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Estate, but that one, not of his own Bowels, was to inherit the Whole.”
While the venerable Abram laboured under this great Distress of mind, “ the word of the Lord " came unto Him, in a Vision, saying, 'fear not “ Abram-I am thy Shield and exceeding great Re“ ward— And Abram answered;" Lord God! what wilt Thou give me, “ [or of what Service will all thy Kindness be to me? Although Thou shoullest be my Shield and Defence against all mine Enemies, and shouldest reward me with the longest Life, and largest Possessions, yet none of these Things can give me substantial Comfort]” seeing I go childless, and to me Thou hast given no Seed; and my Steward, this Eleazer of Damascus, (though a stranger to my Blood, yet) is the only Person who deserves' most to be my Heir.
But the Lord answered unto Abram for his comfort-" This Man shall not be thine Heir; but one that shall come forth out of thine own Bowels, shall be thine Heir; and to shew Him further what a Multitude should spring from Him,” the Lord (continuing to him the Vision of the Night) “ brought him forth abroad, and bid him look toward HeavenTry to tell yonder Stars, if thou art able; for so [in Number] shall thy Seed be.”
And now Abram, notwithstanding his former Despondency, believed in the Lord, respecting his. future Seed; and also took the highest Comfort, through Faith, in the further Promise given him in our Text; namely—That after he had been blessed with a numerous Posterity_" He should go to his
“ Fathers in Peace, and be buried in a good old “ Age;” and this Faith of Abram, in the promises of God, as revealed to him in the Vision, “ was “ accounted to him for Righteousness."*
We see from this short History, what God points out to Abram, “ as an exceeding great Reward, and one of his highest Blessings upon Earth," namely, “ a numerous Posterity, and living to a good old Age;" having been useful and upright in our Dayvirtuous Citizens, stedfast Friends, venerable Fathers and Mothers—and then at last, to depart in Peace with God and Man, full of Years, respected in our Neighbourhood, and almost adored in our Families!
How much of this Blessing was applicable to our venerable Friend now departed, (who was almost a Patriarch in Years and Progenyt) those who have known him nearest and longest can best testify. His numerous Family of Descendants bear full Testimony to one Part; and some of us can further witness, with great Truth and Feeling, how earnest and assiduous were his Endeavours to promote those public undertakings in which we have been engaged, for the instruction of the rising Generation;s and other Works of common Benefit to the Country.
Zealous he was also for the advancement of Reli gion, and the support of its holy Ordinances; constant
* Gal. Chap. iii. Ver. 6.
t I have written to Albert Gallatine, who married his Grand-daughter, and his Grand-son Joseph Nicholson, Member of Congress, (bred up under my Care at Washington College) to send me the list of their Grandfather's Family, Children, &c.
The founding of Washington College, whereof he was the oldest Visitor and Governor.
in his attendance in the House of God's Worship, and at the blessed Sacrament; of which he was an earnest Partaker last Christmas Day, although then labouring under many infirmities of Body, and expressing his full persuasion to Me, that it would be the last Christmas Sacrament he should ever receive
And now bidding Farewel--a long Farewel to the Deceased; let us, who are yet numbered among the Living, make some earnest inquiry-"How we may best be preparing ourselves to go to our Fathers in Peace, whether summoned from this World in our earlier Years; or, peradventure, spared to a good old Age?"
Although old Age, by many, be not considered as such a Blessing, that we ought to pray for it to God; yet still, in Scripture, it is reckoned among the Blessings which God bestows upon particular Persons, for the special purposes of his Providence-as upon Job, Isaac, David, Jehoiada, who (like Abram) are said to have died of “a good old Age, or full of Days, Riches and Honours, while, to others, it is reckoned a blessing that their days were shortened;-as those of good “ king Josiah, who was timely taken away, that he might not live to see the Evil that was to come.” Moreover, Length of Days, is ordinarily called a blessing; inasmuch as it is promised in the fifth Commandment, as a reward of their Righteousness, that the days of those who obey their Parents, should be Long in the Land; and Samuel, by the command of God, pronounced it as a Curse upon
Eli -" That there should not be an old man in all his family.”
But the truth is, that our gray bairs are only a Crown of Glory in this way of Righteousness; and, in the same way, the hairs of youth itself, are full of Honour and Glory. And since none of us have the promise of Abram, that we shall live to a good Old Age, let us be striving in time to live such a Life, as through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, will prepare us to die in Peace, at whatever age we may be called.
To live thus is a Duty incumbent upon all; and upon the Young as much as the Old. For suppose you are yet in the bloom of Youth, or at least are not past the middle stage of Life, and Time hath not yet showered his snows upon your heads;—yet still you are to consider, that your days are as fleeting and uncertain as those of gray Hairs.
I will, therefore, offer a short Address to those of every Age and Description, on this important subject. And first, to those of younger years, and upon whose heads, Time hath not yet showered his snows.
Consider that even your days are as fleeting and uncertain as those of riper Age. If you survey yonder graves, you will see them of every size, and opening their mouths for every Age and description of Men, from Childhood up to ripest years. Be ye therefore, always ready. No Meditation more seri. ous, no Lecture in Philosophy niore instructive, no Precept of Religion more serviceable than the call to consider the shortness and uncertainty of Life,-the vanity of all things in it, -the Misery and Frailty of
fallen unregenerate man! This you may read, as the inscription of every Grave-stone you survey; you may see it in the fall of every Leaf; bear it in the toll of every funereal Bell; and feel it in the Beat of every Pulse; calling upon you to be prepared in time to remember your Creator in the Days of your Youth, before the evil days come; before the corruptions of the world take hold of you, and rooted Habits of Vice and Folly may have endangered your Happiness and Salvation.
Think how glorious it is to give to God, the first and best of your days, when the heart yet remains a noble sacrifice, worthy of being offered to Him! How honourable and praise-worthy it is, to exert yourselves in the early part of Life in the attainment of Learning and Wisdom, and all those necessary Arts and Accomplishments, which will enable you to come forth on the Theatre of action, with Virtue and Dignity; striving to distinguish yourselves, in the sight of God and your Country, by every action that is glorious and Praise-worthy-having the Precepts of Religion, and the happiness of mankind, as the Rule and Scope of all your conduct!
If you act thus, your Death will be honourable, even at the earliest period of Life; and if you live to old Age, such a Course of Righteousness, and the joyous Reflections which it will produce, will be your Crown of Glory!
And now, in the second place, as to us, whose gray hairs are giving us Warning, that our Race is nearly run; certainly much need not be said on this occasion. Our long Experience in the world will,