Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
I. The character of true friendship. It should be simple, manly, unreserved, not weak, or fond, or extravagant, nor yet exacting more than human nature can fairly give. It should be easy, too, and cheerful, careful of little things, having also a sort of dignity which is based on mutual respect. Perhaps the greatest element of friendship is faithfulness.
II. Like the other goods of life, friendship is commonly mixed and imperfect, and liable to be interrupted by changing circumstances or the tempers of men. The memory of a friendship is, like the memory of the dead, not lightly to be spoken of or aspersed.
III. Christian friendship is another aspect of the ideal, though in some respects different. For the spirit of a man's life may be more or less consciously Christian. That which others regard as the service of man he may recognise to be the service of God; that which others do out of compassion for their fellow-creatures he may also do from the love of Christ. And so of friendship: that also may be more immediately based on religious motives, and may flow out of a religious principle. "They walked together in the house of God;" that is, if I may venture a paraphrase of the words, they served God together in doing good to His creatures. Human friendships constantly require to be purified and raised from earth to heaven.
IV. Some among us have known what it is to lose a friend. Death is a gracious teacher. The thought of a departed friend or child, instead of sinking us in sorrow, may be a guiding light to us, like the thought of Christ to His disciples, bringing many things to our remembrance of which we were ignorant; and if we have hope in God for ourselves, we have hope also for them. We believe that they rest in Him, and that no evil shall touch them.
B. Jowett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 218.
The particulars in which this similitude lies seem to be the following: (1) sameness of nature, iron with iron; (2) mutual action by the friction of the one piece of iron on the other piece of iron; (3) the result of this application of the two similar substances one to the other—the imparting of a finer polish and a sharper edge. To this is compared the effect of friendly social intercourse: "So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Iron with iron; man with man. Iron with iron; man—in the intercourse, the exchange, and in the mutual friction and operation of mind upon mind—with man: and the result the improvement of both.
I. God made man a social being. This social principle is one of the great gifts of God, for which we ought to be deeply thankful, and which we ought to improve for the great and benevolent ends for which God imparted it. We are designed to live not as so many separate, isolated individuals, but as those who, bound together by the God who made us by the ties of a common nature, a common human intelligence, a common relation to the common Father of all; are to be interested in, and helpful to, one another in the service of God, and in promoting the well-being of one another, of society, and of the human race.
II. Scripture points out besides this common principle which should unite the human race one particular and individual friendship. The benevolence which is due to all may take, and must take, and so should take, in many cases, a particular direction, not lessening our benevolence by the confinement of it, but by giving it a more particular direction, affording opportunity for its being more fully exercised than it can be in the wider sphere.
III. The social, indeed, has its dangers; and these are carefully to be guarded against. Therefore let me add one word: the truly Christian social. God appointed the social for the purpose here stated: for sharpening, not for blunting and dissipating; for the improvement, not for the deterioration, of the mind; for edification, not for destruction.
IV. Let us see from this the importance of well-formed friendship. He whom we admit into our friendship we admit into the formation of our character.
J. Duncan, The Pulpit and Communion Table, p. 211.
These words express what one friend should be to another: a whetstone to give keenness to the edge of his energy. And this use of friendship, valuable under all circumstances and in all undertakings that belong to earth, does not lose its value in the service of Christ. In that service, more than in any other, the conviction of a true heart and thorough sympathy close at hand is the greatest help that any man can have. But it is undeniable that friendship is too often made the stepping-stone to the worst falls.
I. God has mercifully hedged round most sins with many barriers. (1) There is, first, the barrier which while it lasts is so very powerful, and when it has once been broken down can never be set up again: the barrier of ignorance. A friend teaching his friend the way to sin is the most shocking use of friendship that can be imagined; and yet it is not uncommon, not uncommon from mere thoughtlessness—the thoughtlessness of the soul that, having plunged into evil, thinks little of seeing another plunge after him. (2) The second barrier in the way to evil is shame. And if a friend takes away the first, how still more often does he help to take away the second. (3) A third barrier is the affection that we feel for parents, for home, for those natural friends whom God's providence has given us. And this, too, a friend is better able than any one else to break through. A friend can supply us with another affection near at hand to take the place of that distant affection on which we are turning our backs.
II. It is sometimes, but not often, the duty of a true friend openly to find fault with his friend. And when that duty comes, a servant of Christ must not be so cowardly as to flinch from it. But the occasion is very rare. In most cases all that is wanted is to hold to the right, and you will do more towards holding your friend to the right than by all manner of exhortations. Friendship, and sympathy, and cheerful example might help us more than any teaching in the world to grow up soldiers and servants of Christ, and to fight His battle when we were grown up.
Bishop Temple, Rugby Sermons, 1st series, p. 139.
References: Proverbs 27:17.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 342. Proverbs 27:18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1118, and My Sermon Notes: Genesis to Proverbs, p. 195. Proverbs 27:21-27.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. iii., p. 244. Proverbs 27:23.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 242; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 355. Proverbs 27:24.—New Manual of Sunday-school Addresses, p. 230. Proverbs 28:1.—Parker, Pulpit Notes, p. 285; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 348. Proverbs 28:1-13.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. iii., p. 255. Proverbs 28:13.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 353; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 85; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons in Country Churches, 3rd series, p. 270; New Manual of Sunday-school Addresses, p. 38.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.
As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.
Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.