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Permit me to add :- There are some professors of religion, who greatly obstruct the growth and ed. ification of the church, by their imprudent cavils at the preaching, and illiberal animadversions on the conduct of ministers, especially in the presence of children and youth, and in the company of the weak, unstable and disaffected. We, who are ministers, are conscious of many imperfections; and we thank our people when they favour us with their friendly advice. But if they only talk against us by the walls, and in the doors of their houses, we consider them, as obstructing our influence, and weakening our hands ; as encouraging the enemies of religion, and pulling down the church of Christ, which we should all unite to build up and establish.
To conclude. As we wish to promote the growth of Christ's church, let us walk worthy of him, who has called us to his kingdom and glory ; study the things which make for
peace ; condescend to each other in cases of difference ; contribute to the purity of the church by the holiness of our own lives; en. courage those in whom hopeful dispositions appear; lead them by our counsels and examples ; thus prepare
way and take up the stumbling blocks which cause many to fall ; and let us pray for the happy time, when converts shall flock into the kingdom of Christ as clouds, and as doves to their windows
Parting with Friends, a painful Trial.
PSALM lxxxviii, 18
Loter and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine ac.
quaintance into darkness.
HE author of this psalm is called Heman the Ezrahite. He was not the celebrated musician of that name, who lived in David's time; for that was a descendant of Levy from his son Kohath, and therefore called a Kohathite. This was probably a descendant of Judah from his son Zerah. In what time he lived, and on what occasion he composed this psalm, is uncertain. From several expressions, however, in the psalm, it is probable, that he lived in the time of the captivity ; and, being a person of distinction, was confined in some lonely prison, and excluded from intercourse with his particular friends. It is evident, at least, that some distressing affliction gave occasion to these meditations ; für they all run in a pensive and mournful strain. In his affliction, there was one circumstance, which he felt with the most tender sensibility; and that was
separation from his former acquaintance. He verse 8th, “ Thou hast put away mine acquaint. ance far from me; and hast made me an abomination to them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.”
The same complaint he repeats at the close of the psalm.-" Lover and friend, hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into dark
Many of his near friends, probably, were dead, having been slain by the Chaldeans. Some, perhaps, were confined in prisons remote from him, so that he could receive no visits from them. He could only sit and mourn, in solitude, his painful condition. That soft and tender solace, which sympathizing conversation among fellow sufferers is wont to afford, was now denied to him. But there was one consolation, of which the world could not deprive him, communion with God and meditation on his providence.
The words of our text will lead us to contemplate, the pleasures and advantages of friendship, the painful trial of parting with friends, and the consolation, which, under such trials, is derived from a belief of God's governing providence.
I. The happiness of life greatly depends on intimate friendships.
God made man for society ; and it is not good for him to be alone. In a state of solitude, he could neither enjoy the world, nor himself. His natural passions prompt him, and his unavoidable wants impel him, to associate with others.
The power of speech, given us by the Creator, shews that we were designed for mutual intercourse ; for, in solitude, this faculty would be useless.
We are naturally dependent on one another. No man is sufficient to relieve his own necessities. It is by an interchange of cares and labours, that mankind subsist in a tolerable condition
Man alone would make but slow progress in mental improvement. It is by mutual communi. cation of experience and acquirement, that our powers are enlarged, and our knowledge advanced. The knowledge which one acquires would be of but small use, if it was confined to himself; and more than half the pleasure of it would be lost to him. self, if he had not opportunity to impart it to others,
As we cannot maintain an actual intercourse with the human race in general, we are naturally led to form particular friendships. Heman, among his acquaintance, found some who were his friends and lovers. The divine Saviour, whose benevolence extended to all men, embraced some as his intimate friends. He regarded with special affection, those who received his doctrines. Among the believers in Judea, there were some whose houses he made the place of his retreat ; and, in the family of his disciples, there was one, distinguished by the name of disciple whom he loved.
In this world of change and trial, we find much satisfaction and refreshment in having friends near us, with whom we may often converse-to whom we can communicate our sentiments and feelingsfrom whom we can receive advice and assistance in our troubles and in whose fidelity and affection we can place unsuspecting confidence.
Súch friendships are always useful; but their importance is never so sensibly realized as in times of adversity. When burdens lie heavy upon us, and our strength is sinking under them, we rejoice to find one at hand, on whose friendly 'arm we can lean--into whose open bosom we can pour our complaints-- and whose sympathizing prayers will ascend with ours to the throne of grace.
Heman says, “ My soul is full of troubles ; I am as a man who has no strength--my acquaintance is
put far from me.” A more melancholly state, than this which he describes, can hardly be imagined pressed with sorrow, deprived of strength, and removed from friends.
Friendship is necessary on religious accounts.
Religion itself is of a social nature. It greatly consists in benevolent dispositions and friendly offices. Friendship, founded on virtuous principles, softens and humanizes the heart, and promotes a general philanthropy—a good will to all around us. In the progress of the christian temper, we add to brotherly kindness, charity. By what we feel in our own particular connexions, we learn what others feel in theirs, and thus we more sensibly interest ourselves in their joys and sorrows.
Virtuous friendship, is subservient to piety. Mutual example and conversation warm a godly zeal, confirm good resolutions, fortify the soul against temptations, and facilitate the difficult duties of religion. “Iron sharpeneth Iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend :"_“ Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart : So doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.”
There is no kind of friendship so intimate and useful, as the domestick. This, perhaps, our Psalmist had particularly in view when he spake, in such an affectionate manner, of the removal of acquaintance, lover and friend.
This friendship, which is usually founded in affection, is strengthened and confirmed by unity of interest, reciprocal offices of kindness, and daily intercourse and conversation. In the expressive language of scripture, the parties are " one flesh.” Their views, designs and concerns are the same, they have a common relation to those who descend from them—their affections meet and mingle in the same objects—and, by degrees, the fibres of their hearts become so interwoven and intwisted, that a