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the points of contact between them become, there is the greater necessity for the surface being smooth, and every thing being removed that can grate or offend. - Let no harshness, no appearance of neglect, no supercilious affectation of superiority, occur in the intercourse of friends. A tart reply, a proneness to rebuke, a captious and contradictious spirit, are often known to embitter domestic life, and to set friends at variance. In those smaller articles of behaviour, where men are too apt to be careless, and to indulge their humour without restraint, the real character is often understood to break forth and show itself. It is by no means enough, that in all matters of serious interest, we think ourselves ready to prove the sincerity of our friendship. These occur more rarely. The ordinary tenour of life is composed of small duties and offices, which men have occasion daily to perform ; and it is only by rendering daily behaviour agreeable, that we can long preserve the comforts of · friendship.
In the fifth place, Let me caution you not to listen rashly to evil reports against your friends. When upon proper grounds you have formed a connection, be slow of believing any thing against the friend whom you have chosen. Remember, that there is among mankind a spirit of malignity, which too often takes pleasure in disturbing the society of those who appear to enjoy one another. The Scripture hath warned us, that there is a whisperer who separateth chief friends; there is a false witness who soweth discord among brethren. Give not therefore a ready ear to the officious insinuations of those who, under the
guise of friendly concern, come to admonish you,
, that you ought to stand on your guard against those whom they see you disposed to trust. Consider, whether, under this fair appearance, there may not lurk some secret envy and rivalry, or some concealed interest. Chase not every flying report. Suffer not the poison of jealousy easily to taint your mind, and break your peace. A wide difference there is between that weak credulity which allows itself to be imposed upon blindly, and that dark and suspicious spirit which is always inclined to the evil side. It forms part of the character of a wise and good man, that he is not prone to take up a reproach against his neighbour.
In the sixth and last place, Let me exhort you not to desert your friend in danger or distress. Too many there are in the world, whose attachment to those they call their friends is confined to the day of their prosperity. As long as that continues, they are, or appear to be affectionate and cordial. But as soon as their friend is under a cloud, they begin to withdraw, and to separate their interest from his. In friendship of this sort, the heart, assuredly, has never had much concern. For the great test of true friendship is constancy in the hour of danger, adherence in the season of distress. — When your friend is calumniated, then is the time openly and boldly to espouse his cause.
When his situation is changed, or his fortunes are falling, then is the time of affording prompt and zealous aid. When sickness or infirmity occasion him to be neglected by others, that is the opportunity which every real friend will seize, of redoubling all the affectionate attentions which love
suggests. These are the important duties, the sacred claims of friendship, which religion and virtue enforce on every worthy mind. — To show yourselves warm, after this manner, in the cause of
, commands esteem, even from those who have personal interest in opposing him. This honourable zeal of friendship has, in every age, attracted the veneration of mankind. It has consecrated to the latest posterity the names of those who have given up their fortunes, and have even exposed their lives, in
ehalf of the friends whom they loved; while ignominy and disgrace have ever been the portion of them who deserted their friends in the evil day, Thine own friend forsake not.
BEFORE concluding, it must not be forgotten, that the injunction of the Wise Man in the text is accompanied with this remarkable expression; not only thine own friend, but also thy father's friend, forsake not. These words bring back to our remembrance the days of former years; and suggest a sentiment which cannot but touch every feeling heart. Thine own friend may be dear; thy father's friend ought to be sacred. As long as life remains in
human breast, the memory of those ancient ties should remain, which connected us once with our father, and our father's house. Thy father has, perhaps, long ago gone down to the dust. But when you recal the innocent days of childhood and youth ; when you think of those family-transactions which once gladdened your hearts; your father's friend, in the midst of these, will rise to your remembrance. There was a time when you accosted him with respect, or looked up to him with fondness, and was made happy by his kindly notice. Does such a one now survive, and shall he not receive from you some portion of filial reverence and honour? To disregard and neglect him, is to spurn your father's memory; is to insult the ashes of him who now sleeps in the grave, is to transmit yourselves to those who shall succeed you, as unfeeling and base.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, försake not.
I HAVE pointed out some of the chief duties which belong to virtuous friendship ; and some of the principal means by which this sacred bond should be preserved unbroken; this holy flame should be kept alive in the human breast. The spirit and sentiments, which I have studied to inspire, are such as virtue breathes, and such as true piety should increase. It is thus we fulfil that great law of love which our Divine Master taught. It is thus we prepare ourselves for those happy regions, where charity never faileth; where, in the presence of the God of Love, eternal and invariable friendships unite together all the blessed; friendships, which, by no human infirmity disturbed, by death never separated, shall constitute, throughout endless ages, a great and distinguished portion of the celestial felicity.
On the CONDUCT to be held with regard to FUTURE
PROVERBS, xxvii. 1.
Boast not thyself of to-morrow ; for thou knowest not
what a day may bring forth. FROM these words I purpose to discourse of the
proper conduct which we ought to hold, with regard to futurity, amidst the present uncertainties of life. Time and life are always going on, and to each of us are preparing changes in our state. What these may be, whether for the better or for the worse, we cannot tell; as it hath pleased the wisdom of Providence to cover futurity with a veil which no mortal can lift up. In the mean time, none of us can avoid forming designs, and laying plans for the time to come. The present moment is never sufficient to give full employment to the active mind of man, without some excursions into futurity; and in these excursions, the present is often wholly spent. It is therefore of the highest consequence, that a proper direction be given to the mind, in its employments of thought relating to futurity. Otherwise, in the prospects which we take of that unknown region, false hopes, or ill-grounded fears, shall flatter or torment us in vain. We know not, as the Wise