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"THY FRIEND, WHICH IS AS THINE OWN SOUL.”
DEUT. xiii. 6.
RUE friendship is one of the most delightful There is also a sort of universal friendliness, which
sweeteners of human life. With many life belongs to certain temperaments, agreeable indeed, and would scarcely be worth the living, if it so far useful, but it is very shallow, and we must on no
were bereft of the solace and the various account confound it with the friendship of which we helps of a well-assorted friendship. It is more than a speak. He who is equally the friend of everybody is mere luxury; it is one of the first necessaries which a really the friend of none, and his amiability is more noble heart most earnestly craves.
likely to spring from his vanity than from his love. As Addison describes friendship as “ a strong and habit- the old Greek proverb has it," Friends, but no friend." ual inclination in two persons to promote the good and in this, as in many other matters, depth and breadth happiness of one another.” Surely friendship includes are incompatible; and the man who seems to give his a great deal more than this. The mutual benevolence heart to all has no single friend whom he regards as his of any two kind hearts will secure that each shall seek own soul. Like the unspeakable boon of a father's tender to promote the good of the other, though nothing like affection and of a mother's inalienable love, the sweethearty friendship may be possible between them. How nesses of highest friendship are allotted to us in very much more profoundly does this word of Moses appre- stinted measure. There is no limit, indeed, to the ciate the unequalled tenderness of the relationship—“Thy number of friendships of a certain kind which a man friend, which is as thine own soul.” “A friend is a may form, but the friends who are each of them to us second self,” said Pythagoras, in a similar spirit, and as our own soul must necessarily be few; though one coming wonderfully near to the inspired words. “Whom need not querulously say, with Sir Philip Sidney, that I was wont to call not mine, but me,” says one of our “it is doubtful whether friendship be a thing indeed, or own poets. This estimate of friendship is fittingly but a word.” illustrated by the anecdote of Alexander and Hephes- Every one is not fitted, either, for forming or for ention. When the mother of Darius entered the tent of joying such unions. Only in proportion to the conthe conqueror of her son, to beseech his clemency, she pleteness of a man's character is he capable of enjoying flung herself at Hephestion's feet, who seemed to her the sweets of a true friendship, or of discharging its to be more king-like than his companion. Alexander's duties. We are often told that there is honour among friend drew back in confusion, and the kneeling queen, thieves, but nothing could be more false. The worthdiscovering her mistake, was alarmed for its conse- less in general have scarcely any sense of honour, and quiences. “ Fear nothing," said the conqueror frankly, they owe the slight cohesion which is found among them desirous to set them both at ease;
you have made no to mere mutual convenience. Thieves rarely scruple to mistake, for he also is Alexander.” Perhaps he had sell to the police those whom they call their friends ; learned this lesson from bis tutor, Aristotle, who, when and were it not so, the police would not be half s) asked what a friend was, made reply, “One soul dwell. efficient as they are. As we ascend in the moral scale, ing in two bodies."
we find that friendship becomes more and more a pos• Friendships of this confiding and whole-hearted kind sibility, but its loftiest forms are to be found only among should not, cannot indeed, be hastily formed. “Before the noblest types of character. A German proverb tells you make a friend, eat a bushel of salt with him," says
one foe is too many, and a hundred friends are the proverb; and experience shows that friendships of too few;" insinuating that human hatred is so much the highest grade are not otherwise attainable. There more active than human love. It may be so with the is, indeed, a friendship of mere convenience—a relation- commonplace, every-day style of friendship, in which a ship which is the most common and the niost easily man, for mere convenience' sake, attaches himself to his procurable of all earthly things—but it has nothing to fellow; but it is otherwise in those unions of heart with do with a true union of hearts, and is therefore no heart-unions which involve the man's gift of himself genuine friendship at all. It may serve to amuse, it in all his entirety, and in which friend becomes to friend may even be useful for lubricating the smaller wheels of even as his own soul. the social machine; but in its personal influence it is not Such intimate and precious friendships thrive best elevating, and it can never be counted on as permanent between parties who do not too closely resemble each It is not elevating; for, being based on mere selfish- other. Up to a certain point dissimilarity helps, rather ness, it cannot destroy the selfishness on which it rests. than hinders, such unions, but the dissimilarity nust Neither is it likely to last; for the convenience which not be too great. An inequality in worldly circumgave it birth may change to-morrow, and the alteration stances, for instance, is favourable to the development of circumstances will readily dissolve a partnership so of such attachments. In this case the two parties are heartless.
not so likely to be rivals, or to find that their interests
us that "
come into collision in any sort of way. Differences of | tachments. The young heart is peculiarly open; and it character and disposition, also, when they are not too can enjoy companionships so incongruous, that age, wide, are equally helpful to the formation of the strongest more hard to please, could scarcely endure them. But friendships. We delight most in a friend who is rather while the young heart more readily admits of new friendthe supplement than the duplicate of ourselves. We ships, advancing years cling with the stronger tenacity to like to be strong on the side on which he is weak, that friendships already formed. When, therefore, the friendwe may have the joy of sustaining his weakness with our ships which are formed in youth are suitable, they bestrength ; and we like him to be strong where we are conie the cherished inheritance of middle life; and the confessedly weak, that we too may receive his loving affections becoming every year more conservative, can help in return. Hugh Miller likens friendship to a scarcely endure the thought of losing them. The wine ball-and-socket-joint, in which two souls are fitted for of true friendship thus mellows and strengthens by ineach other, not because they resemble, but because they creasing age. correspond. Of course, the dissimilarity must not be
“Each year to ancient friendship adds a ring, too great, else the two parties shall be incapable of mu
As to an oak, and precious more and more, tual appreciation ; but if their predominant dispositions
Without deservingness or help of ours,
They grow, and silent wider spread each year and leading tastes be sufficiently similar, they shall enjoy
Their unbought ring of shelter or of shade.” communion all the better that the miner features of character are considerably unlike. And their inter- This is especially the case with Christian friendships. course shall, in this case, not only be more pleasant, but Nothing cements the union of heart to heart like the more profitable. When friends resemble too closely, common endurance of great sorrows, the cherishing of they have by disposition a tendency to the same kinds the same engrossing aims, and, above all, hearty comof faults; they are therefore prone to spare, or even to munion in earnest prayer; and the fiery discipline of overlook, those faults in their friend since they overlook half a lifetime secures that warm Christian friends shall them in themselves. And thus the mutual influence of have enough of these, to fuse their hearts into one insethe two friends serves to contirm rather than to check parable mass. And as this discipline of sorrow makes the faulty tendency in each other.
the love of each more needful and more helpful to the True friendship, at least among Christians, is to other, the two lives become interwoven into one web, endure for ever. “I would not give a sixpence,” says like warp and woof; and you must destroy the cloth one, " for the friendship which death can break up." ere you can separate the threads which compose it. In Like the attachment between Augustine and Alypius, a such a case the friendship has become a necessity; and Christian's friendship should be “cemented with the either would as soon dream of putting out his eyes as of blood of Christ.” “Blessed is he who loveth thee,” says dismissing the other from his love. the same Augustine, “ and his friend in thee, and his
“And whate'er may be the friendship enemy for thee.” When affection is thus sanctified, its
We may gain in after-years, indulgence affords the happy subject of it the maximum
None can come between the compact
Which has been annealed with tears." of enjoyment and of profit here, and then he needs never dread the prospect of its loss. What delightful antici- But if we would enjoy such friendships in the autumn pations are thus opened up to the humble believer! If of life, we niust sedulously cultivate them in the spring earthly friendships be so helpful and so sweet, what and summer. The plant is one of slow growth, and it shall be the everlasting fellowship in glory with the just is easily blighted during its earlier stages. As it grows made perfect? What shall it be to have restored to us older it grows ever hardier. Like all precious things, for ever the dearest object of our love-the friend whom however, the cultivation of it will cost much pains; and we looked on as our own soul, but now made so much unless a man be prepared to pay the price, he need not more loving, and so much more lovely? What shall it expect to obtain the coveted merchandise. And what be to form new friendships with the choicest spirits of the price is let the poet tell :every age, so excellent when here, but made perfect
Can gold gain friendship? Impudence of hope ! yonder ; to sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob
As well mere man an angel might beget; as our friends; and, above all, to be with Christ as his
Love, and love only, is the loan for love.
Lorenzo, pride repress, nor hope to find friend, which shall be far better ? Let the blessed hope
A friend, but what has found a friend in thee. give an increased tenderness, and tenacity, and sanctity
All bless the purchase, few the price will pay ;
And this makes friends such miracles below." to our friendships now, and let us seek to bring their present stages into perfect harmony with what we ex- Sacrifices must be made, great and frequent sacrifices ; pect them yet to become. “ Thine own friend and thy | but the blessing aimed at is worth them all. Nay, father's friend forsake not.” How paltry and insufficient since the sacrifices are those which love makes, they do all minor hindrances to friendship, such as change of more than recompense the person who makes them circumstances, or even personal infirmities, look in the with their own peculiar consolation even thou they light of an everlasting communion of perfect love ! should bring him nothing more. And if, through our
Youth is generally the time for forming strong at- | heedlessness, we unhappily mar a valued friendship, especially in its earlier stages, the loss is scarcely to be felt when, on coming to Troas, he missed the anticipatel repaired. The delicate bloom has been rubbed off the pleasure of meeting Titus: “Furthermore, when I came peach, and nothing will replace it; the trusting con- to Troas, to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was fidence has been shaken, and its stability will henceforth opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, be more precaricus. We should therefore guard our because I found not Titus my brother” (2 Cor. ii. 12, 13). friendships like the apple of the eye; for “a brother And what irritable man has not again and again felt the offended is harder to be won than a strong city.” And power of that inimitable sedative, the calm speech of a if we have not such a friend as has been spoken of, let judicious friend? Unable, by himself, to look on his us do all that we honestly can to get one; if happily we injuries, except through the magnifying lens of a morbid have such a friend, let us do all that we honestly can to sensitiveness, let him talk over his troubles with a wise keep him.
and trusted friend, and how speedily does he find himSuch unions are more likely to be formed, or, when self brought back to sobriety and peace! As if by magic, formed, to be continued ; and they are sure to be more the mountain-like injury dwindles into a paltry noleuseful, when each of the two parties is concerned about hill, and he wonders whence has come the pigment that his duty to his friend, rather than about his friend's duty made all things look so yellow to his jaundiced eyes. to him. Intercourse carried on in this spirit cannot fail But far more important than the mere enjoyment to be both delightful and elevating. And to encourage afforded us by our friends, is the help which they render our endeavours after it, let us remember that, of any two towards the shaping of our characters. No man would friends, it is always he who loves the most, and sacrifices be precisely what he is, had it not been for the influence the most, and is most devotedly attentive to the claims of his friends. The best of men could scarcely have of friendship, that is the happier. He enjoys the fellow- been so good, or the worst of men so bad, or even the ship, and profits by it, on a scale as much beyond the mediocre so very colourless, without the assistance of his other as his love is greater. It is always so in every- friends. There is no moral power in social life more thing that appertains to the province of the affections. potent than this ; hence the proverb, “Tell me what thy In this region the dominating law is, “It is more blessed friends are, and I will tell thee what thou art thyself." to give than to receive." It is the loving man rather In his early manhood, Hugh Miller, writing to a young than the beloved, who is the happy man. This is one companion, says: “I deem my intimacy with you the of the open secrets of human life;--open, since all may most important affair of my life. I have enjoyed more read it in the experience of each during any single day; from it than from anything else, and have been more yet secret, since so few appear to learn it. We need improved by it than by all my books.” In a similar not therefore expect to enjoy the blessedness of a lofty tone, the celebrated Clarendon confesses: “Next to the friendship apart from this self-abandonment to the immediate blessing and providence of Almighty God, I claims of love. Every man would be glad to take, but ove all the little I know, and the little good that is in every man is not prepared to give : however, on these me, to the friendship and conversation I have still been selfish principles, the nobler attachments are impossible. used to, of the most excellent men in their several kinis
The practical uses of friendship are various and most im- that lived in that age.” “Some men," says Socrates, a portant. There are many ways in which help may often reported by Xenophon, “some men have a fancy for a be rendered in time of need, -forms of help which, with- fine horse, or a dog or a bird : what I fancy and take deout some degree of humiliation, could scarcely be received light in is friends of a superior kind. If I know ansexcept from one whom a man regarded as his own soul. thing I teach it to them; I send them to any one by And such emergencies serve to test the strength and the whom I think they may be improved. In company with tenderness of friendship : to test it, indeed, on both them I turn over and explore the treasures of the wise sides; for he who through pride refuses to accept the men of old which have been left written in books; and loving aid of a friend in time of actual need, is as un- if we find anything good we pick it out, and we think it true to the friendship as the other would have been, if a great gain if we can be beneficial to one another." he through selfishness had declined to help.
And when it is carried out in this spirit, such intercourse The mere intercourse of true friends is, by virtue of cannot fail to be as profitable as it is pleasant ; for “ as their mutual love, one of the sweetest delights of life. iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the counte“Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so doth the nance of his friend.” But whatever be the spirit in which sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.” “With friendly intercourse is carried on, it is silently but confriends,” says the ardent Chrysostom, “even poverty is stantly giving its permanent shape to our characters ; pleasant. Words cannot express the joy which a friend and the young can scarcely be too much alive to the fact imparts ; they alone can know who have experienced it. that their entire future greatly depends on the silent in
is of it be without friends." And grace, by making the heart portant offices of friendship, lies in reproof. We are more tender, enables it to enjoy with keener relish the naturally so inclined to flatter ourselves, to magnify our delights of a high-toned friendship
. We see how Paul very moderate excellences, and to ignore our most notice
better for us that there were no sun than that we should "The most trying, though it is also one of the most in
able blemishes, that it is hard to attain to any tolerable In a world like this, the warm friendships, even of the degree of self-knowledge without the help of others. A good, do not bring unningled joy. Every earthly commirror will assist a man to see his face inuch as others fort contains in it the germ of possible sorrow. A friend see it; but where shall he find a mirror which will faith- is a second self; and when we thus double ourselves, fully reveal to him the defects and blemishes of his in- we double our chances of being bit by the arrows of afflicdividual character? An enemy with his severe censures tion. The love which makes another to us as our soul, and culumnies may serve this purpose occasionally ; a makes the trials of that beloved one our own trials; and service so very valuable to a wise man, that its usefulness in this way a lofty friendship exposcs a man to griefs will more than repay him for any pain which it may oc- which selfishness is spared. But there is something cision. But few are able to profit by these ill. natured elevating, nay, there is something sweet, in such sympacensures. They are so much exaggerated, that a man, thetic sorrows; and he who thus weeps with his weeping instead of setting himself patiently to separate the pre- friend finds more calm enjoyment in his tears than the selfcious from the vile, and to allow for the elements of truth ish man ever found in his selfish pleasures. Thus afflicted which underlie the ungracious criticisms, has a plausible was Paul when he found that Epaphroditus was afflicted; pretext for casting the whole aside as a mass of falsehood. and thus joyful was he in his friend's recovery. Here comes into practical operation the peculiar use- indeed he was sick nigh unto death ; but God had fulness of a faithful friend. He can render a similar mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest kind of service more efficiently and much more pleasantly I should have sorrow upon sorrow” (Phil. ii. 25). than an enemy can. He has not the same temptation The world has witnessed, over and over again, magto exaggerate, and we are not so extremely jealons about nificent specimens of lofty friendship. How many an his statements. Faithful are the healing wounds which eye has moistened as it read the touching words of he inflicts; and when a true friend is called to inflict Ruth to Naomi, so expressive of all the deep affection these wounds, he himself suffers more than the wounded which we suppose a high-souled friendship to include: man does. Alas! that faithfulness of this kind is so “ And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to rare among us, so seldom ventured on, and so coldly return from following after thee: for whither thou welcomed.
goest, I will go ; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge : It would be wrong, however, to blame only the one thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God : party for the general neglect of this great duty and where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried : privilege of friendship. Here, as in so many other cases the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death of failure, there are faults on both sides. Why is it part thee and me" (Ruth i. 16, 17). We are all familiar, that, as a rule, it is so very difficult to give the gentlest too, with the tender attachment of David and Jonathan, reproof, even when it is manifestly needed ? aud why are who each loved other as he loved his own soul; and kind-hearted men so reluctant to give it, but because most of us have been thrilled by the touching lament the man who might be benefited by the reproof is so pronounced by the bereaved mourner : “I am distressed unwilling to learn his faults ? It is scarcely one in a for thee, my brother Jonathan ; very pleasant hast thou hundred who really wishes help to reform himself; the been unto me : thy love to me was wonderful, passing remaining ninety-nine want only to be flattered ; and if the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the a friend were to exercise towards them the noblest office weapons of war perished !” Classic story furnishes of true friendship, they would be ready to feel disgust, many noble specimens of friendship; and so do medieval and to dissolve the disagreeable relationship. Of course and modern histories. Very beautiful is the narrative of it is in all cases a most delicate matter to show a friend the Christian friendship between Madame Guyon and his faults; and when it is done, it should be done not her maid-servant. Without fee or reward, or prospect of only in love, and as a duty, but in manifest love, and as earthly good, the devoted domestic attached herself to a duty which needs much self-denial to discharge it. the person of her mistress, saying, “Go wherever the And a repayment of the service in the same kind of coin | Lord may lead you, do whatever the Lord may bid you, I should always be modestly desired and heartily appre- will go with you, and will find my service to him in ciated. But it is only the higher kinds of friendship serving you.” And when, after they had wandered to that can thrive by means of intercourse of this nature. many places in company, the mistress was cast into the Commonplace friendship is hollow and selfish ; and a dreaded Bastile for her alleged heresies, the maid friend is too often a man's second self, only in the ignoble followed as a matter of course ; and the two friends lay sense of being, next to himself, the man's chief flatterer. in the same cell for many years. Happy are both the Such a friend seeks his own ends, not the best welfare parties to such an attachment as this ; but the happier of his brother; and these ends he can best secure by of the two is that one whose friendship is the most flattery,-a flattery which is none the less real that it is loving and devoted. not direct but tacit. “You cannot have me both for a But though friendships like these have never been friend and a flatterer,” said Phocion to Antipater ; and altogether unknown, they have never been common. it would be well to remember that the two functions are Such heights are attainable only by characters of irreconcilable.
peculiar excellence, and under favourable circumstances.