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of it shall fill the world, as the waters cover the sea, and all the opposers of it shall be turned into everlasting darkness. Wherefore let Christians gird up the loins of their mind, be fober, and hope to the end, for the grace which is to be brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Chrift; and be always ready to give an answer to every man that asketh them the reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear.
There is a special reason for a careful, courageous practice of this apoftolic direction, at this day, which is the time in which the fixth vial is poured out, predicted Revelation fixteenth chapter, when the spirits of devils are allowed to go forth to the inhabitants of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. These evil spirits are now among us, and have great influence on the minds of men, in the un. common, rapid spread of infidelity, and all manner of error and vice. Christians therefore now have a loud and special call to watch and be sober, to vindicate the truth, and honour Christ and his cause in all poflible ways. Let them hear and obey the words of Christ, which he fpake with particular reference to this time :
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watch. eth and keepeth his garments, left he walk naked, and they see his fhame."
On Christian Friendship, as it subsists between Christ
and Believers, and between Believers themselves.
Cant. v. 16. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. TRIENDSHIP affords the highest and most sweet enT joyment that is to be had in this life, or that rational creatures are capable of. Yea, it is in some fenfe the anly fource of real enjoyment and happiness; fo that to be perfectly without this, in every kind and degree of it, is to be wholly destitute of all true enjoy. ment and comfort. This gives pleasure and sweetness to all other enjoyments, and without this they all fade, and become infipid and worthless ; yea, every thing will be rather a burden, and worse than nothing: whereas, this will give a degree of enjoyment and pleasure, when ftripped of every other good ; so that he who is in cir. cumstances to exercise and enjoy friendship is in a degree happy, let his situation and condition otherwise be what it may: and it is impossible he should be perfectly miserable, so long as he is within reach of this sweet, this heaven-born cordial.
It is probable that the most voluptuous sensualist that lives would in a great measure lose his high relish for the pleasures he is so eagerly pursuing, and all his sweets would be turned into bitterness, if he should feel himself perfectly, and in every fenfe, friendless : for none can be found, however funk and fordid their minds have become by vice, who have no sort of taste for friendship; though it may be, on the whole, a very corrupt tafte. To be fure, if any such may be found, they seem to be sunk, in this respect, below the brutal creation ; for it is observed that among them there is an appearance of love
of fociety, and at least a resemblance of love and friends thip.
However lost to all true friendship mankind in general are, yet a desire of the esteem and love of others is found in every breast, and is as essential to man as a desire of happiness; and therefore cannot be rooted out, but by destroying his natural powers, by which he will cease to be man.
Hence it is that no inconsiderable part of the future misery of the wicked will consist in feeling themselves perfectly friendless, and the objects of the hatred and contempt of all intelligent existence in the universe, while they find themselves in every respect in the most wretched, deplorable circumstances, and have a moft keen aversion to being hated and contemned, and a strong desire of the love and esteem of others. ';.
As real or disinterested benevolence is essential to true friendship, we have reason to think there are but few instances of it in this degenerate, selfish world ; and where it does take place in any degree, it is in a very low and imperfect one; so that what many in all ages have been convinced of and asserted from long experience, may be relied upon as a certain truth, that this is a friendless world. However, there is a sort of friendship, which is at bottom a merely selfish thing, being found. ed only in felf-love, or which is the result of what may be called instinct, or natural affection; which is very common, and in many instances rises very high, and answers many valuable purposes to mankind in this present state, it being many ways of great service to mankind, as it prevents many evils that would otherwise take place, and promotes the good of fociety, and often gives a degree of pleasure and enjoyment. But, so far as true virtue or holiness takes place, a foundation is laid for a different kind of friendship, which is immensely higher, more noble and excellent, and consists in exercises and enjoyments which surpass those of all other friendships, more than the exercises and enjoyments of improved
reason excel those of a brute, or the brightness of the meridian sun, that of the meanest glow-worm.
And God has, in his adorable wisdom and goodness, contrived and provided that this friendship should be exercised and enjoyed in the highest perfection, being raised to the greatest possible heights, attended with the best and most advantageous circumstances.
The seripture leads us to conceive of the Deity as enjoying infinitely the most exalted and glorious friendship and society in himself, for which there is a foundation in the incomprehensible manner of his subsistence in the three persons of the adorable Trinity. Here eternal love and friendship takes place and flourishes to an infinite . degree, in an infinitely the most perfect and glorious society, the ELOHIM, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And the society and friendship for which men are formed by holiness, without which they cannot be perfectly happy, may be considered as an imitation and image of of this, by which they are made in the likeness of God, and partake with him in the same kind of happiness, which he enjoys to an infinite degree. And, in order that men might partake with him in the exercise and enjoyment of love and friendship to the highest degree and the greatest advantage, God has not only laid a plan to promote and effect the highest and most perfect love and friendship towards each other in the most exalted and happy fociety forever ; but has so contrived, that they shall be brought into the nearest and most intimate union and friendly intercourse with himself, by which they shall in some fense, yea, to a great degree, be united to the Eternal and most Glorious, divine Society, and partake of the same river of enjoyment and pleasure, which proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb, in a peculiar and eminent fenfe.
To effect this in the best manner and to the greatest advantage, the invisible God, who eternally dwelt in the high and holy place, infinitely beyond the comprehenfion and reach of a creature, must come down, and make himself visible, that he might be the head, the life and H
foul of a visible and most glorious fociety. This has been done in the incarnation of the Son of God, by which the greatest purposes of God's moral kingdom are answered in the highest possible degree, and all happy intelligences, especially the redeemed from among men, are brought into a near union with God, and are under special advantages to receive communications from him, and enjoy his love and friendship in a man. ner and degree which could not have been in any other way. This is the mutual love and friendship spoken of in the text, which takes place between the incarnate Son of God, the divine Redeemer of lost men, and his church or spouse, or every one of the redeemed. • He is in a peculiar and distinguished sense the friend of the redeemed; and he is the beloved of their soul in a fenfe and degree in which no other person is, or can be: and hence there is a mutual love and friendship between them, which is beyond comparison the most inti. mate, intense, sweet and exalted of any thing of the kind between any other friends and lovers, unspeakably surpassing all other friendihips in nature and degree, attended with the highest, most noble, transporting, soulravishing enjoyment and delight, that can possibly exist, or be conceived of.
This union of hearts, this mutual love and friendship between Christ the Redeemer and Saviour, and believers in him, or the redeemed, is represented in scripture by the inclination and affection between the two sexes of which mankind consist, under the influence of which they mutually feek and come into a peculiar union and intimacy with each other, in which they may enjoy each other, and be happy in the exercise of mutual love and friendship. It is represented by the sweet love and affection between the bridegroom and his bride, and the mutual love and friendship, and folemn engage. ments, by which the husband and his fpouse are united, and become one, and are happy in each other. And this similitude is, beyond doubt, most wisely and pro. perly chofen, by which to represent this spiritual union