Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Homilist.I. THE RIGHT TREATMENT OF THE AFFLICTED.
1. Its nature. To consider the poor, in a scriptural and true sense, is —
(1) (2) (3) (4) 2. The happiness of the right treatment.(1) "Blessed is he that considereth the poor." Such a man is blessed in the service he renders. The exercise of benevolence is the source of our chiefest joy. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."(2) But the writer specifies certain advantages which are bestowed in addition to this (vers. 1-3). II. THE WRONG TREATMENT OF THE AFFLICTED (vers. 4-13). Under this ill-treatment — 1. He had a consciousness of his own sins (ver. 4). (1) (2) 2. He deeply felt the wicked conduct of his enemies (vers. 5-9). (1) (2) 3. He directs his heart to the great God (vers. 10-13). (1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
(2) (3) (4) 2. The happiness of the right treatment.(1) "Blessed is he that considereth the poor." Such a man is blessed in the service he renders. The exercise of benevolence is the source of our chiefest joy. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."(2) But the writer specifies certain advantages which are bestowed in addition to this (vers. 1-3). II. THE WRONG TREATMENT OF THE AFFLICTED (vers. 4-13). Under this ill-treatment — 1. He had a consciousness of his own sins (ver. 4). (1) (2) 2. He deeply felt the wicked conduct of his enemies (vers. 5-9). (1) (2) 3. He directs his heart to the great God (vers. 10-13). (1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
(3) (4) 2. The happiness of the right treatment.(1) "Blessed is he that considereth the poor." Such a man is blessed in the service he renders. The exercise of benevolence is the source of our chiefest joy. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."(2) But the writer specifies certain advantages which are bestowed in addition to this (vers. 1-3). II. THE WRONG TREATMENT OF THE AFFLICTED (vers. 4-13). Under this ill-treatment — 1. He had a consciousness of his own sins (ver. 4). (1) (2) 2. He deeply felt the wicked conduct of his enemies (vers. 5-9). (1) (2) 3. He directs his heart to the great God (vers. 10-13). (1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
II. THE WRONG TREATMENT OF THE AFFLICTED (vers. 4-13). Under this ill-treatment — 1. He had a consciousness of his own sins (ver. 4). 2. He deeply felt the wicked conduct of his enemies (vers. 5-9). 3. He directs his heart to the great God (vers. 10-13). (3) (Homilist.)
II. THE WRONG TREATMENT OF THE AFFLICTED (vers. 4-13). Under this ill-treatment —
1. He had a consciousness of his own sins (ver. 4).
2. He deeply felt the wicked conduct of his enemies (vers. 5-9).
3. He directs his heart to the great God (vers. 10-13).
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)
Deuteronomy 15:11). Such is the method directed by Heaven of balancing the account between the different orders of men. What, then, will be the first consideration of a rich man when he sees a poor man? If he have a clear head, and a good heart, will he not reason in some such manner as this?" God has given the earth for the support of all. While I abound, why does this man want? Plainly, that we may bear one another's burdens; that my abundance may supply his need, may alleviate his distress, may help to sustain the affliction under which he groans: that I may take off his load of woe, and he take off the superfluity of my wealth; that so the stream, now broken and turbid, may again find its level, and flow pure and tranquil. If I do not act thus, may not the poor justly complain, and would not the fault be mine?" And if the rich man refuse to help the poor, it is but natural to ask whence came this inequality? It was not from the rich man's merit or the poet's demerit. It has been permitted that the poor may learn resignation, and the rich be taught charity, and the right employment of the good things vouchsafed to them. "It is more blessed to give than to receive;" let the rich remember this, and the end of their being made rich is answered. And let the rich man remember, too, that had it pleased God, he would have been poor, and it may please Him that he shall he so. He then will need that which now he is recommended to give. Such changes do occur. But whether in your case they do or not, if your riches do not leave you, yet in a little while you must leave them. Death waits to strip you of them all. They wilt only avail you then as you have employed them well now. In the Gospel we must seek full information as to this duty. Our blessed Lord became poor to make us rich, and has thus for ever obliged us to consider the poor. But how are we to obey these precepts? Let charity rule in the heart, and it will not need to be told how much it should give. But for rules take these: —
1. Let each lay aside a due proportion of his income for charities.
2. Practise economy with a view to charity; retrench expenditure on luxury and indulgence for this end.
3. Then, in giving, give work rather than money where the poor would work if they could. Where they would not, let them be made to work. Such is true kindness to them.
, M. F. Sadler, M. A.When God commends us, or encourages us to consider the poor and needy, He commands and encourages us to do that for our fellow-creatures which we, as poor and needy dependants on His bounty, ask Him to do for us. He was not satisfied with death and the cross only, but He took up with becoming poor also, and a stranger, and a beggar, and naked, and with being thrown into prison, and undergoing sickness, that so, at least, He might call thee off [from covetousness]. If thou wilt not requite Me (He says) as having suffered for thee, show mercy on Me for My poverty; and if thou art not minded to pity Me for My poverty, do for My disease be moved, and for My imprisonment be softened. And if even these things make thee not charitable, for the easiness of the request comply with Me; for it is no costly gift I ask, but bread and lodging, and words of comfort. But if even after this thou still continuest unsubdued, still, for the kingdom's sake, be improved for the rewards which I have promised. Hast thou, then, no regard even for these? Yet still, for very nature's sake, be softened at seeing Me naked; and remember that nakedness wherewith I was naked on the cross for thee; or if not this, yet that wherewith I am now naked through the poor .... I fasted for thee; again I am hungry for thee .... of thee, that owest Me the requital of benefits without number, I make not request as of one that oweth, but crown thee as one that favoureth Me, and a kingdom do I give thee for these small things .... I delivered thee from most galling bonds; but for me it is quite enough if thou wilt but visit me when in prison.
( Chrysostom.)They, then, who even in out poor, low way, are conformed, or beginning to be conformed, to God's mind in considering — that is, in searching out, compassionating, and relieving — distress have that in them which must be the source of blessedness, because they have that in them which is the source of happiness (I speak, of course, after the manner of men) to the Divine Mind; for God rejoices over His works. He rejoices in diffusing life and happiness; and when one province of His fair creation became marred and ruined by sin, and He extended mercy to it, then He delighted in that mercy. We then when, notwithstanding miserable deficiencies and shortcomings, we compassionate those in distress, and relieve their wants, even here enter somewhat into the very joy of God. And there is no Christian grace to the exercise of which God has in His Word so frequently or so emphatically promised a reward in the world to come.
(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)
I. THE MOTIVE TO CONSIDERATION OF THE POOR. I do not mean the reasons — they are abundant, but the motive. For the reasons and the motive power are, alas! widely different. The reasons are abundant for upright, godly conduct. A man is tempted to selfish, sensual, knavish action. There are ten thousand reasons why he should forbear, not one why he should yield. Every drop of his blood, every beat of his heart, every fibre of his nerve, could it speak, would cry out against it. His whole being, body, soul, and spirit, is against it. The whole structure of the universe is against it. God's face, God's hand, are against it. But he does it and faces it all. So here the reason is one thing; the power which makes the reason effective, which touches, moves, compels the conduct, is from a yet deeper spring. The fundamental element in the motive to care for the poor, is the revelation that the poor are the care of God. However man came to it, he has come to a god-like nature. The strongest influence which you can bring to bear on him is the revelation of the mind of God. There is something in him which moves him to imitation. The child's nature and passion, the cry of his spirit, Father, Father, tends to take shape in acts sympathetic with God.
II. THE KIND OF CONSIDERATION DEMANDED.
1. Set plainly before the mind's eye the terrible inequalities of gifts, possessions, culture, advantages, and all that makes the outward joy of life. We like to escape from it. The blessing is for the man who faces it; who in his comfortable home, with art, music, dress, amusement, luxurious appliances, carriages, and food, will set before his face the life of the millions to whom all this is as far off as the stars. Who will think of the laundress shut up in a hot, fetid room, standing over a tub or an ironing-board, four or five young children clinging round her, and one ill up-stairs; but who dares not stop, who must work on lest they starve. Or poor parents watching a fair child dear to them as yours to you, and pining daily for the nourishing food and sea air, but which they are utterly unable to give. The man who considers the poor will keep this in sight while he enjoys God's blessings.
2. He will not believe that God meant life to be anything like this. The heathen says that this is God's ordinance, and it is impious to interfere. But the Christian is quite sure God meant nothing like this.
3. He will say, It is a solemn part of my duty to mend it. God leaves it with us, not because He does not care, but because He cares so intensely. He will have us see to it. It is society's most pressing, most sacred, most blessed work, to consider the poor; to be always meditating, planning, and working at what aims at the extinction of the bitterness of poverty from the world. It is not mere giving. Some do most who give nothing, who have nothing to give. It is the mind and the heart to think and to care which first need to be cultivated; the feeling that it is base and selfish to enjoy our advantages, comforts, and luxuries, while we abstain from systematic thoughtful effort to bridge over the chasm which separates the classes, and to make less bitter the lot of the poor.
III. THE BLESSING IN WHICH IT FRUITS. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord." Many may feel that this is a far-away matter — The Lord will repay. They see nothing tangible here; brave words, no more. To me it seems the reality of realities. I see something very intangible in the best of worldly securities; who is to secure them? While this is real, solid, enduring, as the order of the world.
1. The blessing lies hid in the order of the world. God has made man and the world so that this mind shall be blessed. All men honour, love, and cherish it. It draws forth the best elements of every nature, the sunny side of every heart.
2. The blessing lies deeper and closer, in a warm glow of living joy in his own heart. It is the soul's health, this care for need. There is the glow of health in the soul of the man who cherishes it, which is incomparable with any other sensation; it is the pure joy of life.
3. Deeper still, it lies in the heart and the hand of God. God loves that man, and counts him His friend. God watches that man, and assures his life. In moments of crisis and strain it is as if a Hand came out of the invisible to clasp and upbear him — the Hand which will one day lift him out of the shades of death to that world where he shall hear the welcome, "Come, thou blessed of my Father," etc.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
I. THE DUTY OF CONSIDERING THE POOR. It must be performed on Christian principles. Not as did the Pharisees, "to be seen of men." There are several kinds of poor. Inquire, therefore, what it is to consider the poor. It implies sympathy with them; that we should, if possible, visit them; that we should relieve them; that we should seek to do good to their souls.
II. THE PRIVILEGE OF CONSIDERING THE POOR. All duty is privilege, for all God requires us to do is for our advantage. God's blessing attends the considering of the poor. "The Lord will preserve him in the day of trouble." See this in the history of Job.
1. It is urged that free hospitals for the sick poor are not an unmixed good. The same may be said of every existing human institution. Were we to wait for perfection before we would give our support to any philanthropic scheme, philanthropy would die out entirely from the hearts of men from lack of worthy objects. While occasional and substantial help is a great blessing, and one which neither the receiver nor the giver can well spare without loss of pure emotion and without poverty of soul, too much help, or help too readily obtainable, is a great injury, inasmuch as it undermines manliness and self-reliance, destroys that vigour of independence which all toilers in every rank ought to cultivate, and often creates the poverty and misery it is intended to cure. The change cannot be wrought in a day or a year, or in hardly less than a score of years. It must be gradual. Many of the present generation are incurable, their inveterate pauperism cannot be shaken off. It is to the next generation that we must look for a better state of things. The sick and needy will still be at our doors, for many a year to come; men, women and children will still be helpless and perish if we withhold our pity and relief. While poverty lasts we must keep our manhood, our brotherly sympathy, our tender compassion, and by the agency of our splendid hospitals earn the cheap honour of helping to provide for the sick and needy.
2. The second objection is that the money raised is not distributed as equitably as it should be. Still, assuming this, I ask on what reasonable, just, or humane, grounds will you withhold your help from the fund because some of it is misappropriated? Is it reasonable to cripple the healing resources of ten persons who need your help, simply because one person has received help which he did not so much need? Is it just to punish the deserving hospitals for the undeserving?
3. The third objection is that persons avail themselves of hospital relief who have no right to the benefit. Of this deplorable fact there can be no doubt. The out-patients' room at the hospital is crowded by persons who can well afford to pay for medical and surgical attendance. Is this abuse of the hospitals a valid objection to our giving them all our support? I venture to say it is not. To destroy a precious and useful thing because some one puts it to a wrong use, or because it has fallen into illegitimate hands, is a manifest folly. If the liberal subscribers to the Hospital Fund were to hand in along with their subscriptions a vigorous protest against the indiscriminate reception of applicants for relief, the abuse would soon be abated, and in time altogether disappear. But not to give is to forfeit your right to be heard; not to support the hospitals is to put yourself out of court and disqualify you from giving evidence.
"Where is heaven?" asked a wealthy Christian of his minister. "I will tell you where it is," was the quick reply: "if you will go to the store, and buy £10 worth of provisions and necessaries, and take them to that poor widow on the hillside, who has three of her children sick. She is poor, and a member of the Church. Take a nurse and some one to cook the food. When you get there, read the twenty-third Psalm, and kneel by her side and pray. Then you will find out where heaven is."
The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.1 Samuel 5:6). Or to try the patience and constancy of the righteous. Or to show forth God's glory (John 9:3; John 11:4).
I. OUR DUTY TOWARD THE SICK, WHO MAY NEED ASSISTANCE, Those who are well off in life, can have things arranged to suit themselves. The large and well-ventilated room, the comfortable bed with its clean and wholesome linen, the varied delicacies to suit the morbid appetite, the gentle and unwearied attentions of kindred and friends — all this, and more, money may readily command. But there are many who can have no such alleviation to their suffering. The kind physician comes — may God reward at the last day the many visits of mercy which he makes to the afflicted poor. But he leaves directions that the sick man should be kept quiet. Quiet indeed! He may as well command the mill dam to stop its ceaseless roar, or the hard hailstones not to rattle upon the roof. The minister of God arrives. lie asks of the welfare of the sick. He prays for his recovery. His petition in such a case is nothing more nor less than asking God to work a miracle in the sufferer's behalf, because he must be left in "a condition much more likely to make a well man sick, than a sick man well."
II. THINK SERIOUSLY OF THE TIME WHEN ALL WILL BE CALLED TO LIE DOWN UPON THE BED OF LANGUISHING. There will be some morning of your lives, when business will be going on in the shops, and on the streets, but you will be far otherwise engaged. And suppose you that the bed of sickness is a convenient or suitable place to arrange your long-neglected account with God?
(A. M. Sadleir.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I said, Lord be merciful to me: heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.I. HE CONFESSES THAT HE IS A SINNER. The law brings the conviction of sin, but the greatest sin of all is unbelief.
II. HE COUNTS SIN THE DISEASE OF THE SOUL — "heal my soul." Sin affects the soul as disease the body.
III. HE VIEWS GOD AS THE ONLY PHYSICIAN — Lord, heal my soul We cannot heal our own soul; nor can any creatures. The sooner we see and feel this the better. But the Lord heals: "by His stripes we are healed."
IV. HE IS ALSO PERSUADED THAT NOTHING BUT MERCY IN GOD WILL INDUCE HIM TO HEAL HIS SOUL. Here is the only source of our hope.
I. A PRAYER.
1. "Lord, be merciful unto me."(1) It may — I dare say did — mean, at least in part, "Mitigate my pains." When grieved with sore physical pain, you will find that the quiet resignation, holy patience, and childlike submissiveness which enable you just to pray, "Lord, be merciful unto me," will often bring a better relief to you than anything that the most skilled physician can prescribe.(2) He must have meant also, "Forgive my sins." It is a blessed prayer, and I charge you never to cease from using it in the sense that our Lord taught it to His disciples,!" Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."(3) I think that David also meant, "Fulfil thy promises." "Thou hast said of the man who considers the poor, 'The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.' Lord, be merciful unto me, and deliver me in the time of my trouble, Thou hast said, 'The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive.' Lord, be merciful unto me, preserve me, and keep me alive. Thou hast said that Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies; Lord, be merciful unto me, and guard me from my foes. Thou wilt strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; Lord, be merciful unto me, and strengthen me. Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness; Lord, make my bed."
2. "Heal my soul." David does not pray, "Heal my eye; heal my foot; heal my heart; heal me, whatever my disease may be"; but he goes at once to the root of the whole matter, and prays, "Heal my soul."(1) "Heal me, Lord, of the distress of my soul."(2) "Lord, heal my soul of the effect of sin."(3) "Heal me of my tendency to sin."
II. A CONFESSION. "I have sinned against Thee."
1. It is a confession without an excuse.
2. It is a confession without any qualification. He does not say, "Lord, I have sinned to a certain extent; but, still, I have partly balanced my sins by my virtues, and I hope to wipe out my faults with my tears." No; he says, "I have sinned against Thee," as if that were a full description of his whole life.
3. It is without affectation. I like a man, when he makes a confession of sin, not to be carried away into the use of proud expressions without meaning, but to speak with judgment, and to acknowledge and confess only what is true. This is the excellence of David's confession, that he owns to what no sinner will ever admit till the grace of God makes him do it: "I have sinned against Thee."
III. A PLEA. "I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul." Why? "For I have sinned against Thee." That is a very remarkable way of pleading, but it is the only right one.
1. It is such a plea as no self-righteous man would urge. The Pharisee keeps to this strain, "Lord, be merciful unto me, for I have been obedient, I have kept thy law." O foolish, self-righteous man, do you not see that you are shutting the door in your own face? You say, in effect, "Be merciful unto me, for I do not need any mercy."
2. This is such a plea as a carnal reasoner could not urge, for he could not spy out any reason or argument in it.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. SIN IS A SOUL DISEASE.
1. Of the understanding.
2. Of the affections.
3. Of the conscience.
4. Of the will.
II. GOD ALONE CAN HEAL IT.
1. We must feel our malady, and —
2. Our impotence.
3. We must recognize His power, and —
4. Trust His mercy.
(W. W. Whyte.)
wrung. It has a dim, end-of-the-world impulse to appeal to. No wonder it is hard to beat it under. It carries on its subterranean war like the pagan deities of old, beneath the surface triumphant still. That is sin, according to this interpretation. Sin is the shadow cast out of the past; it reveals the law, out of which we have climbed to the new day. Still it sucks us down, and menaces, and defiles; but its death is sure; the future is against it; its sentence has gone out. There may be many a disloyal recrudescence of its ancient mischief; there will be strange moments when a sort of atavism will enable it to occupy lost ground; there may be even partial degradations, in which the higher will succumb to the lower. But the whole trend of life is upward, and under this sin will sink and disappear, for life is not a fail, but a rise, sin is that which is for ever being left behind. Now, of course, if this is the true account of sin, we had better wipe out the entire Bible story. Let us consider what that would mean. It would not be merely an abandonment of some obsolete dogma, nor would it be to realize all real living facts over against some blind authority. Rather it would mean the surrender of the widest, and deepest and most prolonged accumulation of human experience in the things of the living spirit that the world has ever known. Is there any statement more completely falsified by every scrap that we know of our own inward life than the one which pronounces that sin is the merest survival? That is just the sort of illusion with which we all begin, and which all further experience explodes. We fancy at first that sin is a misfortune, an accident, a weak surrender, to some invading and hostile attack. We never lived it, we are not of that sort, we know our own rightness of intention, our innate goodness in our best self. We will face and wipe off this wrong which has besmirched us. It is so unworthy of us and so unlike us. And now we have confessed and repented and we are ourselves again. We shall be stronger when next assailed. These will die away of themselves. How futile! how ignorant! how wrong! The old, old story repeats itself; the relapse recurs with strange regularity; the moral strength just breaks at the crisis when it ought to stand. Always the thing, somehow, is too much for it; always we do again that very thing that we had forsworn for ever. Why the strange persistent failure? Why this tremor at the heart? Why is the hand still put out to pluck that which we know to be forbidden? Why do the feet turn again down the paths which lead to death? Again it is the old cause — the thing that I ought to do I do not; the thing that I would not, that I do. And does this mean that we have not got at the root of the matter, that it is not the outside accident which we hope, that it is a monotonous revelation of a wrong that works by a regular law? It is I and not something that is upon me that is responsible for this disorder. Why cannot I do what I want? I, who seem to myself so inherently good, so thoroughly well-meaning, so far above these degradations, so resolute in my determination? I am somehow guilty. O miserable man that I am! O my God, it is I that have sinned against Thee and done this evil in Thy sight. Your sin will not disappear of itself. You will never grow out of it; it is too deep, too intimate, too personal for that. It will reappear within when you have expelled it from without. You are powerless. But you have the witness in yourself that sin and you can never agree. Sin is not your true life, but your death, and in the strength of that inner weakness you have force and right to appeal to; that invincible love that only waits for your appeal to find its entry. "Have mercy upon me, O God, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee." Lift that cry, and the answer is in your ears in the Person of Jesus Christ our Saviour: "I will, be thou clean."
(Canon Scott Holland.)
And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
I. IT IS A GRIEVOUS THING THAT THEY WHO EAT OF THE LORD'S COMMON DREAD SHOULD LIFT UP THEIR HEEL AGAINST HIM.
1. But they thus lift up their heel when —(1) They do not serve Him by whom they are maintained. If we live by Him we should surely live for Him.(2) When their lusts are fed and fattened by God's good benefits bestowed on them, so that instead of being led to repentance thereby, they are led farther away from God ("Jeshurun" and Ezekiel 16:49, 50). And(3) when the good things God gives are wasted on our lusts to satisfy their cravings.(4) When in any manner of way they live to the dishonour of God (Romans 2:3-6).
2. Now, the causes of such evil conduct are —(1) The corruption of man's nature, which tends to make an ill use of everything.(2) Our forgetting our dependence upon God.
3. The evil of this practice.(1) It is monstrous ingratitude. Of. Isaiah.(2) It has dismal effects, provoking God to take away His bread from men. Therefore let us be humbled on account of this sin, and resolve to reform and amend our ways.
II. IT IS A VERY GRIEVOUS THING THAT THEY WHO EAT OF THE LORD'S SACRAMENTAL BREAD SHOULD LIFT UP THEIR HEEL AGAINST HIM. Note —
1. How His professed friends may do this.(1) By unsteadiness in their walk. We are bidden "walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise."(2) By returning to their openly profane courses (2 Peter 2:20-22).(3) By carnality and worldliness in the ordinary frame of their hearts.(4) By formality and listlessness in the duties of religion.(5) By secret dalliance with some bosom idol, to the slighting of Christ.(6) By neglecting opportunities of communion with God, as Sabbaths and public ordinances.(7) By the heart losing the esteem it once had for Christ.(8) By wearying of converse with God.(9) By habitual neglect of the duties of practical godliness (Galatians 2:20). As the life of faith; the acknowledging of God in all our ways; self-examination; mourning for our own sins, and the sins of the land; commending Christ and religion to others who are strangers to Him.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Obadiah 1:7, where substantially the same language is employed in reference to the enemies of Edom, as supporting the national reference of the present passage. No one denies that false allies may be described by such a figure, or that nations may be personified; but is there any event in the post-exilic history which shows Israel deceived and spurned by trusted allies? The Davidic authorship and the personal reference of the psalm are separable. But if the latter is adopted, it will be hard to find any circumstances answering so fully to the details of the psalm as the Absalomic rebellion and Abithophel's treason. Our Lord's quotation of part of ver. 9, with the significant omission of "in whom I trusted," does not imply the Messianic character of the psalm, but is an instance of an event, and a saying which were not meant as prophetic, finding fuller realization in the life of the perfect type of suffering godliness than in the original sufferer.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Exodus 7.); that as Joseph said of Pharaoh's dreams, the dreams are two, hut the interpretation is but one; so among friends the hearts are two, yet there is but one joy, one desire, and but one affection between them both. O what an accursed crime it is to cancel such a bond, much more to falsify and corrupt it! more unnatural than to divide one living child into two dead parts like the uncompassionate harlot. St. Basil did so cleave to the familiarity of holy Nazianzen, whom he called his necessary friend, that he thought not his knowledge solid, or his study profitable, or the daylight to be clear without him. Xenophon was so inflamed with the love of Proxenus, dear to him as his own soul, that he changed his bookish life, and entered into a dangerous war, as he confesseth, that he might follow him as the shadow did the body. Perfect lawgivers, says , have had more careful regard to settle friendship in their polities, than to settle justice; for there is a recompense and satisfaction for any fault that infringeth justice, but it is past our value and exceeds all estimation how to salve up an injury which abuseth friendship: besides, there is prevention in all points of justice that an innocent may sustain no hurt, but the wounds of a false friend, how is it possible to avoid them? such an Ahithophel is like hot iron taken out of the fire which neither glows nor shines, but burns more violently than the flame that threatens. We have a test to try gold, says Euripides, a touchstone to betray deceit in counterfeit metals; but to know the mischief of a dissembler's heart, there's no mark or character to discern it. Moreover, every man hath a share in his whole friend, in all his estate and faculties, but every single man hath but his part in that commonwealth whereof he is a citizen: then reason within yourselves, can he that wrongs a friend, who is all and every whit his own, be true to that kingdom wherein he hath but a share and moiety? As the poet warned the sparrow not to build a nest in Medaea's statue, for she spared not to kill her own young ones, and could the little birds, who were but inmates, expect succour from her? So believe him not that he will be just to others, who was unjust to his other self: let him be rooted out, let him be cut off like unprofitable ivy that undermines the building upon which it creeps.
By this I know that Thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)