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The following letter on friendship was written by a gentle
man lately deceased, and found amongst his papers.
My dear friend, Id
was a strange notion of Paschal, that he would never admit
any man to a share of his friendship. Had that great man been a misanthrope, or an enemy to his fellow-creatures, I should not have been much surprised; but as his: love to mankind extended as far as either his knowledge or influence, it is necessary to consider his reasons for a conduct apparently so strange. Paschal had such elevated, notions of the Deity on the one hand, and so low an opia nion of human nature on the other, that he thought, if he. placed his affection on any created being, it would be a sort of insult to the Creator, and rubbing him of that wor-, ship which was due to him alone. But whatever were the notions of that great man, yet there is such a thing as real friendship, and there is also a necessity for it. It is true, indeed, that God is our only friend, and that on him our affections ought principally to be fixed. But those who are acquainted with human nature, well know that we are such a composition of flesh and spirit, and however we may wish to keep up an intercourse with the Deity, yet our inclinations are such, that we are more desirous of being conversant with those of our own species, to whom at all times we can be able to unbosom ourselves.
Friendship is as old as the first formation of society, and there is scarce one ancient writer now extant, who has not said something in praise of it. Of this we have a fine example in the story of David and Jonathan, as recorded in
the second book of Samuel. In the same sacred oracles we are told that love is stronger than death, and even the great Redeemer of the world had a beloved disciple.
The pious and ingenious Dr. Watts has finely described friendship in one of his poems, which I doubt not but have read.
Friendship, thou charmer of the mind,
Thou sweet deluding ill;
And sharpest pains we feel.
Of pleasure and of pain;
Are mix'd and join'd again.
Beneath the eternal fair. But whatever the wise or learned may say, yet we know that man is a social being, and consequently has a capacity, and even a desire for friendship. Friendship is in its own nature so necessary, that I know not how a social being can exist without it. Are we by any providential occurrence raised from poveșty to affluence, to whom can we commu. nicate the delightful news but our friend? on the other hand, are we reduced from the highest pinnacle of grandeur to the most abject state of poverty, to whom can we look for consolation but God and our friend? indeed there is not one state or condition in life where friendship is not nea cessary. What wretched mortals would men be were they not endowed with so noble a principle!
Friendshipisofa very delicate nature, and either the happiness or misery of both parties may, in some sense, be said to depend on it. Friendship is somewhat like marriage,
it is made for life, or as Cæsar said, The die is cast. Mrs. Rowe, in one of her letters to the countess of Hert ford, says, “When I contract a friendship it is for eternity:" her notions were always elevated, and the chief business of her life seems to have been promoting the interest of her fellow-creatures. Friendship obliges the parties engaged * to lay open their minds to each other; there must not be any concealment.
There is not an endearing attribute of the Deity, not an amiable quality in man, but what is included in the word friendship. Benevolence, mercy, compassion, &c. are only parts of it.
From all this we may learn, that great care ought to be had in the choice of friends; and should they unhappily betray the sacred trust reposed in them, yet we ought nos to pursue them with unrelenting fury.
In the course of my experience I remember two instances of the breach of friendship, which were attended with very different effects. Two gentlemen contracted a friendship for each other, which lasted seme years; at last one of them unhappily revealed a secret to his wife, who told it to the wife of the other, in consequence of which an unhappy division took place in the family of the latter, The injured person upbraided his friend with infidelity, told him of the fatal effects occasioned by this imprudence; but (says he) although I cannot be your friend any longer, yet I will never be your enemy. My heart will pity you, whilst
по у hand shall be open to relieve your necessities. Such a teclaration was consistent with the prudence of a man, and the piety of a Christian; but that of the other was of a nature totally opposite, and (in my opinion) truly diabolical. A difference of a similar nature happened, attended with the like circumstances; but the injured perkon, instead of sympathizing with the weakness of his friend, pursued him with unrelenting cruelty, nor ever eeased until he had accomplished bis ruin, and even friumphed over it. You may make what comments you please; I can only assure you that both are facts.- How different, my friend, has our conduct to each other been; during these thirty years, no breach has ever happened; and it seems as new this day as at the beginning. As this is probably the last letter you will ever see in my handwriting, accept of my sincere thanks for the many benefits I have received from your faithful admonitions, and your benevolent consolations: and when we meet in the regions of bliss, our happiness will then remain uninterrupted.
I am yours sincerely,
LETTER CV. From a gentleman whose wife was lately dead, to a clergy
man in the neighbourhood. Reverend Sir, YOU have often, both in public and private, enlarged
on those comforts and consolations which Christianity affords to the afflicted; and if ever they were necessary to one under those circumstances, they must be to myself. About seven last night, my wife died in child-bed, and I a left the disconsolate parent of five young children. Had you seen the excruciating tortures under which she expired, it would have reminded you of the emphasis of that curse pronounced upon our first parents for their rebellion against God. When she saw the king of terrors approach, she was all resignation to the Divine Will, and left this lower world in the same manner, and with the same cheer. ful alacrity, as if she had been going to visit a friend, or attend the service of her Maker. Overwhelmed with grief I entered her chamber, when she exerted the smal remains of strength, and spoke to me as follows:
My dear, I am now going the way of all flesh, but God, the everlasting God, will be your comfort. When I first became yours, I looked for all the happiness consistent with the state of human nature in this vale of misery; and I must confess that my highest wishes have been gratified, and your tenderness has been even more than I could expeche You may have seen faults in my conduct, but I do assure you (and is this a time to dissemble!)they were altogether involuntary. My principal study was to obtain the favour of God before whom I am soon to appear. My obedi. ence to the commands of my God has been attended with many imperfections, but I trust for pardon and acceptance in the merits of my dear Redeemer. Here she faintedlooked wistfully at me, and shed a tear over her dear chil. dren who werecrying by her bed. She attempted to speak but in vain. At last, fixing her eyes towards heaven, she repeated those beautiful words: " Into thy hands I coinmit my soul, for thou hast redeemed me, thou God of my salvation!” and then closed her eyes, never to be opened till the sound of the last trumper. I was sunk for some time in the greatest distress, looking on the dear departed rentains of my beloved spouse, and endeavouting to silence, by per suasion, the cries of her orphan children.-At last I recollected that I had still a friend left in you, to whom I might, with a view of consolation, lay open the inmost recesses of my heart. I am afraid your indisposition may hinder you from visiting me, and if so, let me beg that you will, in the mean time, favour me with a few lines. AL present every sort of consolation will be acceptable, but whatever comes from
will be doubly so. I know not what to write; excuse incoherence and impropriery from one whom you have often honoured with the appellation of friend.
1 am, &c, LETTER CVI.
The clergyman's answer. My dear friend, 1
SÍNCERELY commiserate your variegated calamity,
and wish there was any thing in my power that could alleviate your distress. You well know that all affliction, of whatever kind it is, proceeds from God. “I create light and make darkness, I make war and peace, I the Lord do all these things." This sir, should be your first consideration, and this should regulate the whole of your conduct.
It was this consideration which reconciled old Eli to the severest doom that perhaps was ever denounced. Though contrary to human nature, and much more so to naturalaffection, yet it is the Lord, let him do what shall seem good.
This reconciled Job to all his unparelleled sufferings, “the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away;" rapacious hands, and waving elements, were only instruments of his power, therefore I bless and adore his holy name. This consolation fortified the man Christ Jesus on ihe approach of his inconceivable bitter agony. But it is my
Father's pleasure, and not the malice of my enemies, therefore not my will but his be done.
'If your Father, (dcar sir;) your heavenly Father,who loves you with an everlasting love, has thought proper to mix some-gall 'vith your portion of life, sensible of the beneficent hand from which your visitation comes, may you bow your head in awful silence;" and say with the afflicted Hezekiab of old, ** Good is the word of the Lord concerping me."