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Friends are no small comfort and addition to our Happiness or Well-being in this World: Scarce any outward Blessing is so desirable, useful, and beneficial as Friendship. Cicero saith, Non aquâ non igni pluribus in locis utimur quàm amicitiâ: We have not more frequent use of Fire and Water, than we have of Friendship. Nothing so agreeable to Nature as it, (saith the same Author) nothing thing so convenient either for Prosperity, or Adversity: Nothing more pleasant and delightful than the sincere love and affection of a Faithful Friend, and reciprocal love of him; nothing more acceptable than his Society and Converse.
But besides the pleasure and delight which Friendship affords us, we reap many and great Benefits from it. As,
1. Faithful Counsel and Advice, which is of great moment in any doubtful Matter; it being true, Plus vident oculi quàm oculus: Many Eyes see more than one: Or any Matter of weighty concernment, wherein it is not safe to trust to our own Judgments, Prov. 27. 9. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. How great comfort must it needs be to have one whom we may securely unbosom our selves to, and trust with a Secret? to whom we may open our Griefs? disburthen our Minds, and so find ease and relief?
2. Seasonable Reproof: This (saith the Author of the Whole Duty of Man) is of all others the most peculiar Duty of a Friend. I might add, the greatest benefit he can bestow upon his Friend, it being indeed that which none else is qualified for. Such an unwillingness there is in most Men to hear of their faults, that those that undertake that Work, had need have a great prepossession of their Hearts to make them patient of it. Of the absurdity and unreasonableness of this unwillingness to be reproved, Cicero saith very well, Atque illud absurdum est, quod ii qui monentur, eam molestiam quam debent capere non capiunt, eam capiuns quâ debent carere. Peccâsse enim se non anguntur, objurgari molestè ferunt: Quod contrà oportebat, delicto dolere, objurgatione gaudere. It is absurd, that they which are admonished receive not thence the trouble which they ought to have, but that which they ought to want. For they are not sorry that they have finned, but they take it ill that they are reproved. Whereas on the contrary they ought to grieve for their Offence, but rejoice for their Reproof.
3. Condolence and Consolation in any Adversity, Affliction, or Suffering; as Sickness, the Death of any near Relation or Friend, loss of Worldly Goods by Fire, Shipwrack, Inundation, Invasion of Enemies, or the like. He that condoles with his Friend in such Accidents, doth as it were bear part of his Burthen, and by consolatory Considerations strengthens his Spirit, and enables him to support it. And there is great need of this to some Natures, which otherwise are in danger to be oppressed and overwhelmed with Grief, and even distracted by such Calamities.
4. Relief and Supply of Want in case of Poverty and Necessity; a true Friend as well as a Brother is born for adversity, and will rather rejoice in contributing liberally to the support of his Friend, than desert him, or deny his assistance. In this case Friends may be a snare to us, tempting us to put our confidence in Man rather than God, and to think our Security greater in the multitude of Friends, than the providence and protection of God.
5. Prayers to God for us, recommending us to him for all Blessings, both Spiritual and Temporal.
Now all true Friendship is grounded upon Virtue: Virtus amicitiam & gignit & continet, nec sine virtute Amicitiâ ullo pacto esse potest, Cic. de Amicitia. Virtue doth both beget and maintain Friendship; nor can there possibly be any Friendship without Virtue. True Friends are such as sincerely desire and endeavour each others real good, both spiritual and temporal; but such friendship cannot be contracted and continued but only between persons truly religious, that love and fear God. We cannot expect fidelity and the benefits before recited from any but those who are so qualified: And those that are so, their friendship is courted by all Men, and who so happy as they that can get an interest in it!
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