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we through his poverty might be rich;" who “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ;” and “gave his life a ransom for many." Your hearts have been so warmed with these and similar meditations, that you can think of no one else, you can talk of no one else, but Immanuel; this Friend, that sticketh closer than a brother.
There are instances, and they are not unfrequent, where the bonds of friendship have proved stronger than the ties of brotherly affection; and a stranger (I mean in point of relationship) has done more, and hazarded more, for his friend, than those who may be said to be their own flesh and Blood: which fully justifies the observation of the Wise Man in the text: and I make no apology for applying it to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is emphatically the Friend of publicans and sinners.
Let me hold him up to you, as the most ancient Friend, the most affectionate Friend, the most faithful Friend, the most powerful Friend, and the most constant Friend, that ever you had or heard of.
I. Jesus Christ is the most ancient Friend :
A circumstance that should greatly endear him to US “ Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake thou not;"—intimating, that such a person
one who hath been a fast friend to our family for a great number of years—is to be highly valued. And herein Christ infinitely excels the oldest friend we have. Hear what he says of himself: “ When he appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his
earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” (Prov. viii. 29.) Here was friendship, disinterested and unparalleled. While he was happy in that glory, 66 which he had with the Father before the foundation of the world,” yet foreseeing the guilt and misery into which mankind would plunge themselves, he took pleasure in thinking how he should hereafter go down and save them.--Under the Old Testament we see him frequently appearing as the
Angel of the Lord” and the “ Angel of the Covenant,” with messages of love to his people. But nothing can express it so emphatically as his own word: “In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them: and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” (Isai. lxiii. 9.) And when the fulness of time was come, he actually came down, and was made flesh, and dwelt among us: and during the three years of his public appearance, every thing he said, and every thing he did, was friendly: his life was friendly, and his death was more so.
And through all ages, from that time to this, one generation to another hath declared his unremitting kindness ;---a circumstance inconceivably supporting.
If one that was a perfect stranger were to come to us in our distress, and offer to relieve us, we should hardly know how to trust him. do, I know who, or what, he is ? Perhaps he only mocks my woe; and may take pleasure in raising expectations in me which he never intends to fulfil. If he do as he says, I shall thank him; but I am afraid to believe it, till I see it.'-Now, with respect to Christ, this objection is lappily removed; he is
no stranger; he is one that we have been long acquainted with; he hath been a friend to the family as far back as we can remember, and farther too. * We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us," how kind he was to them; and we have had a thousand proofs of his kindness to us : and shall we distrust him now? No. Though my present trial is very heavy, and such as I never experienced before, I can trust Him, who hath so often relieved me before now. “I remember the days of old, the years of the right hand of the Most High ;” and have not the least doubt that he, who hath been my father's friend, and my own friend, for so many years, will continue to be a friend to me and mine as often and as long as we shall need him.
II. He is an affectionate Friend.
We often meet with persons who make great professions of kindness and respect; nothing but my
dear friend,' and 'my dear friend,' at every word; and “ how glad they should be to serve us !' While, at the same time, we have reason to think they have not merely no real regard, but an actual dislike, and would, under-hand, rather do us a diskindness. But Christ is not one of these: never was guile found in his mouth : wherever he makes professions of love, his heart goes along with them. Try him, in those things which are the usual expressions of regard between one friend and another, and you will see how in all things Christ has the pre-eminence. For example :---Hearty friends mu-. tually sympathize with one another, and take part in one another's joys and grief. Christ does so. When the mysteries of divine wisdom and grace
were revealed to the world, it is said, “In that hour-Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thees O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” And if they be at any time in affliction, never was there a friend more compassionate and kind.
What a rea markable expression is that, 66 The Lord will strengthen him on the bed of languishing; he will make all his bed in his sickness.” (Psal. xli. 3.)-O Christians! to have such a friend at our bed-side watching every motion, and smoothing what our restlessness had disordered !--I had almost said, it is a privilege to be sick. Let all be calm within, and let' my outward sufferings be as sharp as they will. Well did the Apostle say, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” (Heb. iv. 15.)
“ With joy. we meditate the grace
Of our High Priest above:
His bowels melt with love."
Again: Hearty friends love one another's company take every opportunity of being together; and when obliged to separate, contrive to meet again as soon as possible, and are impatient till the time comes. Christ does so. He
" walks among the golden candlesticks ;” and “ loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." sometimes are able to adopt the language of the Psalmist, and say, “ As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God," and it is a happy frame, too, when we can, say it: and yet never were any so desirous of meet
- VOL. II.
ing Christ as he is of meeting them :
6 Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name," saysi he, “ there am I in the midst of them.” in 14.1:
Again: Hearty friends seek one another's interest. Do a kindness to one, and the other esteems it as done to himself; do an injury to one, and tlie other resents it as done to himself. Christ felt the rage of Saul against the church : “ Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?” And it is the same as to any kindness shown to his poor disciples: "Forasmuchas ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. XXV:40.)
Again : Hearty friends freely unbosom themselves to one another: and trust those secrets with their friend, which they would not on any account-communicate to another. Christ does so ; “ Henceforthi I. call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth ; but I have called
you friends, for every thing which I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John xv. 15.).
I shall only add, Hearty friends are mindful of one another, though absent. They will be often writing to one another: and if they cannot do that, they will be often thinking of one another, and anticipating the pleasure of their next meeting So doth Christ: “ Nevertheless," says
says he, “it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you;” and by this blessed conveyance he is perpetually sending them some token of his love, something or other - to Jet them know that he remembers them in his kingdom.. " He ever liveth to make intercession for sthem.... He is preparing a place for them; and