“Such an one as Paul the aged.”—Philemon1:9
And what was Paul in the moment here represented? Verily an aged servant of his Master, but not retired from the scene of action. Paul, though grown old in the Lord’s service, was still as hotly engaged as ever in the Lord’s battle. Art thou such an one, my soul, as Paul was! Then learn from hence, that however many, or however heavy, former campaigns have been, there is no rest for thee this side Jordan, no more than for Paul: no winter quarters for the true soldiers of Jesus Christ. Until thy captain undress thee for the grave, the holy armour in which he hath clad thee is not to be taken off. Art thou “such an one as Paul the aged?” Then, like Paul, see that thou art strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. And how sweet the thought! Thy Jesus, who hath borne thee from the womb, and carried thee from the belly, knows well the burden of thy increasing years, and all the infirmities belonging to them, and will carry both thee and them. Yes, my soul, those very infirmities which the tenderest hearted friend sometimes feels impatient at, and even thyself, thou knowest not how to bear, Jesus feels, Jesus commiserates, Jesus will soften! He that hath carried all thy sins, carrieth also all thy sorrows. Doth he not say so? “even to your old age I am he; and even to hoary hairs I will carry you!” I have made, and I will bear: even I will carry and will deliver you. Isa. 46:3, 4. Precious Lamb of God! henceforth I cast all my burdens upon thee. Thou hast never called thyself I Am, for nothing. Thou hast indeed made me, and new made me. Thou hast borne all my sins in thine own body on the tree. Art thou not both the Alpha and the Omega, both the author and finisher of my salvation! Oh yes, thou hast been every thing to me, and for me, from the womb of creation: borne me on eagle’s wings; made me, and new made me; redeemed me in a thousand redemptions, and been better to me than all my fears! What, indeed, hast thou not done for me? And now then, being “such an one as Paul the aged,” shall I now doubt, or now fear, when every pain, and every cross, and every new assault from sin and Satan, bids me go to Jesus. Oh for grace, ever to keep in view what thou hast said and done, and what thou hast promised. Yes, yes, it is enough; Jesus hath said, “Even to your old age I am he.” The same I have been, the same I will ever be. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Shout, my soul, and cry out, hallelujah. He that hath been my first will be my last; my strength, my song, my salvation for ever.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."