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(Not e'en by kindred was thy body laid
In Joseph's tomb, thou Lord of quick and dead!) By thy example led,
Of me may it be said,
When I shall rest and perfect peace begin, He lived as one who was a pilgrim here,
And found his home while dwelling at an inn.
To au Old Disciple.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER, D. D.
My heart is drawn towards you. I too am going down the hill of life, and the longer I live the more sympathy do I feel with the aged. I have no longer the sprightliness of youth. In common with you I know the sorrow caused by the failure of hopes. A light heart carries the young swiftly along, but in us, who have passed the middle of life, the spirit is at least chastened, if not somewhat broken. Once past middle life, we seldom forget our griefs as in youth. Indeed, the memory of some sorrows never grows dim. Twenty years after his child is thought to be dead, Jacob cries out, "Joseph is not," as if he had been missing but a day or a week. We too have lost friend after friend, not only by death, but by alienation. Very few of the friends of our childhood live to love us. One said: "I walk the streets, I go to the assemblies of my brethren, but I find none who began life with me. I stand alone like a with
ered tree, where once was a forest clothed with verdure." We may have our descendants around us, and "children's children are the crown of old men." But sometimes children give as much pain as pleasure. Or God may have written us childless. If so, how sad are our homes! Or greedy heirs may be indecently hovering around to pounce upon our pelf as soon as we are gone. Nor care they how soon we are called away. How many of us, too, are cut off (sometimes by our own fault) from useful employment! We lack occupation. The mind, not being drawn out in healthy action, preys upon itself. Our latter years are often spent in melancholy uselessness. Our senses are often blunted as we grow old. Sweet sounds and sweet odours and delicious flavours cannot now regale us as in our younger days. To us the blue sky is no longer blue, and the green mountains are no longer green, and the voice of birds is no longer music. Great changes have come on. Times, manners, fashions, customs, habits, opinions, have all changed, nor have we changed with them. The world often seems to us to be moving too fast or too slowly, and we cry out, "What are we coming to?"
One who had long served God and his generations, seeing how things were going, thus wrote:
"Prophet of ills, why should I live,
I only can their loss bewail,
Till life's exhausted sorrows fail,
And the last pang is o'er."
The pious aged have no deeper sorrows than those which spring from the memory of their sins. Job said, "Thou makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth." David cried: "Remember not against me the sins of my youth." The late Dr. Moses Hoge, of blessed memory, said: "I feel great need of offering the prayer of the old bishop, who said, 'O God, pardon my sins of omission.'" He who in old age feels no need of sorrow for past sins is no child of God. Nor can we fail to see that our time on earth is short. A few more days and our career will be run. We must bid farewell to all we have ever known; we must go to an untried eternity, and undergo the scrutiny of God. Each of us, too, has sorrows unknown to men, and, so far as we know, peculiar to ourselves. We have not breathed them to any mortal, and perhaps we never shall, but the heart knoweth its own bitterness.
Yet all is not sad in our state. We have memories of joys, of mercies, and of friends, which, though tinged with a brown shade, are dear to our hearts.
In general, too, we are treated with respect. Good men think with Solomon that "the hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." The respect paid us is well suited to smooth our way. We have also stores of experience, which wealth could not buy. We have been taught the art of walking in darkness and having no light, and yet trusting in the Lord. We know that all is not lost which is brought into danger. We know better than the young disciple what is meant by such texts as these: "When I am weak, then I am strong;" "he that loseth his life, shall find it;" "I have meat to eat, that ye know not of." A thousand good lessons of this sort has God taught us. We know, too, that in his providence, as in nature, the darkest hour is just before day. Why may it not be so with us, as our sky is more and more lowering? May not eternal day be ready to burst upon us? Indeed, a thousand mercies still surround us. If our hearts are right, we cannot fail to see them. Let us often count them up.
Will you permit one who is less than the least of all saints to give you a few words of counsel? If the advice given is good, follow it; if not good, reject it.
1. As long as you can, maintain habits of bod