CHAP. II. The OLD MANS STAFF.
COmforts against the natural infirmities of old age are very many.
1. Christ himself did bear them, & still as our high Page 5 Priest doth sympathize with us under them, such did he single out for his care & cure, when he was here on Earth, Joh. 5, there were many that lay by the Pool of Bethesday, among the rest there was one that had lien sick and diseased 38. years. A young man therefore he was not, he would have stept into the Pool, but others stept in before him, and he had no man to help him in. A poor neglected man he was, whom others minded not. Yet this was the man that Christ came to cure, whom Christ mind∣ed and sought out, and cured, what then, though you be a poor, old, neglected person, that have lien long under your infirmities, yet Christ hath a cure for you, and what though others regard you not, and mind you not, Christ hath a cure for you. The blind men cryed, and their cryes put Christ to a stand for mercy, Math. 20. 31, 32.
2. Though your infirmities be never so many and great, yet you have a peculiar honour that is twi∣sted with your infirmity, for it is called the Crown of old age; In times of the old Testament, they were to rise up and to bow before the Ancient, yea, it is our duty to honour them▪ for this honour is joyned and commanded with the fear of God, Lev. 19. 32. Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old Man, and fear thy God, saith the Lord. The fear of God, and honouring the old Man, is commanded with the same breath, & linked together in the same sentence.
3. Though you be very aged, yet you may be ve∣ry good, was not Eli very good? Yet very aged: Page 6 was not David very good? yet he was very old when he said, Lord, now lettest thou thy Servant de∣part in peace: was not Anna very good? Yet she was very aged: who doth not know what a good man Paul was? Yet saith he, Paul the aged, good John was aged John. Possibly, then you may be ve∣ry good, though you be very aged, labouring un∣der much infirmity.
4. And though your flesh be weak, yet the Spirit may be willing, the flesh indeed is weak▪ said Christ, when his Disciples slept through natural infirmity, for it was late at night, and they were full of grief, but the Spirit is willing, said he also, and where the Spirit is willing he will pass by the weakness of the flesh, and accept the willingness of the Spirit.
5. These infirmities of old age are such, as are not the fruit of our own sin (the more any infirmi∣ty is caused by sin▪ the more affiictive it is; for sin is the sting of death) I confess indeed they may be sometimes; for the sins of youth do sometimes bite sore in age. I eat so much of the forbidden fruit (said a good man) when I was young, that God was fain to give much wormseed to kill the worm. But the infirmities of old age are generally the decays of nature, not of grace.
6. They are good warnings of our change ap∣proaching, and by them we dye daily, that at last we may dye graciously, and comfortably.
7. And who are those that God doth reveal him∣self unto but to his old friends, those he will ac∣quaint with his secrets, & make known his mind un∣to, Page 7Job. 12. 12. with the Ancient is wisdome, and in length of dayes understanding.
8. And though your legs be weak, yet they may be strong enough to carry you to Heaven, that bet∣ter Country, wich you are now going to, and are very near; indeed your own present Country is a good Country, but the Country you are now go∣ing to is a better Country, Heb. 11. 6.
1. Better in regard of buildings, whose buil∣der and maker is God, Heb. 11. 10.
2. Better in regard of Inhabitants, where no unclean thing doth enter, Rev.
3. Better in regard of quietness, and freedome from trouble, where all tears shall not only be wi∣ped from our cheeks, but out of our eyes (as the Greek word bears it, Rev. 7.) insomuch as the eye shall never breed a tear again, nor be the womb of tears.
4. Better in regard of riches, where you shall have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away.
5. Better in regard of pleasure, for saith the Psalmist, at thy right hand there are rivers of plea∣sures, and that for evermore.
6. Better in regard of largeness, for if the whole Earth be but as a pins head in comparison of the Heavens, then surely there is room enough in Hea∣ven, for every one to enjoy a greater Kingdome, then all England doth amount unto.
7. Better in regard of self subsistence, here one Country doth depend on another, but Heaven is Page 8 that Country alone which doth depend upon no other Country.
8. Better in regard of our freedome from needs and necessities. It was Augustines Prayer. Deliver me, O Lord from my necessities. It is a great mer∣cy now to have bread to eat when we want it, but it is a greater mercy to have no need of it. A great mercy it is to have a good bed to lye on, and so to sleep quietly, but it is a greater mercy to have no need of bed or sleep. This is the state of that Hea∣venly Country, where you have not these blessings, but where you have no need of them.
9. Better also it is in regard of continuance, where every mercy and blessing grows upon the stalk of Eternity; and if it be a good thing to have a Lease of a good house and Land for one hundred years, what a blessed thing then is it to have a glorious Mansion and Inheritance lying in the Fields of E∣ternity? When you come to a great Palace, and see fair Barns and Stables▪ and out-houses, you say then, if the out-rooms and Stables be so costly and sump∣tuous, how costly and glorious is this Palace with∣in? why? lift up your eyes and behold that spang∣led Cannopy of the Heavens, that is over your head. Are not the Sun and Moon and Stars glori∣ous? Yet these are but the out-houses of Heaven, and if these out houses be so glorions, how glorious is the Palace within? Yet this is that Country, that better Country, that you are going and drawing nigh unto, and your passage thither is very short, for no sooner do ye step out of this World, but (if Page 9 godly, gracious, and in Christ, you step immediately into that Country, there is no sleeping of the Soul after death: some have dreamed of such a sleep, but Solomon tells us that the bo∣dy upon death goes to the dust, & the Spirit unto him that gave it, Ecclesiastes. Christ said to the Thief, this day shalt thou be with me in Paradice, and the Apostle Paul tells us that Paradice and the third Heaven are one and the same thing, 2 Cor. 12. Yea, saith paul, I am in a straight betwixt two, not well knowing whe∣ther I should desire to dye for mine own injoyment, or to live for the Service of the Churches, Phil. 1. 22, 23, 24. where∣as if the Soul did sleep in the Grave with the body, he need∣ed not to have been in that strait. I desire, said he, to be disiol∣ved, and to be with Christ; If with Christ presently, How can the Soul sleep with the body in the dust? But we know, faith he, 2 Cor. 5. 1. That if our earthly house of this Tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, Eternal in the Heavens. What then though your turn house now be ready to fire into a F•aver with every spark of distemper, is there not enough in that house above to pay for all. surely there is. Why then should ye not lift up your heads ye old men, and be of good comfort under all your na∣tural in firmityes.
2. And as for your moral infirmityes, if you would strengthen your self against them and root out these weeds there.
1. Be sure that you study and think much on Christ cruci∣fied, who alone is our righteousness and our strength, Temp∣tations, or sins blown out by reason or resolution will easily light again, but quenched in the blood of Christ and they light no more. When the Israelites was stung with the fie∣ry Serpents, he did not stand looking on his swoln arm or leg, but on the brazen Serpnt, and so was cured. Christ lift upon the Cross is our brazen Serpent: and he hath said, look unto me O all ye ends of the Earth and be saved.
2, Then by way of consideration think, and think much with your selves, what an evil thing it is to sin when a man is rea∣dy to dye. Thus you leave not your sin, but your sin you.
3. Be sure that you do not chew the Cud of your former sins by musing on them with delight, for thereby you just∣fie Page 10 your former practice, but rather mourn over them, for the way to be kept from future sins is to mourn for former, and the way to be kept from sins of old Age, is to mourn for the sins of our youth.
4. But above all things, (under your study of Christ cruci∣fied) be sure that you strengthen your love to God in Christ, for if the boughs of the Tree be weak, the way to strengthen them is, not to carry up dung to the boughs, but to lay the dung to the root, for by strengthening the Root, you streng∣then the branches. Now the Root of all our mortification is love, for love is the cause of hatred. Ye that love the Lord hate evil. Love to God eats out our love to sin, as the fear of God eats out our fear of men, and your love to God is strengthe∣ned by the sight of his love to you. For love is the cause of love, the more we see Gods love to us, the more we love him, and do hate our sins. Would you therefore take up your sinful weeds by the roots? Then strengthen your love, and this shall be a Staff in your hand to strengthen and bear you up under all your infirmities both natural and moral