The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…
The seventieth milestone of life is here planted as at the end of the journey. A few go beyond it; multitudes never reach it. First, then, I accost those of you who are in the twenties. You are full of expectation. You are ambitious — that is, if you amount to anything — for some kind of success, commercial, or mechanical, or professional, or literary, or agricultural, or social, or moral. Are you looking for wealth? Well, remember that God controls the money markets, the harvests, the droughts, the caterpillars, the locusts, the sunshine, the storm, the land, the sea, and you will get wealth. Perhaps not that which is stored up in banks, in houses and lands, but,our clothing, and board, and shelter, and that is about all you can appropriate anyhow. What a critical time, the twenties! While they continue you decide your occupation and the principles by which you will be guided. You make your most abiding friendships. You fix your habits. Lord God Almighty, have mercy on all the men and women in the twenties! Next I accost those in the thirties. You are at an age when you find what a tough thing it is to get recognized and established in your occupation or profession. In some respects the hardest decade of life is the thirties, because the results are generally so far behind the anticipations. Nine-tenths of the poetry of life have been knocked out of you since you came into the thirties. Men in the different professions and occupations saw that you were rising, and they must put an estoppel on you, or you might somehow stand in their way. They think you must be suppressed. Your decade is the one that will probably afford the greatest opportunity for victory, because there is the greatest necessity for struggle. As it is the greatest time of the struggle, I adjure you, in God's name and by God's grace, make it the greatest achievement. The fact is, that by the way you decide the present decade of your history you decide all the following decades. Next I accost the forties. Yours is the decade of discovery. No man knows himself until he is forty. By that time he has learned what he can do, or what he cannot do. He was sailing on in a fog and could not take a reckoning, but now it clears up enough to allow him to find out his real latitude and longitude. He has been climbing, but now he has got to the top of the hill, and he takes a long breath. Oh, this mountain-top of the forties! You have now the character you will probably have for all time and all eternity. Tell me, O men and women who are in the forties, your habits of thought and life, and I will tell you what you will for ever be! My sermon next accosts the fifties. This is the decade which shows what the other decades have been. If a young man has sown wild oats, and he has lived to this time, he reaps the harvest of it in the fifties, or if by necessity he was compelled to overtoil in honest directions, he is called to settle up with exacting nature some time during the fifties. O ye who are in the fifties, think of it! A half century of blessing to be thankful for, and a half century subtracted from an existence which, in the most marked cases of longevity, hardly ever reaches a whole century. By this time you ought to be eminent for piety. You have been in so many battles, you ought to be a brave soldier. You have made so many voyages, you ought to be a good sailor. So long protected and blessed, you ought to have a soul full of doxology. My sermon next accosts the sixties. The beginning of that decade is more startling than any other. In his chronological journey the man rides rather smoothly over the figures "2," and "3," and "4," and "5," but the figure "6" gives him a big jolt. He says: "It cannot be that I am sixty. Let me examine the old family record. I guess they made a mistake. They got my name down wrong in the roll of births." But, no, the older brothers or sisters remember the time of his advent, and there is some relative a year older and another relative a year younger, and sure enough the fact is established beyond all disputation. Sixty! Now, your great danger is the temptation to fold up your faculties and quit. You will feel a tendency to reminisce. If you do not look out you will begin almost everything with the words, "When I was a boy." But you ought to make the sixties more memorable for God and the truth than the fifties, or the forties, or the thirties. You ought to do more during the next ten years than you did in any thirty years of your life, because of all the experience you have had. My subject next accosts those in the seventies and beyond. My word to them is congratulation. You have got nearly, if not quite through. Here and there a skirmish with the remaining sin of your own heart and the sin of the World, but I guess you are about done. How do you feel about it? You ought to be jubilant because life is a tremendous struggle, and, if you have got through respectably and usefully, you ought to feel like people toward the close of a summer day seated on the rocks watching the sunset. The most of your friends have gone over the border, and you are going to join them very soon. They are waiting for you. What we all need is to take the supernatural into our lives. Do not let us depend on brain, and muscle, and nerve. We want a mighty supply of the supernatural. How to get it? Just as you get anything you want. By application. If you want anything you apply for it. By prayer apply for the supernatural. Take it into your daily business. A man got up in a New York prayer-meeting and said: "God is my partner. I did business without Him for twenty years, and failed every two or three years. I have been doing business with Him for twenty years and have not failed once." Oh, take the supernatural into all your affairs!
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.