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SERMON misery, and look forward with a wishful
eye to the season of calmness and retreat. For, on all sides of human life, the balance of happiness is adjusted with more equality, than at first appears; and if old age throws some new distresses into the scale, it lightens also the weight of others, Many passions which formerly disturbed your tranquillity, have now subsided. Many competitions which long filled your days with disquiet and strife, are now at an end. Many afflictions which once rent your hearts with violent anguish, are now softened into a tender emotion, on the remembrance of past woe,
In the beginnings of life, there was room for much apprehension, concerning what might befal in its progress. Your security was never untroubled. Your hopes were interrupted by mány anxieties and fears. Having finished the career of labour and danger, your anxiety ought of course to lessen. Ready to enter into the harbour, you can look back, as from a secure station, upon the perils you have escaped, upon the tempest by which you was tossed, and upon the multitudes who are still engaged in conflicting with the storm,
If you have acted your part with in- SERMON tegrity and honour, you are justly entitled to respect, and you will generally receive it. For rarely, or never, is old age contemned, unless when, by vice or folly, it renders itself contemptible. Though length of time
have worn off superficial ornaments, yet what old age loses in grace, it often gains in dignity. The veneration, as was before observed, which grey hairs command, puts it in the power of the aged to maintain a very important place in human society. They are so far from being insignificant in the world, that families long holden together by their authority, and societies accustomed to be guided by their counsels, have frequently had cause to regret their loss, more than that of the most vigorous and young. To success of every kind, the head which directs, is no less essential than the hand which executes. Vain, nay, often dangerous, were youthful enterprise, if not conducted by aged prudence. I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom*. Therefore, thou shalt rise up before the boary * Job, xxi.7
SERMON head, and honour the face of the old
fear thy God*.
Though in old age, the circle of your pleasures is more contracted than it has formerly been ; yet, within its limits many of those enjoyments remain, which are most grateful to human nature. Temperate mirth is not extinguished by ad
The mild pleasures of domestic life still cheer the heart. The entertainments of conversation, and social intercourse, continue unimpaired. The desire of knowledge is not abated by the frailty of the body; and the leisure of old age affords many opportunities for gratifying that desire. The sphere of your observation and reflection is so much enlarged by long acquaintance with the world, as to supply, within itself, a wide range of improying thought. To recall the various revolutions which have occurred since
you began to act your part in life; to compare the characters of past and present times; to trace the hand of Providence, in all the incidents of your own lot; to contemplate, with thoughtful eye, the successive new * Lev. xix. 32.
appearances which the world has assumed SERMON around
government, education, opinions, customs, and modes of living ; these are employments, no less entertaining than instructive to the mind.
While you are engaged in such employments, you are, perhaps, surrounded with your families, who treat you with attention and respect; you are honoured by your friends ; your character is established; you are placed beyond the reach of clamour, and the strife of tongues; and, free from distracting cares, you can attend calmly to your eternal interests. For such comforts as these, have you not
most thankfully to acknowledge the goodness of Heaven? Do they not afford you ground to pass the remainder of your days in resignation and peace ; disposing yourselves to rise in due time, like satisfied guests, from the banquet that has been set before you; and to praise and bless, when you depart, the great Master of the feast? To a man that is good in his sight, whether he be young or old, God giveth wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. For every season of life, the beVOL. I.
SERMON nignity of his providence hath prepared
its own satisfactions, while his wisdom hath appointed its peculiar trials. No age is doomed to total infelicity ; provided that we attempt not to do violence to Na. ture, by seeking to extort froin one age the pleasures of another; and to gather, in the Winter of life, those flowers which were destined to blossom only in its Summer, or its Spring:
But perhaps it will be said, That I have considered old age only in its first stages, and in its most favourable point of light; before the faculties are as yet much impaired, and when disease or affliction has laid no additional load on the burden of years. Let us then view it with all its aggravations of distress. Let us suppose it arrived at its utmost verge, worn out with infirmities, and bowed down by sickness and Still there remains this consolation, that it is not long ere the weary shall be at rest. Having passed through so many
of the toils of life, you may now surely, when your pilgrimage touches