A vvord to the aged. By Mr. Will. Bridge, sometime fellow of Emanuel Colledge in Cambridge, and late preacher of the Word of God at Yarmouth. I commend this to be reprinted as a profitable and serious discourse. James Allen.
Bridge, William, 1600?-1670.

CHAP. III. The OLD MANS GƲIDE.

BVt there is yet one thing remaining and incumbent on the Aged, and that is, to plant the positive grace and virtue, which doth best suit with his foyland condition.

Quest. What are those good things therefore that Old men e∣pecially are to do in their old Age.

Answ. 1. They are full of experience, and therefore should be full of Faith; For though Gods word only be the ground of our Faith, yet experience is a great help to Faith. Now there is a Faith of relyance, and a Faith of assurance. Faith of relyance justifies, Faith of assurance comforts. Old men therefore are to exercise the Faith of relyance, relying upon Christs righteousness, renouncing their own, and to Page  11 exercise the Faith of assurance; For it is ill dying with a doubting Soul. As Zeal is the young mans virtue, so Faith is the old mans grace.

2. Then it is their work and duty to renew their repen∣tance, for they ar shortly to appear before the Lord, and to give an accoun of all that they have done in the flesh; & will they appear before him in their filthy rags. Now though we are only washed from our sins by the blood of Christ un∣to Justification, yet we are washed from our filth by the hand of rpentance unto sanctification. For as God promi∣sed to wash us with clean water, so he commands us to wash our selves, Isai. 1. And if a man will not wash and repent at last, when will he repent? When the leaves are off the trees, we see the birds neasts in the Trees and bushes. Now in our old age our leaves are off, then therefore we may see those neasts of sin, and lusts in our hearts and lives, which we saw not before, and so be sensible and repent of them.

3. Then are they also to be much in reading the Scripture, Mditation, and Prayer, for by this reading they shall gain knowledge: by meditation upon their reading they shall add affection to their knowledge, and by Prayer they shall add devotion unto their affection.

4. And because they are ready to weigh Anker, and to set sail for the other World, it will be good for them to observe what is the proper work of this World, and to be much therein: For everything is beautiful in the time thereof. Now is a time for Believing: Heaven is no time for Faith, for in Heaven we live by sight. Now is a time for repentance, in Heaven there is no repentance, for there is no sorrow. Now is a time for Patience, in Heaven there is no Patience under Affliction, for there is no Affliction. Now is a time of hearing the Word preached, and for Sacraments and Ordinances; there is no preaching, Sacraments and Ordinances in Hea∣ven. Now is a time to relieve the Poor, in Heaven there is no room for such charity: It is that Country where no beg∣gar lyes at your door. Now is a time to observe our Relati∣ons, in Heaven there are no such Relations, for they neither marry, nor are given in Marriage, bu are as the Angels. Now Page  12 therefore, what ever is in the power of your hand to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave there is no work, nor in Heaven there is none of this work whether you are go∣ing. This therefore, that is to be done here and cannot be done there, is now to be done especially,

5. Then it is the old mans work and duty to live much in a little time, & to be more exact and strict in his life then ever, for the nearer the stone comes to the Center, the faster it moves; the more wisdome any man hath, the more ex∣actly he works. Wisdome and exactness go together. See that you walk exactly, not as fools, but as wise, sayes the Apostle. Now gray hairs should be found in the way of wisdom: and the more frequently a man doth work, the more exactly he may do the same. Now those that are ancient, have, or should have been frequent in holy duties, they therefore of all men are to live & walk most exactly. Thus it shall not be said of them, as Seneca says of one, he did not live long, but he was long.

6. Then are they to knock off from the World, and to use the World as if they used it not, for the fashion of this World passeth away, & the time is short, therefore their moderation should be known unto all men, for the Lord is at hand. If a tooth be to he drawn and the gum be cut, the tooth doth come out with ease, but if it be fast set in the gum, and not first loosned from the gum, it comes out with much difficulty; and what is the reason that many dye with such difficulty; but because they are so fast set in their worldly gums, they are not loosned from their relations. Good therefore it is for old men, who are upon the brink of death to cut their gum, and to loosen themselves from this world and all their Relations.

7. Then let the old man take heed of all those evils, that may and will stayn the glory of his old Age. All sins do leave a blot and stain behind them, but youthful sins do especially stain old age. For the sin is the greater as it is more contra∣ry to the sinner. It is an evil thing for any man to be unjust, but worst for a Judge to be so, because there is a special re∣pugnancy betwixt the sin & the sinner: now there is a speci∣al repugnancy betwixt old men and youthful sins. Give me a young man indued with an old mans virtue, Wisdome. Give Page  13 me an old man indued with a young mans grace, Zeal. But young man vitiated with an old mans sin, Covetousness or an old man defiled with a young mans sin, Wantonnss are an abomination both to God and man, and are ained dep∣ly and greatly. A certain Lacedemonian being asked Why he suffered his Beard to grow so long; To the end, said he, that look∣ing on my white hairs I may be put in mind, not to do any ••t nbe∣seeming my hoary whiteness.

8. Then it is their duty also to prepar for death, their great change and dissolution, it was the complaint of Caesar Borgius, When I lived, I provided for every thing but death, now I am ready to dye, I am not provided to dye; Such providers in the world there are very many, but shall I provide for a Journey and not for this great Journey? This is every mans work, but the old mans especially. For though the young mans Candle may go out, the old mans will and shall.

Quest. But what should the old man do that he may be fit to dye?

Resp. God will give dying grace upon dying ground, yet.

1. He must be sure to do the work of this present day, the only way to be fit for the work of the Morrow, is to do the work of the present day.

2. Then let him examine himself and make his recko∣nings even with God, that when he comes to dye, he may have nothing to do but to dye.

3. Then let him resign and give up himself, and will to God afresh. Thus Christ did as soon as he drew nigh to death. If it be possible, said he, let this cup pass, yet not my will, but thy will be done, which he did again and again, at his first ap∣proach unto death, and this he did in his last words, Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit.

4. Let him long after Heaven, and not be afraid to dye, for if he be in Christ, death it self is his. All things are yours, saith the Apostle, life and death, for ye are Christs, and who is afraid of his own? The Child is not afraid of the great Ma∣stiff, but puts his hand into the Dogs mouth, and if you ask him why so? For he is our own Dog saith the Child. Now if a man be in Christ, this great Mastiff Death is his own, and therefore why would he be afraid thereof? Yea, why should Page  14 he not be willing to dye? was Eliah unwilling to go into the fiery Chariot? Is the Child unwilling to ride home, because it is a trotting horse that he must ride upon? No, what then, though it be an hard and a sore sickness that you must ride on yet if it carry you home to your Father, why should you be unwilling to dye? Now the only way to be willing to die, is to get assurance of our interest in Christ, and of our own Salvation. For what is the reason that men are unwilling to dye, but because they cannot tell where they shall land after death. True, (sayes one, I am lanching forth into the Ocean of Eternity, but on what shore I shall land God knows? O that I might live one year more, one moneth more, yea one hour more, till I had assurance of Salvation; And when that comes, then the soul having thereb clasped about & gotten Christ into his arms, cryes out and says, Lord, now let test thou thy Servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.

5. Then also let him set his house in order, make his Will, and leave his Legacies to his Children, Friends; and Poste∣rity. Shall Achitophel when he hanged himself, set his house in order before he dyed, and shall not an ancient Christian set his house and heart in order, make his Will, and leave his Legacies unto his Friends and Posterity.