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XII.

you look forward without terrour to that SERMON day which is to dissolve your connexion with this world, and to bring you into the presence of him who made

you,

in order to give account of your actions ?-The retrospect of life is seldom wholly unattended by uneasiness and shame. Though, to the good and the bad, it presents a very different scene: yet, to all men, it recalls much guilt incurred, and much time misspent. It too much resembles the review which a traveller takes from some eminence, of a barren country, through which he has passed, where the heath and the desert form the chief

prospect; diversified only by a few scattered spots of imperfect cultivation.

Turn then your thoughts to the proper methods of making your peace with God through Jesus Christ, and implore, from Divine grace, that new heart, and right spirit, which will fit you for a better world.

Let devotion fill up many of those hours which are now vacant from worldly business and care. Let your affections dwell among divine and immortal objects. In silent and thoughtful medi

tation,

SERMON tation, walk as on the shore of that vast XII.

ocean, upon which you are soon to embark. Summon up all the considerations, which should reconcile you to your departure from life ; and which may prepare you for going through its last scene with firmness and decency. Often let

your thanksgivings ascend to God, for that watchful care with which he hath hitherto conducted you, through the long journey of life. Often let your prayers be heard, that in what remains of your pilgrimage, he may not forsake

and that, when you enter into the valley of the shadow of death, he may there support you with his staff, and defend you with his rod.Amidst such thoughts and cares, let old age find you employed ; betaking yourselves to a prudent and timely retreat ; disengaged both from the oppressive load of business, and from the unseasonable pursuit of pleasure; applying yourselves to form the succeeding race, by your counsels, to virtue and wisdom; reviewing seriously your past life ; by repentance and devotion, preparing yourselves for a better ; and, with humble and manly com

you;

posure,

posure, expecting that hour, which Nature SERMON cannot now long delay. It remains,

XII.

III. To suggest the consolations which belong to old age, when thus found in the way of righteousness.

I must introduce them with observing, That nothing is more reasonable in itself, than to submit patiently to those infirmities of Nature which are brought on by the increase of years.

You knew beforehand what you had to expect, when you numbered the successive summers and winters which were passing over your heads. Old age did not attack you by surprise, nor was it forced upon you against your choice. Often, and earnestly, did you wish to see long life and many days. When arrived at the desired period, have you any just caxse to complain, on account of enduring what the constitution of our being imposes on all? Did you expect, that for your sake, Providence was to alter its established order ? Throughout the whole vegetable, sensible, and rational world, whatever makes progress towards maturity, as soon as it has passed that point, begins to

XII.

SERMON verge towards decay. It is as natural for

old

age to be frail, as for the stalk to bend under the ripened ear, or for the autumnal leaf to change its hue. To this law all who went before you have submitted; and all who shall come after you must yield. After, they have flourished for a season, they shall fade, like you, when the period of decline arrives, and bow under the pressure of years.

During the whole progress of the human course, the principal materials of our comfort or uneasiness lie within ourselves. Every age will prove

burdensome to those who have no fund of happiness in their own breast. Preserve them, if you could, fron infirmity of frame; bestow upon them, if it were possible, perpetual youth; still they would be restless and miserable, through the influence of ill governed passions. It is not surprising, that such persons are peevish and querulous when old. Unjustly they impute to their time of life, that misery with which their vices and follies embitter every age. Whereas, to good men, no period of life is unsupportable, because they draw their

XII.

amused you.

chief happiness from sources which are in- SERMON dependent of age or time. Wisdom, piety, and virtue, grow not old with our bodies. They suffer no decay from length of days. To them only belongs unalterable and unfading youth. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of our God.

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing*

You can now, it is true, no longer relish many of those pleasures which once.

Your sensations are less quick than formerly; your days more languishing. But if you have quitted the region of pleasure, in return you possess that of tranquillity and repose.

If

you are strangers to the vivacity of enjoyment, you are free, at the same time, from the pain of violent and often disappointed desire. Much fatigue, much vexation, as well as vanity, attend that turbulence of life, in which the younger part of mankind are engaged. Amidst those keen pursuits and seeming pleasures, for which you envy them, often they feel their own

* Psalm xcii. 13, 14.

misery,

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