May 182012

Nearing home! Comforts and counsels for the aged

And 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, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4

Ah, Christian, here is ground for your confidence in God. You have his promise that he will be with you in your old age, to support you under its infirmities, and therefore you are cheerful and tranquil. Listen to the testimony of an aged pilgrim: “What a comfort it is, as we get old and feeble, and friends drop off one after another, to remember that our God does not change! He says to us, ‘I am he;’ the same that I ever was; ‘I am he;’ the Lord who preserved and guided you from your infancy; ‘I am he:’ all that I have promised to be to you, all that you can possibly need. ‘And even to gray hairs will I carry you.’ What tender and expressive language! How can we help trusting in such a mighty and loving Friend? Whether we look at the present or the future, there is no room for fear. Those who can walk have his rod and staff to help and comfort them; and those who cannot walk find that his ever lasting arms are beneath them, and that they are borne safely onwards. We are like children, who, when they are weak and tired, are carried in a father’s arms, and lifted over difficulty and danger.”

Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when grey hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31

Old age is honorable, and commands respect. “You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man.” But we cannot expect to receive true and lasting deference from others, unless our character is calculated to win their esteem. Superiority in age — should be combined with superiority in moral excellence. Multitude of years should teach wisdom. “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if” — mark that, “if it is gained by living a godly life.” If it be found in the way of wickedness, its honor is forfeited, its crown profaned and laid in the dust.

How is it with you, reader? Are you sanctified through faith in Christ? are you “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless?” Oh, how lovely and dignified is old age, when marked by piety and consistency!

“When piety adorns declining years,
The hoary head a glorious crown appears;
A dignity no earthly rank bestows
Marks the believer then; and sweet repose
Is stamped upon his features; all who gaze
Revere his person, and his virtues praise.”

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil.” Hebrews 6. 19.

A vessel was driving ashore. Her anchors were gone, and she refused to obey the helm. A few moments more and she would strike. If any would be saved, they must be tossed by the waves on the beach. In the midst of the general consternation, there was one person quite calm. He had done all that a man could do to prepare for the worst when the wreck was inevitable; and now that death was apparently near, he was quietly waiting the event. A friend of his asked the reason of his calmness in the midst of danger so imminent: “Do you not know that the anchor is gone, and we are drifting upon the coast?”

“Certainly I do; but I have an anchor to the soul.” On this was his trust. It entered into that within the veil. It was the ground of his confidence in the storm, and enabled him to ride securely in the view of instant and awful death.

Have you this anchor, reader? Is the hope of the gospel yours? Amidst the storms and trials of life, and in the prospect of danger and death — are you calm and trustful, assured that you will soon be admitted into the haven of everlasting peace?

Or are you destitute of this hope? “Without it, how can you be happy? Without it, what will you do in the swellings of Jordan? It may be yours — yours even now — if you will seek it, if you will accept it. The gift of God is eternal life. Confidence in him — faith in Christ — will link your tempest-tossed, troubled, and perishing spirit — with perpetual repose and security — with the unseen glories of Heaven.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 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…” Psalm 92:12-14

The palm tree, to which God’s people are in this psalm compared, is remarkable for its lengthened and increasing fruitfulness. The best dates are said to be gathered when it has reached a hundred years. How beautiful an emblem of the aged believer, growing in grace and maturing in holiness to the close of his earthly existence! Each day, each year, added to his life — adds to the loveliness and perfection of his Christian virtues. His character has a mellowness and sweetness, which it lacked in earlier seasons. He is ripening for Heaven. In knowledge, in wisdom, in love, in humility, in gentleness, in patience, in peace, in usefulness, in happiness — he is steadily and constantly advancing. He is filled with the Spirit, and therefore brings forth the fruits of the Spirit.

Is this portraiture of an aged Christian yours, reader? Alas, it does not belong to all who profess and call themselves by the Savior’s name. Nay, it may be feared that there are some, really and manifestly his, to whom it bears but little resemblance. They have long been “planted” in the house of the Lord — but they do not appear to “flourish” in the courts of our God; and as years augment, they seem to imagine that the infirmities of old age are excuses for their little fruitfulness. But they certainly never gathered such an idea from God’s Word, nor rightly studied and pleaded his promises to themselves.

Follow not their example. Rest not satisfied with past attainments. Strive to glorify God more than you have ever yet done. Let your last days be your best days; your last fruit, the richest. “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

“How beautiful to see
The clustered fruit upon the bending tree!
Yet lovelier still the graces which adorn
The soul that’s Heaven-born.

And age does not diminish — but increase
The precious fruits of love, and joy, and peace,
And gentleness, and patience; at life’s close
Each Christian virtue more luxuriant grows.”

My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” Psalm 31:15

Then I am sure that they will be wisely ordered. You have all power in Heaven and in earth; you are acquainted with the end from the beginning; everything is subject to your control, and the future to you is as the present; therefore there can be no mistake in your purposes — no imperfection in your plans.

“My times are in your hands!” Then I will not be anxious nor distressed about the future. Varied may be the times which I have yet to experience — times of sorrow or joy; of poverty or plenty; of sickness or health; of life or death; but I can calmly leave them to your disposal. I cannot foresee the events which your providence appoints — but I can wait and trust. The period and the manner of my departure hence are unknown to me — but I am free from all solicitude on these points, because you have arranged them for the best.

— By William Schenck, editor, 1868


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