Saturday, January 28, 2023

"Counsels of The Aged" by Archibald Alexander

The following excerpt is by Archibald Alexander, (1772–1851), “the Shakespeare of the Christian heart,” who taught 40 years at Princeton Theological Seminary, his most famous student being Charles Hodge.

"It is a matter of serious regret that young persons are commonly so little disposed to listen to the advice of the aged.… In youth, the spirits are buoyant, the susceptibilities lively, the affections ardent, and the hopes sanguine. To the young, everything in the world wears the garb of freshness.… These traits of youthful character, as long as irregularity and excess are avoided, are not only allowable, but amiable; and would in that age be badly exchanged for the more sedate and grave emotions which are the natural effects of increasing years, and of long and painful experience. But it is greatly to be desired that the lessons of wisdom taught by the experience of one set of men should be made available for the instruction of those who come after them.… We would therefore solicit your patient, candid, and impartial attention to the following counsels:

Resolve to form your lives upon some certain principles, and to regulate your actions by fixed rules. Man was made to be governed by reason, and not by mere accident or caprice. It is important, therefore, that you begin early to consider and inquire what is the proper course of human conduct, and to form some plan for your future lives.

In order to pursue a right path, you must know what it is and to acquire this knowledge, you must divest yourselves of thoughtless giddiness, you must take time for serious reflection. Do not adopt without consideration the opinions of those who may be about you, for they may have some sinister design in regard to you, or they may themselves be misled by error or prejudice.… As reasonable creatures, therefore, judge for yourselves what course it is right and fitting that you should pursue. Exercise your own reason independently and impartially, and do not give yourselves up to be governed by mere caprice and fashion, or by the opinions of others.

Cherish and diligently cultivate genuine piety. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” … We would then affectionately and earnestly exhort and entreat you to “remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” This will be your best security against all the dangers and temptations to which you are exposed; this will secure to you “the favor of God which is life, and His loving kindness which is better than life.”