Sermon 81. The God of the Aged
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 25, 1856, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
The substance of which was also delivered at Stambourne, Essex, on the commemoration of the Jubilee of his Grandfather, the REV. JAMES SPURGEON, Tuesday 27th May. 1856.
"Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, andwill deliver you."-Isaiah 46:4.
THOSE will be peculiar circumstances under which I shall stand up to address the people next Tuesday; circumstances whichperhaps seldom occur,-possibly may never have occurred before. It might have been more in order that the aged minister shouldhimself address the people; but nevertheless, as it is his own choice, so it must be; and I shall draw my consolation fromthe third verse, where it is declared, that though God be the God of the close of our life, yet he isalso the God of its beginning. He carries us from the very womb; therefore the child may trust in God, as well as thegrey head; and he who giveth special blessings to the hoary hairs does also crown the head of the young with his perpetualfavor, if they be his children.
"Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you."
Will you allow me to expound the doctrine of this text, and then to show you how it is carried out, especially in the time of old age?
I. THE DOCTRINE OF THE TEXT I hold to be, the constancy of God's love, its perpetuity, and its unchangeable nature. God declares that he is not simply the God of the young saint; that he is not simply the God of the middle-aged saint: butthat he is the God of the saints in all their ages from the cradle to the tomb. "Even to old age I am he;" or, as Lowth beautifullyand more properly translates it: "Even to old age I am the same, and even to hoary hairs will Icarry you."
The doctrine, then is twofold: that God himself is the same, whatever may be our age; and that God's dealings towards us, both in providence and in grace, his carryings and his deliverings, are alike unchanged.
As to the first part of the doctrine, that God himself is unchanged when we come to old age, surely I have no need to prove that. Abundant testimonies of Scripture declare God to be an immutablebeing, upon whose brow there is no furrow of old age, and whose strength is not enfeebled by the lapse of ages; but if weneed proofs, we might look even abroad on nature, and we should from nature guess that God would not change during the shortperiod of our mortal life.Seemeth it unto me a hard thing, that God should be the same for seventy years, when I find things in nature that haveretained the same impress and image for many more years? Behold the sun! The sun that led our fathers to their daily labour,lighteth us still; and the moon by night is unchanged,-the self-same satellite, glittering with the light of her master, thesun. Are not the rocks the same? And are there not many ancient trees, which remain well night the same for multitudes ofyears,and outlive centuries? Is not the earth, for the most part, the same? Have the stars lost their light? Do not the cloudsstill pour their rain upon the earth? Does not the ocean still beat with its one great pulse of ebb and flow? Do not the windsstill howl, or breathe in gentle gales upon the earth? Doth not the sun still shine? Do not plants grow as heretofore? Haththe harvest changed? Hath God forgotten his covenant of day and night? Hath he yet brought another flood upon the earth? Dothit not still stand in the water and out of the water? Surely, then, if changing nature, made to pass away in a few moreyears, and to be "dissolved with fervent heat," remains the same through the cycles of seventy years, may we not believe thatGod, who is greater than nature, the creator of all worlds, would still remain the same God, through so brief a period? Doesnot that suffice? Then, we have another proof. Had we a new God, we should not have the Scriptures: had God changed, thenweshould need a new Bible. But the Bible which the infant readeth is the Bible of the grey head; the Bible which I carriedwith me to my Sunday School, I shall sit in my bed to read, when, hoary-headed, all strength shall fail save that which isdivine. The promise which cheered me in the young morning of life, when first I consecrated myself to God, shall cheer mewhen my eyes are dim with age, and when the sunlight of heaven lights them up, and I see bright visions of far-off worlds,where Ihope to dwell for ever. The word of God is still the same; there is not one promise removed. The doctrines are the same;the truths are the same; all God's declarations remain unchanged for ever; and I argue, from the very fact that his yearsdo not change him. Look at our worship-is not that the same? Oh! hoary heads! well can ye remember how ye were carried toGod's house in your childhood; and ye heard the self-same hymns that now ye hear. Have they lost their savour? Have they losttheirmusic? At times, when prayer is offered, ye remember that your ancient pastor prayed the same petition fifty years ago;but the petition is as good as ever. It is still unchanged; it is the same praise, the same prayer, the same expounding, thesame preaching. All our worship is the same. And with many it is the same house of God, where first they were dedicated toGod in baptism. Surely, my brethren, if God had changed, we should have been obliged to make a new form of worship; if Godhad notbeen immutable, we should have needed to have sacrificed our sacred service to some new method; but since we find ourselvesbowing like our fathers, with the same prayers, and canting the same psalms, we rightly believe that God himself must be immutable.
But we have better proofs than this that God is still unchanged. We learn this from the sweet experience of all the saints. They testify that the God of their youth is the God of their later years. They own that Christ "hath the dew of his youth."When they saw him first, as the bright and glorious Immanuel, they thought him "altogether lovely;" and when they see himnow, they see not one beauty faded, and not one glory departed: he is the self-same Jesus. When theyfirst rested themselves on him, they thought his shoulders strong enough to carry them; and they find those shouldersstill as mighty as ever. They thought at first his bowels did melt with love, and that his heart was beating high with mercy;and they find it is still the same. God is unchanged; and therefore they "are not consumed." They put their trust in him,because they have not yet marked a single alteration in him. His character, his essence, his being, and his deeds are allthe same;and, moreover, to crown all, we cannot suppose a God, if we cannot suppose a God immutable. A God who changed would beno God. We could not grasp the idea of Deity if we once allowed our minds to take in the thought of mutability. From all thesethings, then, we conclude that "even from old age he is the same, and that even to hoary hairs he will carry us."
2. The other side of the doctrine is this, not only that God is the same in his nature, but that he is the same in his dealings; that he will carry us the same, that he will deliver us the same, that he will bear us the same as he used to do. And here,also, we need scarcely to prove to you that God's dealings towards his children are the same, especially when I remind youthat God's promises are made not to age, but to people, to persons, and to men. It hasbeen recently declared by some ministers, that certain ages are more likely to be converted than other ages. We have heardpersons state, that should a man outlive thirty years of life, if he has heard the Gospel, he is not at all likely to be saved;but we believe a more palpable, bare-faced lie was never uttered in the pulpit, for we have, ourselves, known multitudes whohave been saved at forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, and even bordering on the grave at eighty. We find some promises in theBible made to some particular conditions; but the main, the great, the grand promises, are made to sinners as sinners;they are made to the elect, to the chosen ones, irrespective of their age or condition. We hold, that the man who is old,can be justified in the same way as the way who is young; that the robe of Christ is broad enough to cover the strong full-grownman as well as the little child. We believe the blood of Christ avails to wash out seventy years, as well as seventy daysof sin;that "with God there is no respect of persons," that all ages are alike to him, and that "whosoever cometh unto Christ,he will in no wise case out," and sure we are, that all the good things of the Bible are as good at one time as at another.The perfect robe of righteousness that I wear, will that change by years? The sanctification of the Spirit, will that be destroyedby years? The promises, will they shake? The covenant, will that be dissolved? I can suppose that the everlasting hillsshall melt; I can dream that the eternal mountains shall be dissolved, like the snow upon their peaks; I can conceivethat the ocean may be licked up with tongues of forked flame; I can suppose the sun stopped in his career; I can imagine themoon turned into blood; I can conceive the stars falling from the vault of night; I can imagine "the wreck of nature and thecrash of worlds;" but I cannot conceive the change of a single mercy, a single covenant blessing, a single promise, or a singlegrace, which God bestows upon his people, for I find every one of them in itself stamped with immutability, and I haveno reason to put this merely upon guess-work. I find, when I turn over the whole Bible that the experience of the saints,one thousand, two thousand, three thousand years ago, was just the same as the experience of the saints now; and if I findGod's mercy is unchanged from David's time till mine, can I conceive that God, who lasts the same for thousands, would changeduringthe brief period of seventy? Nay, still we hold that he will carry us, and he will bear us in old age as well as in ouryouth. But, besides that, we have living witnesses, living testimonies. I could fetch up from the ground floor of this place,and from the galleries, not one or two, but twenty, yea a hundred living witnesses, who, rising up, would tell you that Goddoth carry them now, as he did of old, and that he still doth bear them. I need not appeal to my friends, or they would standupin their pews, and with tears trickling down their cheeks, they would say, "Young men, young women, trust your God! hehath not forsaken me!" I find that-
"Even down to old age, all his people do prove,
His sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs do their temples adorn,
Like lambs they now still in his bosom are borne."
Ask yon aged friend, ask any aged Christian, whether he finds God has, in the least forsaken him, and you will see him shakehis head, and hear him say, "O young man, if I had another seventy years to live, I would trust him still, for I have notfound him fail all the way that the Lord God hath led me. Not one promise hath failed, but all hath come to pass;" and I thinkI see him lifting up his hand in the midst of the assembly, and saying, "I have nothing to regret butmy sin. If I had to live over again, I should only want to put myself into the hands of the same Providence, to be ledand directed by the self-same grace." Beloved, we need not prove to you farther, for living witnesses do testify, that Godcarries out his promise, "I have made and will bear; even I will carry and deliver you."
II. But now we come to our real subject, which is, to consider THE TIME OF OLD AGE AS A SPECIAL PERIOD, and to mark, therefore,the constancy of divine love-that God bears and succours his servants in their later years. I cannot imagine or dream thatI need offer any apology for preaching to aged people. If I were in sundry stupid circles where people call themselves ladiesand gentlemen, and always want to conceal their ages, I might have some hesitation; but I havenothing to do with that here. I call an old man, an old man, and an old woman, an old woman; whether they think themselvesold or not is nothing to me. I guess they are, if they are getting anyway past sixty, on to seventy or eighty. Old age isa time of peculiar memories, of peculiar hopes, of peculiar solicitudes, of peculiar blessedness, and of peculiar duties; yet in all this, God is the same, although man be peculiar.
(1.) First, old age is a time of peculiar memory; in fact, it is the age of memory. We young men talk of remembering such-and-such things a certain time ago; but what isour memory, compared to our father's? Our father looks back on three or four times the length of time over which we cast oureyes. What a peculiar memory the old man has! How many joys he can remember! How many times has his heart beat high with raptureand blessedness! How many times has his housebeen gladdened with plenty! How many harvest homes has he seen! How many treadings of the vintage! How many times hashe heard the laugh run round the ingle fire! How many times have his children shouted in his ear, and rejoiced around him!How many times have his own eyes sparkled with delight! How many hill Mizars has he seen! How many times has he had sweetbanquetting with the Lord! How many periods of communion with Jesus! How many hallowed services hath he attended! How manysongs of Zionhath he sung! How many answered prayers have gladdened his spirit! How many happy deliverances have made him laugh forjoy! When he looks back, he can string his mercies together by the thousand! and looking upon them all, he can say, thoughhe will think of many troubles that he has had to pass through, "Surely, goodness and mercy have followed me all the daysof my life." God hath been with him to hoary hairs, and even to old age he hath carried him. His joys he looks back upon asproof ofGod's constancy.
And how many griefs hath he had! How many times hath that old man been to the chamber of sickness! How many times hath thataged sister been stretched on the bed of affliction! How many diseases can he or she look back upon! How many hours of bittertravail and pain! How many seasons of trouble, infirmity, and approachings to the grave? How many times hath the old man totteredvery near that bourne from which no traveller can return? How many times hath he had the Father'srod upon his shoulders? And yet, looking back upon all, he can say, "Even to old age he is the same; and even to hoaryhairs he hath carried me." How frequently, took, hath that old man gone to the grave where he hath buried many he has loved?There, perhaps, he has laid a beloved wife, and he goes to weep there; or, the husband sleeps, while the wife is yet alive.Sons and daughters, too, that old man can remember-snatched away to heaven almost as soon as they were born; or, perhaps,permitted to live until their prime, and then cut down just in their youthful glory. How many of the old friends he hathwelcomed to his fireside hath he buried? How frequently has he been forced to exclaim, "Though friends have departed, yet'there is a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother,' on him I still trust, and to him I still commit my soul."
And mark, moreover, how many times temptation hath shattered that venerable saint! how many conflicts hath he had with doubtsand fears! how many wrestlings with the enemy! how often he hath been tempted to forsake his faith! how frequently he hathhad to stand in the thickest part of the battle; but yet he has been preserved by mercy, and not quite cut down. He has beenenabled to persevere in the heavenly road. How travel-sore are his feet! how blistered by the roughnessof the way, but he can tell you, that notwithstanding all these things, Christ hath "kept him till this day, and willnot let him go;" and his conclusion is, "even to old age God hath been the same, and even to hoary hairs he hath carried him."
There is one said reflection which we are obliged to mention when we look upon the bald head of the aged saint, and that is,how many sins he hath committed! Ah! my beloved, however pure may have been your lives, you will be obliged to say, "Oh! howhave I sinned, in youth, in middle age, and even when infirmities have gathered around me! Would to God I had been holy! Howoften have I forsaken God! how frequently have I wandered from him! alas! how often have I provokedhim! How frequently have I doubted his promises, when I had no cause whatever to distrust him! how frequently has my tonguesinned against my heart! how constantly have I violated all I knew to be good and excellent! I am forced to say now, in mygrey old age,-
"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling."
I am still-
"A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood"
I have no hope now, save in the blood of Christ, and can only wonder how it is that Christ could have preserved me so long.Truly, I can say, "Even to old age he is the same, and even to hoary hairs he hath carried me."
(2.) The aged man, too, hath peculiar hopes. He hath no such hopes as I or my young friends here. He hath few hopes of the future in this world; they are gathered upinto a small space, and he can tell you, in a few words, what constitutes all his expectation and desire. But he has one hope,and that is the very same which he had when he first trusted in Christ; it is a hope "undefiled, that fadeth not away, reservedin heaven for them that are kept by the power ofGod through faith unto salvation." Let me talk a little of that hope, and you will see from it that the Christian is thesame as ever he was; and even down to hoary hairs God deals the same with him. My venerable brother, what is the ground of thy hope? Is it not the same as that which animated thee when thou wast first united with the Christian Church? Thou saidstthen, "My hope is in the blood of Jesus Christ." I ask thee, brother, what is thy hope now, and I am sure thou wilt answer,"I do not hope to be saved because of my long service, nor because of my devotedness to God's cause."
"All my hope on Christ is staid,
All my help from him I bring:
He covers my defenceless head
With the shadow of his wing."
And, my brother, what is the reason of thy hope? If thou art asked what reason thou hast to believe thou art a Christian, thou wilt say, "The self-same reasonI gave at the Church-meeting." When I came before it, I said, then "I believe myself to be a child of God, because I feelmyself to be a sinner, and God has given me grace to put my trust in Jesus." I think that is all the reason you have to believeyourself a child of God now. At times you have some evidence,as you call it; but there are hours when your graces and virtues are obscured, and you cannot see them, for gloomy doubtsprevail, and you will confess, I am sure, that the only way to get rid of your doubts will be, to come and say, again-
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ's kind arms I fall;
He's still my strength and righteousness,
My Saviour and my all."
And the object or end of hope, is not that the same? What was your hope when you first went to the wicket gate? Why, your hope was that you mightarrive at the land of the blessed. And is it not the same now? Is your hope of heaven changed? Do you wish for anything else,or for anything better? "No," you will say, "I thought when I started I should one day be with Jesus; that is what I expectnow. I feel that my hope is precisely the same. I want to be with Jesus,to be like him, and to see him as he is." And is not the joy of that hope just the same? How glad you used to be when your minister preached about heaven, and told you of its pearlygates and streets of shining gold! and has it lost any of its beauty in your eyes now? Do you not remember, that in your father'shouse, at family prayer, one night, they sang,-
"Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name, ever dear to me!
When shall my labors have an end.
In joy, and peace, and thee"?
Cannot you sing that now? Do you want any other city besides Jerusalem? Do you remember how they used to rise up sometimesin the house of God, when you were children, and sing,-
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye!"
Will not that hymn do for you now even better than it did for you then? You can now sing it, as your old father used to singit, with a firm heart, and yet with a quivering lip. The hope that ravished you then ravishes you now. You start at the samewatchword. Heaven is your home still.
"There your best friends, your kindred dwell,
There, God your Saviour reigns."
Does not all this prove, again, that though our hopes are somewhat more contracted than they were, yet "God is still the same,and even to hoary hairs he will carry us."
(3.) Again, old age is a time of peculiar solicitude. An old man is not anxious about self. He hath not the cares of starting in business, as he once had. He hath no childrento launch out in business. He hat not to cast his anxious eyes on his little family. But his solicitude hath somewhat increasedin another direction. He hath more solicitude about his bodily frame than he once had. He cannot now run as he used to do;but he must walk with more sober gait. Hefears every now and then that the pitcher will be "broken at the cistern;" for "the noise of the grinders is low." Hehath no longer that strength of desire he once possessed; his body begins to totter, to shake, and to quiver. The old tenementhas stood these fifty years; and who expects a house to last for ever? A bit of mortar has gone off from one place, and alath out of another; and when a little wind comes to shake it about, he is ready to cry out, "The earthly house of my tabernacleisabout to be dissolved." But I told you before, this peculiar solicitude is but another proof of divine faithfulness; fornow that you have little pleasure in the flesh, do you not find that God is just the same? and that, though the days are comewhen you can say, "I have no pleasure in them," yet the days are not come when you can say, "I have no pleasure in him;" but, on the contrary,
"Though all created streams are dry,
His goodness is the same:
With this you still are satisfied,
And glory in his name."
If he had only been your God when you were a strong young man, you might have thought that he loved you for what you coulddo for him; but, now you have become a poor worn-out pensioner, have you any better proof that he is an unchanging God, becausehe loves you when you can do so little for him? I tell you, even your bodily pains are but proofs of his love; for he is takingdown your old tenement stick by stick, and is building it up again in brighter worlds, never to betaken down any more.
And remember, too, there is another solicitude-a failure of mind, as well as of body. There are many remarkable instancesof old men, who have been as gifted in their old age as in their youth; but with the majority the mind becomes somewhat impaired,especially the memory. They cannot remember what was done yesterday, although it is a singular fact that they can rememberwhat was done fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago. They forget much which they would wish toremember; but still they find that their God is just the same; they find that his goodness does not depend on their memory;that the sweetness of his grace does not depend upon their palate. When they can remember but little of the sermon, they stillfeel that it leaves as good an impression on their heart as when they were strong in their memories; and thus they have anotherproof that God, even when their mind faileth a little, carries them down to their hoar hairs, their old age, and that tothem he is ever the same.
But the chief solicitude of old age is death. Young men may die soon. Old men must die. Young men, if they sleep, sleep in a siege; old men, if they sleep, sleep in an attack, when the enemy has already madea breach, and is storming the castle. A greyheaded old sinner is a greyheaded old fool; but an aged Christian is an aged wiseman. But even the Christian hath peculiar solicitudes about death. He knows he cannot be a long way from his end. He feelsthat, even inthe course of nature, apart from what is called accidental death, there is no doubt but in a few more years he must standbefore his God. He thinks he may be in heaven in ten or twenty years; but how short do those ten or twenty years appear! Hedoes not act like a man who thinks a coach is a long way off, and he may take his time; but he is like one who is about togo a journey, and hears the post-horn blowing down the street, and is getting ready. His one solicitude now is, to examinehimselfwhether he is in the faith. He fears that if he is wrong now, it will be terrible to have spent all his life dabblingin profession, and to find at last that he hath got nothing for his pains, except a mere empty name, which must be swept awayby death. He feels now how solemn a thing the Gospel is; he feels the world to be as nothing; he feels that he is near thebar of doom. But still, beloved, mark, God's faithfulness is the same; for if he be nearer death, he has the sweet satisfactionthathe is nearer heaven; and if he has more need to examine himself than ever, he has also more evidence whereby to examinehimself, for he can say, "Well, I know that on such-and-such an occasion the Lord heard my prayer; at such-and-such a timehe manifested himself to me, as he did not unto the world," and, though examination presses more upon the old, still theyhave greater materials for it. And here, again, is another proof of this grand truth. "Even unto old age I am the same," saysGod;"and even to hoar hairs will I carry you."
(4.) And now, once more, old age hath its peculiar blessedness. Some time ago I stepped up to an old man whom I saw when preaching at an anniversary, and I said to him, "Brother, do youknow there is no man in the whole chapel I envy so much as you!" "Envy me," he said-"why, I am eighty-seven." I said, "I do,indeed; because you are so near your home, and because I believe that in old age there is a peculiar joy, which we young peopledo not taste at present. Youhave got to the bottom of the cup, and it is not with God's wine as it is with man's. Man's wine becomes dregs at thelast, but God's wine is sweeter the deeper you drink of it." He said, "That's very true, young man," and shook me by the hand.I believe there is a blessedness about old age that we young men know nothing of. I will tell you how that is. In the firstplace, the old man has a good experience to talk about. The young men are only just trying some of the promises; but the oldmancan turn them over one by one, and say, "There, I have tried that, and that, and that." We read them over and say, "Ihope they are true;" but the old man says, "I know they are true." And then he begins to tell you why. He has got a history for everyone, like a soldier for his medals; andhe takes them out, and says, "I will tell you when the Lord revealed that to me; just when I lost my wife: just when I buriedmy son; just when I was turned out of my cottage, and did not getwork for six weeks; or, at another time, when I broke my leg." He begins telling you the history of the promises, andsays, "There, now. I know they are all true." What blessed thing, to look upon them as paid notes; to bring out the old chequesthat have been cashed and say, "I know they are genuine, or else they would not have been paid." Old people have not the doubtsyoung people have about the doctrine. Young people are apt to doubt; but when they get old, they begin to get solid and firmin the faith. I love to get some of my old brethren, to talk with me concerning the good things of the kingdom. They donot hold the truth with their two fingers, as some of the young men do; but they get right hold of it, and nobody can takeit from their grasp. Rowland Hill once somewhat lost his way in a sermon, and he turned to this text-"Oh, Lord, my heart isfixed." "Young men," he said, "there is nothing like having your hearts fixed. I have been all these years seeking the Lord;nowmy heart is fixed. I never have any doubts now about election, or any other doctrine. If man brings me a new theory, Isay, 'Away with it!' I stand hard and fast by the truth alone." An old gentleman wrote me a little time ago, and said I wasa little too high. He said he believed the same doctrine as I do, but he did not think so when he was as old as I am. I toldhim it was just as well to begin right as to end right, and it was better to be right at the beginning than to have to ruboff somany errors afterwards. An old countryman once came to me, and said, "Ah! young man, you have had too deep a text; youhandled it well enough, but it is an old man's text, and I felt afraid to hear you announce it." I said, "Is God's truth dependanton age? If the thing is true, it is just as well to hear it from me as from any one else; and if you can hear it better anywhereelse, you have got the opportunity." Still, he did not think that God's precious truths were suitable to young people;but I hold they are suitable to all God's children; therefore I love to preach them. But how blessed it is to come toa position in life where you have good anchorage for your faith,-where you can say,
"Should all the forms that hell devise,
Assail my faith with treacherous art."
I shall not be very polite to them-
"I'll call them vanity of lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart."
And I think there are peculiar joys which the old Christian has, of another sort; and that is, he has peculiar fellowshipwith Christ, more than we have. At least, if I understand John Bunyan rightly, I think he tells us that when we get very nearto heaven there is a very glorious land. "They came into the country of Beulah, whose air was very sweet and pleasant; theway lying directly through it, they solaced themselves there for a season. Yes, here they heardcontinually the singing of birds, and saw every day the flowers appear on the earth, and heard the voice of the turtlein the land. In this country the sun shineth night and day; wherefore this was beyond the valley of the Shadow of Death, andalso out of the reach of Giant Despair; neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting-castle. Here they werewithin sight of the City they were going to: also here met them some of the inhabitants thereof: for in this land the shiningonescommonly walked, because it was upon the borders of heaven. In this land also the contract between the Bride and the Bridegroomwas renewed; yea, here, 'as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so doth their God rejoice over them.' Here they had notwant of corn and wine; for in this place they met with abundance of what they had sought for in all their pilgrimages. Herethey heard voices from out of the City, loud voices, saying, 'Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvationcometh! Behold, His reward is with him!' Here all the inhabitants of the country called them, 'the holy people, the redeemedof the Lord.'" There are peculiar communings, peculiar openings of the gates of paradise, peculiar visions of glory, justas you come near to it. It stands to reason that the nearer you get to the bright light of the celestial city, the clearershall be the air. And therefore there are peculiar blessednesses belonging to the old, for they have more of this peculiarfellowship with Christ. But all this only proves that Christ is the same; because, when there are fewer earthly joys,he gives more spiritual ones. Therefore, again, it becomes the fact-"Even to old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs willI carry you."
(5.) And now, lastly, the aged saint has peculiar duties. There are certain things which a good man can do, which nobody else ought to do, or can do well. And that is one proof ofdivine faithfulness; for he says of his aged ones, "They shall bring forth fruit in old age;" and so they do. I will justtell you some of them.
Testimony is one of the peculiar duties of old men. Now, suppose I should get up, and say, "I have not seen the righteous forsaken,nor his seed begging bread," some one would reply, "Why, you are not twenty-two yet; what do you know about it?" But if anold man gets up, and says, "I have been young, and now am I old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seedbegging bread," with what power that testimony comes! Suppose I say to you, "Trust in God,with all thy troubles and trials; I can bear witness that he will not forsake you;" you will reply, "Oh! yes, young man, but you have not had many troubles;you have not been a child of God above these six years; how should you know?" But up gets an old Christian-and well do I rememberan ancient Christian rising up at the sacramental table, and saying, "Dear brethren, we are met again around this table, andI think all an old man can do is to bear testimony to his master. Thesefive-and-forty years, I have walked in his truth. Young people, hear what I have to say. He has been my God these five-and-fortyyears, and I have no fault to find with him; I have found religion's ways to be ways of pleasantness, and her paths to bepaths of peace." You know, if you hear an old man talk, you pay greater attention to what he says, from the fact that he isold. I remember hearing the late Mr. Jay. I fancy that if I had heard the same sermon preached by a young man, I should nothave thought so much of it; but there appeared such a depth in it because is came from an old man, standing on the bordersof the grave; it was like an echo of the past, coming to me, to let me hear my God's faithfulness, that I might trust forthe future. Testimony is the duty of old men and women; they should labour whenever they can to bear testimony to God's faithfulness,and to declare that now also, when they are old and grey-headed, their God forsakes them not.
There is another duty which is peculiarly the work of the aged, and that is, the work of comforting the young believer. Thereis no one more qualified that I know of than a kindhearted old men to convert the young. I know that down in some parts ofthe country there is a peculiar breed of old man, who for the good of the Church I heartily hope will soon become extinct.As soon as they see a young believer, they look at him with suspicion, expecting him to be a hypocrite;they go off to his house, and find everything satisfactory; but they say, "I was not so confident as that when I was young;young man, you must be kept back a bit." Then there are some hard questions put, and the poor young child of God gets hardlypressed, and is looked upon with suspicion, because he does not come up to their standard. But the men I allude to are suchas some I have here, with whom I delight to speak, who tell you not hard things, but utter gentle words: who say, "I wasimprudent when I was a young man. I know that when I was a little child I could not have answered these questions; I donot expect so much from you as from one who is a little older." And when the young Christian comes to them they say, "Do notfear; I have gone through the waters, and they have not overflown me; and through the fire, and have not been burned. Trustin God; 'for down to old age he is the same, and to hoar hairs he will carry you.'"
Then there is another work that is the work of the old, and that is, the work of warning. If an old man were to go out in the middle of the road, and shout out to you to stop, you would stop sooner than you wouldif a boy were to do it; for then you might say, "Out of the way, you young rascal," and go on still. The warnings of the oldhave great effect; and it is their peculiar work to guide the imprudent, and warn the unwary.
Now I have done, except the application. And I want to speak to three classes of persons.
What a precious thought, young men and women, is contained in this text-"That even to old age God will be the same to you;and even down to you hoar hairs he will not forsake you!" You want a safe investment; well, here is an investment safe enough.A bank may break; but heaven cannot. A rock may be dissolved, and if I build a house on that it may be destroyed; but if Ibuild on Christ, my happiness is secure for ever. Young man! God's religion will last as long as youwill; his comforts you will never be able to exhaust in all your life; but you will find that the bottle of your joyswill be as full when you have been drinking seventy years, as it was when you first began. Oh! do not buy a thing that willnot last you: "eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." Oh! how pleasant it is to be a youngChristian! How blessed it is to begin in the early morning to love and serve God! The best old Christians are those who wereonceyoung Christians. Some aged Christians have but little grace, for this reason-that they were not young Christians. Oh!I have sometimes thought, that if there is any man who will have an abundant entrance into heaven, it is the man who in earlylife was brought to know the Lord. You know, going into heaven will be like the ships going into harbour. There will be sometugged in almost by miracle, "saved so as by fire;" others will be going in just with a sheet or two of canvas-they will"scarcely be saved!" but there will be some who will go in with all their canvas up, and unto these "an abundant entranceshall be ministered into the kingdom of their God and Saviour." Young people! it is the ship that is launched early in themorning that will get an abundant entrance, and come into God's haven in full sail.
Now, you middle aged men, you are plunged in the midst of business, and are sometimes supposing what will become of you inyour old age. But is there any promise of God to you when you suppose about to-morrows? You say, "Suppose I should live tobe as old as so-and-so, and be a burden upon people, I should not like that." Don't get meddling with God's business; leavehis decrees to him. There is many a person who thought he would die in a workhouse, that has died in amansion; and many a woman that thought she would die in the streets, has died in her bed, happy and comfortable, singingof providential grace and everlasting mercy. Middle aged man! listen to what David says, again, "I have been young, and nowam old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Go on, then, unsheath thy sword once more."The battle is the Lord's;" leave thy declining years to him, and give thy present years to him. Live to him now, and he willnever cast you away when you are old. Do not lay up for old age and keep back from the cause of God; but rather trustGod for the future. Be "diligent in business;" but take care you do not hurt your spirit, by being too diligent, by beinggrasping and selfish. Remember you will
"Want but little here below,
Nor want that little long."
And lastly, my dear venerable fathers in the faith, and mothers in Israel, take these words for your joy. Do not let the youngpeople catch you indulging in melancholy, sitting in your chimney corner, grumbling and growling, but go about cheerful andhappy, and they will think how blessed it is to be a Christian. If you are surly and fretful, they will think the Lord hasforsaken you; but keep a smiling countenance, and they will think the promise is fulfilled. "And evento your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, andwill deliver you." Do, I beseech you, my venerable friends, try to be of a happy temperament and cheerful spirit, for a childwill run away from a surly old man; but there is not a child in the world but loves his grand-papa if he is cheerful and happy.You can lead us to heaven if you have got heaven's sunlight on your face; but you will not lead us at all if you are crossandill-tempered, for then we shall not care about your company. Make yourselves merry with the people of God, and try tolive happily before men; for so will you prove to us-to a demonstration, that even to old age God is with you, and that whenyour strength faileth, he is still your preservation. May God Almighty bless you, for the Saviour's sake! Amen.
The foregoing sermon exceeding the limits of the usual Penny Number, and it being desirous that it should be given in full,it has been deemed advisable to make the present a double number. The two appended Tracts have been inserted as a specimenof a series called "The New Park Street Tracts," printed in a large type, at 1s. 4d. per 100.