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done to me! It was the remembrance of David's grown strange, and broken former friendship, sin, that had provoked God to raise up his own and quickly after turned to such dangerous ways son against him, of whom he had been too fond, and errors, as convinced the other of the merciwhich made him so easily bear the curses and fulness of God, in weakening his temptation by reproach of Shimei. It will make us bear abuse his friend's desertion ; who might else have drawn from others, to remember how ill we have dealt him along with him into sin. I have often obwith God, and how ill we have deserved at his served, that when the husbands have turned from hands ourselves.
religion to infidelity, or to some dangerous heresy, 6. I have observed another reason of God's that God hath permitted them to hate and abuse permitting the failing of our friends. It is, that their wives so inhumanly, as that it preserved the love of our friends may not hinder us when the poor women from the temptation of following we are called to suffer or die. When we over-them in their apostacy or sin; when as some love them, it tears our very hearts to leave them: other women with whom their husbands have and therefore it is a strong temptation to draw dealt more kindly, have been drawn away with us from our duty, and to be unfaithful to the them into pernicious paths. cause of Christ, lest we should be taken from our Therefore still I must say, we were undone if too dear friends, or lest our suffering cause their we had the disposing of our own conditions. It too much grief. It is so hard a thing to die would be long before we should have been willwith willingness and peace, that it must needs ing ourselves to be thus unkindly dealt with by be a mercy to be saved from the impediments our friends : and yet God hath made it to many which make us backward : and the excessive love a soul, a notable means of preserving them from of friends and relations, is not the least of these being undone forever. Yea, the unfaithfulness impediments : 0 how loth is many a one to die, of all our friends, and the malice and cruelty of when they think of parting with wife, or hus- all our enemies, doth us not usually so much band, or children, or dear and faithful friends! harm, as the love and temptation of some one Now, I have often observed, that a little before deluded erring friend, whom we are ready to their death or sickness, it is ordinary with God to follow into the gulf. permit some unkindness between such too dear
7. Lastly, consider that it is not desirable or friends to arise, by which he moderated and a- suitable to our state, to have too much of our bated their affections, and made them a great comfort by any creature : not only because it is deal the more willing to die. Then we are ready most pure and sweet, which is most immediately to say, it is time for me to leave the world, when from God: but because also we are very prone not only the rest of the world, but my dearest to over-love the creature; and if it should but friends have first forsaken me! This helps us seem to be very agreeable to us, by serving our to remember our dearest everlasting Friend, and necessities or desires, it would seem the more to be grieved at the heart that we have been no amiable, and therefore be the stronger snare: the truer ourselves to him, who would not have for work of mortification doth much consist in the saken us in our extremity. Sometimes it makes annihilation or deadness of all the creatures, as us even weary of the world, and to say as Elias, to any power to draw away our hearts from God, Lord, take away my life,' when we must say, I or to entangle us and detain us from our duty. thought I had one friend left, and behold even he The more excellent and lovely the creature apforsakes me in my distress. As the love of friends pears to us, the less it is dead to us, or we to it; entangles our affections to this world, so to be and the more will it be able to hinder or ensnare weaned, by their unkindnesses, from our friends, us. is a great help to loosen us from the world, and When you have well considered all these proves often a very great mercy to a soul that is things, I suppose you will admire the wisdom of ready to depart.
God in leaving you under this kind of trial, and As the friends that love us most, and have weaning you from every creature, and teaching most interest in our esteem and love, may do you by his providence, as well as by his word, more than others, in tempting us to be unfaithful to cease from man, whose breath is in his nosto our Lord, to entertain any error, to commit trils ; for wherein is he to be accounted of?' and any sin, or to flinch in suffering ; so when God you will see that it is no great wonder that corhath permitted them to forsake us, and to lose rupted souls, that live in other sins, should be their too great interest in us, we are fortified guilty of this unfaithfulness to their friends: against all such temptations from them. I have and that he that dare unthankfully trample known where a former intimate friend hath | upon the unspeakable kindness of the Lord, should deal unkindly with the best of men. You Let thy conformity herein to Jesus Christ, be make no great wonder at other kind of sins, thy holy ambition and delight: not as it is thy when you see the world continually commit suffering, nor as it is caused by men's sin : but them ; why then should you make a greater or as it is thy conformity and fellowship in the 2 stranger matter of this, than of the rest ? Are sufferings of thy Lord, and caused by his love. you better than God ? Must unfaithfulness to I have already showed you that sufferers for you be made more heinous, than that unfaithful- | Christ, are in the highest form among his disciness to him, which yet you daily see and slight? ples. The order of his followers usually is this: The least wrong to God is a thousand fold more 1. At our entrance, and in the lowest form, we than the greatest that can be done to you, as are exercised with the fears of hell, and God's such. Have you done that for your nearest displeasure, and in the works of repentance for friend, which God hath done for him, and you, the sin that we have done. 2. In the second and all men ? Their obligations to you are no- form, we come to think more seriously of the thing in comparison of their great and manifold remedy, and to inquire what we shall do to be obligations to God.
saved, and to understand better what Christ hath You know that you have more wronged God done and suffered, and what he is and will be to yourselves, than any man ever wronged you : if us : and to value him, his love, and grace: here yet for all that, he bear with you, have you not we are much inquiring how we may know our great reason to bear with others ?
own sincerity, and our interest in Christ, and are Yea, you have not been innocent towards men labouring for some assurance, and looking after yourselves : did you never wrong or fail another ? signs of grace. 3. In the next form or order Or rather, are you not apter to see and aggra- we are searching after further knowledge, and vate the wrong that others do to you, than that labouring better to understand the mysteries of which you have done to others ? May you not religion, and to get above the rudiments and first call to mind your own neglects, and say as Ado- principles : and here if we escape turning bare nizebeck, “threescore and ten kings having their opinionists or heretics, by the snare of controthumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered versy or curiosity, it is well. 4. In the next their meat under my table : as I have done, so form we set ourselves to the fuller improvement God hath requited me. Many a one have I of all our further degrees of knowledge; and to failed or wronged, and no wonder if others fail digest it all, and turn it into stronger faith, love, and wrong me.
hope, and greater humility, patience, self-denial, Nay, you have been much more unfaithful and mortification, and contempt of earthly vanities, injurious to yourselves, than ever any other hath and hatred of sin: and to walk more watchfully been to you. No friend was so near you, as and holily, and to be more in holy duty. 5. In yourselves : none had such a charge of you : the next form we grow to be more publicnone had such helps and advantages to do you spirited: to set our hearts on the church's welgood or hurt : yet all the enemies you have in fare, and long more for the progress the world, even in earth or hell, have not wronged pel, and for the good of others ; and to do all and hurt you half so much as you have done the good in the world that we are able, for men's yourselves. O, methinks the man or woman souls or bodies, but especially to long and lay that knows themselves, and knows what it is to out ourselves for the conversion and salvation of repent ; that ever saw the greatness of their own ignorant, secure, unconverted souls. The countersin and folly, should have no great mind or lei- feit of this is, an eager desire to proselyte others sure to aggravate the failing of their friends, or to our opinions, or that religion which we have the injuries of their enemies, considering what chosen, by the direction of flesh and blood, or they have proved to themselves. Have I for- which is not of God, nor according unto godlifeited my own salvation, and deserved everlast- ness, but doth subserve our carnal ends. 6. In ing wrath, and sold my Saviour and my soul for the next form we grow to study more the pure so base a thing as sinful pleasure, and shall I and wonderful love of God in Christ, and to reever make a wonder of it, that another man doth lish and admire that love, and to be taken up some temporal hurt ?
friend 80 with the goodness and tender mercies of the near to me as myself; or more obliged to me ? | Lord, and to be kindling the flames of holy love O sinful soul, let thy own, rather than thy to him that hath thus loved us; and to keep our friend's deceit, treachery, and neglects, be the souls in the exercise of that love : and withal to matter of thy displeasure, wonder, and com- live in joy, thanks, and praise to him that hath plaints !
redeemed us and loved us. Also by faith to
of the gos
converse in heaven, and to live in holy contem- | doubt is removed by the inultitude of furies which plation, beholding the glory of the Father and God hath let loose against me. But yet, methe Redeemer in the glass which is fitted to our thinks, while my friends themselves are so friend. present use, till we come to see him face to face. ly to me, I am much short of what I think I must Those that are the highest in this form, do so at last attain to. walk with God, and burn in love, and are so II. The cause of this desertion selfishness. much above inferior vanities, and are so conver- But let us look further into the text, and see sant by faith in heaven, that their hearts even what is the cause of forsaking Christ in the disdwell there, and there they long to be for ever. ciples : and what it is that they betake themselves 7. In the highest form in the school of Christ, to, when they leave him. we are exercising this confirmed faith and love, • Ye shall be scattered every man to his own. in sufferings, especially for Christ : in following Self-denial was not perfect in them, selfishness him with our cross, and being conformed to him, therefore in this hour of temptation did prevail. and glorifying God in the fullest exercise, and they had before forsaken all to follow Christ ; discovery of his graces in us, and in an actual they had left their parents, their families, their trampling upon all that stands up against him, estates, their trades, to be his disciples : but for our hearts : in bearing the fullest witness to though they believed him to be the Christ, yet his truth and cause, by constant enduring, though they dreamed of a visible kingdom, and did all to the death.
this with too carnal expectations of being great Not but that the weakest that are sincere, men on earth, when Christ should begin his must suffer for Christ if he call them to it: mar- reign. Therefore when they saw his apprehension tyrdom itself is not peculiar to the strong belie- and ignominious suffering, and thought how they vers: whoever forsakes not all that he hath for were frustrate of their hopes, they seem to repent Christ, cannot be his disciple. But to suffer with that they had followed him, though not by aposthat faith and love fore-mentioned, and in that tacy and an habitual or plenary change of mind, manner, is proper to the strong: usually God yet by a sudden passionate frightful apprehendoth not try and exercise his young and weak sion, which vanished when grace performed its ones with the trials of the strong ; nor set his part. They now began to think that they had infants on so hard a service, nor put them in the lives of their own to save, and families of their front or hottest of the battle, as he doth the ripe own to mind, and business of their own to do: confirmed Christians. The sufferings of their they had before forsaken their private interests inward doubts and fears doth take up such : it is and affairs, and gathered themselves to Jesus the strong that ordinarily are called to sufferings Christ, and lived in communion with him, and for Christ, at least in any high degree; I have one another. But now they return to their trades digressed thus far to make it plain to you, that and callings, and are scattered every man to his our conformity to Christ, and fellowship with own.' him in his sufferings, in any notable degree, is Selfishness is the great enemy of all societies, the lot of his best confirmed servants, and the of all fidelity and friendship : there is no trusthighest form in his school among his disciples : ing that person in whoever it is predominant. The therefore not to be inordinately feared or ab- remnants of it, where it doth not reign, do make horred, not to be the matter of impatience, but men walk unevenly and unsteadfastly towards of holy joy, and in such infirmities we may God and men. They will certainly deny both glory. If it be so of sufferings in the general, God and their friends, in a time of trial, who for Christ, then is it so of this particular sort of are not unable to deny themselves : or rather he suffering, even to be forsaken of all our best and never was a real friend to any, that is predominearest, dearest friends, when we come to be nantly selfish. They have always some interest most abused by the enemies.
of their own, which their friend must needs conFor my own part, I must confess that as I am tradict, or is insufficient to satisfy. Their houses, much wanting in other parts of my conformity their lands, their monies, their children, their to Christ, so I take myself to be yet much short, honour, or something which they call their own, of what I expect he should advance me to, as will be frequently the matter of contention; and long as my friends no more forsake me. It is are so near them, that they can for the sake of not long since I found myself in a low, if not a these, cast off the nearest friend. Contract no doubting case, because I had so few enemies, special friendship with a selfish man : nor put and so little sufferings for the cause of Christ, any confidence in him, whatever friendship he though I had much of other sorts ; now that may profess. He is so confined to himself, that he bath no true love to spare for others : if he' stancy in man, than you are aware of. There seem to love a friend, it is not as a friend, but as are sadder roots of corruption unmortified, that a servant, or at best as a benefactor: he loves may spring up into bitter fruits, than most of us you for himself, as he loves his money, or horse, ever discover in ourselves. Many a mother hath or house, because you may be serviceable to her heart broken by the unnatural conduct of him: or as a horse or dog doth love his keeper, such a child, or the unkindness of such a husfor feeding him : therefore when your provender band, as if they had died before, would have is gone, his love is gone : when you have done been lamented by her, with great impatience feeding him, he hath done loving you: when and excess. How confident soever you may be you have no more for him, he hath no more for of the future fidelity of your friend, you little you.
know what trials might have discovered. Many Object. But, some will say, it is not the false- a one hath failed God and man, that once were ness of my friend that I lament, but the separa- as confident of themselves, as ever you were of tion, or the loss of one that was most faithful : I your friend. Which of us see not reason to be have found the deceitfulness of ordinary friends ; distrustful of ourselves ? Can we know another and therefore the more highly prize those few better than ourselves : or promise more concernthat are sincere. I had but one true friend ing him. among abundance of self-seekers : and that one 4. How know you what great calamity might is dead, or taken from me, and I am left as in a have befallen your friend, if he had lived as long wilderness, having no mortal man that I can as you desired ? When the righteous seem to trust, or take much comfort in.
men to perish, and merciful men are taken away, Answ. Is this your case ? I pray you answer it is from the evil to come that they are taken. these few questions, and suffer the truth to have How many of my friends have I lamented as its proper work upon your mind.
if they had died unseasonably, concerning whom Quest. 1. Who was it that deprived you of some following providence quickly showed me, your friend; was it not God ? Did not he that that it would have been a grievous misery to gave him you, take him from you ? Was it not them to have lived longer!
Little know you his Lord and owner that called him home? Can what calamities were imminent on his person, God do any thing amiss? Will you not give his family, kindred, neighbours, country, that him leave to do as he lists with his own ? Dare would have broke his heart : what if a friend you think that there was wanting either wisdom of yours had died iminediately before some calaor goodness, justice or mercy, in God's disposal mitous subversion of a kingdom, some ruins of of your friend? Or will you ever have rest, if the church, &c. and if ignorantly, he had done you cannot have rest in the will of God ? that which brought these things to pass, can you
2. How know you what sin your friend imagine how lamentably sad his life would have might have fallen into, if he had lived as long been to him, to have seen the church, the gospel, as you would have him ? You will say, that and his country, in so sad a case ; especially if God could have preserved him from sin : it is it had been caused by him ? Many that have untrue ; but God preserves wisely, by means, as awares done that which hath ruined a particular well as powerfully: sometimes he sees that the friend, have lived in so much grief and trouble, temptations to that person are like to be so as made them consent that death should both strong, and his corruption like to get such ad- revenge the injured on them, and conclude their vantage, that no means is so fit as death itself, misery. What then would it have been to have for his preservation. If God had permitted seen the public good subverted, and the faithful your friend by temptation to have fallen into overwhelmed in misery, and the gospel hindered, some scandalous sin, or course of evil, or into and holy worship changed for deceit and vanity; errors or false ways, would it not have been and for conscience to have been daily saying, I much worse than death to him and you ? God had a hand in all this misery : I kindled the might have suffered your friend that was 80 fire that hath burned up all ! faithful, to have been sifted and shaken, as Peter What comfort can you think such friends, if was, and to have denied his Lord; and to have they had survived, would have found on earth ? seemed in your own eyes, as odious, as he be- Unless it were a comfort to hear the complaints fore seemned amiable.
of the afflicted, to see and hear such odious sins 3. How know you what unkindness to your as sometimes vexed righteous Lot to see and self
, your dearest friend might have been guilty hear; or to hear of the scandals of one friend, of? Alas, there is greater frailty and incon- and the apostacy of another, and the sinful com
pliances and declinings of a third ; and to be them, who would have been grieved for their under temptations, reproaches and afflictions griefs, and for aught they know might have fallen themselves ? Is it a matter to be so much la- into as sad a state as they themselves are now mented, that God hath prevented their greater lamenting. miseries and woe?
6. Do you think it is for the hurt or the good 5. What was the world to your friends while of your friend, that he is removed hence? It they did enjoy it? Or what is it now, or like to cannot be for his hurt, unless he be in hell. At be hereafter to yourselves ? was it so good and least, it is uncertain whether to live would have kind to them, as that you should lament their been for his good, by an increase of grace, and separation from it? was it not to them a place of so for greater glory. If he be in hell, he was no toil and trouble, of envy and vexation, of enmity fit person for you to take much pleasure in upon and poison, of successive cares, and fears, and earth : he might be indeed a fit object for your griefs, and, worst of all, a place of sin? Did they compassion, but not for your complacency. Surely groan under the burthen of a sinful nature, a you are not undone for want of such company distempered, tempted, troubled heart, of lan. as God will not endure in his sight, and you must guishings and weakness of every grace ; of the be separated from for ever. But if they be in rebukes of God, the wounds of conscience, and heaven, you are scarcely their friend if you would the malice of a wicked world? And would you wish them thence. Friendship hath as great have them under these again ; or is their deliv- respect to the good of our friends as of ourselves. erance become your grief? Did you not often Do you pretend to friendship, and yet lament join in prayer with them, for deliverance from the removal of your friend to his greatest hapmalice, calamities, troubles, imperfections, temp- piness! Do you set more by your own enjoying tations and sin ? and now those prayers are his company, than by his enjoying God in peranswered in their deliverance : and do you now fect blessedness : this shows a very culpable degrieve at that, which then you prayed for! fect either in faith or friendship; and therefore
Doth the world use yourselves so well and beseems not Christians and friends. If love kindly, as that you should be sorry that your teaches us to mourn with them that mourn, and friends partake not of the feast? Are you not to rejoice with them that rejoice; can it be an groaning from day to day yourselves ? and are act of rational love to mourn for them that are you grieved that your friends are taken from possessed of the highest everlasting joys? your griefs? you are not pleased with your own 7. God will not honour himself by one only, condition: when you look into your hearts, you but by many: he knows best when his work is are displeased and complain : when you look into done : when our friends have finished all God your lives, you are displeased and complain : intended them for, when he put them into the when you look into your families, into your world, is it not time for them to be gone,
and neighbourhoods, unto your friends, unto the for others to take their places, and finish their church, unto the kingdom, unto the world, you work also in their time? God will have a sucare displeased and complain : and are you also cession of his servants in the world. Would you displeased that your friends are not under the not come down, and give place to him that is to same displeasure and complaints as you ? Is the follow you, when your part is acted, and his is world a place of rest or trouble to you? And to begin ? If David had not died, there had would
your friends to be as far from been no Solomon, no Jehosaphat, no Hezekiah, rest as you ?
no Josiah, to succeed him and honour God in If
you have some ease and peace at present, the same throne. You may as wisely grudge you little know what storms are near! you may that one day only takes not up all the week, and see the days, you may hear the tidings, you may that the clock strikes not the same hour still, but feel the griefs and pains, which may make you proceeds from one to two, from two to three, &C., call for death yourselves, and make you say, that as to murmur that one man only continues not, a life on earth is no felicity, and make you con- to do the work of his place, excluding his sucfess that they are blessed that are dead in the cessors. Lord, as resting from their labours, and being 8. You must not have all your mercies by one past these troubles, griefs and fears. Many a messenger or hand: God will not have you conpoor troubled soul is in so great distress, as that fine your love to one only of his servants : and they take away their own lives to have some therefore he will not make one only useful to taste of hell: and yet, at the same time, are you: but when one hath delivered his message grieving because their friends are taken from and done his part, perhaps God will send you