For you are my hope, O Lord GOD: you are my trust from my youth.
It was a man well advanced in life who uttered these words. Aye, the snows of age are falling on his head; his back bends under the weight of years; but, — is the frail old man dejected and forlorn? No, nothing of the kind: the faith of his youth proves the comfort of his age; and, as he leans his hand upon his staff, he lifts up his eyes to, heaven, and says, "Thou art my hope," etc. What I wish to bring out and illustrate is this, that a pious trust in God at the outset of life guarantees a blessed hope in God at the end of it. Archbishop Leighton beautifully observes: "The world dare say no more for its device, than Dum spire, spore, 'While I breathe, I hope'; but the children of God can go further and say, Dum exspiro, spero, 'Even when I die, I hope'; for that very event which drowns all the worldling's prospects throws open to the Christian the gates of a glorious eternity!"
I. IT IS WELL FOR YOU IN YOUR YOUTH TO CONTEMPLATE AND PREPARE FOR AGE. As I was wandering one day through the old cathedral at Elgin, my eye lighted upon a quaint epitaph, carved on a slab in the wall: —
"This world is a city full of streets;
And death is the market that all men meets;
If life were a thing that money could buy,
The poor could not live and the rich would not die."The grammar may be at fault, but the sentiment is true. Oh, how many squander in early life those energies they would afterwards give a fortune to recall! How many are practically saying, Let youth have its carnival of pleasure, and let ago look out for itself! It is your duty to contemplate living long and growing old. But will you? Where do you spend your evenings? Answer me that, and I shall have some notion where you will spend eternity. Are you in the habit of taking stimulants? If you are, that lessens your chance of seeing old age by some fifty per cent. Oh, do not tamper with the drink-fiend that every year digs a grave for hundreds of the flower of London. If some of you will act upon the advice I am now to give you, you will thank me for it some day. It is meanly selfish for a man, dying in the prime of life and professing a Christian hope, to be perfectly happy whilst he knows that as he steps into heaven his wife and children will step into the workhouse. I say it is abominable! If you have the faintest prospect of having any dependent upon you, you have no business to spend on gratification all your weekly wage or your yearly salary. It is not yours to spend. The first few shillings, or the first few pounds, belong to them, and should go to pay the premium on a policy that at least will keep them from beggary.
II. THE ONLY GUARANTEE OF A BLESSED HOPE IN AGE IS A PIOUS TRUST IN YOUTH. I was once summoned to the military barracks, to visit a soldier who was lying in the sick ward. I saw at once the stamp of death upon his countenance. It was evident he had but a few moment to live. I stooped over him, held his hand and softly asked him, "Have you a hope in Christ?" His answer made me tremble, and though twenty years have gone, it rings in my ear to-day — the last words of a dying unbeliever, "I have no hope!" Will any of you, dear lads, risk such an exit from the world? Can your life be genuinely happy, with a drawn sword hanging daily over you? Would you not wish, then, to be prepared? Would it not be a glorious thing if everybody could say with Dr. Watts: "I lay my head upon my pillow to-night, not caring whether I awake in this world or the next"? Oh, won't you all take the decisive step at once, the step that will make your whole life luminous, your death triumphant, and your eternity infinitely happy?
(J. Thain Davidson, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.