A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Friendship is no fiction; all history bears record to its reality. There are many relationships in this world dignified by the name of friendship which really do not deserve it, as, for example, acquaintanceship, the freedom to interchange visits of courtesy, and association in business. These pass for friendship; but they are only its shadows. The perfect friendship is a very exacting relation.
1. The first value of friendship is that it will give support in weakness, understanding amid evil reports, consolation in sorrow, and help in the bearing of burdens; and that is no friendship which breaks down under such demands. Trouble is a splendid thing for any man if it only sifts his friends; it saves him a deal of trouble in other ways. There is an admirable compensation about our existence.
2. The second service of a friend is that he is one to whom all our thoughts may be uttered, one to whom we may be absolutely sincere. Ordinarily, a man is only honest when he is alone; let another man come in, and hypocrisy begins. Our words are a kind of clothes to hide our real selves. But with a friend we are absolutely open; we do all our thinking aloud, we stand erect before him, and find in his mind a true picture of what we are. Such a friend is a masterpiece of nature.
3. A third service is that it affords us the possession of one soul to whom we may be tender without shame. See the tenderness between David and Jonathan, and between Achilles and Patroclus. When one man becomes dear to another they have both reached the goal of fortune. By a tender friendship the Divine part in us finds exercise.
4. The fourth service which friendship renders is that it helps us to know ourselves and to know God. When you enjoy friendship most it is in contrast to solitude, and you seek solitude again, in order to know what you have gained from your friend. You cannot reckon up a profit and loss account while you are in his company; you have to retire to your own soul's communion in order to ascertain your gain and loss thereby. Thus you have a compensation for intercourse with another soul by introspection of your own. Further, as the power that keeps the atoms together in one body is of God, the tie between your friend's heart and your own is of God, and you cannot let your consciousness of friendship deepen without deepening at the same time your consciousness of God.
(H. H. Snell.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.