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PREACHED AT THE FUNERAL
VENERABLE DR. THOMAS GRAEME;
SEPTEMBER 6th, 1772.
THE respectable man, at whose Funeral this Sermon was preached, died September 4, 1772, having passed the 80th year of his age. He was of a very ancient family, the Graeme's of Bulgowan, where he was born, near Perth, in Scotland, the eldest branch of the noble family of Montrose. He was educated in the line of Physic, and came early into Pennsylvania, during the government of Sir William Keith, whose relation he married, and continued for many years a successful and highly respected Practitioner, in the line of his profession.
I was acquainted with him almost 20 years; that is from the first clay of my coming to Philadelphia, until the day of his Death; and by a standing invitation spent every Sunday evening with him and his family, excepting in the Summer season, when they were at Graeme-Park, his family seat, about 23 miles from Philadelphia.
At our meetings in the Winter season, I found him generally with five or six friends, besides the family, of co-genial sentiments, and among others, the Rev. Dr. Peters, Rector of Christ-Church and St. Peters, Philadelphia. As he advanced in years, a deafness to which he had been in part subject for many years, increased so much that it induced him to decline the practice of Physic, and to keep only a few medicines to be given gratis, to such poor as he thought wanted them, after examining their cases and circumstances. His understanding and mental faculties still remaining sound; the Hon. Penn family, with which he lived in great intimacy, when any of them visited or governed the [then] Province, bestowed upon him a lucrative office in the customs, wherein he conducted himself with such integrity as gave great satisfaction to the mercantile interest, without any sacrifice of his duty to the government. Of his family I shall give a short account, in the Appendix to this volume.
PROV. Chap. XVI, Ver. 31.
The hoary head is a Crown of Glory, if it be found in the way of Righteousness.
1 HE Old Age and Venerable Character of the Man whose corps now lies before us, led to the choice of this Text; for this Congregation, and every other Congregation however numerous, may be divided into two classes of People—either those whose Heads are already hoary, and silvered over by the Hand of Time; or those who hope and wish to arrive at that stage of life.
How to render our old age honourable in the eyes of the Young, and to render our hoary Hairs a crown of Glory to ourselves, if peradventure God should crown us with the patriarchal blessing of living to a good old age, is, therefore a matter of the most serious concern—especially in an age and country, when the petulance and forwardness of Youth, lead them to tread on the Heels of their Seniors, with such rude and rough steps, as if they wished to push them off the stage, before their short act of life is finished, in order to make room for themselves.
Certain it is that Providence hath not cast us into so bad a world, (bad however as we must confess it to be) but that old age may be rendered happy in itself, and respectable in the eyes of all that behold it; and Solomon, in the text, hath beautifully told us how it may be done;—namely, by " exercising it in the iaays of Righteousness."
Righteousness is, indeed, an ornament to all stages of life; but, it sits peculiarly graceful and glorious on old age and the hoary head; and the reason is, because its opposite, Vice, is peculiarly disgraceful to years of Gravity and Discretion.
The young and unthinking generally find some excuse, though indeed a bad one, by pleading want of Experience, the Strength of Passion, and Rage of unsubdued Appetite, as an apology for their Imprudences, their Follies and Extravagances; but for the Aged—those whose Heads are hoar; whose Brows are furrowed over by Time; whose limbs are tottering on the brink of the Grave and Eternity; whose gust for sensual Pleasure is palled and almost dead;— respecting them, I say, to retain the Inclination and shew a Disposition for Vice, after all its Temptations have left them—how enormously ridiculous do they render themselves! and what fatal Stabs do they give to the Cause of Truth and Holiness! How grievously do they mistake all the laws of Propriety and Decorum; and how little do they consider the conduct that becomes them; and that an old age which is found in Sobriety and Righteousness, according to our text,—an old age which is exercised in Peace and Virtue; an old age which is become respectable for giving good Advice to all around, and improving the World by its Example—is a Conduct, which can alone give us Joy, when all other earthly Joys can please no more; and will command the Veneration and Esteem even of the most Dissolute and Flagitious!
Old Age, my Brethren, generally comes accompanied with many Infirmities both of Body and Mind; for the World hath no new Hopes to flatter it with, and hath many Fears to present to it, through its near Approaches to the confines of another world. Wherefore, since dying naturally gives Terror, and living gives little else but Pain, it is surely worth inquiring—whether such an old age be possible, as will mitigate the chief Pains of living, and remove the chief Terrors of dying? and that this is possible, we cannot entertain the least Doubt, without questioning the^Goodness of our Almighty Creator, who hath made every thing good in its season. He who hath taken Care to provide for all the former Stages of a Man's Life, would not surely leave the last and most ripened stage of it, void of its share of Comforts; especially if it be found in the way he hath appointed—that is, in the Way of Righteousness.
Since, therefore, old age, how much soever men may complain of it, may be rendered both honourable and happy in this way of Righteousness; let us inquire what are the assistances, which Virtue and Piety, or Righteousness, will give us when nothing else can be of any comfort to us.
And first—if a proper foundation hath been laid in our early years—the fruits thereof will be our com