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perfection is a character essential to human affairs, let us elevate our hearts and minds to nobler objects, let us sigh after happier periods, and let each of us seek true glory in the enjoyment of God. God grant us this grace! To him be honor and glory for ever. Amen.
THE LIVES OF COURTIERS.
2 Samuel xix. 32-39.
Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old, and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim: for he was a very great man. And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem. And Barzillai said unto the king, how long have Ito live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore years old and can I discern between good and evil? can thy sertant taste what I eat, or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king? Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward? Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father, and of my mother: But behold thy servant Chimham, let him go over mith my lord the king, and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee. And all the people went over Jordan and when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
propose to examine to day, my brethren, how far business, the world, a court are fit for a young man, and how far they agree with a man in the decline of life. It is a prejudice too common in the world, that there are two ways to heaven, one way for young men, and another way for men in years. Youth is considered as a sort of title to licentiousness, and the most criminal plea
Virtue is usually regarded as proper for those, who cannot practise vice with a good grace. God forbid, such a pernicious maxim should be countenanced in this pulpit! Let us not deceive ourselves, my brethren, the precepts of the moral law are eternal, and fitted to all ages of life. At fifteen, at twenty, at thirty, at forty, at fourscore years of age, what the apostle affirms is true, they that do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, Gal. v. 21. These things are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. There is no dispensation in these cases on account of age. At any age they that do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is, however, clear, that circumstances sometimes change the nature of moral actions; that an action is innocent, when done in some circumstances, which ceaseth to be so, when it is done in different circumstances; and, to come to the design mentioned at the beginning of this discourse, it is clear, that business, the world, a court, to a certain degree suit a young man, and that they are unfit for a man in the decline of life.
Each part of this proposition, my brethren, is contained in the text, as we are going to shew you. Barzillai, by committing his son to king David, and by allowing Chimham to avail himself of the favor of his prince, teacheth us how far business, the world and a court become a young man. Barzillai, by wishing only to retreat into retirement and silence himself, teacheth us how far a court, the world and business become an old man; or rather, he teacheth us, that they do not become him
at all, and that there is a certain time of life, when the wise man takes leave of the world.
I. We suppose, Barzillai was a good man, and that his example sufficiently proves it. Indeed this man is very little known. I recollect only three places in scripture, where he is spoken of. The first is in the seventeenth chapter of the second book of Samuel. There we are told, that Barzillai was of the tribe of Gilead, of the city of Rogelim, ver. 27. and that he was one of those, who brought refreshments to David and his court, when he fled from his barbarous son. This passage tells us how he became so dear to David. The second is our text. The third is in the fourth book of Kings, where David gives this commission to his son Solomon. Shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai, the Gileadite, and let them be of those that eat at thy table; for so they came to me when I fled be· cause of Absalom thy brother, chap. ii. 7. This passage gives us reason to conjecture, or rather it proyes, that Chimham was the son of Barzillai, for the commission given by David when he was dying, to Solomon, certainly refers to these words of our text. Behold thy servant Chimham, let him go over with my lord the king, and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. Thus, all we know of Barzillai contributes to persuade us, that he was a good man; that his example sufficiently proves it; that as he consented that his son should go into the world, and even into the most pompous and dangerous part of it, he thought it might be innocently done. A good father would not have consented that his son should enter on a course of life criminal in itself. If we have deceived ourselves in our notion of Barzillai, it will not affect the nature of our reflections. Our question is this, How