Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of adversity come, and the years approach of which you will say, "I find no pleasure in them,"
I. THE DESCRIPTION HERE GIVEN OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE. Amplifying this terse and impressive language, we may hear the wise man addressing the youthful, and saying, "Remember that thou hast a Creator; that thy Creator ever remembers thee; that he not only deserves, but desires, thy remembrance; that his character should be remembered with reverence, his bounty with gratitude, his Law with obedience and submission, his love with faith and gladness, his promises with prayerfulness and with hope."
II. THE PERIOD HERE RECOMMENDED FOR THE RELIGIOUS LIFE. Religion is indeed adapted to the whole of our existence; and what applies to every age of life, applies with especial force to childhood and youth.
1. Youth has peculiar susceptibilities of feeling, and religion appeals to them.
2. Youth has especially opportunities of acquiring knowledge and undergoing discipline, and religion helps us to use them.
3. Youth has abounding energy, and religion assists us to employ this energy aright.
4. Youth is a time of great and varied temptations, and religion will enable us to overcome them.
5. Youth is introductory to manhood and to age; religion helps us so to live when young that we may be the better fitted for the subsequent stages of life's journey.
6. Youth may be all of life appointed for us; in that case, religion can hallow those few years which constitute the earthly training and probation.
III. THE SPECIAL REASONS FOR ATTENDING TO THIS ADMONITION.
1. It is a tendency of human nature to be so absorbed in what is present to the senses as to overlook unseen and eternal realities.
2. Our own age is peculiarly tempted to forget God, by reason of the prevalence of atheism, agnosticism, and positivism.
3. Youth is especially in danger of forgetting the Divine Creator, because the opening intelligence is naturally interested in the world of outward things, which presents so much to excite attention and to engage inquiry.
IV. THE ADDITIONAL FORCE WHICH CHRISTIANITY IMPARTS TO THIS ADMONITION. The figure of our blessed Lord himself appears to the imagination, and we seem to hear his winning but authoritative voice pleading with the young, and employing the very language of the text. He who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," he who, beholding the young inquirer, loved him, draws near to every youthful nature, and commands and beseeches that reverent attention, that willing faith, that affectionate attachment, which shall lead to a life of piety, and to an immortality of blessedness. - T.
I. AN EARLY RECOGNITION OF GOD WILL BECOME THE FORMATIVE PRINCIPLE OF CHARACTER. The formation of character is the true business of life. Character is the individual, the man himself. No one can be greater than his character, and no one can be less. At the centre of character there is always a governing principle. This may be one thing or another — may be a remembrance of God or a regard for the devil, may be a holy resolution or a weak sentiment. Still, it is there, and it is influential. It resembles the point of crystallization around which cluster the strange forms and colours of Nature's workmanship. Character will surely be determined by this central principle or supreme choice. Now, to "remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth" is to yield to God as He appears in Jesus Christ, or to become a Christian. This surrender enthrones God at the very centre of character. His word then becomes law. The holy life of His Son, our Redeemer, holds the attention. The formation of character proceeds as we "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
1. There is a hereafter. Man is not made only for this life. What would we think of the pyramid builders if they scattered pyramids over a plain, but intentionally left every one of them unfinished, with the lines sloping together so as to prophesy of an apex which was never built? Such designed incompleteness is inconceivable, the human mind being what it is. No more can we conceive of God's having scattered over the world all the beautiful and noble lives in history, yet so that none of them should be complete. There must be a finishing some time. We are made so as to expect it. We have an organ whose function it is to anticipate it. And that organ of the heart would be as inexplicable without a hereafter as an eye without light. Where we find eyes we can presume the existence of light at some time.
2. Man is a responsible being. He can do pretty much as he pleases, but he cannot by any possibility exempt himself from the consequences of what he does. Sometime the score must be settled.
3. Death ends man's work on earth. It is interesting to note that the terrors of death are not dwelt upon in the passage. The sombreness, the pain of it, are passed by. Writers often gloat over death; they force the melancholy of it home upon our hearts, they seem to say (as Dickens is accused of saying in effect in describing the death of little Nell), "Now let us have a cry together." There is not the slightest touch of this in the ending of Ecclesiastes. If we have any plans for good, if we want to make this life a preparation for the glories of the future, how busy ought the thought and the sight of death to make us.
4. Reverent obedience to God is the only method of having a life that shall be worth living. God changes not, and we need not hope to change Him. He is a God of love always, but His love brings blessing only to those who seek to do His will. To those who disregard Him that same love becomes a condemnation. But how shall we keep God's laws? Above all commands, He has given to us our final command, by keeping which we are led to keep all the rest; "this is My beloved Son; hear ye Him." Therefore, trying to serve God while, rejecting Christ must lead to failure in God's eyes.
5. Youth is the best time to begin serving God.(1) It is easier to begin then. Habits are unformed, and will as easily take one shape as another. Once they are made, rearrangement comes only, as it were, by fracture.(2) It is important to have the trend of life settled in favour of the good. You cannot do this except at the needless expense of great moral upheaval, at any time but in the early years.(3) The more years of life consecrated to Christ, the more the quantity of good which can be done for Him. Every year away from His service is an empty year from the point of view of eternity(4) The earlier one begins in the Christian life, the longer time he has for Christian growth.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
II. CHILDHOOD'S REMEMBRANCE OF GOD BECOMES THE PERPETUAL RECOMPENSE OF SERVICE. We must bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. He "went about doing good." He "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Simple fidelities engaged Him. An hour of communion with His Father prepared Him for any conflict, and He often looked up into His Father's face to gain new inspiration when He was weary or troubled. The possibility of this consciousness is the promise of the Bible. Again and again we are assured that God is interested in us. He wants to help us. He offers the confidence which Jesus knew. Now, if we can secure this confidence early in life, we shall be stronger and braver than we could otherwise be, for in every honest service we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that God is pleased. We may train ourselves to "do all to the glory of God." If we undertake any service, we may perform it as unto Him, and net as unto our fellow-men; if we make a contribution of money, we may present it first of all to Him, and may then act as His stewards in its distribution; if we contemplate a new work, we may consult Him in prayer; if we are burdened with care, we may cast our care upon Him. At once there opens before us many rare privileges. Life with God in it moves safely.
III. THE SECURE HOPE OF SORROW AND OF DEATH IS OBTAINED WHEN THE CREATOR IS REMEMBERED. "Hope thou in God" is the psalmist's exhortation. "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost," is the benediction of Paul. God is the God of hope. What a blessed truth that is! He meets us with hope, and He continues to afford hope even to the end of life. When sorrows come we are not shut up to the conviction that we are the victims of fate. There is an "afterward" to every chastisement, with "peaceable fruit of righteousness." The end has not been reached. We are still at school. God is dealing with us as with sons. We shall bless Him by and by for life's discipline. Meanwhile, He sustains and comforts us to such a degree that a man has even been known to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." God is with us. We shall surely reach port. We hope, in Him. And when we approach death, who but God can afford hope?
(H. M. Booth, D. D.)
Monday Club Sermons.In any anthology upon old age this would easily rank first. Its cast is poetical, its substance the severest prose. In it the verdict of experience is given by one who has set himself "to know wisdom and to know madness and folly." The Preacher has simply spoken for the silent multitudes. Will the youth be sane and listen and heed, or giddy and unbelieving, till at the end he too will remorsefully cry, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity"? Certain truths and principles ought ever to be bound about his neck and written on the tables of his heart.
I. THE YOUTH IS GOD'S CREATION. If he doubles or denies this he will live like the beasts that perish, and be ready after a while to say that he has not pre-eminence above them. The spirit of the age is hushing the demands of the Creator and magnifying those of the created. While it professes the deepest reverence for an insect form or faultless crystal or mote of star-dust, it shuts the senses to any call to penitence, or prayer, or trust, or sacrifice, since we cannot know if there be One supreme who has uttered it. The youth is in peril. God is — no question — no perhaps. He is thy Creator. Remember Him and that thou art His, not thine own. Thy intuitions are correct; they point thee to Him.
II. IN THE NATURAL ORDER OF LIFE AGE MOST COME. The lambs that gambol over the fields, the birds that sing among the branches do net dream they will ever grow old. Not a hint of future decay comes to any animal. Only the present has any fears for them. But man cannot hide from himself the fact of limitations. Even the child perceives that in the far distant time its steps will totter, its form be bowed, and its face wrinkled. The youth knows that enthusiasm will wane as the evening of life deepens. The strong man is aware that the days of decline are nearing. The house in its every part seems tumbling in pieces. The heart labours in beating, like a worn ,engine, with much noise and frequent calls for relief and repair. The thread of life, most delicate, is parting strand by strand, and the golden bowl which hung by it, in which the light has burned for fourscore years, is soon to be dashed in fragments. And so, whether it be the pitcher that no longer fetches the breath, or the wheel whose tiresome rounds of being are spent, and which has broken in upon itself, it is the end. Life has gone, aa death has come, and each to its own. The dust claims its kindred; the Lord His.
III. THE CURSE OF AGE IS WHAT THE YOUTH HAS INVITED. His own selfishness has robbed him of helpers. Indolence has clothed him with rags. Deceit has made all wary and suspicious of him. The cruel tongue has slain his defenders. Profligacy has consumed flesh and body, surviving a little to be tortured. Hawthorne said, "The infirmities that come with old age may be the interest on the debt of nature, which should have been more seasonably paid — often the interest will be a heavier payment than the principal." It will always be heavier for the bad.
IV. THE RELIGIOUS LIFE IS THE TRUE LIFE. Man by birth and development is allied to God. He fills out the meaning of existence only by heeding the laws and impulses which the Lord gives. He shows his greatness above the creation simply by his regard for ideas and things which are not visibly one with it. Since it changes and perishes, he reaches up and grasps the unchangeable and eternal. "He would not be the most distinguished object in it if he were not too distinguished for it," said the illustrious German. Along his divinely marked way he finds joy springing out of duties performed. The zest of building for immortality makes his slightest deed sublime.
V. THE RELIGIOUS LIFE PREPARES FOR THE JUDGMENT. Here it would seem is the key to this treatise. Revelation must adapt itself to the capacity of the receiver. A gross mind and heart is only gradually led to more perfect Conceptions. Material things and events filled the vision of them to whom the message from heaven first came. Rewards and punishments were of a very practical nature. Food, offspring, and long life were offered to the dutiful and taken from the disobedient. It would pay to heed the commands of Jehovah. The Judge is the Lord, who has sustained and tested and known the doings of every one. The wicked must come with his daring crimes and his hidden deeds and answer therefor. That tribunal need have no terrors for the obedient. It is their vindication before any who questioned or exulted over them. And all shall see that the adjustments of another life will perfectly satisfy the inconsistencies of this.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
1. Remember Him and pray?
2. Remember Him and be thankful?
3. Remember Him and be obedient?
4. Remember Him and be watchful?
II. REMEMBER — WHEN?
1. Youth is the time to store the memory. Life is now comparatively free, and all the powers of body and mind are capable of easy development. Now is the time when you may get into the habit of thinking about God, and into the habit of praying, and into the habit of acting from principle and for the glory of God. If you form the habit now it will ever after be easier to do right.
2. Youthful piety will save you from many sins and sorrows.
3. Youthful piety will ennoble and beautify your life.
III. REMEMBER — WHY? Because evil days will come, and a time draw nigh when you will find no pleasure in good things. O how sad it will be if you let the days of youth pass by without giving your heart to Christ!
Christian Observer.I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE INJUNCTION TO REMEMBER GOD AS OUR CREATOR.
1. We are to remember that He has made us, and not we ourselves.
2. We are to bear in mind the superintending care of His providence and the riches of His grace.
3. We are to remember the authority with which, by the right of creation, God is invested; an authority to call us to account for the use we make of the privileges bestowed upon us. To Him we are responsible, and He will bring us into judgment.
II. SOME REASONS WHY WE OUGHT TO REMEMBER OUR CREATOR IN THE DAYS OF OUR YOUTH.
1. And here it may fairly be demanded, Can we remember Him at too early a period? Reason as well as Revelation point out to us that the service of God cannot begin too soon.
2. This duty is most practicable in youth.
3. A third reason for remembering our Creator in youth is the uncertainty of life.
4. The remembrance of our Creator in youth will provide a remedy for the evils of life,
5. The only remaining argument I shall mention for early piety is derived from the honour which will thus accrue to religion, and the effect it will have in promoting the glory of God.
III. THE MEANS OF ATTAINING AND PRESERVING THE REMEMBRANCE OF OUR CREATOR.
1. Since we are by nature strangers to divine truth, let us be ready to receive instruction from those who are wiser and better than ourselves.
2. Let us search the Scriptures. They are the revelation of our Creator. They will not only remind us of Him, but they contain all the knowledge of Him which it is essential to acquire, and "are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
3. Let it be a fixed principle to avail ourselves of all other means of grace, of the ministration of the Word of God, of public and domestic worship.
4. Let us endeavour to form a habit of seeing the Creator in all things; of recognizing the hand of God in the works of nature and the course of events. If we make a right use of these great volumes which are open before us, we shall everywhere behold the agency of the Almighty.
5. We must keep a strict watch over our hearts and our conduct.
1. First of all, youth is educable. If a man wants to be a mechanic, or a merchant, or a physician, he begins early. It is essential to the trade or the profession that it shall be so. If a man wants to Christianize his life, to make that life religious, ought he not to begin early, in analogy with other things which he does? Just as the hot wax receives the impression clearly and retains" it lastingly, so the impressionable mind of youth receives the stamp of the character of God more clearly and retains it more lastingly than in the subsequent periods of life.
2. Then consider, too, how simple life is when we are young. Look at the business man of forty, and see how his life has left its original simplicity. He is no longer simply a son and a brother, a friend and a student: he is himself a husband and a father, and a business man with a hundred cares and responsibilities. His life has branched out into wonderful complexity. It is intricate, complicated, hard to manage. Now, suppose that the man of forty begins to be religious. How difficult is his problem — to take that single force of the grand idea of God and send it through all these relationships in which he stands! It is like an attempt to thread not one, or ten, or a score, but a hundred needles at once. But, if the man begins early, it is different. He is a son; and he lets the love of God bear upon that relation, and seeks for the power of God to realize the meaning of it. He is a brother, a friend, a student. These are the simple relations in which he stands. Let him bring these under the divine illumination, open his heart to the power that leads him to realize the divine meaning of existence. Then, when his life enlarges, it will be a process of assimilation. Life will be simply the growth of godliness.
3. Then, again, if a man wants to make any high attainment in religion, he must begin early. What is religion but the consecration and the perfection of human life? And, if it be the consecration and perfection of human life, ought not the passion of a man's heart to be for eminence in it?
4. If we begin early, we may expect finally the consummate blessing and power of the religious life — spontaneity in work, spontaneity in noble views of God, in noble views of men and of the future of the world, spontaneity in goodness.
(G. A. Gordon.)
Homilist.I. THE SUCCESSIVE STAGES OF HUMAN LIFE.
1. Here we have the growing stage. "The days of thy youth." Beautiful period this! It is the opening spring, full of germinating force and rich promise.
2. Here we have the declining stage. "While the evil days come," etc. The world, looked at through the eye of age, is a very different thing from what it is viewed through the eye of youth. There is no glow in the landscape, no streaks of splendour in the sky; there is a deep shadow resting over all.
3. Here we have the dissolving stage. "Man goeth to his long home." The grave is the long home of his body, eternity the long home of his soul.
II. THE SOVEREIGN OBLIGATION OF HUMAN LIFE. There is an obligation which runs through all these stages, meets man in every step he takes. What is it? "Remember now thy Creator." Two things are necessary to the discharge of this obligation.
1. An intellectual knowledge of the Creator. Three ideas are included in our conception of this transcendent character.(1) Absolute origination. We think of Him as one antecedent to all other existences, existing in the unbroken solitudes of immensity, having in Himself the archetypes of all that ever has been, of all that ever will be; and the power of giving them forms of existence distinct from Himself.(2) Absolute proprietorship. What He has created is His unconditionally, and for ever His. "All souls are mine," etc. There is yet another idea included in the conception of Creator.(3) Absolute obedience. If we all have and are His, ought we not in all things to be regulated by His will? Ought not His will to be our sovereign law in all things?
2. A heart sympathy with Him. What has God done for us, and what has He promised to do? Let the heart be duly impressed with gratitude for the past, and with hope for the future, and we shall assuredly remember Him.
III. The choicest period of human life. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."
1. It is the best period for cultivating a godly life. Lusts lie comparatively dormant, habits are unformed, prejudices have attained no power; the conscience is susceptible, the heart is tender, the intellect is free, etc.
2. The cultivation of a godly life in youth will bless every subsequent period of being. Through manhood, through old age, through death, into eternity, and through all future times a godly life will ensure true blessedness of being.
(Homilist.)— "Remember now thy Creator."
I. BECAUSE THOSE POWERS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT TO WHICH RELIGION APPEALS ARE EXERCISED AND DEVELOPED NOW. The youth cannot be in the same position as the infant of days, who cannot think, nor judge, nor will. The rational youth must stand on a footing different from the idiot youth. If God calls us to pursue a certain course, all who have faculties to pursue it, are, by virtue of the possession of these powers, under obligation; the possession of the powers being alike the foundation and the evidence of the claim.
II. BECAUSE GOD'S CLAIMS EXIST NOW. "Thy Creator."
III. BECAUSE THE SEASON OF YOUTH IS FLEETING NOW. Infancy is gone; childhood is no more; but youth, even if but just come, is really going. Soon, therefore, it will be impossible to the irreligious youth to be a religious youth. He may become a godly man, but still he will have been an ungodly youth.
IV. BECAUSE DAYS OF EVIL ARE COMING NOW.
1. The evil day of confirmed sinfulness is coming. Acts repeated, and states cherished, are habits. Oh, how mysterious and how mighty is the force of habit! It is a silken thread transformed by invisible processes into an iron chain.
2. The evil day of multiplied temptation is coming. The body daily grows, and with its growth may spring up some fleshly lust — it may be drunkenness, or grosser vice. The mind is gradually developed, and with its development may arise some spiritual temptation — it may be deceitfulness — scepticism — infidelity. Satan is concentrating force and power to stamp deep and clear this die — a sinful character.
3. The evil day of trouble is coming.
V. DEATH MAY BE VERY NEAR, AND IS SURELY COMING NOW.
VI. OLD AGE BRINGS CORRESPONDING INFIRMITIES; AND IF IT COME TO YOU, IT WILL SEEM TO HAVE COME BUT NOW. The "evening of life" is a common phrase for old age; let not this poetical phraseology mislead you. If old age be, in its calmness and stillness, like evening, remember that it has the duskiness and the chilliness of evening. Years blunt the bodily senses, and equally the susceptibilities of the soul. Who, therefore, in his right mind, will wait for old age, that in it he may "work out his own salvation with fear and trembling"?
VII. THE GREATEST FACILITIES EXIST NOW. I speak now of external advantages, I refer to the state of the spirit, and I assert that more aid is furnished by the state of the soul in youth than by the state of the soul in any other period of life. Habits are not so confirmed in youth as in more advanced years, because the confirmation of habits requires time, and much time has not yet been given.
VIII. RELIGION WILL GIVE MOST JOY, AND IT WILL SECURE MOST USEFULNESS IF COMMENCED NOW.
1. It will give most pleasure. There is not so much to unlearn as when persons become godly late in life; and unlearning is an irksome process. If there be any pleasure in religion, the amount taken is increased by being tasted early.
2. It will secure most usefulness. Youthful piety exerts an influence peculiar to itself, and God seems to choose for usefulness chiefly those who are godly while young.
IX. RUIN MAY OVERTAKE A YOUTH NOW. If ruin overtake you, it were better for you to have died in infancy; nay, it were better never to have been born.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.I. THE DUTY HERE ENJOINED.
1. The object is our Creator.(1) There was a period when we had no being; had we always been in existence we could have had no Creator; but on the limited period of mortal life, both as it regards its commencement and close, the Scriptures are explicit (Job 8:9; Psalm 39:5; James 4:14).(2) We have a Creator, and therefore did not make ourselves; could we have given ourselves existence, the duty enjoined in the text would have referred only to ourselves; but no being can make itself, as that would suppose it acted prior to its existence, which is a manifest contradiction.(3) Our Creator is God; this is one of the first truths of revealed religion (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 6:7; Deuteronomy 4:32; Malachi 2:10).
2. The act of remembrance. To "remember our Creator" implies —(1) A previous knowledge of Him. He has made Himself known unto us by the works of His hands (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20); by the acts of His providence (Psalm 104:27, 28; Matthew 10:30; Acts 17:28). But more especially by the manifestations of His grace (Exodus 34:6). As a God of grace He pardons our sins, renews our hearts; and to know Him in this character is to have a consciousness that He has actually done this for us. This knowledge can be obtained only by a Divine influence (Matthew 11:27; Matthew 16:17).(2) The frequent recollection and actual consciousness of His divine presence; to set the Lord always before us, and to consider Him as a Being essentially present in all places. This remembrance should be —(a) Reverential; His eternal Godhead, terrible justice, and wonderful acts should inspire us with the most profound sentiments of veneration.(b) Affectionate; His infinite love in the gift of His Son, and His amazing mercy in pardoning sin, should lead us to remember Him with feelings of the most ardent attachment.(c) Operative; we should evince that we do remember Him, by shunning all that He abhors, and following all that He enjoins.
II. THE PECULIAR PERIOD WHEN THIS DUTY IS TO BE PRACTISED — "Now, in the days of thy youth."
1. Because He is the most worthy object for our remembrance; and that which is most worthy has the first and highest claims upon our" attention.
2. Because such a remembrance, at this time, is peculiarly acceptable to God. O how lovely is youthful piety! Under the law, the first-fruits and the first-born were God's sole property; and the buds of being, and the earliest blossoms of youth, are the most acceptable sacrifice that we can offer to our Creator; and shall we neglect these offerings?
3. Because of the comparative ease with which it may be performed.
4. Because the present is the only certain time we can command for doing it; the past is gone, the future may never be ours.
5. From principles of justice: He is our Creator, and therefore justly claims the whole of our service.
6. From principles of gratitude; we owe our all to Him; tie remembered us in our low estate; He still remembers us; on the wings of every hour we read His patience. O what a mighty debt of gratitude is due to Him!
7. From principles of self-interest; to remember our Creator is the way to true wisdom, substantial honour, and unfading happiness.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
Homilist.We have here —
1. The successive stages of human life.
2. The primary obligation of human life. To "remember the Creator." This remembrance of the Creator should be intelligent, loving, practical, permanent.
3. The choicest period of human life. "The days of thy youth."
I. The days of youth are days of peculiar ILLUSION. They live in romance. Their theory of life bears but little resemblance to stern reality. Their blooming landscape is but a mirage creation of their own fancy. Look at their views —
1. As to life's happiness. In the home which they have painted for themselves there is no cloud, no storm, no blight. But how different they find the reality as they move on through the different stages to old age.
2. As to life's length. Most young people put their death a long way further off than it is.
3. As to life's improvability. Most youths feel that they ought to be religious, and they adjourn the work of spiritual culture till a time in the future, which they consider will be more convenient. But such a time never comes.
II. The days of youth are days of peculiar TEMPTATION.
1. Credulity. They are unsuspicious and confiding, and with minds but partially informed with the facts of existence, and untrained to the weighing of evidence, they are ready to accept almost any plausible proposition, especially when it is agreeable to their desires.
2. Carnality. In the first stages of human life animalism is the regnant power. All the pleasures are the pleasures of the sense.
3. Vanity. The conceit of youth is proverbial. They are vain of their appearance, their talents, if they have no wealth or ancestry.
4. Gregariousness. Strong is the tendency in young natures to follow and to blend with others.
III. The days of youth are days of peculiar VALUE. Whilst all the years and hours of man's short life are of priceless value the time of youth is pre-eminently precious; its hours are golden. It is pre-eminently valuable —
1. Because of its fleetness. "Youth," says John Foster, "is not like a new garment which we can keep fresh by wearing sparingly, we must wear it daily, and it wears fast away. It is a flower that soon withereth."
2. Because of its possibilities. The possibilities of flowers, fruit, affluent orchards, and waving fields of golden harvest are all shut up in the spring; so it is with youth, the greatness of manhood is in youth. He who wishes to be a great citizen, orator, saint, must begin in youth.
(Homilist.)I. TO SAY WHEREIN YOUTHFUL PIETY CONSISTS. It consists, you will find, in a ready, filial, and grateful remembrance of God — a remembrance which induces acquiescence in the Divine will and subjection to it.
II. TO OBVIATE SOME OBJECTIONS TO IT.
1. It is time enough yet, say some, for youth to think seriously and to be pious. This objection proceeds on the supposition that youth have yet many days and years to come; but how know we what a day or even an hour may bring forth?
2. Youth is the time of enjoyment, say others: young people should enjoy themselves. True; and is there nothing to enjoy in the favour and friendship of our Creator? Nothing to enjoy in freedom from the guilt and from the power of sin? Nothing to enjoy in being good and doing good? And is there any time comparable to youth for the enjoyment of these things?
3. Religion is very well and suitable for old age and infirmity is an objection to youthful piety nearly allied to the foregoing. So it is: but is it, therefore, unsuitable to health and youth?
4. We can repent and be religious some future time, will young people themselves sometimes say, when exhorted to remember now their Creator. But to repent when we will is not in our power. Repentance is the gift of Jesus Christ, and He may righteously withhold to-morrow what we ungratefully refuse to-day.
5. Piety induces gloom and melancholy, it is often further urged. Who are they that say piety induces depression and gloom of spirit? Not the pious, but such as never felt the power of godliness or experienced the joy of faith. Are they, then, to-be believed who tell us of what they cannot possibly be judges?
6. Piety interferes with genteel and polite demeanour, it has, too, been said. This objection betrays in those who advance it great ignorance of Scripture and of scriptural character. No: the Gospel which we preach inculcates morals the most correct and chaste, tempers the most gracious, manner the most affable, behaviour the most courteous.
7. It will incur reproach, and possibly it may injure a young man's reputation; and consequently also may retard his advancement in life to be pious too soon, is the final objection to early piety we shall choose to notice. How sordid must be the views of a parent who seeks first for his children any object below "the kingdom of God and His righteousness"! And how must "the honour which cometh of man" be desired and valued above "the honour which cometh of God only" where there exists the fear of disrepute on account of religion!
III. TO STATE SOME REASONS FOR IT.
1. It is reasonable in itself — that a creature should remember his Creator; a redeemed creature his Redeemer; and an immortal creature that immortality which awaits him. We execrate ingratitude one towards another: is there nothing offensive in an ungrateful forgetfulness of our Maker?
2. God requires it. Yet, "ye have robbed Me," may God justly say to those of our youth who forget Him and refuse to Him the homage of their hearts.
3. The mind is more susceptible of impression when young.
4. Piety in youth gives a proper bias to the affections.
5. The world will be viewed in a true light.
6. Piety in youth lays a foundation for placidity and calmness in age.
7. Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour, will be more abundantly honoured by the devotion of our first years unto His service.
IV. TO RECOMMEND IT EARNESTLY TO THE YOUNG AMONG YOU.
(W. Mudge, B. A.)I. WHAT THESE DAYS ARE IN THEMSELVES.
1. They are days most favourable for "remembering" the Lord. It was an appointment of the olden time that the manna was to be gathered in the morning, and for any that waited till late in the day there was none, embodying a lesson the young may well remember. The promise of the Lord is to them that seek Him "early" that they shall find Him.
2. They are the days of special privilege and promise. Think of some of the inspired biographies of some of the most eminent and what they show us of the days of their youth. Joseph, for instance, whose early days must have revealed the kindling purity and nobility that made his life such a power and his very bones an inspiration. Think of Samuel in the days of his youth, in which the mother's training and the Lord's call show what shall be, as in after days his name stands upon the record of the worthies as "Samuel among them that call upon His name." Turn to the Hebrew youths in Babylon, and, captives as they were, you see the power that gathered around them as in their self-denial they put aside the delicacies of the king's table rather than incur the possibility of sin, and braved the terrors of the lions' den and the fiery furnace that they might be faithful to God.
3. The days of youth are days that are most receptive and most retentive of what may influence them. It follows from this that there should be all possible care that the good should be received and the evil excluded. It is what is first taken into the mind that sinks the deepest and lasts the longest.
II. WHAT THEY SHALL BE IF RIGHTLY USED.
1. They shall be days of real and rich blessing.(1) In order to this, however, they must be days of response to the Divine call.(2) There must also be the full acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as your portion. It may involve self-denial, and it will; the Lord lays it down at the very beginning of His service; but that is a noble exercise for the young under any conditions, and in connection with the service of the Lord will bring a rich blessing.
2. Being this, the days of your youth will be days of gracious promise for all the days after. The inspired description of the course is as "the shining light," and not that only, but "that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
III. THE RIGHT USE SHOULD BE MADE OF THESE DAYS AT ONCE.
1. It should, because of the proneness there is in youth to put off these things to the future, and how it will grow upon the man.
2. It should, too, because there are so many will seek to lead you into neglect and folly.
3. It should, too, because it will fill you with the divine portion from the beginning.
4. It should be, also, because it will not only give you a blessing for yourselves, but make you a blessing to others.
(J. P. Chown.)I. THE NATURE OF THE ACT OR DUTY HERE ENJOINED; which is, to remember our Creator. To remember God is frequently, and in our most serious and retired thoughts, to consider that there is such a Being as God is; of all power and perfection, who made us and all other things, and hath given us laws to live by suitable to our natures; and will call us to a strict account for our observance or violation of them, and accordingly reward or punish us; very often in this world, and to be sure in the other. It is to revive often in our minds the thoughts of God and of His infinite perfections, and to live continually under the power and awe of these apprehensions.
II. WHAT THERE IS IN THE NOTION OF GOD AS OUR CREATOR THAT IS MORE PARTICULARLY APT TO AWAKEN AND OBLIGE MEN TO THE REMEMBRANCE OF GOD.
1. Creation is of all others the most sensible and obvious argument of a Deity. Other considerations may work upon our reason and understanding, but this doth, as it were, bring God down to our senses.
2. The creation is a demonstration of God's infinite power. And this consideration is apt to work upon our fear, the most wakeful passion of all others in the soul of man.
3. The creation is a demonstration of the goodness of God to His creatures. This consideration of God, as our Creator, doth naturally suggest to our minds that His goodness brought us into being; and that, if being a benefit, God is the Fountain and Author of it.
III. THE REASON OF THE LIMITATION OF THIS DUTY MORE ESPECIALLY TO THIS PARTICULAR AGE OF OUR LIVES. "Now, in the days of thy youth."
1. To engage young persons to begin this great and necessary work of religion betimes, and as soon as ever they are capable of taking it into consideration.
2. To engage young persons to set about this work presently, and not to defer it and put it off to the future, as most are apt to do.
3. And how much reason there is to press both these considerations upon young persons I shall endeavour to show in the following particulars.(1) Because in this age of our lives we have the greatest and most sensible obligation to remember God our Creator: "in the days of our youth," when the blessing and benefit of life is new, and the memory of it fresh upon our minds.(2) The reason will be yet stronger to put us upon this, if we consider that, notwithstanding the great obligation which lies upon us to "remember our Creator in the days of our youth," we are most apt at that time of all others to forget Him. For that which is the great blessing of youth is also the great danger of it, I mean, the health and prosperity of it; and, though men have then least reason, yet they are most apt to forget God in the height of pleasure and in the abundance of all things.(3) Because this age is of all others the fittest and best to begin a religious course of life. And this does not contradict the former argument, though it seems to do so. For as it is true of children that they are most prone to be idle, and yet fittest to learn, so, in the case we are speaking of, both are true; that youth is an age wherein we are too apt, if left to ourselves, to forget God and religion, and yet at the same time fittest to receive the impressions of it.(4) This is the most acceptable time of all others, because it is the first of our age. Our blessed Lord took great pleasure to see little children Come unto Him; an emblem of the pleasure He takes that men should list themselves betimes in His service. St. John was the youngest of all the disciples, and our Saviour had a very particular kindness and affection for him; for he is said to be "the disciple whom Jesus loved."(5) This age of our life may, for anything we know, be the only time we may have for this purpose; and if we cast off the thoughts of God and defer the business of religion to old age, intending, as we pretend, to set about it at that time, we may be cut off before that time comes, and turned into hell with the people that forget God.
(J. Tillotson, D. D.)1. Though we should begin to serve God even from our youth, our earliest service comes long after His favours. Before ever we come to years of discretion we have contracted a vast debt of gratitude to our Creator and Preserver; a debt which might make us very uneasy, because we can never discharge it, if there were not a pleasure in endeavouring to pay it, and if such endeavour were not all that God requires at our hands.
2. We should serve God in our youth, because that is the way to make the practice of our duty easy to us; and because, if we set out wrong, it is very hard afterwards to amend. It is true that persons have repented, though late, and have delivered themselves from the bondage of sin. There are examples of it, that none may despair; and those examples are few, that none may presume.
3. We should serve God in our youth, because, as virtue will have the first possession of us, we shall not be able to change for the worse without an uncommon resolution to do ill. The first love is usually the strongest and the most lasting.
4. Youth is also the time when, on several accounts, we are better able to serve God than we are in a more advanced age, if we have neglected our duty before. There are good qualities and favourable dispositions which often accompany it. Thus, in youth properly educated, there is a sincerity not yet lost by the practice of deceit and dissimulation; there is a modesty which is both a guard to virtue and a check to sinful actions; there is a respect for parents and masters, the natural result of a state of dependence; there is a flexibility and aptness to receive instruction, which lessens as we grow up, if self-love, pride, and conceit increase faster than understanding and judgment, and make us hasty, obstinate, and perverse; there is, lastly, a lively heat of temper, an activity both of body and mind, which, as it is dangerous when it is employed in the service of vice, so it can make a speedy progress in virtue.
5. Yet youth, with all its advantages, hath its disadvantages, and is the time when we are the most tempted to forget God; and therefore ought this precept to be inculcated upon that thoughtless age.
6. If there be joy in heaven over a sinner who repents, and God in the Scripture be represented under the image of the father in the parable, running forth to meet and to embrace his lost son as soon as he returns, yet it is very reasonable to conclude that the son who, from his youth, serves and never leaves his heavenly Father, must be dearer to Him. After we have sought happiness where happiness is not to be found, then to condemn our folly, to consider, to amend, and to bring forth the fruits of repentance is a wise part. But it is a wiser and a more generous behaviour to serve God before we have served other masters, not driven to Him, as to a last refuge, by afflictions, or disappointments, or by an immediate sense of danger, or by a weariness and dislike of the world.
7. Another reason for which youth should be well spent is the uncertainty of life.
8. We should serve God in our earlier days with a view to the ensuing days, which we may expect in the course of our life. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth," says Solomon, "while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." They will certainly come sooner or later, unless sudden death prevent them; and, therefore, if we be wise, we shall in our youth, before they overtake us, prepare to meet them, and provide ourselves all the assistance which we can procure to lessen those evils, and to support and comfort us under them. And what can they be, unless the favour of God, and the sense of a life spent in laudable industry, in acquiring useful knowledge, in discharging our duty to our Creator, in doing kind offices to our neighbour, in amending our faults, and improving in virtue? These are a treasure of which force and fraud cannot deprive us; which lies out of the reach of all enemies and all accidents. The calamities which fall upon us will then lose much of their weight; old age will be unto us only a nearer approach to everlasting youth; and we shall meet death, if not with cheerfulness, at least with decency and resignation.
9. To these convincing reasons for an early piety I shall only add this, that it is in no respect hard and burthensome. Youth is cheerful; and so is religion.
(J. Jortin, D. D.)I. It is the first advantage of early piety, and our first obligation to cultivate it, THAT OUR DUTY TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS THEREBY RENDERED EASY AND PLEASING TO US. That custom and practice render everything easy, and most things pleasant to us, is universally known and confessed; and will in a peculiar degree be found true of piety towards God. In this case, in addition to the delight naturally arising from the performance of what is familiar to us, we shall have on the same side the approbation of our own hearts; the pleasure of habit improved by the consciousness of duty.
II. THE POWER AND EFFECTS OF CUSTOM will furnish yet another argument in favour of early piety; for they will show the danger of. contracting opposite habits by showing the difficulty of correcting them. The reproaches of a wounded conscience, the conviction of having offended God, the anxiety to be restored to His favour, and the uncertainty whether that favour can now be deserved and obtained; all these considerations alarm and oppress the mind of him who is grown old in transgression; and form so many difficulties in the way of his returning to the hallowed paths of virtue and religion. He has, indeed, a double task to perform, to cease to do evil, and to learn to do well; and the abuse of his youth and health in the service of sin has left this task, with all its difficulties, to infirmity and old age.
III. It will be another recommendation of early piety, THAT IT IS LIKELY TO BECOME THE MOST ACCEPTABLE TO ITS OBJECT; because the most suitable to his character and our own. In youth is generally found a sincerity and simplicity of heart, which recommend every part of human duty, and especially our duty to Him to whom all hearts are open. In youth, while not yet corrupted by intercourse with a corrupt world, are generally observed a diffidence and modesty, which not only form a constant guard to purity and integrity, but which bid fair to ripen into humility and devotion. In youth we find the greatest aptness to learn.
IV. ONE UNFORTUNATE QUALITY IN OUR YOUTH, HOWEVER, TOO OFTEN COUNTERACTS THESE FAVOURABLE DISPOSITIONS, and retards their progress in piety. Too many of them are careless and thoughtless, apt to neglect the serious consideration of their Maker and His laws. Too many of them show a levity and fickleness of mind and temper, which disinclines them to the solemn offices of religion, and prevents the performance of those offices with due fervency and steadiness.
V. It is another recommendation of early piety, and another obligation to the practice of it, that we shall thereby discharge, as far as WE ARE REQUIRED TO DISCHARGE IT, A DEBT OF GRATITUDE AND JUSTICE. The first tribute of our faculties is naturally due to Him who gave them. Children, then, should be early taught to meditate upon the blessings of their Maker.
VI. Our last recommendation of early piety shall be drawn from a very obvious, but very interesting, source, THE SHORTNESS AND UNCERTAINTY OF HUMAN LIFE. Youth is not only the most proper season to engage in the service of our God, but perhaps the only season that may be allowed us.
(W. Barrow, LL. D.)I. WHAT IS IT THAT SOLOMON COUNSELS YOUNG PEOPLE TO REMEMBER? He says, "thy Creator": but what about God does he desire his hearers to keep in mind?
1. His existence, as He proves it. And He proves it most clearly by creating us; He is our Creator: He made us, every one of us, and He now owns us for His possession.
2. God's character, as He exhibits it. The heathen think God is cruel; so they insist He must be propitiated and pleased by bloody sacrifices.
3. God's providence, as He exercises it. Not a moment passes without our having His care. There was one very pleasant story told among the ancients about a person called Erichthonius: they said he was very comely in his body, from the waist upwards, but he had his thighs and legs like the tail of an eel, small and deformed; for a long time he did not understand that he was different from the rest of mankind, but as soon as he became conscious of his hateful weakness, he grew so melancholy that God pitied him; and then He showed him, in a dream, what gave him a fresh and splendid idea; that is to say, this poor shapeless creature was the inventor of the chariot or carriage, whereby his own want could be supplied; so God benefited him, and so he became a benefactor himself to men. Once when this story was related to a child, she suddenly said: "I suppose it is not true exactly; but if it had been, it would have been very kind, add lust like God to do it, too."
4. God's Word, as He has revealed it. The Bible is a message sent directly from our Maker; so He expects us all, young and old, to read it, and find out what it means. The Scriptures do principally teach what we are to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
5. God's Church, as He has organized it. He gave His only begotten Son that He might be made Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."
II. WHEN, SPECIALLY, ARE WE TO REMEMBER OUR CREATOR? "Now, in the days of thy youth."
1. In the beginning, remember that the young can be Christians. Why not? All they have to do is to come and ask Christ to take them, and make them His children.
2. Remember, therefore, that it is easier for young people to be Christians than it is for others; The spirit of religion is precisely that of a little child, to start with; and a religious career is exquisitely in accordance with a youthful disposition (Matthew 18:8).
3. Remember, once again, that the young have often become Christians. In the Scriptures we have the account of , of Paul's sister's son, of , of John Mark. In the primitive Church the names come to us of , who must have loved Christ when he was four years old; and has often been quoted as saying that there were many boys and girls "who had been considered disciples of the Lord in their childhood, and continued uncorrupted all their lives." Later in history, we know Jonathan Edwards was converted before he was seven, and Matthew Henry before he was eleven years old, Isaac Watts before he reached nine.
4. Remember that the young ought always to be Christians. Many are the children of faithful training and of many prayers. God is true to His covenant, and "the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
I. FOR THE LORD'S SAKE. "I wish I could mind God as my little dog minds me," said a little boy, looking thoughtfully at his shaggy friend — "he always seems so pleased to mind, and I don't." That little dog obeyed his young master for his master's sake. He really loved him, and tried to show this love by the cheerful, ready way in which he obeyed him. This was the right thing for him to do; and it is just what God expects us to do.
II. FOR OUR OWN SAKE. When we really begin to remember God, and to keep His commandments, God says to each of us, as He said to the Israelites in old time — "from this day will I bless you." And God's blessing is worth more to us than all the world besides. "Remember now thy Creator," was once said to a little boy. "Not yet," said the boy, as he busied himself with his bat and ball; "when I grow older I will think about it." The little boy grew to be a young man. "Remember now thy Creator," his conscience said to him. "Not yet," said the young man; "I am now about to begin my trade; when I see my business prosper, I shall have more time than I can command now." His business did prosper. "Remember now thy Creator," his conscience whispered to him. "Not yet," said the man of business; "my children must now have my care; when they are settled in life, I shall be better able to attend to the claims of religion." He lived to be a grey-headed old man. "Remember now thy Creator," was the voice which conscience once more addressed to him. "Not yet," was still his cry; "I shall soon retire from business, and then I shall have nothing else to do but read and pray." Soon after this he died, without becoming a Christian. He put off to another time what he should have attended to when young, and that caused the loss of his soul. Those two little words — "Not yet" — were his ruin.
III. FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS. God's promise to Abraham, when he began to serve Him, was that he should be a blessing. And God says the same thing to all His people. And not only by our words, but by our actions, and by our prayers, we may be doing good, all the time, to those about us.
(R. Newton, D. D.)1 Corinthians 9:24), which is the swiftest pace of man. The cherubims were portrayed with wings before the place where the Israelites prayed (Exodus 25:20), to show how quickly they went about the Lord's business. The hound which runs but for the hare, girds forth so soon as he sees the hare start; the hawk which flieth but for the partridge, taketh her flight so soon as she spieth the partridge spring; so we should follow the word so soon as it speaketh, and come to our Master so soon as He calleth. If our children be deformed in their youth, we never look to see them well favoured; so if the mind be planted in sin, seldom any goodness buddeth out of that stock. For virtue must have a time to grow, the seed is sown in youth, which cometh up in age. Try thy strength but with one of thy sins, and see what shifts, what excuses, what delays it will find, and how it will importune thee to let it alone, as the devil tormented the child before he went out; if thou canst not discharge one vice that thou hast accustomed thyself unto, when all thy vices are become customs, how wilt thou wrestle with them? Therefore we bend the tree while it is a twig, and break the horse while he is a colt, and teach the dog while he is a whelp, and tame the eagle while he is young. Youth is like the day to do all our works in. For when the night of age cometh, then every man saith, I might have been learned, I might have been a teacher, I might have been like him, or him, but the harvest was past before I began to sow, and winter is come, now my fruit should ripe. Thus every man that is old saith, he cannot do that which he thought to do, and crieth with Solomon, Catechize the child in his youth, and he will remember it when he is old; so corrupt him in his youth, and he will remember that too. There be not many Lots, but many linger like Lot, loath to depart, until they see the fire burn. If the angel had not snatched him away, Lot had perished with Sodom for his delay. There be not five foolish virgins and five wise, but five for one knock when the door is shut. There be not many Simeons, but many as old as Simeon, which never yet embraced Christ in their hearts. They thought to repent before they were so old, yet now they dear for age, they are not old enough to repent yet. Is this to seek the kingdom of heaven first, or last, or not at all? Woe to the security, woe to the stubbornness, woe to the drowsiness of this age.
While the evil days come not
1. There are many physical elements which enter into the preparation for a profitable and happy old age. The human body is an instrument of pleasure and use, built for eighty years' wear. His body is placed in a world adapted to nourish and protect it. Nature is congenial. There are elements enough of mischief in it, if a man pleases to find them out. A man can wear his body out as quickly as he pleases, destroy it if he will; but, after all, the great laws of nature are nourishing laws, and, comprehensively regarded, nature is the universal nurse, the universal physician of our race, guarding us against evil, warning us of it by incipient pains, setting up signals of danger — not outwardly, but inwardly — and cautioning us by sorrows and by pains for our benefit. Every immoderate draft which is made by the appetites and passions is so much sent forward to be cashed in old age. You may sin at one end, but God takes it off at the other. I do not object to mirth or gaiety, but I do object to any man making an animal of himself by living for the gratification of his own animal passions. Excess in youth, in regard to animal indulgences, is bankruptcy in old age. For this reason, I deprecate late hours, irregular hours, or irregular sleep. People ask me frequently, "Do you think that there is any harm in dancing?" No, I do not. There is much good in it. "Do you, then, object to dancing parties?" No; in themselves, I do not. But where unknit youth, unripe muscle, unsettled and unhardened nerves, are put through an excess of excitement, treated with stimulants, fed irregularly and with unwholesome food, surrounded with gaiety which is excessive, and which is protracted through hours when they should be asleep, I object, not because of the dancing, but because of the dissipation. But there are many that I perceive are wasting their lives and destroying their old age, not through their passions, but through their ambition, and in the pursuit of laudable objects. I know of many artists that are wearing out their lives, day after day, with preternatural excitement of the brain; yet their aims are transcendently excellent. I know of musicians that are wearing out, night and day; yet their ambition is upward and noble. They are ignorant that they are wearing out their body by the excitement of their brains. While alcoholic stimulants waste and destroy life, and prevent a happy old age, the same thing is also done by moral stimulants. The latter is not as beastly, but it is just as wasteful of health. Whatever prematurely wears out the thinking machinery, or destroys health prematurely, carries bankruptcy into old age.
2. There ought, also, to be wisdom in secular affairs, in the preparation by the young for the coming of old age. Foresight is a Christian virtue. Every man should make such provision for himself as that he shall not be dependent upon others. Provision for moderate comfort in old age is wise. It is far better than an ambition for immoderate riches, which too often defeats itself. If men were more moderate in their expectations; if, when they had obtained a reasonable competency, they secured that from the perils of commercial reverses, more men, I think, would go into old age serene and happy.
3. In looking upon old age, we are forcibly struck with the necessity of taking pains early, and all the way through life, to accumulate stores for social enjoyment. Sociability is a part of Christian duty. Every man should take great care not to cut himself off from the sympathies of human life. Old men should take care that they be not deprived of enjoyment in the society of the young; and if a man would derive comfort from the young in his old age, he must cultivate an attachment for the young in his early life. In youth and middle age you are to secure the provision that shall supply you in old age, if you are to be nourished and made happy on such joys as these. Be not, then, selfish in your youth. Grow to your fellow-men, instead of growing away from them, and strive to live more and more in sympathy with them and for them.
4. Let me speak of the intellectual resources that are to help you in old age. Education has a more important relation to manhood than it has to the making of your outside fortune. If you are to be a lawyer, a physician, a minister, or a teacher, you need an education in order to succeed in your calling; but if you belong to none of these callings, you need an education to succeed in your manhood. Education means the development of what is in man; and every man ought to be developed, not because he can make money thereby, but because he can make manhood thereby. Education is due to your manhood. Keep your lamp full of oil, and lay up such stores of intellectual provision, that when you go into old age, if one resource fails you, you can try another. If you have learned to look under your feet every day while young, and to cull the treasures of truth which belong to theology, natural history, and chemistry; if every fly has furnished you a study; if the incrustation of the frost is a matter of interest; if the trees that come in spring, and the birds that populate them, the flowers of the meadow, the grass of the field, the fishes that disport themselves in the water — if all of these are so many souvenirs of the working hand of your God, you will find, when you come into your old age, that you have great enjoyment therein. Let me, therefore, recommend you to commit much to memory. Oh, how much a man may store up against old age! What a price is put into the hands of the young wherewith to get wisdom! What provisions for old age do they squander and throw away! It is a great thing so to have lived that the best part of life shall be its evening. October, the ripest month of the year, and the richest in colours, is a type of what old age should be.
5. I have reserved for the last the most important, namely, the spiritual, preparation for old age. It is a beautiful thing for a man, when he comes into old age, to have no more preparation to make. If piety is the garment you have worn through a long and virtuous life, you may stand in your old age in the certainty of faith, waiting only that you may pass from glory to glory. A part of this spiritual preparation consists, I think, in living all the time with the distinct consciousness that our life is a joined one; that the best part of it is that which lies beyond; and that we are not to live for the life that lies between one and eighty, but for that which lies between one and eternity. The habit of associating all your friends and friendships with this future life, while it will afford you great comfort and strength all the way through life, will give its choicest fruits and benefits in old age. As you grow old, childhood's companions die around you every year; but if you have been living a true Christian life, although the world may seem desolate for a time, yet your thought is this: "My companions, my fellow-workers, have gone before me; I am left alone in the dreary world, but am every day being brought closer and closer to that world of everlasting blessedness. One has gone before; another has gone; the wife of my bosom, my eldest child, one after another of my children, and of their children, have gone; one after another of my neighbours and the friends of my youth have gone, and I am left behind; but I am close upon their steps. They are all there waiting for me. I have but a few days to wait, and I shall be blessed again with their high and holy society."
(H. W. Beecher.)
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