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another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another *." Is not friendship the natural and necessary result of the exercise of the fraternal affection here enjoined? The effect of obedience to this commandment must be our enjoying the intimate acquaintance, the counsel and advice, the love and confidence of those whom we choose as our personal friends. If our Lord himself favoured some with his friendship, as in the case of the disciple whom he loved, and the pious family at Bethany, it cannot be wrong in us to cultivate the same feelings, and to seek the same enjoyments.
"Our Divine Lawgiver shewed his wisdom, equally in what he enjoined, and what he left unnoticed. He knew exactly,-what no Pagan philosopher ever knew,-where to be silent, and where to speak. It was not his intention, it was indeed far below his dignity, to say fine things upon popular subjects; pleasing perhaps to a few, but utterly useless to the bulk of mankind. His object was of a much more important and extensive nature; to inculcate the plain, humble, practical duties of piety and morality; the duties that were of universal concern and indispensable obligation, such as were essentially necessary to our well-being in this life, and our everlasting happiness in the next. Now, the warmest admirers of friendship cannot pretend to raise it into a duty of this high rank. It is a delightful, it is an amiable, it is often a laudable attachment; but it is not a necessary requisite, either to the present welfare or future salva
* John xiii. 34, 35.
tion of mankind in general, and, consequently, is not of sufficient importance to deserve a distinct place in the christian system *."
A faithful friend is beyond all value; as the delight of true friendship is one of the purest and most exalted pleasures. We are led by the constitution of our nature, no less than by the circumstances in which we are placed, to form this relation, and to desire this enjoyment; and it is well when we choose those as our friends who have qualities of temper and of moral worth which constitute them fit objects of our love.
I. It is our duty to exercise judgment and discrimination in the selection of friends. This may not be necessary in regard to those common acquaintances which we make in the intercourse of human life, and who because our intercourse consists in the interchange of civilities merely, possess scarcely any influence on our character and happiness. But if friendship be, what it has been very happily termed, " an alliance of heart with heart,-if, in giving our sorrow or projects to be shared by another, we are to partake, in our turn, his sorrows or designs, whatever they may be, to consider the virtue of him whom we admit to this diffusion with us of one common being, and to yield our affection, only as we discover the virtue which alone is worthy of it, is almost the same thing as to consult our own virtue."
If we are desirous that our friendship should be lasting, that the happiness which it yields should abide with us under the calamities as well as under the sunshine of human life, it becomes us to take *Bishop Porteus's Sermons, vol. i. p. 438.
good heed to the dispositions and character of those whom we make our friends. Can they be faithful friends to us who are unfriendly to their own virtue and happiness; whose habitual imprudence, or whose habitual vice, surrounds them with misery? Ought we not also to hesitate in receiving to the entire love and confidence of friendship persons of a peevish, discontented, and suspicious turn of mind?
II. When we have selected our friends, we should cherish towards them all tenderness and fidelity of affection. The tenderness with which we should treat their feelings and character, and even their very failings, will appear by recollecting the manner in which we ourselves are affected by the conduct of our friends in regard to us. We feel very sensibly any unkindness in words or actions from them; when we would have disregarded much worse conduct in persons indifferent to us." It was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him. But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company."
The mutual confidence which is requisite to friendship renders fidelity indispensable. He who is incapable of retaining in his own bosom the communications which friendship confides to him, either from imbecility, or from the vanity of shewing that he knows what is unknown by others, may be very learned, and very amiable, but he is wanting in one of the most essential qualifications of a desirable
friend. When he whom we call our friend is worthy of that name, when we are assured that he deserves our full confidence, we have a pleasure in telling him our joys and sorrows, our hopes and fears, and in unbosoming our whole soul. It is with great truth, therefore, that the Roman moralist says, "If you think any one your friend in whom you do not put the same confidence as in yourself, you know not the real power of friendship. Consider long, whether the individual whom you view with regard is worthy of being admitted to your bosom; but when you have judged and found him truly worthy, admit him to your very heart. You should so live, indeed, as to trust nothing to your conscience, which you would not trust to your enemy; but at least, to your friend, let all be open. He will be the more faithful, as your confidence in his fidelity is more complete."
III. Our interest in the happiness of our friends should be sufficiently deep to produce in us a readiness and a pleasure to serve them, when it is in our power to do so. The genuineness of our friendship must be shewn, not by words and professions merely, but by deeds of substantial kindness. If it be our duty, should the providence of God call us to it, to lay down our lives for the brethren; it cannot be doubted that we are bound to comfort them in affliction, and, should their circumstances require it, and ours afford it, to give them pecuniary assistance. If we expect when we are in distress to hear the soothing voice of friendship, that voice which it gives us pleasure to hear, even when our friend cannot relieve us,-affection will teach us to express our sympathy with him, and
willingly to give our influence or property, as he may require it, to promote his well-being.
IV. We owe our friends also a lively interest in their moral and religious improvement. This is indeed the chief of the duties, and perhaps the most difficult to discharge, of any involved in a virtuous friendship. But to Christians, who consider their being as commencing when this fleeting life has passed away, and who hope to enjoy that nobler being where all imperfection shall be unknown, the value of friendship is enhanced, as it promises to survive this perishable existence. Its bonds become firmer just as we can look with humble confidence beyond this passing scene, to the regions into which distrust and suspicion never enter, where love and friendship hold an eternal sway.
With the wish that our friendship may thus be immortal, it must be our duty, not merely to correct the faults of our friend, but to aim by such means as affection will suggest, at cherishing his virtues, and increasing the sum of those moral excellences which are the object of our love. Do we hesitate in the discharge of this duty from the fear of offending? "He whom we truly offend by such gentle admonitions as friendship dictates, is not worthy of the friendship which we have wasted on him; and if we thus lose. his friendship, we are delivered from one who could not be sincere in his past professions of regard, and whose mockery, therefore, we might afterwards have had reason to lament, If he be worthy of us, he will not love us less, but love us more; he will feel that we have done that which it was our duty to do; and