Archibald Alexandar’s “Counsels Of The Aged To The Young” – Introduction


After reading J.C. Ryle Quote’s “Four Costs of Becoming a Christian” this week (which were very powerful, by the way!), I found that their format to be very helpful. I’m going to take the same approach here.

I came across Counsels of the Aged to the Young (see Grace Gems or download .pdf version) by Archibald Alexandar through the Monergism website a few months back. I have found myself returning to it time and time again. He covers 20 directives that he believes need to be especially focused on in young men and women, though these are very applicable to all, no matter what age.

My plan is to post one of these 20 points each day. Sometimes reading things like this are better to be focused on in smaller chunks than in one sitting. I hope we can learn and grow from his instruction.

Introduction:

COUNSELS OF THE AGED TO THE YOUNG

Archibald Alexander, 1844

It is a matter of serious regret that young people are commonly so little disposed to listen to the advice of the aged. This prejudice seems to have its origin in an apprehension that austerity and rigor naturally belong to advanced years; and that the loss of all susceptibility of pleasure from those scenes and objects which afford delight to the young, produces something of an ill-natured or envious feeling towards them. Now it cannot be denied that some of the aged are chargeable with the fault of being too rigid in exacting from youth the same steady gravity which is fitting in those who have lived long, and have had much experience in the world: not remembering that the constitutional temperament of these two periods of human life is very different.

In youth, the spirits are buoyant, the susceptibilities lively, the affections ardent, and the hopes optimistic. To the young, everything in the world wears the garb of freshness; and the novelty and variety of the scenes presented keep up a constant excitement. These traits of youthful character, as long as sin 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 have, therefore, determined to address a few short hints of advice to the rising generation, on subjects of deep and acknowledged importance to all; but previously to commencing, we would assure them that it is no part of our object to interfere with their innocent enjoyments, or to deprive them of one pleasure which cannot be shown to be injurious to their best interests. We wish to approach you, dear youth, in the character of affectionate friends, rather than in that of dogmatic teachers or stern reprovers. We would therefore solicit your patient, candid and impartial attention to the following counsels:

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