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asceticism. Look where we will upon delusions do lose their hold

upon our fellow-men, we see parallels to that them--e.g., idolatry to a large extent, which struck us with surprise when we witchcraft, slavery; and in the future first looked upon idolaters who con

truth will achieve still greater triumph : tinued to worship idols the inability of (chap. xlv. 23). 3. Consequently, it is which to help them had been placed the duty of those to whom any truth beyond doubt.

has been revealed to go on declaring II. In view of this fact, what are it, in spite of the seemingly hopeless the duties that press upon us ? 1. stupidity of most of those whom they Honest personal examination of our address. By their faithful proclamaown beliefs and practices (1 Thess. v. tion of it, they do really, however 21). 2. The maintenance of hope for imperceptibly, further the dispersal of the future of the great human family the mists and fogs in which the minds to which we belong. The fact we of their fellow-men are enshrouded, have been thinking about must not and hasten on the day when the unbe allowed to smite us with despair. clouded light of truth shall shine upon Difficult as it is to deliver the deluded

In that proclamation let us from their delusions, one by one the

do our part !

all men.

GOD's PROMISE TO His AGED SERVANTS.

xlvi. 4. And even to your old age I am He, &c. The design of this chapter is to saints to-day we may lawfully apply caution the Israelites against the the same promise. idolatry of the Babylonians, and to I. GOD'S PROMISE TO HIS AGED prevent their fears of any mischief SAINTS. which idol-gods could do. For this 1. God promises to support them purpose, Isaiah describes the deso- under their burdens, and carry them sation Cyrus

Cyrus should bring upon through their difficulties. "I will Babylon, and foretells that he should

carry you." The word signifies to carry captive their gods, who would sustain any pressure, or bear any be insufficient to help either their burden. It intimates God's readiness worshippers or themselves. And then to help them, when they seem likely God calls upon His people to con- to be overborne and pressed down. sider whether He was such a god as How many are the burdens of old these (vers. 4, 5). He reminds them age from without! From the world, of what He had already done for them which still hangs too much about in their formation and their support; them. Sometimes their circumstances that He had shown all the care and are such, that they cannot get rid of tenderness of a parent to them; and its cares and hurries. Their fellowassures them that He would continue creatures are often a burden to them. His care of them. But our text may Those with whom they are obliged to have been particularly designed to have dealings are apt to take advancomfort God's aged servants, who tage of their decays to deceive them. should live till near or quite to the Some in whom they place confidence end of the captivity ; those whose disappoint them. Some from whom eyes saw the ruin of the first and they have good reason to expect asthe dedication of the second temple sistance, ungratefully forsake them. (Ezra iii. 12). To comfort and ani- This is the most grievous burden, and maie their hearts who expected to would be too heavy for them to bear, die in a strange land, and

were it not that “the eternal God is greatly distressed at the remembrance their refuge, and underneath them are of Zion, God encourages them still His everlasting arms.” Nay, events to hope in Him. To God's ancient that in the vigour of life would have

were

given them little concern now hang of poverty, of increasing afflictions, as a heavy weight upon them (Eccles. of the temptations peculiar to old xii. 5). Every little thing is ready to age, of apostacy in their last days, overset them, but God will carry them of death. But the Lord will deliver by supporting their spirits, and put- them from all their fears, will streng. ting strength into them, so that they then their hearts, and will make them shall not faint and sink (Deut. xxxiii. desire to depart and be with Christ 25).

(H. E. I. 322, 1602, 1642, 1643). 2. He will comfort them under all And at length He will give them an their infirmities and sorrows. “I will everlasting release from everything bear." The word sometimes signifies, painful and distressing (H. E. I. as the former did, to support and sus- 1629). tain; but more frequently, to exalt or II. REASONS WHY THEY SHOULD elevate. It may denote lifting up the CONFIDE IN THIS PROMISE. soul in joy or comfort; and so it may 1. He is your Maker. “I have re considered as an advance upon the made," saith He, “and I will bear.” former thonght. The aged need the GOD formed your bodies and souls. fulfilment of this promise. The infir- Why, but to communicate happiness mities of nature come upon them to you, that you might serve Him on apace; the senses grow weak; the earth and be for ever with Him? He active powers decay: they need the who freely gave you your life, will help of others almost as much as they surely grant you every needful good did in their infancy. Often the facul- (Matt. vi. 25). God made you: must ties of the soul languish. Their relish He not therefore be a very wise Being? for company, business, and pleasure is Must He not know all your needs, gone (2 Sam. xix. 35; P. D. 103, distresses, and fears ? God made you : 113). Nay, they find their thoughts must He not therefore be a very confused, their affection for divine powerful Being? Is there any evil so things flags, and they cannot serve great that He cannot deliver you from God with such fixedness of heart, it, any good so valuable that He cannot such warmth of zeal and love as they confer it upon you ? (ch, xxvi. 4). have done. What they hear and read 2. He hath been careful of you and quickly slips away; and their minds kind to you hitherto. This is intimated are no longer easily impressed with in the text, which is a promise of divine truths. In these melancholy continued care and favour, and it is circumstances, God will bear and lift plainly expressed in the preceding up their souls. He sometimes in a

Have you not reason to acmost wonderful manner strengthens knowledge, with aged Jacob, that the the powers of the mind. Under the God of your fathers has fed you infirmities of nature, He will afford your life long” to this day, and rethem the consolations of religion ; deemed you from evil? What stronger elevate their minds above the trifles argument can there be to encourage of earth and sense; strengthen their your faith in His promises, than your faith in His promises ; and enlighten long experience of His goodness! To the eyes of their understandings, to

distrust Him will be peculiarly unsee the glorious inheritance of the reasonable, and highly ungrateful. saints, and their own title to and Holy men of old thought it a very qualification for it (2 Cor. iv. 16). substantial reason to exercise faith in

3. God will deliver them out of all God, that they had long experienced their fears and tribulations.

“ Even

His care (Ps. lxxvi. 17, 20; 2 Tim. iv. I will carry you, and will deliver 18). Hath God carried you sixty or you.” Many of God's aged servants, seventy years, and will He cease His through the languor of their spirits care and withdraw His kindness ? or weakness of their faith, are con- How unreasonable such a conclusion ! tinually distressed with anxious fears God hath been an old friend to you,

verse,

16 all their age.

a tried friend, and you may be assured let not your infirmities be made an He will never leave nor forsake you; excuse for negligence and sloth (P. especially when you consider

D. 2598). Labour to maintain the 3. He is an unchangeable Goil. “I seriousness and spirituality of your am He”-an expressive word else- devotions, Let your hoary heads where rendered “the same” (Ps. cii. never be spotted with any sin. If God 27). “I am He that I was of old to gives you ability for active services, the saints in former generations, and abound in them, for death is at hand. will continue the same through every If you cannot do this, adorn and succeeding age, and not like the idols recommend religion by patience and of the heathen, that were made yester- resignation to His will, and by quietly day, and are destroyed tomorrow.” waiting for His salvation. Glorify This renders God the proper object of Him by calm faith in the final hour. our trust. Creatures change, but He I heartily wish your souls and mine is the same.

When men grow old may then be in the same frame as they often find that their friends that of a pious Scotch minister, who, forsake them; their old acquaintance being asked by a friend during his look shy on them; their children last illness whether he thought himself sometimes turn their backs upon them; dying, answered, “Really, friend, I the world is alınost weary of them, care not whether I am or not; for if and wisheth them gone. But their I die, I shall be with God, and if I God remains the same powerful, wise, live, He will be with me.” and gracious Being, whose affection 3. Young persons should choose God as for His aged servants does not lessen. the guide of their youth, if they desire that It was a remarkable saying of Cardinal He should be the support and comfort of Wolsey, at the close of his life, “ If I

If this great choice is not had served my God as long and as male in youth, it probably never will faithfully as I have served my prince, be made (H. E. I., 1457, 1458).—Job He would not have cast me off in my Orton, S. T. P: Practical Works, vol. old age.” The unchangeableness of i. 373-382. God adds the strongest security to His promises and covenant, and is These words were addressed to God's a sufficient encouragement to His ancient people in view of the time people to hope in Him, whatever when Babylon would be brought to changes and alterations there may be ruin. Bel and Nebo, its gods, would in the world about them (Ps. lxxxix. be carried away, unable to defend 34, xlviii. 14).

themselves. In contrast to them JeIII. CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS. hovah, who had, like a mother, carried

1. How unreasonable and unbecoming His people, would continue to carry is it for aged saints to sink under their them, through all the duration of their burdens and infirmities! Be they ever existence. To the end it would be as so many and great, you have the it had been from the beginning (Deut. promise of God to depend upon, that xxxii. 11, 12). The words were spoken He “will bear, and carry, and deliver” to the nation, but they contain a truth you. We have seen that it is a sure equally precious to every individual; promise. Therefore, instead of fretting and in this view we will consider them. and complaining in the midst of trial, We will notice plead it, and it will be fulfilled to I. THE APPREHENSIONS THEY CONyou.

TEMPLATE. They are those incident 2. Aged saints are under great obliga- to old age and its prospect. While no tions to God, and should be faithful unto one can be certain that he will reach death. To Him you are under in- old age, no reflecting man can fail to numerable obligations as your creator, think sometimes of the possibility that preserver, and benefactor. Therefore he may. At such times we remember proceed vigorously in His service, and several things, as that it is a period

pp.

Us of

6 To

1. When a man's pecuniary resources These gloomy anticipations crowd are likely to be diminished. Where an upon the contemplation of old age. inheritance has been derived from an- Happy is it for those who in full faith cestors, and where successful commer- can pray :

“Cast me not off in the cial enterprise has realised wealth, it is time of old age ; forsake me not when not so. Where it is possible to provide my strength faileth.” To God the for old age, it is dutiful. But in the words of our text direct us. Notice majority of cases, it is impossible. The II. THE ANTIDOTE THEY ADMINISfamily swallows up all. The decline TER “Even to your old age I am of power to perform customary work He: and even to hoar hairs will I c

carry means diminished income. This is the

you.” They encouraged the exiled case of the labouring poor, and of many Jews to put their trust in the Lord. widows. Yet old age is the period of They may encourage us in the like life when there is diminished ability manner in spite of the presence or the to endure privation. The elasticity of gloomy prospect of old age. He will youth rises above a change of circum- be our God. He will lead and carry stances; old

age sinks under it. There us through life to old age ; and in old is then a tendency also to greater age will relieve the darkness by the anxiety about worldly comfort and brightness of His presence, the suffisufficiency.

ciency of His power, and the tender2. When friendship is less available ness of His love. The text reminds than in youth.

If poverty comes with it, it is too often found that “ the world 1. His permanent existence. forsakes whom fortune leaves.” Most

your

old
age

I am He.” His life runs of the friends of earlier days have gone through all ages and generations. The whence there is no return; and there care of earthly parents gradually dies is neither equal disposition nor oppor- away as their children reach matutunity to make new ones. The old rity. Parents usually die before their man feels himself becoming less impor- children. Should they survive until tant to the community. In private life their children become old, they are he often becoines less capable of afford- themselves cast on the care of their ing happiness. He may be garrulous; children. However great his solicibut it is about things not of present tude, no parent can guarantee that his interest. Thus he is in danger of sink- own life will continue as long as his ing into neglect; perhaps he is too sensi- children need his care. tive, and fancies himself neglected and heavenly Father will continue to exist fursaken when it is not really the case. through our lives and beyond. He can

3. When the physical powers fall into undertake the charge of His children decay. It is not necessarily so with to the end of their lives. the intellectual and spiritual powers, 2. Ilis enduring ability. “I will which are often most vigorous in ad- carry. ... I will bear.»

The help vanced life. But the body is like a rendered by any man may be disconhouse, it falls into ruin after a number tinued from loss of ability. Human

Its powers decline. Its promises must be conditional on the capacity for action lessens. The en- continuance of ability, But God's joyment of existence departs.

ability suffers no diminution. You 4. It is the period nearest to the hour cannot survive His power to help. of death. True, death is also near the 3. His unchanging purpose.

God young; only to them he does not show says, “I will.” It is a purpose formed himself so plainly. But he cannot be in infinite wisdom. It will be exefar from the old. Death stands before cuted with unfailing faithfulness. He them; a dark enemy who must be will not change His mind as men faced ; a dread moment when, amidst sometimes do. The purpose is formed unknown suffering, all that has made in the tenderness of unchanging love. life interesting must be left behind. Wlr can measure the duration of the

But our

of years.

66

runis

mother's love for the child she has I. THE PERIOD OVER WHICH Gon's carried in her womb? Long as life CARE EXTENDS.- “ Even to your olil lasts, it is in her deepest heart. Even age,

to boar hairs.” God engages to though he go astray, and others cast be our life-long Friend. He will tend him off, the mother will not give him us all the way from infancy to old age, up. This is the love with which the and then He will not forsake us. This Lord here says He follows His children, golden thread of divine care notwithstanding their numerous follies through the whole web of our life, and faults (ver. 3). May we not regard brightening its most sombre colours. this declaration as a sufficient antidote God engages, 1. To be our Friend to to the apprehensions we are apt to old age. Some of us may think we can entertain in prospect of the various dispense with His help on the way to anxieties and inconveniences of ad- old age, though when we reach it, with vancing years?

enfeebled powers and diminished comYou who are advanced in life can forts, we may be glad to have recourse bear testimony to the Lord's faithful to His help. But God's promise is love, which has attended all your days. larger than our poor thoughts. He Have we not heard the aged speak in takes us up in His supporting arms as terms of satisfaction and thankfulness, soon as we draw our first breath, and notwithstanding the trials they have never leaves us, if we do not leave experienced in their life journey ? (Ps. Him, until we have drawn our last. Ixxi. 6, 15). See that you honour 2. To be our Friend in old age. God to the end by trusting yourselves Having conducted us to this period, to His disposal.

He will not cast us off (Ps. lxxi. 9, 18). You who are young, make the Lord Old age is often a time of feebleness your confidence from your earliest and neglect, with few friendships and days. Friends, health, business capa- enjoyments, but with His presence city, opportunities may fail.

Lean on

and support we may be peaceful, One who is independent of changes. serene, useful in it. Instead of being Make Him your friend. Say to-day, repulsive, as we often see it, it may “My Father, Thou shalt be the guide be beautiful, attractive, and honourof my youth."-J. Rawlinson.

able in us (Lev. xix. 32; Prov. xvi. 31). It is pitiable to see an old man who

has missed the object of life. “ To The words “I am He” mean “I pass out of the world in the world's am still the same : I will not alter. debt; to have consumed much and My love will not grow cold, my care produced nothing; to have sat down for you will still continue.” The God at the feast and gone away without of our youth and manhood will be the paying his reckoning, is not, to put God of our old age, losing none of the it in the mildest way, a satisfactory tenderness with which He has guided transaction" (Earl of Derby). Such a us through previous stages. What spectacle is not uncommon; but, even a consoling promise! Though ori- then, a change may come.

“God can ginally made to Israel, and applied to put a fresh kernel into an old and them in a national sense, each believer worn-out husk.” The sun of God's can make it his own (2 Cor. i. 20); favour may shine on the declining and it is good for us, not only to rest days of a life spent in the darkness on such a promise as we pass into the of unbelief, but such a case does not future, but to mark its fulfilment in fall within the scope of this promise. our past experience, and in the expe- Only those whom God has guided to rience of others who at life's close old age can count with certainty on have borne testimony to the continued His support and blessing in old age. goodness, the sustaining power, the Many an aged saint can testify to the unfailing faithfulness of Him whom continued goodness of God. Is old they trusted and served.

age a second childhood ?

God is a

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