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rate into a slavish meanness of spirit, disposing them to sell their consciences for bread; and let the rich remember, that they are infinitely more dependent on the great Patron of the poor and needy, than the poor on them. Those that give nothing but good words to the poor in their distress, are declared to be destitute of charity. In what class, then, must they be placed, who cannot afford even this poor favour?
The poor and the rich are alike poor before God, and without his rich bounty must be eternally wretched. If poor men supplicate the rich for their favours, with what words shall we express our meanness and absolute dependence, before Him who regardeth not the rich more than the poor! But he never gives a rough answer to his suppliants. Let us therefore come boldly to his throne of grace, that we may obtain every needful supply *.
Ver. 24. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
A man that hath found a wife must shew himself affectionate and tender; a father must discover kindness; every person must endeavour to fill up the offices of the various relations in which he stands. A neighbour must shew himself a social man; and he that has a bosom friend, must discover in his behaviour all that union of souls that is the very essence of friendship. Religion requires us to perform all those kind services to one another, which, if they were duly discharged and returned, would still make our world in some measure a picture of paradise.
We must not suffer unreasonable disgusts to alienate our affections from our friends, but cleave to them
while we live; we must often gladden their hearts by our company, and share in all their joys and sorrows. We must not renounce their friendship for their imperfections, nor even for those temporary coldnesses which they may discover in the day of our distress, unless their behaviour is such as to shew that their professions of regard were not sincere. Above all, we must show our tender sympathy in the time of their calamity, otherwise our alienation will greatly embitter their distress *.
To excite us to this duty, we are told that friends sometimes stick closer than the nearest relations. The greatest acts of generous heroism have perhaps been performed by those who were not connected by the bonds of relation or affinity. None of David's brothers ever gave him such proofs of their attachment as Jonathan; and even his wife Michal, though she loved him, did not love him so well as that gallant friend did. She lied to his prejudice, to screen herself from the resentment of her father; but Jonathan bravely incurred the resentment of his father, and cheerfully gave up his prospects of a crown, for David. When our Lord was crucified, his disciples forsook him and fled, and James and Jude, who had the honour of being our Lord's brethren, among the rest; but the beloved disciple looked on his sorrows with the eye of a friend, and received his charge about his mother with thankfulness and obedience.
If this is a reason for our friendly behaviour to our friends, what regard ought we to shew to our Lord Jesus Christ, who sticks to us infinitely closer than any friend! Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. Neither death,
nor sin itself, can separate us from his love. What shall we render to him for his marvellous loving-kindness? Love and obedience; for we are his friends, if we do whatsoever he commands us.