Isaiah 46:4


And even to your old age I am he, etc. What a contrast between God and man! Concerning how many may it be said that they are forgotten in old age! Sometimes even children are faithless to their parents, and age has died in a workhouse, when children have been well-to-do. But change comes, too, in other relationships. The world does not want us when we are worn out. Its sweet songs can charm no more. The cunning of the worker's hand fails. The preacher faints. A new generation of strength and health has won the palm. Then, mark -

I. THE SURPRISE. Even. At the time when the world draws off, God comes nearer. Weakness is always welcome to him. He loves to comfort. His infinite strength is not weakened by all outgoings of help to others. Wherever, in age, sickness confines us, or solitude keeps us, there is our Father. Even then, when heart and flesh faint and fail. He has not merely promised this, but the Jacobs of the world can attest the truth: "All my life long." And apart from promise and experience, it is God's nature so to do.

II. THE REASONS.

1. "I have made. God will not, as Job says, forget us, because thou hast a desire to the work of thy hands."

2. "I have rescued." What else says the prophet? "I will carry and deliver you." What we could not bear away, God, in the person of his Son, will do for us. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!' Hoar hairs may have their perfect whiteness, but hoar hearts have not, and we need a Saviour to the end. Nor is this all. Old age has its sorrows as well as its sins. The young have not always sympathy with the old. They do not understand what it is to feel so "alone," with buried generations behind, who once joined in the race of life with them, and who worshipped with them in the house of God. Those who admired and understood and loved them are gone, and a generation has risen up who know not Joseph. Beautifully does the next verse begin, "To whom will ye liken me?" "Even to your old age I am he." Always a Father, always a Saviour, always a Friend. - W.M.S.









And even to your old age I am He.
Nothing can exhibit the character of God in a more amiable point of view, than the representations which the Scriptures give us of His conduct to youth and age. Youth is ardent, thoughtless, and presumptuous. But to them God says, Wilt thou not from this time cry unto Me, My Father, Thou art the guide of my youth? Old age needs a comforter. God saith in the text, "Even to your old age," &c.

I. THE GRACIOUS ASSURANCE GOD HERE DELIVERS TO HIS AGED SAINTS.

1. God's continued presence with them. Few of the companions of their early days remain. But the Guide of their youth lives to be the companion of their age.

2. It implies unabated affection. The aged are ready to complain, and in many cases with truth, that relatives and friends are cold to them, and weary of them. They fear that their moral infirmities will provoke the anger of their Father in heaven. But God having loved His own that are in the world, will love them to the end.

3. The promise assures aged saints of the kindest tokens of endearment from their God and Father. He will bear them in His arms as the parent does the child for whose welfare she is most solicitous.

4. This promise assures aged believers of effectual support. Various are the burdens which the aged have to bear, and various are the duties which they are required to perform, and for which they have no might. In youth, saints are apt to err on the side of presumption, and in old age, on that of despondence. But the grace of God can strengthen the bending back and invigorate the fainting spirit.

5. It assures them of His patience and indulgence. This may be intimated in the phrase — "I will bear." Men are more disposed to bear with the young than with the old. He will correct you for the failings of age to secure their amendment, and to make your decline a more happy specimen of the beauty and the power of religion; but it will be with a gentle hand. He will dig about the aged tree. and prune it, that it may still bear fruit.

6. The text contains a promise of complete deliverance. Many are the afflictions and temptations of old age, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all Human life is like a hill. Its sunny side we climb in childhood and youth; in middle life we loiter a while on its summit; in old age we descend its dark side, and at its foot lies the valley of the shadow of death. The staff which supported your decrepitude shall help you in your dying agony; the rod which drove enemies from your course shall terrify them from your pillow; yea, the Comforter of your age shall take you to Himself, that in Him you may find the bliss of eternity.

II. THE GROUNDS OF CONFIDENCE IN THESE PROMISES, that God will do all this to His aged people.

1. God hath made. His creating goodness is frequently employed in Scripture as an encouragement to hope in His protecting care (chap. 43:1, 2). Besides, you are His workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works.

2. The character of Him who makes the promise confirms it. What is the reason why the word "I" is five times repeated in this verse? It is to point out the pleasure God takes in making promises of mercy to His aged people, and to fix their view on the Author of it, that they may confide more fully in its accomplishment. The greatest promises, if made by those destitute of power to fulfil them, excite contempt; or, if made by persons whose integrity is questionable, are thought of with the torturing anxieties of suspicion, rather than the comforts of hope; but in God we see everything to make distrust appear foolish and criminal, and to produce a steadfast and triumphant faith.Conclusion —

1. This subject is admirably adapted to lead the aged to their proper duties. It should lead them to love God with all their heart and strength. The reflection, I am poor and needy, but the Lord thinks on me, is powerfully adapted to melt the heart. Your capacities of service are more limited than they once were; but this consideration should make you more zealous in the holy improvement of them. Let it teach you patience. Let it teach you to be joyful. Be not weary of a season thus marked by the Divine pity and care.

2. Let the conduct of God to the aged be imitated by us as far as possible. Let not your regard to them wax cold, though you may perceive in them increasing infirmities. Give them every proper testimony of your kindness.

3. Let aged transgressors consider, that none of these consolations is theirs, and that they exclude themselves from them by their temper and conduct.

(H. Belfrage, D. D.)

I. WHAT HAS GOD DONE FOR YOU ALREADY? "I have made." This brings Him very near. Others have claimed us as children; and we early learned to say, My father. But to them we owe our being subordinately, and instrumentally: to Him we owe it supremely and efficiently. They were "fathers of our flesh": but He is "the Father of our spirits." But there is another and a higher operation of which the Scripture-speaks. "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise." "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." As the subjects of His .grace, a foundation is laid for everlasting confidence and joy in Him.

II. WHAT GOD WILL DO.

1. He will carry. This implies something more than to guide and to lead. It supposes helplessness on their side; and tender support and assistance on His. God has a large family; but, as Bishop Hall observes, none of His children can go alone. Yet they are not left to perish in their weakness.

2. He will deliver. This implies that they are exposed to danger; but that they shall not become a prey. He delivers them from trouble. In trouble. By trouble.

III. BUT HOW LONG — HOW FAR WILL HIS TENDERNESS AND CARE EXTEND? "To old age; to hoar hairs." This is a period in which a man is deprived of many of his relations and friends; is gazed on by a new generation; feels a thousand infirmities, anxieties, and distresses; and is reduced to dependence upon those around him.

1. The promise does not necessarily suppose that you will reach this period. The meaning is, that if you should reach this period you need not be afraid of it; He will be with you, and "a very present help in trouble."

2. It is only said that He will be with you "to old age, and to hoar hairs." He will be with you all through "the months of vanity, and the wearisome nights appointed you"; He will be with you even when "your heart and flesh fail you." This is implied. But it was not necessary to mention it — old age and death are so near each other — they touch. This subject displays —(1) The patience of God. What a number of provocations has He had to bear with from you in the course of sixty, seventy, eighty years!(2) Encouragement for those who are descended into the vale of years. Doubts may assail the mind of a believer to the last. But be of good comfort, ye aged servants of God. He will not turn you out of doors now your labour is over. Your salvation is nearer than when you believed.(3) What shall I say to the hoary-headed sinner?(4) What a motive is there here to induce us all to become the Lord's followers!

(W. Jay.)

I. THE DOCTRINE OF THE TEXT I hold to be, the constancy of God's love, its perpetuity, and its unchangeable nature. God declares that He is not simply the God of the young saint; that He is not simply the God of the middle-aged saint: but that He is the God of the saints in all their ages from the cradle to the tomb. The doctrine, then, is twofold: that God Himself is the same, whatever may be our age; and that God's dealings towards us, both in providence and in grace, are alike unchanged.

II. But now we come to our real subject, which is, to consider THE TIME OF OLD AGE AS A SPECIAL PERIOD, and to mark, therefore, the constancy of Divine love — that God bears and succours His servants in their later years.

1. Old age is a time of peculiar memory.

2. The aged man, too, hath peculiar hopes. He hath few hopes of the future in this world. But he has one hope, and that is the very same which he had when he first trusted in Christ. What is the ground of thy hope? Is it not the same as that which animated thee when thou wast first united with the Christian Church? Thou saidst then, "My hope is in the blood of Jesus Christ." And the object or end of hope, is not that the same? And is not the joy of that hope just the same?

3. Old age is a time of peculiar solicitude. An old man is not anxious about many things, as we are; for he hath not so many things for which to concern himself. He hath not the cares of starting in business, as he once had. He hath no children to launch out in business. But his solicitude hath somewhat increased in another direction.(1) He hath more solicitude about his bodily frame than he once had. Even your bodily pains are but proofs of His love, for He is taking down your old tenement, stick by stick, and is building it up again in brighter worlds, never to be taken down any more.(2) And there is another solicitude — a failure of mind as well as of body. God is just the same: His goodness does not depend on their memory; the sweetness of His grace does not depend upon their palate.(3) But the chief solicitude of old age is death. God's faithfulness is the same; for if nearer death, he has the sweet satisfaction that he is nearer heaven; and if he has more need to examine himself than ever, he has also more evidence whereby to examine himself.

4. Old age hath its peculiar blessedness. The old man has a good experience to talk about. He has peculiar fellowship with Christ. There are peculiar communings, peculiar openings of the gates of paradise, peculiar visions of glory, just as you come near to it.

5. The aged saint has peculiar duties.

(1)Testimony.

(2)Comforting the young believer.

(3)Warning.Application —

1. What a precious thought, young men and women, is contained in this text. You want a safe investment; here is an investment safe enough. Young man, God's religion will last as long as you will; His comforts you will never be able to exhaust in all your life.

2. Middle-aged men, you are plunged in the midst of business, and are sometimes supposing what will become of you in your old age. But is there any promise of God to you when you suppose about to-morrows? Listen to what David says, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."

3. Venerable fathers in the faith, and mothers in Israel, take these words for your joy. Do not let the young people catch you indulging in melancholy, sitting in your chimney corner, grumbling and growling, but go about cheerful and happy, and they will think how blessed it is to be a Christian.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

When we begin with the Alpha of our life's spelling, we find Him good; and when we come to the Omega, and faintly pronounce the last letter of life, we know still better how gracious He is.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I remember, when I was a lad, I took a long walk from the place where I was working, late on a Saturday night, to my father's house; and all the way along that walk the night increased about me, the darkness got thicker and thicker. I knew that just before I should reach home I should pass through what to me was the gloomiest and thickest wood that ever was. It was gloomy even at midday. And I remember I was feeling my way through that dense wood, when suddenly my heart leapt to my mouth, and the same instant almost all my fears vanished. For a great, strong voice rang through every timber of the wood — "Are you coming, Johnny?" 'Twas my father coming to meet me! Oh, the night became almost light about me. I could almost fancy I saw the outline of a great, strong man flashed upon the darkness — so vivid was the impression, not only on the ear, but also on the imagination. Then the whole darkness was vocal with the crash of his voice. Some of you are in darkness. It is wearing late, my brother. It is getting dark and late and lonely, and not many people are tramping your road now. Time was when the road was filled with your friends. You are like one who sits up far into the night, and sees the lights in the neighbours' houses one by one put out, while the darkness and silence are deepening round about him. But suddenly, suddenly, in this darkness and loneliness, God's voice rings out, "I am here; fear not; never nearer than now, in your hoar hairs and old age."

(J. M'Neill.)

In our great naval and military hospitals, it is only those grey-haired veterans who have fought the battle in youth and manhood, who can be received as in-door pensioners. It is long and devoted service which is the passport to admission there. The inmates bear upon them marks of the fight — the mutilated limb or the scar of battle, or medals hang on their breast, the mementoes of brave and heroic deeds. Let us work while it is called to-day. Let us give to God, not the crumbs which fall from life's table, but the best of the feast; not the evening hour of weariness and sleep, but the morning prime of active energy; not the few stray winter berries left on the top of the olive tree, but the ripe and abundant autumn fruits.

(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)

Old age without God — it is the picture of querulousness, discontent, fretfulness, gloom! Old age with God — it is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness. Old age without God — it is graphically described, in this chapter, as the overturn of all worldly pride and glory — "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth"; it is the spoliation of the earthly temple, the pillage of everything that ministered to earth's ephemeral happiness. Old age with God — it can stand with the prophet, even in the midst of catastrophe and ruin and death, claiming as its own the sustaining words, "Even to your old age I am He," &c.

(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)

I have made, and I will bear.
I. The two ideas of creating and carrying are thrown together, and in such a way as to show that they are related: that IN THE FACT OF GOD THE CREATOR LIES ENFOLDED THE FACT OF GOD THE REDEEMER. We must not let the fact of redemption, wonderful as it is, throw the fact of creation into the background; because the two are inseparably linked. Redemption, in one sense, grows out of creation. Because God made man in His own image, He is bent on restoring him to that image. Because God made us, God loves us, educates us, bears with us, carries on the race on the line of His infinite patience, ministers to us with help and sympathy, is burdened with our perverseness and blindness, yea, comes down in person into the sphere of our humanity and takes its awful load of sin and sorrow and pain and death upon Himself. In anything that one makes he has a peculiar interest. The young artist knows that his first picture stands no chance in comparison with the works of his masters, and yet that piece of canvas is more to him than a Raphael or a Rembrandt. Love seems to thrive on defect. The idea is worked out in Wordsworth's little poem, "The Idiot Boy." And the same fact holds on the moral side. Parental love is not conditioned on a child's goodness. All this is familiar enough. Are we afraid to carry the truth farther up — up to God? Are we of those who say that God must be just and may be merciful — as if mercy were not one of His essential attributes as well as justice? Why should the "must" hold in the one case any more than in the other? All that is included in the word "bear" is practically pledged to us in the fact of creation. One reason why we take so slowly to the idea of God's bearing or carrying us, is because we divorce it from the fact that He made us; and we rook at the bearing simply as a concession, forgetting that God the Redeemer is bound up with God the Creator. You find that in the New Testament. Take the parable of the Prodigal Son. What is at the bottom of the whole story but this truth of sonship? It is that which defines the measure of the prodigal's sin. That also defines the father's longing, and the joy over the returning son, the free forgiveness and the festivity. God is under the stress of the parental instinct to take our sicknesses and to bear our infirmities, and He yields to it, gives Himself up to it in His own Divine measure. I am saying nothing which goes to mitigate the essential badness of sin, or God's hatred of it, or to deny the fact of God's punishment of it. Even fatherhood has limitations. God cannot restore His erring child without conditions. Simply to forgive the past is not enough. God aims at the perfect establishment of the filial relation, and that cannot be without a filial heart in the son, and the son's cheerful obedience. If the prodigal had not come back repentant, he would not have had the robe and the ring.

II. SOME OF THE ASPECTS UNDER WHICH THIS TRUTH OF GOD'S BEARING MANIFESTS ITSELF.

1. It appears as a matter of tolerance. It is perfectly clear from the Bible that God's love for His children makes Him bear patiently with their infirmities and errors. When an enthusiastic sculptor has once conceived the idea of a statue, he is not daunted by hardness in the stone, nor by defects in the grain. He is bent on carrying out his cherished ideal. The greater the difficulties, the more his energies are called out. Are we to suppose that God conceives a purpose less sharply or works it out with less intensity than a man does? This idea of bearing is at the root of the doctrine of Christ's atonement. The truth also comes out experimentally in the Christian life of each one of us. Every one, if he is honest with himself, knows that God has had much to bear with him, and knows, too, how patiently God has borne it: and every one of us has had experience of God's bearing in the sense of sympathetic love and helpfulness. How many of us know from most blessed experience what it is to have a great High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities. How many of us have known what it was to have Him bear our heavy load for us; and therefore, in the way that lies before us, can we not trust in larger measure the love of Him who made us to bear with us? God makes nothing in vain. When He made man in His own image, He did not make him to gratify a caprice, or in mere wantonness of power. He made him with a solemn, an awful, a glorious purpose over which He took heaven into counsel: and be sure that He will accomplish that purpose, that His patience shall not fail, that He who made will bear until He shall have perfected His work.

2. And meanwhile let us not forget the lesson of His bearing as it speaks to us of duty. Let us not presume on it.

(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)

I. THE BURDENS FOR WHICH GOD MAKES HIMSELF RESPONSIBLE. The lives of most of us are heavily weighted. We began our race unencumbered, but the years as they have passed have added burdens and responsibilities. There is the burden of existence. Of sin. Of responsibility for others. Of our life-work. In all these things we are doomed to be solitary. Each human soul must bear his own burden. We are a deadweight; but it matters nought to Him.

II. THE REASON WHY GOD ASSUMES THIS RESPONSIBILITY. "I have made, and I will bear." When a parent sees his own evil nature re-appearing in his child, so far from casting that child aside, and quoting its faults as reasons for disowning it, he draws nearer to it, filled with a great pity, and murmurs, "I have made, and I will bear." When a man has elicited in another a love which will never be at rest till it has nestled to his heart, even though considerations arise which make it questionable whether he has been wise, yet as he considers the greatness of the love which he has evoked, he says to himself, "I have made, and I will bear." When a Christian minister has gathered around him a large congregation, and many have been converted from the world, as he looks around on those who count him captain or father, he says to himself, when voices summon him elsewhere, unless some overmastering consideration is pressed upon him, "I have made, and I will bear." Now let us ascend, by the help of these reflections, to the Divine nature, which is not above similar considerations. He has made and fashioned us; He has implanted within us appetites that only He can satisfy; He has placed us amid circumstances of unusual difficulty, and entrusted to us work of unwonted importance; He has committed to us the post of duty which taxes us to the uttermost: and because He has done all this, He is responsible for all that is needed for the accomplishment of His purposes.

III. THE CONSOLATION WHICH ARISES FROM THESE CONSIDERATIONS.

1. In hours of anguish for recent sin. The sin is our own. And yet from the depth of sin-consciousness there is an appeal to God. He created, permitted us to be born as members of a sinful race. He knew all we should be, before He set His heart upon us and made us His own. May we not ask Him to bear with us whom He made, redeemed, and took to be His children by adoption and grace? And will He not answer, "I have made, and I will bear"?

2. In moments of great anxiety.

3. In days of anxious foreboding.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

It makes all the difference to a man how he conceives his religion — whether as something that he has to carry, or as something that will carry him. We have many idolatries and idol manufactories among us. This cleavage is permanent in humanity — between the men that are trying to carry their religion and the men that are allowing God to carry them. Let us see how God does carry.

1. The first requisite for stable and buoyant life is ground, and the faithfulness of law. What sends us about with erect bodies and quick, firm step, is the sense that the surface of the earth is sure, that gravitation will not fail, that our eyes and the touch of our feet and our judgment of distance do not deceive us. Now, what the body needs for its world, the soul needs for hers. For her carriage and bearing in life the soul requires the assurance that the moral laws of the universe are as conscience has interpreted them to her, and will continue to be as in experience she has found them. To this requisite of the soul God gives His assurance, "I have made, and I will bear." These words were an answer to an instinct, the instinct that springs from the thought, "Well, here I am, not responsible for being here, but so set by someone else, and the responsibility of the life, which is too great for me, is His." God's Word comes to him to tell him that his instinct is sure.

2. The most terrible anguish of the heart, however, is that it carries something which can shake a man off even that ground. The firmest rock is of no use to the paralytic or to a man with a broken leg. And the most steadfast moral universe, and most righteous moral governor, is no comfort — but rather the reverse — to the man with a bad conscience, whether that conscience be due to the guilt or to the habit of sin. Conscience whispers, "God indeed made thee, but what if thou hast unmade thyself? God reigns; the laws of life are righteous; creation is guided to peace. But thou art an outlaw of this universe, fallen from God of thine own will. Thou must bear thine own guilt, endure thy voluntarily contracted habits. How canst thou believe that God, in this fair world, would bear thee up, so useless, soiled, and infected a thing?" Yet here, according to His blessed Word, God does come down to bear up men. The thing is man's realest burden, and man's reaiest burden is what God stoops lowest to bear (chap. 53:4, 11). God has made this sin and guilt of ours His special care and anguish. We cannot feel it more than He does.

3. But this Gospel of God's love bearing our sins is of no use to a man unless it goes with another — that God bears him up for victory over temptation, for attainment in holiness. God never gives a man pardon but to set him free for effort, and to constrain him for duty. He bears us best and longest by being the spirit and the soul and the life of our life. The Lord and His own are one.

4. God does not carry dead men. His carrying is not mechanical, but natural; not from below, but from within. You dare not be passive in God's carriage. Again, in His bearing God bears, and does not overbear, using a man not as a man uses a stick, but as a soul uses a body, — informing, inspiring, recreating his natural faculties. Many distrust religion, as if it were to be an overbearing of their originality. But God is not by grace going to undo His work by nature. "I have made, and I will bear" — will bear what I have made. If that be God's bearing, how wrong those are who, instead of asking God to carry them, are more anxious about how He and His religion are to be sustained by their consistency or efforts!

(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

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