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was their due ; I fear, I shall be taxed with despising the ancient, so worthy of our attention and regard. However, I inust inention a few reflections tending to justify the conduct of Barzillai, and to unfold the spirit and sense of the text. I must make these reflections, too, for other reasons; in general for the benefit of this whole assembly; for your sakes, in particular, our aged hearers, that you may be induced, by the idea of a world that avoids you, to return to God, who opens his arms to receive you; for your sakes, also, young people, that you may be prevailed on to amass pleasures in your youth, which will remain with you in old age. Woe be to him, I say, who renders worldly pleasures necessary to his old age! Happy, on the contrary, he, who hath laid up treasure for time to come! Happy the man, who hath prepared for himself pleasures for a time, when the pleasures of the world are insipid, and when he himself is intolerable to those, who enjoy them! Happy he, who instead of pining after the circles of the gay and the great, hath no other desire than that of making his court to the King of kings! Happy he, who, instead of attempting to please himself with the voices of singing men and singing women, delights himself with pious books and holy medita-, tions! Happy the man, who, when he becomes a burden to society, knows, like Barzillai, how to relish the pleasure of retirement and solitude! Happy he, who, instead of pursuing a fleeing phantom of felicity and glory, knows how to direct his sighs to the bosom of that God, in whom substantial glory and true felicity dwell, objects which never elude his search! Happy he, whose eyes, however weakened by age, is not become too dim-sighted to see the gate of heaven! Happy the man, whose faultering voice and feeble hands can yet address this prayer to God, and say with a prophet, Cast me not off in the time of old age, forsake me not when my strength faileth, Psal. Ixxix. 9.
3. In fine, my brethren, Barzillai revolved in his mind the nearness of old age to death. This was the principal cause of his refusal. How long hare I to live? These words imply a retrospect, how long have I lived? and a prospect, how long have I yet to live? I am this day fourscore years old. Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried · by the grave of my father and my mother. This was a very reasonable request, my brethren, both in regard to the principle laid down, and the conseqnence derived from it.
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The principle is, that there is very little distance between old age and death. So little, that the good old man thought, that there was but just time enough for him to pass over Jordan with the king, to return back, and to prepare for his funeral. How long have I to live? I am this day fourscore years old. Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and mother. Was ever principle better founded? How little is necessary to overset and break the fraine of a man at this age? What is neces sary ? a vapour! a puff of wind !
Let us pause here a moment, my brethren, and let us not behold this spectacle without reflecting on the vanity of this life. A life of fourscore years appears to me a most abundant source of reflections on human frailty. True it is that diseases, which consuine us; sudden deaths, which cry to us, Children of men, return, and which cut off numbers before they have lived half their days; fires, shipwrecks, assassinations, epidemical diseases, all these are very proper to teach us what a little account we ought to make of the present life. But, how frequently soever these sad accidents happeni, we generally take care to harden ourselves against any apprehensions of danger from them, by considering them as extraordinary events, by hoping we shall escape them, and by flattering ourselves that we shall arrive at a good old age.
Well! you are to arrive at this good old age! But how many years will elapse before you do arrive at it? No, no, I repeat it again, nothing is more proper to discover our frailty* Should a thousand uncommon circumstances concur, should a vigorous constitution, a wise and cautious course of action, and a proper choice of diet unite to preserve you to this age; should you escapé water, and fire, and thieves, and earthquakes, the frailty of infancy, the impetuosity of youth, and the infirmities of advanced age; should you by a kind of miracle arrive at the utmost limits prescribed to mankind, what then? Must you not presently die? The longest life seldom extends to a century. When á man hath lived an hundred years in the world; he is the wonder of the universe, and his age alone renders bim famous. The most obscure life becomes conspicuous, when it is drawn out to this length. It is spoken of as a prodigy, it is published in foreign countries; history records the man, who had the extraordinary happiness to live to such an age;
it writes his name with precision, and transmits his memory to the most distant posterity; it says, át such a time, in such a place lived a man, who attained his hundredth year. After this, he must die. Old age is an incurable malady, and we are old at fourscore. O! shadow of life! how vain art thou? O grass ! how little a time dost thou flourish in our field ! ( wise and instructive principle of Barzillai, There is very little distance between old age and death! How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore years old, I pray thee bet me return, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother.
But if the principle of this good old man be well founded, the consequence derived from it is better founded, that is, that worldly affairs do not suit a man drawing near the end of his life; that when death is so near, à man should be wholly employed in preparing for it. If Barzillai had been a wise man through the whole course of his life, as we suppose he had, he had not put off till now a preparation for this event which is certainly the most serious and important of life. Even 'they, who have lived the most regular, and gone innocently through all the busy scenes of life, have long accounts to settle, and questions of the last importance to agitate, when they come to die. Every thing engages Barzillai to avoid disconcerting hiinself in his last moments, and to devote the few that remain to seriousness. - Yes, everything engages him to do so; and, to confine myself to some reflections, the length of time he had lived, the cares of his mind at present, and the consolation arising from a meditation of death, all incline him to take leave of the king and the court, the pleasures and the business of the world, tables richly served and concerts well performed, all incline him to think of nothing but death. · 1. The long time he had lived. If the account, which God requires every man to give at death, be terrible to all men, it should seein particularly so to old men. An old man is responsible for all the periods of his life, all the circumstances he has been in, and all the connections he hath formed. Then, before a tribunal of inpartial justice, will every instant of that long life, which is now at an end, be examined. Then will all the objects, which time seeins to have buried in eternal silence, be recalled to view. Then sins of youth, which have left no trace on the mind, because the eagerness with which we proceed to the coininission of
new crimes does not allow tiine to examine what we have committed, then will they all arise out of that sort of annihilation, in which they seemed to be lost. Fourscore years spent in offending thee, my God* ! said a dying man. Too true in the inouth of him, who said so! Too true in the mouths of most old men! A motive powerful enough to engage an old man to employ in penitential excrcises every moment, which the patience of God yet affords, and which at his age cannot be many.
2. The continual cares, which exercised the mind of Barzillai, were a second spring of his action. We consider fiches as protectors from care: but in general they are the direct contrary. A rich man is obliged, as it were, to give himself wholly up to discover and defeat a general plot laid to engross his fortune. He must resist such as would vioļently force it from him. He must unmask others, who, under colour of justice, and supported by law, involve him in law suits to establish illegitimate claims. He must pene. trate through a thousand pretences of generosity, disinterestedness and friendship, into the soul of a false friend, who aims at nothing but gratifying his own avarice or ambition. He must watch night and day to fix his riches, which having wings are always ready to fly away. How difficult is it for a soul, distracted with so many cares, to devote as much time to work out salvation as a labour so im. portant requires ! How necessary is it to make up by retirem ment and recollection in the last stages of life, what has been wanting in days of former hurry, and which are now no more! I recollect, and I apply to Barzillai, a saying of a captain, of whom historians have taken more care to record the wisdom than the name. It is said, that the saying struck the Emperor Charles V. and confirmed him in his design of abdicating his crown, and retiring to a convent, The captain required the Emperor to discharge him from service. Charles asked the reason. The prudent soldier replied, Because there ought to be a pause between the hurry of life and the day of death."
3. In fine, if Barzillai seemed to anticipate his dying day by continually meditating on the subject, it was because the meditation, full of horror to most men, was full of charms to this good old inan. When death is considered as a companion with condemnatory sentences, forinidable irreversible,
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decrees, * Mr. de Montausier. Şee the close of his funeral oras tion, by Flechier,
decrees, chains of darkness, insupportable tortures, smoke ascending up for ever and ever, blazing fires, remorse, rage, despair, desperate exclamations, mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?' Rev. x. 11. and vi. 16, 17. When we consider death, as so many men, alas ! ought to consider it, and as by their continual irregularities they prepare it for considetation, no wonder the thought is disagreeable, and must be put far away. But when death is considered as some of you, my brethren, ought to consider it, you whose faults have been washed with penitential tears, and repaired by a real conversion, your view of death is more delightful, and affords you more pleasure than the tables of the great, the amusemnents of a court, and the most melodious concerts could procure. Then these expressions, in appearance so mortifying, let ine return, let me die, are fraught with happiness,
Let me die, that I may be freed from the many infirmiies, and diseases and pains, to which my frail" body is exposed!
Let me die, that I may get rid of the misfortunes, the treachery, the perfidy, the numerous plots and plans, which are always in agitation against me in a society of mankind?
Let me die, and let me no more see truth persecuted, and innocence sacrificed to iniquity?
Let me die, let all my doubts and darkness vanish, let me surmount all my difficulties, and let all the clouds that hide interesting objects from me disappear! Let me go to know as I am known, and let me put off this body of sin! Let me leave a world, in which I cannot live without of. fending God! Let me kindle the fire of my love at the altar of the love of God! 'Let me die, and leave 'thiş untoward company of men, who seem almost all to have taken counsel against the Lord, and against his anointed, to subvert his throne, and, were it possible, to deprive him of the government of the world!
Let me die, that I may form intimate connections with happy spirits, and that I may enjoy that close union with them, that communion of ideas, that conformity of sentiments, which render heaven so delightful !