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volence; and that on this ground the Scriptures are silent respecting it *.
* "We perceive the impropriety of making it (friendship) the subject of legislation. It is the duty of every man to cultivate the dispositions which lead to friendship, the love of his species, admiration of virtue, regard to the feelings of others, gratitude, humility, along with the most inflexible adherence to probity and truth. Wherever these exist, friendship will be the natural result; but it will result as a felicity rather than a duty; and is to be placed among the rewards of virtue, rather than its obligations, Happiness is not to be prescribed, but to be enjoyed. Were friendship inculcated as a matter of indispensable obligation, endless embarrassment would arise in determining at what period the relation shall commence ; whether with one or with more ; and at what stage, in the progress of mutual attraction, at what point, the feelings of reciprocal regard shall be deemed to reach the maturity, which entitles them to the sacred name of friendship. The laws of piety and virtue are coeval with our existence, considered as reasonable and accountable creatures. Their authority is founded on immutable relations, the duties resulting from which are capa. ble of being clearly conceived and exactly defined; but he who should undertake to prescribe to the subtle and mysterious impulses which invite susceptible minds to friendship, would find himself engaged in an attempt as hopeless, as to regulate the motions of the air which bloweth where it listeth.'
“But though the cultivation of friendship, for the reasons already assigned, is not made the subject of precept, but is left to grow up of itself under the general culture of reason and religion, it is one of the fairest productions of the human soil, the cordial of life, the lenitive of our sorrows, and the multiplier of our joys; the source equally of animation and of repose. He who is destitute of this blessing, amidst the greatest crowd and pressure of society, is doomed to solitude ; and however surrounded with flatterers and admirers, however armed with power, and rich in the endowments of nature and of fortune, has no resting place. The most elevated station in life affords no exemption from those agitations and disquietudes which can only be laid to rest on the bosom of a friend. He who has made the acquisition of a judicious and sympathizing friend, may be said to have doubled his mental resources: by associating an equal, perhaps a superior mind, with his own, he has provided the means of strengthening his reason, of perfecting his counsels, of discerning and correcting his errors. He can have recourse at all times to the judgment and assistance of one, who, with the same power of discernment with him. self, comes to the decision of a question with a mind neither harassed with the perplexities, nor heated with the passions, which so frequently obscure the perception of our true interests. Next to the immediate guidance of God by his Spirit, the counsel and encouragement of virtuous and enlightened friends afford the most powerful aid, in the encounter of temptation and in the career of duty." (A Sermon occasioned by the death of the Rev. John Ryland, D.D., by Robert Hall, M.A.)
But this supposition is not well-founded.
It is possible to love our neighbour as ourselves, and at the same time entertain that love and esteem towards individuals which constitute friendship. From the different dispositions and temperaments of mankind, it would appear to be the design of Providence, that friendship should be formed, in consequence of persons of kindred minds associating together.
The Scriptures abound with the most beautiful examples of the tenderest and closest friendship. How could the strength and durability of friendship be more touchingly exemplified than in the case of David and Jonathan? Their several interviews present to us the exercise of deep and disinterested affection. " The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loyed him as his own soul. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”
With regard to the alleged silence of the Gospel as to friendship, it may be remarked, that its Divine Author commanded his disciples to love one another with a pure and disinterested affection; and that the direct tendency of his religion is to produce and maintain among all truly virtuous persons a friendship of the most generous and exalted nature, to flourish with new and undecaying vigour in a happier world, new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one
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 xüi. 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, “ 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.
438. Vol. II.
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 acquaint
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