It is not good for the race to believe that a man’s best days are over at sixty. It tends to break down man’s energy and prevent him from utilising the best that is within him: the best that has come from years of experience and work.
There are figures to show that the greatest productivity of man’s life lies in the decade between his sixtieth and seventieth year. The method adopted to learn the actual facts relating to man’s period was as follows:
Some four hundred names of the most noted men of all times, from all lines of activity, were chosen. There were statesmen, painters, warriors, poets, and writers of fiction, history, and other prose workers. Opposite to the name of each man was indicated his greatest work or achievement. This list was then submitted to critics to learn their opinion of the greatest work of the man submitted. The names of their greatest works were accepted, or altered, until the list was one that could be finally accepted. After this was done the date at which the work was produced was placed after the name, and so the age was ascertained at which the individual was at his best. The list was then arranged according to decades.
It was found that the decade of years between sixty and seventy contained 35 per cent. of the world’s greatest achievements. Between the ages of seventy and eighty 23 per cent. of the achievements fell, and in the years after the eightieth 6 per cent.
In other words, 64 per cent. of the great things of the world have been accomplished by men who had passed their sixtieth year, the greatest percentage, 35 per cent., being in the sixth decade.
The figures for the other periods of life are interesting. Between the fiftieth and the sixtieth years are found 25 per cent., between forty and fifty 10 per cent. These all totalled together leave the almost negligible quantity of 1 per cent. to be attributed to the period below the age of forty.
But, taken as a whole, the figures prove conclusively that the period of the greatest achievement in a man’s life comes not when he is in his youth, but only with the years of mature manhood.
It is indeed very remarkable to find thus recorded, that only 1 per cent. of the world’s greatest achievements were accomplished before the age of forty, while 64 per cent. were done after the age of 60, and 6 per cent. after even 80 years. But how does this apply to the spiritual life? Surely in much the same way, for as years advance there is, or should be, growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the spiritual senses, by reason of use, should be exercised to the clearer discernment of good and evil.
Dr. W. F. Jhonston, of
- The Friend’s Witness
“Labour and sorrow,”
the psalmist said,
Was the gift of the fourscore years;
And he almost envied the sleeping dead,
Escaped from the vale of tears.
But the psalmist’s heart was overwrought,
And his harp was out of tune,
For the fourscore years to me have brought
Sweet restful days like June.
And so I sing of the beautiful years,
Each one with his goodness crown’d;
And better far than by foolish fears
Were its months and its seasons found.
So now with my fourscore years I wait*
Till I hear the higher call, [*Heb. 11: 39]
And I pass within through the pearly gate
To the heaven that crowns them all.
- Elizabeth Jane Long.
* * *
By Commissioner SAMUEL L. BRENGLE, D.D.
When I was a little lad, time went by so slowly, and the years seemed so long, that I felt I should never be a man. But I was told that the years would not seem so long when I got into my teens. So I waited in hope, and after what seemed a century or two I reached my teens, and sure enough the years tripped by a bit more quickly. Then I got into my twenties, and they sped by yet more swiftly. I reached the thirties and speedily passed into the forties, and almost before I had time to turn around I found myself in the fifties, and about the time I hoped to catch my breath, the wild rush of years carried me into the sixties, and now I am bracing myself for the plunge into the abyss of retirement!
But is it an abyss? Will it swallow me up, and shall I be lost in its dark and silent depths? Is it not rather a sun-kissed, peaceful slope, on the sunset side of life where my often overtaxed body can have a measure of repose, and my spirit, freed in part from the driving claims of the war can have a foretaste of the Sabbath calm of eternity? So I am taking forethought against the day of my retirement. I am praying for grace and wisdom for that time, and already I am considering what seem to me to be possible dangers, and arming my spirit in advance against them. I believe in preparedness. Jesus said, “Be ye also ready.” So I watch and pray and prepare, that I may not be found wanting. I do not want to lose the dew from my soul. The dew of the morning passes away, but there is also the dew of evening - I do not want to miss that.
Sunset is often as glorious as sunrise; and when the sun goes down, “the eternal stars shine out”. Often the splendour of the night is more wonderful than that of the day. The sun reveals the little things - flowers, grasses, birds, hills, seas, and mountains. These are little. But the larger things - the immensities of the heavens with their flashing meteors, their silvery moons, their star-strewn depths sown thick with flaming suns - these are the great things, and they are hidden by the garish light of day, but revealed by the kindly darkness of night. So I suspect the greater glories, the surpassing splendours of the spiritual world, are yet to be revealed to me as the sun of this life begins to sink beneath western hills. “At eventide it shall be light.” Hallelujah!
I do not expect to fold my hands and sit in listless idleness or vain repining when I am retired. There will still be abundant work for my head and heart and hands. I shall probably not be so active on the field, or be “going to and fro in the earth” - on long campaigns as in the past. But I hope to pray more for my comrades who are on the field and in the thick of the fight. There will be plenty of knee work to do, and we have need of knee workers more than ever, for this kaleidoscopic age-electric, restless, and changeful as the wind-swept sea - does not lend itself to prayer, the prayer that gets into close grips with God and the great wants of men, and brings down heavenly resources to meet vast earthly needs. I shall meditate more - at least I hope to - and read and ponder my Bible more, and try to match its wondrous truths with life, the life I still live and must live, and by its light try to interpret the life that surges all around me and manifests itself in the great movements, the triumphs and agonies and birth throes of men and nations. Oh, it will be a fascinating study!
I shall find plenty to do. If I cannot command a corps or a division, or take part in councils, or lead on great soul-saving campaigns, I can talk to my grocer, and doctor, and letter-carrier about Jesus crucified and glorified and the life that is everlasting. I can still take an interest in the children and young people, and maybe out of the books of my experience find some helpful life lessons for them. And in doing this I shall hope to keep my own spirit young and plastic and sympathetic. I do not want to become hard and blind and unsympathetic toward youth, with its pathetic ignorance and conceit, its spiritual dangers, its heart hunger, and its gropings after experiences that satisfy, its eager haste, and its ardent ambitions.
Then there are letters I can write to struggling officers on the field - letters of congratulation for those who are winning victory; letters of sympathy and cheer for those who are being hard pressed by the foe; letters to missionary officers to far-off heathen lands; letters to those who are bereaved, who sit with empty arms and broken hearts in the dark shadows and deep silence beside open graves where I, too, have sat, whose heartache and deep grief I know, who in vain long
For the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still;
letters to those who in pain and weariness and possible loneliness are nearing the Valley of the Shadow of Death where only the Good Shepherd can go with them every step of the way, but where some word of hope and cheer may still reach them from a comrade who thinks of them in love and ceases not to pray for them.
So when I am retired, I shall not sulk in my tent, nor repine, nor grumble at my lot. Nor shall I seek a secular job to while away my time. For years I resisted God’s call to preach. My heart was set on being a lawyer. But against my protest and stubborn resistance was God’s insistent call. The snows of seventy winters are now on my head, but the sunshine of seventy summers is in my heart. The fading and falling leaves of seventy autumns solemnize and sadden my soul, but the resurrection life up-springing in flower and tree, and returning song birds, the laughing brooks, the swelling rivers, and the soft, sweet winds of seventy springtimes gladden my spirit. I am glad that I am not carrying into my retirement a burden of grouches, a lot of bitter and painful memories. Some painful and a few bitter things may have come my way during these seventy years, but I do not recall them. I refuse to harbour such memories. Why should I pour bitter poison into the sweet wells of my salvation and joy, from which I must drink daily if I would live?
I must so live that I shall “make full proof of my ministry”, for the solemn day of accounting is coming, surely, swiftly coming, when I must render an account of my stewardship to the Lord. Paul and Peter, apostles though they were, never lost their awe of that day, nor must I. I watch, I pray, I read, I meditate on His words. I look to the Lamb slain for my sins. I cling to the cross. I fight the good fight of faith. I refuse to faint. I gird on my armour, I grip my sword, and watching, praying, rejoicing, I sing:‑
My soul, be on thy guard!
Ten thousand foes arise
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the skies.
Oh watch, and fight, and pray
The battle ne’er give o’er!
Renew it boldly every day,
And help divine implore.
‑The Alliance Weekly.
* * *
Truth has been out of fashion since man changed his robes of fadeless light for a garment of faded leaves. It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure: it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty. Men are never faithful in crowds. Our nearest and dearest can fail us. What is wanted to-day are men and women, young and old, It is to reborn who will obey their convictions of truth and duty at the cost of fortune and friends and life itself. It is to [regenerate] disciples that Jesus says (Matt. 7: 14):- “Narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it.”
was murdered alone. Enoch watched alone. Noah preached alone. Abraham offered his son alone. Jacob wrestled alone. Joseph lay in the pit alone. Moses ascended Sinai alone. Samson repented alone. David fought Goliath alone.
Elijah sacrificed on
God’s People in the wilderness praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. God’s People under the kings praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. God’s People under Caiaphas praised the prophets and persecuted Jesus. God’s People under the Popes praised the Saviour and persecuted the saints: and multitudes now, both in the Church and the world, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness like faithfulness to truth to-day.
Nevertheless the faithful
servant of God is never alone. He never has to repeat
* * *
MY SEVENTY-FOURTH BIRTHDAY
Why should I feel like growing old?
For life is in my soul:
Eternal youth is ever mine
As years and ages roll.
At times the cares and toils of life
May crush the spirit o’er;
But, after clouds, the sunbeams come
And youthful joys restore.
I live again the children’s life,
I see them at their play,
I see them kneel before the Throne
I hear their voices pray.
O sweetest of all earthly joys
That has to me been given –
The joy of winning those young souls
And pointing them to heaven.
Youth, endless youth, is ever mine
Though heart and flesh decay;
Though health and strength and life should leave
This testament of clay.
My spirit soars to yonder realm
Where I shall ever be
With Him who brought on
Eternal life for me.
* * *
THE WEB OF LIFE
was in the Sahara desert, in the so-called holy city of
Nat till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reason why:
The dark threads are still as needful
In the Weaver’s skilful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver,
In the pattern He has plann’d.
- R. J. CAMPBELL, D.D.
* * *
NOT GROWING OLD
This frail old shell in which I dwell
Is growing old, I know full well –
But I am not the shell.*
What if my hair is turning grey?
Grey hairs are honourable, they say.
What if my eyesight’s growing dim?
I still can see to follow Him
Who sacrificed His life for me
Upon the Cross of
What should I care if Time’s old plow
Has left its furrows on my brow?
Another house, not made with hand,**
Awaits me in the
What tho’ I falter in my walk?
What tho’ my tongue refuse to talk?
I still can tread the
I still can watch, and praise, and pray.
My hearing may not be as keen
As in the past it may have been,
Still, I can hear my Saviour say
In whispers soft, “This is the way.”***
The outward man, do what I can
To lengthen out his life’s span,
Shall perish and return to dust,
As every thing in nature must.
The inward man, the Scripture’s say,
Is growing stronger every day.
Then how can I be growing old
When safe within my Saviour’s fold?
Ere long my soul shall fly away,
And leave this tenement of clay.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the “everlasting prize” - ****
I’ll meet you on the Streets of Gold,
And prove that I’m not growing old.
- John E. Roberts.
[See * 1 Cor. 15: 50. cf. Lk. 24: 39; Rom. 8: 23.
** Lk. 24: 39. cf. Acts 2: 34; John 19: 9, 17.
*** Acts 24: 14-16. cf. 2 Tim. 2: 12; Phil. 3: 12-14.
**** Rev. 3: 11. cf. 1 Cor. 9: 24-27; Heb. 12: 1-2; Rev. 3: 21.]
* * *
Supposing the seventy years of life are compressed within a single working day, from seven in the morning until ten at night. Then, if you are twenty, the clock has just struck eleven; if you are thirty, it is about twenty past one; if you are forty, it is half past three; if you are fifty, it is close upon six; if you are sixty, it is a quarter to eight; and if you are seventy, the clock is just striking ten.