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They must buckle on well this armour of the mind, if they would issue forth into the contest with any prospect of success. While we thus study to correct the errors, and to provide against the dangers, which are peculiar to this stage of life, let us also,
V. Lay foundation for comfort in old That is a period which all expect and hope to see; and to which, amidst the toils of the world, men sometimes look forward, not without satisfaction, as to the period of retreat and rest. But let them not deceive themselves. A joyless and dreary season it will prove, if they arrive at it with an unimproved or cor
rupted mind. For old age, as for every other
thing, a certain preparation is requisite; and that preparation consists chiefly in three particulars; in the acquisition of knowledge, of friends, of virtue. There is an acquisition of another kind, of which it is altogether needless for me to give any recommendation, that of riches. But though this, by many, will be esteemed a more material acquisition than all the three I have named, it may be confidently pronounced, that without these other requi sites, all the wealth we can lay up in store will prove insufficient for making our latter days pass smoothly away.
First, He who wishes to render his old comfortable, should study betimes to enlarge and improve his mind; and by thought and inquiry, by reading and reflecting, to acquire a taste for useful knowledge. This will provide for him a great and noble entertainment, when other entertainments leave him. If he bring into the solitary retreat of age, a vacant, uninformed mind, where no knowledge dawns, where no ideas rise, which has nothing to feed upon within itself, many a heavy and comfortless day he must necessarily pass. Next, When a man declines into the vale of years, he depends more on the aid of his friends, than in any other period of his life. Then is the time, when he would especially wish to find himself surrounded by some who love and respect him; who will bear with his infirmities, relieve him of his labours, and cheer him with their society. Let him, therefore, now in the summer of his days, while yet active and flourishing, by acts of seasonable kindness and beneficence, ensure that love, and by upright and honourable conduct, lay foundation for that respect, which in old age he would wish to enjoy.-In the last place, Let him consider a good conscience, peace with God, and the hope of heaven, as the most effectual consolations he can possess, when the
evil days shall come, wherein, otherwise, he is likely to find little pleasure. It is not merely by transient acts of devotion that such consolations are to be provided. The regular tenor of a virtuous and pious life, spent in the faithful discharge of all the duties of our station, will prove the best preparation for old age, for death, and for immortality.
Among the measures thus taken for the latter scenes of life, let me admonish every one not to forget to put his worldly affairs in order in due time. This is a duty which he owes to his character, to his family, or to those, whoever they be, that are to succeed him; but a duty too often unwisely delayed, from a childish aversion to entertain any thoughts of quitting the world. Let him not trust much to what he will do in his old age. Sufficient for that day, if he shall live to see it, will be the burden thereof. It has been remarked, that as men advance in years, they care less to think of death. Perhaps it occurs oftener to the thoughts of the young than of the old. Feebleness of spirit renders melancholy ideas more oppressive, and after having been so long accustomed and inured to the world, men bear worse with any thing which reminds them that they must soon part with
it. However, as to part with it is the doom of all, let us take measures betimes for going off the stage, when it shall be our turn to withdraw, with decency and propriety; leaving nothing unfulfilled which it is expedient to have done before we die. To live long, ought not to be our favourite wish, so much as to live well. By continuing too long on earth, we might only live to witness a great number of melancholy scenes, and to expose ourselves to a wider compass of human woe. He who has served his generation faithfully in the world, has duly honoured God, and been beneficent and useful to mankind; he who in his life has been respected and beloved; whose death is accompanied with the sincere regret of all who knew him, and whose memory is honoured; that man has sufficiently fulfilled his course, whether it was appointed by Providence to be long or short. For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that which is measured by number of years; but wisdom is the grey hair to man; and an unspotted life is old age.
* Wisdom, iv. 8, 9.
ECCLESIASTES, xii. 5.
Man goeth to his long home, and the
THIS is a sight which incessantly presents itself. Our eyes are so much accustomed to it, that it hardly makes any impression. Throughout every season of the year, and during the course of almost every day, the funerals which pass along the streets shew us man going to his long home. Were death a rare and uncommon object; were it only once in the course of a man's life, that he beheld one of his fellow-creatures carried to the grave, a solemn awe would fill him; he would stop short in the midst of his pleasures; he would even be chilled with secret horror. Such impres