What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…
I. The friendship, of which the apostle speaks, like that which existed between these two noble characters to whom I have referred, was marked by MUTUAL CONFIDENCE. There must be between friends a sure, unquestioning, repose of heart upon heart — a repose, the result of mutual confidence, and knowledge of mind and character. There must be trust so simple, so full, that it cares to have no reserves and secrets; dependence so real, so implicit, as will not be shaken by a semblance of suspicion, even when there are actions on the one side or the other, which, for the time, cannot be understood, and which must wait to be explained.
II. MUTUAL COMMUNION, as in the case of the sons of Saul and Jesse, strengthens friendship; it longs for it, lives by it. And with what intimate communion, indeed, did the Lord distinguish his friend Abraham, by special and direct address, besides other divers means, and at sundry times 1 From the day of his call from the eastern side of the river, to the day of his death at a good old age, did He converse with him, and direct him at critical seasons of his history. The communion was intimate and friendly in an unusual degree: and as God drew near to him, he, to take the impressive description which the apostle gives of the fellowship which the Christian heart has consciously with God, he drew near to God; worship was the habit of his soul. Oh! how blessed a privilege, within the reach of the meanest, the feeblest child in spirit of his Father — of God's faithful ones! You all have secrets which you cannot tell to man — secrets which you must conceal even from your dearest friend — there are feelings so sacred, or so delicate in their nature, that they must not be spoken even to him. But there is no grief, no care of the heart, which we may not, cannot, ought not to open before our Heavenly Father. The very sigh of contrition He hears and understands — the very flow of feeling of desire towards Himself, which never passed into utterance — each silent affection of the heart is a prayer before Him. There are Seasons, too, when distance forbids that access to earthly friends for which our burdened hearts do intensely yearn; but there are no seasons of separation from our Heavenly Father — no wants, no cries will ever be intrusive upon His patient audience.
III. MUTUAL FIDELITY is a characteristic of friendship — fidelity which, when tried, can bear the test, and is strengthened by it. Now mark, on the one hand, the fidelity of God to His friend. It was sorely tried, but it was never shaken by the infirmity of the patriarch. It was independent of the patriarch's worthiness or unworthiness; shown, not because of merit, but because of grace; and so it varied not with the varying disposition of its object; it lived through Abraham's infirmity. Its exercise was pity, pardon, restoration; the promise failed not, though the creature thought it in his injustice. I say, this is the secret of the Divine faithfulness which never wearies, never weakens, never exhausts; this is the secret — "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and therefore with lovingkindness trove I drawn thee"! Then, I observe the faithfulness of the patriarch. As on a cloudy day, the sun shines through the misty curtain which hides it, so, notwithstanding sad failures of fidelity, the friend responded to the faithfulness of God, and as eminent was his faith, so necessarily cheerful was the obedience of Abrabam.
(C. P. Eyre, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?