. They should be sensible of the nearness and importance of this event. They must know that the time of their death is near ; but they do not always consider the importance of their removal from this life. Aged persons often think that the continuance of their lives is of little importance; and that no great degree of interest can
attend their death. But what the people said to David may sometimes be truly said to an aged person, “ Neither if half of us die, will they care for us; but now thou art worth ten thousand of us." The death of aged persons is commonly important in proportion to the number of their days. The aged should not think that there is little importance in their lives, or in their deaths, when it is certain that they live and that they die for the purposes of infinite goodness and wisdom.
2. The aged should withdraw themselves from those concerns which might prevent a suitable preparation for their dying hour. They ought not to be depressed by the past events and evils of life, nor to be anxious and troubled about their future days on earth. Their lives are in the hands of God. They should not be unhappily affected by the new and strange movements and events that seem
arise in the church and in the world. All power in heaven and in earth is given unto the Lord Jesus Christ. . Though the aged die, God lives; and he will perform his promises to his servants and his children and he will accomplish his great and sovereign, his wise and holy purposes. Let the aged withdraw their minds from what might grieve and trouble their spirits; and wait and watch, with confidence and comfort, for their departure from this life.
3. They should do for other persons what is proper for the aged to do. They may yet communicate instruction by their words and actions. Though what they may say and do may appear little in itself, it may be great in its effects. They should arrange, settle and close, as far as possible, every interest and object, which has been intrusted to themselves. A few words spoken, or written, by aged persons, may give relief and help on important subjects. Though the aged ought not to be anxious and troubled about any thing, they ought to be wise and faithful in all things. And they ought to desire and do what may be suited to afford a blessing and comfort to those who must perform the labors and meet the conflicts of life, after they have gone the way from which they shall not return.
The subject before us offers the following remarks. 1. Aged persons ought to be treated with peculiar
affection. They are wonderful monuments of divine power, wisdom, mercy and faithfulness. And they are proper objects of special interest and affection for what they have long been in this life, for what they must soon be in death and for what they will be forever. apt to turn our affections from the aged to the young. But the aged have the first and strongest claim. Let none, then, be impatient, unkind and weary in respect to the aged.
2. Aged persons ought not to be impatient to leave this world." Their characters are not finished, nor are their duties done, while God preserves their lives. They have dying duties to perform. And these duties are great and solemn. Job said, “ All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” The aged have need of patience and they have reason for patience and submission to the divine will. Their days are numbered and will soon be finished.
3. The aged should not indulge the opinion, that they are useless in this life. They are prone to indulge this gloomy opinion, when they are obliged to desist from the public and active scenes of time. And they are sometimes treated as if they were preserved in life to no good and useful purpose. But such views and actions are impious towards God, are hurtful to man and unkind to the aged.
4. We should not desire to hurry the aged from the present state. The longer they have lived the more important and precious are the remaining moments of their lives. And the more interesting and affecting will be their death and its immediate and everlasting consequences. Who can dare, or desire to hurry their fellowcreatures, whom God has so long preserved in life, to their final hour on earth and into the untried realities of eternity?
5. They who are now in early life ought to be engaged to prepare for old age. Every young person ought to desire a long life ; and he ought to hope for it. And he ought to act as if he should live many years; and to conduct in such a manner, that his life may be wise, holy and useful and his death honored and happy.
6. They who have been preserved to old age, have