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SERMON XVII.

On FRIENDSHIP.

PROVERBS xxvii. 10,

Thine own friend, and thy father's friend,

forsake not.

SERM. W HATEVER relates to the be-
XVII.

V
V

haviour 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

of it, do real injury to religion. They SERM.

XVII. are mistaken friends of piety, who, un- San der 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 ano-. ther. On the contrary, true piety in- , fluences 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 elogiums on friendship among good men. As

ointment

SERM. ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, jo w 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 observa ing, that there are among mankind friendihips of different kinds, or, at least, connexions 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 they are held together only by a rope of sand. At bottom they are all rivals, and hostile to one another. Their friendship can subfist no longer

than

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than interest cements them. Every one serm. 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 selfith or crooked designs that such friendfhips 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 connexions 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 cause. It is a name, under which private interest is often sheltered, and selfish designs are carried on. The un

wary

SERM. wary are allured by a specious appear

XVII. s ance ; 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 fimilarity 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 foul of Jonathan was knit with the foul 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,

retain * 1 Samuel xviii. 1.

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