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YE ARE MY FRIENDS, IF YE DO WHATSOEVER I COMMAND YOU.

THERE is a sentiment somewhere expressed in poetry, which, when I formerly read it, impressed me as singularly just and affecting. The beautiful language in which it was clothed, has too far escaped my recollection to be now repeated; but the idea as imperfectly recalled, may be thus given :-“ Where shall I find a friend whose merits will never disappoint, and whose love will never forsake me? I have surveyed the world, and sought where my affections might repose.

But some have forgotten me, some have proved faithless to my hopes, and some have been torn from me by death. Oh, my Saviour, thou remainest always true, and forever present with me.” The person who made this complaint, doubtless, only expressed the language of his own personal experience. He may have professed a quickness of sensibility, a refinement of delicacy, and a propensity to sadness, which render it difficult for many fully to sympathize with him. And yet there is a truth and dignity in the sentiment he utters, which must reach and commend itself to the bosoms of nearly all. Few are the privileged ones, if, indeed, it be a privilege to escape the sorrows and sufferings of mortality, who have reached even the midway stage of human life, without meeting enough to teach them what it is to lose friends, and how desirable it is to have one at least that can never be lost. It seems to be one great aim in the divine allotments towards men in the present life, to teach them the latter of these lessons, by bringing them often and in various afflictive ways to experience the former. For this end he leaves the most perfect human characters very far from perfection here, and the most certain earthly things altogether uncertain. Could all the excellent of the earth who have ever yet lived upon it, be gaihered in one group before the mind, not one among the whole would be found, in whose character there would not be presented even to the imperfect scrutiny of which we are capable, sufficient to enforce with great emphasis, the divine exhortation to cease from man. For no one of them could we cherish that subordinate and unforbidden attachment which is due to a creature, with any thing like certainty, that it would not sooner or later be perceived to be misplaced. We could not know that the valued one would not at length forget us; or, if not forget us, prove altogether faithless and unworthy of our esteem and confidence. We could not know, that his seeming virtues were not assumed, and that a detestable selfishness did not lurk beneath the semblance of a generous friendship. But were this difficulty removed, and we might safely confide in the fidelity of our chosen friends, being absolutely certain of their friendly offices so long as they live; yet our best earthly friends cannot live always. Nothing is more precarious than human life. It vanishes like the vapor. It flees like a shadow and continues not. Whom has not death robbed of a friend? Where shall we go to find some one who has not suffered such a loss? That child who cannot tell you, though he has experienced what a friend is, has suffered such a loss. He suffered it, perhaps, in her, who only lived to pronounce his name, Benoni, and to breathe one prayer, that he might have a name and a place in that world where sorrows are un

known. Or, perhaps he suffered it in one or both of that venerated pair, whom a riper piety and larger experience, taught to watch over and cherish this second shoot from their now withered trunks, with a fond solicitude which they felt not for their own offspring. Or, it may be, he suffered the loss in one, who, from the Sabbath school, where she labored to nurture him for glory, herself has early gone to keep an eternal Sabbath! If the child is no stranger to bereavements of this nature, how must the number of such visitations be multiplied in the history of those, who have reached any of the more advanced periods in the life of man. Persons in middle life can usually reckon up more, who have departed from the circle of their relatives and intimate friends, than now constitute that circle. While the aged stand almost alone and deserted, having followed to the grave nearly all who were their friends and neighbors in age, and place of residence. But not even this circumstance in human condition, presents to the full extent man's need of a friend who is beyond the reach of time, and chance, and change. What if our friends should abide with us to the utmost limits of our earthly

We need offices of friendship which none of them can afford us. We have wants, which the kindest friends on earth have no power to supply. These wants we now feel, and we shall continue to feel them in all their growing power forever, unless help comes from some friend who is as mighty as he is merciful, and as omniscient as he is compassionate. Thus are we strongly urged, and it seems manifestly the divine intention to urge us, by what we here experience of the fickleness and inconstancy of earthly friendships, as well as of the impotency of any endeavors of the most faithful and valued friends on earth, to do us the good we need, to look to Him who sticketh closer than a brother.

For the same benevolent end, no doubt, God has given us what may be called the principle of friendship. A

course.

principle, which, when contemplated in its tendency, strongly indicates the high original dignity and destiny of our being. Its influence may be perceived in fallen man amidst all his guilty aberrations from God. It prompts in his bosom the sigh for union with other intelligent beings. It impels him to seek an interchange-a commerce of hearts. It makes communion in sorrows -fellowship in sufferings, more desirable to him, than that state of negative being, which consists in solitary fruition. But though we feel the strong and incessant impulse of this principle, our hearts desire is never gratified, our fond dreams are never realized, nothing here below meets our ideas and our wishes ; human friendships and alliances more or less deceive our expectations, and we never fully know what true friendship is, until we ascend to him, who has been graciously pleased to propose to take us into a covenant of friendship with himself. It is a most benevolent arrangement, then, which in these different ways leads us to that friend whose excellencies and merits will more than equal our highest expectations, whose love will never forsake us, and who, while others forget or betray us, will never prove false, or abandon us. How blessed is the economy, which, in any way, brings us to that one friend, who in all our disappointments and sorrows is still near to us-whose kindness is ever most wakeful, when most needed, and who can neither forsake us from levity, nor be torn away from us by death.

How grateful may we well be, if we have been constrained by the bitterest disappointments and reverses, to hear the voice of that friend with heartfelt interest, addressing us in these gracious accents—YE ARE MY FRIENDS, IF YE DO WHATSOEVER I COMMAND YOU.

When our Lord made this declaration to his first disciples, he designed to assure them, and all his followers from age to age, that, on condition of their exhibiting one decisive mark of their friendship for him, they should be the object of his esteem and affectionate regard. That if they were thus proved to be his friends, he would be theirs. Not that his acts of friendship for them did not precede this expression of their attachment to him. For the contrary is unquestionably true. Indeed, but for his previous acts of friendship for them, they never could have become his true followers, or afforded any evidence of their not being his enemies. Strictly speaking, his friendship had no beginning. He loved all his sincere followers with an everlasting love. But there is no evidence of this, until by obedience to his commandments, they prove themselves his friends. This seems to be implied by the expression in the text. It is as if he had said ; “I have ever been your friend, and you have good evidence that you are mine, if you yield a ready and cheerful obedience to what I com

mand you."

Christ evinces his friendship for his followers in his giving himself a ransom for them. It admits of no more unequivocal expression than this unparalleled act. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. If it be true, that all which a man has he will give for his life, Christ, as the son of man, could make no greater sacrifices. He gave all he had. He withheld not bis life-blood, but freely poured it out as a ransom for the souls of men. In other instances, where one man has died in the stead of another, it has been by constraint. But our Saviour acted of his own free choice, and with a perfect knowledge of all the ignominy and agonies which it would cost him, he cheerfully made the sacrifice. No one took his life from him, he laid it down of himself. Nor, as Christ did not give his life a mere substitute for the life of another individual, but a substitute for the life of the world, were the sufferings he endured in this act, the ordinary sufferings of a malefactor expiring on the cross. It were a small item in the amount of his dying agonies, that strictly belonged to the tortures of crucifixion. He hung on the cross pressed down by the sins of a world.

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