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fort in age. The irregularities of youth are the chief cause of an infirm and painful old age; loading our declining years with perplexities and distress, which a timely care and foresight might have prevented— For as the son of Sirach tells us*—" If thou hast gathered nothing in thy Youth, how canst thou find any thing in thine Age?"—If our Creator has been neglected in the " days of our youth," if our first and best years, the Strength and Vigour of our Body and Mind, have been consecrated to the Service of Satan and Sin, what are the Dregs of our old age?— Can we with any confidence, offer them as a Sacrifice to that Gracious and Good Being, who gave us both Youth and Strength I The reflection that we have so long forgotten Him who can alone shew us any good, instead of comforting, will deprive us of all those calm and heartfelt Joys, that ought to revive and warm our drooping Frame, and will add to all our other growing Pains, the terrible apprehensions of Wrath and Punishment to come.
Oh then! that those who are busy and employing all their cares to lay up some Worldly Provision, (as is indeed fit and proper) for the bodily Support of their old age, would consider farther that all this care will avail them nothing, unless they lay up also some Spiritual Provision, a Treasure of Righteousness, in a Life well spent; considering farther the true Interpretation of old age., according to the words of the •wise man\, " that it standeth not in Length of Time, nor is measured by Number of Years; but that
• Eccles. Chap. XXV, Ver. 3.
Wisdom is the gray hair unto Man, and an unspotted Life is Old Age." Did men, therefore, seriously consider these things, they would not employ their Youth to make their riper years unhappy. They would not make it their whole Study to croud into a narrow space of their Time, all the self-indulgence which they can possibly grasp at, till they almost destroy their Relish for sensual Pleasure, by the Excess of its Enjoyment; but they would provide, as more proper, a store of those home-felt, Sweet and Virtuous Reflections, which will still grow upon Enjoyment, and will never, no never, satiate or disgust us!
Nevertheless, as the laying up a store of Comfort for old age by an early course of Virtue and Righteousness, although the main thing, will not be sufficient alone; but, when that period comes, we must avoid the faults to which it is peculiarly subject, and pursue the duties to which it is peculiarly obligated.
Now one fault, which too often creeps on with old age, to render it despicable, is extreme Avarice and Penuriousness. Though the aged, above all persons, as having but few years left, are in least Danger of wanting, yet they are often the fondest of hoarding up; and the farther they advance towards getting out of the world, the faster they stick themselves to it, by a strong Attachment to its Goods; insomuch that, by an ill-timed Parsimony, they will not give that Assistance to their own Children, which Nature and duty prescribe; till the Time comes, when they can hold it no longer; when there is no Merit in Giving, and what they give, comes too late to save their Fa
Vol. i. c c
milies from many Meannesses, and perhaps Vices, into which they have been precipitated by mere Want.
If then, Contempt is the portion of such an old age as this, which generally pleads some excuse, by saving it is for the Children's good—what shall wc say to him whom Solomon describes—who is " one "alone and hath not a second—yea who hath neither "Child nor Brother; and yet there is no end of all "his labours, neither is his eye satisfied with "Riches—neither saith he, for whom do I labour and "bereave my Soul of good?"*
Indeed it is seldom safe for the aged to part with all; for this would lead them to Contempt, Dishonour, and Dependence, on the other hand; agreably to what the same Solomon hath observed—" fGive not "thy Son, thy Brother or Fr.\ '->ower over thee "while thou livest, and give n^c ^\y goods to ano"ther—lest it repent thee, and thou entreat for the "same again—For better it is that thy Children "should Seek to thee, than thou shouldest stand to "their Courtesy. In all thy works keep to thyself 44 the preeminence—At the time when thou shalt end "thy days, distribute thine inheritance."
But then he advises at the same time, that " we "should (according to our ability) do good unto our "Friend before we die, and stretch out our hand to "give him."f
The golden Rule, in such circumstances, for making the boary Heads. Crown of Glory, is to pre.
• EccL Ch. W. Ver. 8. f Chap, xxxiii. Ver. 19—33.
\ Chip. xiv. Ver. 13.
serve our Place and Rank in life, and in riper age with dignity; not shewing ourselves vainly attached to more of the World than our Years and Station require; and bestowing to our own where they need it, and to others where we can afford it, with a free, open and benevolent heart; shewing that it is our Delight to make our nearest Relatives and the whole World, as far as in our power, happy around us.
Another Fault of old age, is too often a morose, suspicious and censorious Temper, declining free Converse Avith the World, and forbidding all Approach, as it were, to its Presence. Pain, Sickness and Infirmity lay some Foundation, for this; but how gloriously would all these Pains and Infirmities be alleviated, how much more venerable would old age appear; if Cheerfulness sat on its Brow, if a Glow of Love and affection was shed over its whole Countenance; if it were ready to make allowances for the Frailties of Mankind, and especially of Youth; if it was ever ready to admonish with Tenderness, and impart Advice with a candid Sincerity and Complacency of heart?
Fretfulness and Peevishness sit ill upon any Term of Life, but peculiarly so on the aged—on those who have had their time of enjoyment here below, who have nothing left they can expect more, whose thoughts ought be going before them, to their station in another World; and to be Fretful or Disquieted at what happens in their way, has the appearance of arraigning Providence, and complaining that the Wheels of Time, and the whole course of things, should not be stopped on their account.
The Aged should consider also, that this temper is highly improper for themselves, and destroys all the joys that might be tasted in their old age, by the consciousness of a Life well-spent, and the near prospect of a happier Life in Reversion. Their Uneasiness and Impatience are likewise unjust to all about them, by depriving them, if they have any love for us, of all those Innocent Satisfactions, which Heaven has alloted to their Years and Condition of Life. Far more respectable and venerable should we appear in our declining years, if, like the Sun setting in serene and softened Splendor, we bore our Decline, with Mildness and Patience, for the short time of our Stay; expressing a Contentment with our Lot, and a Resignation to Providence, delightful and instructive to all that behold them.
When our own time of enjoyment is over, it ought still to be a satisfactory Sight to us, (if we are of a generous and liberal mind) to behold others succeeding to those Scenes which are past with us— And to look on them with Sourness or Discontent, is highly blamable—and makes us appear like thankless guests, rising from the Feast, and begrudging their Share to those that come after us.
Another way by which old age may render itself less respectable, is by quitting its rank, affecting to call back Years that are flown, and mixing with the young in amusements which, though Proper for one age, may be considered as Levities in another. A decent joining in the Diversions of the Young, if we suffer not our Years and gray Hairs to be thereby despised, is, on proper occasions, a mark of a candid