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they should continue in neglect of the warings which now press upon them; and which at length they begin to perceive ; but just the contrary. The effort is greater, but the necessity is greater. It is their last hope, and their last trial. I put the case of a man grown old in sin. If the warnings of old age bring him round to religion, happy is that man in his old age, above any thing he was in any other part of his life. But if these warnings do not affect him, there is nothing left in this world which will. We are not to set limits to God's grace,operating according to his good pleasure ; but we say there is nothing in this world; there is nothing in the course of nature, and the order of human affairs, which will affect him, if the feelings of age
do not. I put the case of a man grown old in sin, and, though old, continuing the practice of sin: that, it is said, in the full latitude of the expression, describes a worse case thạn is commonly met with. Would to God that the case was more rare than it is? But allowing it to be unusual in the utmost extent of the terms ; in a certain considerable degree the description applies to many old
persons. Many feel in their hearts, that
the words «
old in sin,” belong to them in some sense which is very formidable. They feel some dross and defilement to be yet purged away: some deep corruption to be yet eradicated, some virtue or other to be yet even learnt, yet acquired, or yet however, to be brought nearer to what it ought to be, than it has hitherto been brought. Now, if the warnings of age taught us nothing else, they might teach us this: that if these things are to be done, they must be done soon; they must be set about forthwith, in good earnest, and with strong resolution. The work is most momentous; the time is short. The day is far spent; the evening is come on; the night is at hand.
Lastly; I conceivethat this discourse points out the true and only way of making old age comfortable ; and that is, by making it the means of religious improvement. Let a man be beset by ever so many bodily complaints, bowed down by ever so many infirmities ; if he find his soul grown and growing better, his seriousness increased, his obedience more regularand more exact, his inward principles and dispositions improved from what they
were formerly, and continuing to improve; that man hath a fountain of comfort and consolation springing up within him. Infirmities, which have this effect, are infinitely better than strength and health themselves ; though these, considered independently of their consequences, be justly esteemed the greatest of all blessings, and of all gifts. The old age
of a virtuous man admits of a different and of a most consoling description.
It is this property of old age, namely, that its proper and most rational comfort consists in the consciousness of spiritual amendment. Avery pious writer gives the following representation of this stage of human life, when employed and occupied as it ought to be, and when life has been drawn to its close by a course of virtue and religion; “ To the intelligent and virtuoụs,” says our author,“old age presents a scene of tranquil enjoyments, of obedient appetites, of well regulated affections, of maturity in knowledge, and of calm preparation for immortality. In this serene and dignified state, placed, as it were, on the confines of two worlds, the mind of a good man reviews what is past with the complacency of an approving conscience, and looks forward with humble confidence in the mercy of God, and with devout aspirations towards his eternal and ever increasing favour."
THE TERRORS OF THE LORD.
Matt. xvi. 26.
What is a man profited, if he shall gain the
whole world, and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?
HESE words ask a question, the most
home to every man's concern of any that can possibly enter into his thoughts. What our Saviour meant to assert, though proposed to his hearers in the form of a
question (which indeed was only a stronger and more affecting way of asserting it), is, that a man's soul, by which term is here meant his state after death, is so infinitely more important to him, so beyond and above any thing he can get, or any thing he can lose, any thing he can enjoy, or any thing