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provided only, that he is not disheartened by the circumstance, or excited to the malignant tempers of jealousy and envy. If such a superior, though decidedly in advance, be yet in some measure within reach, that measure of superiority stimulates the inferior to press forward, and puts his faculties to the stretch. It is an antidote to slackness; it gives a spur to the lagging spirit; and sets a mark of excellence close before his view, for him to aim at.
3. Next, you may be reminded, that there is some use in your having a friend or two, a little younger than yourself. The having a younger brother, school-fellow, fellow-student, or companion, may suggest to you, that you ought to acquire influence over him, by your good advice and good example. Remember what an obligation rests on those who have been religiously educated, to be exemplary and influential. Do not, however, make your friendship too easy to yourself, by courting only your inferiors. There is such a thing as a proper condescension ; by which the inferior is a gainer, and the superior not a loser. But when a person habitually associates with his juniors only, he is
not always sufficiently roused to his own proper pitch of exertion.
4. Let me now point out to you some of the particular advantages of a Christian friendship; and you will learn by these, in some degree, the duties of that endearing relation. One point to be adverted to, is the counsel by which two or more friends may aid one another in whatever they undertake. There is in every business a best way of doing things; and a best set of books, or other helps, to assist a person in his pursuits. No one can possibly foresee, in every case, what will be the best course : but friends may throw light on one another's path, by relating what they severally know. Another benefit of this relation is, the stimulus given by it to every right feeling and habit: this is what the Apostle Paul calls, “ Provoking to love and to good works.” And akin to this is the countenance which pious young friends give to one another, in their consistent profession of godliness: two or three such individuals, united in principle and feeling, are in themselves a host. In this kind of mutual support, it is most true, that “ two are better
than one": for false and sinful shame is very natural to the young, some of whom feel themselves unable to fight the battle single-handed. Christian friends likewise serve as a restraint on one another's conduct: we fear to grieve or dishonour them by folly or guilt; and although this is a secondary motive, yet it is a legitimate and a very powerful one. Still further, they are good for reproof; which, when judiciously and kindly offered to us, is one of the very best proofs of love from a friend. And it is a great evidence of wisdom and honesty to receive censure as a mark of genuine affection. It is sound policy also; since, otherwise, friends may be discouraged from reproving, and thus we may never thoroughly know our faults, and never correct them. Above all, Christian friends are blessings to one another, when, either constantly, or sometimes by special and expressed consent, they exercise mutual prayer; interceding, according to their respective circumstances, and thus drawing down from on high more abundant answers by united prayer. “ Pray for one another,” is a direct precept of Scripture : and there is the promise, “ If two of you shall agree upon earth as touching any thing that ye shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
5. In the religious conversations and mu-tual confessions of young friends, it will be advisable for them not to speak too 'minutely of themselves. Explicitly to confess all the evil of which we are conscious in our own hearts and lives, may do harm in many ways. It is quite uncalled for; and, moreover, such voluntary humiliations do not necessarily spring from genuine repentance, or lead to it. General acknowledgments of our depravity are understood well enough, by such as experience similar temptations with ourselves.
6. Having thus far spoken of Christian friendship with your equals in age, I will go a step further, and notice a little your relation to your superiors. When you are in the society of those who are older than yourself, aim at learning something from them. Be silent, when they are speaking with a manifest desire to benefit those around them; and be attentive to the example which they set before you, so far as it may be for your improvement. Elderly per
sons, when wisely desiring the edification of the rising generation, feel much animated by the ingenuous, teachable deportment of the young ; and they no less keenly feel the slighting manners of those who heedlessly interrupt, or shun them. It is a most honourable scene, to behold those who are more advanced in years dropping their counsels into the ears of youthful listeners; mingling gravity with affection; and impressing the tender mind, not with solemn formality, or with overbearing authority, but with the irresistible charm of mature wisdom, which they have dearly earned, and which they frankly impart to such as can value it. Keep near these fathers and counsellors in the Church of Christ : they are not for ever! Let their words abide long in your memory; and pass by their faults, if you happen to see any in them-faults, I mean, of infirmity.
These remarks may be useful to you; not now only, but even for some considerable time yet to come. Often weigh them well; and regard me as counselling you with some anxiety, as well as affection, on the subject of Friendships.
Yours, faithfully, &c.