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worth in their own conceits, that they may begin 10. Some of them may think when you are in to take you to be unsuitable for them, and un- a low and suffering state, and in danger of worse, meet for their further special friendship. Alas, that it is part of their duty of self.preservation poor man, they will pity thee that thou art no to be strange to you, though in heart they wish wiser, and that thou hast no greater light to you well. They will think they are not bound change thy mind as fast as they, or that thou art to hazard themselves upon the displeasure of so weak and ignorant as not to see what seems superiors, to own or befriend you, or any other : to them so clear a truth ; or that thou art so sim- though they must not desert Christ, they think ple to cast away thyself by crossing them that they may desert a man for their own preservamight prefer thee, or to fall under the displeasure tion. of those that have power to raise or ruin thee: To avoid both extremes in such a case, men but if thou be so simple, thou mayest be the ob- must both study to understand which way is most ject of their lamentations, but art no familiar serviceable to Christ, and to his church, and friend for them. They think it fittest to close withal, to be able to deny themselves, and also and converse with those of their own rank and must study to understand what Christ means in his stature, and not with such children, that may final sentence, · Inasmuch as you did it (or did prove their trouble and dishonour.
it not) to one of the least of these my brethren, 7. Some of your friends will think that by a you did it (or did it not) to me. As if it were more thorough acquaintance with you, they have to visit the contagious, we must neither cast found out more of your infirmities or faults; and away our lives to do no good, or for that which therefore have found that you are less amiable in value holds no proportion with them ; nor yet and valuable than at first they judged you : they must we deny to run any hazard when it is inwill think that by distance, unacquaintedness, deed our duty : so is it in our visiting those that and an overhasty love and judgment, they were suffer for the cause of Christ: only here the ownmistaken in you; and that now they see reason ing them being the confessing of him, we need to repent of the love which they think was guilty more seldom to fear being too forward. of some errors and excess : when they come 11. Some of your friends may cover their unnearer you, and have had more trial of you, faithfulness with the pretence of some fault that they will think they are fitter to judge of you you have been guilty of, some error that you than before: indeed, our defects are so many, hold, or some unhandsome or culpable act that and all our infirmities so great, that the more you have done, or some duty that you have left men know us, the more they inay see in us that undone or failed in. For they think there is deserves pity or reproof; and as pictures, we not a better shelter for unfaithfulness, than to appear less beautiful at the nearest view : though pretend for it the name and cause of God, and this will not warrant the withdrawing of that love so to make a duty of their sin. Who would not which is due to friends, and to virtue, even in justify them, if they can but prove that God rethe imperfect: nor will excuse that alienation, quires them, and religion obliges them, to forsake and decay of friendship that is caused by the you for your faults ? There are few crimes in pride of such as overlook perhaps much greater the world that by some are not fathered on God, failings and weaknesses in themselves, which that most hates them, as thinking no name can need forgiveness.
so much honour them. False friends therefore use 8. Perhaps some of your friends will grow this means as well as other hypocrites: and though weary of their friendship, having that infirmity God is love, and condemns nothing more than of human nature, not to be much pleased with uncharitableness and malice, yet these are comone thing long. Their love is a flower that monly by false-hearted hypocrites called by some quickly withers: it is a short-lived thing that soon pious, virtuous names, and God himself is entitled grows old. It must be novelty that must feed to them : so that few worldlings, ambitious pertheir love and their delight.
sons or time-servers, but will confidently pretend 9. Perhaps they may have got some better religion for all their falsehood to their friends, friends in their apprehensions, they may have or bloody cruelty to the servants of Christ who so much interest as to take them up, and leave no comply not with their carnal interest. room for ancient friends. It may be, they have 12. Perhaps some of your friends may really met with those that are more suitable, or can be mistake your case, and think that you suffer as more useful to them : that have more learning, evil-doers, and instead of comforting you, may or wit, or wealth, or power than you have, and be your sharpest censurers : this is one of the therefore seem more worthy of their friendship. most notable things set out to our observation in the book of Job : it was not the smallest part tions, and perhaps their accusations may
fasten of his affliction, that when the hand of God was such a blot upon your names, as shall never be heavy upon him, and then if ever was the time washed out till the day of judgment. By differfor his friends to have been his comforters, and ence of interests, or apprehensions, and by unfriends indeed ; on the contrary they became his acquaintedness with your hearts and actions, the scourge, and by unjust accusations, and misin- righteousness of the righteous may be thus terpretations of the providence of God, did taken from him, and friends may do the work greatly add to his affliction! When God had of enemies, yea, of satan himself, the accuser of taken away his children, wealth, and health, his the brethren ; and may prove as thorns in your friends would take away the reputation and com- bed, and gravel in your shoes, yea, in your eyes, fort of his integrity; and under pretence of and wrong you much more than
adversaries bringing him to repentance, did charge him with could have done. How it is likely to go with that that which he was never guilty of: they wounded man's reputation, you may easily judge, whose his good name, and would have wounded his friends are like Job's and his enemies like Daconscience, and deprived him of his inward vid's, that lay snares before him, and diligently peace: censorious, false, accusing friends, cut watch for matter of reproach : yet this
bedeeper than malicious, slandering enemies : it is fall the best of men. no wonder, if strangers or enemies misjudge 13. You may be permitted by God to fall and misreport our actions : but when your bo- into soine real crime, and then
may som friends, that should most intimately know possibly think it is their duty to disown you, so you, and be the chief witnesses of your inno- far as you have wronged God: when you procence against all others, shall in their jealousy , voke God to frown upon you, he may cause or envy, or peevishness, or falling out, be your your friends to frown upon you : if you will fall chief reproachers and unjust accusers, as it makes out with him, and grow strange to him, no marit seem more credible to others, so it will come vel if your truest friends fall out with
and nearest to yourselves. Yet this is a thing that grow strange to you. They love you for your must be expected ; yea, even your most self-de- godliness, and for the sake of Christ; and there. nying acts of obedience to God, may be so mis- fore must abate their love, if you abate your understood by godly men, and real friends, as godliness: and must, for the sake of Christ, be by them to be taken for your great miscarriage, displeased with you for your sins. If in such a and turned to your rebuke: as David's dancing case of real guilt, you should be displeased at before the ark was by his wife ; which yet did their displeasure, and should expect that your but make him resolve to be yet more vile. friend should befriend your sin, or carry himself
If you be cast into poverty, or disgrace, or towards you in your guilt, as if you were innoprison, or banishment, for your necessary obedi- cent, you will but show that you understand not ence to Christ, perhaps your friend or wife may the nature of true friendship, nor the use of a become your accuser for this your greatest ser- true friend: and are yet yourselves too friendly vice, and say, This is your own doing : your to your sins. rashness, or indiscretion, or self-conceitedness, 14. Moreover, those few friends that are truest or wilfulness hath brought it upon you: what to you, may be utterly unable to relieve you need had you to say such words, or to do this in your distress, or to give you ease, or do you or that ? Why could not you have yielded in any good. The case may be such that they can so small a matter ? Perhaps your costliest and but pity you, lament your sorrows, and weep most excellent obedience shall by your nearest over you: you may see in them that man is not friends be called the fruits of pride, or humour, as God, whose friendship can accomplish all the or passion, or some corrupt affection, or at least good that he desires to his friends. The wisest of folly or inconsiderateness. When flesh and and greatest and best of men are miserable comblood hath long been striving in you against your forters, and ineffectual helps : you may be sick, duty, and saying, Do not cast away thyself: O pained, grieved, and distressed, notwithstanding serve not God at so dear a rate: God doth not any thing that they can do for you: nay, perrequire thee to undo thyself: why shouldst thou haps in their ignorance, they may increase your not avoid so great inconveniences? When with misery, while they desire your relief; and by much ado you have conquered all your carnal striving indirectly to help and ease you, may reasonings, and denied yourselves and your carnal tie the knot faster and make you worse. They interests, you must expect, even from some re- may provoke those more against you that opligious friends, to be accused for these very ac- ) press you, while they think they speak that
which should tend to make you free: they may one or other of them in distress; and so be selthink to ease your troubled minds by such words dom free from sorrow ; besides all that which is as shall increase the trouble: or to deliver you properly your own. as Peter would have delivered Christ, and saved 16. Lastly, If you have a friend that is both his Saviour, first by carnal counsel, · Be it far true and useful, yet you may be sure he must from thee, Lord ; this shall not be unto thee.') stay with you but a little while.
• The godly Then by carnal unjust force, by drawing his men will cease, and the faithful fail from among sword against the officers; love and good mean- the children of men ; while men of lying flattering will not prevent the mischiefs of ignorance ing lips, and double hearts, survive, and the and mistake. Many thousand sick people are wicked walk on every side, while the vilest mien killed by their friends that attend them, with an are exalted ;' while swarms of false malicious men, earnest desire of their life: while they ignorantly are left round about you, perhaps God will take give them that which is contrary to their dis- away your dearest friends : if among a multiease, and will not be the less pernicious for the tude of unfaithful ones, you have but one that is good meaning of the giver. Who have more your friend indeed, perhaps God will take away tender affections than mothers to their children ? that one. He may be separated from you into Yet a great part of the calamity of the world of another country; or taken away to God by sickness, and the misery of man's life, proceeds death. Not that God doth grudge you
the from the ignorant and erroneous indulgence of mercy of a faithful friend, but that he would be mothers to their children, who, to please them, your all, and would not have you hurt yourselves let them eat and drink what they will, and use
with too much affection to any creature, and for them to excess and gluttony in their childhood, other reasons to be named. till nature be abused, mastered, and clogged with To be forsaken of your friends, is not all your those superfluities and crudities which are the affliction : but to be so forsaken is a great agcause of most of the following diseases of their gravation of it. lives.
(1.) For they use to forsake us in our greatest I might here also remind you how your friends sufferings and straits, when we have the greates may themselves be overcome with a temptation, need of them. and then become the more dangerous tempters (2.) They fail us most at a dying hour, when of you, by how much the greater their interest all other worldly comfort fails: as we must leave is in your affections. If they be infected with our houses, lands and wealth, so must we for the error, they are the likeliest persons to ensnare you: present leave our friends : as all the rest are if they be tainted with covetousness or pride, feeble comforters, when we have once received there is none so likely to draw you to the same our citation to appear before the Lord, so also
are our friends but silly comforters : they can deadly enemies, deceivers and destroyers. weep over us, but they cannot with all their
15. If you have friends that are never so firm care delay the separating stroke of death one and constant, they may prove not only unable day or hour. to relieve you, but even additions to your grief. Only by their prayers, and holy advice, reIf they are afflicted in the participation of your minding us of everlasting things, and provoking sufferings, as your troubles are become theirs, so us in the work of preparation, they may prove to their trouble for you will become yours, and so us friends indeed. Therefore we must value a the stock of your sorrow will be increased. They holy, heavenly, faithful friend, as one of the are mortals, and liable to distress as well as you. greatest treasures upon earth. While we take Therefore they are like to bear their share in notice how as men they may forsake us, we several sorts of sufferings : so friendship will must not deny but that as saints they are premake their sufferings to be yours : their sick- cious, and of singular use to us; and Christ uses nesses and pains, their fears and griefs, their by them to communicate his mercies ; and if wants and dangers, will all be yours. The more any creatures in the world may be blessings to they are your hearty friends, the more they us, it is holy persons, that have most of God in will be yours. So you will have as many addi- their hearts and lives. tions to the proper burden of your griefs, as (3.) It is an aggravation of the cross, that you have suffering friends: when you but hear they often fail us when we are most faithful in that they are dead, you say as Thomas, let us our duty, and stumble most upon the most ex also go that we may die with him. Having cellent acts of our obedience. many such friends you will almost always have (4.) Those are the persons that oft-times fai
sin : so your
us, of whom we have deserved best, and from grief, from whom you had the highest expectawhom we might have expected most.
tions. Are you better than Job, or David, or Review the experiences of the choicest ser. Christ ? and are your friends more firm and unvants that Christ hath had in the world, and you changeable than theirs. shall find enough to confirm you of the vanity Consider, 1. That creatures must be set at a of man, and the instability of the dearest friends. sufficient distance from their Creator. All-suffiHow highly was Athanasius esteemed? and yet ciency, immutability, and insoluble fidelity, are at last deserted and banished by the famous Con- proper to Jehovah. As it is no wonder for the stantine himself! How excellent a man was sun to set, or be eclipsed, as glorious a body as Gregory Nazianzen, and highly valued in the it is, so it is no wonder for a friend, a pious church ? and yet by reproach and discourage- friend, to fail us, for a time, in the hour of our ments driven away from his church at Constan- distress. There are some that will not : but there tinople whither he was chosen, and envied by is none but may, if God should leave them to the bishops round about him. How worthy a their weakness. Man is not your rock: he hath man was the eloquent Chrysostom, and highly no stability but what is derived, dependent, valued in the church ? and yet how bitterly uncertain, and defective. Learn therefore to was he prosecuted by Hierom and Epiphanius; rest on God alone, and lean not too hard or conand banished, and died in a second banish- fidently upon any mortal man. ment, by the provocation of factious, conten- 2. God will have the common infirmity of man tious bishops, and an empress impatient of to be known, that so the weakest may not be his plain reproofs ? What person more gen- utterly discouraged, nor take their weakness to erally esteemed and honoured for learning, be gracelessness, whilst they see that the strong . piety, and peaceableness, than Melanchthon? est also have their infirmities, though not so great and yet by the contentions of Illyricus and his as theirs. If any of God's servants live in conparty, he was made weary of his life. As highly stant holiness and fidelity, without any shakings as Calvin was deservedly valued at Geneva, yet or stumbling in their way, it would tempt some once in a popular lunacy and displeasure, they self-accusing troubled souls, to think that they drove him out of their city, and in contempt of were altogether graceless, because they are so him some called their dogs by the name of Cal- far short of others. But when we read of Peter's vin; though after they were glad to intreat him denying his master in so horrid a manner, with to return. How much our Grindal and Abbot swearing and cursing, that he knew not the man, were esteemed, it appears by their advancement and of his dissimulation and not walking upto the archbishopric of Canterbury: and yet who rightly, and of David's unfriendly and unrightknows not that their eminent piety sufficed not eous dealing with Mephibosheth, the seed of to keep them from dejecting frowns ! If you say, Jonathan: and of his most vile and treacherous that it is no wonder if with princes through in- dealing with Uriah, a faithful and deserving subterest, and with people through levity, it be thus ; ject; it may both abate our wonder and offence I might heap up instances of the like unsteadi- at the unfaithfulness of our friends, and teach us ness of particular friends : but all history, and to compassionate their frailty, when they desert the experiences of the most, so much abound us; and also somewhat abate our immoderate with them, that I think it needless. Which of dejection and trouble, when we have failed tous must not say, with David, that all men are ward God or man ourselves. liars, that is, deceitful and unfaithful, either 3. Moreover, consider, how the odiousness of through weakness or insufficiency; that either that sin, which is the root and cause of such uña will forsake us, or cannot help us in the time of faithfulness, is greatly manifested by the failing need ?
of our friends. God will have the odiousness of Was Christ forsaken in his extremity by his the remnants of our self-love and carnal-mindedown disciples, to teach us what to expect, or ness, and cowardice appear: we should not disbear? Think it not strange then to be conformed cern it in the seed and root, if we did not see to your Lord, in this, as well as in other parts and taste it in the fruits. Seeing without tasting of his humiliation. Expect that men should will not sufficiently convince us : a crab looks as prove deceitful; not that you should entertain beautiful as an apple ; but when you taste it, you censorious suspicions of your particular friends : better know the difference. When you must but remember in general that man is frail, and yourselves be unkindly used by your friends, the best too selfish and uncertain ; and that it is and forsaken by them in your distress, and you no wonder if those should prove your greates' have tasted the fruits of the remnants of their worldliness, selfishness and carnal fears, you will to all, yea, and in our just fidelity to our friend ; better know the odiousness of these vices, which yet would he have us suspect and moderate our thus break forth against all obligations to God selfish and excessive love, and inordinate, partial and you, and notwithstanding the light, the con- esteem of one above another, when it is but for science, and perhaps the grace, that resists ourselves, and on our own account. Therefore them.
as he will make us know, that we ourselves are 4. Are you not prone to over-value and over. no such excellent persons, as that it should make love your friends ? If so, is not this the proper another so laudable, or advance his worth, beremedy for your disease. In the loving of God, cause he loves us ; so he will make us know, that we are in no danger of excess ; and therefore our friends, whom we over-value, are but like have no need of any thing to quench it. In the other men : if we exalt them too highly in our loving of the godly, purely upon the account of esteem, it is a sign that God must cast them Christ, and in loving saints as saints, we are not down ; and as their love to us, was it that made apt to go too far. But yet our understandings us so exalt them: so their unkindness or unfaithmay mistake, and we may think that saints have fulness to us, is the fittest means to bring them more of sanctity than indeed they have ; and we lower in our estimation and affection. God is are exceedingly apt to mix a selfish, common very jealous of our hearts, as to our over-valuing love, with that which is spiritual and holy ; and and over-loving any of his creatures : what we at the same time, when we love a Christian as a give inordinately and excessively to them, is Christian, we are apt not only to love him, as some way or other taken from him, and given we ought, but to over-love him because he is our them to his injury, and therefore to his offence. friend, and loves us. Those Christians who have Though I know that to be void of natural, no special love to us, we are apt to undervalue, friendly, or social affections, is an odious exand neglect and love them below their holiness treme on the other side ; yet God will rebuke us and worth : but those that we think entirely love if we are guilty of excess. It is the greater and us, we love above their proper worth, as they more inexcusable fault to over-love the creature stand in the esteem of God: not but that we because our love to God is so cold, and so hardly may love those that love us, and add this love to kindled and kept alive! He cannot take it well that which is purely for the sake of Christ ; but to see us dote upon dust and frailty like ourwe should not let our own interest prevail and selves, at the same time when all his wondrous over-turn the interest of Christ, nor love any so kindness, and attractive goodness, cause but much for loving us, as for loving Christ: and if such a faint and languid love to him, which we we do so, no wonder if God shall use such ourselves can scarcely feel. If therefore he cure remedies as he sees meet, to abate our excess of us by permitting our friends to show us truly selfish love,
what they are, and how liitle they deserve such O how highly are we apt to think of all that excessive love, when God hath so little, it is no good which is found in those who most highly more wonder, than it is that he is tender of his value us, and most dearly love us ; when perhaps glory, and merciful to his servants' souls. in itself it is but some ordinary good, or ordin- 5. By the failing and unfaithfulness of our ary degree of goodness which is in them! Their friends, the wonderful patience of God will be love to us irresistibly procures our love to them: observed and honoured as it is showed both to and when we love them, is wonderful to ob, them and us. When they forsake us in our disserve how easily we are brought to think well tress, especially when we suffer for the cause of of almost all they do, and highly to value their Christ, it is God that they injure more than us; judgments, graces, parts and work : when greater and therefore if he bear with them, and forgive excellencies in another perhaps are scarcely ob- their weakness upon repentance, why should not served, or regarded but as a common thing. we do so, that are much less injured ? The Therefore the destruction or want of love is ap- world's perfidiousness should make us think, parent in the vilifying thoughts and speeches, how great and wonderful is the patience of God, that most men have of one another ; and in the that bears with, and bears up so vile, ungrateful, low esteem of the judgments, and performances, treacherous men that abuse hiin to whom they and lives of other men : much more in their con- are infinitely obliged? And it should make us tempt, reproaches and cruel persecutions. Now consider, when men deal treacherously with us, though God will have us increase in our love of how great is that mercy that hath borne with, and Christ in his members, and in our pure love of pardoned greater wrongs, which I myself have Christians, as such, and in our common charity I done to God, than these can be which men have 889