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WHY THE WORLD IS NOT CONVERTED.
“ The world is not converted. The melancholy fact stares us in the face. Yet the world is to be converted. That delightful truth shines conspicuously on the pages of the Bible. Why is it not already converted ? It ought to have been converted ere this. The order for its conversion was issued eighteen centuries ago ; the means for its conversion were so long pointed out; and the promise of the power necessary to secure its conversion, accompanied the command to convert. And once, and that shortly after the issuing the order, the world was well nigh converted. But now the world is far, very far from being converted. It “ lieth in wickedness." What is the meaning of it? Why is it not converted? Whose is the fault ? Look not up to heaven for the inquiry, as if the reason was to be found there, among the mysteries of the eternal mind. Look elsewhere. The fact we deplore, results not from any lack of the benevolent disposition of God. No! “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What could he have felt, or done more ? The object of his love, the world—its gift, his Son! Could it have been more comprehensive, or more munificent ? Nor is the reason found in any deficiency in the atonement made by Christ, for he is the propitiation “ for the sins of the whole world'—the Lamb of God who “taketh away the sin of the world.” Nor is it owing to any limitation in the commission of the Holy Spirit; for of him it is testified that when he should “
reprove the world of sin.” And the commission to the human agents of the work was as extensive :-“Go ye into all the world ; preach the gospel to every creature ; teach all nations.” And the promise of the presence and power of Christ to be with them is also without restriction. See what goes before, and what comes after that great commission. The words which precede “ All power is given unto me in heaven and earth."
The words which follow, are, “ And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” 'You must look somewhere else than upward for the reason why the world is not converted. Look beneath-uround within."
PASTOR OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, UTICA, NEW YORK.
ABANDONMENT OF GOD DEPRECATED BY THE AGED.
* Cast me not off in the time of old age, forsake me not when my strength faileth."
Ps. lxxi, 9.
Age is the winter of life. The activity, buoyancy, and hopes of youth are past. The energies of mature years have wasted away and are no more. Bright prospective scenes, on earth at least, are remembered—not anticipated. The associations of the aged are with past generations; with the present they have few things in common. In the midst of the busy multitude, they dwell alone; they are perpetually receding from earth's busy scenes, and are liable to be forgotten. They have need again of that tender, fostering care, once shown them, and which they in their turn have extended to others. How desirable and important is the presence and favor of God! How full of meaning, breathed by them, is the petition in the text, as they lift their dimmed vision to the everlasting hills, and their heavy ear waits to catch the responsive accents of divine love. They are fading—still fading. The generation that once stood thick as summer leaves, are now so few, that “a child may write them." “Our fathers where are they?" One by one we carry them forth from our dwellings to the place of sepulchre ; nor are they missed, except by the surviving few who have grown old with them, or have been the companions of their declining years. So disconnected have they become with the associations of the multitude, their quiet exit scarcely raises a ripple upon the Sea of life. And this fact shows that they are liable to be too much neglected while living. Few consider the peculiar circumstances and necessities-few sympathize with the trials of the aged. The pulpit, doubtless, speaks less frequently than it should—both to them and for them-thus" turning the hearts of the children to the fathers." I would not have it reckoned among the deficiencies of my ministry, that the aged had no place in my sympathies, labors, and prayers. Such neglect the genius of the gospel forbids. It is written, " Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God.” And situated as are the aged, in the providence of God, they are entitled to our liveliest sympathies, our most sedulous attention. And it should quicken and also make us patient in the discharge of our duties to them, when we remember that we cannot have them long--and that some of us may have need in our turn, of the kindness and attention which it is our duty and privilege to show. The text gives as our present subject,
ABANDONMENT OF GOD DEPRECATED BY THE AGÈD.
I. They are peculiarly helpless. Infancy is helpless, but its wants are comparatively few; and if they" grow with the growth” there is generally a corresponding ability to redress them. With
age, verse is true. Past habits, feelings, pursuits and enjoyments, have created necessities unknown to infancy and which are inseparable from age, while the ability to redress them is constantly diminishing. And not only so, but this feeling of growing helplessness, is to the aged, a painful one, contrasted with past comparative independence. Consequently, many a want is never made known, and also, many that are, from a variety of causes, are never redressed. They therefore suffer rather than complain, and evince in silence, genuine heroism, which, because it is not known, or not appreciated, is not admired or commended. God only knows how much they suffer from their helplessness, how much patience is exercised by them, the reward of which, if they are the children of the Most High, they will surely reap in another world. Unwilling to be burdensome, they are uncomplaining sufferers; and their wants should therefore, if possible, be anticipated and promptly redressed, even though numerous and frequently recurring. And if human hearts fail to sympathize, or grow weary, or are engrossed, as they may be with other cares, how much more necessary, important and desirable are divine compassions--the communications and consolations of infinite love, always sympathetic, unwearied and inexhaustible! Experiencing, or even anticipating this state of dependence and comparative helplessness and its trials, how natural, appropriate, and expressive is the prayer,-“Cast me not off in the time of old age, forsake me not when my strength faileth."
II. Life, with the aged, is peculiarly void of earthly interest and enjoyment. Cut off from active pursuits, and from the nature of the case, forbidden in the “sere leaf” of life the anticipation of any thing novel or untasted; their thoughts, their conversation, are naturally respecting things long since past
. There, in the distance, sometimes in another and distant land, is the place of their birth, the scene of their first intellectual apprehensions, their first hopes and joys. There, too, at successive and not unfrequent intervals, are the wrecks of their exploded schemes of pleasure, honor and wealth. And as they muse, there
are vivid remembrances of many early friends now no more-their own precursors to the silent tomb. Their own generation have almost all of them gone to their
Here and there a survivor the relic of other days--a cotemporary witness of the swift lapse and ravages of time, serves to assure them of the reality of their desolations and their growing nearness to eternity. Sometimes not one of all those once known, once loved, remains, with whom in conversation to revive recollections, and thus in thought become once more the busy actors in the drama of life. In present passing, and sometimes even exciting scenes, they take no share, feel little or no interest. The busy whirl of pleasures, cares and toils, seems undesirable, now that their tread is feeble and trembling, and their once strong arm is powerless. “They are afraid of that which is high, and fears are in the way." New voices, faces, plans, new methods of business, new forms of thought, reveal a world about them with which they have scarcely a single association. They are witnesses of changes, scarcely perceptable in progress, but which in their full and concurrent development are greater than can well be conceived, except by those whose protracted existence links the past to the present. And when, during their musings, these and similar considerations throng the mind of dependent, contemplative age, there is experienced an inexpressible loneliness and desolation of soul. The silent lapse of each day separates them further and further still, from all that constituted the zenith of their earthly ambition and joy. The world has gradually receded and time is constantly blotting out the remembrances of the past. Thus the present is perpetually becoming a more perfect blank. The stricken heart sighs and sighs again, nor touches a responsive chord. Some few, perhaps, whom afflictions have schooled into sympathy, their sensitive natures covered with scars from wounds inflicted by an unfeeling and heartless world--victims even to man's tender mercies-may, and do have some sympathy with the aged; having become old before their time, alike and yet unlike, they are enabled from time to time to shed a ray of light into the thick and yet gathering gloom. All this, and more even, being true, how desirable to the aged must be the presence of the Father of spirits, the light of his countenance and the joy of his salvation! The appeal in the text is to the compassion of Jehovah ; “ Cast me not off in the time of old age, forsake me not when my strength faileth."
III. Bodily infirmities add to the peculiar trials of age. It is doubtless, as a general thing, a mercy that the eye grows dim, and the ear heavy. These senses, the source of much enjoyment under other circumstances, in their diminished perfection correspond more nearly with the diminished powers of bodily and mental endurance. As inlets to the soul, when partially closed they prevent the introduction of much that would only disturb peace of mind and hasten decay. There is much, very much, in this world, in respect to which it is very desirable to be both deaf and blind. To thought, sobered and matured by age and experience, the present, every way considered, seem to be
days of strange degeneracy. Solitary and pensive musings give a peculiar coloring to the intelligence that reaches them, and increase their temptations and liabilities to presage evil
. The very elements seem changed in their nature. The breath of spring, the heat of summer and the frosts of winter-food, sleep, are not what they were. Memory is more and more unfaithful to its trust. The mind swings from its balance. Unreal things are imagined, and these most frequently of a painful kind. Real things seems strangely out of place in fitness or order of time through forgetfulness. Past habits of business persuade the necessity of present effort and diligence, even where there is no need of a single anxious care. Not unfrequently there are apprehensions of want, and of cruel neglect. Existence at times seems an intolerable burden. Her powers diminished, nature bends under the weight of years, and seems to ask imploringly for the undisturbed rest and quiet of the grave. How timely, precious and consolatory, under these circumstances, must be assurances from God of renewed youth, vigor, and service in another life and a better world.
IV. Their nearness to eternity makes the presence and favor of God eminently desirable to the aged. The race of life is almost run. The sun of a lengthened and weary day is well nigh ready to set. The lamp of life burns dim and is just ready to expire. The day of grace, the season of probation is also well nigh passed. Sabbaths, sermons and prayers will soon be no more. Death is at hand—“ the judge standeth at the door.” Eternity with all its boundlessness of glory and shame, joy and wo, life and death, awaits the immortal spirit. At such an hour, and in these circumstances, how painful it must be to an individual to feel that God has left him, and when human sympathy and aid avail so little. If the soul ever knew the blessedness of peace and communion with God, and had learned in the confidence of faith to cast all its care upon him, what strong desires would naturally wing to heaven the prayer contained in the text ? And it may be regarded as evidence of having been born from above, when, on the verge of probation and eternity, the soul turns constantly and confidently to God as the chief, the only unfailing source of good—when notwithstanding much infirmity and doubt, faith still clings to and pleads the fulfilment of the divine promise: "Even to good 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 deliver you." An earthly father's presence and love, could offer to helpless infancy no such assurances of favor, protection, and support as this promise extends to the believing soul,—thereby putting “ underneath the everlasting arms." Thus effectually provided for age with all its loneliness, dependence, infirmities, and nearness to eternity,-is not altogether an undesirable, and in some respects, may be regarded as an enviable condition. But the presence and favor of God is every thing; and without it, age is an object for heartfelt compassion, the tenderest commisseration-“having no hope and without God in the world,"—here at this point where there is the gradual setting in of " a night that knows no morn.” Impenitent and unsancti