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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 re. quire; 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 with 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 Condi. tion 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 usAnd 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
and loving temper, and may give us an opportunity of doing them much good-But to make this an excuse, to call off our thoughts from those nobler Purposes of Being to which the pursuits of the Aged should be more particularly directed*--this is not only contrary to Religion and Reason, but highly inconsistent with that Seriousness and Dignity of character, which become the boary head, and render it a Crown of Glory. Every thing that is out of Character sits ill upon a Man, and tends to make him despicable; and it is enough on every account, to have been fond of Trifles and Vanities, while Youth and Inexperience could furnish an Excuse; but there is certainly a time when another Character is to be put
gray Hairs at least, if nothing else, should warn a man, like the venerable Barzillai, at a proper period of life, to withdraw himself from the Follies, the Vanities, and even the innocent and lawful Amusements of the Young and Gay. The story of Barzil . lai is beautifully told; viz.“ Nowt Barzillai was
was a very aged man, fourscore years old; and the King, namely David, “ said unto him, come thou over with me, and I will “ feed thee with me, at Jerusalem. And Barzillai
* The good Archbishop Secker, has a Sermon on the same text, who in his old age was a glorious example of what he taught. I am not ashamed to acknowledge that I have adopted, or engrafted into this discourse, sundry of his sentiments, wherein he reprobates the folly of old men who retain a wish to gratify inclinations unsuitable to their years, and to fill up the precious moments of their declining age, in the pursuit of idle vanities which they would otherwise be ashamed to own.
| 2d Samuel, Ch. xix. Ver. 32-37.
" said, how long have I to live, that I should go up “ with the King unto Jerusalem? I am this day four“ score years old, and can I discern between Good “ and Evil? Can thy Servant taste what I eat or “ drink? Can I hear any more the Voice of Sing
ing. Men and Singing-Women? Wherefore, then, “ should thy Servant be yet a burden unto my Lord “ the King?—Let thy Servant, I pray thee, turn back
again, that I may Die in my own City, and be buri“ed by the Grave of my Father, and of my Mother; ” and let thy Servant Chimnam, (who was Barzillai's “Son) go over with my Lord the King; and do to him “ what shall seem good to thee. And the King an“ swered-.-Chimnam shall go over with me, and I “ shall do to him, what seems Good to thee; and “ whatsoever thou shalt require, I will do to thee “ also. And all the people went over Jordan, and “ when the King came over, he kissed Barzillai and “ blessed him, and returned unto his own Place.”
And having thus withdrawn ourselves, at a proper period of our age, from the Strifes and Vanities of the World, it is our duty to inquire what conduct will render our gray Hairs a Crown of Glory?
And surely a more venerable Spectacle cannot be beheld under the Sun, than a Man stricken in Years, the Father of a Family, deserving and obtaining the love and esteem of all around him!
I am ravished with the Thought, and my Imagination presents to me the good Old-Man, finishing his Walk of life in the Fear of God, and in good Offices to Men. No Morning or Evening passes over his Head, without due Praises and Thanksgiv
ings to his Almighty Maker, for all the Benefits and Mercies bestowed on him. I behold him, like some ancient Patriarch, (in the midst of his loving and beloved Family) at once their Prophet, their Priest and their King---as their Prophet, counselling them with all the Experience of Years, and Inspiration of Wisdom; as their Priest, offering up their Prayers and pleading for their Failings, at the Throne of Grace; and as their King, ruling them with Affection, and swaying them by the powerful Example of his own goodness!
At one Time, methinks I behold him tenderly interested in all their Domestic Concerns, and temporal Happiness; at another Time I see him retired from hurry and noise, resting his venerable Limbs under some friendly Shade; composing his Soul to the Exercises of private Devotion; reviewing in the Field of calmer Reason and Religion, all the Transactions of his former more busy and active Years; bewailing the Faults he hath committed, and taking Sanctuary from their Sting in the Bosom of his Saviour, and his God! And although rejoicing in the Remembrance of his Moments that were well spent, yet not even resting on his best Works for Salvation; but seeking it through the Merits of Jesus Christ; striving to humble and purify himself more and more, even as his Master Christ, was humble and pure!
Methinks'I behold him, at other times, comforting. the Afflicted, relieving where he can relieve; or, where that is not in his power, dropping at least the Sympathetic Tear, and wishing that the means of his Bounty, were as enlarged as his Heart to give. I hear