by Richard Steele
"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
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 divers 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, an 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
Intending a discourse concerning old-age, I shall use that method, which I conceive will be most comprehensive, and most commodious for my purpose; which is,
1. By making some description old age.
2. By showing the true causes of it, and the best preservatives against it.
3. The sins or vices which are most usual in it.
4. The graces and virtues that are most proper for it.
5. The inconveniences and miseries which attend it.
6. The privileges and comforts peculiar to it.
7. And lastly, the work and business that is most needful in it.