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to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.* Is his case to be deplored as highly calamitous, who, by forfeiting some transient enjoyments of the world, purchases lasting improvement in piety and virtue, and exchanges a few of the good things of this life for the better things of another?
INFLUENCED by such considerations as these, let us look up with reverence to the great Disposer of events; and under any distress with which he is pleased to visit us, let us utter no other voice but this; Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? - Men are too often ingenious in making themselves miserable, by aggravating to their own fancy, beyond bounds, all the evils which they endure. They compare themselves with none but those whom they imagine to be more happy; and complain that upon them alone has fallen the whole load of human sorrows. Would they look with a more impartial eye on the world, they would see themselves surrounded with sufferers; and find that they are only drinking out of that mixed cup which Providence has prepared for all. « I will restore “ your daughter again to life," said the Eastern sage to a prince who grieved immoderately for the loss of a beloved child, “provided you are able to engrave “ on her tomb the names of three persons who have “ never mourned.” The prince made enquiry after such persons; but found the enquiry vain, and was silent.---To every reasonable person, who retains the belief of religious principles, many alleviating
* Job, xxi. 12. Xxxvi. 8,
circumstances, and many arguments for patience, will occur, under every distress. If we rest on this firm persuasion, that there is a wise and just Providence which disposes of all events, we shall have reason to conclude, that nothing happens to us here without some good design. Trusting that a happy termination shall at last arrive to the disorders of our present state, we shall be enabled, amidst all the varieties of fortune, to preserve that equanimity which befits Christians, and under every trial to say, It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth good in his sight.
PROVERBS, xxvii. 10.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake
HATEVER relates to the behaviour of men
in their social character is of great importance in religion. The duties which spring from that character form many branches of the great law of charity, which is the favourite precept of Christianity. They, therefore, who would separate such duties from a religious spirit, or who at most treat them as only the inferior parts of it, do a real injury to religion. They are mistaken friends of piety, who, under the notion of exalting it, place it in a sort of insulated corner, disjoined from the ordinary affairs of the world, and the connections of men with one another. On the contrary, true piety influences them all. It acts as a vivifying spirit, which animates and enlivens, which rectifies and conducts them. It is no less friendly to men than zealous for the honour of God; and by the generous affections which it nourishes, and the beneficent influence which it exerts on the whole of conduct, is fully vindicated from every reproach which the infidel would throw upon it.-In this view I am now to discourse on the nature and duties of virtuous friendship, as closely connected with the true spirit
of religion. It is a subject which the inspired philosopher, who is the author of this book of Proverbs, has thought worthy of his repeated notice; and in many passages has bestowed the highest eulogiums on friendship among good men. As ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Make sure of thy friend; for faithful are the wounds of a friend. A friend loveth at all times; and a brother is born for adversity. There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, it is said in the text, forsake not.
I must begin the subject, by observing, that there are among mankind friendships of different kinds, or at least, connections which assume that name. When they are no more than confederacies of bad men, they ought to be called conspiracies rather than friendships. Some bond of common interest, some league against the innocent and unsuspecting, may have united them for a time. But
But they are held together only by a rope of sand.
At bottom they are all rivals, and hostile to one another. Their friendship can subsist no longer than interest cements them. Every one looks with a jealous eye on his supposed friend; and watches the first favourable opportunity to desert, or to betray.
Friendships too there are of a different kind, and of a more respectable nature, formed by the connection of political parties. It is not, perhaps, on selfish or crooked designs that such friendships are originally founded. Men have been associated together, by some public interest, or general cause, or for defence against some real or imagined danger; and connections thus formed, often draw men into close union, and inspire for a season no small degree of cordial attachment. When upon just and honourable principles this union is founded, it has proved, on various occasions, favourable to the cause of liberty and good order among mankind. At the same time, nothing is more ready to be abused than the name of public spirit, and a public
It is a name under which private interest is often sheltered, and selfish designs are carried on. The unwary are allured by a specious appearance; and the heat of faction usurps the place of the generous warmth of friendship.
It is not of such friendships, whether of the laudable or the suspicious kind, that I am now to discourse ; but of private friendships, which grow neither out of interested designs nor party zeal; but which flow from that similarity of dispositions, that corresponding harmony of minds, which endears some person to our heart, and makes us take as much part in his circumstances, fortunes, and fate, as if they were our own. The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David ; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. * Such friendships certainly are not unreal; and, for the honour of human nature, it is to be hoped, are not altogether unfrequent, among mankind. Happy it is, when they take root in our early years; and are engrafted on the ingenuous sensibility of youth. Friendships, then contracted,
* 1 Samuel, xviii. 1.