ページの画像
PDF
ePub

dition does not admit. It is a remarkable expression that Moses employs, when he says, “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy FRIEND who is as thine own SOUL.” It seems to place a friend above all the relations of kindred, and Solomon does not scruple to say, “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Friendship has always been deemed essential to the happiness of human beings, and indeed to their very honour: for it would be thought as disgraceful as it is disconsolate to have no friend. No peculiarity of condition, nor elevation of rank, sets a man above the attraction and utility of friendship. Kings have laid aside their royalties to indulge in it; and Alex. ander would have found a conquered world a kind of desert, without an Ephestion.

It is needless to enlarge on the excellency and value of this blessing. Who is not ready to acknowledge that friendship is the delight of youth; the pillar of age; the bloom of prosperity; the charm of solitude; the solace of adversity; the best benefactor and comforter in this vale of tears. But the question is, where a friend is to be found ? It will be allowed that many who wear the name are unworthy of the title; and that even those who are sincere in their professions, may be chargeable with infirmities. Yet even human friendship is not a utopian good. He who says, all men are liars, says it in his haste, or from a heart that judges of others by itself. They who complain most are commonly the most to be complained of—for there is real friendship to be found on earth. But there is better in heaven—and in our text we have the advantage in the highest of all examples. In others, we may have the reality, and even the eminency of friendship, but in Him we have the perfection, the divinity of it.

But what is necessary to our claiming it? Ye

are my friends, says he, “if ye do whatsoever I command you.” By this he shews us, that though he is the friend, he is also the lawgiver. Under whatever character he reveals himself, we are never to lose sight of the Sovereign. His goodness is to display his greatness, not to weaken it. He is the Prince, as well as the Saviour-He “commands” his friends. And nothing less than obedience to his will is required of us. It is not enough to read it, and hear it, and know it, and talk of it, and profess it-we must “do” it. And our obedience must be impartial; we must do “whatsoever” he commands us. Obedience may be sincere, without being perfect in the degree, but it cannot be sincere, without being universal in its principle and disposition. For if I do some things which he enjoins me, and not others, it follows that what I do, I do from some other motive than his authority—for this would lead me to observe all he enjoins. True obedience will not suffer me to select, any more than to dictateits only enquiry is, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" He who commands me to enter his gates with thanksgiving, tells me also to enter my closet. He who forbids me to steal, tells me to speak evil of no man. Can I say, with David, “I esteem all thy commandments concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way?”

With regard to the connexion, however, between this friendship and this obedience, let it not be supposed that it is a meritorious one-as if the practice deserved the privilege. This is impossible, and would subvert the Gospel of Christ. Yet it is a certain connexion ; and as certain both in its exclusion and inclusion as the nature of things and the word of truth can make it.—And it is an encouraging connexion. Had the requisition turned on worldly honour, or wealth, or genius, or science, many must have despaired. But the essential is not derived from condition, but conduct. It is therefore within the reach of the poor, as well as of the rich; and of the illiterate, as well as the learned. All may be great in the sight of the Lord; and he is the greatest, whatever be his circumstances in life, who best obeys his Lord and Saviour. Mary was blessed in being his mother, but this was a privilege necessarily confined to one individual : He, therefore, when he heard the exclamation of the woman, Blessed be the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked ! instantly mentions a way to a higher privilege, and which lies open to every one—“Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

Pray, therefore, “O that my feet were directed to keep thy precepts !” “Many will entreat the favour of the prince, and every one is a friend to him that giveth gifts.” But when you seek the regards of the great, what base compliances are often necessary to please them and then you are never sure of succeeding—and when you succeed—what have you gained ? But His work is honourable and glorious. If you seek, you are sure to find. And whoso findeth Him, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. However unobserved or neglected among men you may be, no one can pass your door, and say, “There dwells a friendless person.”

Lord Brooks was so charmed with that rare and accomplished personage, Sir Philip Sidney, that he would have no other inscription on his tomb, than this—“Here lies the friend of Sir Philip Sidney."

Ah! says the Christian, I envy not those whose sepulchre will be adorned with the trophies of war, the pride of heraldry, or the renown of science-if my humble grave can tell, and tell truly—“Here lies the friend of Christ.”.

FEB. 15.-“ And all the people saw him walking and praising God: and they knew that it was he

which sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the

Temple : and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

Acts iii. 9, 10.

His walking was a proof of the reality and perfec. tion of the cure. His praising God was the proper improvement of it.

But what an attestation was here, to the Divine mission of the Apostles, and so to the truth of Christianity itself ! We speak, said they, in His Name who was crucified—and if you ask for a proof of it, we will act in His Name. Bring forth your dumb, and we will give them speech ; your blind, and we will open their eyes; your sick, and we will heal them ; your lame, and we will make them leap as an hart. . This was evidence adapted to persons of every rank and capacity. It required no laboured process of reasoning and eloquence. It was the broad seal of Heaven, which all could see and understand.

And there was nothing like artifice or collusion in these miracles. Take the case before us. The patient resided, not in a remote place, but in Jerusalem; that is, in the midst of the enemies of the Apostles. He had been lame from his mother's womb: and was now upwards of forty years old. He was well known; he was a beggar. Multitudes had seen him; many had relieved him; and many had handled him for he was carried daily to the place of begging. And this was not an obscure corner, but the entrance into the Temple. And the thing was not done in the night, but at nine o'clock in the morning, when there was a concourse of people.

Put all this together; and then ask whether any thing could have been fairer. Could any thing have been more open to detection, had there been any imposture? Compare such an achievement with

VOL. 1.

the prodigies of Heathenism; and the miracles of the Romish Church.

And see, also, what can equal the credulity of unbelievers! What is the faith of a Christian, to their belief? Christians believe difficulties, because they are abundantly confirmed; but they swallow improbabilities, and impossibilities. Their rejection of the Gospel cannot arise from an intellectual, but a moral cause. They do not want evidence, but disposition—they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore, how can they escape, if they neglect so great salvation ; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto them by those that heard him ; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will ?

Need I tremble for the cause of Christianity? Need my reason be ashamed of my faith?

“Hence, and for ever, from my heart,
“I bid my doubts and fears depart;
“ And to those hands my soul resign,

That bear credentials so divine.”

FEB. 16.—They serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Dan iii. 12.

The refusal of these three young men was as trying as it was noble. The resolution has immortalized them. Let us observe how much they had to overcome in adhering to it.

They could plead authority. Here was the command of their sovereign; and good men are to be good subjects; to honour principalities and powers; to obey magistrates, and to be ready to every good work. But there is a difference between civil

« 前へ次へ »