Sivut kuvina
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

these principles, is, strictly and properly speaking, a Christian friendship, and it will be the direct opposite of those celebrated instances of Pagan friendship, of which we hear so much in antient story. The characteristics of these commonly were, a haughty and overbearing spirit ; a vindictive, implacable, and impetuous temper; an intrepidity superior to every danger, and every consideration of justice, honesty, and humanity, in behalf of those partners in their iniquity whom they chose to call their friends. Such wild extravagances as these, as well as those confederacies in vice, which young men, even now, sometimes compliment with the name of friendlhip, are indeed diametrically opposite to the genius of Chrisțianity. But it would be as unfair to take our ideas of friend. fhip from these corrupt perversions of it, as to form our notions of liberty from the excesses of a lawless rabble, or our senti. ments of religion from the ravings of a delirious enthusiast. To know what friendship really is, we must look for it in that sacred repository of every thing great and excellent, the Gospel of Christ. We shall there not


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

only see it actually existing in its utmost

perfection in the person of Christ and his beloved disciple; but we shall find that almost all the virtues on which his religion lays the greatest stress, have a natural tendency to generate it in our souls. Examine only the feveral branches of benevolence, as they lie in the facred writings, and especially in that ex. quisite picture of charity which is drawn by the masterly hand of St. Paul *, and


will perceive that nothing is more easy than to graft upon them a firm and lasting friendThip. They contain all the right principles and rudiments of that delightful sentiment; and these being once fairly laid before the world, every man was left (as it was fit he should be) to make the application of them himself, at his own discretion, to the purposes of friendly union, according as inclination led, or opportunity invited him. There can want nothing more than the concurrence of two congenial minds, to kindle these sparks of friendship into a flame, much purer, I apprehend, and brighter, and more permanent, than ever glowed within the breast of a heathen.

1 Cor. xiii.


From the whole then of this enquiry, it appears, that whoever cultivates the duties prescribed by the Gospel, will be of all others the best qualified for a virtuous friendfhip. But, what is of far more consequence to the world in general, he will also be the best qualified to live happily without it. Friendship is a bleffing, which, like many others in this world, falls to the lot of few. It depends so much on constitution, on accident, on a concurrence of circumstances which so rarely meet, and which no one can command, that by far the greater part of mankind pass through the world, and pass through it very comfortably too, without ever having the good fortune to find that

person whom they can with strict propriety call a friend. Had then the Gospel given ever so many precepts or directions on the subject of friendship; to a few refined philosophic minds they might perhaps have been of some use. But it was not for thefe only, it was for the multitude also, for the people at large, that the Gospel' was designed. And to these it must be no fmall satisfaction to find, that a connection which they often want the in

clination, clination, and oftener still the power, to form, is not enjoined, is not recommended, is not ever mentioned in the Gospel, and that they may go to heaven extremely well without it. A faithful friend is indeed, as the son of Sirach no less justly than elegantly cxpresses it, the medicine of life *. And happy are they who find it. But to those who do not, or by any fatal accident are deprived of it, Christianity has other medicines, other consolations in store. It has pleasures to bestow, which will amply countervail those of the fincerest and firmest friendship. It gives that peace

of mind, which nothing in this world, not even friendship itself, can give. It secures to us the favour of that Being, who is able to be our friend indeed. Our earthly friends may deceive, may

desert us, may be separated from us, may be converted into our bitterest enemies. But our heavenly friend has declared (and he is one that may be trusted) that if we adhere faithfully to him, hc will never leave us nor forsake us t. It is, in short, in every man's power to be, if he pleases, though not precisely in the same sense • Ecclus. xi. 16. + Heb. xiii. s.

66 Ye are my

that St. John was, yet in a very important
sense, the friend of Cbrift. We have our
Saviour's own word for it.
și friends,” says he to his disciples, “ if ye
so do whatsoever I command you *. Nay,
he has assured us that he will consider every
real Christian as united to him by still closer
ties. This assurance is given us in one of
those noble strains of divine eloquence which
are so common in the facred writings. Our
Lord being told that his mother and his
brethren stood without, defiring to speak
with him, he gives a turn to this little inci-
dent, perfectly new, and inexpressibly tender
and affectionate. “ Who is my mother,"
says he," and who are my brethren? And he
“ stretched forth his hands towards his dis-
“ ciples, and said, Behold

mother and

my !! brethren! For whosoever shall do the will $ of my Father which is in heaven, the “fame is my mother, and fistes, and bro

ço thert.”

• John xv. 14.

+ Matth. xii. 46-50,


« EdellinenJatka »