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permitted to enjoy a being ? since, not to put trary to himself. From all which it follows, a traitor to death is a singular mercy. But that even in our highest estate of sanctity and then, not only to continue his being, but to privilege, we yet retain the unavoidable obliadorn it with privilege, and from the number gation of Christ's servants; though still with of subjects, to take him into the retinue of an advantage as great as the obligation, where servants, this was yet a greater love. For the service is perfect freedom : so that, with every one that may be fit to be tolerated in a reference to such a Lord, to serve, and to be prince's dominions, is not therefore fit to be free, are terms not consistent only, but absoadmitted into his family; nor is any prince's lutely equivalent. court to be commensurate to his kingdom. Nevertheless, since the name of servants But then, farther, to advance him from a ser has of old been reckoned to imply a certain vant to a friend, from only living in his house meanness of mind, as well as lowness of conto lying in his bosom, this is an instance of dition, and the ill qualities of many who favour above the rate of a created goodness, served have rendered the condition itself not an act for none but the Son of God, who came very creditable, especially in those ages and to do every thing in miracle, to love super- places of the world in which the condition of naturally, and to pardon infinitely, and even servants was extremely different from what to lay down the sovereign while he assumed it is now amougst us, they being generally the saviour.

slaves, and such as were bought and sold The text speaks the winning behaviour and for money, and consequently reckoned but gracious condescension of Christ to his dis- amongst the other goods and chattels of their ciples in owning them for his friends, who lord or master; it was for this reason that were more than sufficiently honoured by being Christ thought fit to waive the appellation of his servants. For still these words of his must servant here, as, according to the common use be understood, not according to the bare rigour of it amongst the Jews, (and at that time most of the letter, but according to the arts and nations besides,) importing these three qualiallowances of expression : not as if the rela- fications, which, being directly contrary to the tion of friends bad actually discharged them spirit of Christianity, were by no means to be from that of servants; but that of the two allowed in any of Christ's disciples. relations Christ was pleased to overlook the 1st, The first whereof is that here menmeaner, and without any mention of that, to tioned in the text, namely, an utter uvacentitle and denominate them solely from the quaintance with his master's designs, in these more honourable.

words, “ The servant knoweth not what his For the farther illustration of which, we lord doeth.” For seldom does any man of must premise this, as a certain and funda sense make his servant his counsellor, for fear mental truth, that so far as service imports of inaking him his governor too. A master duty and subjection, all created beings, whe for the most part keeps his choicest goods ther men or angels, bear the necessary and locked up from his servant, but much more essential relation of servants to God, and con his mind. A servant is to know nothing but sequently to Christ, who is “ God blessed for his master's commands, and in these also not ever.” And this relation is so necessary, that to know the reason of them. God himself cannot dispense with it, nor dis Neither is he to stand aloof off from his charge a rational creature from it; for al-counsels only, but sometimes from his prethough consequentially, indeed, he may do sence also; and so far as decency is duty, it is so, by the annihilation of such a creature, and sometimes his duty to avoid him. But the the taking away his being, yet supposing the voice of Christ in his gospel is, “ Come to me continuance of his being, God cannot effect all ye that are heavy laden.” The condition that a creature, which has his being from, and of a servant staves him off to a distance; but his dependence upon him, should not stand the gospel speaks nothing but allurement, obliged to do him the utmost service that his attractives, and invitation. The magisterial nature enables him to do. For to suppose the law bids the person under it, “ Go, and he contrary would be irregular, and opposite to must go ;” but the gospel says to every bethe law of nature, which, consisting in a fixed liever, “ Come, and he cometh.” A servant unalterable relation of one nature to another, dwells remote from all knowledge of his lord's is, upon that account, even by God himself, purposes. He lives as a kind of foreigner indispensable: forasmuch as, having once under the same roof; a domestic, and yet a made a creature, he cannot cause that that stranger too. creature should not owe a natural relation to 2dly, The name of servant imports a slavish his Maker, both of subjection and dependence, and degenerous awe of mind, as it is in Rom. (the very essence of a creature importing so viii. 5, “ God has not given us the spirit of much,) to which relation, if he behaves him-bondage again to fear.” He who serves has self uusuitably, he goes contrary to his nature, still the low and ignoble restraints of dread and the laws of it, which God, the author of upon his spirit, which in business, and even nature, cannot warrant without being con in the midst of action, cramps and ties up his



activity. He fears his master's anger, but officers to be passed through, so many threshdesigns not his favour.

“ Quicken me,” says olds to be saluted, so many days to be spent David, “ with thy free Spirit.” It is the in waiting for an opportunity of, perhaps, but freedoin of the spirit that gives worth and half an hour's converse. life to the performance. But a servant com But when he is to be entertained, whose monly is less free in mind than in condition; friendship, not whose business, demands an his very will seems to be in bonds and shackles, entrance, those formalities presently disapand desire itself under a kind of durance and pear, all impediments vanish, and the rigours captivity. In all that a servant does, he is of the magistrate submit to the endearments scarce a voluntary agent but when he serves of a friend. He opens and yields himself to himself; all his services otherwise, not flow- the man of business with difficulty and relucing naturally from propensity and inclination, tancy, but offers himself to the visits of a but being drawn and forced from him by friend with facility, and all the meeting reaterror and coaction. In any work he is put diness of appetite and desire. The reception to, let the master withdraw his eye and he of one is as different from the admission of the will quickly take off his hand.

other, as when the earth falls open under the 3dly, The appellation of servant imports a incisions of the plough, and when it gapes and mercenary temper and disposition, and de-greedily opens itself to drink in the dew of notes such an one as makes his reward both heaven, or the refreshments of a shower; or the sole motive and measure of his obedience. there is as much difference between them, as He neither loves the thing commanded, nor when a man reaches out his arms to take up the person who commands it, but is wholly a burden, and when he reaches them out to and only intent upon his own emolument. embrace. All kindnesses done him, and all that is given It is confessed, that the vast distance that him, over and above what is strictly just and sin had put between the offending creature his due, make him rather worse than better. and the offended Creator, required the help of And this is an observation that never fails, some great umpire and intercessor, to open where any one has so much bounty and so him a new way of access to God; and this little wit as to make the experiment. For Christ did for us as Mediator. But we read a servant rarely or never ascribes what he of no mediator to bring us to Christ; for receives to the mere liberality and generosity though, being God by nature, he dwells in the of the donor, but to his own worth and merit, height of majesty and the inaccessible glories and to the need which he supposes there is of of a Deity, yet, to keep off all strangeness him; which opinion alone will be sure to between himself and the sons of men, he has make any one of a mean servile spirit inso- condescended to a cognation and consanguilent and intolerable.

nity with us, he has clothed himself with flesh And thus I have shewn what the qualities and blood, that so he might subdue his glories of a servant usually are, (or at least were in to a possibility of human converse. And, that country where our Saviour lived and therefore, he that denies himself an immeconversed, when he spake these words,) which, diate access to Christ, affronts him in the great no doubt, were the cause why he would not relation of a friend, and as opening himself treat his disciples (whom he designed to be both to our persons and to our wants, with of a quite contrary disposition) with this the greatest tenderness and the freest invitaappellation.

tion. There is none who acts a friend by a Come we therefore now, in the next place, deputy, or can be familiar by proxy: to shew what is included in that great cha 2. The second privilege of friendship is a racter and privilege which he was pleased to favourable construction of all passages between vouchsafe both to them and to all believers, friends, that are not of so high and so malign in calling and accounting them his friends. a nature as to dissolve the relation.

“ Love It includes in it, I conceive, these following covers a multitude of sins," says the apostle, things,

(1 Pet. iv. 8.) When a scar cannot be taken 1. Freedom of access. House, and heart, away, the next kind office is to hide it. Love and all, are open for the reception of a friend. is never so blind as when it is to spy faults. The entrance is not beset with solemn excuses It is like the painter, who, being to draw the and lingering delays; but the passage is easy picture of a friend having a blemish in one and free from all obstruction, and not only eye, would picture only the other side of his admits but even invites the comer. How face. It is a noble and a great thing to cover different, for the most part, is the same man the blemishes and to excuse the failings of a from himself, as he sustains the person of a friend; to draw a curtain before his stains, magistrate, and as he sustains that of a friend! | and to display his perfections; to bury his As a magistrate or great officer, he locks him- weaknesses in silence, but to proclaim his self up from all approaches by the multiplied virtues upon the house-top. It is an imitaformalities of attendance, by the distance of tion of the charities of heaven, which, when ceremony and grandeur; so inany hungry | the creature lies prostrate in the weakness of

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sleep and weariness, spreads the covering of together with it he weighs the force of the innight and darkness over it to conceal it inducement; how much of it is to be attributed that condition ; but as soon as our spirits are to choice, how much to the violence of the refreshed, and nature returns to its morning temptation, to the stratagem of the occasion, vigour, God then bids the sun rise, and the and the yielding frailties of weak nature. day shine upon us, both to advance and to Should we try men at that rate that we try shew that activity.

Christ, we should quickly find, that the largest It is the ennobling office of the understand stock of human friendship would be too little ing, to correct the fallacious and mistaken for us to spend long upon. But his compasreports of sense, and to assure us that the staff sion follows us with an infinite supply. He in the water is straight, though our eye would is God in his friendship, as well as in his tell us it is crooked. So it is the excellency nature, and therefore we sinful creatures are of friendship to rectify, or at least to qualify, not took

upon advantages, nor consumed in the malignity of those surmises, that would our provocations. misrepresent a friend, and traduce him in our See this exemplified in his behaviour to his thoughts. Am I told that my friend has disciples, while he was yet upon earth; how done me an injury, or that he has committed ready was he to excuse and cover their infirany indecent action ? Why, the first debt mities! At the last and bitterest scene of his that I both owe to his friendship, and that he life, when he was so full of agony and horror may challenge from mine, is rather to question upon the approach of a dismal death, and the truth of the report, than presently to be so had most need of the refreshments of lieve my friend unworthy. Or, if matter of society, and the friendly assistance of his facts breaks out and blazes with too great an disciples; and when also he desired no more evidence to be denied, or so much as doubted of them, but only for a while to sit up and of, why still there are other lenitives that pray with him; yet they, like persons wholly friendship will apply, before it will be brought untouched with his agonies, and unmoved to the decretory rigours of a condemning sen with his passionate entreaties, forget both his tence. A friend will be sure to act the part of and their own cares, and securely sleep away an advocate, before he will assume that of a all concern for him or themselves either. judge. And there are few actions so ill (un- Now, what a fierce and sarcastic reprehension less they are of a very deep and black tiucture may we imagine this would have drawn from indeed) but will admit of some extenuation at the friendships of the world, that act but to a least from those common topics of human human pitch! and yet what a gentle one did frailty, such as are ignorance or inadvertency, it receive from Christ! In Matt. xxvi. 40, passion or surprise, company or solicitation, no more than, “ What, could you not watch with many other such things which may go a with me for one hour ?" And when from great way towards an excusing of the agent, this admonition they took only occasion to though they cannot absolutely justify the ac redouble their fault, and to sleep again, so tion. All which apologies for, and alleviatious that, upon a second and third admonition, of, faults, though they are the heights of huma- they had nothing to plead for their unseasonnity, yet they are not the favours, but the able drowsiness, yet then Christ, who was the duties of friendship. Charity itself commands only person concerned to have resented and us, where we know no ill, to think well of all. aggravated this their unkindness, finds an But friendship, that always goes a pitch higher, extenuation for it, when they themselves gives a man a peculiar right and claim to the could not. “ The spirit indeed is willing,' good opinion of his friend. And if we justly says he, “but the flesh is weak.” As if he look upon a proneness to find faults, as a very had said, I know your hearts, and am satisfied ill and mean thing, we are to remember, that of your affection, and therefore accept your a proneness to believe them is next to it. will, and compassionate your weakness. So

We have seen here the demeanour of friend- benign, so gracious is the friendship of Christ, ship between man and man; but how is it, so answerable to our wants, so suitable to our think we now, between Christ and the soul frailties. Happy that man, who has a friend that depends upon him? Is he any ways to point out to him the perfection of duty, short in these offices of tenderness and mitiga- and yet to pardon him in the lapses of his tion ? No, assuredly, but by infinite degrees infirmity! superior. For where our heart does but relent, 3. The third privilege of friendship is a his melts; where our eye pities, his bowels sympathy in joy and grief. When a man yearn. How many forwardnesses of ours does shall have diffused his life, his self, and his he smother, how many indignities does he pass whole conceruments so far, that he can weep by, and how many affronts does he put up at his sorrows with another's eyes ; when he has our hands, because his love is invincible, and another heart besides his own, both to share his friendship unchangeable? He rates every and to support his griefs; and when, if his action, every sinful infirmity, with the allow joys overflow, he can treasure up the overplus ances of mercy; and never weighs the sin, but l and redundancy of them in another breast ;


so that he can, as it were, shake off the soli- | himself, as if he were exempted out of their tude of a single nature, by dwelling in two number? Why, we know into what a plunge bodies at once, and living by another's breath ; he had newly cast himself by denying his this surely is the height, the very spirit and Master; upon occasion of which he was now perfection of all human félicities.

struggling with all the perplexities and horrors It is a true and happy observation of that of mind imaginable, lest Christ might, in lik, great philosopher, the Lord Verulam, that this manner, deny and disown him before his is the benefit of communication of our minds Father, and so repay one denial with another. to others, that sorrows, by being communi- Hereupon Christ particularly applies the comcated, grow less, and joys greater. And, in- forts of his resurrection to him, as if he bad deed, sorrow, like a stream, loses itself in many said, Tell all my disciples, but be sure espechannels ; and joy, like a ray of the sun, re cially to tell poor Peter, that I am risen from flects with a greater ardour and quickness, the dead, and that, notwithstanding his dewhen it rebounds upon a man from the breast nial of me, the benefits of my resurrection of his friend.

belong to him, as much as to any of the rest. Now friendship is the only scene upon This is the privilege of the saints, to have a which the glorious truth of this great proposi- companion and a supporter in all their misetion can be fully acted and drawn forth. ries, in all the doubtful turnings and doleful Which, indeed, is a summary description of passages of their lives. In sum, this happithe sweets of friendship; and the whole life ness does Christ vouchsafe to all his, that as a of a friend, in the several parts and instances Saviour he once suffered for them, and that as of it, is only a more diffuse comment upon, a friend, he always suffers with them. and a plainer explication of, this divine 4. The fourth privilege of friendship is that aphorism. Friendship never restrains a plea- which is here specified in the text, a commusure to a single fruition. But such is the nication of secrets. A bosom secret and a royal nature of this quality, that it still ex bosom friend are usually put together. And presses itself in the style of kings, as we do this from Christ to the soul, is not only kindthis or that; and this is our happiness; andness, but also honour and advancement; it is such or such a thiog belongs to us, when the for him to vouch it one of his privy council. immediate possession of it is vested only in Nothing under a jewel is taken into the cabi

Nothing certainly in nature can so net. A secret is the apple of our eye; it will peculiarly gratify the noble dispositions of bear no touch nor approach; we use it to cover humanity, as for one man to see another so nothing but what we account a rarity. And much himself, as to sigh his griefs, and groan therefore, to communicate a secret to any one, his pains, to sing his joys, and, as it were, to is to exalt him to one of the royalties of do and feel every thing by sympathy and heaven. For none knows the secrets of a secret inexpressible communications. Thus man's mind, but his God, his conscience, and it is upon a huinan account.

his friend. Neither would any prudent man Let us now see how Christ sustains and let such a thing go out of his own heart, bad makes good this generous quality of a friend. he not another heart besides his own to reAnd this we shall find fully set forth to us ceive it. in Heb. iv. 15, where he is said to be a Now it was of old a privilege, with which God “merciful high priest, touched with the feel was pleased to honour such as served him at ing of our infirmities;" and that “in all our the rate of an extraordinary obedience, thus afflictions he is afflicted,” (Isa. Ixiii. 9.) And, to admit them to a knowledge of many of his no doubt, with the same bowels and meltings great counsels locked up from the rest of the of affection, with which any tender mother world. When God had designed the destruchears and bemoans the groanings of her sick tion of Sodom, the Scripture represents him child, does Christ hear and sympathize with as unable to conceal that great purpose from the spiritual agonies of a soul under desertion, Abraham, whom he always treated as his or the pressures of some stinging affliction. friend and acquaintance ; that is, not only It is enough that he understands the exact with love, but also with intimacy and familimeasures of our strengths and weaknesses ; arity, (Gen. xviii. 17,) “ And the Lord said, that “ he knows our frame,” as it is in Psalm Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I ciii. 14; and that he does not only know, but go about to do?” He thought it a violation emphatically, that “ he remembers” also, of the rights of friendship to reserve his design “ that we are but dust.” Observe that signal wholly to himself. And Saint James tells us, passage of his loving commiseration; as soon (James, ii. 23,)“ that Abraham was called the as he had risen from the dead, and met Mary friend of God" and therefore had a kind of Magdalen, (Mark, xvi. 4,) he sends this mes claim to the knowledge of his secrets, and the sage of his resurrection by her, “Go, tell my participation of his counsels. Also, (Exodus, disciples, and Peter, that I am risen." What, xxxii. 11,) it is said of God, “that he spoke was not Peter one of his disciples? Why, to Moses as a man speaketh to his friend.", then, is he mentioned particularly, and by And that, not only for the familiarity and

facility of address, but also for the peculiar 5. The fifth advantage of friendship is communications of his mind. Moses was with counsel and advice. A man will sometimes him in the retirements of the mount, received need not only another heart, but also another there his dictates and his private instructions, head besides his own. In solitude there is as his deputy and viceroy; and when the not only discomfort, but weakness also. And multitude and congregation of Israel were that saying of the wise man, (Eccles. iv. 10,) thundered away, and kept off from any ap- | “Wo to him that is alone,” is verified upon proach to it, he was honoured with an inti none so much as upon the friendless person : mate and immediate admission. The priests, when a man shall be perplexed with knots indeed, were taken into a near attendance and problems of business and contrary affairs, upon God; but still there was a degree of a where the determination is dubious, and both nearer converse, and the interest of a friend parts of the contrariety seem equally weighty, was above the privileges of the highest ser so that, which way soever the choice detervant. In Exod. xix. 24, “ Thou shalt come mines, a man is sure to venture a great conup," says God," thou, and Aaron with thee ; cern : how happy then is it to fetch in aid but let not the priests and the people break from another person, whose judgment may through to come up unto the Lord, lest the be greater than my own, and whose concernLord break forth upon them.” And if we ment is sure not to be less! There are some proceed farther, weshall still find a continuation passages of a man's affairs that would quite of the same privilege, (Psalm xxv. 14,)“ The break a single understanding.

So many secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” intricacies, so many labyrinthis, are there in Nothing is to be concealed from the other self. them, that the succours of reason fail, the To be a friend, and to be conscious, are terms very force and spirit of it being lost in an equivalent.

actual intention scattered upon several clashNow if God maintained such intimacies ing objects at once; in which case, the interwith those whom he loved under the law, posal of a friend is like the supply of a fresh (which was a dispensation of greater dis party to a besieged yielding city. tance,) we may be sure that under the gospel, Now, Christ is not failing in this office of a (the very nature of which imports condescen- friend also. For in that illustrious prediction sion and compliance,) there must needs be the of Isaiah, (ix. 6,) amongst the rest of his great same, with much greater advantage. And titles, he is called "mighty Counsellor.” And therefore, when God had manifested himself his counsel is not only sure, but also free. It in the flesh, how sacredly did he preserve this is not under the Gospel of Christ, as under privilege! How freely did Christ unbosom some laws of men, where you must be forced himself to his disciples, (Luke, viii. 10,) “ Un- to buy your counsel, and oftentimes pay dear to you,” says he, “it is given to know the for bad advice. No, “he is a light to thoso mysteries of the kingdom of God; but unto that sit in darkness.” And no man fees the others in parables ; that seeing they might sun, no man purchases the light, nor errs, if not see ;” such shall be permitted to cast an he walks by it. The only price that Christ eye into the ark, and to look into the very sets upon his counsel is, that we follow it, and holy of holies. And again, (Matt. xiii. 17,) that we do that which is best for us to do. “ Many prophets and righteous men have He is not only light for us to see by, but also desired to see those things which ye see, and light for us to see with. He “is understandhave not seen them; and to hear those things ing to the ignorant, and eyes to the blind ;": which ye hear, and have not heard them.” and whosoever has both a faithful and a disNeither did he treat them with these peculi- creet friend, to guide him in the dark, sliparities of favour in the extraordinary dis pery, and dangerous passages of his life, may coveries of the gospel only, but also of those carry his eyes in another man's head, and yet incommunicable revelations of the divine love, never see the worse. In 1 Cor. i. 30, the in reference to their own personal interest in apostle tells us, that Christ is made to us not it. In Rev. ii. 17, “ To him that overcometh only “sanctification and redemption,”, but will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and “ wisdom” too: we are his members : and it is will give him a white stone, and in the stone but natural, that all the members of the body a new name written, which no man knoweth, should be guided by the wisdom of the head. saving he that receiveth it.” Assurance is a And, therefore, let every believer comfort rarity covered from the inspection of the himself in this hig! privilege, that in the world - - a secret that none can know but great things that concern his eternal peace, ho God, and the person that is blessed with it. is not left to stand or fall by the uncertain It is writ in a private character, not to be directions of his own judgment. No, sad read por understood but by the conscience, to were his condition, if he should be so; when which the Spirit of God has vouchsafed to he is to encounter an enemy made up of wiles decipher it. Every believer lives upon an and stratagems, an old serpent, and a longinward provision of comfort, that the world experienced deceiver, and successful at the is a stranger to.

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