How often do those who have passed the strength of manhood cling to the hope of accomplishing some great work upon whiclr their hearts are set, but which they are unfitted to perform. God may speak to them, as did the prophet to David, declaring that the work which they so much desire is not committed to them.
"David . . saw that most of the aged around him were unhappy, and that unhappy traits of character increased especially with age. If persons were naturally close and covetous, they were most disagreeably so in their old age. If they were jealous, fretful, and impatient, they were especially so when aged. . . .
"He feared that God would leave him and that he would be as unhappy as other aged persons whose course he had noticed.... With this burden upon him he earnestly prays, 'Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.' . . It is frequently the case that aged persons are unwilling to realize and acknowledge that their mental strength is failing."—Testimonies, vol. I, PP. 422, 423.
An aged minister, when placed on sustentation, acknowledged that he did not take kindly to it. He said:
"I suppose I feel something as did the old horse who had worked side by side with his mate for years. The time came when, because of age, he began to fail. The farmer decided to purchase another horse to take his place, and give him his deserved rest. Having done so, he started out with the team and kept the old horse in the stable. After he had plowed for a time, his boy came running to him and said, 'Dad, you must do something about the horse in the stable. He is kicking the stall to pieces.' He then took the old horse out and allowed him to walk beside the team. This satisfied him."
Another aged minister wrote me in a letter, "When I work, my neuritis is better and I feel better. This inactivity does not agree with my constitution." He felt that he ought to be visiting churches and giving them the benefit of his experience. I worked side by side with him for several years at meetings. His talks were good, but I could see that he was failing. He would talk sometimes until compelled to stop because of a feeling of weakness. While he was conducting meetings at a camp meeting in Canada, I said to him, "Why not speak for about twenty minutes, then stop and give some of us an opportunity to speak and enlarge upon your theme?"
At the next meeting, after speaking about twenty minutes, he had a heart attack, and had to stop. Turning to me he said, "Dr. Kress has something to say." I got up and continued his theme. At the close of the meeting I helped him into the conveyance that was waiting for him. As he entered he said to me, "Well, I obeyed you, didn't I?" "Yes," I said, "it was a matter of necessity." It was hard for him to step aside and allow his mantle to fall upon younger shoulders.
Still another aged minister could not understand why younger men with less experience should be given the preference at large gatherings. At a General Conference at San Francisco, R. D. Quinn, K. C. Russell, and I were given all the eight o'clock meetings in the morning for revival work. This older minister remarked about it, and felt that he had a message to give. One morning we invited him to the platform and asked him to make some remarks. He did so, but spoke longer than he should have. The audience became restless. I stepped up to him, and very gently placing my hand on his shoulder, told him to be brief. He did not like this. He turned upon me and said, "You have had all the time so far, and now I am going to have mine."
Years later when I too was numbered among the old men, I had a similar experience. I felt I had a message that ought to be given at a meeting I attended. When called upon to announce the opening hymn one morning, I said, "Before we sing I want to make a few remarks." I took more time than I should have. The president of the conference gently laid his hand on my shoulder, and informed me that an important meeting was to follow. I looked at him and said nothing, but I did not like it any better than did my old friend.
Another aged minister when seventy-five years of age stepped aside more graciously. Conscious that he had finished his course when his younger fellow laborers told him that his age should excuse him from the fatigue of itinerant life and public speaking, he laid his armor off as a captured officer would surrender his sword on the field of battle. The decision once made, he was as triumphant in hope and faith as before.