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THE FRIEND THAT HAS NO ÉQUÁL.
cent, and so exerted himself in his behalf that à respite was obtained. Nothing could be more tender than his expressions of gratitude. He said, “Every drop of my blood thanks you, for you have had compassion on every drop of it. You are my deliverer, and you have a right to me. If I live I am your property, and I will be a faithful subject." How small were his obligations to his kind benefactor compared with ours to the Lord that ransomed us! The Christian may utter acknowledgements far more expressive than those of the grateful Turk or the poor Irishman. "I was å slave bound in the chains of sin. I was a criminal, deservedly condemned to die. My Lord ransomed me; to him I am indebted for liberty more precious than freedom from earthly bonds; for life that will issue in eternal life. And the ransom which he paid for me was not silver or gold, but his own blood. He has a right to me, and to all I am and all I havé. He bought me as his own when he died in my place. Let every power of my body and soul thank him, for he has had mercy upon me."
The Lord Jesus far surpasses all other friends in the good he can bestow. If it were possible to have friends whose hearts were as full of love as his, yet they could not give what Christ bestows, and you absolutely need. You have sins, and they must be forgiven, or you will be lost eternally-_Jesus forgives sins! You have a sinful heart that must be made new, or you must perish-Jesus gives the Holy Spirit, by whom to work that mighty change. You have a soul in danger - Jesus can avert its ruin, and secure its salvation. You have a hell to escape and a heaven to reach-Jesus saves from hell and exalts to heaven. Before you reach eternity you have to pass through a troubled world, to encounter sorrow, sickness, and death Jesus supports through this wilderness; cheers affliction with inward comforts; makes sickness better than health, and death than life. You must die alone, and go alone to meet your God-Jesus fills the departing spirit with sweetest peace, and welcomes it to a heavenly home! He bestows on the mouldering dust life and immortality on the resurrection morning. Christ can do all these things. Other friends may cheer for & moment, but he will bless throughout a whole eternity. Thus he is what other friends, the best and dearest, can never be. Whether it be father or mother, husband or wife, affectionate child, or brother, or sister, he is far, far more than all these united.
In all circumstances the friendship of Christ is the same precious treasure, or rather, its value increases when needed most. Soon it will matter nothing to us whether earthly friends smile or frown, love or forget us; but his favour will still concern us, his love will through eternity be better than life. Take friends,
possessions, all I have, and even life away, yet leave me Christ, and I am blessed; take him away, and I am lost and poor, though all the world were mine.
His friendship is also undying and everlasting. As far as this world is concerned, the dearest ties of earthly friendships must soon be broken. Soon you may have to say, My parent, or my child, my husband, or my wife, my brother, or my sister, is dead; the heart is cold now that lately glowed with love. But the love of Christ to his people ever continues : “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that hath loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom. viii. 35.
Thus Jesus is the Friend that has no equal; and he is willing, -oh wonderful love !-to be all this to any of the lost and guilty children of men that will flee to him as their refuge from sin and condemnation ; for “ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” “Come," says this heavenly Friend, “ come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ?" What wider invitation could he give? What better blessing could he promise ?
Are you, reader, a partaker of his salvation ? Has the Holy Spirit opened your heart to attend to these things? Or have you slighted his claims, and resisted the Holy Ghost? If you enjoy his friendship, a proof that you are thus enriched will be furnished by your supreme love to him. Whatever else his friends love and prize, they love and prize him more. This is their experience in all ages, and in all lands. Peter said, “ Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." Krishna, an early convert in Bengal, said of the Saviour, " I love him, but not as he loves me.” A young Christian lady was asked by an affectionate father, “ Can you leave us, Mary?” She calmly answered
“ Yes: Nature, all thy fond delights
And tender ties we know;
To Him that bids us go." Actuated by such principles, the friends of Jesus do his will and live to his glory, and under the Spirit's teaching are conformed to his image and travel to his kingdom. There, through all eternity, they will rejoice in the love and celebrate the praise of the FRIEND THAT HAS NO EQUAL.
RICHES. What is so generally coveted as riches ? Wealth is supposed to be the sure means of happiness, and is regarded by many, if not by most, as the highest object of human ambition. The possessors of riches dote with fond affection on them, and they who have not obtained wealth, covet few things so much. Some years ago, a miser in the neighbourhood of Coventry, during his last illness, had a bag of gold brought to him daily, and he died grasping the bag with a hold so firm, that after his death it was difficult to force it from his lifeless hand. To obtain money, which this man so much prized, multitudes sacrifice ease, health, life, and heaven.
Such love of riches is a wretched infatuation; for “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” But there are riches worthy of all sacrifices. These, however, are not the riches of this world: they belong to a better.
Perhaps, reader, you have toiled for riches and been successful; yet you are not happy : your soul needs better treasures
than those which death takes away. Perhaps you have toiled, but have not succeeded ; turn your thoughts to other riches, far better than those of earth, and sure to be obtained by every one that prayerfully seeks them of the Lord Jesus, who says, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich," Rev. iii. 18.
In his glorious gospel the gracious Saviour offers these true riches to dying men. They consist not of one blessing only, but of many blessings. In them are included, the pardon of all sins, justification and acceptance in the Beloved, peace with God, adoption into his family, the comforting and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, an interest in many exceeding great and precious promises, and a title to eternal life. These riches also include the possession of the best and dearest friendship. To the happy soul that possesses these treasures, the great, the everlasting God becomes a loving Father, Jesus a Saviour and a guardian, and the Holy Spirit a constant helper. They who are thus enriched are dear to the eternal God: he dwells with them, loves them, and delights in making them happy, Isa. lvii. 15; John xvi. 27; Luke xii. 32. They are beloved by Christ with an everlasting love, Rom. viii. 35. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in" them; for they are “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ," Rom. viii. 17, 18; and he has promised that they shall enter into his joy, be like him, and be with him, Matt. xxv. 21; John xiv. 2; John xii. 26.
The world sees not the worth of these “ durable riches;” but the Christian, who is taught of God, knows that all earthly wealth is poverty in comparison with them. An old writer mentions that in the place where he was born, there lived a lover of the world, exceedingly rich, who kept many of his treasures in his house: once a day he took all his bags of silver and gold out of his trunk and laid them in several heaps on a large table ; then he would go to the other end of the room, and gaze on his treasures, and after a while would run to the table, with outstretched arms, gather all his bags into one heap, and cry out, as if overcome with joy, “ All is mine-all is mine!” But poor indeed were his treasures if compared with those of the poorest believer.
It is related, that a gentleman of large property on one occasion pointed out to a friend the size of his estate. It extended so far in one direction, and so far in another. His friend inquired if he saw a cottage in a neighbouring village ? and then told him there dwelt a poor woman who could say far more than all he had said. “Why, what can she say?” “She can say, Christ is mine.” Happy they who have
Riches are loved because it is supposed that they minister to the happiness of their owners. But worldly riches inspire no such peace and joy as flow from gospel hope, the love of Christ shed abroad in the heart, his peace, which passeth understanding, and the blessed prospect of heaven. Even in poverty these yield real comfort. A lady of wealth and piety, who had suffered heavy afflictions, related her sorrows to a poor woman whose cottage she had entered. The poor Christian taking her to a closet, said, “Do you see anything?" "No." She took her to another and repeated the question; with some surprise the lady again said, "No." “ Then, madam,” said she, “in this room you see all I have in this world; but why should I be unhappy? I have Christ in my heart, and heaven before me. I have the unfailing word of promise that bread shall be given and water shall be sure, while I stay a little longer in this vale of tears ; and when I die, glory awaits me through the merits of my Redeemer." Blessed confidence! Reader, are these hopes yours?
Worldly wealth is delusive. The expectations it excites are not realized, its possessors grasp it, expecting happiness, but are still unsatisfied ; an aching void remains that it cannot fill. A gentleman of large property, once beholding a little chimneysweeper going singing along the street, declared he would part with all his wealth to be as happy as the little cheerful sweeper -so far were great riches from making him happy. But in all affliction spiritual treasures are solid wealth. A pious man, who had once been wealthy, but who had become so poor that he had sought refuge in an American almshouse, said to a visitor, “You see, sir, I am poor; but I have seen better days. I am sixty-five years of age. I once had a large property, but it is gone. I had children too, but they are all dead; a wife, (his tears flowed,) but six months ago she departed to her eternal rest, and on the eve of her departure sang
Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are. Ah, sir, there is no delusion here. Many would persuade me that faith in Christ is a delusion; but it is not so. * Property is a delusion; I had it, but it has vanished. My children have vanished; my dear wife is gone; but faith in Jesus—that remains."
These true riches excel all worldly wealth because they give support and peace even in circumstances that would else be full of misery. Behold a rich man tossing on the bed of pain, tormented with the burnings of fever or some painful disease; how little comfort his riches now yield! Now look upon a poor man in like suffering, but cheered by heavenly hopes, and in looking on him behold not a scene the offspring of fancy, but a