Why were the old days better than these?
(George Mylne, “Lessons for the Christian’s Daily Walk” 1859)
“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?‘ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Ecclesiastes 7:10
Such questions are not wise. They savor either of ignorance, or discontent. If former days really were better, then you are discontent — if not, then you are ignorant. At all events, days past, and present, are just what God has made them — so it is bad to raise the question.Faith takes matters as they come. Blind unbelief asks many questions; it often asks, “WHY!”
One says, “Trade was far better before I entered business — I wonder how it is?” Another, “Markets were better before I took to farming — How can it be?” A third, “Fortunes were sooner made, when I was young — Why does it happen thus?” “The seasons are not what they once were,” exclaims a fourth — “all rain, and no sunshine; what can the reason be?”
What are the times, my friend?
Who made, who ordered them?
Out of whose bosom did they come?
Who holds them in His hand?
To quarrel with the times — is to find fault with God! He has made them all beautiful in their seasons. (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) If they do not please you — whose fault is it? Could you have made them better?
Examine well the links which interweave time present with time past — the mysterious chain of providential dealings. Look at the ordering of events, one hanging on the other, in perfect order, though mysterious. Survey the wonders of God’s providence, the wondrous workings of His sovereign power. These are the the sum and substance of the times; times past, times present, and times future; your times and my times; the times of all men in all ages!
To change the times — were . . .
to derange the ordering of Providence from first to last;
to break the golden chain of divine events;
to mar the beauty of God’s structure.
God’s dispensations revolve in fixed and sure orbits, all moving, acting, following, in perfect order. To pluck one adverse event away: to change sunshine for rain — or rain for sunshine; sorrow for joy — or joy for sorrow; easy for hard — or hard for easy, would be as foolish as to arrest the planets in their course, or sweep a constellation from the skies!
You say, “Times past were better than the present.” Is God less present now than then? Are His paths more difficult? Are His ways less sure? Has His grace, then, changed its character? Is Jesus not the same? Is man less wicked now than then? Does he deserve a milder treatment?
Do not compare old times — against present times; or your hard lot — against the “fortune” of your forefathers. Compare your “lot” with your deserts — and say which best befits you — to thank God or complain of His providential dealings with you!