A Discourse Concerning Old-age

A Discourse Concerning Old-age
By Richard Steele

A discourse concerning old Age is a discourse to people concerning the problems and concerns of old age.

“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” Titus 2:2-3

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    Contents of A Discourse concerning old Age

    Chapter I. The Description of Old-age.

    1. Of the names for old-age.
    2. Of the nature of old-age.
    3. Of the beginning of old-age.
    4. Of the long lives of many people.

    Chapter II. The causes of old-age, and preservatives.

    1. The original cause, man’s sin.
    2. The natural cause, dryness and coldness.
    3. The preternatural causes.
    a. Unwholesome air. b. Diseases. c. Immoderate care and labor. d. Intemperance. c. Inordinate passions.
    4. Preservatives.
    a. Piety. b. Sobriety.

    Chapter III. The sins and vices of old-age.

    1. Frowardness.
    2. Loquacity.
    3. Envy.
    4. Arrogance.
    5. Covetousness.
    6. Also, a. Craftiness. b. Unteachableness. c. Implacableness. d. Speculative wickedness.

    Chapter IV. The graces and virtues of old-age.

    1. Knowledge.
    2. Faith.
    3. Wisdom.
    4. Patience.
    5. Steadfastness.
    6. Temperance.
    7. Love.

    Chapter V. The inconveniences or miseries of old-age.

    Generally, out of Ecclesiastes 12.


    1. It is deprived of pleasures.
    2. Strength and beauty decreased.
    3. Faculties weakened.
    4. Senses decayed.
    5. Distemper and pain.
    6. Broken with crosses.
    7. Attended with contempt.
    8. Disabled from service.
    9. Unfit for religious exercises.
    10. Terrified with the approach of death.

    Chapter VI. The privileges and comforts of old-age.

    1. It is greater in authority.
    2. Richer in experience.
    3. Freer from sin.
    4. More prone to piety.
    5. Riper in its fruits.
    6. Worthier of respect.
    7. Further from the world.
    8. Nearer to Heaven.

    Chapter VII. The work and business of old-age.

    1. Repentance of their sins.
    2. Obtaining assurance.
    3. Prayer and praises.
    4. Instruction of the younger.
    5. Watchfulness against the temptations
    a. Of discontentedness of mind. b. Of hardness and security of heart. c. Of slothfulness of spirit. d. Of expectation of long life.
    6. Providence for posterity.
    7. Mortification, a. To sin. b. To the world.
    8. Laying up a treasure in Heaven.
    9. Meditation on death and eternity.
    10. Perseverance, a. In well-doing.b. In suffering the will of God.

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      The epistle to the readers

      Friendly readers,
      You have here a plain discourse concerning old-age. The design of it is to instruct, to warn, and to comfort the weaker sort of aged people, among whom I must place myself. The wiser and stronger may find diverse things upon this subject collected here together, which they know and practice better than I. But that which put me upon this attempt was,

      1. Some years experience of old-age in myself.

      2. More leisure time, by reason of my bodily infirmities, and other restraints than I could have desired.

      3. An observation, that there was no full treatise in our tongue upon this point.

      4. And lastly, a sincere desire to be some way useful in the world. These were the true occasions of this treatise. Whatever in it tastes of the cask — impute that to my weakness; whatever is worthy — ascribe it only to God’s goodness. I know it is full of imperfections, but when the principle, matter, and end of an action are honest, candid people will interpret the rest in the best sense. Such ancient and modern authors, I could meet with, as have written upon this subject, I have perused, and digested their observations in their places. But the Scriptures here produced are my great vouchers, and which I do most earnestly recommend to the readers, for they are worthy the highest regard. That the Lord would enable me and you to frame our old-age according to these instructions, is the earnest prayer of,
      Your servant for Jesus sake,
      Richard Steele, May 10, 1688

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