Friendship: a Sermon to the Young
Proverbs 13:20
He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

We have here a topic which comes very close home to us all, but especially to the young.

I. GOD HAS GIVEN US GREAT POWER OVER ONE ANOTHER. There are two sources of power we exercise.

1. That of ideas. As we speak or write to one another, we impart ideas to the mind; and as thought lies beneath feeling, and feeling beneath character and conduct (see homily on Proverbs 12:5), it is clearly of the gravest consequence what ideas we do instil into the mind of another. These ideas include information or knowledge, the presentation of motive and inducement, new aspects in which things are regarded, new views and conceptions of life, etc.

2. That of influence. As we associate with one another, we influence one another by

(1) the character which commands respect;

(2) affectionateness of disposition;

(3) charm of manner;

(4) strength of will;

(5) superiority in age or in social position;

(6) facility and force of utterance.

All these are elements of influence; they are sometimes united, and in combination they become a great moral force.

II. CLOSENESS OF INTIMACY SHOWS THIS POWER AT ITS HEIGHT. When two "walk together because they are agreed;" when there is a close and intimate union of heart. with heart, of mind with mind, - there is an opening for the exertion of a power immeasurably great. Friendship has done more than anything else to enlarge or to warp the mind, to save or to betray the soul, to bless or to corrupt the life. The influence of a beloved friend or of a favourite author is wholly beyond calculation, and is almost beyond exaggeration. We give ourselves to one another; we impress our mind upon one another; we draw one another up or we drag one another down. Hence -

III. IT IS OF SUPREME IMPORTANCE THAT WE CHOOSE OUR FRIENDS WELL. The friendships we form will either make or mar us. We shall certainly be conformed in spirit and in character to those whom we admit to the sanctuary of our soul; our lives will move with theirs toward the same goal; and we shall share their destiny for good or evil. How needful, then, that we bring to this choice our whole intelligence, our greatest care, that we do not let the accidents of locality or family connection or business association decide the intimacies of our life! There is no action on which our future more decisively depends than on this choice we make; let youth and young manhood (womanhood) look well to it. He that walketh with wise men will himself be wise, and he will reap all the fruits of wisdom; but the companion of fools, of those who fear not God and who honour not man, of the irreligious and the immoral, will be destroyed with a terrible, because a spiritual, destruction.

IV. HOW WISE TO WALK THE PATH OF LIFE WITH A. DIVINE FRIEND! - with him who himself is "the Wisdom of God;" intimacy with whom will draw our spirit up toward all that is worthiest and noblest; whose presence will ensure guardianship from all serious evil, and enrichment with every true blessing, and will gladden with all pure and lasting joy. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

WEB: One who walks with wise men grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Companionship with the Highest Wisdom
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